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Novell as Open Source Hero? 283

Posted by simoniker
from the faster-than-speeding-bullet dept.
ccnull writes "Who's the #2 Linux vendor in the world? Would you believe Novell? Infoworld takes a look at this long-struggling giant and how it has (and hasn't) reinvented itself as an open source company in the face of utterly losing the LAN market to Microsoft." The piece argues: "But even though it seems to be holding all the right cards, Novell faces tough odds. In recent years, tough competition from Microsoft and dwindling support from third-party developers have caused Novell's once-loyal base to look elsewhere for infrastructure needs. Unless it can win back the loyalty of the industry, Novell's new, Linux-centric message could fall on deaf ears."
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Novell as Open Source Hero?

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  • Mono (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Burb (620144) on Thursday July 15, 2004 @04:33AM (#9705183)
    It's an interesting point of view expressed in the article. But although it mentions Miguel de Icaza, there's no mention of Mono. Not that there necessarily has to be a mention of Mono, of course, but it struck me as a strange omission. I'm very interested in the mono project and I got the impression that it was regarded as quite significant to Novell alongside the other Linux-type offerings.
    • Re:Mono (Score:2, Insightful)

      by k98sven (324383)
      Well, Miguel helped create Gnome and Midnight Commander too, didn't see them mentioned either..

      Seriously though, I don't think Mono is that important, yet. The main reason, I believe, for buying Ximian was their Desktop and Connector products, whereas the Mono part was a strategic investment.

  • Effective? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by deutschemonte (764566) <lane DOT montgomery AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday July 15, 2004 @04:34AM (#9705190) Homepage
    Something about Novell's push to be a Linux/OSS company has not been effective.

    Evidence? When I say "Red Hat" what do you think of first? When I say "Novell" what do you think of first?

    They really need to get to the point where people instantly think "Linux company" instead of "failed network company" when they hear the Novell name.
    • Re:Effective? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by dorward (129628) on Thursday July 15, 2004 @04:38AM (#9705209) Homepage Journal

      When I say "Red Hat" what do you think of first? When I say "Novell" what do you think of first?

      They really need to get to the point where people instantly think "Linux company" instead of "failed network company" when they hear the Novell name.

      Give it time. Red Hat has

      • Been doing Linux a lot longer
      • Has never been anything but a Linux company

      Besides - some of their brands do get people instantly thinking "Linux company".

      • Re:Effective? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Errtu76 (776778) on Thursday July 15, 2004 @05:49AM (#9705456) Journal
        Actually, when i think about Novell, i think about Ximian (and especially Evolution) and how that piece of software can become much better/bigger/worth more. I'm looking forward to the 2.0 release, which features (from the site):

        * integrated connectivity to Novell GroupWise
        * integrated connectivity to Microsoft Exchange
        * improved offline support for IMAP accounts
        * numerous calendar improvements,
        * support for S/MIME, enhanced contact management
        * Gaim instant messaging integration
        * Improved desktop integration

        Especially the integration with MS Exchange is somewhat unique for a linux application. If Novell can provide a linux-based desktop that integrates perfectly with a MS Windows environment, then they are a step ahead of RH&Co and are close to becoming (at least my) Open Source Hero.
        • And don't forget handling an alternative user mailbox directory, the "~/mail" setting necessary to make IMAP play nice with pine run locally on the IMAP server.
        • Re:Effective? (Score:3, Informative)

          by SpooForBrains (771537)
          * integrated connectivity to Microsoft Exchange

          Technically this is true, but the connector basically uses Microsoft Outlook Web Access via HTTP. Nice toy, but I wouldn't want to use it in anger.

          • Re:Effective? (Score:3, Informative)

            by mrroach (164090)
            It does use HTTP, but it's not doing "screen scraping" it's using the Webdav API which is actually pretty decent stuff.

            SEARCH /exchange/mrroach/ HTTP/1.1

            <?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8" ?>
            <searchrequest xmlns="DAV:">

            Desired attributes
            FROM SCOPE('hierarchical traversal of ""')

            WHERE "DAV:ishidden" = False



        • by Chordonblue (585047)
          SuSE Linux. Simply awesome distro for the desktop, and great tools for Windows network connectivity. Smart move on Novell's part to buy this distro.

    • Re:Effective? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by welshwaterloo (740554) on Thursday July 15, 2004 @04:39AM (#9705213)
      This change of mindshare is never going to happen overnight though.. Things are still changing apace at Novell - changing all their desktops to Linux, making the next generation of Netware (and *alllll* their other software available on Linux.)

      I wish them all the best.

    • Re:Effective? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by ron_ivi (607351) <sdotno.cheapcomplexdevices@com> on Thursday July 15, 2004 @04:55AM (#9705278)
      When I say "Red Hat" what do you think of first?
      When I say "Novell" what do you think of first?

      But which company is worth more?

      Surprisingly, they're both about exactly the same. 2.71Billion for Novell and 2.76 Billion for Red Hat according to Yahoo Finance today.

      Not that market-cap means a lot, but it was surprising to me. I suspect it surprises both groups - open source fans will be surprised to see the "failed network company" be worth so much - especially considering Red Hat was once worth 10X as much. And I suspect old-school-corporate types would be surprized to see a bunch of Linux hippies being worth as much as a giant like Novell.

      • It's surprising that they're "worth" the same, since Novell's revenues are about 8 times those of Red Hat, according to their latest 10-K filings.

        Of course, Red Hat is growing each year, whereas Novell has been shinking slightly (though they've maintained over $1 billion in revenues each of the last 5 years). And Red Hat has finally managed to make its first small profit, while Novell hasn't made a profit in 3 or 4 years.

        But you'd think Novell's acquisition of SuSE would position them to be an importan

    • Re:Effective? (Score:5, Informative)

      by NaDrew (561847) <> on Thursday July 15, 2004 @05:02AM (#9705302) Journal
      They really need to get to the point where people instantly think "Linux company" instead of "failed network company" when they hear the Novell name.
      Perhaps Novell should pull a Network Associates or NationsBank move and change their name to SUSE (NetAss bought McAfee, changed combined company's name [recently] to McAfee because nobody knew what "Network Associates" was; NationsBank bought Bank of America, similar aftermath). If Novell wants to be taken seriously as a Linux company, taking the name of their main acquisition would be a good start.
      • Re:Effective? (Score:2, Insightful)

        by hdparm (575302)
        Although this would seem outrageously radical move, it could actually work better than a long known brand name which became a symbol of failure. They were pretty agressive with aquisitions in open source world, why not just apply that on the marketing level?

