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Novell Reportedly Taking Bids From Up To 20 Companies 124

Degrees writes "Although Novell rejected the bid from Elliott Associates earlier this year, reports now indicate Novell has decided to embrace the inevitable. According to the Wall Street Journal (sub. required): 'As many as 20 companies have expressed interest in Novell, according to people familiar with the matter. Most, if not all, of the companies expected to lodge serious bids are private equity firms. ... Novell has four separate businesses, each of which could be attractive to a rival technology company. However, it's unlikely that a tech company would bid for all of Novell, these people said. Private equity firms, however, could break up Novell and either sell off the pieces or run them as standalone businesses.' Are there any companies that don't have an enterprise grade Linux distribution, and ought to? Ditto workstation management, directory services, legacy email, and virtualization suite?"
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Novell Reportedly Taking Bids From Up To 20 Companies

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  • by levell ( 538346 ) * on Sunday May 23, 2010 @10:13AM (#32313908) Homepage

    As a developer who works on (closed-source) enterprise software [ibm.com] which runs on Linux (amongst other platforms) I'm nervous about Novell being sold. Though I develop on Fedora and primarily use RHEL for informal testing (we do formal testing on all the platforms we support) I'm glad that a solid, serious alternative to RHEL exists.

    Obviously a sale of Novell doesn't necessarily imply any change for their Linux business (esp. as I understand it's one of their more profitable divisions) but it is likely (in the short term) to introduce some uncertainty.

    The Linux market seems very healthy at the moment and I hope it continues to be at least a duopoly. Red Hat are a very cool company but I wouldn't like to see any company have a (virtual) monopoly in Enterprise Linux.

    • Obviously a sale of Novell doesn't necessarily imply any change for their Linux business

      Actually, I expect one of their main partners to strongly encourage a litigious patent troll to buy them.

      They would be in a very strong position to torpedo Linux adoption for years, if not decades.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by pjt33 ( 739471 )

        Sure, but where are SCO going to get the money?

      • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        They would be in a very strong position to torpedo Linux adoption for years, if not decades.

        Pushing back the year of Linux on the desktop

    • by boorack ( 1345877 ) on Sunday May 23, 2010 @10:31AM (#32314022)
      Then i WOULD be nervous. If Novell accepts bid from private equity firm, then we can say goodbye to them. Typical scenario in company takeover by private equity firms is extracting whatever capital company has by any means. In such scenario you can safely assume that Novell will be stripped out of things having some value (that can be easily sold), saddled with huge debt and private equity fund will extract all this capital via some form of (huge) dividend. Remaining carcass is typically sold to some fool investor who then sees it bankrupting. While I don't like Novell too much (after that Microsoft debacle), I'm also worried. I suppose that some of their patents will be sold to whoever offers better price. If it will be some patent troll , then we may see problems ahead. Private equity fund (a.k.a financial vulture) managers won't give a crap about it.
    • The Linux market seems very healthy at the moment and I hope it continues to be at least a duopoly.

      Wouldn't that be a tri-opoly considering Oracle's Unbreakable Linux? Or, a quad-opoly, also considering Canonical's Ubuntu server offerings. I'll admit that I don't know much about the difference between Unbreakable Linux and Suse, but it seems that having a company like Oracle behind it would make it a more appealing 2nd option, right?

      On a side note, I find it a bit odd that TFA kind of backs up this Redhad/Suse duopoly concept, even though it was written by Matt Asay, COO of Canonical.

      • by kephunk ( 35920 )
        I don't think people really consider Oracle Unbreakable Linux when talking about the Linux Enterprise market since its mostly a respin of RHEL with Oracle logos and technical support. And while Ubuntu do have a server offering, and it could be considered enterprise, its not quite got the enterprise reputation that RHEL & SUSE have.
        • by Eskarel ( 565631 )

          From my understanding from people who deal with it, Unbreakable Linux isn't even that different, apparently support calls go straight to redhat.

    • I am not as nervous about a monopoly in the Linux world, it isn't as if the source is closed. If Novell shut down, and RH decided to raise fees by 300%, it isn't like you don't have choices. CentOS in the short run (I use it on production servers anyway), and tons of other choices. It wasn't that long ago that Ubuntu was just an idea, and thanks to Debian at the core, it became a reality in a relatively short time.

