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Taking Over Linux, by Proxy

Posted in GNU/Linux, KDE, Microsoft, Novell, OpenSUSE, Red Hat, Servers, SLES/SLED, VMware at 9:14 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz


Summary: A glimpse at the latest news from Nokia, VMware, Novell, and SCO

MeeGo is at stake when a Microsoft president becomes Nokia’s CEO [1, 2, 3, 4]. Nokia is crucial to the survival and thriving of Free software projects like Qt (the very essence of a lot of KDE) and also MeeGo, which is co-developed with Intel (a successor to Moblin, which was once managed by the Linux Foundation too). “Nokia silent on MeeGo” says this new forum thread which worries the person who mentioned it earlier:

It sounds like Nokia has something cooking in the background, or they are totally clueless. I am not sure which, but I guess we will find out soon enough.


Hopefully they have something going on. With their ownership of Trolltech and Qt, the same toolkit used to create KDE, Nokia has the ability to define and influence development tools, which they can use across Symbian, Meego, and any other platforms they choose to support.

If Nokia screws up with MeeGo and with Qt, then surely some people will point the finger at the company’s new CEO from Microsoft.

Jos Poortvliet from KDE and OpenSUSE (OpenSUSE is a proponent and key participant in KDE) may soon work for several ex-Microsoft executives, who are now running VMware and want to buy SUSE. Poortvliet is still trying to determine how to best deal with the community he was assigned to manage. Would volunteers work for VMware like they worked for Novell? Anyway, from Poortvliet’s latest post:

Your strategy team has been working hard, as promised, to incorporate the comments you have all given over the last few months into a new document. That document aims to describe where openSUSE stands right now, what users we target, what we are doing. Who we are has been covered pretty decently in the current community statement and now we would like to present you with what users we target.

The OMG!SUSE! Web site welcomes VMware:

I can guarantee any of my sources inside Novell cannot talk about anything one way or the other, but as soon as I can find some answers to the question “What does this mean for openSUSE?” I will be sure to report back.

“One might say that VMware has been causing a brain drain and a mindshare drain in F/OSS ever since it was taken over by former Microsoft staff.”OpenSUSE is rightly called “a distro that matters” in this new post, but its developers should fork to save it from VMware. Just look at what VMware did with Zimbra. It’s almost unheard of after the acquisition because VMware is a proprietary software company with even less commitment than Novell to “open source”. One might say that VMware has been causing a brain drain and a mindshare drain in F/OSS ever since it was taken over by former Microsoft staff.

Now that SUSE is said to be sold to VMware [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6] Gartner seems happy and the VAR Guy, a Red Hat shareholder, views this as an attack on Red Hat:

Five Reasons VMware May Buy Novell SUSE Linux


1. Fending off Red Hat: No doubt, Red Hat CEO Jim Whitehurst plans to attack VMware. The strategy involves Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) and Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization (RHEV). Within the halls of VMware, there is some concern about RHEV, which is based on the open source Kernel-based Virtual Machine (KVM). Whitehurst believes RHEL and RHEV can eventually topple VMware the way Linux toppled the traditional Unix market. But it’s going to take time for Red Hat to strengthen RHEV with management tools that match VMware.

Instead of allowing RHEV to gain some momentum, VMware could use SUSE Linux to launch a preemptive strike and attack Red Hat’s core Linux business.

People have been saying that VMware would attack Red Hat for quite some time. Here is the summary from Slashdot along with a very long discussion:

minutetraders writes “According to the Wall Street Journal, VMware is attempting to acquire Novell’s SUSE Linux operating system business. This move would give VMware a full stack of enterprise software and allow it to establish itself as a full-blown infrastructure and software vendor in direct competition with Red Hat.”

Yes, it’s Red Hat again. Should SUSE not try to replace Windows instead? How much of a role do the roots of VMware’s management in Microsoft play here? Groklaw once suggested that confrontations between VMware and Microsoft are just staged. Right now Groklaw has this hypothesis about the UNIX virtual 'products' sale by SCO (also covered by The H right now):

As you have witnessed in the past decade as SCO has sued one customer after another, ensuring continued customer viability has always been at the top of SCO’s bucket list and close to its noble heart. My question is, might the timing of all this be connected with the rumored sale of Novell? Not to be cynical, but with SCO, I always assume there will be vultures.

It seems not impossible that former Microsoft executives in Nokia and in VMware help suck the core of F/OSS out of the F/OSS world. It’s just a theory and it will be tested over time.

“Pamela Jones [...] has told Infoworld that Microsoft will be the next SCO Group”


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A Single Comment

  1. twitter said,

    September 17, 2010 at 10:40 pm


    All I can see is Microsoft laughing behind the scenes at all of this. By proxy, Microsoft has been damaging both of the biggest free software desktops, Gnome and KDE. The other “strategy” talk is just icing on the cake.

    The first piece of damage was Novell’s take over of Suse. Suse was arguably the best KDE based desktop distribution and Novell took it no where while trying to appease Microsoft. KDE flourished anyway but we can imagine that it might have done better had Suse had a serious advocate instead of one that wasted resources on Gnome and “interoperability” with Microsoft.

    Novell’s work with Gnome can be seen as an attack on the other popular free desktop. Their deal with Microsoft and attempts to lace everything with mono are clearly treacherous. Now we have the usual Microsoft boosters continuing Novell’s FUD about competing with Red Hat. They are even recycling the “full stack” marketing drivel. First, there’s more than enough room in the world for more than one gnu/linux distribution. Secondly, there’s obviously a big money market replacing Windows desktops that both Red Hat and Suse should persue. VMWare, filled with Microsoft people, will carry on the worst of Novell’s policies and will follow them into corporate bankruptcy as Red Hat continues to grow it’s honest free software business.

    Microsoft’s take over of Nokia is another disturbing attack on KDE. If they act like Novell did, they will end up in the same place. Microsoft never cooperates with other companies except to destroy them.

    Thank’s Roy, for pulling these threads together. Where are the US anti-trust people?

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