        I wish them well. More strong Linux/OSS companies can only be good for overall computing experience.

      • That might indeed be a good idea. It sure helps me; I didn't even know Novell owned SuSE until just now!

        Owning a linux company gives a lot more "instant credibility" than just trying to convert your old stuff to run on linux (which is what I thought Novell was doing before).
      • Maybe they should do as so many have in the oil industry (i.e. ExxonMobil, ChevronTexaco and ConocoPhillips) and just concatenate the names of the two companies. NovelSuSE or maybe SuSENovel (I prefer the former).
    • Re:Effective? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by stripyd (614714) on Thursday July 15, 2004 @05:05AM (#9705313)
      When I say "Novell" what do you think of first?

      that "failed network company" who still pulled in over a billion dollars in revenue last year, and whose massive deployments now look like having an upgrade path to GNU/Linux? :-)

      What do we think of when we say "SuSE"?

      I'm sure there's many people who are happy they haven't started branding "Novell Enterprise Linux". "Entwicklung" is such a great word...

    • When I say "Novell" what do you think of first?

      The crappy Novell Netware client stuff they used on the computers back in high school.
    • Re:Effective? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by AVee (557523) <slashdot&avee,org> on Thursday July 15, 2004 @05:20AM (#9705364) Homepage
      Evidence? When I say "Red Hat" what do you think of first?

      Linux company, one in a dozen, happens to be the biggest.

      When I say "Novell" what do you think of first?

      Technically superior, way underappreciated.

      At least, thats what I think.
      I feel Novell is technically better than RedHat. The application support and the customers just aren't there. Anyone who has used Novell seriously will agree that there is no equivalent to GroupWise, ZENWorks or eDirectory on the Linux platform and there are only lower quality alternatives for the windows platform. Bringing this to Linux could make Linux it a serious option for larger companies...
      • by Anonymous Coward
        When I say "Novell" what do you think of first?

    • Re:Effective? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Albanach (527650) on Thursday July 15, 2004 @05:22AM (#9705373) Homepage
      Evidence? When I say "Red Hat" what do you think of first? When I say "Novell" what do you think of first?

      Eh? what does this have to do with the price of cheese? Novell Inc has been around since 1979 - Linus was still running around in shorts then.

      Most folk probably think of Novell as a rather large company specialising in networking software - that's exactly what they are. They like linux because it's an alternative to Microsoft, and over in the Microsoft world there's a bigger company trying to sell copycat versions of many of Novell's programs. In the linux world there's a lot of demand for enterprise grade networking and groupware software.

      When you think of IBM, does Jo Bloggs think of a Linux company? I wouldn't expect so - they too like linux because it fits in with their core products and strategies.

      Novell are a major Linux company now because they own SuSE and Ximian. Now they are Linux companies, they just happen to be subsidiaries of Novell Inc.

    • "failed network company"

      hey, I think "ancient network giant". Hmm it looks like a good name for a nethack monster :)

    • Re:Effective? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by PaulusMagnus (797138) on Thursday July 15, 2004 @07:56AM (#9705873)
      I do agree that Novell's branding is atrocious. Even at the height of their supremacy nobody really knew Novell's name, their logo or what they did. It was like being Seagate, techies knew them, ordinary people didn't know and a lot of IT purchasing then and now is still done by people with limited technical knowledge. Just as it was "safe" to buy IBM in the 80s, it's now "safe" to buy Microsoft.

      I've been around Netware for 12 years and CNE'd from v3 to v6. They set the standards for certification, which everybody else has now copied. You also needed to know your stuff to get the CNE, something that isn't necessary for MCSE. I know because I got my first MCSE (on NT) from reading books and never touching the OS.

      There are, allegedly, millions of Netware users out there. Having been involved in large Netware and MS environments the idea of scaling AD to work across the world on a 30,000 user system frightens me to death. I know I can do it with NDS but the flexibility of AD isn't there and would be highly unstable and be far more support intensive. The kludges Microsoft use to get their software to work is a pain to support but it looks nice and has a setup wizard so people get sucked in.

      Therefore, I see that Novell's move into Linux is a very good thing as it gives an option for these large global networks to move from Netware/Intel to Linux.

      Most people in IT also except that Linux is going to arrive, one day. However, the supportability of Linux is the downside of any corporate installation. Now we have Novell's support infrastructure backing Linux, everything is perfectly positioned for Linux to enter the corporate marketplace. I, for one, intend to certify in the Linux direction so that I can ride the crest of this wave as I'm confident that Netware to Linux migrations will increase in popularity and that in a few years time we'll have AD/Win2003 to Linux migrations happening.
    • "When I say "Red Hat" what do you think of first?"

      I think of the company who renamed the most popular Linux distro on the planet in order to try to get businesses to pay attention to their Enterprise product line, but just ended up confusing the people who make product decisions but know little about Linux.

      "When I say "Novell" what do you think of first?"

      Honestly, I think of ZenWorks, which is a pretty cool sysadmin tool that currently works with or without NetWare (but I don't think is working on a Linu
  • Is Ximian dead? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ablaze (222561) on Thursday July 15, 2004 @04:39AM (#9705214) Journal
    Ximian is dying a slow dead after Novell has acquired it last year:
    The next version of Evolution is called "Novell Evolution", their Website is redirected to Novell and there hasn't been any significant update to Ximian Desktop for a while. XD2 is the only product labelled "Ximian" anyways.
    I really would love to see some kind of roadmap or at least some kind of statement about Ximian Desktop. (As Novell provided for Evolution and Mono).

    After they acquired Ximian they talked about keeping Ximian together and their products still being worked on. As I see it this is not the case and I feel very sad to lose Ximian eventually.
    • Re:Is Ximian dead? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by salimma (115327) *
      You could hardly expect them to continue packaging Ximian Desktop, at least for other platforms. Now that Novell owns its own Linux distro why would it be packaging a GNOME desktop for its competitors? Besides, Red Hat/Fedora has quite a nice GNOME desktop set-up; and packaging for Debian is rather hard since most of their desktop users are not staying with the stable Debian 3.0.

