SUE-SE Linux remains a danger
Rodney Gedda  misses this key point and does not agree with us. He claims that Novell’s deal is a positive step. To whom? To Freedom? To Novell shareholders? It’s not about “shield[ing]” customers as he claims. It was maybe the original intention, but Novell is now using “intellectual property peace of mind” [A, B] as a selling point to harm Red Hat and other companies which refused to sign patent deals. It’s doing other nasty things too [A, B, C]. Gedda is not our only critic today.
Paul Thurrott, a Microsoft apologist, takes a cute little shot at us, describing us as a “cute little Web site” . But it is meanwhile made very clear that Microsoft loves Novell and SUSE because it enables the company to change the way GNU/Linux operates, turning it into a lesser-distributable property that’s owned — in the intellectual sense — by Microsoft and is also serving Microsoft using technologies like Mono and OOXML. Microsoft is equipping Novell with the endorsement and technical advantage necessary to fight ‘unlicensed’ GNU/Linux and turn the heat up on Red Hat , in order to, e.g., sign a similar patent deal or be sued. █
 Does ‘Trustworthy’ Computing Matter?
It’s not quite as catchy as the PC/Mac “Get A Mac” switcher ads, but it looks like the folks at Novell have decided to take a page out of Steve Jobs’ book and launch a switcher campaign of their own. In an act of breathtaking chutzpah, Novell announced last week a new subscription and support program “designed to aid customers making the transition from their existing third-party Linux distribution to SUSE Linux Enterprise Server.”
The new program provides technical support for a customer’s existing Linux deployments — and for that read Red Hat (or possibly CentOS) — for up to two years while transitioning to SUSE Linux Enterprise.
It’s an aggressive move on Novell’s part, and one that will almost certainly provoke a response. But it’s also good news for enterprise customers if it gives them more options for switching, if they want to.
It’s a big “if.” How would you characterize the two Linux distributions to persuade potential customers to move from Red Hat to SUSE? Apple’s commercials work because PCs and Macs each have their own very distinct characters: memorably described in The Guardian as “PCs are a bit rubbish yet ultimately lovable, whereas Macs are just smug, preening tossers.”
In contrast, there’s not much difference between Red Hat and SUSE servers really. If they were guys you’d have to describe them both as “secure, reliable, popular, with big ambitions.” Novell may well find that getting people to switch from Red Hat to SUSE is much harder than it thinks.
The Microsoft-Novell pact instantaneously alienated much of the open source community. Here was a company that had benefited tremendously from open source software but still decided it was in its right to go ahead and “shield” its own Linux product from any possible Microsoft patent litigation while knowing full well the exact same software was being used by every other Linux distribution and a host of commercial vendors. What Novell did may have been a “legal” workaround of the free software licences but from a technology standpoint it was completely untenable.
The free software world was up in arms. In typical open source, knee-jerk fashion, the community began to label Novell as a pariah and a traitor. Web sites sprung up calling for Novell boycotts, developers ran and cried to Google (Note to all those who think Google manages people’s information more transparently than Microsoft or Novell: go and take a very cold shower), and the CIOs and IT managers who ultimately decide what software to use in their businesses have had FUD blasted at them ever since. All exactly what Microsoft would have wanted to see happen to a viable competitor!
Two Years Later: The Novell/Microsoft DealTwo years ago, Hell froze over and Microsoft and Novell consummated one of the most controversial alliances in tech history, with Microsoft purchasing millions of dollars worth of Novell SuSE Linux and Novell entering into an intellectual property licensing agreement with the software giant. So. How’s it going two years later? Well, the sun continues to rise every day and a plague of locusts hasn’t yet ravaged the planet, so the fears of open source pundits and backers were, apparently, unfounded. And many corporate customers appear to be pretty excited about the interoperability gains that Microsoft and Novell have made. That said, Novell’s standing in the open source community is somewhat dimmed. For example, Roy Schestowitz, who runs a cute little Web site called Boycott Novell, has the following to say: “If Novell and Microsoft get their way, then metaphorically speaking, Linux will increasingly be pressured into a corner of the datacenter, essentially being marketed as a guest machine [running under Windows] as opposed to a host running with or without Windows virtualized.” Exactly. So what’s your problem again?
Microsoft and Novell Inc. said the two-year-old collaboration to better manage Windows and SUSE Linux will produce its first fruit in the first half of 2009.
Novell will make available the Advanced Management Pack for SUSE Linux Enterprise for Microsoft System Center Operations Manager 2007 R2 in the first half of 2009 to coincide with the release of Operations Manager 2007 R2. Novell has not yet set a price.