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Novell Elaborates on Linux

Novell: Here to Help or Help Themselves?

  • April 16, 2003
  • By Jacqueline Emigh

Giving reasons ranging from rampant customer demand to new revenue streams, Novell is about to make all its NetWare services available on both Linux and NetWare. During this week's Brainshare show, Novell officials said they're also looking at migrating more Novell apps to Linux, and maybe even at contributing open source code toward "improving" the Linux kernel. Beyond technical issues, which could take some months to resolve, the success of Novell's Linux initiatives hinges largely on their acceptance by the open source community.

With the need for acceptance clearly in mind, Novell CEO Jack Messman and other execs spent a good bit of time this week casting aside notions that Novell will try to produce a "NetWare version of Linux," or take any sort of "ownership" stake in Linux.

Sun's attempts to do just that were rebuffed by the open source community, Messman maintained during an interview with LinuxPlanet. The CEO was equally adamant that Novell "is adding Linux, not dropping NetWare."

Messman also told LinuxPlanet that Novell might offer open source code for "strengthening" the Linux kernel. When asked to elaborate, though, he referred further questions on this subject to Novell's technical staff.

Later, unaware of Messman's remarks, one of Novell's open source developers volunteered that Novell might produce open source code for tighter compatibility between NetWare services and the Linux kernel. Any code contributed, though, will merely be "offered," and it will have to be "accepted" by the open source community, he pointed out.

The Novell faithful congregated in Salt Lake City clearly posed little or no resistance to Novell's forays into Linux and open souce. In fact, many NetWare users are already working with Linux, anyway.

"Novell is finally doing what I've been wanting them to do for a long time," noted one administrator on hand at the show in Salt Lake City. The administrator claimed that when he moved a help desk application from Linux to NetWare. operations became more stable. "Linux needs good management, though, and it can get that from Novell," he acknowledged.

Even Novell users with no plans for Linux were pleased to see Novell take up the Linux gauntlet. "This is exciting. Novell can now go either way--NetWare or Linux," predicted Kelly R. Molen, a GroupWise administrator at Wyeth.

"Even if Novell ever does discontinue NetWare, Zenworks has now been decoupled to run on other platforms," pointed out a network manager from Germany. "So if NetWare dies, Zenworks and other Novell products shall live."

Migrating all of Novell's services to the Linux kernel may not be a piece of cake, though.

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