      It would be quite interesting to see if they pull the same move on SuSE and call the next Linux release 'Novell Linux X' or somet
      • Re:Is Ximian dead? (Score:3, Informative)

        by Erwos (553607)
        You've got it precisely right on the XD side, actually.

        When a SuSE/Novell rep came to my university to try to pitch his wares to our Linux admin group, he said quite clearly that Ximian Desktop's going to be a Novell exclusive. That doesn't mean they're going to suddenly pull their source tree, but if you liked XD (and it's not bad!), you're going to need to move to SuSE. He also said they wouldn't be releasing a general Netware client program, but implementing it into SuSE. I'm assuming it'll be open-sou
    • Re:Is Ximian dead? (Score:5, Informative)

      by battery841 (34855) on Thursday July 15, 2004 @10:11AM (#9706927) Homepage
      After they acquired Ximian they talked about keeping Ximian together and their products still being worked on.

      The Ximian hackers are still together. As a matter of fact, they moved into some really nice new offices in Cambridge from Boston. They are still doing what they do best.

      Evolution: 2.0 is due out this year. It's awesome. It required a ton of work and most of the people who did 1.0 are doing 2.0, they're still there.

      Ximian Desktop: Wait and see for this one. You'll see.

      Connector: GPL'd. This surely isn't a bad thing from the open source community's point of view, is it?

      Yes, maybe some of the branding is gone and the name Ximian isn't used as much, but it doesn't mean Ximian is dead. Far from it.
  • by eadz (412417) on Thursday July 15, 2004 @04:42AM (#9705228) Homepage
    They have something RedHat don't, sales offices world wide. They are really pushing the linux message, and are more free software (in beer and freedom) than the pre-Novell SuSE was : open source yast, free downloads for SuSE 9.1. Also they are porting most of their applications to run on linux.
    • by w1r3sp33d (593084) on Thursday July 15, 2004 @06:14AM (#9705512)
      I hope everyone realizes how important this point is. I work for a large consulting firm that deploys mostly ms servers, with a little red hat as required by our clients. Every engineer has at least one version of linux running on their laptop, as well as several sales and even management types. Nearly every engineer has at least a little novell experience and generally trusts the company (unlike ms who screws you over on lic, security, and bad updates) because novell always released a finished product (except netware 5.0 but I think most of us have forgiven them.) They are a nos company with a mainframe like mindset when it comes to product development, yes I think that is a VERY good thing for the people who depend on it. Now that novell is onboard many of us are switching (or adding because you will never get my slackware!) suse to our machines and following the news on novells other products being offered for linux servers, this will become our go to market strategy. I have not seen any reason to create a linux arm for the firm come from the red hat camp, but novell clearly does.
    • I'm going to be modded a troll for this, but what the hell.

      You're quite right, Novell have a lot. But right now a lot of this is potential, not actual sales. We all hear this being the "Year of the Linux Desktop" (as was last year, as next year probably will be...).

      I can see an IT revolution occurring in the next 3-5 years, as all the predictions of everything being web-based either come to fruition or come to nothing, Microsoft invent ever more onerous licenses and the various KDE/Gnome/(insert desktop e
  • by Quirk (36086) on Thursday July 15, 2004 @04:44AM (#9705242) Homepage Journal
    The article points out the crux of the situation.

    "...the developer community has pretty much abandoned them."
    "...With the shift in focus to Linux, Novell gains a huge developer base and not just from the open source community. Commercial vendors that support their products on Linux become selling points as well."

    Steve Ballmer's famous hissy fit over the trial and tribulations of keeping developers happy spoke to Microsoft's efforts to keep developers on board. Ah they're such a fickle bunch. But the move to open source seems to be a good ploy to bring onboard an entire active community.

    • Yep, this is going to be a big deal. I did some NLM (Novell Loadable Module) development for a while, and it was a really crappy environment to work in. One of the reasons people started throwing Windows boxes into the server racks.

      And it's not just developers, it's also all the back-office tech guys that have been around since Novell owned the LAN. They know how much more difficult it is supporting a lot of Windows boxes than it is a lot of Netware boxes (plus you don't need as many). So these guys a

  • by ron_ivi (607351) <sdotno.cheapcomplexdevices@com> on Thursday July 15, 2004 @04:48AM (#9705256)
    The company I'm at now is mostly a .NET shop, but with a handful of skunkworks linux/mono projects going on, either as prototypes or proofs-of-concept.

    One if these was discussed with a rather large customer (government) who was surprised and very favoribly impressed to hear that the product was based on "Novell's Linux, and Novell's implementation of .NET".

    Their core infrastructure - many dozens of offices across the state - is all based on Novell, who they have a lot of confidence in. I think there's a good chance they'll be wanting the "Novell .NET" solution when we ship the final product.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 15, 2004 @05:09AM (#9705322)
      Good thing your sales guy didn't pitch it as "some mexican kid named Miguel's hobby project that's running on Deb and Ian's Unstable OS"
      • by Anonymous Coward
        Grandparent wrote: "Novell's Linux ...Novell's .NET"
        Perent wrote: "some mexican kid...'s hobby...Deb and Ian's Unstable OS [Debian/Unstable]"

        Funny? Seems more insightful.

        This amateur image is probably the biggest problem with Linux in the workplace today. It's also IMHO the most valuable thing that Novell can bring to Linux. Novell having (developing/supporting/backing) a linux distro means even more to business than IBM doing peace-love-linux-graffiti-vandalism. Finally a Linux from a vendor my

  • by thewldisntenuff (778302) * on Thursday July 15, 2004 @04:49AM (#9705257) Homepage
    The open source heroes I know aren't Novell...Try PJ with Groklaw or all the linux-zealot /.-ers...(Yes, me included :) ) A better title needed indeed....

    Anywho, if anything, I see SuSE and open source being Novell's savior, although it's previous history does not seem to indicate so...With the quality and issues with Fedora/Red Hat, SuSE has a remote (remote damn it, don't you all jump my @$$ for saying there are problems with Fedora, if you don't believe me, read previous /. posts about such issues) chance of taking the Linux lead. Novell/SuSE has had some successes recently (McDonalds, others, it's late and I won't bother to search) With the article stating 8/10 companies looking to upgrade in 04-05, it just might happen......

