The lizard (Geeko) wears new clothes
Summary: SLE* 11 is a .NET-rich environment with software patent tax, Microsoft ‘goodies’, and lack of polish
IT WAS innocent enough when Novell decided to make GNOME the default desktop environment, at least in the enterprise space. It is another thing altogether when Novell turns its GNU/Linux distribution into a follower and devout promoter of Microsoft technologies because this has impact on other distributions which share the same code, packages, and overall integration.
“Somebody told us last week that even KDE is getting Mono-based alternatives to existing applications…”Just look at Miguel de Icaza’s blog today. He is promoting Mono-based alternatives to perfectly fine existing applications. Somebody told us last week that even KDE is getting Mono-based alternatives to existing applications because a few people prefer Mono with Qt and there might be a Novell connection. It’s not conclusive.
In any event, whilst they are trying to boost Mono (or .NET) at the expense of other technologies and at other companies’ expense (Google), Novell is also releasing SLE* 11, as expected.
Unsurprisingly, it’s filled with Mono. As The Register put it:
The Mono Extension to SUSE Linux is the first time that Novell has offered commercial support for the Mono runtime, which allows applications that are coded in C# and using the .NET Framework to run atop non-Windows platforms. Novell bought into the open source Mono project when it acquired Ximian, the company behind Mono as well as the Gnome graphical user interface, back in the summer of 2003. That’s a long time for Novell to take to get Mono commercial, but better late than never.
Jason Perlow has already taken this release for an early ride and despite being somewhat of a SUSE supporter, he was not particularly pleased.
While the technology itself in SLED 11 is impressive, Novell clearly has a lot of work to do before I can recommend deployment of SLED 11 as an enterprise desktop. Are these issues fixable? Yes, but I recommend that the openSUSE and SLE developer teams work much more closely together and rationalize their development processes, and that new usability studies be commissioned in order to flush out problems that might emerge in typical usage scenarios, and not usage by geeks or Linux enthusiasts.
Here is the report from IDG regarding this release. It begins as follows.
Novell unveiled SUSE Linux Enterprise 11 on Tuesday, with features and capabilities that reflect the company’s controversial multiyear agreement with Microsoft.
In 2006, Microsoft and Novell agreed to work on improving compatibility between their products, and pledged not to pursue patent claims against each other’s customers. The move has been widely decried by open-source software advocates.
This is the first major release (not Service Pack) since the deal with Microsoft and judging by its direction, Novell’s assimilation to Microsoft is pretty rapid.
Promotion of SLE* 11 began roughly a week ago. Novell’s filling of YouTube with advertisements [1, 2] is nothing unprecedented and there are a few more innocent videos such as this new introduction to SLED (just days old). The main problem is that Novell is almost bragging about Moon Lie (not a clone of Silver Lie) and the increasingly Mono-laden Evolution. A reader brought these pet peeves to our attention after watching the video.
Moonlight is one problem but another is Novell’s Evolution, which makes it almost impossible to remove Mono from SUSE. Sam Varghese, a technical journalist at ITWire, found that in OpenSUSE 11.1 (which SLED 11 is based on) it’s virtually impossible to remove Mono because of spurious dependencies, whether erroneous or not. █