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11.22.10

SUSE, OpenSUSE, and Why AttachMSFT Won’t Care

Posted in Finance, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Mono, Novell, OpenSUSE, SLES/SLED at 4:19 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: A rushed analysis of where AttachMSFT [sic] will stand when it comes to Novell assets and what this means to the OpenSUSE community

WE have about 10 more posts that we hope to publish today about Novell. In this post, we quickly say that OpenSUSE should prepare for exit from Novell. AttachMSFT [sic] (AttachMSFT was suggested as an Identi.ca Hashtag for the Novell/Attachmate/CPTN/MSFT deal), which is the buyer of Novell assets, is funded by what’s known as a “vulture fund”, which means that it buys companies only to sell whatever it has inside it that’s of value. The rest is just left to rot in the carcass. To quote it from someone else:

Glyn Moody’s tweet said it best. “Attachmate got the carcass after Microsoft’s mates ripped out the juicy stuff.

In our previous posts about the sale [1, 2] including this one about UNIX we have already covered most of the important points, but for those who do not know yet, Elliot’s Singer, the person who is responsible for Novell going on sale in the first place, is the one providing funds to AttachMSFT, which nobody really heard of before. Some background about Singer and his “vulture fund” can be found in:

To quote some readers of ours, Oiaohm speaks about a situation where “Attachmate would be likely to just discontinue mono. No mono no hope for MS of .NET being a golden egg long term.”

ThistleWeb says: “I do note the “consortium led by MS” part, aka the PR chaff they can use to deflect any criticism in legal cases”

Jan says: “More strangeness in #AttachMSFT “But as part of the deal [...] Elliott is to become an equity shareholder in Attachmate” http://is.gd/hAOV2 ”

Qu1j0t3 says: “evidently another successful hack of the legal system. #antitrust #microsoft #novell #attachmsft”

Oiaohm adds “CPTN Holdings is another name for Microsoft. [...] CPTN Holdings, a Microsoft (MSFT) led consortium”

Yes, antitrust is a major factor here and a bigger discussion about it can be found in our IRC logs (to be published after midnight GMT). Antitrust scrutiny might not have the ability to take proxies into account.

Back in 2006, Microsoft paid Novell over $300 million to put it under a lot of Microsoft control. Today it finds a way to pay a mere $450 million (small money to technology giants) and takes everything which is needs from Novell, notably software patents.

Jan asks: “What will happen with Mono after AttachMSFT?”

He also tells Jono Bacon (Canonical): “#AttachMSFT has Elliott (that hedgefund that bidded for NOVL in february) as investor. Makes sense now? ;-)

Rob Myers explains to Jono Bacon: “And certain “intellectual property” goes to a Microsoft consortium…”

Alan Lord tells to Jono Bacon: “And I bet that that information (which #swpats etc.) will remain locked down until they decide to use them…”

“Boycott Novell” warns about Novell because it recognises it as a danger, especially a long-term danger. I personally received messages today (or messages to “Boycott Novell”) which give us credit for foresight.

OMG!Ubuntu! has covered this too, but then again, who has not? Novell is over and “it will be a bummer to see it go,” writes abeNd.org, “i know a bunch of my customers will probably scramble to want to migrate to microsoft asap”

Here is another corporate press article about it (similar to the press release, so no real exploration here).

Novell Inc. said Monday morning that it will be acquired in a private-equity-led deal valued at $6.10 a share, or about $2.2 billion.

Carlo Piana writes: “Now I’m in #paranoid mode WRT Novell sale. Going to read what the well informed @maryjofoley can tell us”

Is he serious when calling Mary Jo Foley well informed? She repeats what Microsoft says and Microsoft misinforms more than almost anyone. Here is what she wrote:

So far, Microsoft is saying little about its role in the deal.

“We are pleased to be a part of the acquisition of certain intellectual property assets of Novell. Microsoft looks forward to continuing our collaboration with Novell into the future, to bring mixed source IT solutions to customers,” said the company via a statement from Horacio Gutierrez, Microsoft’s Corporate Vice President and Deputy General Counsel of Intellectual Property and Licensing.

[...]

Attachmate officials have said they plan to operate Novell as two business units, Novell and SUSE, and join them with their Attachmate and NetIQ businesses.

Update: It sounds like Mono development will continue under the new Attachmate owners, as well.

No word about OpenSUSE. AttachMSFT just want to suck what’s left of SLE* (contracts) and have Microsoft paid for patents that nobody knows anything about. VMB_ware with Microsoft’s Maritz at the top would not have been much better as a takeover, but at least it’s one of those real companies with known products and brands. Our reader rpgdude writes: “OIN should buy the patents” (well, it’s too late now, isn’t it?).

cubezzz remarks: “Novell continues to grant IBM’s license of Unix”

It will get quite complicated if Microsoft indeed gets UNIX. But again, what about OpenSUSE? Nobody appears to be talking about it. Unless a way is found to make a lot of money from it, what will possibly keep Novell/AttachMSFT funding which the project requires? Novell was already a bad steward of OpenSUSE, for example whenever servers fell.

We have plenty of catching up to do with OpenSUSE news (although there is little going on there nowadays) and one thing that caught our eyes the other night is this post about OpenSUSE and KDE, which ends with:

Finally, users can make visual contact with their virtual desktops by hovering the bottom of the screen to make these arrows appear and go to a different virtual desktop. Additionally, there could be a window list much like Mac OSX’s or Windows 7 but sitting comfortably on the right edge of the screen which accumulates in similar fashion to what AfterStep did borrowing from NeXTStep.

OpenSUSE is technically just as good if not better than the proprietary competition, but it does not have marketing.

Here is Novell promoting SLE* in a recently-uploaded video. Why not OpenSUSE?

They are trying to get people to defect from Red Hat to Novell/SLE* (with more promotional videos), which Novell pays Microsoft for. Novell claims to have the most supported applications (watch the video above) — a claim previously disputed by others. Even Novell’s PR agents use the same tactics, having just pulled other talking points like number of appliances built by the fruits of Friedman, who was behind the project before he left the company. IBM is also among these talking points from Novell’s PR (we covered part I earlier this month), which tries to elevate morale as the best staff is leaving.

“Novell claims to have the most supported applications (watch the video above) — a claim previously disputed by others.”Most of the other news we found is just about SLES, so there is almost nothing to say about OpenSUSE. Timothy Prickett Morgan mentioned SLES in some of his good articles, the latter of which states: “At the moment, ScaleMP’s vSMP Foundation shared memory clustering software works with Red Hat Enterprise Linux 4 and 5 and Novell SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 10 and 11.”

Novell servers also get a mention in other places (similar here), with the most major story being announced in a press release to generate some news like:

i. Novell announces The Hong Kong Jockey Club

ii. One of the World*s Largest Racing Organizations Standardizes on SUSE Linux Enterprise

To summarise the point of this quick post, Novell will no longer be Novell; it is going to be a bunch of assets in a shell, with its patents stripped away and sold to a Microsoft shell. OpenSUSE is unlikely to be part of this plan and since Novell too appears to have lost interest, the talented OpenSUSE people should try to fork OpenSUSE (trademark owned by Novell) or contribute to a different distribution. Novell authorised the death knell of OpenSUSE 4 years ago when it agreed with Microsoft that OpenSUSE should not be used in businesses which make money, not without being sued or extorted by Microsoft anyway. It’s there in the deal — the agreement both companies signed without consultation from OpenSUSE members.

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