  • by NaDrew (561847) <> on Thursday July 15, 2004 @04:49AM (#9705259) Journal
    You're damn right!

    Who is the vendor that would face Microsoft and SCO?
    Can ya dig it?

    Who's the vendor that won't cop out
    when there're lawsuits and FUD all about?
    Right on.

    You see this Novell is a bad mother--
    (shut your mouth!)
    But I'm talkin' about Novell!
    (then we can dig it)

    It's a complicated company
    But no one understands it but Ray Noorda
  • by miffo.swe (547642) <> on Thursday July 15, 2004 @04:49AM (#9705261) Homepage Journal
    Novell has mostly been geek centric while Microsoft has gone straight for the boss (who often dont give a rats behind about what the techies say). I think Novell needs to change its strategy and start making its name with the bosses too. Why not measure ROI and TCO on Novell vs. Windows? A real comparison where things like viruses and the likes is taken into the calculation. Then an ad campaign touting how much it costs to stay on Microsoft compared to migrating. Nothing appeals to managers and bosses like money.

    Here in sweden most people dont even know what novell is even if most of them have been working on it, they just think its some extension to their workstation. Novell needs to get the word out to common people and not just us techies. We dont decide much nowadays (we bitch and moan but it isnt our call in the end).
    • Novell has mostly been geek centric while Microsoft has gone straight for the boss (who often dont give a rats behind about what the techies say).

      Exactly. What kind of person would willingly install a file server OS that does not have a real-time file salvage feature over an OS that _has_ had that since the early 90's?

      I just can't get past that...

    • Novell still has serious mindshare among the PHBs as being a reliable network company. They have more of the mainframe type reliability, it will just work, period. If they step up the marketing and play on their networking experience, they can turn their company into something big. They have a great (I think the best for desktops) distribution in SuSE 9.1, which can just get better.

      I would expect and hope to see Novell finally bring the Linux world a solution like Active Directory (ugh). An integrated solu
  • Well, yes.... (Score:2, Informative)

    by meringuoid (568297)
    Would you believe Novell?

    Well, yes. Yes, I would. They just bought SuSE.

    Owners of SuSE are second-largest Linux supplier: really, who'd have thought it? I eagerly await Slashdot's coverage of papal philosophical leanings and silvan ursine defecatory habits.

  • by buckhead_buddy (186384) on Thursday July 15, 2004 @05:02AM (#9705304)
    If Novell's products (Netware, WordPerfect, etc) were to be judged strictly on technical merits, how would they fare? Would an OpenSource Netware unburdened by ip restrictions and large implementation costs be widely adopted?

    If these would be greatly beneficial and widely adopted, it seems odd that they haven't been more aggressively developed by Novell.

    If their exit from the marketplace is a blessing in disguise, then it seems almost inevitable that Novell had to find a different product line or revenue stream.

    Novell hasn't really been one of the vendors that I followed (due to their poor mac compatabilities) back in the dark ages of proprietary software so I'm very open to opinions of others on these matters.
    • WordPerfect a Novell product? I think Corel would disagree...
    • Hmm... All I know about Novell is that my high school used it for distributing applications (i.e. you open the program and it downloads it from the server), and it sucked horribly (on 100MHz Pentiums running Win95 and a 10baseT lan using *hubs*).

      I don't think the suckage was really Novell's fault (more like clueless admins + zero $), but it still left a bad taste in my mouth for anything related to Novell -- especially since distributing applications per use seems like a horrible idea to me, so by extens
      • The software you are referring to is ZENworks. That is only one of many ways to do it (here we deploy the application before we give it to the user. When giving them new applications, they will be installed automatically during the next NAL refresh)
      • by qbncgar (797172) on Thursday July 15, 2004 @10:04AM (#9706858)
        I've used ZENworks since it became a product, I was a v1.0 beta tester.

        Before you write off Novell completely, consider the following:

        1) I have two helpdesk staff supporting 40 locations and 500 users across the US.
        2) I have no other IT support outside our headquarters.
        3) I can have someone whose PC catches fire, sit down at any other PC in the building and be back up and running in 5 minutes. With no intervention.

        This is why you want to distribute per user, or entitle individuals to applications. You're leveraging the fact that identity is meaningful.

        4) My helpdesk can reimage any PC back to known good, off-network, in less than 30 minutes, anywhere in my company.

        This is why you want ZEN in particular. It provides a cohesive link between individual, PC, and applications, and allows you to centrally manage all of them.

        Spend some time doing serious network administration at a big company, and you'll probably wish for ZEN or something like it. "Automate Everything", one of the core rules of system administration.
    • Novell only owned WordPerfect briefly and according to our Novell rep, they kept the old WordPerfect (I forget the name of the original company) office buildings when they turned around and sold WordPerfect to Corel. He claims that they basically got nearly free office space out of the deal. They also got quite a few nearly new computers out fo the deal. Of course, that's a Novell rep talking, so he might just be trying to make the purchase look better in hindsight.
  • by ablaze (222561) on Thursday July 15, 2004 @05:09AM (#9705323) Journal
    There is a blog on Novell Evolution 2 development. Very nice info on the status of that long expected update. Unfortunately it is now called "Novell Evolution":
  • by DrSoCold (703785) on Thursday July 15, 2004 @05:18AM (#9705356)
    Let's not be too hasty in cursing novel here. Remember, this is a long established company with a billion dollars in cash and no debts. Unlike Microsoft, Novell is a company that is very much in touch with it's community and always has been. Microsoft takes your cash, ships you a pony product then kicks you in the balls whilst the bells of the cash register ring. I have met so many Novell experts over the years who love the company and love the products and actually solved problems using them. Brainshare, Cool solutions, CNE, classic Novell stuff. I have never met a proper Microsoft expert and don't know if any exist. People tend to just support Windows 'cos it's an easy way to get a job' not because they love it and believe in the technology and the company. Novell breeds die hards, so does Linux, it's a match made in heaven, give it a chance.
    • You could rephrase that to say "people tend to support Windows because it's the most rational economic decision for them, while people who love Novell or Linux are irrational fanboys who use it because it might be the best at some point in the future"

      It sucks, but it's true.


