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05.07.07

Former SUSE Desktop’s Chief Architect Joins Google

Posted in Google, Novell at 5:26 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

There have been various speculations — however baseless they may be — about Robert Love’s sudden departure from Novell. Later on came the clarification from Robert himself. It turns out that he followed the same route as Jeremy Allison, essentially leaving Novell in order to join Google. You may recall that Chris DiBona issued an open invitation to Novell staff back in 2006. He opened their doors without saying much, except for the fact that Google were hiring.

Dana Blankenhorn has a good roundup of departures in Novell. He also asks, “Will the last top developer out of Novell please turn off the lights?”. Novell’s PR responds on his blog. They are throwing sand at the burning fire.

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18 Comments

  1. Francis Giannaros said,

    May 7, 2007 at 6:21 pm

    Gravatar

    > It turns out that he followed the same route as Jeremy Allison

    ….in the way that he joined Google, not in the way that he left because of anything to do with the deal.

    Bruce raises some points that really do hit on some major truths on that blog , and they’re comments that have been all-too-conveniently been left out. Don’t we care about our veracity anymore guys? Anyone who says something bad about Novell isn’t automatically right; in fact, he’s completely wrong in the link you provided (with regard to marketing and engineers).

    Everyone has their eyes on who’s leaving and is eagerly hoping that more will leave in protest of the deal (to the point where people dream up the reasons before they’re announced), but the reality is very, very different. Surely it’s time to re-examine your premises at a time like this if it’s getting to the point where a lot of FUD (I use the word in its most careful sense) is being posted on here. I would make a list with clear examples, but I’m not sure there’s much point.

  2. Roy Schestowitz said,

    May 7, 2007 at 6:41 pm

    Gravatar

    Francis, you make some very valid points, which is why we’re open to discussion. I will only say that Novell appears to be losing more staff than it is recruiting. This indicates that the company has found no room for growth, whether it is due to backlash or because the deal with Microsoft offered nothing substantial. From what I can gather, SUSE has also lost some of its dominance as a brand name. From a technical perspective, there is a lot left to be desired.

    If Novell wanted to assist growth of Linux as a whole, then it would have joined OIN and fought for the cause. Heck, even Oracle did this recently. Novell did the very opposite. It waved a white flag.

  3. Francis Giannaros said,

    May 7, 2007 at 7:22 pm

    Gravatar

    > I will only say that Novell appears to be losing more staff than it is recruiting.

    That doesn’t really seem to be the case; as Bruce has mentioned, the amount of Linux engineers has in fact increased. This also means that the other points you conclude from this issue are unsubstantiated.

    It seems like more are leaving because, as I said, so many are eagerly watching all the employees as they leave and aren’t looking at any that are being hired. :)

    > whether it is due to backlash or because the deal with Microsoft offered nothing substantial

    Yesterday you linked to a post which talked about the 40,000 Linuxs being sold. Is that figure not substantial? The good deal of extra cash they’ve got isn’t substantial, as well?

    > From what I can gather, SUSE has also lost some of its dominance as a brand name.

    Not its dominance, but its effect, for certain. However, I know that this cannot be put down to any of its technical shortcomings (indeed, quite the contrary; its engineers and the extent of innovation in SUSE is really what differentiates it), but to the very much online and ‘vocal’ community (such as this site, I’m afraid to say) who enforce — and really, inculcate — negative headlines into the masses of the community with little grounding.

    What’s incredibly sad is when it’s targeted at openSUSE, too. The amount of users on the distribution has almost certainly been increasing, but you still very frequently hear completely clueless people make snide (and inherently quite childish) remarks such as “openSUSE is in bed with MS” etc. openSUSE is a project *sponsored* by Novell (from the homepage). So is the Linux kernel, KDE, GNOME, OpenOffice.org, X.org/Xgl/Compiz and yet everyone of course happily uses all of those. =)

    > If Novell wanted to assist growth of Linux as a whole, then it would have joined OIN and fought for the cause. Heck, even Oracle did this recently. Novell did the very opposite. It waved a white flag.

    What do you mean? Novell is a founding member of the OIN, is dedicated to persistent support of it (has already helped it tremendously), and is of course still a member.

