11.15.08

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Novell is Losing the Few Supporters It Had Left

Posted in GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Novell, Red Hat, Servers, SLES/SLED at 9:13 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Novell’s desperate actions speak louder than promises and commitments

Novell must realise that death of public trust can sooner or later result in the death of a company. There is a lot of choice in GNU/Linux and too little lock-in. Novell is stepping in quicksand if it believes that stomping on Red Hat (and ‘small’ guys like CentOS) using Microsoft’s budget is going to get its SUSE brochures anywhere but the wastebasket.

It is typically techies who choose what distribution to deploy. Judging by previous articles [1, 2, 3, 4], Novell’s strategy earns it no friends. Au contraire — it buys Novell new enemies.

Tectonic, a notable South African publication specialising in GNU/Linux and FOSS, has routinely commended Novell over the years, but its latest article about Novell receives a lot of responses because it represents a change in attitude.

Novell makes itself even harder to trust

[..]

Novell seems determined to weaken the same Linux world by forcing it to fight with itself. This couldn’t be better news for competitors such as Microsoft.

A software patent agreement with Microsoft was also the first hint that Novell was just after a quick buck. This most recent plan pretty much seals that reputation.

It also suggests that Novell is struggling; struggling to convince users to deploy its software and struggling to get migration deals signed. So it turns on the community that helped it avoid an untimely death and devises new ways to destroy it.

Looking elsewhere, it’s a lot of the same. The first few comments (without omissions) on the IDG article bear the headings:

“Another Novell failure in the making”

“Fail !”

“Why would anyone do that ?”

One hour ago in Tectonic, the following comment showed up:

“Novell can give me all the free SuSE they want….

“… and it will remain in the wrapping and quickly find itself in /dev/bin. I hate it with a passion.”

Over in Free Software Magazine, which commented on Novell’s strategy even before Tuesday’s announcement, skepticism was voiced due to Novell’s mixed-source identity [1, 2, 3, 4] (Novell is still a largely-proprietary software company, not just a Microsoft partner).

As I said, the idea that software stacks will become a mixture of free and proprietary products is nothing new. Indeed lots of people are already using such stacks. Personally I believe that once freedom is introduced into a “market place” it will become harder to suppress until eventually it becomes the dominant licencing strategy. This is evident in the fact that a company like Novell not only bought a free software company (SuSE), but bought into the free software philosophy — well partly anyway. So while proprietary software may not entirely die out (more’s the pity) I feel (and hope) it will become the de-facto NON-standard way of licencing software.

“Mixed source” is a bad name for this — er — mix though. The source or openness of it is largely irrelevant if you ask me. When you mix free and proprietary systems in one application stack — like it or not — the entire stack has a proprietary effect. Obviously the degree of that proprietary effect will depend on how vital the proprietary software is to the stack. Use a free software database back-end with a proprietary front-end and your stack is largely subject to the whim of front-end’s vendor.

ComputerWorld credits Boycott Novell for the opposition.

Joint Windows/Linux support is something that a lot of businesses need. That said, Novell working hand-in-glove with Microsoft doesn’t go over at all well with many Linux users. Boycott Novell, after all, which serves as the lightning rod for resentment against Novell and Microsoft working together, is a very popular site.

Novell closed offices in Europe over a week ago, so its clock its definitely ticking. The English-speaking press was rather mute on this important development, perhaps — just perhaps — because it affects only the workforce in Europe (which will work from home).

Novell is desperate for growth (it’s on;y faking success), but it could offer technical help and incentives to move from Windows and UNIX to GNU/Linux. What they do at the moment just weakens their collaborators at Red Hat — those who also help the development of SLED and SLERT because efforts are being pooled and code always shared. They cannibalise GNU/Linux and harm their own breed in the process.

Black widow
Novell: the black widow of Linux

“This is a general misconception, as the name seems to suggest that the males are invariably consumed after mating.”

Black widow spider

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2 Comments

  1. Todd Razuri said,

    November 15, 2008 at 9:47 pm

    Gravatar

    No offense, but given the recent goings on around here it seems a tad disingenuous to work up articles about comments posted in other websites.

    Just saying it doesn’t look particularly good *shrug*

  2. Roy Schestowitz said,

    November 16, 2008 at 4:48 am

    Gravatar

    I beg to disagree. I wish to show that unlike some journalists who covered this, readers are dissatisfied with what Novell had done. These reader have nothing to do with this campaign as far as I know.

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