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Novell Meets rPath in Raleigh, North Carolina (Hometown of Red Hat)

"It just tells you how desperate Microsoft is for a competitor that they’re holding up a software box produced by 100 guys in the hills of North Carolina. Who are they trying to kid?"

--Robert Young, CEO of Red Hat at the time



This one might make you slightly queasy if you consider not only geographical factors to be of relevance, but also employment record and baggage.

Mentioned last Saturday and throughout BrainShare coverage was Novell's appliance ambition. Novell announced this more officially last week and one of the latest articles covering this is from techtarget.com.

With the beta launch of its SUSE Appliance Program, Waltham, Mass.-based Novell Inc. has climbed aboard the growing movement toward application appliances. The goal of the initiative: to enable independent software vendors (ISVs) to build new applications faster by creating stackable components that can be combined with programs to build customized applications, said Nat Friedman, Novell's chief technology and strategy officer for open source.


Then came some more details about the product's identity and role. The name JeOS (pronounced "juice") was probably first introduced by Canonical some months ago and Novell adopted the same acronym, which is echoed quite uniformly across the Web, including in this article.

Novell Puts Out JEOS Beta, Starts Appliance Effort



[...]

In the case of Ubuntu, which has a main memory footprint of between 320 MB and 686 MB depending on the installed options, the high-end version of JEOS could come in at around 215 MB of main memory, not including the 32 MB footprint for the new ESX Server 3i hypervisor. A regular ESX Server 3 hypervisor weighed in at over 2 GB. So this is a radically improved memory footprint, therefore making it appropriate for hypervisor-style appliances.


But now comes the interesting bit. A couple of days ago the following press release surfaced.

rPath to OEM SUSE Linux Enterprise Server from Novell for Appliances



rPath€®, whose unique technology simplifies application distribution and management through virtual appliances, today announced a technology partnership enabling application providers to use rPath’s rBuilder€® to create virtual appliances using the rPath Appliance Platformâ„¢ and SUSE€® Linux Enterprise Server from Novell€®. The agreement promises to reduce complexity and costs of application distribution and deployment, while maintaining the strategic value of investments in application certification. The Novell-rPath collaboration marks a significant industry milestone, enabling customers for the first time to utilize a leading open-source operating system with a leading virtual appliance lifecycle management platform.


Here is a quick and short post about it.

Until now, however, rPath’s virtual appliances have been released on the company’s homegrown version of Linux. With the new partnership, developers that have built applications in SUSE Linux can just transfer them over to rPath without any trouble.


Then came some newer and more in-depth articles, such as this one

Novell will provide rPath with SUSE Linux Enterprise source code and maintenance patches for incorporation into rPath’s “appliance platform.”

rPath and Novell issued a statement that included endorsements of their partnership from SAP and VMware.

[...]

Eric Troan, who co-founded rPath, with Marshall, was among the top developers at Red Hat before leaving the firm. Marshall also was an executive at Red Hat.


Mind that last sentence again. This isn't news to us, but the fact that the company is even based in Raleigh is interesting nonetheless. More interesting is the fact that it was rejected by others whom it approached, including Red Hat.

The Raleigh, NC company has approached Red Hat, Ubuntu and Sun about using rPath’s application packaging technology but those vendors decided to develop their own appliance offerings, he claims.


Mind the headline also: "rPath to OEM Novell’s SUSE Linux to reduce legal worries." See the FUD effect? Since when are Linux appliances associated with legal worries? Were such phrases injected in by rPath, Novell, or Microsoft?

To sum up some findings, what we have here is another company that associates itself with the Microsoft-taxed distribution, which is further complicated by the origins of rPath. It comes from the same company and people to whom the Novell/Microsoft deal is a pain. rPath essentially becomes a SUSE Linux (Ballnux) repackager.

There is something worth stressing again. To Microsoft, Novell is like Citrix. Microsoft doesn't need to buy it (it might even face antitrust scrutiny over this), but both Citrix and Novell do Microsoft's work, by proxy. Some even consider Novell a GPL proxy of Microsoft, which is unsurprising because Microsoft hates the GPL and avoids direct contact with it at all costs.

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