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09.07.07

Do-No-Evil Saturday:OpenSUSE @ Beta3, SLED Preloads, Virtual Iron, and More

Posted in Europe, Finance, IBM, Identity Management, Marketing, Novell, OpenSUSE, Red Hat, SLES/SLED, Virtualisation at 9:13 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

OpenSUSE

The announcement of the third beta of OpenSUSE 10.3 was made just a couple of days ago.

The openSUSE Team is proud to announce the release of openSUSE 10.3 Beta 3. Though this release should not be used on any production machines, everyone can help shape this release by testing out installations and much more.

The OpenSUSE Web site already offers a nice and very visual sneak peek at this upcoming release. Many screenshots with ‘eye candy’ are included.

Compiz and Xgl are two classic examples of where SUSE engineers have revolutionised the Linux desktop. openSUSE 10.3 will contain the latest Compiz 0.5.4 installed by default, and Compiz Fusion — the result of a merge between the Compiz and Beryl communities — will be available in the official online repository for all to get through YaST.

Here are the experiences of one person who gets his feet wet with the second beta.

Since this is a beta I’m not that worried about it. On the whole this beta is good enough to be put on a system for full time use. I’m definitely looking forward to this when it goes final in a few months.

A computer business in Germany has just begun preinstalling OpenSUSE on some systems.

Today, Shuttle Europe announced that they start selling two of their small form factor machines with pre-installed Novell (formerly SuSE) Linux distributions. They offer a “business” machine with SLED 10 from €529, and a “home” machine with OpenSUSE from €489.

It was surprising to find that Portugal had a national openSUSE meeting.

Marketing and Business

There have been quite a few announcements, so breaking them further down into sub-subheadings seems sensible.

Deals

Novell received praises for its progress in European education.

For Red Hat, it isn’t just the French public sector where it is making gains. Earlier this year, the Kingfisher Group migrated its 240 Castorama and Brico Dépôt stores to Red Hat Enterprise Linux. The DIY retailer was able to halve the number of servers it required and increase server performance.

An IBM announcement from LinuxWorld appears to be making some headlines again. IBM will be assisting the adoption of SLED and, in return, Novell will preload some proprietary IBM software.

IBM and Novell have announced an integrated open collaboration client for SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop that includes IBM Lotus Notes, IBM Lotus Sametime and IBM productivity tools to deliver advanced email and calendar capabilities, unified communication & collaboration and lightweight yet powerful word processing, spreadsheet, and presentation capabilities with OpenDocument Format support.

Press Releases

Yes, quite a few were issued by Novell. Here are the prominent ones:

Novell Identity Manager Positioned in the Leaders Quadrant for User Provisioning

Novell today announced it has been positioned in the leaders quadrant of Gartner, Inc.’s, “Magic Quadrant for User Provisioning, 2H07″ by Earl Perkins and Roberta J. Witty, August 23, 2007. Novell(R) Identity Manager, the company’s user-provisioning solution, helps customers reduce deployment and administration costs, simplify complex provisioning, manage user roles more securely and maintain compliance with industry regulations

Study Shows Data Center Management Inefficiency Still Exists in the Enterprise

While virtualization usage is increasing in the enterprise, inefficient management of data centers and virtual environments continues to be a burden, according to a recently published study by Lighthouse Research. The study, which surveyed 411 enterprise data center decision makers, found that although 45 percent of respondents have implemented virtualization technology, few are using automated management tools to improve efficiency and resource utilization in the data center.

This following release had a headline so long that it was almost bizarre.

Virtual Iron Integrates SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 10 Kernel and Drivers from Novell in Latest Version of Its Platform; Raises the Bar on Reliability, Security and Support

With this agreement, Virtual Iron users can now take advantage of Novell’s unparalleled support matrix for data center server and storage systems and enterprise-class global support capabilities.

Virtualisation

The last press release says a lot, but some journalists have parsed it and explained how it’s connected to the rest of the industry (contextually).

Here’s what Larry Barrett had to add.

To help get the virtualization-shy, first-timer in the door, it offers its Version 4 Single Server Edition gratis. This package provides one virtual CPU, up to 12 virtual servers, local disk storage and access to the Novell SLES 10 kernel and drivers, giving users all the benefits of complete Novell certification and support for all hardware supported by Novell in SUSE Linux Enterprise Server.

More here:

Virtual Iron Software Inc. of Lowell, Mass., has upped the revision number of its eponymous virtualization platform to version 4. The latest version builds on the 64-bit Xen 3.1 open source code from XenSource Inc.., integrating support for Novell SUSE Linux Enterprise Server (SLES) 10 kernel and drivers, offering a new management console, and adding new physical-to-virtual (P2V) and virtual-to-virtual (V2V) migration capabilities.

A new virtualisation event in Munich was held jointly by Novell, Intel and IDC.

Products and Milestones

An important day for Novell’s OES is approaching (September 26th).

OES is a hybrid of Linux and NetWare that provides an amalgam of the capabilities of both. With OES 2, Novell is moving to a Linux kernel rather than a dual kernel strategy, which is perhaps the biggest change with the Cypress release.

