Unix Leaders Announce Common Open Software Environment

Six Companies Agree On Software Technologies And Common Desktop Reinforce Commitment To Open Systems

SAN FRANCISCO, UNIFORUM, March 17, 1993 -- Worldwide UNIX system leaders Hewlett-Packard Company, IBM Corp., The Santa Cruz Operation, Inc., Sun Microsystems, Inc., Univel and UNIX System Laboratories, Inc. today announced their intent to deliver a common open software environment across their UNIX system platforms. This announcement is in response to increased customer demand for consistent technologies across multiple platforms, greater technology choice, increased cost savings and quicker time to market.

HP, IBM, SCO, SunSoft, the software subsidiary of Sun Microsystems, Inc., Univel and USL have defined a specification for a common desktop environment that gives end users a consistent look and feel. They have defined a consistent set of application programming interfaces (APIs) for the desktop that will run across all of their systems, opening up a larger opportunity for software developers. The six companies have each decided to adopt common networking products, allowing for increased interoperability across heterogeneous computers. In addition, they have endorsed specifications, standards and technologies in the areas of graphics, multimedia and object technology, and have announced a working group in the area of systems administration. All of the new specifications, technologies and products will be designed to preserve compatibility with the companies' existing software application environments.

Today's announcement is a strong endorsement for the premise of open systems. Under open systems, unencumbered specifications are freely available, independent branding and certification processes exist, multiple implementations of a single product may be created and competition is enhanced. To this extent, the Open Software Foundation (OSF) has agreed to submit the Motif specification and associated support materials to X/Open for incorporation into a future release of X/Open's portability guide, including licensing of the trademark and the branding process. In addition, Novell/Univel have agreed to submit the specification for the NetWare UNIX client to X/Open.

Common Desktop Environment

The six companies have defined a specification for a common desktop environment that will provide end users with a consistent computing experience and software developers with a consistent set of programming interfaces for the HP, IBM, SCO, SunSoft, Univel and USL platforms. This advanced environment will enable users to transparently access data and applications from anywhere in the network.

The companies plan to publish a preliminary specification for the environment by the end of June, 1993 and will periodically release updates to the industry. They have agreed to submit the specification to X/Open for incorporation into the X/Open portability guide. HP, IBM, Sun and USL will make available an implementation for the common desktop, based on X/Open specifications, in the first half of 1994 that will be openly licensable to the industry. SCO and Univel will strongly participate on the evolution of this common desktop environment. The six companies will host a Developers Conference in early October to give users and software developers details on products and direction.

The common desktop environment will incorporate aspects of HP's Visual User Environment (VUE), IBM's Common User Access model and Workplace Shell, OSF's Motif toolkit and Window Manager, SunSoft's OPEN LOOK and DeskSet productivity tools and USL's UNIX SVR4.2 desktop manager components and scalable systems technologies. Specific technologies to be used by the six companies include the X Window System, Version 11, the Motif toolkit and interface and SunSoft's ToolTalk interapplication communication product with an incorporated HP Encapsulator. As most of this environment exists today, the companies will integrate key technologies available in the open marketplace and innovate where appropriate to give users and software developers a consistent UNIX desktop environment. The common desktop environment was demonstrated here today running across five hardware and software platforms.

The companies' goal is to preserve compatibility of existing applications written to HP-UX, IBM AIX/6000, SCO Open Desktop, SunSoft Solaris, Univel UnixWare and USL UNIX SVR4.2 as they are evolved from their current desktops to the common desktop environment.


In furthering support for heterogeneous computing, HP, IBM, SCO, SunSoft, Univel and USL will sell, deliver and support OSF's DCE, SunSoft's ONC+ and Novell/Univel's NetWare UNIX client networking products. The companies will offer customers greater choice while providing them with a consistent level of support and integration. Users will gain increased interoperability across multiple platforms while continuing to protect their current investments.

Individual companies will announce pricing and availability for each of their products at a later date.


To enable consistent implementation of high-performance graphics software and promote wider availability of applications in the marketplace, the companies plan to support a core set of graphics facilities from the X Consortium. These are Xlib/X for basic 2D pixel graphics; Pexlib/PEX for 2D/3D geometry graphics; and XIElib/XIE for advanced imaging.


The six companies will submit a joint specification for the Interactive Multimedia Association's (IMA) request for technology. This will provide users with consistent access to multimedia tools in heterogeneous environments and enable developers to create next-generation applications using media as data.

Object Technology

HP, IBM, SCO, SunSoft, Univel and USL are working together to accelerate the development and delivery of object-based technology. They are supporting the efforts of the Object Management Group (OMG) that has developed the Common Object Request Broker (CORBA) standard for distributed object management solutions. The companies will comply with the CORBA specification in their future product implementations.

In addition, the companies will work with the OMG to establish common guidelines to simplify developer transition, specify core capabilities for object construction and development, and further the adoption of common testing and certification.

Systems Management

As more customers move to distributed heterogeneous computing environments, enterprise system management becomes a critical requirement. To this extent, the six companies will form a working group to facilitate the rationalization and rapid acceptance of industry specifications in the systems management arena. The companies will initially focus on the areas of user and group management; software installation and distribution management; software licensing management; storage management; print spooling and distributed file system management.


1993 IBM is a registered trademark of International Business Machines Corp. and AIX/6000 is a trademark of International Business Machines Corp. NetWare is a registered trademark of Novell, Inc. OSF, Motif and Open Software Foundation are trademarks of the Open Software Foundation in the U.S. Univel and UnixWare are trademarks of Univel. SCO and SCO Open Desktop are registered trademarks of The Santa Cruz Operation, Inc. in the U.S. and other countries. Sun Microsystems, Inc. SunSoft, Solaris, ONC+ and ToolTalk are trademarks or registered trademarks of Sun Microsystems, Inc. UNIX and OPEN LOOK are registered trademarks of UNIX System Laboratories in the U.S. and other countries. X/Open is a trademark of X/Open Company Ltd. in the United Kingdom and other countries. All other products or service names mentioned herein are trademarks of their respective owners.