How much does the Unix-license cost?

roccobaroccoSC

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As I have seen in many places that FreeBSD does not have the Unix seal because it costs much, I was wondering:
How much does the Unix license cost?

Would it be feasible to start a crowd funding project to pay for the FreeBSD to become Unix :) ?
 

Cthulhux

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FreeBSD has diverged a lot from its Unix heritage, I think it would be a fraudulent labeling to attach the "official" Unix name to it now. Yes, I know that "others do it too". That does not fix the underlying ethical issues.

It probably won't be that expensive, given that there's even a Linux distribution that is a certified "Unix" (Inspur K/UX). But I don't think it is something anyone should want to do.
 
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roccobaroccoSC

roccobaroccoSC

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You're probably right. And there's the historical baggage too - I mean the lawsuit about the intellectual property. Staying away from the Unix name is probably a wiser thing to do.
 

rigoletto@

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FreeBSD probably could become an offical UNIX if it pay the OpenGroup (who owns the UNIX brand). IDK how it costs but I assume something about US$100K, and that would need to be paid for every new version.

There is a process to follow, but I suppose that would be the least of the problems.

But what would be the benefits of it compared with the same amount of money invested in actual development?
 

Vull

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Back when they were still sitting in the cat bird seat, Unix vendors used to charge thousands for Unix licenses, making their Unixes very expensive for a select few, and totally inaccessable for most potential users who would otherwise have loved to get their hands on it. FreeBSD has never done us like that. Let the FreeBSD flag fly.
 

ralphbsz

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There are several things beings mixed up here. First, the license to use the Unix source code (which came originally from Bell Labs a.k.a. AT&T a.k.a. Western Electric a.k.a. ...). Note that for a long time, the BSD distribution (when there was only one BSD, which came from Berkeley) contained that Unix source code, until that licensed code was removed somewhere around the Net/2 version, in the early 90s). Today, there are still several Unixes being sold that contain the original source code.

Second, the license to display the Unix conformance mark. This is for example what some Linux distributions have done. You can get there with or without a license to the Unix source code, as Linux distributions have demonstrated. This is all about demonstrating that the OS, as delivered, is compatible with a set of specifications. I think there are quite a few OSes which have that conformance and have nothing to do with Unix; if I remember right, some version of IBM zOS (formerly known as MVS, a mainframe operating system) and some version of Microsoft Windows have passed this conformance testing too.

Third, what Vull is talking about is the license to operate a certain Unix version. This is where an OS vendor sells licenses to end users. Given that FreeBSD is free software (in the sense that one does not have to pay for a license to run it), this is inapplicable.
 

Vull

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Thanks very much ralphbz, that's a very good overview. Still, the term "Unix license" and even the name "Unix" carries a lot of baggage with it for a lot of people, as does the name A.T.&T. When used as a more-or-less generic term for a certain type of operating system compliance, what is really gained from such a license or certificate of compliance? People already know that FreeBSD is "Unix-like." It's like saying you drive a "car" when you actually have a Ferrari. I've used a lot of Unixes of lesser quality than FreeBSD by far, and, monetary considerations aside, I'd still rather use FreeBSD, because I honestly think it's better than just any old run-of-the-mill Unix or Unix-like system. A lot of Unixes would do well to set their sights on being more like FreeBSD, or to better associate their own names with that of FreeBSD. That's my opinion.
 

ralphbsz

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It's tricky. For real customers who matter financially (the ones who put a lot of effort into evaluating what software they buy), the tradeoff between something like AIX, HP-UX and Solaris (all real Unixes in the sense of containing the original AT&T source code) one one side, and Linux or *BSD on the other side depends on a lot of things; it does not depend on the trademarked name "Unix". They know full well how compatible or incompatible Linux and *BSD are.

And some of those customers continue to use AIX and HP-UX and Solaris. They have really good reasons for that. Those versions tend to be heavily debugged, very well quality controlled, they work perfectly on serious big-iron machines, and they have extremely good support. If you are a multi-million $ customer of IBM, HP or Oracle, and your expensive "Unix" machine crashes, you dial an 800 number, and someone will help you right away. That's something that you can't do with *BSD, and only to a little extent with Linux (RedHat and SUSE have support, but it is nowhere near that level).

