10.08.08

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Latest Evidence of ‘Novell | Microsoft Axis’

Posted in GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Novell, Red Hat, SLES/SLED, Virtualisation at 4:28 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Novellsoft

The Pet Distro

The following new article contains a slightly restrained yet informative portion about the Novell/Microsoft deal and its meaning.

Microsoft’s Favorite Linux Distribution

Both of these management systems allow the management of Windows and both SLES and RHEL, but Microsoft appears to favor the former over the latter. Demonstrating this, the company signed a set of agreements with Novell in November 2006 to work towards better interoperability between Windows and SLES in four areas:

* virtualization
* systems management
* directory integration and identity
* office document formats

The deal, which runs at least until 2012, has been treated with a great deal of suspicion by many people, partly because it can easily be construed as a way for Microsoft to get a “pet” Linux distro which it can control and use to get a better understanding of Linux and customers’ reasons for wanting to use it for its own advantage. The deal includes an agreement for Microsoft to refrain from taking legal action against Novell’s customers for using Linux (which Microsoft claims infringes various of its patents,) and also involves Microsoft making payments to Novell (and therefore indirectly subsidizing SLES.) One way this is achieved is by buying support coupons from Novell, which Microsoft then sells on to its customers at a discount.

What is it all about? It’s about offering very low-cost support (maybe tolerating a loss, i.e. dumping) just to ensure SUSE is the only GNU/Linux that enters companies. As we showed recently, it’s intended to harm Red Hat and injure other frailer distributors whose executives refused to sell out to Microsoft.

There are some new revelations about Microsoft’s attempt to do to Red Hat what it did to Novell, but we’ll reserve this for a future post.

Fighting Red Hat

Microsoft is trying to divide and then destroy each GNU/Linux distributor in turn. Its internal memos attest to such a plan [PDF] and Linspire is already dead.

Microsoft does not need to fight Red Hat using just cost or a complex pricing strategy like Novell’s. Along with Novell, it works to make software incompatible with anything but SLES, whose sales Microsoft is paid (‘compensated’) for. Watch this new article (published also here).

The other reason for ESX’s edge here is that Hyper-V — as Microsoft certifies — supports only one version of Linux, Novell’s SUSE Linux Enterprise (SLES) 10 Service Pack 1 or 2, in x86 and x64 versions. However, only one virtual processor is supported for each virtualized instance of SLES 10 SP 1 or 2. Microsoft’s Connectix acquisition, which brought Microsoft Virtual Server to market, initially supported a vastly wider variety of guests. For Hyper-V support of Linux, Microsoft’s relationship with Novell has Microsoft buying hundreds of thousands of SUSE Linux support kits for Microsoft’s (and their customers’) use.

In the folowing new interview with Red Hat’s CEO, he abstained from commenting on Microsoft’s role and steered away to another related topic — the sharing of code.

A lot of matrimony has been witnessed in the recent past on the aisle of open source. How do you interpret the consolidation action around with deals like MS-Novell, Sun-My SQL, Yahoo-Zimbra?

[James M Whitehurst:] I won’t pooh pooh anything. That said, not many realize the real essence. The power of OS is in maximizing community and collaboration. Sun controls the major part of development realm. I don’t know, in that light, how exactly they make the model work. We are hundred per cent OS that leads to greater strategic clarity.

The idea of economics of abundance again comes to discussion here. We don’t control Linux. But getting the constant changes that happen on the development front, as upstream as possible is the real thing. There was once a need for a real-time kernel by banks and financial services customers. Novell already had it but they never got it upstream, so when we did that upstream, they had to abandon theirs. The whole Linux later moved in that direction.

It’s probably neither coincidence nor mistake that he neglects to mention Microsoft or the “MS-Novell” deal he was actually asked about. He dances around the question, leading into another (more positive) aspect of the Novell-Red Hat relationship. In reality, these two companies are no friends [1, 2] (Novell occasionally throws FUD at Red Hat).

Novell Lonely on Its Own

There are also areas where Novell is neglected. Here is an example from last week.

As for what its customers are actually virtualizing these days using the AppLogic tool: Customers can use any Linux with a 2.6 kernel, but CentOS, Fedora, Ubuntu, and Debian are the most popular Linuxes used by AppLogic users, with a smattering of Red Hat Enterprise Linux. So far, no one has deployed on Novell’s SUSE Linux Enterprise Server.

So, where Microsoft is not calling the shots, Novell’s appeal declines. That’s a territory where some boy in the yard does not have the friendly bully nearby to ‘protect’ him.

Novell’s Case Against Microsoft Could be Annulled

Yesterday we alluded to an article about the possibility that Novell's trial will be buried along with the Caldera lawsuit (and settlement). The Microsoft folks at NetworkWorld (IDG) seem to have taken significant interest in this.

To paraphrase from Groklaw the central issue is that Microsoft thinks these papers could prove that Novell sold all of its antitrust claims to Caldera, including two outstanding claims against Microsoft regarding Wordperfect. If Microsoft can prove that, Microsoft would argue that the outstanding claims are kaput, covered by a settlement agreement with Caldera in 2000.

If that ever happens, Novell will grow even closer to and more dependent on Microsoft. And that’s no good.

“Our partnership with Microsoft continues to expand.”

Ron Hovsepian, Novell CEO

‘They are telling HP that they wil NOT be part of this launch and that BillG has said “fxxk HP (all divisions) if they won’t sign a Windows license.”‘

Comes vs. Microsoft exhibit [PDF] (more here)

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