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Novell makes itself even harder to trust

By   |  November 14, 2008

What is is about Novell? It’s almost as if the company goes out of its way to make itself unpopular. The latest big announcement from Novell is that it has a new programme in place to lure Red Hat and Cent OS users across to its Suse Linux Enterprise Server.

The company says it is planning on offering a three year subscription to its own Linux product for customers who make the switch.

So instead of actually going out to the market and convincing it to switch from Windows or Unix servers to Suse Linux, Novell is going to wait in the bushes for Red Hat to do all the legwork.

It’s true, it’s hard work to actually convince a long-time Microsoft enterprise user to switch to Linux but it is work that has to be done. And at least it is honest. Waiting for someone else to shake the tree and then run off with the fruits is not.

Bear in mind that Novell is a company that was resurrected from apparent death when it bought Suse Linux in 2003. There is every chance that Novell would be just a footnote in history by now if it hadn’t embraced the Linux world, it was doing that badly.

Now, though, Novell seems determined to weaken the same Linux world by forcing it to fight with itself. This couldn’t be better news for competitors such as Microsoft.

A software patent agreement with Microsoft was also the first hint that Novell was just after a quick buck. This most recent plan pretty much seals that reputation.

It also suggests that Novell is struggling; struggling to convince users to deploy its software and struggling to get migration deals signed. So it turns on the community that helped it avoid an untimely death and devises new ways to destroy it.



27 Responses to “Novell makes itself even harder to trust”

  1. ps
    November 14th, 2008 @ 1:58 pm

    I don’t see Novell’s actions as a threat to any distro. Its about as easy to get enterprise users to switch to a new distro as it is to get Windows users to switch to Linux. If users do switch its because their service providers weren’t living up to expectations.

  2. Alastair
    November 14th, 2008 @ 2:20 pm

    Not living up to expectations is one thing. Offering incentives to switch is another. I also don’t think it is easy to get Windows users switch to Linux – Linux’s market share bears that out.

    I still believe that it is easier to switch a Linux user from one distro to another than it is to convince them in the first place that they should switch from their existing non-Linux setup to a Linux one.

  3. Magpie
    November 14th, 2008 @ 3:39 pm

    Support can be provided by anyone. A third party could be a vendor, distributor (Techdata provides support for many OS and applications) and yes even a competitor. Don’t be upset, it’s quite a common practice and is a smart strategic move.

    In regards to the death throws for Novell comment. I have been hearing that since 1993. Back then they were taken in many different directions (WordPerfect) to go nowhere. Since Eric Schmidt was CEO, Novell has had direction and focus. The market is tough and companies are influenced by Microsoft and their money to adopt their products.

    Novell is considered an industry pioneer and not a “gotta be everything” shop like Microsoft. Novell is far better structured for developing and pioneering products than RedHat. RedHat has just had the market longer and their market base is shrinking due to Novell and Microsoft.

    Maybe with the economic downturn, companies will adopt Linux as a much cheaper alternative.

  4. hitman
    November 14th, 2008 @ 4:42 pm

    what a nonsense article! This vendor is just offering more options to customers, is that bad? we’re not on politics guys, wake up!

  5. Jack
    November 14th, 2008 @ 5:39 pm

    “So instead of actually going out to the market and convincing it to switch from Windows or Unix servers to Suse Linux,”

    Wow that sounds like marketing, Novell doesn’t do marketing.

  6. Bruce
    November 14th, 2008 @ 5:51 pm

    I think when people stop looking at Linux as a “lifestyle” instead of a better operating system then articles like this won’t appear. The market is already seeing the distinction. Novell’s action described is a tried and true way to compete in the marketplace. Novell is competing against Microsoft (patent agreement notwithstanding), and against Red Hat, and all the rest. In the end, the one with the most licenses supported wins!

  7. Alastair
    November 14th, 2008 @ 6:04 pm

    Linux is a better operating system. And it is more than a lifestyle. And while Novell’s actions may be a “tried and tested way to compete” it doesn’t mean that they are good for Linux. And that is what interests me.

  8. Alastairo
    November 14th, 2008 @ 6:09 pm

    It just makes it easier to change to a more progressive distribution.
    Novell have quite a few good reasons for making their distro special.
    Competition between linux distributions is healthy, otherwise there would be little to strive for. Even within the linux scenario, the competition between KDE and Gnome is strong.
    Linux has been grabbing so many away from mickeysoft and I am so glad they did – I’m one of them

  9. bill
    November 14th, 2008 @ 8:45 pm

    And competition is bad because ?

  10. Bill Jr
    November 14th, 2008 @ 9:54 pm

    Once they switch, if they do, they will realize the mistake they have made once they need support. Novell support sucks! One driving force why we switch from SLES, Suse Linux Enteprise Server to a mixed Red Hat Ubuntu environment. Sure Novell offeres cheaper pricing but support when you need it is horrible.

  11. Alan
    November 14th, 2008 @ 10:06 pm

    Whether you use RedHat or not (and I don’t), you have to recognize that the loss of RedHat would greatly diminish the Linux community and all distributions. Same with Suse.

    And that’s the irony of competition among Linux distributors. You want the marketshare, you have to go after the other guy. But if you seriously kill him off, you damage your own product.