      Most Linux shops aren't paying/using RH anyway, and if there is a void, then someone could

    • When I was at Red Hat, the conventional wisdom even in late 2006 was that Novell was dying and the growing threat was Canonical. Novell was dying before it bought SuSE, and nothing about that acquisition did anything about the unprofitable business lines that were driving Novell to its grave. The main thing Novell brought to the table was its sales channels, but that made for an enterprise Linux company with much more overhead than Red Hat and fewer customers. If SuSE is spun off or sold to a profitable

  • Karma (Score:1, Redundant)

    by markdavis ( 642305 )
    The moment Novell moved to "legitimize" Microsoft's threats to the Linux/FOSS world, Novell went on my "will never touch with a 1,000 foot pole" list. What they did was a sure action of self-poisoning in the Linux/FOSS community. I wonder how many other people feel the same.
    • by jhoegl ( 638955 )
      Though they did come up with "Active Directory". If only they stuck with TCP/IP....
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      same here. I actually switched from Suse to Ubuntu before Novelle made the "Microsoft" move.
    • Re:Karma (Score:4, Informative)

      by bl8n8r ( 649187 ) on Sunday May 23, 2010 @10:32AM (#32314028)

      Bruce Perens had a petition running for a while that listed thousands of disgusted and angry linux advocates when novell signed the microsoft pact (see http://www.techp.org/ [techp.org] - note: offline at the moment).

      As far as I'm concerned, Novell stabbed the community in the back. I don't use Novell products and neither should you.

      • Re:Karma (Score:5, Informative)

        by think_nix ( 1467471 ) on Sunday May 23, 2010 @11:01AM (#32314212)

        As far as I'm concerned, Novell stabbed the community in the back. I don't use Novell products and neither should you.

        Funnily enough when Hovsepian [novell.com] took over as CEO in 2003 I remember him saying how much Novell would do for the Linux Community. Then a few years ago this Interview [linux-foundation.org].

        Lets look at what he did for the Linux Community and for the Developers he thinks are so great:

        Novell Plans To Lay Off 20% Of Workforce [informationweek.com]

        Novell offshores for cheap developement [techrights.org]

        Novell cuts SuSe Develpers [itworldcanada.com]

        Suse Developer Layoffs [linux-magazine.com]

      • Re:Karma (Score:5, Interesting)

        by kestasjk ( 933987 ) * on Sunday May 23, 2010 @11:30AM (#32314366) Homepage
        But aren't they also contributing significantly to the Mono project?
        (Before someone says "Mono is evil and helps MS" I'm not so sure. If it does Wine certainly does too, but no-one raises a fuss about Wine, and being able to run my .NET apps [kuliukas.com] on Linux definitely seems like a good thing for reducing ties to Windows to me.)

        They did make a deal which, in part, involved patent disputes with Microsoft regarding Linux, but unless there's a way that it "legitimizes" those claims in a legally tangible way I don't see why that's a problem. (And I haven't seen any reason why Novell getting protection against patent suits from Microsoft would affect the legal status of code external to Novell. It seems like paranoia to me.)
        • Also re: Bruce's petition; it's easy to get people to sign an online petition that they are angry about anything. I bet the "thousands of disgusted linux advocates" are composed exclusively of people who read Bruce's blog post and agreed with his point of view, very possibly not including a single person who was previously considering buying anything from Novell.
        • Re:Karma (Score:4, Informative)

          by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Sunday May 23, 2010 @02:43PM (#32315854) Journal
          Mono? Yes. They bought Ximian, and are also responsible for a lot of GNOME work. They are the second-largest contributor to OpenOffice.org, behind Sun. They've contributed to GNOME, to the Linux kernel, to Xen, and a number of other projects. But, because they signed a patent licensing deal with Microsoft they are evil and hate the community. Apparently.
        • That is the first .NETapp in 7 years that I have seen that actually compiles and runs on Linux. ... with the exception of the crappy Zenworks which shows me to trust Java for server cross platform development.

