04.18.09

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Novell Won’t Coordinate Releases with Canonical/Ubuntu

Posted in Debian, GNU/Linux, Novell, OpenSUSE, SLES/SLED, Ubuntu at 2:09 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

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Summary: Mark Shuttleworth speaks to Novell about coordination, but it does not work out

CONSIDERING this incident from over two years ago, it was surprising to find that Mark Shuttleworth had negotiated with Novell, but according to his latest blog post, it fell through.

Six-month cycles are great. Now let’s talk about meta-cycles: broader release cycles for major work. I’m very interested in a cross-community conversation about this, so will sketch out some ideas and then encourage people from as many different free software communities as possible to comment here.

[...]

I’ve spoken with folks at Novell, and it doesn’t look like there’s an opportunity to coordinate for the moment.

Novell might not be the most suitable company to coordinate this with; not only is it collaborating with and promoting Microsoft, but it also sends SUSE workforce overseas to compensate for layoffs. Richard Hillesley has just taken a look at the OpenSUSE project, which is essentially very similar (even overlapping) to SUSE. It does not look particularly encouraging and the author captures the key signs.

openSUSE has made efforts to reconcile its difficulties with the wider community and to demonstrate its authenticity as a community distribution. The latest release of openSUSE coincided with the first annual community elections to the board of openSUSE. The board is composed of the chair and two members who must all be Novell SUSE employees, and two community members, of and selected by the community. openSUSE 11.1 contains a new license agreement. No longer a EULA which requires acceptance, the license can now be seen as an open source license agreement, of which the openSUSE community manager, Joe “Zonker” Brockmeier, has said: “We now have a licence that presents no obstacle to redistribution, and no obstacle for modification.”

openSUSE wants to be of and for the community, and doesn’t believe it ever “went away”. But the fate of the SuSE of old would appear to have been in the hands of others, the victim, you could say, of circumstances beyond its control and of corporate incomprehension and fidelity to the bottom line. Novell has a long history of excellent products and failed marketing, and the view from outside is that, once again, Novell is not succeeding in bridging the gap between its commercial potential and the intrusion of darker realities.

Going back to Shuttleworth’s post, it appears as though he found room for collaboration with Debian. It seems like a very smart move.

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