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12.21.07

Do-No-Evil Saturday – Part IV: Novell’s Business, Legal, and Development News

Posted in GNU/Linux, GPL, IBM, Marketing, Novell, Servers, SLES/SLED at 11:18 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The following is broken down into separate headings for convenience. The news is no more than a week old.

Customers

There are some milestones for Novell in the marketing and sales department. Novatium, for example, has chosen SUSE Linux for Nova netPC. (no, it’s not the NetPC from the previous decade)

Novatium Solutions Pvt. Ltd, one of India’s fastest growing utility computing services providers, has opted to build its entire infrastructure on Novell Open Workgroup Suite, with Novell Identity Manager and eDirectory providing control over users and access rights. Novell Open Workgroup Suite provides a comprehensive infrastructure and productivity solution, including SUSE Linux Enterprise Server.

Another case of SUSE deployment in Idaho comes to light.

Idaho Power deployed a central management server and five scan engines that implement agentless information gathering, including using WMI (Windows Management Interface) and other techniques to gather configuration information from more than 400 Windows Server 2000 and 2003 systems, as well as approximately 50 SUSE Linux servers. (CCM also can collect configuration information about network infrastructure and applications.)

Novell GroupWis scores a possible win as the release of an OCS successor is approaching.

The Email Workshop is now examining Google Applications for Education (Google Apps), Zimbra Collaboration Suite, Mirapoint, and Novell GroupWise as potential new email servers. It will consider each option on a seven-part criterion, which takes account security and privacy, cost, a rich feature set, usability, peer-institution adoption, system integration, and reliability, all into account, Nelson said.

Nelson described Mirapoint and Novell as “enterprise-level workhorses,” while Google Apps and Zimbre are “new on the scene” and working towards reaching enterprise level.

Partnerships

SAP, which is engaged in a deal with Novell, gave it a pat on the back.

SAP is recommending SUSE as its preferred Linux platform, the stuff of which stacks are made, and Novell is going start being the first line of defense for people running SAP applications on SUSE.

We mentioned Likewise/Centeris and its relationship to Novell before. Here is an update on this situation. There’s nothing too malicious (e.g. exclusionary, discriminatory) about it.

On the subject of Microsoft, Crist noted that while the software giant is working on Linux interoperability with Novell, integration of Active Directory with Linu is not one of the projects involved (they are working on interoperability between Microsoft Active Directory and Novell eDirectory based on WS-Federation and WS-Security, however), giving it a good opportunity to work with both parties.

Indeed, the company is working with Novell on locking down its customer’s SLED deployments with Likewise Enterprise using existing Active Directory group policies.

A close partner of Novell, Novacoast, has acquired a company.

Mr. Anderson continued, “Eiseman Consulting Group brings quality client relationships to Novacoast in New York and extends our Novell relationship into a market that will offer high growth for both organizations.”

Datacentre

A Novell VP wrote a piece for Industry Week. It’s about being green in the datacentre. Here is an introduction to the author, who does not use this placement as an opportunity for self promotion of Novell, but rather arguably for an individual self-promotional message.

By Joe Wagner, senior vice president and general manager, Systems and Resource Management, Novell

Benchmarks for servers in the datacentres are proposed which also take account of greeness. Novell’s SUSE earns a mention.

For the first forty years of the systems and server market, price/performance was basically the only metric that mattered within a given class of machines. But in the 21st century, when power and cooling issues are thwarting the attempts of companies to continue adding computing capacity at the rates they did in years gone by, there will be a new metric that people will start to pay attention to: performance/watt. To that end, the Standard Performance Evaluation Corporation has just release its first benchmark that gauges the performance and power consumption of servers.

[...]

Demonstrating how badly AMD needs quad-core “Barcelona” Opterons in the field, a two-socket CX2266-N2 server made by Colfax International using 2.4 GHz Opteron 2216 HE – these are the energy efficient Opterons – did only 95,853 ops/sec on the test running Novell’s SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 10 SP1 and the JRockit JVM; this machine had 16 GB of DDR2 main memory. This server drew roughly the same power as the Xeon boxes above, but its significantly reduced performance gave it a very low 203 overall ssj_ops/watt.

