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Caldera OpenLinux (COL) is a defunct Linux distribution. Caldera originally introduced it in 1997 based on the German LST Power Linux distribution, and then taken over and further developed by Caldera Systems (now SCO Group) since 1998. A successor to the Caldera Network Desktop put together by Caldera since 1995, OpenLinux was an early "business-oriented distribution" and foreshadowed the direction of developments that came to most other distributions and the Linux community generally.[citation needed]

Novell Corsair

Corsair, a user interface for NetWare, was a project run by Novell corporation's Advanced Technology Group (ATG) between 1993 and 1995. Novell wanted a desktop environment with internet connectivity and conducted research on how to better and more easily integrate and manage network access for users. Windows' own support for connecting to Novell networks would not be improved until later releases[1] and the Internet was dominated by Unix-based operating systems. Relative to their needs, Novell deemed the Unixes of the day were too hardware intensive, too large, and charged too much in license fees.[2]

This group became convinced that Linux offered the best possible answer for the OS component.[when?] There were many other components as well, and these were of particular interest:[citation needed]

On 5 April 1994, the Board of Novell hired Robert Frankenberg, the general manager of Hewlett-Packard Personal Information Products Group to replace Raymond John Noorda as CEO of Novell. Novell's stock price had performed poorly recently due to flagging growth. At Novell, the Network division (NSG) was growing at a pace of 19% per year, the Unix business division (USG) was flat, and the Desktop Applications division (DSG) was shrinking at a rate of $400 million per year.[citation needed]

Frankenberg's initiative was to refocus the company on networking and networking services. In terms of Corsair, that meant shedding most of the pieces. The Advanced Technology Group was disbanded, which shut down Willows and the OS project. Negotiations started which would eventually lead to WordPerfect being sold off to Corel in January 1996. Ferret was in line with the new direction and this component was kept within Novell.

Through his Noorda Family Trust (NFT), Ray Noorda had founded a venture capital investment group called the Canopy Group two years earlier in 1992. He thought there was substantial promise in both the OS project and the Willows project. He created two companies, to continue the work started at Novell. The "API company" was called Willows Software, Inc. (founded 1993[citation needed]) and the "OS company" became Caldera, Inc. (founded in October 1994 and incorporated in January 1995).

Noorda's early vision for Caldera was to create an IPX-based version of Linux which would license the key components, and resell this technology back to Novell to continue the Internet Desktop. In effect, in 1994 Caldera started life as kind of an outsourcing project for Novell,[citation needed] based on a technology demo named Exposé.[5][6] Caldera started with ten employees and most were from Novell: Bryan Wayne Sparks, founder/president (Novell); Bryce J. Burns, chief operations officer (Novell); Ransom H. Love, VP marketing (Novell); Greg Page, VP engineering (Bell Labs, AT&T); and Craig Bradley, VP Sales (Lotus, Word Perfect).[citation needed]

Caldera Network Desktop

Caldera Network Desktop
OS familyLinux
Working stateDefunct
Initial release1995 (Previews)
Final release1.0 / 1996; 28 years ago (1996)
Kernel typeMonolithic kernel
Back of Caldera Network Desktop 1.0 box

At this point in 1995 Ransom Love and Ray Noorda took note of the technologies that Caldera put together, specifically:

More than just a component for Novell, Caldera had assembled the components needed to create a VAR platform. However, Caldera faced a bootstrapping problem. OEM VAR applications often depended crucially on other companies' commercial applications. Since these other applications hadn't been ported to Linux yet, they couldn't meaningfully port their own applications. Caldera responded by creating a binary applications package, which allowed Linux to run UnixWare and OpenServer applications, the Linux Application Binary Interface (ABI) project,[citation needed] and by assisting Santa Cruz Operation (SCO) in creating the Linux Kernel Personalities.[10][disputed (for: LKP did not arrive until years later) ] Linux Kernel Personalities was worked on to bring Linux application compatibility to SCO Unix (formerly UnixWare) and OpenServer. "The idea was to enable developers to write for both, Unix and Linux, with a common Application Programming Interface (API) and common Application Binary Interface (ABI). That way, developers didn't have to work so hard, and Unix users, the client base we inherited from SCO, could run Linux applications."[11][disputed (for: Cited source is talking about post-SCO acquisition Caldera International, not Caldera Network Desktop era) ]