      Irrational Fanboy
      • rational - With business destroying security holes being discovered on an almost weekly basis, Windows as an enterprise platform is not my rational choice. The main problem I found with Windows was not the bug ridden and security flawed code but more the technical in-ability of the system administrators assigned the job of implementing and maintaining the software. You can get 25k per year jobs supporting Windows without knowing hardly anything about networks, security or computers in general. Try blagging
  • by Twid (67847) on Thursday July 15, 2004 @05:31AM (#9705397) Homepage
    As an ex-Novell employee (pre-SuSE acquisition), I think Novell still has a lot of restructuring to do.

    Before the SuSE and Ximian acquisition, Novell was going to focus on "web services" and spent a lot of money on a merger with Cambridge Technology Partners and an acquisition of Silverstream. Now, with Ximian they get Mono as well, but I don't really see a coherent revenue stream strategy coming out of Mono/Silverstream/SuSE (yet). Novell has a staggering product list right now.

    There are:
    - All of the old pre-Linux products like NetWare, from when Novell's strategy was network operating systems
    - All of the identity products like eDirectory from when Novell's strategy was identity management
    - The ZENworks product line for desktop and server management
    - Four, count 'em, four different collaboration products, all from different sources (GroupWise, NetMail, Evolution, OpenExchange)
    - The KDE-based SuSE Linux and the Gnome-based Ximian Desktop
    - The rebranded Silverstream app server along with Mono

    It's really quite a mess, and I haven't yet seen any strategy to clean it up. Novell's company page still pitches the "One Net" vision, which is a holdover from the Eric Schmidt-as-CEO days. I'd like to see a strategy for how Novell is going to bring all this together.

    I'm still a Novell stockholder and I wish Novell the best of luck, I'd just like a little more clarity about how this is all going to come together.

    • Actually, the do have a clear roadmap for consolidating all these products, and it goes something like this: eDirectory, ZENworks, GroupWise, technologies acquired from silverstream and so on are all going to be consolidated into one product group (the name of which I forget) which can be hosted on the Novell Kernel (in the short term at least) and on the soon to be released SuSE Enterprise Server 9. GroupWise Client and Evolution will be developed in parellel (although I suspect in time Evolution will b
    • No actually the web services arm is one of the most important parts of the puzzle. I work in a manufacturing company and we run linux thin client desktops on the entire shop floor. This would just not have ever been a option if it had not been for a single web service we built that converts autocad drawings to pdf files for viewing at the workstations. Web services is a great way to get that little extra functionality available to the linux machines. Most of the cad stuff is only available on windows, I had
    • 1. Find a way to live down their past. Alas, for many IT managers the very name Novell still conjures up the once-mighty NetWare and how that has fallen by the wayside as UNIX-based networking has taken over.

      2. Novell must do a major marketing push to show they are heavily committed to Linux that not only is aimed at the computer-literate crowd, but also to the general public. After all, one of the reasons why IBM succeeded as a huge user of Linux was not only the over US$1 billion IBM spent to port Linux
      • by sgtrock (191182) on Thursday July 15, 2004 @10:45AM (#9707270)
        1. Find a way to live down their past. Alas, for many IT managers the very name Novell still conjures up the once-mighty NetWare and how that has fallen by the wayside as UNIX-based networking has taken over.

        Live down their past??? So Netware faded away. So? You still have the finest directory service in the world in eDirectory and one of the best sets of tools for desktop management in Zenworks. Novell has consistently created valuable solutions that they have sold to a very large number of very satisfied customers. After all, they still have the cleanest balance sheet in the IT industry. They didn't get that without revenue.

        2. Novell must do a major marketing push to show they are heavily committed to Linux that not only is aimed at the computer-literate crowd, but also to the general public. After all, one of the reasons why IBM succeeded as a huge user of Linux was not only the over US$1 billion IBM spent to port Linux to run on S/390 and AS/400 big iron hardware, but also the fact IBM did a masterful job of publicizing this fact to non-computer literate types in a series of TV commercials shown worldwide.

        Please. IBM didn't pay for the port to the mainframe. A handful of developers within IBM found out that some enthusiasts within Suse were working on it and clandestinely helped them out. They got it done in less than six months. At that point, they told IBM's management, who were completely blown away. The first $1 billion IBM w spent was almost entirely on marketing. What didn't go there was spent on ramping up skills within their dev groups to port apps and OSes.

        Yes, Novell has do a major marketing push. In case you haven't noticed, THEY ARE DOING JUST THAT! It takes TIME to change perceptions. Give them a year or two to get the message out and sell some support contracts, willya?
  • Trying (Score:5, Informative)

    by Seven001 (750590) on Thursday July 15, 2004 @05:37AM (#9705413)
    You can't say they aren't trying. They certainly got my attention recently, and I never paid any attention to them before. I signed up for a free "Linux Technical Resource Kit", from them. It includes, quoting them:

    This comprehensive Novell Linux collection includes the following on 3 DVDs (10 GB):

    - SUSE Linux Professional 9.1 (Bootable Installation DVD)
    - SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 8 (ISO Installation Images)
    - SUSE Linux Professional 8.2 (Installation ISO images for use with Ximiam Desktop)
    - Ximian Desktop 2.0 Evaluation (ISO Image)
    - Red Carpet 2.0.2 Evaluation (ISO Image)
    - GroupWise for Linux 6.5.1 - Server, Client & Messenger (ISO Images)
    - Novell Nterprise Linux Services 1.0 (ISO Image & NLS Companion CD)
    - And more...

    I look forward to trying out SUSE Enterprise Server 8, as I am / was considering moving to Fedora. Sorry, if you're interested, they aren't offering it anymore. Link Here []
    • Re:Trying (Score:3, Informative)

      by Builder (103701)
      Don't judge them too hastily on SLES 8 (SuSE Linux Enterprise Server). SLES 9 has gone gold recently, and the Beta's and the Release Candidates were FANTASTIC! Their admin / management tools are _far_ superior to the comparitave Red Hat Enterprise Linux tools.

      Another thing to consider... Enterprise products such as SLES and RHAS will have a 5 year supported lifecycle. That means that you'll still be able to get security patches in 5 years time. Can you say that about your current version of Fedora ?

  • Novell (Score:5, Informative)

    by askegg (599634) on Thursday July 15, 2004 @05:37AM (#9705420)
    Novell's strengths are no longer in the Network Operating System space, which is what made them. Nowdays their focus is on getting your network to act as one, regardless of the underlying operatings system or applications.