          • It certainly isn't a very complicated app, and I have no doubt there exist .NET apps tied to Windows APIs which would be much harder to port.
            But the way that it opened, built and ran it, and even ran the VS.NET exe file, with each and every button behaving exactly the same, right down to the always-on-top,no-resize,no-maximize window settings, the backup file dialog working, the settings being saved, etc, even though it was written without any compatibility in mind, does make me wonder how far the compatib
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by maxume ( 22995 )

      If you are using a Linux system, you are probably touching them with your kernel.

      • Re:Karma (Score:5, Insightful)

        by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Sunday May 23, 2010 @02:44PM (#32315864) Journal
        If you're not using a Linux system, but are reading Slashdot, you've probably used OpenOffice.org. Most of the work on making it less slow was done by Novell. Last time I checked, 80% of OO.o contributions came from Sun, 15% from Novell, and 5% from everyone else combined.
        • by maxume ( 22995 )

          Those people are going to be somewhat less likely to be making pronouncements about Novell.

    • But most of the paying business customers out there don't care about that.. They want solid product for a good price, with decent support, from a stable company.

      Few really care about the open source politics.

      • by cenc ( 1310167 )

        Most of the paying customers out there are told what to buy by the IT department, that now a days likly has more than a few closet FOSS people.

        • Most of the paying customers out there are told what to buy by the IT department

          You owe me a new keyboard. Ask your boss to approve the expense claim when he gets back from playing golf with the salesweasels.

      • by Kjella ( 173770 )

        But most of the paying business customers out there don't care about that.. They want solid product for a good price, with decent support, from a stable company. Few really care about the open source politics.

        This is both true and not true. When you are planning for your server infrastructure for years to come, you don't just look at the here and now and the offer on the table. You also tend to ask some of your tech gurus whether this company is reputable, if it has the right technologies, if this is a product they'd like to work with, if this is just some desperate money grab to stay afloat and so on. A lot of these are only educated guesses, but if the offerings seems otherwise fairly competitive and your tech

    • by Anonymous Coward

      If anything will be poison it will those who will try to attack GNU/Linux with the Novell's assets they acquire. Thus:

      1) All press releases, public announcements, etc in which Novell discusses it's distributions should be archived now. SCO tried to claim it, as Caldara, never released it's products under a GPL license. Power points and press releases found, and lucky they were, afterward rebutted this.
      2) One or more people should save the headers in the source of SUSE where it indicates the copyright owners

    • With you 110%. When you underwrite an OS that is faster, lighter and more user-friendly than its monolithic competitor, the one thing you do -not- do is form or allow a clearly self-serving alliance with said monolith, whose sole motivating desire is to see you and your product implode and present no further threat. Novell is doomed, and perhaps so is Linux. All Suse users should start checking the alternatives.
    • by krray ( 605395 )

      I agree w/ you 100% Regardless of positions the moment Novell agreed to get in bed w/ Microsoft was the day I 1) shutdown and remaining Novell servers and 2) sold my stock in their company.

    • I feel the same. I don't care how slick SuSE is; I'll never recommend it.
      Novell showed its true colors when it sucked up to MSFT.
      After all, Novell was all about services for Windows clients for most of its profitable lifetime.
  • Microsoft (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Microsoft Linux, here we come!

    • If Microsoft wanted a Linux distro, they could've had one a long, long time ago. At this late date, I don't think Novell has much to offer Microsoft. Every market where Novell competes with Microsoft, Microsoft is kicking their asses.

      Interesting idea, but I'm not seeing a business argument for it.

      • Re:Microsoft (Score:4, Insightful)

        by fustakrakich ( 1673220 ) on Sunday May 23, 2010 @10:37AM (#32314072) Journal

        nteresting idea, but I'm not seeing a business argument for it.

        Patents! Patents! Patents!

      • If Microsoft wanted a Linux distro, they could've had one a long, long time ago.

        Microsoft doesn't want *a* Linux distro. However, they may want *this* Linux distro. Red Hat/Fedora is the distro that is central to commercial Linux. Most professionally written commercial Linux software is written to this distro, and will only be supported by the company making it if you install it in this distro. The possibilities for Microsoft if they could gain control of it are obvious.