Caldera also supported Alan Cox in his work on SMP.[when?][12] If Linux displaced Unix on the Intel x86 platform, then Sun Microsystems wouldn't have a low-end Unix path. This point becomes more interesting in light of SCO's litigation eight years later against IBM in 2003.[relevant?] That is, IBM was not the company involved in the SMP work, and moreover, the company most directly involved is the company that later became the SCO Group, essentially SCO suing IBM for work it itself did.[citation needed]

In 1995, when XFree86 was still very hard to configure and unreliable on most chipsets, Caldera had shipped with MetroLink's Motif and XI Graphic's Accelerated-X.[13]

Known releases:

Caldera Network Desktop was produced and sold until March 1997.[13]

Caldera OpenLinux

Caldera OpenLinux
DeveloperCaldera, Caldera Systems, Caldera International
OS familyLinux
Working stateDefunct
Source modelMixed
Initial release1997
Latest release3.1.1 / 2002; 22 years ago (2002)
Kernel typeMonolithic kernel

During 1996, Caldera continued to be a valuable player, for example, on 23 May 1996, at the Linux Kongress in Berlin, Germany, Caldera announced its plans to obtain POSIX and FIPS certifications and the X/Open brand for UNIX 95 and XPG4 BASE 95 for the Linux operating system kernel and "Open Linux".[16]

In contrast to CND OpenLinux was based on LST Power Linux, a Slackware-derived distribution that had been maintained by Linux Support Team since 1993[17] and the first to come with a Linux 2.0 kernel.[9] In 1996 Linux Support Team grew into Stefan Probst's and Ralf Flaxa's company LST Software GmbH (with LST now standing for Linux System Technology[17]) in Erlangen, Germany. The OpenLinux development led them to become Caldera's German development center Caldera Deutschland GmbH since May 1997.[9][17]

On 23 July 1996, Caldera purchased Novell DOS and the remaining Digital Research assets from Novell in order to bundle a DOS with their version of Linux, which led to creating the OpenDOS distribution to help port DOS applications.[18][nb 1]

Caldera supported the Linux-port of StarOffice 3.1 with ca. 800.000 DM in order to offer the product with their forthcoming OpenLinux distribution in 1997.[19][20][21][22]

By 1997, when the OpenLinux distribution was first released, Caldera had taken on the form that it would be most remembered for. Caldera had switched over to the high end Linux product. The "business" Linux distribution became more rich with features with bundled proprietary software. However, it became less community oriented and was released less frequently than other Linuxes did.[citation needed] Other differences included automated configuration for administration tools, paid technical support staff, built-in consistent default GUI, and a range of supported applications.

Over the next[when?] five years, Caldera Systems offered additional commercial extensions to Linux. They licensed Sun's Wabi to allow people to run Windows applications under Linux. Additionally, they shipped with Linux versions of WordPerfect (from Novell and later Corel) and CorelDRAW. Since many of their customers used a dual boot setup and FIPS was unreliable, they shipped with PowerQuest's PartitionMagic to allow their customers to non-destructively repartition their hard disks.

In partnership with IBM they produced the first Linux distribution which was DB2 compatible. With the Oracle Corporation they became the target platform for the Linux port of the Oracle database.

Other ventures included starting the Blackdown Java project,[citation needed] and creating professional certification.

They also formed strong partnerships with SCO's value-added reseller market[when?] and started laying the groundwork for OEM sales of Unix-based vertical applications.

Caldera Systems offered three versions of OpenLinux:

In addition to other people's applications, they created many Linux extensions to fill voids where no other commercial company was.

Caldera Systems initiated the development of a Linux alternative to Microsoft Exchange Server and Microsoft Outlook, resulting in the creation of Volution Messaging Server. This server provided functionalities such as calendaring and scheduling, shared busy/free information, SSL support for emails, and easy configuration.[23] Additionally, Caldera Deutschland pioneered the development of Lizard,[24] the first fully graphical installer for Linux, which debuted in November 1998. They were also credited[citation needed] with introducing browser-based Unix system administration and supporting projects like webmin, employing developer Jamie Cameron from 1999 to 2001.

Furthermore, Caldera Systems introduced Caldera Open Administration System (COAS), a comprehensive GUI system administration tool. COAS boasted a user-friendly interface, modular design for ease of use, and scalability. Its key features included portability via a platform repository, an open development model, flexible module licensing, support for multiple user interfaces (including batch processing, ncurses, QT, and Java), a scripting interface (Python) for rapid prototyping, and backward compatibility, making it compatible with native files and friendly to users accustomed to command-line interfaces like "vi admin".

