Novell CEO trying to understand his customers

SUSE is indeed the nr1 choice right now, but I think there are many of us troubled with the direction Novell is going. (Part of the problem being, we can only guess what the direction is...)[...] I often wonder whether Novell knew what they were buying into when they bought both Ximian and SUSE. (me discussing Novell on LWN about 6 months ago)

The last weeks I've seen the answer[Groklaw] to my own question: Clearly, Novell management has no clue when it comes to basic principles in the Open Source community. What makes this whole farce even more ridiculous is that at this point Novell would have had enough Open Source intellectuals on their own payrolls that they could have asked whether making a patent "licensing" deal with Microsoft is a good idea or not. (It is not.) Instead, Miguel de Icaza and Nat Friedman must spend their days explaining that they were not told in advance about this. Perhaps next they will hire Mika Häkkinen and Michael Schumacher and then don't ask for their opinion about racing cars!

The backlash has been fierce. Bruce Perens is of course active, you can sign a petition by the way. Here are some harsh words from one Open Source supportive CIO who's business Novell may now have lost as a direct result of its own stupidity: ...finding the fastest possible way to get ALL NOVELL PRODUCTS completely out of our environment. As a company that we have been customers of for over a decade, Novell has let us down badly, and as customers, you may expect us to vote with our feet and encourage others within the education domain to do the same.

Of course, this was bound to happen sooner or later. Novell has been mostly positive about software patents all the time. They have been developing a theory about mixed-source and trying to convince us that it is a good idea and we should all buy it from them. This was all tolerated as long as they didn't do anything really stupid. After all, Novell is a big and old company, and organizations often don't change 180 degrees just overnight. But the Microsoft deal crossed the line. It will be interesting to see whether Novell's Linux business will at all survive this or whether one fatal mistake was enough to kill the second biggest Linux distribution in the world. My guess is that Novell still has hope, they still have too many important Linux figures employed. But some leadership change might be needed before they get their act together. Continuing like this, it is just a matter of time before Novell's management gets some other great ideas and screws again.

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