      • After IBM [slashdot.org], Microsoft seems like the logical purchaser, except that they've always been careful to keep an intermediary. HP might be a good candidate; they historically have had their own Unix in-house and they currently sell RedHat. RedHat might or might not like to have Novell's customers, but probably couldn't come up with enough help to buy it. Trying to merge RedHat and SuSe Linux would be like several nightmares all merged into one. Oracle is another possibility; currently they sell RedHat.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        Clearly owning the Unix copyrights has to be worth something.

        • Perhaps if they had stayed out of the SCO and IBM case, they wouldn't have had to take this step.

          • by gtall ( 79522 )

            Why? That case was peanuts in terms of cost to Novell. If anything, it would have increased the good will in the FOSS world and thus their distro would become more viable. But it wouldn't have decreased it.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I mean then they would own the UNIX IP and the Linux IP! And since that'd mean Micro$oft paying Micro$oft it'd be a really smooth deal...

  • Canopy Group? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by C_Kode ( 102755 ) on Sunday May 23, 2010 @10:30AM (#32314008) Journal

    Is it the Canopy Group or Microsoft? Hopefully they aren't selling the Unix copyrights or other things that will just start another lawsuit attacking Linux.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by novar21 ( 1694492 )
      Caldera/TheSCOGroup has already proven that copyrights are not necessary to spread fud via the court system for many years. They are still doing that today. So if others wished to do so, I am sure that they could with little effort. As far as Unix copyrights existing, ATT and Berkeley had settled their suit long ago and I believe that ATT did not really own much in the way of copyrights. I believe that most was created/owned by Berkeley. So I think it matters not if they sell the Unix copyrights that t
    • This would be a waste of money for the plaintive as practically all the data that the defense needs is archived over at Groklaw and available at no charge. And they would still loose.
    • by gtall ( 79522 )

      Canopy doesn't have enough money. What would Microsoft get? Just about anyone who values Linux would run to Red Hat. Patents? I suppose they'd get a few, but probably not covering much since they already have a patent deal with Novell. Unix copyrights? What would they do with them?

  • that the partnership with Novel was nothing more than a move so Microsoft could eventually purchase the UNIX copyrights.

  • People seem confused (Score:4, Interesting)

    by dnaumov ( 453672 ) on Sunday May 23, 2010 @10:51AM (#32314134)
    regarding what this actually means. This means that a lot of companies with deep pockets (private equity companies) think that in the long term, Novell has potential for a lot of growth, so they would get nice ROI (return on investment) from a Novell purchase made today. This does not mean that Novell is dead, dying or even on the decline. If this was the case, you would be seeing offers from competitors who would want to swallow a competitor awhole, taking their userbase along.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by demachina ( 71715 )

      What it actually means depends on whether they are bought by an ethical private equity firm or the other kind. If its the other kind they will use Novell as a vehicle to borrow a couple billion dollars which they will use to create an instant and imaginary profit for themselves, then they will cut and run leaving Novell saddled with a crushing debt burden which will result in layoffs and eventual collapse.

      Sad to say that is frequently how the magnates of our financial system work now. They aren't out to b

    • by Kjella ( 173770 )

      Well I can't speak for every private equity company, but most of them are in there for a time frame of no more than 2-4 years. The normal idea with such buyouts and restructuring is that Novell is like an odd piece of animal that is underpriced and the private equity firm thinks it can do better by selling a fillet mignon here, a rump steak there and maybe some parts just go into the grinder to become cat food. So it's not a train wreck but it's also not a particular sign of strength, the outcome largely de

    • by Eskarel ( 565631 )

      No, it means that they think they can make a buck on Novell.

      Now that may mean they believe Novell has potential for long term growth, but it more likely means they believe that if they sell off all the bits Novell bought up over the last 5 years(and never really absorbed properly) they can make more money than they paid for it, or that the Unix copyrights are worth it.

      You might see a competitor like IBM try to swallow them up, but that hasn't been what most of the bids are interested in. Novell's market sha

    • by gtall ( 79522 )

      Name one promising product Novell has to flog in the marketplace? Linux is Free, and Red Hat is beating them. Novell's network OS is dying. They have nothing and should have given up the ghost long ago, they just didn't realize they were dead.

