Management and Me


SCO was very supportive of my efforts to integrate open source software into the product releases. But none were more supportive than Dion Johnson.

Dion was the unofficial Skunkware Manager, though we didn’t really have a manager. He came up with the name ‘Skunkware’, he got me equipment when I needed it, he went to bat for me with upper managment, he organized and scheduled and generally got me whatever I needed. He also had a lot of good ideas and an always calm and pleasant manner.

Later Dion would spearhead the successful effort to open source the ancient UNIX source code. SCO did that because Dion fought for it. He was a history buff and was good friends with some UNIX history group. It was a great moment in SCO history, Dennis Ritchie publicly thanked SCO in a USENIX talk he gave, and it was mostly due to Dion.

Thanks Uncle Dion!

I put a lot of goofy fun stuff in Skunkware. Nobody complained and some got a chuckle out of it. Until Skunkware hit the SCO website. Now my stuff was all over and execs were seeing it. As long as Skunkware was just some software thing that geeks liked it didn’t matter that there was goofy stuff in it. That made it better!

I got a call one day from an exec, “What the f@ck is Homer Simpson doing on our website?!? Why is the Unabomber on the website!?! Take that s@hit down immediately!” Or something like that.

Ok, yes, there were a bunch of Simpsons on Skunkware. And there were a lot of Unabomber Haikus. But, in my defense, those Unabomber Haikus were really great!

Technology bad Please tell me you like my beard Or I’ll blow you up

Fun, easygoing single, white Unabomber seeks same for love, laughs.

Farewell to tenure Sniping from the tower clock already been done

Should I comb my hair Or should I wear it matted Judge prefers it combed

I spent a lot of time scrubbing the Skunkware website of offensive, potentially criminal, content. That was time I could have spent fixing bugs or inventing an open source e-commerce platform but it seemed important to the execs so I did it. I took all of the content that I removed from Skunkware and added it to my personal website then added some links to my personal website in Skunkware. For example, here is the full list of Unabomber Haikus and the Homer Simpson Quotes.

Skunkware, especially the early releases, was chock full of fun, zany, interesting, weird, irrelevant stuff. There was a Tribute to the Beat Farmers, the Savage Rabbit Art Gallery, all kinds of Images (unfortunately scrubbed per the PTB), Animations, and more.

Take that Blue Meanies!


Speaking of open source e-commerce platforms, I invented one. I called it NOSEPAK, short for “NonStop Open Source E-commerce Package”. Nosepak was built on the new features in UnixWare supporting NonStop Clusters.

Nosepak provided an open source web shopping cart and groupware. I used Squid and Apache along with startup, optimization, and failover scripts. It all worked pretty well for a prototype and my demonstration booth at SCO Forum was ccontinually packed with interested attendees. And that is saying something because the Forum attendees were not always in the greatest shape and my booth was at the very top of campus in Crown College. They were huffing and puffing but they were also excited to see this.

So I took it to my manager, John Harker. He took it to his superiors and they walked it up the corporate ladder. John came back to me and said they didn’t want to productize Nosepak because “We’re not in that business”. I replied, “You mean we’re not in the business of making money?”

E-commerce was fairly new in the late 90s. There were shopping carts on the web but what made Nosepak a good business proposition was the combination of open source (free), reliability, and availability. If your business is on the web then server downtime is money lost. Nobody else had anything like this. Now everybody does. Oh well.

John was a great manager. One of my best. I doubt it was his decision. He did, however, get me named Employee of the Year in 2000 and I got to go to Jamaica with a bunch of Sales people. That was fun. Thanks John!

Not only did Nosepak go down in flames, NonStop Clusters also bit the dust. Caldera, after buying SCO, killed NSC. It eventually became OpenSSI.

Kamal’s Iguana Cam

Kamal Mostafa was a Support Analyst working at SCO and a Skunkware contributor. Kamal had a pet iguana and he wanted to check in on his iguana while he was at work. So he placed a video camera in his home pointed at the iguana and hooked the video feed up to his home computer running a web server. He then could view his iguana from his office cubicle using a web browser.

That doesn’t seem like much now but at the time that kind of thing didn’t exist. The iguana cam was a real hit with everyone. Except, of course, management. Kamal’s manager wanted to know why he was spending his time at work looking at an iguana instead of working. The manager made him take the iguana cam down.

When folks in Engineering heard about this they immediately got Kamal to come work in Engineering where he could setup an iguana cam and invent whatever other new fun interesting things he wanted. Suck that Support Manager!

Corporate Sponsorships

SCO was pretty good about giving you money to do things. Me and Jeff Johnson started a bowling league with money SCO gave us. It was called the “Hi-Tech Corporate Espionage Bowling League” but we should have called it the League of Hi-Tech Corporate Espionage Bowlers. Jeff and I also started a company softball team with money from SCO. We came in second place two years in a row!

Hiram Clawson and I got SCO to donate $5000 to the Berkeley SETI project and we got to go to Berkeley and meet the researchers.

Eric and I got SCO to fund an ISDN line into Palookaville, a local live music club in Santa Cruz. Eric did the dirty business crawling under the building and snaking the line up to the club. SCO had partnered with RealNetworks and we were able to do primitive live streaming of audio and video using their technology. Eric and I setup in a balcony in Palookaville and started streaming live show over the Internet. This was new and seemed really cool at the time but the actual streams were pretty bad. Things have improved. I got to meet Todd Rundgren!

There were many SCO sponsored activities including a flag football team, a volleyball league, co-ed softball, field trips, camping, daiquiri parties, a hot tub, bonfires on the beach, and the annual Solstice Party. It was a ton of fun and all my direct managers were super. Thanks SCO!

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