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The Story of a Novell Marionette

Posted in Africa, Microsoft, Mono, Novell, Videos at 2:55 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Call it a mouthpiece, a code monkey, a puppet, a lapdog, a shill, or a marionette. Terminology does matter much. Some of the things Novell is doing at the moment are directly or indirectly affected by Microsoft’s own ambitions and we have provided many examples which prove this over the past year. There is even this old image that illustrates the relationship between Novell and its major funding source.

Novell marionette

Some degree of manipulation comes from Novell’s acquisition of Ximian, which Stafford Masie described not as “red carpet”, but as something else. Masie was Novell’s South Africa Country Manager before escaping to Google. Here are portions of what he said (extracted from a transcript Shane provided):

Y’know why we bought Ximian? Does anyone know why we bought Ximian? Because they had cool software? No. We didn’t buy Ximian because of their Red Carpet software, we didn’t buy Ximian because of… the collaboration technologies that they had, we didn’t buy them for the desktop technologies that they had, we bought Ximian for one reason: we wanted people that were community heads, people that understood this community organically, that was extremely well respected, people like Nat Friedman and Miguel De Icaza, we wanted them within Novell.


And, I think the Microsfot thing came from that, it came from that, and I will lead into that in a second, so Ximian- the people, then we bought SUSE, now we bought SUSE because of the direction that was given to us by people within the company that truly understood the Linux community, and I think we’ve demonstrated our willingness, I think we’ve demonstrated our commitment, i think we’ve demonstrated… our investment that we are willing to make into the community and be a responsible member of it.

And, this morning, I’m just going to go through some of the things regarding the Microsoft agreement, this morning I want to make sure that we give proper time to discuss the software patent issue, that Derek surfaced. I think its a very prominent issue, and I think this is one of the benefits of this Microsoft agreement.

It’s rather ironic that we find a Ximian marionette right there in YouTube. It’s not a coincidence, but Ximian may represent a point in time when Novell began looking at another programming universe — one that it barely controls.

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  1. Heidegart Millnic said,

    December 16, 2007 at 5:02 am


    I am sorry again to raise a critical-sounding question; but exactly what are you basking your idea manipulation by the Ximian people lead to the Novell-Microsoft agreement? Because the quote doesn’t say that. I only says that the acquisition of Ximian led to the acquisition of SuSe – and it sounds like he was just going to start talking about the Novell-Micrososoft deal but then your quote cuts off the rest.

  2. Heidegart Millnic said,

    December 16, 2007 at 5:08 am


    I meant “on what are you basing your idea that manipulation lead…” Sorry; wrote in a haste. ;-)

  3. Roy Schestowitz said,

    December 16, 2007 at 8:10 am


    Heidegart, I write in a haste too :-) Well, first of all, it’s worth mentioning that Net and Miguel actually went over to Microsoft before the deal and expressed doubts about the patent part. They knew about the deal before it happened. Now, if you watch the blog post posted by Miguel on November 2nd, you will see a degree of cautious enthusiasm. Be aware that at that stage, Miguel was already deep in Mono and very much involved with Microsoft staff like Sam and Bill at Port 25. He also attended Microsoft developer conferences. Whether that’s a good or a bad thing is a separate issue.

    Regarding what led to this deal, as I said earlier today, the marketing people deserve a lot of the blame, apparently.

    As for the technical role of Ximian(ovell), be aware that OOXML translators and Silverlight (Moonlight) are based on Miguel’s (et al) work.

  4. Heidegart Millnic said,

    December 16, 2007 at 9:59 am


    AFAIK the OOXML translators are Michael Meeks’ work.

    I think it’s nonsensical to suggest programmers got anything to do with a development that very obviously happened out of sheer business interest. Miguel is very clearly a man who’s enthusiastic about technologdy that he likes while Ron Hovsepian is a manager who had to had to set something into motion after his predecessor had been sacked because of his lack of initiative. Not marketing people deserve the blame, if any, but management. Talking about blame; these are just different viewpoints: Management doesn’t think in terms of good or bad technology (like Miguel does) and not in terms of morally right or wrong alliances; they think in terms of success or non-success. In that sense, Hovsepian definitely has made the right decision; it seems tohave brought back into the race as a contender. Perhaps not as a winner, but at least they are again participating in the race.

    And where does Miguel fit in here? Not at all, because inclinations/likes/dislikes don’t have a place in business. Letl me put it like this: Lockheed aren’t into fighter aircrafts because they like killing but because there’s good money to be made with fighter aircrafts. Novell certainly haven’t partnered with Microsoft because Miguel likes .Net but because there is money to be made, a market-share to be expanded. Thinking in terms of personal affectations is hardly realistic here.

  5. Roy Schestowitz said,

    December 16, 2007 at 5:24 pm


    Novell certainly haven’t partnered with Microsoft because Miguel likes .Net but because there is money to be made, a market-share to be expanded. Thinking in terms of personal affectations is hardly realistic here.

    I’d agree with you in most circumstances, but as Ray Noorda and others know too well, Microsoft just uses its partners rather than share with them. At the moment, Novell does a lot of heavy lifting for Microsoft. When Novell is not needed (for Microsoft) anymore, the relationship will be over.

    Planning for success in the long term may be more important than quick gains. Just ask Palm which is falling into oblivion after leaning on Windows Mobile for rescue. Competing with rivals is more sensible than joining them.

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