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07.19.08

Do-No-Evil Saturday – Part II: The Non-Free Side of Novell

Posted in Africa, GNU/Linux, Novell, Security, SLES/SLED, Virtualisation, Xandros at 1:02 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Netware and Legacy

Going back to the days when Novell found itself unable to maintain dominance, Chin Wong has this story to tell.

DOES anyone still remember NetWare?

If you started using computers with Windows XP, chances are you have never even heard of it. Yet back in the early 1990s, this network operating system from Novell Inc. was considered the de facto standard for connecting personal computers, enabling them to share files and printers.

In 1988, Novell controlled 50 percent of the PC networking market and built this up to a commanding 90 percent in the 1990s with subsequent versions of NetWare. In fact, Novell’s grip on the market was so strong that not even Microsoft could break it—until it began chipping away at it with Windows NT.

In those days, the local NetWare distributor and the occasional visiting fireman from Novell would scoff at Microsoft’s networking capabilities. Sure you could set up a network using Windows, but it would not be as robust or a cost-effective as NetWare, they said.

Notwithstanding these claims, NetWare’s popularity declined steadily after 1995 as Microsoft shifted the market towards Windows servers.

On the brighter side of things, Apple’s iPhone gives ZENworks a mention.

And Novell Inc.’s ZENworks software can already be rudimentarily managed via the iPhone’s browser, according to a spokeswoman.

This happens to be one of those ‘junk food’ articles that equate use of a Web browser to the much-hyped iPhone amid the launch of its 3G successor.

SCO

SCO was talked about earlier this week, but there continues to be some coverage of it. Sam Varghese, for example, goes all the way back to 2003 and explains the folly from the top.

Now it remains to be seen whether Novell will try to create trouble for Sun. If Sun has to shut down its OpenSolaris project, that would be a disaster for the company as it has tried to restyle itself as an open source entity, using OpenSolaris as its poster boy.

Novell had sought something in the region of $US20 million as compensation for deals with SCO had done with said IP. It is unlikely that Novell will appeal the ruling that grants it $US2.55 million.

Here is another summary that comes from an SCO critic.

On June 19 SCO got yet another extension (until Aug. 11) to file a bankruptcy reorganization plan with the courts (boo), and on July 16 a court found in Novell’s favor and determined that SCO had to cough up $2,547,817 “for unjust enrichment and breach of fiduciary duty.” Hooray! Score one for the good guys.

Egan Orion talks about the possibility that Novell will jeopardise Sun. It is an interesting — yet hypothetical for the time being — situation that SJVN brought up some months ago.

The additional SVRX licence rights that Sun obtained from SCO enabled it to open source Solaris as OpenSolaris… or so it thought. Sun paid SCO $2.5 million for that SVRX licence amendment, Judge Kimball decided. Actually, Sun paid SCO a lot more, about $10 million in total, but $2.5 million is the figure that the judge apportioned for those added SVRX rights.

However, Sun has released OpenSolaris without Novell’s permission having been granted, at least, not yet, so the toothpaste is out of that tube and Sun can’t put it back in now.

More details are available in LamLaw and in this good new article from SJVN.

Even though SCO has suffered another legal defeat, the company looks like it has enough willpower, if not sense, to keep its legal losing streak going.

Virtualisation

The games around virtualisation are tad bothersome, and partly so due to Novell’s role in assisting Microsoft against GNU/Linux. As a quick up-to-date summary of the players involved, see this.

When it comes to defining the role of virtualization, there are two camps: 1) Virtualization is a platform – represented by VMware; 2) Virtualization is a feature – represented by Parallels, Microsoft, Citrix, IBM, SUN, Novell, and Oracle.

The following new article is about Novell virtualisation. It reads like an advert (testimonial) for Novell and SUSE though.

Growing use of Novell SUSE Linux Enterprise virtualization and Novell ZenWorks 7 management products has saved VIST Financial Corp. hundreds of thousands of dollars and cut IT travel by as much as 90%, according to Jack McLaine, VIST’s vice president of IT services.

Another coverage of the VMWare situation contains a derogatory comparison to Novell Netware, which is premature. It’s almost like a self-fulfilling prediction of doom, which is a known Microsoft tactic, a reminder of which is this:

“Working behind the scenes to orchestrate “independent” praise of our technology, and damnation of the enemy’s, is a key evangelism function during the Slog. “Independent” analyst’s report should be issued, praising your technology and damning the competitors (or ignoring them). “Independent” consultants should write columns and articles, give conference presentations and moderate stacked panels, all on our behalf (and setting them up as experts in the new technology, available for just $200/hour). “Independent” academic sources should be cultivated and quoted (and research money granted). “Independent” courseware providers should start profiting from their early involvement in our technology. Every possible source of leverage should be sought and turned to our advantage.”

Microsoft, internal document [PDF]

Anyway, from the new article:

Those other competitors, the likes of Citrix/XenSource, Sun, Oracle, Novell, and Virtual Iron, will have some impact. But it’s Microsoft’s presence that’s sending shivers through the stock price.

[...]

The face-off between VMware and Microsoft reminds Burton Group analyst Richard Jones of a similar confrontation between Novell’s NetWare and Microsoft’s LAN Manager. NetWare was the market-leading product and Microsoft lagged significantly, but it eventually built local area networking into its Windows NT operating system and wrested market dominance from Novell. The VMware Virtual Infrastructure vs. Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V may be a similar confrontation, where Microsoft goes back and fills in a niche previously occupied by a specialist.

We wrote down quite recently what might be happening here. They cite the Burton Group, which is batting for Microsoft not only in this one area. It does business with Microsoft and it attacked VMWare before [1, 2, 3, 4, 5].

Security

Here is what seems like a loose Åhléns-Novell link.

The environment is a rich flora of products and solutions from a wide range of suppliers who must be monitored, such as Microsoft, Novell and VMware.

There have also been some flaws in Novell products, including:

People

From the Google-hostile Seattle press comes this, which gives Eric Schmidt unnecessary flak. He used to work at Novell.

Google had to know this was coming. In some ways it’s a turnabout, since its chief executive, Eric Schmidt, previously worked for Sun Microsystems and Novell when they were fighting antitrust battles with Microsoft.

Will the Seattle press (code word for Microsoft Kool-Aid) also give Novell some flak for its little collusion with Microsoft?

Xandros

The Xandros derivative from ASUS seems to be fading a bit now that Microsoft sells Windows XP licences for a mere pittance. Just how much pressure has Microsoft exerted against ASUS this time?

Although there are two flavours with slightly different specifications — a Windows XP model for AU$699 and a Xandros Linux model — only the Windows XP model is currently available in Australia.

Acer has complained in public about Microsoft’s control mania. It was about a month ago after it had publicly slammed Windows Vista on behalf of all OEMs (that was last year). ASUS might soon reveal just what’s going on here. It appears like market distortion.

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