Summary: Novell made more reliant on Microsoft, then spreads more of its patents-protected technology inside GNU/Linux
NOVELL MIGHT not survive this year, according to the opinion of some people in the IRC channel. In fact, given the company’s obvious problems and lack of access to hardware, things are bound to escalate and the commitment to SUSE itself is now in doubt. According to a recent survey, Novell is the least likely technology company to survive through 2009 (in its current form).
Over at Server Watch, an article has just been published which points out Novell’s dependence on Microsoft. The thought-provoking headline was, “What’s the point of SUSE Linux Enterprise Server?”
Some might say SLES is the obvious candidate in that it’s backed by Novell, and with other strings to its bow Novell should be better able to withstand any price wars or other financial problems a Linux champion might encounter. But there’s a problem with this argument. Over the years Novell has comprehensively had its ass whipped by Microsoft. What it comes down to is this: Microsoft is a winner while Novell is a perennial loser.
But it gets worse. Novell, as we all know, is in Microsoft’s back pocket when it comes to SLES. The Redmond giant subsidizes SLES by buying support coupons off Novell (it’s committed to up to $340 million worth so far), which it uses to get Microsoft customers who are interested in Linux to spurn Red Hat.
This reliance on Microsoft is by no means surprising. In fact, that Novell promotes people who wanted to work at Microsoft (Miguel de Icaza) and still go there on a regular basis [1, 2] is not surprising either. In recent shuffles [1, 2, 3], Microsoft was also given executive positions of control inside Novell.
Novell is at the moment laying off SUSE staff while advancing .NET because, as the TomTom case teaches, this enables Novell (or Microsoft) to poison GNU/Linux and sell its own ‘licensed’ (and almost closed-source) distribution called SLED/SLES.
Fortunately, people are beginning to realise what Novell is up with Microsoft. We have already seen explanations of what the FAT/TomTom lawsuit means to Mono and Moonlight. Here is another one from yesterday.
Well lo and behold what happens? Microsoft comes out against Tom Tom and three of the 7 patents they claim infringe target technologies used in the Linux kernel and technology built on top of Linux. Fat patents and Windowing environment are at stake here.
Alas, back to Mono and once again I must ask myself. Is if really worth it to dance with the beast? How many times are we going to ferry the scorpion across the river on our backs only to be stung each time we reach the shore? The old adage proclaims: “Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice shame on me.” We’ve been fooled way to many times now and I for one am sick of looking like an idiot.
If you always do what you’ve always done, you will always get what you always got. Microsoft has not changed it’s colors at all. Why should we continue to compromise?
“I saw that internally inside Microsoft many times when I was told to stay away from supporting Mono in public. They reserve the right to sue”