  • IBM (Score:5, Insightful)

    by John Hasler ( 414242 ) on Sunday May 23, 2010 @10:51AM (#32314138) Homepage

    > Are there any companies that don't have an enterprise grade Linux
    > distribution, and ought to?

    IBM, not that I know of any evidence that they are interested.

    • IBM has no reason to pour more money into Novell's failed "big dreams", dreams that have been skewered by details Novell mishandled.

      Netware worked quite well, for example, but was displaced by Microsoft's networking tools and their free inclusion in Windows, even though investing the money in Netware tools justified itself in a real IT environment very, very quickly. Novell wisely sold off AT&T based UNIX, but failed to nail down the sales contracts in clear enough language to prevent wasting millions o

      • I fail to see how the SAMBA issue impacted Novell. Novell already had a CIFS development that was as capable if not more capable than SAMBA (certainly in terms of concurrent connections, compatibility and throughput though management software was questionable...). It was a closed source product and part of an existing revenue stream. They effectively ditched SAMBA development to push their OES product (basically Netware migrated to Linux) with integrated CIFS. Unfortunately they hadn't got this product
        • I understood that Jeremy and his peers were doing funded, real Samba development work and enhancing SuSE with it: this made SuSe a very good candidate for mixed network servers until the Microsoft cross-licensing debacle, and Jeremy left. And didn't the rest of Jeremy's group leave shortly thereafter?

          I believe I saw some demos of that awful Netware/Linux toolkit. The packaging and installation of it, alone, was so bad that it should never have been released from alpha: compared to simply installing Samba un

          • They probably did. Certainly the "closed source" team seem to have won the argument inside Novell as OES did have CIFS support based on eDirectory. It also had a crap eDirectory SAMBA integration - not alone, half the other functionality was a pain. The whole thing was a poor and not ready - its probably ok now but its at least 3 years too late.
    • IBM, not that I know of any evidence that they are interested.

      Sam Palmisano, IBM's CEO, recently announced that IBM was planning a lot of acquisitions in the coming years.

      However, although IBM "embraces" Linux, mainly to stick a weed up Microsoft's ass, I think that they carry too much baggage from the "IBM monopoly" days. In other words, would you buy the "IBM Linux", "Blue Hat" ?

      Of course, I might be wrong . . . although if they do a "due diligence" on Novell, they might want to brief their executives to keep their mouths shut at cocktail parties. That cost the

      • by gtall ( 79522 )

        Palmisano sees IBM growing everywhere except in the U.S. They are not an American company any more and they do not want more U.S. properties.

    • CISCO. Give the software away and sell (crazy) expensive support plans. Sell the same Wireless/Phone/Networking management systems, but now they work seamlessly with the Desktop/LDAP/Email/etc... Free Software (as in beer) is the ideal opening for CISCO to broaden it's base into the small business.
      • by IANAAC ( 692242 )

        Give the software away and sell (crazy) expensive support plans... Free Software (as in beer) is the ideal opening for CISCO to broaden it's base into the small business.

        They don't need to purchase Novell to do that. It's pretty much what all enterprise-ready Linux vendors do now.

        • They don't need to purchase Novell to do that.

          Nobody needs to purchase Novell to get the free software, they want buy Novell for everything else: existing customers and install base, development team, support and sales teams, IP, etc... Sure, they could do it all themselves, or they could buy a quick start.

  • Going Nowhere (Score:2, Interesting)

    I have worked with Novell products for too long. I recently left my company after they decided to go with Novell over other technologies. Novell over the years have had some great ideas but they have been terribly executed. They squandered the opportunity they had with SUSE by weighing it down with their legacy product lines. Whoever buys it should spin off all the legacy baggage along with the Novell name. The company definitely needs to be rebranded because the Novell name has nothing positive going
    • As long time Novell user - I have, in general, to agree. I would state that "legacy product lines" isn't something I think should all be dumped into a bin, there are still some good things here. Specifically their ZCM Suite (now completely re-written so that no eDirectory is required but is now facing severe fire from Microsofts own management suites) and IDM products (excepting their use of eDirectory) aren't too bad. There are equally some aspects that should be dumped because of being obsolete but ar
  • what do you guys think?

