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Novell Lays Off AppArmor Team

Posted in AppArmor, Boycott Novell, Novell, Ubuntu at 12:03 am by Shane Coyle

It has been said on this site before, we do not really hate Novell (certainly not the employees and community), and we absolutely recognize and appreciate all of Novell’s contributions, we just want them to see the error of their ways. Call it tough love, if you will.

So, keeping that in mind, realize I am not particularly comfortable writing about the current layoffs at Novell. However, this story really shocked me, I must admit.

Apparently, Novell has layed off the AppArmor team (and it’s confirmed, so this isn’t like when it appeared that the Samba developers left Novell, but hadn’t – a little embarrassing).

Two years after acquiring the company that developed the AppArmor security software for Linux, Novell has laid off team members behind the project, CNET News.com has learned.

AppArmor’s founder and leader, Crispin Cowan, joined Novell in 2005 when it acquired his company, Immunix, which developed the software. But he and four others from the project lost their Novell jobs in Portland, Ore., on September 28, Cowan confirmed.

However, he plans to continue AppArmor development. He and two other laid-off AppArmor programmers, Steve Beattie and Dominic Reynolds, launched an AppArmor consulting company on Wednesday called Mercenary Linux.

The article goes on to say, from a rather cold economic perspective, that Novell intends to rely on the AppArmor community to lead development of the project since it is an even lower-cost option than outsourcing.

With the adoption of AppArmor really beginning to take off, in my mind, it seems rather odd that Novell would dissociate itself from the core team in such a way – as Cowan put it, "tossing it in the wind and hoping" – yet Novell terms it as "improving our product development process".

What are we to make of this rather sudden, somewhat shocking (even to Crispin Cowan) move? It’s like Novell wanted to embrace the "Bazaar" development model, and just now is going to a bizarre development model.

Best of luck to the Mercenary Linux folks (great name, by the way!).

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  1. Karl Rove said,

    October 12, 2007 at 1:07 pm


    I just got laid off from Novell. I’m going to have to sell my $300K boat and my $3 million dollar home. Don’t cry for me Argentina

  2. kripken said,

    October 14, 2007 at 5:24 am


    Well, the procedure might be bizarre, but the result makes perfect sense to me.

    Obviously the AppArmor people are going to be experts at hardening Linux systems, and this skill is highly valuable. Keeping them inside Novell would imply their work is only applied (at least directly) to SUSE. But as Mercenary Linux, they can now support Red Hat, Debian, etc., in addition to SUSE. An enormous market.

    That is, unlike GNOME developers, etc., who Novell has on staff, the marketability of hardening skills is such that it makes sense to spin it off.

    In conclusion, I think this is very good news, and I wish the Mercenary Linux people luck. Sounds like a good career move.

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