AMD’s big announcement (open source drivers and improved Linux performance for ATI/AMD cards) has a relation to Novell.

Beginning the week of Sept. 10, AMD and Novell’s SUSE Linux engineering team will join forces to release the needed source code and hardware specifications to create open-source 2D graphics drivers for the Radeon chip family. Over the following months, AMD will continue to work with the open-source community to enable 2D, 3D and video playback acceleration to provide the best possible experience on the Linux desktop.

Finance

While Novell might not be pleasing some clients, users, and developers, the investors appear to be happy. Here are some takes on NOVL:

Brokers recommend the issue with two “strong buys,” three “buys,” seven “holds” and one “sell.” Analysts expect a 43% growth rate through the next year.

Another new rating puts NOVL on “neutral”.

Analyst F Drake Johnstone of Davenport & Company maintains his “neutral” rating on Novell Corporation

Forbes says that Linux lifts Novell”

And that’s investor faith. Faith that the company’s current Linux-focused operating strategy may finally be the one that brings real, consistent growth back to the firm.

Our Take

Novell seems to be sticking to its plan, regardless of whether we agree with the company’s direction or not. The investors seem to be pleased, SLED makes it into more enterprises, and OpenSUSE is taking shape.

ISO Reform Demanded, OpenISO Formed by Norbert Bollow (Updated)

Posted in Asia, ISO, Microsoft, Novell, Open XML at 8:18 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Having witnessed a great deal of corruption, some people decided that it was time to give the ISO a lesson. Microsoft had people lose trust in their authorities, which were often ‘bought’, and the OSI’s reputation took a dive as the impact of the complaints grew. Norbert Bollow seems to have given up on (a reform in) the ISO. He started his own project, which he calls OpenISO.

What do engineers do when they observe a problem? They start a project to fix it. A Swiss standard expert who got annoyed by the “Open XML bug” of ISO procedures launched OpenISO.org.

[sarcasm]Since we already have an OpenSUSE, how about an OpenNovell? [/sarcasm] Meanwhile, an open letter to ISO was dispatched as well. From the letter:

Norway – originally a process decided by unanimity but altered on the fly
Sweden – voting seats bought and the result thus hijacked
Switzerland – process rigged in favor of the vendor, the chairman excluded the option of voting “reject” or “reject, with comments”
Portugal – process skewed by blaming on lack of available chairs
Malaysia – two committees voted unanimously “rejection with comments” and mysteriously overturned by the government to “abstain”

OOXML in Malaysia, India, and Large Nations

With so much going on around the world simultaneously, we have not covered this last story about Malaysia (cited in the open letter above). The only time that we mentioned Malaysia, we pointed out Malaysia’s selection and embrace of ODF.

“3.2 billion people voted ‘No’ on OOXML”One other country whose decision remained curious is India. We had to carefully check and see what India did at the end. Days after it’s “No” decision (and just before the final vote), Microsoft unloaded a lot of ‘charity’ money onto the government. This triggered an orange light. India, being a large country, was an important voter to Microsoft. China and Brazil also. Remember that at the end, despite Microsoft’s attempt to hijack votes (sometimes resorting to bribery), 3.2 billion people voted ‘No’ on OOXML as a fast-tracked ISO standard. Fast-tracked or not, even our favourite Microsoft apologist believes that OOXML will continues to fail its approval attempts.

“I don’t believe the votes are later going to go in the other direction,” said Zemlin in an interview. Zemlin is sometimes criticized within Linux ranks for his repeated admonition that Microsoft must be respected as a competitor. But he was unsparing in his assessment of the ISO fast track outcome.

Spillover

Another article of interest uses this somewhat political analogy to talk about OOXML.

Making just as many headlines as George Bush’s travelling circus has been Microsoft’s failed attempt to fast-track its OOXML document format to the status of an ISO standard.

Both these events have been annoying and pointless. Neither has done anything but generate a huge amount of FUD (fear uncertainty and doubt).

In case you wish to point out the technical flaws of OOXML (never mind ‘politics’ and corruption) , be aware that Stephane has finally tidied up his long essay.

Update: here is another new article about the failures in the ISO.

If the ISO ignores the need for a reform, it will be rendered irrelevant. A single company was able to corrupt it using some criminal minds. Microsoft craves ISO certification and ISO’s blessing because more and more governments adopt policies that require open standard for successful procurement. The same goes for OSI, which explains Microsoft’s motives in that other department.

These malicious plans had the ISO impose no penalty or resort to any intervention. This resulted in no litigation and severe punishment, despite antitrust laws. There is evidence to suggest that the ISO was biased in favour of Microsoft. Microsoft says it was all within the rules, but bribery (as in Sweden) is NOT within the rules. There are many other examples where rules (even laws) were broken. Enough solid evidence is also available to back this.

To summarise, there appear to be at least two vectors of response at the moment:

  1. The ‘replace’ solution. One is OpenISO, established by one who was betrayed in Switzerland.
  2. The ‘fix’ solution. The second is the Open Letter, which points out incidents of corruption.

