After I published Novell offers virtual machine driver pack my friends at Novell responded quickly to clear up my confusion about their announcement. Wow, guys, that was fast!
Here's the text of their response.
A clarification from Holger Dyroff, vp of SUSE Linux product management at Novell...
The SUSE Linux Enterprise Virtual Machine Driver Pack includes two sets of drivers --one set of drivers for Linux systems and another set of drivers for Windows operating systems. All of the drivers are supported by Novell when you purchase a subscription to the VM Driver Pack. The Linux drivers come from the Xen open source project and enable you to run both Red Hat Enterprise Linux guests and SUSE Linux Enterprise Server guests. Like any distribution, we package them in a way that fits our distribution's needs. In this case, they need to be compatible with the version of Xen we are shipping. But they are available to the community in the same manner as any other piece of open source code. The Windows drivers have a proprietary license, although you can use them for them free during a 60-day evaluation period. (BTW - XenSource Windows drivers are also proprietary.) The Windows Drivers Development Kit (DDK) prohibits drivers built and linked against Microsoft DDK components from being open source. We therefore must ship our own proprietary version.
The drivers in the SUSE Linux Enterprise Virtual Machine Driver Pack are different from the drivers that XenSource ships, although both drivers offer similar functionality. Neither the SUSE drivers nor the XenSource drivers are identical with what's being developed in the Xen community. The Xen community develops open source code, and companies such as IBM, Intel, HP,AMD, Novell and XenSource are all contributors to that community. (In fact, Novell has made by far more contributions to the Xen project for x86 and x86 64-bit architecture than any other Linux distributor.) Companies like Novell and XenSource take the open source code from the Xen project and then develop differentiated open source drivers, in much the same way that Novell and Red Hat both take the Linux kernel, and develop differentiated open source distributions.
I think that sets the record straight. Thanks for the response, guys.