August 10, 2004

Review: UnixWare 7.1.4 is suitable for basic server duty

Author: Logan Harbaugh

UnixWare 7.1.4 is the latest in a long line of Unix releases from The SCO Group. It is a stable and mature Unix, with a variety of basic servers included, such as the Apache Web server and Squid, and is available in both single-user desktop-oriented versions and server versions. It has reasonable support for hardware, good documentation, and a nice integrated management utility that offers unified administration of the OS, hardware, and servers. Performance as a server platform is good, supporting a number of TCP sessions and Web server users, and file transfer performance is competitive with Linux and Windows platforms. However, as a desktop OS or file/print server, UnixWare is hard to recommend over competitors.

The new 7.1.4 version adds a number of new capabilities to UnixWare, including the common Unix printing system (CUPS), GIMP-print printer drivers, ESP Ghostscript PostScript and PDF interpreter and renderer, URW++ fonts, Java 2 Standard Edition (J2SE) 1.4.2, J2SE runtime environment, the Java Communications API 2.0, PostgreSQL 7.4.2, MySQL 3, Samba 3.0, Cdrtools, OpenLDAP (Lightweight Directory Access Protocol), and Compaq and Intel PCI hot-plug drivers. It also now supports IPSec VPN tunneling, OpenSSL and OpenSSH, USB 2.0, ACPI (Advanced Configuration and Power Interface), and Hyperthreading for Pentium 4 and Xeon processors. UnixWare treats a Hyperthreaded processor as a single processor, an advantage for applications with multi-processor licensing. Other new hardware support items include support for IDE drives with ATA-6 and drives over 128GB, support for over 8GB RAM, support for the Intel 845 audio chipset. A recovery disk can be made on a CD to boot the system when problems occur. This CD boots to a text prompt and makes basic utilities available, including cat, chroot, cpio, date, dd, echo, edvtoc, fdisk, find, fsck, grep, ksh, labelit, ln, s, mkdir, mkfs, mount, prtvtoc, rm, sty and vi. Once the system is booted, kernel and operating system files can be restored. Finally, SCO has added support for Network Time Protocol v4.

The OS includes several interfaces, including the Motif-based CDE and the UnixWare-specific Panorama window manager and a character-based interface. The default CDE interface will not seem foreign to users familiar with other versions of Unix, although I personally prefer the KDE 3.x GUI.

UnixWare includes the capability for kernel personality modules. The only one that seems to be available at the moment is the OpenServer module. There was a Linux personality module, but that has been withdrawn for now, pending the resolution of legal issues. The OpenServer personality module, once installed, allows OpenServer binaries to be run without re-compiling. The Linux module would have done the same for Linux binaries. According to technical support people at SCO, other Linux binaries can be installed in place of the Linux kernel personality, but I was unable to get this to work. This means that most readily available open source applications need to be recompiled and the associated libraries need to be manually installed as well. UnixWare comes with a C compiler.

For those interested in using UnixWare as a desktop OS, the current lack of the Linux Kernel Personality (LKP) means that any open source applications will probably need to be recompiled to be usable. While NeTraverse Merge 5.3.26c allows the UnixWare server to run Windows application all the way back to Windows for Workgroups 3.11, I found that Windows NT applications did not run in three out of four cases, and even recent applications such as Microsoft Office 97 and 2000 caused very high CPU utilization and had slower response times on a 3.2 GHz Pentium 4 than the same version of Office running on a 2.4 GHz Pentium 4 system with half the RAM running Windows 2000. The OpenOffice.org suite found in many desktop-oriented Linux distributions is not included with UnixWare, and getting it to work might be problematic without the LKP.

UnixWare 7.1.4 can run OpenServer applications (including Xenix applications) using the OpenServer Kernel Personality (OKP) function. OKP lite is included with UnixWare, and requires an existing OSR5 disk set and a license that matches the number of CPUs in your system. OKP lite is included in the media kit at no additional charge and is enabled by copying an existing OSR5 image and applications onto the UnixWare System. OKP full is for customers who need a fresh install of OpenServer 5.0.7 on UnixWare and is available for $250. The OKP package allows users to run OpenServer applications back to version 2.x of OpenServer.

Bang for the buck?

There are six editions of UnixWare, varying in the number of users supported, the amount of RAM supported, and the number of CPUs supported. Users, CPU, and memory capability can be upgraded separately. If you're looking for a Web server platform and don't need to support multiple users, the smallest editions are reasonably priced in comparison with other Web server platforms, such as Red Hat Enterprise Server. By the time you get to the ability to support more than 10 users as a file/print server, however, or when looking at the OS as a desktop platform, the case for UnixWare gets harder to make.

