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Novell’s Jaffe on Novell’s Linux Strategy: .NET, Mono, Moonlight, Nothing About OpenSUSE

Posted in GNU/Linux, IBM, Microsoft, Mono, Novell, OpenSUSE, SLES/SLED at 4:52 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Mono, ECMA, Microsoft

NOVELL’S TECHNICAL OFFICER has just outlined the company’s “Linux” strategy (he refers to GNU/Linux). He makes it rather clean that, just as we showed some hours ago, Microsoft technologies are being promoted at the expense of the rest. Here is his summary, in full:

Linux’s ultimate success as a platform lies in getting the right number of exciting applications to Linux. Novell invests to make SLES the prefered landing point for Linux applications. Throughout Mono framework, we also make SLE the perfect landing point for .Net based applications. The payoff is evident with Moonlight—our relationship with Microsoft brings this application to Linux.

OpenSUSE is not mentioned even once! Novell serves Microsoft's interests now that it’s run by former IBM (and Microsoft) executives.

“Our partnership with Microsoft continues to expand.”

Ron Hovsepian, Novell CEO

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  1. NotZed said,

    February 21, 2009 at 6:47 pm


    If they want windows apps on gnu, why don’t they just invest effort in wine?

  2. JohnD said,

    March 3, 2009 at 11:14 am


    Novell learned the hard way with Netware – if people want a certain application and it won’t run your platform – they will change platforms.
    People migrated away from Novell for 3 big reasons:
    1) Netware was hard to write software for. You need to know C/C++ and have a ton of time on your hands. Windows development was much easier – which doesn’t translate to better.
    2) Companies stopped supporting Netware not only hardware, but software as well. Ceridian is/was a prime example – they stated that their software only ran on Windows servers, but it ran just fine using Netware as a backend.
    3) MS FUD.
    People don’t care what OS the server or pc is running as long as their programs run.
    Getting a common development environment is a good first step to removing barriers to adoption.

  3. Roy Schestowitz said,

    March 3, 2009 at 11:17 am


    Some day in the near future we intend to document dirty tricks that have not been publicly discussed (nor seen).

  4. JohnD said,

    March 3, 2009 at 3:20 pm


    I’m well aware of the long list of MS tricks – don’t forget to include “Server Crunch” to the list.

  5. Roy Schestowitz said,

    March 3, 2009 at 5:08 pm


    I’ll do many more by the end of the year.

  6. Jose_X said,

    March 10, 2009 at 8:56 pm


    You *help Microsoft* if you make sure the best applications run as “dotnet” http://boycottnovell.com/2008/11/25/jose-on-mono/ .

    What Novell should do if they want to pretend they care about breaking Microsoft’s stranglehold, given they have committed to “dotnet”, is to strive for a better “dotnet” than MSdotnet and to actively work to get those using MSdotnet to move to Novell’s version. If they can’t manage success there, to get serious marketshare to move from MSdotnet to Novell-dotnet, then how useful is their “clone” strategy?

    As Roy linked.. hasn’t Novell tried the “clone” thing many times in the past without success? Hello, earth to Novell.

    Novell is working to get what otherwise might be quality Linux-y apps to instead be created in such a way so that it is easy for Microsoft to leverage. They want to grow the developer developer developer developer base of “dotnet” rather than work to diminish it. They want to make sure Linux has no or few exclusive must-have apps. They need FOSS to run on Windows (mono is the easiest such way). [I would not be surprised if many people behind mono apps have contracts with or intend to deal with Microsoft to license their code in a way Microsoft can integrate into their products.] And, finally, as a real bonus, while software patents are still a threat: they want everyone to use their API http://boycottnovell.com/2009/02/04/the-api-trap-part-1/ .

    Wine is not a new investment avenue. It’s obviously way behind the Win API because it takes a long time to reverse engineer incompatibilities that might even be specific to the specific development environments provided to individual app vendors (or classes of them) by Microsoft. Microsoft doesn’t make money on platforms older than XP and makes less money on XP (vs Vista). Wine focuses not on growing Win API mindshare but on getting existing apps to run on Linux. Microsoft’s platform are forever changing at the flick of an update initiated from Redmond. Wine is a trade-off because it’s always best to get people to stop using anything that even smells like Microsoft API.

    So our focus to grow Linux should be to leverage, extend, and improve upon the points that distinguish us from Microsoft and where Microsoft would be behind the curve and unable to leverage many of their existing gargantuan investments (in dotnet, OOXML, etc).

    To this end, I think more people should know about products like Qt and QtCreator
    http://boycottnovell.com/2009/03/05/novell-q1-results/#comment-60226 .

  7. Dan O'Brian said,

    March 10, 2009 at 10:00 pm


    What Novell should do if they want to pretend they care about breaking Microsoft’s stranglehold, given they have committed to “dotnet”, is to strive for a better “dotnet” than MSdotnet and to actively work to get those using MSdotnet to move to Novell’s version.

    Uh… wow, you really are clueless aren’t you?

    That’s exactly what they are doing. Open your eyes.

  8. Jose_X said,

    March 11, 2009 at 12:50 am


    Dan, I’ve mentioned this numerous times. I doubt this is the first time you see it. Let me know when you have market share numbers to report.. of people that have left the MSdotnet lock-in, significant market share that now can move their apps right off Windows and onto Linux.