The ISO would be hard to tame. Just like nations that accepted Microsoft bribery (in one form or another, or contrariwise — extortion), the ISO appears to be moved by Microsoft’s manipulative hand. In other words, there is direct impact as well.

Broken Patent System: When the Fox Met the Hen

Posted in GPL, ISO, OSI, Patents, SUN, UNIX at 7:47 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Large, predatory companies ‘guard’ the small ones

Several early reports strive to have us believe that the Sun-NetApp lawsuit is a test case for open source. This is a gross spin and a case of extrapolating from the words of Sun’s CEO. Matt Aslett has cleared up a few bits which required clarification.

According to Raven Zachary at the451 Group, “Hitz told me that this case is about NetApp and Sun, not the open source community that has emerged around ZFS, and NetApp does not intend to go after the ZFS community.”

Until it does so (if it ever does so), to paint its legal claims as an attack on open source seems to be to be unfair.

With that in mind, the licence which grants patent ‘protection’ by association has just been approved by the Open Source Initiative. Michael has the details.

The GPL v3 and LGPL v3 were unanimously approved by the OSI board at our monthly board meeting this week.

This was expected, but this consensus across the board is praiseworthy.

To say more on patents, yesterday was an important day for an impending reform. We mentioned this a couple of days ago. Looking more closely at the details, however, a disturbing picture is revealed. The trend continues where large companies decide for the small ones. There is imbalance in representation. This opens the door to abuse by wealthy companies with interests. We ought to have learned our lessons from the OOXML fiasco.

Passage of patent reform would certainly placate many technology companies, while angering critics who fear a trampling of the property rights of relatively powerless inventors.

Here are some details on the same story.

Today, some of the biggest names in high-tech have their eyes on the nation’s capital, where lawmakers are babbling about an overhaul of the U.S. patent system.

Have lessons not been learned from previous reports and complaints? Where are the small companies? Watch this article from last year (article has expired and vanished from the Web, but it spoke about a so-called “innovation panel”):

He will be part of a lineup that includes the Microsoft Corp. CEO Steve Ballmer, 3M CEO George Buckley, UPS Chairman and CEO Michael Eskew, IBM CEO Samuel Palmisano and Wal-Mart Stores Vice Chairman John Menzer.

Also, to have the problem illustrated, have another read through this text.

A report published by an EU task force on intellectual property claims that small businesses benefit from a patent system, despite lacking almost any participation by the small business community.

Instead, the report, titled IPR (intellectual property rights) for competitiveness and innovation, was written up almost entirely by large corporations and the patent industry.

[...]

The report does note objections from the likes of patentfrei.de and Sun Microsystems, which were recorded at some length in the report. But this does not appear to have impacted the conclusion of the report in any way

[...]

Jean-Pierre Laisne, of ObjectWeb, an open source software community, said that he found the report useless: participants were told that all their contributions would be recorded but at the end only those of Business Software Alliance and Microsoft were used.

Never let large companies, which are often enough the worst abusers of the weak patent system, set the rules. It is an idea as good as letting a panel of Microsoft Gold partners decide for an entire nation whether OOXML is suitable for ISO standardisation.

Linspire’s Chairman Apparently Moves on (and Out of Linux)

Posted in Linspire at 12:13 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Maybe it is a matter of multi-tasking, but it sure seems like Linspire’s chairman has just found a new venture after much pessimism and an alleged “executive exodus”. His new venture has nothing to do with Linux. It seems unlikely that Linspire will grow or recover, having lost its controversial CEO and reputation (which was never great anyway).

Why the hostility? Because Linspire turned into a Linux foe shortly after it had received payments from Microsoft.

Say No to Mono

Novell Has an Image Problem

Posted in GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Novell at 12:03 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Evidently, bloggers agree that Novell has public relations issues. Without a doubt, the deal with Microsoft did its image no good. Here is the opinion of a former Novell employee, Matt Asay (C|Net blogs):

If Novell’s Linux business continues to grow, and it does this without the crutch of Microsoft, people will forgive and forget…slowly. In the meantime, Novell can’t pretend that it’s loved by the open-source community. The Microsoft deal did far too much damage to its credibility to expect that.

Here is an opinion that’s even harsher. It comes from ZDNet blogs.

My recent Novell post got some private push-back from a Novell spokesman who insisted that I was being harsh.

[...]

I suspect many marketers, public relations experts and even executives entering open source for the first time don’t understand this point. They want to be judged on what they say today, and only today.

Sorry, folks. New rule. Open source doesn’t forget.

The valid point of this blog post aside, once again, Novell is going through the trouble of giving bloggers some trouble. I saw them pulling Matt Asay’s arm and Dana’s arm before. They sort of did this here, but not in a polite way.

Is it unacceptable to criticise the company whose move you disagree with? A company that sold out hundreds of thousands of developers who worked for well over a decade? Shades of SCO and Microsoft. Leave bloggers alone, Novell. Let them speak. Those who behave needn’t censor or scare their opposition.

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