SCO offers developer perks for more UnitedLinux apps

To encourage software developers to invest in building a wide range of business applications for its upcoming SCO Linux Powered By UnitedLinux operating system, The SCO Group Inc. has unveiled a program of incentives and marketing moves to help make that happen.

In an announcement this week, SCO said it will provide assistance through its Developer Network, which is being expanded and improved to better serve developers looking to create applications for the new operating system.

The program will offer increased educational opportunities, online seminars, improved development tools, collaboration capabilities and access to technical information and support to help with writing or porting applications and drivers to SCO Linux and other UnitedLinux products.

Encouraging and working with independent software vendors (ISV) and other developers has long been done at Lindon, Utah-based SCO, according to Steve Spill, the director of SCO’s developer network.

The latest push, though, is designed to ensure that ISV’s know that SCO will also actively help them publicize and sell their products through SCO’s 16,000 worldwide channel resellers, giving them a ready market for the time and investment they spent to create the software, Spill said.

“The focus will always be business,” Spill said. “We and the developers are in this for business.”

The company is also working to build a “porting centre” by the end of this year where hardware could be provided to run code for developers as they work on their products for SCO operating systems, Spill said. The centre, which will initially be located at SCO facilities in Santa Cruz, Calif., will be equipped with 32-bit hardware. But SCO hopes to add new 64-bit hardware when it becomes more widely available next year so developers can port their products to it.

“We have to work with [hardware] partners to make that happen,” he said. “Success on the 32-bit side will hopefully encourage our partners to say, ‘OK, let’s get that 64-bit stuff in there.'”

Still to be worked out are the logistics for how developers will get their code to the centre, Spill said. “We’re working on how we can make the most effective use of that.”

Developers can register online for membership in the network.

Bill Claybrook, an analyst at Aberdeen Group Inc. in Boston, said the enhanced assistance to developers is a good move on the part of SCO.

“The thing that the channel resellers for SCO [need] is that they want more things to sell,” Claybrook said. “That will help them greatly.”

“It helps those people who don’t have the tools or the software or the right hardware available, and it gives them assistance,” he said. “That’s what Linux needs is more applications.”

Al Gillen, an analyst at IDC in Framingham, Mass., said that while assisting developers is good, he’s skeptical that ISVs will welcome all the features of the enhanced SCO program, such as collaboration opportunities. Since ISVs are in the business of making and selling their own proprietary software, he doubts that many will want to seek help or share resources with others.

“I don’t think they’re going to do that,” Gillen said.

Also, he said the porting centre sounds like a good concept, but ISVs generally don’t have problems bringing in the hardware they need to build their applications. “I’m not sure the expense of 64-bit hardware will be an issue,” he said. “Individual developers may not have access to 64-bit hardware, but if they’re targeting ISVs, I’m not sure it will be much of an issue.”

Besides, he said, many of the most popular business applications, such as word processing and accounting software, will see no performance gains from 64-bit architecture, so those developers won’t initially need to move to that hardware.