IBM gives SUSE a good mention in its press released on visualising social networks.

– Expanded support for operating systems such as SUSE Linux, browsers
such as Mozilla Firefox 2.0 and directories such as Microsoft Active
Directory, enabling businesses to deploy and integrate social software
across their IT environment.

Novell vs SCO

SCO’s lawsuit is listed among the dumbest moves.

3. SCO suit gets slapped down. “The judge slapping down SCO in the SCO vs. IBM/Novell lawsuit was the smartest move,” says Andreas Antonopoulos, founding partner at Nemertes Research and a Network World columnist. “It was a completely frivolous lawsuit by SCO against Linux when it sued IBM and Novell for intellectual property infringement and then failed to prove it. It was great that it got dismissed.”

Novell Gives Back

One admirable contribution of Novell is the open source ATI/AMD driver. A new release of that driver came just before the end of the week. HDMI support was added as well.

The xf86-video-radeonhd driver has today received support to handle HDMI (High Definition Media Interface) connectors. While if you’ve used a DVI to HDMI dongle with the RadeonHD driver it would have worked already (as we shared in our recent ATI HDMI Linux article) this support is for those with integrated connectors.

The next batch of news will come on December 29th, as usual.

Do-No-Evil Saturday – Part III: Novell’s Past and NetWare Age

Posted in Google, NetWare, Novell, SUN at 10:53 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

It’s worth keeping track of David Patrick, who left Novell not so long ago (2006).

I had a lovely conversation with both David Patrick, CEO, and Albert Lee, Chief Strategy Officer, of xkoto about their new product, GridScale. I’ve known David for quite some time. We met at Ximian’s Cambridge offices long before Novell acquired the company. If my memory serves me, David later become VP and General Manager of Novell’s Linux, Open Source and Services group. Although I’m sure that I’ve met Albert at some time in the past, neither of us can recall when we met.

The New York Times also mentioned Eric Schmidt’s roots in Novell.

At Sun Microsystems, where he was chief technology officer, Mr. Schmidt looked on as Scott G. McNealy, the company’s chairman, railed against Microsoft and its leaders, Steven A. Ballmer and Bill Gates, as “Ballmer and Butthead.” During a four-year stint as chief executive of Novell, Mr. Schmidt routinely opined that it was folly for any Microsoft rival to “moon the giant,” as he put it; all that would do, he argued, was incite Microsoft’s wrath.

In YouTube, a new video of the old launch of Netware 6 is now available. It’s also embedded below.

Novell’s NetWare gets a quick pass-by mention in ComputerWorld.

Novell’s NetWare and eDirectory are still major presences in many organizations today, particularly in some education markets. But fully integrating Mac OS X with both NetWare and eDirectory poses a unique set of challenges to systems administrators.

Lastly, here is a very long story of civil servant which involves implementing a Novell Local Area Network, among many other Novell-related things.

Do-No-Evil Saturday – Part I: Novell’s Finance (An Optimistic Look Back)

Posted in Finance, GNU/Linux, NetWare, Novell at 10:41 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Looking back at last weekend, there’s this article from Jacqueline Emigh about Novell’s deal and its role in Novell’s poor results.

The Linux vendor partners with Microsoft in one respect and takes it head-on in another. This time, the results aren’t too pleasing as Novell suffers a small quarterly loss.

[...]

Also for the fourth quarter, Novell’s sales of identity and access management software stepped up 27 percent, to $30 million. Rising more modestly — at levels of five percent and 1 percent, respectively — were Novell’s revenues from systems and resource management software and workgroup software.

Motley Fool, a Microsoft-associated Web site, recommends buying NOVL.

In other and more material news, the company doesn’t see eye to eye with Mr. Market on the caliber of fiscal 2007. “We believe our financial results for the quarter and the full year are very positive and show great progress,” CFO Dana Russell said on the earnings call. Both non-GAAP earnings and sales came in above management guidance and Wall Street estimates.

