Bonum Certa Men Certa

Novell, Microsoft... and IBM... Maybe Oracle Too (Part I)

This two-part post is worth reading carefully yet cautiously. We've received a lot of information from a credible source, but a lot of it needed to be omitted or at least watered down. What we have left below will be useful knowledge to return to in the future.



Let us begin with some timely news about corporate politics. A short while ago, after this short and mystifying post, Matt Asay wrote the following clarification about Red Hat and Oracle:

"I've since heard a bit more about this. There's not an acquisition in the works, but Oracle is apparently pushing for some sort of partnership that would bring down the price of RHEL. Oracle doesn't have much of a salesforce pushing "Unbreakable" and it shows. It wants to ride RHEL's coattails but also wants RHEL to be even cheaper...so that no one will notice that it keeps raising its prices.

"So, there's substance to the rumors. But will Oracle have the humility to give some value to Red Hat? The jury is still out...."

Oracle's role has been interesting to us for quite some time because the company had announced that it would undercut Red Hat just about a month before the Novell/Microsoft agreement was revealed to the public (it had been negotiated for about 5 months before that). Oracle and IBM were probably among those who knew about it well in advance (IBM at the very least) and later we saw Oracle making some moves which can be characterised as strong-arming [1, 2, 3].

Remember that, going a few years back, Red Hat too considered buying S.u.S.E. Sun was mentioned in a similar context, but it appears to be sticking with OpenSolaris. It also maintains a healthy relationship with Canonical.

But... here are some other key facts of interest. It's about IBM:



  1. IBM funded, at least in part, Novell's acquisition of S.u.S.E


  2. IBM approved the Novell/Microsoft deal on the day of the press conference


  3. IBM has an extensive and ever-growing software patents portfolio


  4. IBM may be trying tame Free software, just like Nokia intended to do not so long ago (lingering questions remain about the new DRM 'solution' for Linux)


  5. With Symphony and some other supposedly 'open' (as in standards) projects, it's clear that IBM is not the biggest fan of Free software


  6. Some months ago it was revealed that IBM had been working on that dreaded thing called 'Trusted' Computing for GNU/Linux


  7. IBM is doing business with both Red Hat and Novell, on both the desktop- and the server-side.


The rest this story is reserved for the second part, which will be posted shortly.

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