Late Caldera Systems logo

Caldera Systems created a full featured GUI system administration tool called Caldera Open Administration System (COAS).[when?] The tool was a unified, easy to use administration tool with a modular design. With its scalability and broad scope abilities, it featured:[25][26]

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OpenLinux showed the Linux community what would be required to create a mainstream desktop OS out of the Linux kernel. In many ways the last ten years[when?] of desktop progress has been to successfully implement what Caldera was attempting to do with the tools they had available using open source software in place of the closed applications. Their technique for this was to utilize commercial software to fill in the largest gaps making their product a "value add" and thus they could charge for it. It made them the most commercial and at the same time it made them the most advanced distribution available.

The desktop company became Caldera International under the direction of Ransom Love.[dubious ]

The focus for the desktop company became mainly marketing and business relationships. There were several reasons for this. The first was that Caldera had won a $280 million[27] lawsuit against Microsoft for DR-DOS and was flush with cash.[citation needed] Secondly, while the Caldera distribution was good, its primary advantages were the use of technologies not owned by Caldera and thus if Caldera were successful its success could (from a technical standpoint) be imitated, by Red Hat, SUSE, TurboLinux, etc. Third, for years Caldera had been competing directly with SCO Unix, but by 1997 Linux outperformed SCO in almost every respect.[citation needed]

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Making the choice to switch from SCO to Caldera was not a "no-brainer" for companies because that also meant a switch of vendors and support organizations. Caldera's SCO acquisition was aimed at eliminating this problem. That is Caldera International's corporate direction became to combine SCO's distribution, marketing and VAR arm with LAMP, and use Project Monterey to develop a 64-bit strategy. What SCO offered was:[28]

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From a technical standpoint however Caldera OpenLinux really shone during the Ransom Love years. Their commercial bundling solution continued to work. They had a powerful low bug (by Linux standards) distribution that worked well on a wide range of hardware. They charged a great deal relative to other distributions and were able to generate a very strong profit. Red Hat pulled way ahead of them in terms of US sales and on the global sales front they trailed SUSE and TurboLinux as well, but financially due to the DR-DOS settlement they were the strongest of all the Linux distributions.[disputed (for: refuted by events – Red Hat survived in the Linux business, Caldera did not) ]

Known releases (incomplete):

Other products:

United Linux

Main article: United Linux

United Linux mascot

Caldera Systems quickly found itself in a classic business problem where the interests of the existing business conflicted with their growth model. Santa Cruz Operation (SCO) was a much larger company than Caldera Systems had been, and in fact of the $71 million of revenue 90% was from the SCO side of the business. Moreover, Caldera Systems costs $4 in marketing to generate a $1 in sales,[31] SCO was mature and sold itself (mainly to repeat customers). The VAR relationship was even more problematic. Caldera Systems had always sold the "Linux is SCO but better" model and had done everything possible to make the transition from SCO to Caldera Systems relatively seamless. Each of the 14,000 SCO resellers made much more from each SCO sale than from sales of Caldera Systems, so they were not anxious to move existing customers from SCO to Linux; and even those, that were supportive of Linux, saw no strong value add for Caldera Systems and often sold Red Hat Enterprise Linux. Caldera Systems had two businesses in direct competition, one, which was a shrinking, but still profitable Unix business, the other a rapidly growing business, that was still hemorrhaging money.

The most logical solution was to establish Caldera Systems as the premier Linux brand. Without the threat from Red Hat, transitioning resellers from SCO to Caldera Systems would be much easier. With this in mind Ransom Love formed an alliance of large business oriented Linux distributions which utilized the KDE desktop, called United Linux. The alliance comprised Caldera International, SUSE Linux, Turbolinux, and Conectiva. Filings from Novell in the SCO Group SCO v. Novell lawsuit showed that this was more than simply a marketing gimmick, and was a real alliance.[32]

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Business responded favorably to the movement as IBM and AMD quickly formed partnerships. The Linux Professional Institute adopted United Linux as their standard distribution for training. For the first time there was a Linux distribution with:

SUSE Linux had the engineering, as it had continued to maintain a large technical staff, Caldera International had the global support organization, and Turbo Linux as well as Conectiva brought with growth potential into less flooded markets. This merger was so successful,[disputed (for: in actuality, UnitedLinux was regarded with skepticism by industry observers when it was first announced, and it collapsed less than two years later) ] that Love and Sparks could claim vindication that year when Novell reversed the Frankenberg decision and brought United Linux engineering talent back into the fold with the acquisition of SUSE.

