Summary: OpenSUSE does the right thing by actively distancing itself from Novell (and thus from Microsoft’s patent deal too)
ON ABOUT a handful of occasions in the past (e.g. [1, 2]) we suggested that OpenSUSE should be forked or made independent. The reasons are simple; the two main ones are that Novell has a patent pact with Microsoft and Novell is up for sale (the intention of potential buyers is unknown).
A few days ago we wrote about OpenSUSE discussing the project’s direction and Ars Technica argues that “autonomy from Novell” is on the agenda.
The developers behind openSUSE are drafting a new “community statement” as part of a broader effort to define a technical strategy for their project. The purpose of the community statement is to describe the kind of collaborative environment that the project wants to create as it refines its technical focus.
The challenges are not insurmountable, however, and a foundation would definitely open the door for other vendors to take a more active role. Novell’s Michael Löffler wrote a blog entry last year in which he described the reasons why an openSUSE foundation would be desirable. He makes a case that openSUSE would benefit from having a vendor-neutral organization to encourage contributions from other companies besides Novell.
Michael Löffler’s suggestion seems reasonable, but there is still a trademark issue. Novell literally owns “OpenSUSE” and at the same time it pays Microsoft for deployments of SUSE (GNU/Linux or Ballnux) such as those from Microsoft’s partner Cray. Novell goes a long way to help Microsoft in HPC.
The third generation of the Cray Linux Environment, a goosed version of Novell’s SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 11 that was originally expected only on Baker boxes and their Gemini interconnect, made its debut last month sporting a neat new feature called Cluster Compatibility Mode.
This is another example of Microsoft making money from domination of GNU/Linux in supercomputers, thanks to Novell. A lot of the code comes from IBM, Red Hat, and several other companies that contribute to Linux more than Novell (whose rank among contributors has declined since it signed the deal with Microsoft). Novell has moved back to a proprietary agenda (below we put some of the latest news from Novell), including Fog Computing and Microsoft-serving software like Mono and Moonlight. █
 Deloitte Wins Novell Partner of the Year in the Identity and Security Category
 Collaboration Products – “Suite Spot” for Enterprise 2.0 Conference (Novell also mentioned here)
Major vendors – full-function platform suites are being offered by IBM (Lotus), Microsoft, Novell, and now Cisco, which just announced its Quad product line. Novell’s special sauce is simultaneous document editing.