Novell’s virtualisation agreement with Microsoft has been controversial for a variety of reasons. Among those reasons is Novell’s willingness to make GNU/Linux secondary to Windows in the datacentre. Consider this old interview.
In an interview with Computerworld, Ron Hovsepian gives some background on the genesis and workings of the Microsoft-Novell deal. Hovsepian states that the deal began in search of virtualization, and that initially Microsoft’s position was that Linux could be virtualized within Windows, but not Windows within Linux.
Later on, Novell indicated that its special ‘deal’ with Microsoft brought it what others were already able to achieve without a deal. Then arose the suspicion that Microsoft might use virtualisation as a bargaining card (or extortion) to have more companies sign patent deals. Recall what Shane said at the time. Here is where a news article fits in. On the face of it, Novell and Microsoft will shortly introduce a shim.
In particular, there is some work going on to support paravirtualized drivers for Windows guest machines running on SUSE. Having this in place would allow Windows guests to run on SUSE Linux without needing to go through an emulation layer, thereby improving performance. I’m going to be particularly interested in hearing how these drivers will be licensed, as my suspicion is that they will end up needing to be open sourced, which will make them available to everyone, not just Novell customers.
This is Novell’s chance to show that it doesn’t work in isolation. We previously criticised licensing that accompanies this work. Is Novell a mixed source company or is it truly stuck in its proprietary roots? We shall soon find out.