    I guess to me the idea of fighting over the paltry market share that is Linux is not wrong, but it is a little undignified. Seems to me like you would see more benefit in strengthening the position of the platform, rather than just grabbing up whatever market share already exists.

  12. Roy Schestowitz
    November 14th, 2008 @ 11:16 pm


    they can offer help and incentives to move from Win/NIX to GNU/Linux. They just weaken their ‘coding buddies’ at Red Hat. Why?

  13. Henk
    November 15th, 2008 @ 12:26 am

    Is this not what Linux is all about? If you are unhappy with you current distro you can switch over to something else. I am getting tired with this Novell bashing. They had the courage to collaborate. I think it is great. I work in the industry out there where everything has to work together, collaboration between software organisations are essential, I do not want to write all kinds of software to make things work together, it is just not productive. How can you say Redhat is doing all the legwork and Novell ambush them? Redhat can do the exact same thing and I do not believe for one moment that they have not on the quiet. This is what a free market system is about. Redhat only have to up their game and trust me they will. They do not need anybody to defend them. I look at this and think “Great! With Linux the client also wins”. Competition between Linux distros will make client servicing even better than before. Can we not look at the good instead of doom and gloom? I think your take on this is totally negative and your reporting of this hostile.

  14. Aronzak
    November 15th, 2008 @ 12:27 am

    This is bad because Red Hat is a serious, independent and strongly pro Linux company. They don’t sell any Windows server products. If everyone switches to Novell servers, Novell could pull a quick one and remove Linux support, on MS’s request. Contrary to the article, their profits would not badly suffer. There is a real risk that Microsoft will use Novell to do its dirty work.

  15. Alastair
    November 15th, 2008 @ 6:01 am

    “fighting over the paltry market share is not wrong, but it is a little undignified.”

    Exactly. It’s not about being opposed to competition. It’s about building a stronger base for Linux as a whole. The entire ecosystem for Linux strengthens if there are more Linux installations in the enterprise world. It is not improved by players squabbling over the scraps.

  16. Alastair
    November 15th, 2008 @ 6:05 am

    It’s not about being anti-competition. I’d just prefer Novell to fight for greater market share for Linux alongside Red Hat rather than against Red Hat. If Novell and Red Hat end up spending all their time fighting each other there will be one winner. And it won’t be Linux.

  17. chukaman
    November 15th, 2008 @ 12:27 pm

    Novell can give me all the free SuSE they want….

    … and it will remain in the wrapping and quickly find itself in /dev/bin. I hate it with a passion.

    Pretty pointless comment, I realise, sorry :)

  18. Boycott Novell » Novell is Losing the Few Supporters It Had Left
    November 15th, 2008 @ 4:13 pm

    […] Tectonic, a notable South African publication specialising in GNU/Linux and FOSS, has routinely commended Novell over the years, but its latest article about Novell receives a lot of responses because it represents a change in attitude. […]

  19. pcolon
    November 15th, 2008 @ 5:35 pm

    If ambushing another company is sound business sense, then business behavior is skewed.

    Personal integrity, honor and ethics will always trump collusion, treachery and deceitfulness.

  20. Tyrone
    November 15th, 2008 @ 6:33 pm

    Suse isn’t so hot anyway…. uBuntu…. UBUNTU!!!

  21. Joe
    November 17th, 2008 @ 9:39 am

    I agree, we changed our 4 SLES’s to Ubuntu servers. Better support, better community.

  22. Difficulty in logging in to forum - openSUSE Forums
    November 17th, 2008 @ 1:56 pm

    […] gets the reputation of being unfriendly. What upset me a bit is the comment by Joe in this link Tectonic

  23. chukaman
    November 17th, 2008 @ 5:09 pm

    Better all-round experience. It’s like a bunch of clowns made SuSE

  24. Ricardo
    November 19th, 2008 @ 2:10 pm

    Sign with FNB – we give eBucks.

    Sign up with Novell – we give you a 3 year support agreement.

    Stop whining

  25. Alastair
    November 19th, 2008 @ 3:58 pm

    My issue is not the incentives, per se. It is about what is good for Linux and open source. Squabbling between Linux vendors is not good for Linux.

  26. Roy Schestowitz
    November 19th, 2008 @ 4:58 pm

    That’s the key point.

    Novell ridicules software like GNU/Linux (other than SUSE) and (to sell Go-OO support). It’s a horrible way of doing business, but that’s just what Novell does, for Microsoft’s benefit and with Microsoft’s endorsement (sometimes assistance too).

    Watch what happened in India less than a week ago. Novell did exactly that.

  27. GNUguy
    November 20th, 2008 @ 6:42 pm

    “My issue is not the incentives, per se. It is about what is good for Linux and open source. Squabbling between Linux vendors is not good for Linux.”

    Alastair’s comment (quoted above) and Roy’s comments sum it up very nicely for me.

    Succinct. To the point.

    GNU/Linux and the open source community stand on their own merits. There is absolutely no good reason for a company to align itself with Redmond.

    If Redmond wants to collaborate, they can open their code and drop the patent threats. If their product is as good as they claim, they won’t lose any customers.

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