    Take a look at eDirectory, which is far superior to MS AD and runs on almost any OS. Identity Manager (formerly DirXML) can syncronise information across your enterprise.

    Zenworks delivers applications/patches to your workstations, servers, laptops and handhelds based on who you are and what relationship you have with the company (employee, division, position, customer, business partner, etc). Furthermore, it does not care how you connect!

    Adding linux to the mix gives existing Netware installations an alternative future and piggybacks off OSS - smart move. For some interesting reading have a look at Open Enterprise Server - all your favorite Novell utilities on a linux platform. I for one will be making use of this....
    • You're right about Directory. I have some serious problems with both ZenWorks and Directory when having to "integrate" them in to specific types of environments though.

      Specifically, I'm referring to a project I worked on for a large insurance to get smart card auth (something Microsoft are actually fairly good at) for login working with ZenWorks, Checkpoint VPN and a number of other tools. Without going into details, it was a nightmare.

      To be fair, in our case a lot of the problems were caused by a thick
  • I never really had a use for Novell servers before - they were the 'ugly legacy black boxes' I usually was tasked with removing and replacing before this recent change in direction.

    Now, Groupwise, Nterprise, Red Carpet Enterprise, Ximian Desktop and SuSe, in a tight package, intended to scale seamlessly all the way up and down the enterprise, all backed by a company with considerable name recognition and cash, and has been defending ground against MS for decades?

    This sounds like it could be a killer combination - something that could provide a significant challenge to MS, in a relatively short time.

    One thing I don't knoww about Novell - are they known to treat thier customers (or even the general market) reasonably well? I know there is an ancient SCO relationship, but not one that would indicate they support the current regime or direction over there, correct?
    • "I know there is an ancient SCO relationship, but not one that would indicate they support the current regime or direction over there, correct?"

      Actually this is quite funny in my opinion. Back in they Digital Research's DR DOS had a rough time with Microsoft and IBM teaming up to kill it by charging $240 to put it on IBM PC's while Microsoft's DOS was being sold for $40. Novell bought Digital Research and at some later point Ray Noorda formed Caldera. He bought the rights to DR DOS for the purpose of p

  • by terrencefw (605681) <slashdot.jamesholden@net> on Thursday July 15, 2004 @06:09AM (#9705502) Homepage
    Novell (specifically Mark McManus and Simon Lidgett) came this week and outlined their Linux strategy in a talk to our LUG, WYLUG [].

    They seem to be pretty fired up about stuff. Their next generation product will be "Open Enterprise Server", which can run either on Netware or Linux as a base OS.

    They seem very into cross-platform and compatibility, in particular with respect to authentication, single sign-on and all that.

  • by Akimotos (747459) on Thursday July 15, 2004 @06:31AM (#9705550)
    their loyalty. Let me explain. Back in the '90s I ran a salesdepartment of a big IT shop with big customers. All my salesguys worked on a basic pay, with a great bonus. Then came the millennium saga ....
    They all got training .. you can upgrade this application with this update and that application with that upgrade. All my guys made the quotation on their customers: what are they running now and how am I going to make the most money out of their upgrade.
    More than one of those guys earned a second home just by upgrading its customers to Windows. Why Windows? Because Microsoft forced customers into buying whole new license packs, with new software. Even customers running older versions of Windows. It were the days that we simply couldn't find enough people to install and implement upgrades. Microsoft couldn't even ship CD's, licenses and boxes fast enough. In the end we did complete conversions from blanc CD's and provided the customer with its formal material later. And crew was even worse: we sent whole groups of 'people_handy_with_computers' off to South Africa where we bought MCSE documents, just to be able to put them on jobs in Europe...
    Oh, and Novell? They simply produced upgrades, even for aging versions of their OS, like 3.12 and such. Each upgrade was about $200 (or something) with which you could make your server OS millennium proof. 3.x went to 3.2 and 4.x went to 4.2. And that was it... my Novell guys just sold a handful of CD's, didn't earn a second home on bonusses, but scored a ten on customer satifaction. And the problem was that Novell informed all customers about the possibility. My guys simply didn't have the opportunity to scale 'm up from 3.x to 4.2 or even version 5.... every customer was already informed about the $200 update kit for the 3 and 4 series.
    Since most salesguys don't have a heart or basically don't care about quality (it's just about the bonus), they simply advised customers to ignore the opdate: it's better switching to Windows... you see, I have a second mortgage to pay ...
    It was terrible to see such a nice product becoming a victim of its customer loyalty, especially since the Windows customers simply didn't (and still don't) see that they are being toyed with.
    And I? I left the circus in September 1999 on 'matters of principle' ....
    • *BAM* Home run.

      Novell was punished by its salesforce for doing exactly what its customers wanted.

      I think, these days, there is a growing awareness that the cash hemmorage of maintaining a Windows environment is not the only way to run an IT department. As departments grow wiser, they'll begin looking for solutions that are more like what Novell (and Linux) has always provided and less like what Microsoft is offering. After all, isn't Novell's style of product maintenance what everyone has been clamoring f
  • by darnok (650458) on Thursday July 15, 2004 @06:34AM (#9705555)
    Release OpenExchange as open source.

    In many sites, Exchange is the one MS product that is irreplaceable infrastructure. I know, alternatives exist, but plugging together 12 different pieces of FOSS with differing licences isn't something that a lot of IT departments are comfortable with. They'd rather live with their regularly unscheduled Exchange outages, thanks very much!

    If OpenExchange was free, it would go close to being a drop-in replacement for MS Exchange. With a company the size of Novell behind it, it would be a much easier sell to those companies than plugging together a bunch of FOSS server products, most with no big vendor behind them.

    Novell would get a *lot* of mind-share in these organizations, as they'd be the enablers for getting MS out of their core infrastructure once and for all. I'd bet they could leverage this mindshare when it came time to upgrade those desktops as well.

    Well, Novell, what are you waiting for?
  • I'd like to just say, hear them out.

    I've recently attended a couple of Novell presentations, and also attended a free Novel Linux Salesperson training course. They aren't all that bad. At least in New Zealand, they are really making an effort. They've contacted the local LUGs, made presentations. They offer a pretty good selection of courses, and some of them free or very low price.

    I've never really bled red (supported Novell) before, but I'm starting to be swayed.

