Playing with UnixWare

I took yesterday off work and, naturally, I had a wierd helpdesk request on my desk when I got back. One of our outlying locations needed help with a UNIX-based server that had gone down. This was wierd because I didn't think we had any UNIX-based systems.

Up until now, I thought the only UNIX-based system we had at work was part of our financial system. At least, I think we have one there. I'm not allowed to touch those servers. And I don't want to touch them, because in our organization, as soon as you touch a system, whether it's hardware or software, you automatically become responsible for maintaining it for the rest of your life. All I know is that I've seen KSH scripts sitting on the printer a couple of times, and the financial system is the only place they could be coming from.

But it turns out that this other department has a security system that uses a UNIX box. But not a good UNIX. It's a really old version of SCO UnixWare. The only other UNIX that old that I've ever used was the Digital UNIX server I dialed into in college to check my e-mail.

And when I say old, I mean positively primitive. No bash, no less (!), no grep -r, really old X server running Mwm. Basically, a classic example of the bad old days of UNIX.

Of course, in fairness to SCO (assuming they deserve any fairness), the computer was at least 7 years old and had never been updated. The UnixWare version was probably 8 to 10 years old. Linux wasn't that great when I got into it 6 years ago. I can only imagine what RedHat and SuSE were like 7 or 8 years ago. Although I can't imagine they were any worse to use than this.

In the end, it doesn't really matter how bad the OS was. They're replacing the security system with a Windows-based one used in other departments, so I only had to get the UnixWare box to limp along long enough for the new system to come in. And I didn't really even have to mess with the software, since the problem was with the hardware.

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