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IBM Influence in Novell

Posted in Finance, IBM, Novell at 12:44 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Companies have no friends; they have interests

Several months ago we wrote about the relationship between Novell and IBM. That post contained many pertinent details which will not be repeated here; instead, we shall point out new ones


Novell’s current CEO came from IBM after many years over there (even decades). IBM’s investment in a GNU/Linux direction for Novell was last mentioned yesterday and it reportedly — although that cannot be confirmed — came about because IBM wanted to prevent Red Hat from gaining too much power (GNU/Linux servers monopoly). Ray Noorda had already dabbled in GNU/Linux about a decade earlier, but he separated this from Novell.

The following video is an old interview from 2004 where a KDE hacker expresses some cautious concerns about Novell’s acquisition of S.u.S.E. It’s right there towards the end.

Ogg Theora

Jeff Jaffe, Novell’s CTO, is claimed to have approached the OpenSUSE hackers in recent days. It comes amid reappointments for the OpenSUSE Board, where half the members will be paid Novell employees. Pascal Bleser has a word to say about it.

As you have probably already read, the openSUSE Election Committee has taken over and finalized a process and page about the upcoming openSUSE Board Elections. These are drawn on the preliminary work of the current Board and the community itself, through the mailing-list discussions and IRC meetings held in the past months.


Believe it or not, we’re not “Novell shills”. I’m not employed by Novell, and neither is Francis, so there isn’t even the remote possibility of pressuring us from an employer-employee point of view.

The three other openSUSE Community members on the Board who also happen to be Novell employees (AJ, Coolo and Federico) haven’t been pressured in any way either. Of course, as I wrote above, there hasn’t really been a conflict situation between Novell and the Community, but there is no reason whatsoever to believe that it would have happened. Actually, after talking to Jeff Jaffee (Novell’s CTO) during Hackweek 3, I’m rather under the impression that Novell is expecting a lot more voice, independence and guidance (in both directions) than we’d think.

Looking into Jeff Jaffe’s background, we found that he is a former IBM employee. He worked there for 21 years, which makes him a vetran (“Previous GM and Research VP at IBM,” says his profile). That’s similar to Ron Hovsepian’s duration in IBM and both people joined Novell after S.u.S.E. had been acquired. They rose to prominence fairly quickly.

No Value

Watch this video (requires Adobe Flash, sorry) of Jeff Jaffe about the patent deal with Microsoft. Apart from the fact that it’s sponsored by Microsoft Office, Jaffe showers Microsoft with compliments, including, by name, FUDMesiter Steve Ballmer and FUDMesiter Bill Hilf. He talks about patents too.

One reader of ours wrote this morning: “As suspected, things are going really well with all things Linux, except for Novell which seems to have given up it’s market in exchange for living off of Microsoft vouchers.”

Those vouchers are “patent royalties”, according to Microsoft. That’s just the type of game Novell is playing now. Does this work out? Surely it does not, but Novell is bluffing.

How can a company whose losses are widening claim a revival?

It said, software license revenue rose 19% to $53.4m, maintenance and subscription revenue increased 8% to $154.98m, while services revenue fell 25% to $36.79m. Revenue growth was attributed to an increase in sales of Linux software.

Sadly for Novell, the Linux business is still just a small portion of the overall picture. Novell may be concealing this to deceive investors. Among other forms of deception:

…have heard at least one Novell supporter talk of what a noble deed Novell did, with the suggestion that SCOX had a winning case (against Linux) and Novell kept SCOX “truths” from being certified in court.

Cynically speaking, one might guess that it would make Novell the 'owner' of Linux then. IBM would like it. If only that was true..

Novell pisses on GNU/Linux codebase since 2006

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