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If You Want Open Source Software, Don’t Come Knocking on Novell’s Door

Posted in Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Marketing, Microsoft, Novell, OpenSUSE at 8:01 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The following new post has caught some people’s attention:

I was on the Novell campus a few weeks ago attending the Utah Open Source Conference. One of the days I went to the Novell cafeteria for lunch. While I was filling my plate with food, a young man next to me asked, “So do you work here?”. I replied with “No, I’m here attending the open source conference.” A few seconds later I was hit with a question that I was not prepared to answer.

“What is open source?” he asked. I was speechless. Did he just ask me what open source was? Is he joking? Nope, he looks pretty serious. Ahh, well then where to start? I only have a few seconds to explain it to him. I managed to come up with a horribly composed answer, and followed it up with “You know, like Firefox and Linux.” He nodded and walked away.

Remember that Novell described itself as a mixed source company when people question Novell’s motives and strategy, but the company’s press releases make it clear that Novell seeks an open source identity. So what is going on at Novell? This other new review calls OpenSUSE 10.3 (RC) “a dissapointment” [sic]. Whether Novell is losing its way or not is something that remains to be seen. What Novell’s PR department says does not align with reality, once it’s explored.

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  1. Steve Ballmer said,

    September 24, 2007 at 10:40 am


    Sun sees the Light! … Another one Saved!

    Earlier this year it was Novell, now it’s Sun Micro Systems!
    I wondered how long these guys could hold out against us, in the end no one can really.
    Jonathan Schawrtz, Sun’s illustrious, forward thinking, eager-beaver, level-headed, pragmatic, pony-tailed leader has seen the future, a Microsoft future! The guy is smarter than I thought, he wants to get out in a few years with some cash in pocket. You see all of the big exec’s know how this works (It’s called the 16 steps plan:

    1. Resist Microsoft (gain a rep)
    2. Become almost cultishly blind to the realities surrounding you.
    3. Release some cool products (declare them to be cool anyways)
    4. Lose money hand over fist every quarter for a few years.
    5. Blame Microsoft
    6. Hint at softening your stance (but deny it in public)
    7. Sneak into Redmond, beg me for help, bow before me
    8. Wait 6 months for a reply
    9. Announce a “strategic alliance” new era of cooperation and understanding
    10. Open some of your source code to us
    11. We release favorable press releases about you (your stock goes up)
    12. Once we have “absorbed” what we wanted and made simmilar apps which don’t work quite as well, we announce an end of the alliance and blame you!
    13. Your stock plummets to record lows
    14. We offer to Buy your company cheap … but CEO gets sweetheart deal.
    15. Buy, downsize, dismantle, assimilate remainder
    16. Deny your company ever existed.

    Schawrtz is now entering step 9. I’m sooo excited!

  2. Anonymous said,

    September 24, 2007 at 2:34 pm


    And you just by accident of course cut the part which doesn’t meet your site’s agenda:

    “Now before people start jumping to conclusions, there is no way to determine if this person was a Novell employee or not. I have been told that the cafeteria is open to the public, so he could have been there simply for the food.”

  3. Roy Schestowitz said,

    September 24, 2007 at 2:57 pm


    @ Anonymous:I actually pointed that out in Digg several hours ago. I did see this and there is room for doubt. In a sense, in that case, I actually defended Novell.

    This case, whether it is valid or not, is presented here merely in order to remind ourselves that Novell is (at least mentally) clinging onto its proprietary roots, where most of its revenue comes from.

  4. shane coyle said,

    September 24, 2007 at 6:40 pm


    clinging onto its proprietary roots, where most of its revenue comes from.

    Is that true? I thought that their legacy proprietary stuff was hemorrhaging awfully from a profit perspective, and their only profitable unit was Linux, or has that changed/I am misinformed?

  5. Roy Schestowitz said,

    September 24, 2007 at 8:36 pm


    Shane, I can’t recall for sure, but I think I saw the figure 9% recently — a figure that corresponds to revenue proportion that comes from SUSE Linux (or something with a wider scope than this). For sure, a lot of NetWare deployments, of which there are probably fewer as the days go by, is what keeps Novell’s losses tolerable (they hope to narrow losses and just keep the staff at this stage). They still have some spendings money, which they apparently spend on acquisitions, not buybacks.

  6. shane coyle said,

    September 24, 2007 at 8:47 pm


    Point taken, I (obviously from my lack of postings) haven’t had the time for the internet, let alone Novell – which makes it that much more impressive that you can find the time to be so thorough and prolific throughout.

    I was never a fan of buybacks as a sign of strength either, but what are ya gonna do?

    Now that the ‘summer’ is over, I hope to get caught back up on our Friends from Waltham…

  7. Roy Schestowitz said,

    September 25, 2007 at 1:45 am



    We ought to at least document Novell’s moves so that we can connect the dots later, even if it involves conversing after posting, which widens scope and links from one page to another.

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