    • by tignet ( 1303483 )

      Oracle has very little interest in Linux, now that they have Solaris. Solaris has always been their bread-and-butter, with it accounting for most of their installations anyway. And now that they own Solaris, it makes no sense for them to own (and maintain) their own Linux distribution. The general consensus is that they're going to get rid of the free UNIX OS they have now (OpenSolaris). In addition, Oracle is not very open-source friendly, recently questioning why they should continue the open source model

      • In my experience most Oracle installs run on HP/UX, but i admit it's TelCo-centric
        • by afabbro ( 33948 )

          In my experience most Oracle installs run on HP/UX, but i admit it's TelCo-centric

          I highly doubt that...simple evidence being that HP-UX is always the last platform a new version of Oracle RDBMS is released for. Every new RDBMS is usually released for Linux first, then or at the same time on Solaris, then Windows, then AIX, and finally HP-UX at some point.

          Oracle loves Linux. They push it hard, and use it extensively (exclusively?) in their internal servers. Solaris is one of those "well, we got this for free" things. They will continue to support it because of the big Sun/Oracle inst

      • Interesting point. Do you have any links you can share that explain their position? I must admit that when Oracle bought Sun I thought of it more as an acquisition of MySql and Java than anything else.

    • They now have Solaris. Which has been their preferred OS up until a few years ago when they tried pushing Oracle Linux. And Solaris has a few nice features for the enterprise customer which Linux still lacks.

  • ...maybe SCO can scrape up the cash and buy them. /joke

  • I wonder what the potential impact is to novell shops. Working in one, and being a windows/linux administrator with a deep hatred for novell ( I am novell trained, for the record ), I can only hope this allows us to finally break the company's bias and get things somewhat modern.

    • Let me get this straight. You work in a Novell shop, but you hate Novell. You seem to prefer Windows/Linux, and I won't even get started on what supporting Windows says about you. I have to agree if the choice was Netware, Windows, or Linux, I would choose linux. I have written NLMs extensively and don't really like thew environment. I dislike Windows environment even more, but the Unix environment has seemed like home to me for many years now. If I had to choose between Netware and Windows, I would tak
      • It boils down to using the right tool for the job. If I have 3000+ windows desktops I have to manage, would I rather use active directory and GPOs? Or something like zenworks which is more bandaid then solution?

        Given that I've done both, I can honestly say windows is the choice hands down. Zenworks can fuck up a system in a heart beat. I can't tell you how many times I've had to work around it's oddities, or wipe and reload a system because it touched something it shouldn't have.

        Linux doesn't even enter

        • Yes, I admit I am biased. And it is true there is a reason that companies use Windows. And there is a gross injustice here, where several decades of underhanded marketing have made an inefficient, bug-ridden, virus infested, standards perverting, heaping smelly pile of spaghetti code, the "Best Choice" for business and government both. I don't know what to do about it. Smarter and more powerful men than I would like to see something better than Microsoft leading the technical march into the future. SO I ca
          • I actually don't have problems with MS software. Don't get me wrong, I'm a huge linux fan. I love how linux works and prefer it where and when I am able. For instance, linux file servers make perfect sense.

            Windows is more complex than linux, certainly. But once you know how to find what you are looking for, it's easier to administrate than linux ( in windows environments ). Troubleshoot? No, linux still wins there.

            Windows isn't as bad as everyone likes to make out, it just takes more effort to master.

  • by dpolak ( 711584 ) on Sunday May 23, 2010 @11:33AM (#32314398) Journal
    I wish S.u.S.E. could go back to the way they were before Novell did the damage they did. I dealt with them when they were independent and they were fantastic. Maybe if I put on the ruby slippers and click the heels three times.....
    • Re: (Score:1, Troll)

      by Miseph ( 979059 )

      You'd warp to Kansas. Ever been to Kansas? You might want to consider leaving those heels unclicked.

  • From what I gather, one area suse/Novell excels at is Suse on mainframe. These are big big customers, who are very conservative and an area where RedHat don't seem to be able to conquer. That has got to be worth a lot of $$$ to someone.

You can measure a programmer's perspective by noting his attitude on the continuing viability of FORTRAN. -- Alan Perlis