BloggingStocks claims that Novell is still in transition mode, so faith must be kept. There’s talk about buybacks nonetheless.

However, with $1.3 billion in the bank — which represents more than half of Novell’s market cap — there will likely be pressure from investors, such as for buybacks.

Ovum says that Novell is focusing at profitability at the expense of growth. This might explain the looming (and misfortunate) layoffs.

It expects fiscal 2008 revenue growth to be flat, with revenue in the range of $920 to $945m, but ambitions to deliver non-GAAP annual operating margin of between 7% and 9% (up from 4% in fiscal 2007). It expects service revenue to keep shrinking as it completes the alignment of its services business with its four product business units, but anticipates higher margin product sales to make up for the loss.

ComputerWeekly quotes Ron Hovsepian for an optimistic perspective.

“We are pleased with our overall results for 2007. While undergoing transformational change, we grew revenue and exceeded our operating targets. We are on the right path to long-term, sustainable profitability,” said Ron Hovsepian, president and CEO of Novell.

Trading Markets seemed fairly neutral and balanced. It only delivered the figures.

Novell, Inc. (NASDAQ: NOVL), up .42% on 9 million shares, Friday announced financial results for its fourth fiscal quarter and full fiscal year ended Oct. 31, 2007. For the quarter, Novell reported net revenue of $245 million, which excludes $6 million of revenue from its Swiss-based business consulting unit, which Novell agreed to sell during the quarter. This compares to net revenue of $234 million for the fourth fiscal quarter 2006. The loss from operations for the fourth fiscal quarter 2007 was $13 million, compared to income from operations of $4 million for the fourth fiscal quarter 2006.

Motley Fool explained that Novell’s problem is mostly to do with its reliance on legacy products.

The stock chart here looks like Novell’s — except it’s magnified by higher volatility. The twosome have common goals in the market for Linux software, but Novell is buffered by the slowly decaying NetWare product line.

The big question remains: how quickly (if at all) can Novell grow its GNU/Linux and open source business?

Do-No-Evil Saturday – Part I: OpenSUSE Reviews and Praises Amid Holiday Preparations

Posted in GNU/Linux, Novell, OpenSUSE, Red Hat at 10:19 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

SpenSUSE received some good feedback from several good sites. In the British computer press, for instance, you would find this review of OpenSUSE 10.3.

On the plus side, you can save a lot of money by making that move and if you want to give it a try, the Opensuse distro is easy to install and use, well supported and a good introduction to the open source platform. Should you get the Linux bug, it makes it easy to switch to the fully supported Novell product too.

Here is a person who chooses OpenSUSE over Fedora.

So, overall my personal preference is for openSUSE, I think the advantages out weigh the downfalls but at the same time I believe both distros could learn from each other.

Here is a similar story.

So a couple months ago I mentioned that I was running Fedora again as my primary desktop due to some problems I was having with OpenSUSE 10.3 But that I would try it again after a couple months hoping that patches will have addressed my problems. Well here we are a couple months later and I’ve installed OpenSUSE 10.3 on my primary AMD64 machine. This time through things worked the way I had expected them two a few months ago.

And another similar story, this time involving Gentoo.

As for SUSE, I’m running KDE now, and.. it’s OK. Livable. Not bad. Portage broke down on my old gentoo installation and I finally got sick of it. Time to spend as little time managing my computer as possible.

Jeff Jaffe (of Novell) praised some of the recent moves in the OpenSUSE project.

Last month, openSUSE announced its guiding principles, including its means for governance, and we appointed the initial board for openSUSE. It is instructive to look at Novell’s motivation in supporting these principles.

Here is a new profile of another member of the OpenSUSE team. This time it’s James Ogley.

The Planet SUSE sysadmin, James Ogley, was interviewed by us. Apart from managing the biggest openSUSE blog aggregator, he is also part of the openSUSE GNOME team packaging lots of GNOME/GTK applications.

A couple of days ago, the release of OBS 0.5 was announced, just before people go on vacation.