    I honestly wish Novell and anyone else success here. Not more success than those getting developers and user off dotnet, eg onto Qt, but some success nevertheless, to the extent it will be helping to nontrivially dent Monopolysoft’s hold on customers and monopoly income without too much interference with migrations off “dotnet”. I suspect that Novell is interested in going after customers that have already left MSware or are threatening to leave to a different technology. It’s reasonable for them to do this, but they end up serving as a buffer that offers a real measure of protection for Microsoft. [Monopolysoft == Microsoft or whichever company effectively substitutes for them or fills in their lock-in shoes.]

    So long as software patents are still a real threat, the api-trap link above tries to explain the extra foolishness of following along trying to spread MS created standards.

    Also.. Novell is delusional if they expect us to generally believe that Microsoft is going to reveal interop information that would be effective in breaking their hold. It may happen, but I would not partake in that experiment. Software bits can change on the spot. The number of ways to wreck interop when you have such vast and integrated software is too large to count in a lifetime. Not to mention that every bug fix and feature update will be done to keep their software in sync but will create new interop issues for threatening third parties.

    There are various groups that really want to move things in the direction of lock-in, but Novell is signficantly helping the worst of them by far.

  9. Dan O'Brian said,

    March 11, 2009 at 8:22 am


    If you want numbers, you’ll have to ask Novell.

    Novell isn’t helping lock-in, they are defeating it by providing alternatives for people “locked-in” to .NET. Once they are on Mono, they are no longer locked into anything – it’s Free Software, they can fork Mono if they want to.

  10. Jose_X said,

    March 11, 2009 at 1:05 pm


    I would say a more accurate explanation is that they are helping Microsoft embrace and extend FOSS.

    As I mentioned at the end, lot’s of commercial companies want to “embrace and extend” FOSS to various degrees, but Microsoft is different and Novell is aiding them.

    ..and then there is the patent question which has nothing to do with whether source is open or closed. Once/if software patents truly get neutered, this will be much less of a concern.


  11. Jose_X said,

    March 11, 2009 at 1:09 pm


    >> I would say a more accurate explanation is that they are helping Microsoft embrace and extend FOSS.

    I meant to say “they *have been* helping”.

    Many people would prefer Novell change from that path.

  12. Roy Schestowitz said,

    March 11, 2009 at 1:10 pm


    Their business model as of late has been reciprocity with/from Microsoft. Just trace back motives.

  13. Jose_X said,

    March 11, 2009 at 1:40 pm


    Let me be more specific with what I would support Novell doing.

    Stop advocating the virtues of things “MSdotnet” and start advocating the virtues of “Novelldotnet”. Down with Windows/Vista, up with Linux or NovellLinux. Challenge Microsoft and MSware at every turn. The more strategic the software, ad, or client, the greater the challenging.

    At the same time, start diverging Novelldotnet from MSdotnet. With every version change, diverge more. Perhaps, initially, break a decent amount of backwards compatibility with every single version change (or at least leverage deprecation labeling, with plans to dump these deprecated features within a short time period (say 2 years)).

    If you can, leverage all “interop” bits Microsoft has shared with you, and focus on taking marketshare from them.

    I would also like Novell to publicly announce their intentions to focus on Microsoft marketshare and not on fighting aggressively for the Linux slice. They can also state they have no deals with Microsoft to sell them proprietary licenses to FOSS apps whose copyright Novell owns. [A similar statement from each specific project heavily involved with Novelldotnet would also be desirable.] I’m aware they can play games with proxies, so I would hope they would also take a strong stance towards Novell partners that could be doing that sort of thing.

    In the short-run, you gain marketshare at Microsoft’s expense and bring FOSS to new people. Longer term, the wider FOSS community will more comfortably be able to embrace and participate with Novell. Remember, the problem is Monopolysoft.

    I wouldn’t put my time and money, today, to potentially join with Novell on such a path, but given Novell already seems committed, I would personally find this sort of action from them to be “making the best out of their current situation.” [Not sure if Novell can contractually move in that direction or if its management cares to.]

    The key is to reduce risks for the greater Linux and FOSS “community” if you want the community to eventually embrace and support Novell. This generally means to move away from Microsoft not towards them.

  14. Jose_X said,

    March 11, 2009 at 1:47 pm


    >> They can also state they have no deals with Microsoft to sell them proprietary licenses to FOSS apps whose copyright Novell owns…

    What I mean here is that I would want to make sure that something that has (eg) GPL on the box is not being leveraged by Monopolysoft in a way that bypasses the GPL share-alike safeguards.

    Also useful would be for Novell to publicly back real patent software reform, meaning, to take a stance to end the software patent threat at least in the vast majority of cases.

    I’m aware they have contributed patents to defend a certain amount of Linux/FOSS, so I hope they would support such an overhaul as well. This way, they or the OIN or whoever won’t have to worry about fighting Microsoft in court, eg, against FAT or dotnet, etc, patents.

  15. Roy Schestowitz said,

    March 11, 2009 at 2:12 pm


    Free software should strive to have Microsoft imitating, not the other way around.

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