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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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  • Well, yes.... (Score:2, Informative)

    by meringuoid (568297) on Thursday July 15, 2004 @04:50AM (#9705263)
    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.

  • Re:Mono (Score:5, Informative)

    by bruthasj (175228) <bruthasj@ya[ ].com ['hoo' in gap]> on Thursday July 15, 2004 @04:54AM (#9705276) Homepage Journal
    google for apt, yum, ximian's red carpet, and suse's yast.
  • Re:Effective? (Score:5, Informative)

    by NaDrew (561847) <nadrew@gmail.com> 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.
  • 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":

    http://codeblogs.ximian.com/blogs/evolution/
  • Re:Mono (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 15, 2004 @05:26AM (#9705384)
    It's not RPM that's the problm, it's YAST. Almost gave up on SuSE until someone pointed me to the apt for Suse [linux01.gwdg.de] project.

    There's a nice Case study of upgrading from Suse 8.2 -> 9.0 using APT [geocities.com]. Didn't quite work as cleanly as a major Debian upgrade, but sure as hell beats re-installing the whold OS (as redhat and suse's yast installer seem to enjoy)

  • 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 [novell.com]
  • 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....
  • by SpooForBrains (771537) on Thursday July 15, 2004 @06:24AM (#9705527)
    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 become the core product in this area, as they are working hard to build groupwise functionality into Evolution II). SuSE will continue development of their own products exactly as they have done before (and to the same schedule) hence OpenExchange (or SLOX) will continue to be developed and supported (it doesn't compete with GroupWise anyway, they are playing for different markets). This also includes all of SuSE's other products on which much of novell's offering will be based. Okay, so maybe it's not clear, but there it is.
  • Re:Some years ago... (Score:2, Informative)

    by PaulusMagnus (797138) on Thursday July 15, 2004 @07:23AM (#9705753)
    WordPerfect and Quattro Pro were only real competition in the DOS world. Their Windows equivalents never really stood a chance as Microsoft gained a head start on everybody and based their feature sets on these products. Everybody was playing catch up with Microsoft until they finally accepted defeat. DR-DOS is still alive today but then again, the market for DOS isn't exactly large any more. I also think that Novell's move into application software was badly timed and made them take their eye off the ball with regard to Netware and their NOS. They've been battling ever since and done a pretty good job of standing up to the M$ Marketing Machine.
  • Re:Trying (Score:3, Informative)

    by Builder (103701) on Thursday July 15, 2004 @07:37AM (#9705797)
    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 ?

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

    by SpooForBrains (771537) on Thursday July 15, 2004 @08:00AM (#9705890)
    * 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.

  • by SpooForBrains (771537) on Thursday July 15, 2004 @08:16AM (#9705980)
    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).

    Now that SuSE is part of their strategy, Novell are moving to make their products available on the entire set of IBM hardware.

    So they are in fact already doing exactly what you've just said, and making no secret of it, either.
  • Re:Gentoo (Score:3, Informative)

    by binary paladin (684759) <`moc.liamg' `ta' `nidalapyranib'> on Thursday July 15, 2004 @08:24AM (#9706039)
    Yeah, it hasn't been the speed for me (seeing as I haven't noticed a difference anyway) but the ability to mess with the compile time options in a really, really convenient way.

    That I find that Gentoo's startup scripts and the way /etc is managed are much cleaner than some other distros I used to use.
  • 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:Mono (Score:3, Informative)

    by Bert64 (520050) <bert AT slashdot DOT firenzee DOT com> on Thursday July 15, 2004 @08:38AM (#9706142) Homepage
    Some apps benefit greatly from optimization, some don't, try john the ripper.. compiling with mmx support yields a 3x speed increase on any modern x86 cpu... It's also possible to optimize for a smaller binary size...
    But by far the best part of compiling has to be dependencies...
    Many programs have optional features which are only turned on if certain libraries are present, for instance kerberos support in pine and some other packages... If you use a precompiled distribution then all these packages will be compiled against all the optional components so they suit the widest possible audience of users...
    However, that means we have to waste diskspace and ram on these unnecessary libraries... I use pine and pico on a regular basis, but i have never needed or wanted kerberos support...
    And lots of apps come with optional X11/kde/gnome/gtk interfaces... its pretty irritating that some tool you want to run in commandline mode on a headless server requires you to install X11 and gnome etc..
  • by micolous (757089) on Thursday July 15, 2004 @08:52AM (#9706240)
    Did you not know that you can install binary packages using Portage? Look at GRP. Your options are limited in what they're compiled for and you don't have the control you have with source, but you still have quite a bit of choice in what binaries you want to use. See here [gentoo.org].

    As for compiling yourself and any speed improvement, that's dependant on what CFLAGS you use and how fast your computer actually is, and what processor you have. Some people won't notice a difference, some people do, and the people that do notice will notice it in varying amounts.

    There's also binary packages in "regular" Gentoo for packages like the Flash plugin, NVidia/NForce drivers, Java and some games, which fall in the "non-free" category (ie: closed source). There's also ebuilds for some commerical games (that you have to purchase).
  • Re:Excuse me? (Score:2, Informative)

    by voideng (656574) on Thursday July 15, 2004 @09:22AM (#9706473)
    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.
  • 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 [novell.com] 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 [linuxiso.org].
  • by psychoid (568115) on Thursday July 15, 2004 @09:53AM (#9706750)
    I've used Novell products since '91 and can say from experience:
    1. Novell's products have always been top notch
    2. Novell's support community is great and you won't hear, "Hey, N00B, RTFM"
    3. Novell seems to respect their customers and does not force feed them crappy products with forced upgrades every two years
    4. Novell has inspired great loyalty among those of us who have used their products over the years. In order to foster this loyalty, a company must produce technically superior products and have a great support ecosystem
  • Re:Is Ximian dead? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Erwos (553607) on Thursday July 15, 2004 @09:55AM (#9706775)
    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-source, though, so there's nothing stopping Red Hat, Mandrake, GNOME, or KDE from simply integrating it themselves.

    This change might be painful for Debian and some other distros, but Red Hat and Mandrake are rolling their own Evolution RPMs anyways, so it's not likely to affect them much.

    As the parent points out, XD was largely superfluous for FC1 anyways, since it had most of the graphical config tools anyways. I can see why it would be a lot more important for Debian, though...

    -Erwos
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Re:Effective? (Score:3, Informative)

    by mrroach (164090) on Thursday July 15, 2004 @10:14AM (#9706955)
    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:">
    <sql>

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

    WHERE "DAV:ishidden" = False

    </sql></searchrequest>
    -Mark
  • 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?

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