SUSE Embraces Microsoft as KDE Stabilizes Its Future
Few things are more controversial on the Linux Planet than patents and Microsoft. It's a controversy that will not be ending this week, even as Microsoft extends a deal with SUSE Linux on interoperability.
Legal wrangling aside, this past week also saw a number of major Linux ecosystem releases, including KDE 4.7 and Scientific Linux 6.1
1. Microsoft Renews Novell Linux Deal With SUSE
Back in 2006, Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) and Novell shook the Linux Planet with the details of their groundbreaking deal. It includes interoperability work, a patent covenant and a resale deal for hundreds of millions of dollars worth of Novell's SUSE Linux Enterprise Server subscriptions.
As part of Attachmate's $2.2 billion acquisition of Novell this year, SUSE Linux was split off as a separate business unit. This past week Microsoft renewed the deal with the SUSE spin off, extending the same basic deal that has been in place since 2006.
The extended deal is now in place until at least 2016. It provides for up to $100 million in SLES certificates that Microsoft can resell.
While the patent protections bits of this deal are 'unsavory' to many in the Linux community outside of SUSE, it does provide SUSE with potential competitive differentiation. That said, to date, Microsoft has not directly sued an enterprise Linux vendor (or its customers) for any kind of alleged patent infringement. Microsoft, however, has wielded its patent stick against Android vendors.
Looking beyond the patents provisions, the deal provides SUSE with funds and potentially $100 million in revenue. That $100 million is likely critical to helping SUSE survive and prosper. It gives them a baseline of potential revenues on which to build the business in the years ahead.
2. KDE 4.7
With all the hype, debate and controversy surrounding GNOME 3 and Unity in recent months, it's important to remember that GNOME isn't the only desktop in town.
KDE went through its own growing pains during the release of KDE 4 back in 2008. Since then, KDE developers have been refining their desktop, improving stability and polishing buggy features.
This past week, the seventh major release since the KDE 4 shift came out: KDE 4.7. As opposed to revolutionary change, KDE 4.7 provides incremental change to desktop usability and productivity.
Among the changes is an improved Plasma desktop shell that now enables users to group and separate Plasmoid widgets more easily. KDE 4.7 also provides a preview of the new Telepathy instant messaging solution for multi-protocol IM.
3. Scientific Linux 6.1
Scientific Linux is a joint effort by Fermilab and CERN to clone Red Ha Enterprise Linux (RHEL). This year, Scientific Linux has kept reasonable pace with RHEL and the 6.1 release.
RHEL 6.1 came out in May, while Scientific Linux 6.1 came out last week. In contrast, Oracle has CentOS, a RHEL clone that came out in June. CentOS is one of the leading RHEL clones, yet CentOS 6 is lagging behind both Oracle and Scientific Linux at this point.
With its position tracking RHEL more closely in terms of releases then CentOS, Scientific Linux could well grow its user base as a result.
4. Debian 7 Multiarch
Looking forward, beyond immediate releases, Debian is set for a major reworking for its next release. Debian 7, codenamed 'Wheezy,' will have multiarch support, which could make it easier to install, manage and deploy Debian on multiple chip architectures.
"Multiarch is a major enhancement to Debian's ability to deliver on the promise of being a universal operating system" Debian developer Steve Langasek wrote in a mailing list posting. "Not only will it make crossbuilding easier, but [it] also enables better support for legacy 32-bit applications on new 64-bit installations and in the future will even allow live migrations from 32-bit to 64-bit systems."
5. Lubuntu 11.10 in Preview
This coming October, there will be at least one new official derivative of Ubuntu. Lubuntu, which uses the LXDE desktop inside of an Ubuntu Linux distro, is now finally on track to be an official Ubuntu flavor.
LXDE is a lightweight desktop that provides a minimalist desktop experience.
"After 2 years of work, and 3 'unofficial' releases (10.04, 10.10 and 11.04), we had recently an official go from the Technical Board and ISO images are now made like other Ubuntu flavors," developer Julien Lavergne wrote in a mailing list posting last week.
Lubuntu will join Kubuntu (KDE) and Xubuntu as desktop alternatives to the GNOME/Unity-based core Ubuntu 11.10 release.
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