Novell and Red Hat spat over Xen

Red Hat has claimed that Xen virtualisation isn't ready for prime time, sparking a rebuttal from Novell

Novell's chief technology officer, Markus Rex, has hit back at criticism that the company included an unstable Xen virtualisation environment in its new Linux server, pointing to support from hardware partners.

At Novell's Sydney, Australia, office on Thursday, Rex responded to claims by Linux competitor Red Hat that Xen was not stable enough to be deployed in enterprise environments. Novell has claimed to be the first vendor to include Xen in its Linux distribution, Suse Linux Enterprise Server.

Xen, primarily developed by US-based start-up XenSource, enables users to run multiple operating systems as guest virtual machines on the same hardware.

"If you look at the Xen open source project, we have been the number-two contributor during the past 10 months or so to that project. So we've kind of contributed most of the enterprise readiness for the Xen platform," Rex said.

Red Hat only had to look at Novell's launch of its new server for testimony that Xen was enterprise-ready, Rex added.

"We had all the major hardware partners that had virtualisation hardware such as IBM, Intel and AMD. They all stood up and said, 'Yes, this technology's ready, and we fully support deployments based on Xen and in combination with Suse Linux Enterprise 10,'" he said.

"So I guess the other vendors would not do that, if it weren't ready," Rex added.

Novell had a track record of being the first to expand the Linux platform, while competitors had often claimed that the additions weren't ready, he said.

"It's up to each vendor when to include certain technologies," Rex said. "We have always been very much on the forefront of technology, so I think it's just fitting that we have been the first ones to integrate Xen."

However, despite its self-proclaimed pace-setter status, Novell has not yet completed the installation of Linux on all of its employees' PCs. The vendor announced plans to do so more than two years ago.

Rex said it was "still an ongoing process" but that the company is on track with its two-year-old goals.

"The whole company has been using OpenOffice now for about a year, roughly," he said.

"(This) was the far more painful transition than (changing) the actual underlying operating system, because it's the day-to-day application that you use, and it touches all your file formats and everything," he said.

Novell had "80-something percent" of its people with Linux on their desktops, Rex said.

The rollout in Novell China was complete; most of Novell Germany was done, and virtually all of Novell's technical teams around the world run Linux on the desktop, he said.

Some Novell staff would still use Windows in addition to Linux on the desktop for certain functions, such as software development, Rex said.

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