[opensuse-announce] openSUSE Build Service Version 0.5 Release

The openSUSE project releases the version 0.5 of the openSUSE Build Service.
This code drop does provide the functionality as provided on
https://build.opensuse.org/ the first time as official tar ball release.
Pointsettia provides the complete infrastructure to build single hardware
architecture distributions. System images can be created via KIWI

Overview of a few enhancements in Pointsettia:
* Improved repository generation. Repositories get generated out of process
of the scheduler. This makes the scheduler faster and more reliable.
* Improved signing for repositories. Each project get now its individual gpg
key for the repositories
* Convenient project deletion now available.
* Bugzilla linkage. Link added to create new Bugzilla reports for certain
projects or packages

The openSUSE Build Service (OBS) is designed to host sources of packages. It
can reuse sources from other source repository systems like svn or cvs, but
it is more often used to maintain all necessary files around a tar ball
release from another open source project.

The OBS features the project modell, which allows easy team building around a
set of packages and allow the cooperation between upstream software
developers and multiple packagers. It does also enable developers to adapt
existing packages and to offer different flavors of them for their use cases.

The goal of the OBS is to become a complete open development platform for the
openSUSE distribution. Therefore it does focus esp. on consistent package
building via automatic package rebuilding in case of changes of dependend
package changes to guarantee always a consistent build.

Next years developing will focus on improving the collaboration features to
allow submissions requests to all projects, what will allow direct
contributions to the openSUSE distribution. Later on we will complete the
necessary features for creating installation medias and improving the
End-User interface.

Links:
* The Build Service development takes place in Novell forge at

http://forge.novell.com/modules/xfmod/project/?opensuse

* The version 0.5 can be downloaded from

http://developer.novell.com/wiki/index.php/Special:Downloads/opensuse/0.5/

* Packages are packaged in the OBS itself

http://software.opensuse.org/search?q=obs&baseproject=ALL

* Current svn version can get checked out from

https://forgesvn1.novell.com/svn/opensuse/trunk/buildservice

We wish you already a Happy New Year !

Your OBS development team.

It’s unlikely that there will be much to post about next week, but plenty of people install a new distribution of GNU/Linux during the holidays. It’s like the electronic laundry time.

Interop is Effectively a Noop (Article by Pandu Rao)

Posted in Formats, Microsoft, Open XML, OpenDocument, Standard at 9:39 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Pandu Rao contributes the following good article.

There is something Orwellian about the name “MS Interoperability”. A more apt name would have been “MS Intraoperability” or even “MS Inoperability”.

The unstated technical goal of any Microsoft application is to ensure that data can be shared only across Microsoft applications and systems. This ties into their strategic objective which is- Anyone wishing to exist in their ecosystem must pay Microsoft for that privilege. ISVs must pay to play. Binary formats have helped them further this objective.

”Another crucial advantage offered by binary formats is the ability to trigger forced upgrades that ripple through network effect thereby creating a continuous revenue stream.“SGML and Tex formats had been around long before Microsoft came up with RTF and DOC formats. Microsoft neither used these nor supported their use. All this can be summarized as “Use the format to bind the data. The users will follow; by way of ignorance, or incapacitation”.

Another crucial advantage offered by binary formats is the ability to trigger forced upgrades that ripple through network effect thereby creating a continuous revenue stream. The binary format is a the catalyst that triggers this continuous revenue stream. You need a network effect for this to work and that is supplied by OEM contracts and IT managers reading advertisements in trade journals.

This worked well (and still does to a great degree) until the late 90′s when developers learned firsthand the advantage of text over binary in the form of XML. XML was ugly to behold, but easy to use. Also, it achieved respectability by donning on the Web Services garb. It is, arguably, the first- and possibly the only- data format that corporate IT managers care about. This last point is important. And we shall soon see why.

Enter ODF

Along comes ODF and offers editable document-portability-and-longevity. Portability threatens the pay-to-play system set up by Microsoft as data can now leave the Microsoft ecosystem and end up in areas that Microsoft has no control over. Longevity threatens the crafty upgrade treadmill they have created for their users.