It is difficult to discern any advantage UnixWare might have over competitive desktop and server platforms. On the desktop, the Windows emulation product, NeTraverse Merge, works reasonably well, but is more expensive than Windows XP Professional, while desktop-oriented versions of Linux such as Mandrake offer an easier installation, more desktop applications included with the distribution, and an equally good Windows emulator. On the server side, UnixWare Enterprise edition is more expensive for 150 users than either Windows 2003 Server Datacenter Edition, any of the Enterprise Linux distributions, or Solaris, with fewer available applications, fewer drivers for recent HBAs and other new hardware, and no currently available 64-bit version for either Opteron or Itanium processors.

The SCOadmin utility offers management of the OS and some of the associated servers, such as the Sendmail server, through a single integrated interface. The modules include an account manager, license manager, login session viewer, mail manager, print job manager, printer setup manager, process manager, SCOadmin setup wizard (for setting up remote management), task scheduler, Veritas volume manager, and virtual domain user manager. Other server administration, such as Apache 1.3 or 2.0.49 and Tomcat Java application server administration, is not currently supported through the GUI. Other applications may not have all the options available on the command line that are available through the GUI.

UnixWare also offers an optional failover clustering product called Reliant HA, which allows a simple installation of up to four nodes for failover, disk mirroring, and Online Data Manger 3.2 (based on the Veritas file system) for disk replication, an automatic update service, and support. Each of these is an extra-cost add-on.

I tested UnixWare by installing it on eight different systems. I tested server performance by installing an Apache 2.0 server and comparing the total number of connections it could support as well as the number of hits per second that could be generated using WebLoad 6. Performance of the Web server was comparable to Red Hat Linux Enterprise 3.0 running the same version of Apache on the same hardware -? 22,061 connections vs. 22,121 respectively, and 38,941 hits per second vs. 39,566 respectively. I tested stability by crashing a variety of server and desktop applications; the operating system and other applications were never affected.

Installation

I received the retail box containing a slim "getting started" manual and eight CDs. Installation of the OS is via a character-based interface that seems rather clumsy in comparison with the GUI interfaces of Windows or Linux. In general, autodetection of PC hardware was good, although three of the eight test systems I installed UnixWare on had at least one problem with hardware detection, compared with zero for all Windows XP or 2003, zero for Mandrake Linux 10.0, and two for Red Hat Linux Enterprise 3.0. Entering the license key information is also easy to do incorrectly -- there are two keys for the OS and three for some of the additional products, with keys containing upper and lower case letters, numbers, and even punctuation.

The disk partitioning software worked well, although in cases where there were existing partitions, it took some fiddling to figure out how to erase them -- the installer did not offer to do this automatically. There is no included dual boot utility, although installing Linux after UnixWare does work. The partition utility allows for additional NTFS or Linux partitions, but doesn?t always correctly identify them.

There are a number of additional packages you can install with the OS or afterwards, including the NeTraverse Merge Windows emulator, Advanced File and Print Services (which supports older Windows and DOS clients, separately from the Samba server), ReliantHA Clustering for up to four-node failover clustering, and SCO Update Service and SCO Support Service. Each of these requires a separate license number and license key, and some a long license data string as well.

During the install, four levels of security can be specified -- Low, Traditional (the default), Improved (C2), and High (Above C2). You can downgrade the security level after the install, but not upgrade it. Enabling the highest level disables SSL and SSH access to the server.

The bottom line

UnixWare 7.1.4 offers some high quality Unix features including OS stability and security, disk replication, a decent GUI management package, Windows emulation, good documentation, and a reasonable suite of server applications. However, the relatively high prices for adding multiple users and CPUs, high cost of the support package, and relative dearth of available software since the LKP package was removed make UnixWare hard to justify as a file/print or mail server, or desktop OS. It would make a good Web server or application server.

 

