Bonum Certa Men Certa

Novell Committed to Microsoft Technologies, But Not so Much to Free Desktop (RadeonHD)

Summary: Novell lays off Luc Verhaegen (of the RadeonHD driver team), thus putting the whole project in jeopardy

Novell's .NET focus is a sensitive subject that we've recently covered in [1, 2]. In short, there are signs which suggest that Novell is deemphasising core parts of the OpenSUSE project while investing resources in projects that put more Microsoft technologies inside GNU/Linux, which is wrong.

As another sign that something is amiss, Novell is letting some of its most important Linux projects drift away. At the beginning of the year we wrote about problems with the RadeonHD project, which had almost been passed to Red Hat. Now that there are layoffs affecting about 20% of OpenSUSE's staff [1, 2], the RadeonHD driver is being negatively impacted and it's at very serious risk because of AMD's response (details to come shortly). The RadeonHD team has just lost its key developer Luc Verhaegen, as revealed by Michael over at Phoronix.

Luc Verhaegen has been let go from Novell. As was publicly announced this morning in the form of a Git commit, Luc Verhaegen is no longer working for Novell. While he was one of the few X developers working on OpenSuSE and also responsible for the VIA Unichrome driver, Novell decide to eliminate him. Due to limited access now to ATI hardware, it's unlikely that we will see any future work from him in the RadeonHD driver.


Since Red Hat is in favour xf86-video-ati it is possible that the RadeonHD driver will die (developers must gain access to hardware and documentation with NDAs). Novell is definitely not helping much anymore.

Microsoft (MSFT) is hovering at about $15.xx and Novell (NOVL) is almost down to $2.xx in today's trading. They are two companies in very serious trouble, so priorities are changing.

Many people agree that Novell needs to get rid of Microsoft and ensure its own future survival, not Microsoft's. At the moment, Novell is employing many people (or sponsoring projects) that are polluting all GNU/Linux distributions using Microsoft's co-called 'IP', which as the TomTom case teaches, must be avoided. Considering the fact that Microsoft is suing companies for FAT (despite promises not to sue), where is the trust?

Sam Dean wrote about Novell's poor results [1, 2, 3]. Here is the core of the suggestions:

Novell's relationship with Microsoft is unusual in the sense that the company is reliant on Microsoft to assist with Linux-related deals, but is not unique in terms of Microsoft's standard business practices. Huge companies like Dell and Intel--and many more--have been reliant on Microsoft for years in helping to get big deals, co-marketing, and much more. It's very much the Microsoft way to join forces with strategic technology partners, including infusing cash into marketing efforts from other tech companies. However, Dell and Intel have huge, diversifed lines of proprietary technologies delivering consistent cash flows.

I agree with Larry Dignan and Matt Asay that Novell can't afford to be so reliant on Microsoft going forward. Novell reported Linux invoicing down 42 percent at $23 million.

[...]

Novell's best course of action is to become less reliant on Microsoft with its Linux business, and to steady its dependency on erratic striking of new deals. This isn't a good economy for new deals.


It's not surprising that Novell lacks a clear direction because Novell is dependent on Microsoft, so it must suck up to Ballmer in exchange for vouchers and other opportunities. This means that Novell becomes a reflection of Microsoft's interests. From a Microsoft competitor it has turned into an ally.

Don't help Novell elevate itself because doing so strengthens Microsoft by: 1) legitimising software patents; 2) making GNU/Linux more Microsoft dependent; 3) subverting standards (de facto or otherwise) and 4) making GNU/Linux more expensive and thus less competitive.

Say No to Novell



"...Microsoft wished to promote SCO and its pending lawsuit against IBM and the Linux operating system. But Microsoft did not want to be seen as attacking IBM or Linux."

--Larry Goldfarb, Baystar, key investor in SCO

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