Microsoft, Novell collaborating on Linux - good thing or bad?

Microsoft, Novell collaborating on Linux - good thing or bad?

Summary: When former arch enemies Microsoft and Novell come together to collaborate over a Linux project, you just know that it's time to break out the tinfoil hats out because people are going to read all sorts into this.

TOPICS: Open Source

When former arch enemies Microsoft and Novell come together to collaborate over a Linux project, you just know that it's time to break out the tinfoil hats out because people are going to read all sorts into this.

The Microsoft press release makes interesting reading:

Under the agreement, Novell is establishing clear leadership among Linux platform and open source software providers on interoperability for mixed-source environments. As a result, Microsoft will officially recommend SUSE Linux Enterprise for customers who want Windows and Linux solutions. Additionally, Microsoft will distribute coupons for SUSE Linux Enterprise Server maintenance and support, so that customers can benefit from the use of an interoperable version of Linux with patent coverage as well as the collaborative work between the two companies. [emphasis added]

Wow!  You have to read that several times before you can take it all in. 

[poll id=13]

The latest agreement focuses on three specific technical areas:

  • Virtualization
  • Web services for managing physical and virtual servers
  • Document format capabilities

I believe that the benefit of the agreement from Microsoft's perspective is that is allows them to work on ways to improve interoperability between Office and OpenOffice, an area where they've been vulnerable for some time.  Now Microsoft can appear to support open source while at the same time ensuring that both Windows and Office keeps a foot in the door.  It's a win-win deal for Microsoft and Novell - Microsoft gets to have a guiding hand in Linux adoption in business circles and Novell gets protection from any possible competitors.

I don't think it will take long for the open source community to respond to this deal, and my guess is that there's going to be a lot of scared developers out there who are going to have an automatically negative knee-jerk reaction to this news.  This is Microsoft entering the open source arena in a big way, and that can only mean one thing - they've seen a profit there.  Novell's SUSE now has some serious backing and that can't be good news for the other major player in the arena - Red Hat.

I expect there to be some casualties as a result of this deal.  And with that in mind it's hard to tell whether this is a good thing for Linux or not.  If you're OS agnostic and just want to get a job done, this is deal going to make life easier in the long run.

I guess time will tell.

Topic: Open Source

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  • This is not without risks for either company. For Novel, they risk being

    isolated for working with the devil. This will turn off a lot of people.

    For Microsoft, they risk making their products work too well with Linux, such that it will be easier for corporations to dump Windows, saving a ton of money, and reducing risks.

    But, this also shows the power of Linux, and that MS can no longer ignore it.
    • How so?

      How can Novell be isolated, Linux is free and ANYONE can do with it as they please. You improve the kernel, I reap the financial reward.
      • However..

        If a majority of Linux users are thus because they hate Microsoft and everything associated with it, Novell will have a hard time selling their services or getting them to use their distribution.
        Patrick Jones
        • Patrick, your zealotry is showing.

          Business doesn't give a fig about the Linux religion, they use it because it fits or they don't use it. There is no bowing to the Linux diety.
          • Very True!

            Bj?rn Lundahl
            Björn Lundahl
    • Non-sense

      I have been using Linux (RedHat) since 1999 and this will help SuSE SLED become more mainstream.

      Microsoft & Novell is a step forward, maybe they will joint venture in the future.
      Linux User 1
    • Don't you mean

      the power of Windows that Linux can no longer ignore?

      Seriously, Linux was supposed to have ousted Windows as the desktop leader by this point right?
      Now finaly realizing that will never be the case, lets work WITH Microsoft to stay alive.

      I'm sure this will help MS as remeber: MS does NOTHING unless it benifits them, correct?
      John Zern
      • I use Linux

        Novell is at the mercy of shareholders, just like every mega Corporation. They want ROI, so if it takes working with MS to get it then I would say they are going to do it.

        If they get SuSE working right, then more power to them...
        Linux User 1
      • Most of the Linux users I know (me included)

        never expected Linux to oust Windows. Maybe give it some competition and hopefully get some apps ported to Linux.
        Patrick Jones
  • Linux has been domesticated.

    It's now one more component of industry strategy for large corporations.

    And I'm looking forward to all the open source contributors who realize that the result of their contributions is an increase in profits for... (trumpets!) Microsoft.

    Couldn't happen to a nicer company. ;-)
    Anton Philidor
    • GPL caters to Corporations...

      Why not complain about RedHat, Ubuntu, Novell, and all of the others who are making millions off developers who wasted their time then to.

      This is a good deal for both, if they can get SuSE Linux SLED working right out of the box it will be a contender. For all of those complaining, this does nothing but make it legit for both.
      Linux User 1
    • They will get out of it what they put into it ...