  4. gpl1 said,

    May 7, 2007 at 7:25 pm

    Gravatar

    openSUSE is affected by the patent deal. Only non-commercial ‘hobbyists’ can contribute to that project:

    http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/press/2006/nov06/11-02MSNovelFAQ.mspx

    http://www.novell.com/linux/microsoft/openletter.html

    http://www.microsoft.com/interop/msnovellcollab/default.mspx

  5. Roy Schestowitz said,

    May 7, 2007 at 7:45 pm

    Gravatar

    Francis,

    > That doesn’t really seem to be the case; as Bruce has
    > mentioned, the amount of Linux engineers has in fact increased.

    It is natural to expect this because the company is in a state of transition. “Linux engineers”, not “engineers”. I suspect that, all in all, the number of employees is being reduced. For example see http://boycottnovell.com/2007/03/06/novell-bad-new/

    Has anybody got hard numbers?

    > Yesterday you linked to a post which talked about the
    > 40,000 Linuxs being sold.

    What happens when these ‘vouchers’ run out? Also, how come Novell’s big rival is suddently its salesman? It seems absurd.

    >What do you mean? Novell is a founding member of the OIN,
    > is dedicated to persistent support of it (has already helped it
    > tremendously), and is of course still a member.

    Novell also said it was supporting the FSF (and apologised later). OIN is there to protect Linux from claims that Linux is ‘unclean’, or at least offer defence. What sort of defence did Novell offer when it joined Microsoft in its invitation for other distributors to make patent deals?

  6. Francis Giannaros said,

    May 7, 2007 at 7:50 pm

    Gravatar

    > Only non-commercial ‘hobbyists’ can contribute to that project

    Nonsense.

    > openSUSE is affected by the patent deal.

    You really should take a look at http://andreasjaeger.blogspot.com/2006/11/opensuse-and-microsoft.html

  7. Francis Giannaros said,

    May 7, 2007 at 8:00 pm

    Gravatar

    Roy,

    > It is natural to expect this because the company is in a state of transition. “Linux engineers”, not “engineers”.

    No, I don’t follow what you’re saying at all. You’re saying that the increase in Linux engineers in Novell is not a good thing? If you really want hard numbers we could ask Bruce for some; I’m sure he could perhaps do some digging, if you’re really interested in this point. I find it curious that you think he wouldn’t know about this though, or that he’s lying. Nevermind.

    > What happens when these ‘vouchers’ run out?

    Then they don’t get support, or they have to purchase more; that’s how support teams generally work. What’s wrong with that?

    > Also, how come Novell’s big rival is suddently its salesman? It seems absurd.

    So you dislike things because there was a “sudden change”? Opposing change for change’s sake is a little silly.

    Microsoft and Novell have, several times in fact, outlined why they have done it. MS have been getting a lot of customers requesting it.

    > Novell also said it was supporting the FSF (and apologised later).

    What’s your point? You think they’re lying about being a founding member of the OIN and about contributing _significantly_ to it?

    > OIN is there to protect Linux from claims that Linux is ‘unclean’, or at least offer defence. What sort of defence did Novell offer when it joined Microsoft in its invitation for other distributors to make patent deals?

    Ok, now I’m really beginning to think you’re just going to make big claims without backing them up, or just throw them around for no reason. Here are the facts:
    * Novell is a founding member of the OIN
    * Novell has contributed considerably to the OIN
    * Novell is still a member of the OIN
    * Novell and the OIN publically denounce MS’s statements about Linux infringing on MS’s intellectual property.

  8. gpl1 said,

    May 7, 2007 at 9:14 pm

    Gravatar

    made a mistake in above (was from memory), but this means that if you buy Suse linux basically you’re contributing to MS saying only contributers to openSUSE are protected, but not commercial developers contributing to other Linuxes. It’s odd since openSUSE is a conglomeration from projects and from commercial developers who hack on things like GNOME and the kernel and GNU, not covered by the agreement. How does that fit into the deal?

    “So Microsoft today is making two, I think, important commitments, or promises to different groups of developers in the open source community. The first is a promise that we won’t assert our patents against individual, non-commercial, open source developers. Who are these? These are individuals who are creating code, contributing code, they’re not being paid for that code, they’re often working in the evenings or at home. They’re not creating it as part of their job, but they’re acting in an individual non-commercial way. The promise doesn’t run to anybody who employs them, because after all, they’re not acting in the course of their employment. But, it gives those folks a new commitment from Microsoft.

