What is Skunkware

SCO Skunkware, often referred to as simply “Skunkware”, is a collection of open-source software projects ported, compiled, and packaged for free redistribution on SCO operating environments. SCO Skunkware packaged components exist for SCO Xenix, SCO UNIX, SCO OpenServer 5, SCO OpenServer 6, UnixWare 2, Caldera OpenLinux, Open UNIX 8, and UnixWare 7. SCO Skunkware was an early pioneering effort to bring open source software into the realm of business computing and, as such, provided an important initial impetus to the acceptance and adoption of open source software in the small and medium business market. An extensive SCO Skunkware download area has been maintained since 1993 and SCO Skunkware components were shipped with operating system distributions as far back as 1983 when Xenix for the IBM XT was released by The Santa Cruz Operation.

How did Skunkware get started

In the beginning there were games. In 1983 I was responsible for building and packaging SCO Xenix. Except for the kernel, Buck would bring me a floppy with the Xenix kernel and bootstrap files. But all the rest, libraries and utilities, I would build and package for inclusion in the distribution which I was also responsible for cutting. The builds would take a long time and cutting the floppies was also time consuming. Me and Gever would be sitting in the lab for long hours so we compiled a bunch of games to play on our Xenix boxes. When I was cutting the first release of Xenix I included a floppy of games. Nobody objected. Maybe this would be considered the beginning of Skunkware.

But, really, Skunkware did not take true form until a decade later when, again, I was spending long hours in the lab nursing builds and working on my Ph.D. Still responsible for builds and distribution cutting, I slipped a CD of open source software I had built and packaged for SCO UNIX. Nobody objected.

SCO UNIX users really liked Skunkware as it provided a lot of useful tools not included in the operating system distribution. If you wanted to run the Apache web server or compile things with GCC then you needed Skunkware. Word got back to management and one day the company founder, Doug Michels, came by the lab and told me to keep on doing whatever I was doing. I even got some equipment dedicated to Skunkware. It became a real project, supported by management and funded (sort of). People from all over the company started sending me stuff. Others began to work on Skunkware in their spare time.

Eventually Skunkware got a website, sco.com/skunkware. I got in a lot of trouble over that website, a story for another time.

How was Skunkware distributed

The mid-90s releases of SCO Skunkware were on a mountable CD-ROM which contained an HTTP server and HTML documents with links to SCO Custom+ installable packages. NCSA Mosaic had been licensed by SCO shortly after its first release in 1993 and was used by Skunkware as the primary interface to browse the mounted CD-ROM. The CD also contained a Custom+ installable Skunkware SSO (Software Storage Object) which installed the Skunkware website in /usr/local on the system along with the HTTPD server which could then be used to run a Skunkware website from your system.

In later editions of Skunkware, the CD itself was a Custom+ installable SSO on both OpenServer and UnixWare.

What is in this website

The documents you are browsing here in the Releases section are those same documents from the respective CD-ROM. However, this historical archive does not contain any of the installable packages, only the framework in which they were distributed.


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