SuSE and Novell: Personality friction or culture war?

Summary:Mantel is not going to be replaced well or easily.

The departure of two high-level SuSE contributors from Novell begs the question of whether this latest twist in the Novellization of SuSE is yet another personality clash, or an outright schism between the community-oriented SuSE heritage and the command-and-fumble corporate Novell culture.

If the apparent split in philosophy over the role of the KDE (SuSe preferred) user interface and GNOME (Ximian/Novell preferred) one points to a wider philosophical rupture then we can expect a general parade of developers out from the SuSE R&D ranks within Novell. Or maybe they will just keep taking the pay and stop working much.

Either way, that, of course, would be good news for Red Hat and Microsoft. And it could fuel the ongoing investor angst over whether Novell is recognizing the revenue potential from its Linux and open source strategies and investments. Novell has very little time left to show how the dollars and sense in its 2004 purchase of SuSE plays out.

Maybe Novell should cut bait while it can and sell SuSE (at a huge loss) to Sun, take the write off, and go back to the free directory and associated consulting business. That way Sun can assume the cultural schism management process (should be a core competency by now) and make a real go at Red Hat and IBM. Perhaps HP would be interested?

Novell seems to think it can replace SuSE kernel maven Hubert Mantel with any number of the Ximian knuckle-draggers. But I saw some of these folks in action at a basement gathering at a Los Angeles hotel during the recent Microsoft PDC, and I was not very impressed. Mantel is not going to be replaced well or easily, and Novell's management are smoking some dubious doobies to think otherwise.

Topics: Open Source, Software

About

Dana Gardner is president and principal analyst at Interarbor Solutions, an enterprise IT analysis, market research, and consulting firm. Gardner, a leading identifier of software and cloud productivity trends and new IT business growth opportunities, honed his skills and refined his insights as an industry analyst, pundit, and news edito... Full Bio

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