If FreeBSD wanted to enter that market and compete, then it might want to get the Unix certification. I find that very unlikely.
 

hukadan

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You can find details about the costs here :

Extract:
Table 2: Fees for UNIX Trademark
Annual Shipments (Units)
Annual Fee (US$)
Up to 1,000​
$25,000​
1,000 to 30,000​
$50,000​
more than 30,000​
$110,000​
 

Vull

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It's tricky. For real customers who matter financially (the ones who put a lot of effort into evaluating what software they buy), the tradeoff between something like AIX, HP-UX and Solaris (all real Unixes in the sense of containing the original AT&T source code) one one side, and Linux or *BSD on the other side depends on a lot of things; it does not depend on the trademarked name "Unix". They know full well how compatible or incompatible Linux and *BSD are.

And some of those customers continue to use AIX and HP-UX and Solaris. They have really good reasons for that. Those versions tend to be heavily debugged, very well quality controlled, they work perfectly on serious big-iron machines, and they have extremely good support. If you are a multi-million $ customer of IBM, HP or Oracle, and your expensive "Unix" machine crashes, you dial an 800 number, and someone will help you right away. That's something that you can't do with *BSD, and only to a little extent with Linux (RedHat and SUSE have support, but it is nowhere near that level).

If FreeBSD wanted to enter that market and compete, then it might want to get the Unix certification. I find that very unlikely.
Before FreeBSD or GNU/Linux became widely available, AIX was my favorite Unix. I never got to work with HP-UX or Solaris, but we hustled a lot of SCO/Openserver 5 licenses to our clients, which brings me no great pride. Xenix never passed muster in our software department. FreeBSD now naturally beats the AIX of way-back-then, but I'm sure the AIX of today is probably greatly improved. The 1-800 support line is great if one can afford it.

The names BSD and Berkeley Software are also worthy of great pride, although they're perhaps not so widely acknowledged as they might be, or should be. Microsoft and Apple both borrowed freely from the UC Berkeley research efforts in the early days, with little to no acknowledgement marketing-wise, while A.T.&T. was still using it's Unix copyright to encumber the efforts of Bill Joy and others to bring BSD to the masses. The lion's share of the code we now call Unix and GNU was designed and first implemented by UC Berkeley. Ken Thompson was just one among many of the Berkeley alumni who were behind what we call Unix today.
 
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roccobaroccoSC

roccobaroccoSC

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I have had some experience with AIX and the system worked quite well. We had however the problem that the software packages were quite outdated. It seemed the vendor did not have enough resources to keep up AIX up to date.
One example would be the C++ compiler xlc that had a hard time to support C++11, where the standard was moving towards C++17. Of course, there is also gcc but the default compiler for AIX comes with the OS itself.
From my experience with FreeBSD, the OS is fairly well updated. It has a very nice community.
 

drhowarddrfine

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what some Linux distributions have done.
Only one Linux distribution has obtained a UNIX cert and that was just a couple of years ago. It's a custom version that, iirc, is also proprietary for one specific super computer and cannot be downloaded, though that I'm not sure of.
 

forquare

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Sure it’s a low cost, but I wonder what they get out of it. Did/does it attract some sort of business? Was/is it part of some contract they had/have?
 

ralphbsz

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The real cost of Unix compliance is not the small fee to be paid to the Open Group. It is getting the OS to actually be compliant, keeping it that way, building a test infrastructure for that, and organizing the regular compliance audits, so each new OS version gets that "stamp of approval". My educated guess would be that this takes a dedicated team of 5-10 people, plus extra work from folks in the OS group. At a cost per software engineer of $300K to $500K per year in Silicon Valley, this dwarfs the fee.

Why would Apple do it? There could be a variety of reasons. One is that they have some customers who demand it, just like many customers today expect FIPS compliance for parts of the security implementation, or in general ISO 9000/14000/... compliance for processes. It could also be that they think that this extra label will attract other customers. I think the most plausible explanation is something else though: Apple wants its products to be nearly perfect, and being forced into standards compliance is a good way to make your development process and resulting process less variable and more controlled.
 
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