United Linux was rejected by the broader Linux community;[33] the use of per-seat licensing was their most highly controversial decision.[34] More importantly, by the time United Linux was released, Darl McBride had become CEO of Caldera International and the focus had shifted away from Linux.

Caldera International at this point released a Caldera "Linux distribution"[citation needed][clarification needed] with the OpenUNIX 8 kernel instead of the Linux kernel. Unix has TLI and STREAMS support, which made writing drivers easier. Caldera International proved this by replacing the kernel and yet not having to change much else on a full featured desktop and server "Linux".[35][36]

Copyright infringement allegations


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Further information: SCO-Linux controversies

In 2002, the Caldera International board of directors, including Ralph Yarro, named Darl McBride, formerly with Franklin-Covey, as CEO. The company was renamed The SCO Group. Ransom Love was reassigned to work exclusively on United Linux. After he completed this, he left the company to join Progeny Linux Systems which was aiming to create a professional Debian. He remained there in the capacity of a board member and advisor[37] until 30 April 2007 when Progeny ceased operations.

McBride began to focus on SCO's copyrights. One of McBride's first acts as CEO was to collect $600,000 in back licensing fees that were owed to Caldera International. He cleaned up various Linux-related licensing issues allowing for a new round of financing.[38] Soon thereafter he made strong accusations that Linux had infringed copyrights SCO held on Unix; they claimed to have purchased these copyrights from Novell. Novell denied selling them the Unix copyright, prompting them to sue for slander of title. SCO also initiated lawsuits against IBM and AutoZone, alleging copyright infringements through the use or distribution of Linux; none of these lawsuits have been resolved. SCO has created a division, SCOsource, that owns and licenses their intellectual property; a desktop license is $699.

See also


  1. ^ This has not been the first time a member of the DR-DOS family of operating systems was chosen to support DOS programs under a Unix-style system: Novell DOS 7's predecessor DR DOS 6.0 had been bundled into Univel's UnixWare 1.0 Personal Edition with DOS Merge 3.0 in 1992 already.