      Thats the bottom line. The future will reveal whether this will be a blessing or a curse for MS. In order for them to maximize its potential, they will have to learn to be contributors as well as benefactors. In the world of bittorrent people use the terms 'seeds' and 'leaches'. And the system has a way of rewarding the seeds and punishing the leaches. Hopefully, MS will become a good open source citizen along with the other companies already at the table. But if they sign on and then attempt to betray the community, like SCO has done, they will face the consequences.
      George Mitchell
      • Interoperate is not the same as participate.

        Though admittedly Microsoft and Novell will assure that at least one of the commercial versions of Linux puts no impediments against Microsoft.

        Just as Oracle's action was most relevant to enterprises which had both Oracle and Red Hat, so this action will affect enterprises with mixed Microsoft and Novell software in place.

        One difference is the future, though. I'm not certain that Oracle has any great interest in spreading Red Hat's distribution or a relative. But Microsoft, which is opposing Red Hat, will be advocating for SuSE.

        The community is Novell's business. Making money is Microsoft's concern. Considering IBM's relation to Linux, it's possible for both to succeed.

        By the way, this lessens IBM's influence on Linux. That's a good biproduct.
        Anton Philidor
  • Beware software giants trying to be friendly

    I'nm not an expert on all this but I wonder what there would be to stop MS, if they wished, from MARKETING their own version of Linux if they saw it becoming popular and thus a threat to Windows. That would effectively enable them to blow all other versions of the system out of the water wouldn't it? And gouge us poor suckers whichever way we turn.

    That's what frightens me because I am considering moving to Linux to avoid having to shell out more wads of cash on Vista. But as I say, I pretty much know nothing about how this all operates so you may be able to reassure me.
    • I'm no expert.

      I just personally believe, at this point in time, It's better still to pay MS up front for your servers/clients licensing and have the ease of intergration and admin. and backing of a company that will support your config for foreseable future. That will save you either a little less or could be a lot more, when compared to a comparable open source solution. The problem is it's hard to predict total costs with open source unless your project is w/o niche needs or requirement to integrate across all server products more easily.
      Linux is best for your web server and file servers.
      That's how I stack it up right now.
      April May
    • Then move to SUSE 10.1

      It is easy to install and it looks like it might be getting easier. Try it on an old machine that you're not worried about, it costs you nothing to try.

      It is a nice, solid professional distro and it comes with lots of packages ready for installetion and a graphical installer (unles you have a really odd graphics adapter).

      My only warning would be stick it on a desktop rather than a laptop and avoid wireless as not all wireless chipset are supported out of the box due to licencing issues. Any desktop with 256Mb+ and 1+ GHz processor will turn in good performance.

      Go to

      and scroll down to the bottom. Download the ISOs your need (probably the X86 ones in the top row) and burn your installation disks. Then put disk one your CD and hard boot your way to Vista-free happiness.
      • SuSE on Laptop and choosing your distro.

        I have two Dell laptops running SuSE 10 with Wireless and next to no difficulty setting up (no more than I've ever had to deal with on Windows). When it comes to networking, SuSE is my recommendation because of the Novell branding; they've built their reputation on networking, and so far, I have not been disappointed. The kinternet app is also pretty good at getting you connected in many ways, whatever's available.

        You can get SuSE 10.0 to run on 128MB RAM, but you will need some familiarity with *nix fdisk partitioning to get the installer going (You'll need to set up a swap partition first). Short of that little oversight, there's not much to it. If you have 256+MB, SuSE is definitely my recommended choice... as of now anyway. I really have to see how this MS deal pans out. A blogger for is outright calling Novell a sellout.

        If you're light on hardware, you can try a smaller dist, such as a [url=]puppy[/url]. Just keep in mind that these are generally stripped down OS's that may be functional in running MS free, but aren't representative of a modern desktop Linux experience and often have limited hardware support.

        Here are a couple of other resources that may help you decide the best dist for you.

        [url=]Voidofmind Linux Chooser[/url]: I like this particular chooser tool. It gives you a raw x/11 match score based on raw answers.

        [url=]zGenie Linux Distro Chooser[/url]: More famous, more user friendly, but I find a disturbing inconsistency, where it will recommend Mandriva over OpenSuse because with Suse "full version is not free."

        [url=] Distro filter[/url]: This will list most all Linux distros available, filtered by your machine type and language. This is a big list, lets you read about the distros for yourself, and where available links to the distros' web page. Unlike the above choosers, this is not limited to major distros. You ought to find something for you here if the other two didn't help.
        • Another

          'Beacon of truth'! ;)
          D T Schmitz
      • Good one

        LOL. ;)
        D T Schmitz
      • SUSE 10.1 install

        I have installed SUSE on quite a few machines with absolutely NO disruption of the windows install... Personally I will be looking at other distros since MS is in bed with Novell........ I've had equally good luck with Mandrake, and find Ubuntu excellent. The risk is MINIMAL....... Anybody who hasn't tried Linux should try it....... What other OS installs quickly with a full compliment of software and is ready to go online at the end of the install?
        After getting a good distro I never looked back..... wouldn't consider windows anymore.