June 4, 2002 5:55 PM PDT

HP's Unix tops in study of features

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For the first time, Hewlett-Packard has won top ranking in an annual study of the merits of different versions of the Unix operating system, displacing Sun Microsystems.

"HP-UX occupies the top spot in every studied category," said computing research firm D.H. Brown Associates, which compared HP's HP-UX 11i with second-place Solaris 8 from Sun and third-place AIX 5.1 from IBM. Last place--though still a ranking between "good" and "very good"--went to Compaq Computer's Tru64 Unix, a product that's being phased out in coming years as HP incorporates some of its features into HP-UX after its $19 billion acquisition of Compaq last month.

"This is the first time that HP-UX has held first place since we started our evaluations" in 1990, said analyst Tony Iams.

The news is welcome to HP, the No. 2 seller of Unix servers, as it grapples with industrywide declines in Unix server sales and fierce price competition from No. 1 Sun and No. 3 IBM. Revenue for HP's top-end SuperDome server increased 5 percent in the company's most recent quarter, but Unix server revenue overall declined 4 percent, Chief Executive Carly Fiorina said in May.

Features that gave HP the edge included HP-UX's "extraordinary advantage in the area of workload management," D.H. Brown said, noting the multitude of ways that jobs can be assigned to run in different fractions of HP Unix servers and its abilities to withstand component failure. Solaris was a close second in those departments.

HP-UX also was ahead of competitors in Internet and Web technology support, with support of advanced Internet protocols and good abilities to connect to Windows environments.

D.H. Brown didn't include Linux--a clone of Unix--in this report, but plans to in an update, Iams said. Last year, the company's study found for the first time that some versions of Linux had surpassed the lowest-ranked Unix.


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