    So go try 'em out. Go find a local Novel
  • by managementboy (223451) on Thursday July 15, 2004 @06:55AM (#9705630) Homepage
    I believe Novell has a good standing to start to win back small and medium business, as long as they can show how these porblems get resolved through their offerings:

    * Licencing cost are low(er) compared with rivals
    * Costs due to Viri don't exist in Novell's SuSE offerings (business men know this problem first hand)
    * Costs due to Spam get significantly reduced due to Novells SuSE offerings (business men know this problem)
    * Security is inherently high (business men know this problem)
    * Single signon and other Directory services are good for business (business men know this problem)
    * OpenOffice is free and compatible (free is allways good, as long as you get support... Novell enters the stage)
    * Novell removes the nerdy part of Linux and makes it business man friendly

    These are not technical arguments. They would be the ones I would use to convice any owner of a small or medium business to use Novell's products in an upgrade cycle (from win95, from Oracle 8, from IE5 etc.).
  • Ximian guy: The next distro is focused in GNOME.
    SuSE guy: No, GNOME is crap, KDE is the focus.
    Ximian guy: KDE is kbloated!!!!!!!!
    SuSE guy: STFU dwarf!
    Ximian guy: STFU you nazi german!
    Microsoft guy (only watching): Round 1! Fight!
  • Caveat ! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by foobsr (693224) on Thursday July 15, 2004 @07:15AM (#9705713) Homepage Journal
    There is a caveat in the ranking of Linux vendors: Novell is No.2 if you don't count IBM and Hewlett-Packard, which probably sell most of the Linux software going into the enterprise market.

    loc. cit. []: "If Linux is free, why's it so expensive?"

    Good point. Think about it. Think if the system as it works really is a s free as intended.

  • by wowbagger (69688) on Thursday July 15, 2004 @07:49AM (#9705842) Homepage Journal
    One of the problems Novell (and Microsoft) has, as a network server platform, is being tied to the ia32 platform. This meant that if you wanted a file server with boatloads of RAM to cache data, you slammed into the 32 bit address limits (yes, I know, 36 bits on later processors, but that is an ugly hack - bank switching once again.)

    Novell has realized that the OS the server runs is largely irrelevant to the users - they just care about the SERVICES the server provides. Migrating away from NetwareOS to an OS that supports 64 bit platforms allows Novell to break through the 4G barrier.

    So, what do you want from your file server? Massive RAM, MASSIVE DISK I/O and even more massive network I/O. Reliability. Fault tolerance. Expandability. Hot-swap EVERYTHING.

    Now, name a vender of server iron that meets those specs. I know of a little company that can do that - so little they only need three letters for their name. A company who's middle name literally IS "business".

    Imagine what would happen if Novell made Netware services available on the IBM zSeries or iSeries. Now you have a platform that supports massive quantities of FAST disks, smart disk I/O subsystems, smart network subsystems. A system that can sense a failing disk and phone home - you come to work in the morning and an IBM tech is waiting at the door with a replacement disk before the disk fails, swaps it out in a minute, and you users never notice.

    A system where if you find yourself a little light on CPU, a phone call fixes the problem. A system where you can run multiple virtual servers as needed. You want database? Run DB2, either on the Linux image or under OS400/OS390.

    A Novell/IBM teamup would be SCARY compelling for IT managers world-wide.

    Now, I don't have any insider information, but I cannot beleive that this is NOT being worked upon in Deep Dark Places at Novell and IBM.
    • It's public knowledge that Novell and IBM already have a partnership where Linux is concerned. They make it no secret that IBM invested heavily in the company to assist their acquisition of SuSE. In fact, IBM has been present at all of Novell's Knowledgeshare events, making presentations, and have made no secret of the fact that they helped Novell acquire SuSE because they didn't want to see any dominant player in the Linux marketplace (SuSE now has the corporate clout to give Redhat a run for their money).
    • by nine-times (778537) <> on Thursday July 15, 2004 @11:16AM (#9707588) Homepage
      Not even in the "Deep Dark Places". When Novell announced the purchases of SuSE and Ximian, they said they were planning strategic partnerships with IBM. I think the aquisitions were even partially funded with IBM money.

      Personally, I've thought for some time that the behind-the-scenes plotting is really over the desktop. Like you said, no one cares what their servers are running, so long as they can access the services they want from the desktop. But more than that, no one cares what their DESKTOP is running, so long as they can access the services they want and they have the applications they need.

      One of the threats to Linux on the desktop is, ok, you make the Ximian Exchange connector, but MS can change the Exchange server and make the connector stop working. You can make Samba improve desktop access to a Win2K network, but when Windows Server 200? comes, they can change the SMB protocol a little and force Samba to play catch-up. So, IBM and Novell work together to make the switch-over from Windows2K networks to Novell-based networks nearly trivial. They then work together to make the Desktop switch to Linux nearly trivial, which should be easier if you control the servers.

      But why would IBM want Linux on the desktop so badly? Because once Linux is on the desktop, switching to a PPC based architecture is nearly trivial. If IBM wants to be a player in the Desktop processor market, essentially taking on Intel with the equivalent to the G5, they need to go through Microsoft to get support. Unless, that is, people are running Linux, which already has support for PowerPC.

      It's a bit of a conspiracy theory, with absolutely nothing to back it up, but I have a hard time believing that no one at IBM has realized the possibility.

  • Excuse me? (Score:5, Informative)

    by bryanp (160522) on Thursday July 15, 2004 @08:37AM (#9706135)
    utterly losing the LAN market to Microsoft.

    In the server room 30 feet from my desk I have 21 servers. 3 of them are running Novell Netware 6, the rest of them varying flavors of NT Server, 2K server and 2K3. There's a reason I'm running 3 large office buildings worth of users on only 3 Netware servers - because that's all I NEED to do it. If you look out there you might say "Well, Microsoft has 18 server installations to Novell's 3. Microsoft is winning." You'd be wrong.
    • Re:Excuse me? (Score:2, Informative)

      by voideng (656574)
      In my shop we have about 400 servers, 80 of them are Netware which does all of our file and print, the rest are NT/2K servers each running a single application becasue of stability problems with NT/2K. Our parent company uses NT/2K for everything and has pushed us to move to 2K for file and print, but they can never make the business case, so we still have our servers.
    • Re:Excuse me? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by cmason (53054)
      If you look out there you might say "Well, Microsoft has 18 server installations to Novell's 3. Microsoft is winning." You'd be wrong.