”Longevity threatens the crafty upgrade treadmill they have created for their users.“Despite being on the OASIS committee, Microsoft chose not to become a member of the ODF technical committee.

When it comes to common standards, Microsoft chooses to deny, delay, deflect and defuse. When the state of Massachussetts stamped ODF with a a seal of approval, that meant that ODF was a serious contender. Microsoft had failed to do all four. The damage had been done, they now had to move quickly to contain it.

Microsoft’s response

The time allocated was not enough to create a genuine standard even if one was inclined to draft one for the purpose. So a lip service equivalent would have to suffice.

So how do you pull wool over the eyes of the corporate IT managers?
Disguise the proprietary office document format in XML, add the “open” keyword and you get Office Open XML. Government bureaucrats who deal in technology might insist on a standard blessed by a body such as ISO. The FrankenISO-approved, psuedoXML-ized, misnomer called Office Open XML would provide all the check-marks minus the substance.

”The gullible trade journal reading IT managers will be taken in by the fact that it has to do with Microsoft and the abbreviation has Office in it.”A lot of thought went into naming OOXML thus. It allows Microsoft to pay lip-service to openness, XML and standardization without threatening the revenue stream. For good measure, patents would be used on certain aspects as “hook-IP”.

The gullible trade journal reading IT managers will be taken in by the fact that it has to do with Microsoft and the abbreviation has Office in it.

The superficially-aware IT managers might be taken in by the combination of of Open and XML factoids in the abbreviation.

That leaves the enlightened IT managers. When enlightened IT managers in enterprises advocate ODF, the Microsoft marketing team will be able to tell the enterprise executives that OOXML has parity on all aspects of ODF, plus backward compatibility with the enterprise’s legacy documents, Sharepoint integration, etc. Therefore OOXML is a better option. The spare-me-the-details executives will mandate OOXML.

How should the FLOSS community respond?

  1. Aggressively promote ODF at every opportunity. For every copy of binary .doc or .docx saved, save a copy in ODF format. If novice users can download PDF readers to view PDF files they can download ODF viewers to view ODF files.
  2. Create light-weight, cross-platform ODF viewers (of standalone and browser plugin variety) . When the format is widespread, promote OpenOffice as the ODF editor.
  3. Completely shun OOXML support in FLOSS applications. As users, when you receive OOXML files, ask users to send you binary versions such as .doc or .xls (as you have not yet upgraded to Office 2007). Use every means necessary to keep the count of OOXML documents low.

It is the widespread use of HTML that forced Microsoft to provide an HTML editor. It is the widespread use of Lotus-123 that forced Microsoft to support the format in Excel. It is unlikely that Microsoft will offer native ODF support in Microsoft Office. But if the FLOSS developers support OOXML, we lose the only chance we have to break Microsoft’s grip on office documents.

Open Letter to James Whitehurst, CEO of Red Hat

Posted in GNU/Linux, Linspire, Microsoft, Novell, Patents, Red Hat, Servers at 9:22 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Dear Mr. Whitehurst,

A reader has suggested that we issue a humble statement which expresses our feelings and articulates some premature fears.

We would like to welcome your arrival and we look forward to seeing you run Red Hat. We have full confidence in your ability given an unquestionably-impressive career history.

Over the years, the company which you will serve has earned its respect and approval of the community — despite its focus on profit — simply because it honoured its roots and remembered where it came from.

”Red Hat’s moral grounds keep Oracle shy of Linux success prevent an exodus to RHEL clones such as CentOS.“Consumers approach products that are advocated to them by professionals, whose stamp of approval is often associated with the general consensus held by a community. You have the advantage. Red Hat not only makes a de facto product for servers; it is also viewed as a symbol of open source spirit, with key figures such as Ingo Molnar and Alan Cox. Red Hat Enterprise Linux is the Debian GNU/Linux of those who rely on brand names and dedicated support. Red Hat’s moral grounds keep Oracle shy of Linux success and prevent an exodus to RHEL clones such as CentOS.