Small Business

Base

Business

Departmental

Enterprise

Data Center

Price

$599

$799

$1,399

$2,299

$4,999

$9,999

Users

1

1

10

25

50

150

CPUs

1

1

4

4

6

8

Memory

1GB

2GB

4GB

8GB

16GB

32GB

UnixWare 7.1.4 Editions

Small Business Edition 1-User, 1 GB, 1-CPU $599

Base Edition 1-User, 2 GB, 1-CPU $799

Business Edition 10-User, 4 GB, 4-CPU $1,399

Departmental Edition 25-User, 8 GB, 4-CPU $2,299

Enterprise Edition 50-User, 16 GB, ODM, 6-CPU $4,999

Data Center Edition 150-User, 32 GB, ODM, 8-CPU$9,999

UnixWare 7.1.4 Editions With Bundled Support *

Small Business Edition 1-User, 1 GB, 1-CPU Plus Support
$2,224

Base Edition 1-User, 2 GB, 1-CPU PLus Support
$2,424

Business Edition 10-User, 4 GB, 4-CPU PLus Support
$3,024

Departmental Edition 25-User, 8 GB, 4-CPU PLus Support
$3,924

Enterprise Edition 50-User, 16 GB, ODM, 6-CPU Plus Support $6,624

* Includes 6 months of SCO Support

UnixWare 7.1.4 Editions Plus SCO Update

Small Business Edition 7.1.4 with SCO Update $719

Base Edition 7.1.4 with SCO Update $959

Business Edition 7.1.4 with SCO Update $1,679

Departmental Edition 7.1.4 with SCO Update $2,759

Enterprise Edition 7.1.4 with SCO Update $5,999

Data Center Edition 7.1.4 with SCO Update $11,999

UnixWare 7.1.4 Editions Plus SCO Update and Support**

Small Business Edition 7.1.4 with SCO Update and Support $2,344

Base Edition 7.1.4 with SCO Update and Support
$2,584

Business Edition 7.1.4 with SCO Update and Support
$3,304

Departmental Edition 7.1.4 with SCO Update and Support
$4,384

Enterprise Edition 7.1.4 with SCO Update and Support
$7,624

** Includes 6 months of SCO Support and SCO Update

SCO Update Add-On For UnixWare 7.1.4

SCO Update for UnixWare 7.1.4 Small Business Edition $149

SCO Update for UnixWare 7.1.4 Base Edition $199

SCO Update for UnixWare 7.1.4 Business Edition $349

SCO Update for UnixWare 7.1.4 Departmental Edition $569

SCO Update for UnixWare 7.1.4 Enterprise Edition
$1,249

SCO Update for UnixWare 7.1.4 Data Center Edition $2,499

These SCO Update Licenses are Edition Specific and may only be installed on systems licensed for the corresponding edition

Additional User Packs

10 Additional User License $499

25 Additional User License $1,199

100 Additional User License $4,699

500 Additional User License $22,999

UNLIMITED User License $24,999

5 Additional User License for Small Business Edition Only
$499

Note: With the exception of the Small Business Edition, additional User
Licenses add together in any order or combination and apply to all UnixWare
7.1.4 Editions. The Small Business Edition may only use the special 5-user
pack.

Additional License Packs

Additional Processor Upgrade $1,499

Up to 4 GBytes Memory for Base Edition $499

Up to 16 GBytes Memory $999

Up to 32 GBytes Memory $1,999

Up to 64 GBytes Memory $3,999

UnixWare 7.1.4 OpenServer Kernel Personality (OKP) Licenses

The OKP add-on supports the installation of a full OpenServer application environment on UnixWare 7.1.4 including emulation support for most Xenix applications in use with OpenServer today. The Lite version is a no-charge add-on which may be used to directly migrate an existing OpenServer
5.0.4 through OpenServer 5.0.7 system along with already installed applications
and data files. The Full version provides a fresh OpenServer 5.0.7 image for
installation on UnixWare 7.1.4. This option is a good choice for customers
who want to move a limited number of applications and also move to the latest
release of OpenServer on UnixWare.

OKP FULL - Includes fresh OSR5.0.7 Image $249

Data Management

Online Data Manager 3.2 License $999

Disk Mirroring 3.2 License $495

Merge 5.3 Server Version License 5-User $1,349

Desktop Version License $399

Additional 10-User License $999

Additional 25-User License $2,499

Advanced File and Print Server 4.0

5-User Base Package
$995

10-User License $1,095

25-User License $2,695

Unlimited-User License $6,495

User Licenses require the purchase of a Base Package.

Clustering

ReliantHA is a clustering solution for enterprises requiring high levels
of application and data availability. ReliantHA increases the overall availability
of applications and critical data by connecting multiple servers together
as nodes within a single high-availability fail-over cluster. Applications
do not need to be aware of the operation of the cluster, and all nodes within
the cluster may be used simultaneously for processing. Each node in the cluster
needs to be licensed.

Reliant HA 1.1.4

Single Server License $2,999

Special Clustering Bundles

2-Node Bundle for UnixWare 7.1.4 $5,799

Includes two (2) UnixWare 7.1.4 Business Edition operating system licenses
and two (2) Reliant HA Single Server licenses.

2-Node Bundle with SCO Update $6,359

Includes two (2) UnixWare 7.1.4 Business Edition operating system licenses
with SCO Update and two (2) Reliant HA Single Server licenses.

UnixWare and Open Server Development Kit

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