  1. ^ "Windows Desktop Products History - 1993: Windows for Workgroups 3.11". Microsoft. Retrieved 2008-09-24.
  2. ^ "Caldera and Corsair - Who is Caldera, and what is Corsair, really?". Linux Journal. 1995-06-01. Retrieved 2008-09-24.
  3. ^ "willows TWIN". Free Software Directory. Retrieved 2014-05-07.
  4. ^ "Ferret Meeting Browser - User Guide". Idiap research institute. Archived from the original on 2008-09-17. Retrieved 2008-09-24.
  5. ^ Staff (1994-04-25). "Novell Brewing a New 32-Bit GUI Environment". PC Week. [1]
  6. ^ CBR Staff Writer (1994-05-27). "Novell "Has Linux-based Unix+Novell DOS 7 Corsair"". Computer Business Review.
  7. ^ Petreley, Nicholas (1996-02-19). "Down to the Wire - Hot Caldera rates a look as an Internet service, maybe even for desktops". InfoWorld: 108. Retrieved 2017-06-25.
  8. ^ a b Hughes, Phil (June 1996). "Caldera Network Desktop 1.0". Linux Journal (26). Archived from the original on 2018-08-05. Retrieved 2018-08-05.
  9. ^ a b c "LST Software GmbH Merges With Caldera Inc. - Critically acclaimed European Linux developers strengthen Caldera's Commitment". PR Newswire, Linux Congress. 1997-05-23. Archived from the original on 2012-09-13. Retrieved 2018-08-06.
  10. ^ "Linux Kernel Personality for UnixWare 7". SCO Group, Inc. Archived from the original on 2011-07-16. Retrieved 2008-09-24.
  11. ^ Vaughan-Nichols, Steven (2003-09-25). "Ransom Love, Co-founder of Caldera and SCO, Speaks of Unix, GPL and the Lawsuit". Retrieved 2008-09-24.[permanent dead link]
  12. ^ Cox, Alan. "Re: BKL removal". Unix Systems Support Group. Archived from the original on 2003-11-28. Retrieved 2008-09-24.
  13. ^ a b c Leibovitch, Evan (July 1997). "Caldera OpenLinux". Linux Gazette (19). Archived from the original on 2018-08-06. Retrieved 2018-08-06.
  14. ^ "linux announce - View topic - COMMERCIAL: Caldera Network Desktop now shipping". Retrieved 2017-09-21.
  15. ^ "Caldera Network Desktop 1.0 now shipping [long]". Retrieved 2017-09-21.
  16. ^ Fisk, John M. (1996-07-30). "Caldera OpenLinux seeking POSIX and FIPS Certification for the Linux OS". Linux Gazette. Retrieved 2008-09-24.
  17. ^ a b c "Historie" (in German). LST - Verein zur Förderung freier Software e.V. 2018 [2001]. Archived from the original on 2018-08-04. Retrieved 2018-08-04.
  18. ^ "Software Developer Caldera sues Microsoft for Antitrust practices alleges monopolistic acts shut its DR DOS operating system out of market". Salt Lake City, UT, USA: Caldera News. 1996-07-24. Archived from the original on 2017-06-24. Retrieved 2017-06-24.
  19. ^ Brors, Dieter (1997-02-20). "Caldera OpenLinux und StarOffice im Bundle" (in German). Heise Online. Archived from the original on 2018-08-08. Retrieved 2018-08-08.
  20. ^ "Produkt-Telegramme: Star Office 3.1 für Linux portiert". Computerwoche (in German). 1997-05-16. Archived from the original on 2018-08-06. Retrieved 2018-08-08.
  21. ^ Strobl, Rudolf (January 2003). "Der Gründer über Gestern, Heute und Linux". Linux Magazin (in German). 2003 (1). 100. Archived from the original on 2018-08-08. Retrieved 2018-08-08.((cite journal)): CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  22. ^ Bantle, Ulrich (October 2017). "Linux-Distributionen und frühe Protagonisten aus Deutschland". Linux Magazin (in German). 2017 (10). Archived from the original on 2018-08-05. Retrieved 2018-08-05.
  23. ^ Kirch, Olaf (2002-05-04). "Caldera Volution Messaging Server: A Product Review". Linux Journal. Retrieved 2008-09-24.
  24. ^ "The Openlinux Lizard". Retrieved 2017-09-21.
  25. ^ "COAS". NLUUG. 1998-06-23. Archived from the original on 2007-09-28. Retrieved 2009-03-16.
  26. ^ "COAS: A Flexible Approach to System Administration Tools". Linux Journal. 1999-02-01. Retrieved 2008-09-24.
  27. ^ "Exhibits to Microsoft's Cross Motion for Summary Judgment in Novell WordPerfect Case". Groklaw. 2009-11-23. Archived from the original on 2013-08-21. Retrieved 2011-10-22.
  28. ^ "Ransom Love Interview and Caldera Systems, Inc at Comdex Fall 2000". Retrieved 2008-09-24.
  30. ^ "Caldera Releases NetWare for Linux 1.0 (fwd)". 1998. Retrieved 2022-12-23.
  31. ^ Stone, Brad (July 2004). "The Linux Killer". Wired. Retrieved 2006-11-13.
  32. ^ "Novell's, Inc.'s Motion to Stay" (PDF). Groklaw. 2006-04-10. Retrieved 2008-09-24.
  33. ^ Mueller, Dietmar (2001-06-25). "Open source leaders duke it out". ZDNet. Archived from the original on 2007-03-27. Retrieved 2008-09-24.
  34. ^ "Timothy R. Butler Interview". Retrieved 2008-09-24.
  35. ^ One of the main features of Caldera Open Unix 8 is the LKP, which stands for Linux Kernel Personality. It's a Linux kernel running at the same time as the Unix kernel. It's a full install of Caldera OpenLinux 3.1 on top of Open Unix 8.1.49 from OpenUNIX 8 FAQ
  36. ^ The result is transparent execution of Open UNIX 8 (or UnixWare 7) applications and most Linux applications, which will run without modification or recompilation. from Caldera, SCO Unveil Open UNIX 8 Press Release 2001-03-26
  37. ^ "Board of Directors". Archived from the original on 2006-05-09. Retrieved 2008-09-24.
  38. ^ Shankland, Stephen (2002-07-27). "Struggling Linux company swaps CEOs". CNET. Retrieved 2008-09-24.

Further reading