Companies that turned against their suppliers have suffered from significant backlash. Linspire, for example, lost the community’s respect when it signed a deal with Microsoft and then propagated Microsoft’s threats onto competing Linux vendors. As a result, according to one industry expert who has watched Linspire and has helped them since their inception, the company’s days are numbered.

Watch Novell’s financial issues, public image issue, and its ill habit of manipulating financial figures to artificially create optimism. Some influential journalists have characterised Novell’s deal with Microsoft as an “anti-Red Hat deal”. Antagonism does not pay off, and it shows. We strongly urge you never to go down the same path.

When partnering with Microsoft, there is only one party that gains in the long term. Cisco’s CEO, as well as many others, will gladly tell you this story. It is extremely hard to name companies that have benefited from a Microsoft pact, especially at Microsoft’s expense. Remember that Microsoft perceives you, Red Hat and GNU/Linux, as its #1 threat.

Novell and Linspire have already been betrayed by Microsoft, just months after a seemingly-amicable agreement. We advise that you study these complications and convince yourself that, if anything, Red Hat gains here from the misery of others, so it mustn’t join this club of misery.

”Red Hat needs its positive image in order to succeed and to truly satisfy people’s needs.“Red Hat will continue to prosper and grow as long as it maintains the trust which it has earned from those who develop or promote GNU/Linux and free open source software. Red Hat needs its positive image in order to succeed and to truly satisfy people’s needs. Red Hat needs only to ensure that it does not get fooled. If in doubt, it must listen to its developers (in-house and outside as well) rather than rely on the gut feeling of managers. Instincts are a risk. Fear and greed are among the greatest enemies.

Microsoft is likely to approach you personally, taking advantage of the fact that it has not confronted you about this issue before. We wish to make a simple and polite request that you issue a statement similar to the one from François Bancilhon, CEO of Mandriva. We wish to know that you are committed to open standards, openness of code, the interest of those who contribute code to your company and never the interest of a predatory rival that wants you prisoned by a software patent deal — a deal that is not even valid in the vast majority of the world’s nations, where software patents are not legal.

We have considerable faith in you and we hope you have faith in our assessment.

With wishes of happy holidays,

Yours Truly,

A group of free software advocates

Memo to Katherine Egbert: Time to Call it Quits?

Posted in Deception, Finance, Red Hat at 7:12 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

In this continuing saga (see context) where we find every analyst getting his/her predictions wrong, consider the latest mistake from Katherine Egbert (she always gets it wrong on Red Hat). Rarely does she admit the mistake and sometimes excuses are used. Enough is enough. Here is the latest news:

Red Hat Shares Jump 10 Percent

Shares of Red Hat Inc. jumped 10 percent Friday, one day after the open source software distributor announced a rise in third-quarter earnings and the appointment of a new chief executive.

You can find Egbert’s excuse here. They always try to deny or sidestep away from their predictions. This time was no exception.

Why are people still listening to analysts, who are typically funded by corporations? We’re not done criticising what appear to have devolved into a movement of self-appointed professionals, who are sometimes just shills in suits.

Remember Novell’s fan analyst, Abhey Lamba? Where is he hiding now amid Novell's financial problem and implosion?

Novell blinded by money

Image from Wikimedia

The More SUSE You Buy, the Richer Microsoft Gets

Posted in Finance, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Novell, Patents at 6:28 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Novell has just released its annual report. There is a lot of information tightly compressed inside this report and it makes some good reading for the holiday. To pull just one bit of text:

Microsoft made an upfront net balancing payment to us of $108 million, and we will make ongoing payments to Microsoft totaling a minimum of $40 million over the five-year term of the agreement based on a percentage of our Open Platform Solutions and Open Enterprise Server revenues.

So, if you needed a reason to avoid Novell products, this is it. Microsoft is collecting software patent tax from Novell, just as we have known from the start. This is just an explicit acknowledgment from Novell.

The more Novell gets paid, the more Microsoft collects.

Get the facts

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