      Yes, except, how many licenses did you have to buy? Who's really winning?

  • My upper management is pretty excited about Novell and Linux, but the Novell Linux offerings I've gotten from them so far are not quite ready for prime-time. The SUSE distro is ok but hasn't really changed since the Novell takeover. Nterprise Services for Linux has a long road ahead in order to be a good stable product. I'll reserve judgement on Novell until they are putting out production Linux services and integrating their acquired software into it. Until then, it is pretty cool that I can log a user
    • The SUSE distro is ok but hasn't really changed since the Novell takeover.

      Huh? If you don't see any difference between suse 9.0 and suse 9.1, you're not looking.

      Suse 9.0 was a nice distro, one I could have lived with, but I stuck with redhat (and fedora). When 9.1 came out, it was so good I simply had to switch to suse - and have been doing so, on my desktops, and servers.

      BTW netcraft shows that in the past month, redhat has lost web server market share and suse, the 2nd distro, has gained ground. I exp
  • One of the major week points in Linux is a like of a good groupware application that can compete with Exchange. I just got a copy of Novell's Linux Technical Resource Kit [] which is a set of free DVDs of some of Novell's Linux products.

    I'm looking forward to trying out GroupWise. I was always a fan of it and a Linux based version could bring a good groupware solution to the SOHO market.
  • by 4of12 (97621) on Thursday July 15, 2004 @09:02AM (#9706308) Homepage Journal


    You remember, the nice directory service they brought out for Windows years ahead of Active Directory? MS simply vaporware pre-announced that AD would be coming and that spelt the death knell for NDS because anyone with a lot of Windows boxes wanted to make sure they had a "compatible solution" and the only way to guarantee that was to source from a sole supplier that already had them by the short hairs.

    Meanwhile, enterprise Linux could use some improvements in convenient, secure, scalable directory services. People testing prototype desktop Linux solutions want to move beyond the /etc/passwd and local home directory stage of life.

    As it stands, people managing Linux LANs limp along using NIS, maybe some cobbled together pieces of LDAP with PAM and kerberos.

    There's room for an enterprise level solution that could better support Linux LANs in corporate environments that would also play well with Windows boxes needing services.

    The NDS code base could be combined with Samba and other open source technologies to provide just that.

  • The Real Key (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Exter-C (310390)
    The real key about the whole novell thing is its not just about the OS its about the services that run ontop of that OS. Linux is a fairly good platform that is becoming much more recognised as a corporate platform. Idealy with a Linux version they should also look at a *BSD port and really start to push into the UNIX market. I would suspect (and from my own experiences working in IT for over 10years) that most of the Novel customer base (big guys) alreaddy have a unix team managing other systems. This brin
  • As if they're already not making enough money...
  • Why would we not believe Novell? Didn't they recently purchase the #2 Linux vendor in the world? :)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 15, 2004 @09:21AM (#9706465)
    My how soon you forget.

    Novell 'has been a hero' years ago when they came to a settlement in the USL vs BSDI lawsuit, freeing the BSD source tree for anyone to use. The settlement had little to do with 'sticking a finger in Microsoft's eye', whereas Linux support today is all about the eye gouging.

    What would be interesting is a 'map' of the managers from back then to now. The points that are common may be the allies.

    Additional points to someone who adds a 'map' of the Canopy Group to search for 'common' points - what with their formation of the Linux company Caldera who bought out SCO then renamed themselves to SCO.
  • by Maljin Jolt (746064) on Thursday July 15, 2004 @09:27AM (#9706515) Journal
    With this enormous experience with networking as comodity, perhaps Novell should made multiplayer games? Like Microsoft.
  • by GrumpyDeveloper (613950) on Thursday July 15, 2004 @09:30AM (#9706541)
    I haven't look at Novell in quite a while and this morning I noticed that they have a free download of SUSE "desktop Linux" available on their site. So, I thought I'd grab a copy [] since it says "No registration or key is required". The actual download page, however, says:

    "Registration is required for the free download of SUSE LINUX 9.1 Personal. You will also be asked to complete a very brief survey."

    No thanks, Novell. I think I'll grab my copy here [].
  • by emtboy9 (99534) <jeff&jefflane,org> on Thursday July 15, 2004 @10:07AM (#9706893) Homepage
    I dont know, but just very simply, I am one of the people who does alpha and beta testing of SuSE/Novell linux, and if what I have seen so far is any indication, they have a LONG way to go before they can honestly claim any top 5 spot.

    Admittedly, YaST is a MUCH better installer than it used to be, and it is fine as a system configuration tool as well, but there are just so many little things that dont work right, and too many issues in the release cycle that are just plain annoying. BUT they are definitely getting better. I would almost dismiss most of my beef with them as integration pains as Novell takes the reins.

    Oh well, more power to them, I wish them well. We need more major linux players in the distro field (and no, Debian doesnt count, as it is not an enterprise OS).

    What linux needs, is a few more Red Hats or SuSEs in the enterprise OS market. Make competition between Distros increase and we will get better underlying OSs, even better development and innovation than we have now, more hardware vendors will start creating drivers, or releasing specs so that OSS developers can create drivers, more companies will take up Linux as their OS of choice, and so on and so forth.

    Right now we have a good start, but we really need more to get the momentum going. I would love to see another major player in the field, it would make MS sweat just that much more :)

  • by tarsi210 (70325) <nathan@nathanpral[ ]com ['le.' in gap]> on Thursday July 15, 2004 @12:10PM (#9708148) Homepage Journal
    Here's how I see it: Novell, having locked up the LAN market years ago, has since retired to the poolside patio. Only recently has it put down its Cosmo, set down its martini, glanced over its shades, and noticed that the sun has gone down. Now it's jumping into the Linux pool (where Microsoft has peed in the shallow end), realized that it has forgotten how to swim, can't tread water, and its water wings are still back in the cupboard.

    Good on ya, Novell, for attempting to jump into the middle of things, but you need to focus first on revamping your marketing and business strategy departments; otherwise, you would not have lost so much ground in the server room. Realize your excellent assests but don't rely on them; understand your business but don't count on it; acknowledge your competitors but don't give them slack. Take those things to court on this Linux deal and you might have a shot. Good luck.

The difficult we do today; the impossible takes a little longer.