    The second thing we did in this area was add a promise that goes to developers, even developers who are getting paid to create code to OpenSUSE.org, code that Novell then takes and incorporates into its distribution, and that is then covered under the patent cooperation agreement between us, because after all Novell is ensuring that our patent rights are respected in an appropriate way, and that gives us the ability to address the needs and interests of those individuals. ”

    http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/exec/steve/2006/11-02NovellInterop.mspx

  9. Roy Schestowitz said,

    May 7, 2007 at 9:14 pm

    Gravatar

    Francis,

    > No, I don’t follow what you’re saying at all. You’re
    > saying that the increase in Linux engineers in Novell
    > is not a good thing?

    No, what I was suggesting is that the overall number of engineers may be declining. I do not know this for sure, but as Matt Asay said last week, there’s ‘restructuring’ affecting the team of NetWare engineers.

    > > Also, how come Novell’s big rival is suddenly its salesman? It
    > > seems absurd.
    >
    > So you dislike things because there was a “sudden change”? Opposing
    > change for change’s sake is a little silly.

    Among the archives of this Web site you will find various antitrust exhibits which show how Microsoft backstabbed Novell over the years. Novell is simply coming back for more, IMHO.

  10. Ian said,

    May 7, 2007 at 10:06 pm

    Gravatar

    Not to pile on, but the NetWare team is certainly going to be restructured. NetWare 6.5 as a major version is the last one. There will be no NetWare 7 from what I understand. 6.5.7 is going to be paravirtualized and part of OES2. The next version(6.5.8 maybe?) will be fully virtualized. Seeing as OES2 is due out this year, most of the major work is probably done. With no real future in terms of development, there’s no real need for a large development team for an OS that is coming close to being phased out beyond support.

    I was a bit miffed over the recent departures, but I’ve somewhat tempered myself by realizing that Novell has more than half a dozen developers/employees.

  11. Roy Schestowitz said,

    May 7, 2007 at 10:48 pm

    Gravatar

    I realise that among 5,000 (or thereabouts) employees it’s natural to expect that departure du jour. It just doesn’t seem like Novell’s deal with Microsoft helped it focus better on its goals. It only hurt many of those who worked alongside Novell. If it were not for the deal, SLED 10 would possibly have been on Dell desktops by now, despite all the scare tactics.

    Speaking of which, the infamous shill from Forbes (you know which one) is taking his turn now, having a stab at Dell for its Linux moves. Previously it was Laura DiDio and Rob Enderle. They seem to work as a group. Same story with the OLPC. Fortunately, Maureen O’Gara is nowhere to be seen ever since she got fired.

  12. Francis Giannaros said,

    May 8, 2007 at 3:12 am

    Gravatar

    gpl1,

    > but this means that if you buy Suse linux basically you’re contributing to MS saying only contributers to openSUSE are protected

    This sentence simply does not follow at all. By that reasoning, every open source programmer is also contributing to MS saying whatever they like. MS and any other company can say whatever they like; Novell have completely denounced these statements of infringement of patents, so how right exactly is it to criticize them for it?

    ———————-
    Roy,

    > No, what I was suggesting is that the overall number of engineers may be declining. I do not know this for sure, but as Matt Asay said last week, there’s ‘restructuring’ affecting the team of NetWare engineers.

    But look at what you’ve concluded here. Your argument ran as follows:
    (i) Novell is losing engineers,
    (ii) Nothing substantial is coming from the deal

    Well, (i) Novell has gained more engineers (which can only be a positive thing), and (ii) very substantial things have come from the deal: more wide-scale Linux adoption, and a little extra cash (as any Linux co-operation could do well with, as I’m sure you know).

    > Among the archives of this Web site you will find various antitrust exhibits which show how Microsoft backstabbed Novell over the years. Novell is simply coming back for more, IMHO.

    Such a simple conclusion oversimplifies and trivializes the complex workings and attitudes of incredibly large companies (Microsoft, Novell). This might be a valid sentiment when applied to a friend Jack down the road, but in itself.

    > It just doesn’t seem like Novell’s deal with Microsoft helped it focus better on its goals. It only hurt many of those who worked alongside Novell.

    You’re really just skipping over any issues against the points you make :)

    (i) 40,000 Linuxs is an incredibly substantial number
    (ii) Novell has gained Linux engineers

    Which of these is Novell not concentrating on its goals?

