SCO Stalls on Launch of Its Own Linux Flavor

For months, The Santa Cruz Operation Inc. (SCO) had been expected to launch its own version of Linux. But last month, the Santa Cruz, California-based company suddenly backed out of its announcement.

According to John Palmer, SCO's vice president of worldwide marketing, the announcement was stalled when SCO's dealer channel expressed concerns about such questions as what effect selling Linux might have on other product lines.

"We had to drop back 20 yards and are still meeting with partners over the issues," said Palmer.

SCO has long relied on an extensive network of value-added resellers. Palmer said the SCO Linux product - when it finally arrives - will be sold through the same channel.

"This on-again, off-again strategy is confusing," said Stacey Quandt, an analyst at Giga Information Group Inc. It's also creating uncertainty about SCO's commitment to Project Monterey, a joint effort with IBM to deliver a 64-bit Unix for Intel Corp.'s Itanium processor, said Quandt.

SCO Linux may be little more than a migration strategy for users of SCO's proprietary Unix versions, especially its legacy OpenServer product, said Quandt.

But Tony Iams, an analyst at D. H. Brown Associates Inc. in Port Chester, New York, said he believes SCO should be taken seriously by virtue of its long experience selling Unix on Intel platforms.

Few other commercial software vendors have shown an inclination to enter the Linux distribution fray. Oracle Corp. recently announced a Japanese joint venture among Oracle Japan, Tokyo-based NEC Corp. and California-based TurboLinux Inc. to develop a Linux version optimized for Oracle8i called Miracle Linux, but executives said they have no plans to release the operating system in the U.S.

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