    > Speaking of which, the infamous shill from Forbes (you know which one) is taking his turn now, having a stab at Dell for its Linux moves.

    Well I’m rapidly losing faith in some parts of the open source community. Mainly huge parts of the online and “vocal” community, because of their sheer ability to jump on so many fud trailers based solely on negative headlines. I _know_ this is the case because I’ve discussed the issue with so many people who displayed very considerable hatred towards Novell, and had really no knowledge of the events (as in, all their points were baseless).

    You’ll note that it’s generally not the guys doing all the work (most of the time), just those who think they have an official spokesperson role in the community (as Nat has mentioned).

  13. Roy Schestowitz said,

    May 8, 2007 at 5:33 am

    Gravatar

    Francis, I appreciate your message, which bring balance and encourage discussion. I agree that some of your points are valid, but many of these things are subjective. I cannot speak for Shane, but I do not see ourselves as folks who represent “the” community (whatever that is). We only express our feelings and offer our interpretations. If others feel similarly, they are invited to join in and read some thoughts that we wish to share.

  14. Francis Giannaros said,

    May 8, 2007 at 8:14 am

    Gravatar

    All I really ask is that you really think objectively a bit when any Novell-related headline gets announced. Particularly when this site is meant to be a critical blog, you should be looking for real criticisms rather than beginning from the viewpoint of “Novell headline announced, what’s the worst possible (though unbelievably unlikely in most cases) implications that this could ever have?”

    There’s nothing wrong with fighting for a cause that you believe in; just be reasonable about it. If your points are true, they’ll speak on their own account; no-one needs extra ill-founded speculations. =)

  15. Roy Schestowitz said,

    May 8, 2007 at 8:34 am

    Gravatar

    Thanks. I’ll definitely keep this in mind. I am rarely (if ever) in favour of sensationalism in journalism (see The Register, The Inquirer, or even TechDirt). Still, I perceive this as a Web log, not a place for religiously objective, well-research articles. I’m sure it’ll improve in the future as/if responsibility is increased and knowledge of the problem at hand improved.

  16. bongo said,

    May 8, 2007 at 1:38 pm

    Gravatar

    Francis

    What about Novell answering some of the questions raised on Groklaw when Novell & Microsoft were going to give a presentation. The one that was supposed to be hosted by Dan Bricklin, the one that conveniently evaporated.

    /bongo

  17. Francis Giannaros said,

    May 8, 2007 at 3:59 pm

    Gravatar

    Bongo,

    If you let me know the question, then the possibility of me knowing the answer increases; I’m all ears. :)

  18. b3timmons said,

    May 8, 2007 at 7:59 pm

    Gravatar

    @Francis:

    Thanks for questioning some of the claims made on this blog. After all, what boycottnovell.com is doing is raising questions about Novell, and it is only fair to point out their mistakes.

    However, the overwhelming fact is that by making the patent agreement with Microsoft, Novell circumvented the most important license in FOSS. Also consider the behavior of Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer, the clear motivation of Microsoft to do anything such as using Novell to hurt the community, and the ridiculous imbalance of resources of MSFT/NOVL versus the community, In this context, any moral outrage in favor of Novell, requires strong justification.

    Before I speculate too much, I must ask: do you see anything wrong at all with Novell circumventing the GPL? Do you think it matters much and that it has set an ugly precedant to inspire other firms? If so, have you considered converting any such negative feelings into expressions about why Novell should back out of the patent agreement?

    Surely you must realize that boycottnovell.com falls into a huge gray zone of “news” with a limited amount of fact checking. Have you any idea how advanced Microsoft’s network of “news” sources is? Yes, I know that does not justify making mistakes on this blog, but I have seen no indications that the mistakes on this blog are dishonest in any way. Sadly, based on my observations of zdnet.com and other Microsoft lackeys, I detect a pattern of dishonesty.

    So far, I see no problem with boycottnovell.com, since I see no _dishonesty_. Yes, they speculate, but who is to say that the patent agreement has faced enough skepticism? Who is to say that is 1/10th of what it should be? That’s what I like about the boycottnovell.com speculation: it _reminds_ people that Novell should pay for what it has perpetrated. How much they should pay is debatable, of course, but I, for one, at least expect an eventual retraction of the patent agreement and an apology.

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