What should we think about mixed source?

What should we think about mixed source?

Summary: Enterprise analysts are cheering Novell's delivery of a "mixed source" solution. It's an application stack combining the JBoss open source application server, the proprietary Oracle database with its Real Application Clusters, and Novell's own SUSE Linux, all running on H-P hardware.

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TOPICS: Open Source
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Enterprise analysts are cheering Novell's delivery of a "mixed source" solution.

It's an application stack combining the JBoss open source application server, the proprietary Oracle database with its Real Application Clusters, and Novell's own SUSE Linux, all running on H-P hardware.

Analysts assume enterprises demand support and a guarantee that the parts they buy will work together well. Novell has tested this combination through its Validated Configuration Program and says everything is A-OK. It will ship in the third quarter.

There's a lot riding on this. Novell's old networking business is drying up like Utah after a spring shower (yes I know they're now based in Massachusetts), and the company was back to its money-losing ways in the last quarter.

The ZDNet UK story on the loss surrounds a Microsoft ad, and I'm sure the irony was unintentional. But it does bring up a key point, namely Microsoft's continuing inroads in the enterprise space.

What should set off alarm bells on Cath Everett's piece about the new offering is how the analysts were sharply disagreeing on where this bundle would play best. Some said large organizations will use it to consolidate their open source assets. Others said medium-sized businesses, Novell's traditional bread-and-butter, will lead the way here.

Personally I don't know what to think. Novell has bet the company on Enterprise Linux, and this is a key event in its history. On the other hand I know Linux purists are not going to be happy seeing their Penguin thrown into a proprietary zoo.

The real question should be, does it deliver value? Will it give more trouble free service, with more data, for less money than the alternatives? And if you do buy into this, what sort of desktops are you going to run under it?

How much of Linux' future is riding on Novell's shoulders anyway? If the company failed would that significantly damage the Linux cause? 

I tend to doubt it. Customers like consistency, and Novell has re-invented itself more times over the years than Madonna. Even if this is the right move will it be seen as genuine, something customers can bet their own futures on, or as just another extreme makeover?

Yeah. Time will tell.

Topic: Open Source

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22 comments
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  • I get it now - for Open Source more complexity is the key, right?

    So instead of having an HP server running with HP 'Nix - NOW I can have an HP servier running with Novell Suse Linux. Great. So when it goes down, whereas before it was one call - now it's two - one to HP, one to Novell.

    Gotcha - thanks but no thanks. In this case IBM makes more sense - they supply both the hardware AND the OS (but I'd still stay with either a HP or Sun 'nix for Oracle).
    quietLee
    • Well..

      you would have to do the same if you were running Windows or Netware. However, we have a service contract that covers both the hardware and the software - so I only have to make one call.
      Patrick Jones
      • Can you tell me who that contract is with?

        Just whisper it, as Connie Chung said. Just between us.

        Actually I think this is the way it works for many of us. And I suspect that either Novell or H-P will take the "one call" under this bundle.
        DanaBlankenhorn
    • Good Point, Lee

      That may be the case for enterprise Linux customers. But if that's the case, would Novell be a great loss? That's what I still want to know.

      Your opinion on that is solicited. I'm sure you have wisdom on offer.
      DanaBlankenhorn
      • Leading question...

        What if [...insert any proprietary company X...] failed? Would that spell the end of proprietary closed source??? Obviously not. A lot of proprietary closed source companies have failed since the dot-com bubble collapsed. For that matter, so have a bunch of linux companies. So what?

        If Novell goes under, there's always Redhat and others. I'm sure IBM would be willing to provide paid support if you were willing to pay them. That applies not only to big business, but down to small businesses, who can be served by private consultants on an as-needed basis.
        Knorthern Knight
    • not really

      they work together pretty close.

      just like if you buy a Dell with Windows, you can call just dell for Windows support.

      If you buy a Dell with Redhat Linux.. you call Dell for support, but you may end up talking to redhat employees, but you dont have to call them directly as Dell and Redhat are set up to support what is sold.

      You can also buy an IBM with SuSE Linux installed also... Not sure why you would want the people who make the software and hardware the same company, as long as you can get the support easily
      doh123
    • How support works...

      Lee,

      You obviously don't work for a major corporation who buys lots of Intel hardware. Support is offered directly from the hardware provider and is included in the cost of the server. For example if I buy a Red Hat or SuSE Linux machine from IBM, HP or Dell...I pay for the cost of the server and the operating system. I also get 3 years of hardware/software support included. The hardware provider provides level 1 and level 2 support and the software provider gives level 3 support for O/S related questions.

      I have a friend that works at Dell in support who told me of the thousands of calls they took on Linux last year - only 12 needed to be escalated to level 3. The story of integrated support is the same for enterprise Windows.
      lewin_dave@...
  • Who is this "we" you speak of?

    Just curious who "we" is in this article?
    No_Ax_to_Grind
  • The way it has to be

    Companies aren't beholden to the "software libre" ethos of Stallman and his followers. They will use products based on cost/benefit analysis, and that will naturally lead to a mixed solution.

    No enterprise in existence maintains a pure software libre environment. Novell's offering merely concedes that point, and helps those companies maintain that mixed environment.
    John Carroll
    • Common sense should prevail

      JC is right in that for the corporation, time is money. There is a difference between setting up your home machine, for which tinkering is a geek labor of love, and having to set up 500 or more boxes in the enterprise.

      For-profit distros should be charging only for the value they add, not the work of the volunteer community. Competition in the marketplace is good here. If support is lacking, someone else can step in and offer something better take advantage of the opportunity.

      On the other hand, some of the open source nutbars should get off their high horse and realize that the enterprise wants functionality, stability, performance and they want it fast; they do not care is its FOSS or not.
      praetorpal@...
      • You ignore that OSS has value in and of itself

        And that is access to the source code. If you say that corps don't care about that, then you are incorrect. Most software houses that provide closed solutions must provide escrowed source, so that if they go out of business, or do not honor their service contracts, they get the source code. Clients pay signifigant amounts for this; OSS provides it free.
        imric_z
  • Mixed source (ala Novell SuSE, Red Hat) is exploitation...

    SuSE, Red Hat, et all, basically take all the free stuff, write a closed-source installer routine, and then sell it for exorbitant amounts of money and offer laughable "free service and support". Novell's "free" support is about the most limited of anything I've ever seen and, having used them once myself, figured out the problem LONG BEFORE they got back to me saying how they don't cover this because that is beyond what they cover for free, or any other excuse they could conjur up despite not reading my message fully. (they also repeated the procedure I had told them as being the fix for my problem, even though I said it didn't work to resolve the remaining problem at hand!!) Their site didn't specify their costs for support, but they did say they sell it in 20 minute blocks. TWENTY MINUTES?! Being a tech in the Windows arena myself, a problem can be from 2 seconds to 2 days depending on complexity or other issues involved. 20 minutes, unless it's 1.1 PENNIES PER MINUTE, is going to be overpriced. Excuse me while I laugh until I pee my pants.

    I doubt I'll be buying SuSE 9.4 or 10.0 or whatever. Not under the "free support" circumstances they told me about. That alone is extortion. And when I can fix the problem myself when looking, which in the end only gives me more knowledge and experience, I can't lose either way. There's also a new distro called Ubuntu Linux. THAT is how Linux ought to be. (society too.)

    Many people volunteer in making Linux. That is the concept. That is how society should be. But, once a big brand name comes along and finds a way to profit it from it, they'll do it. It's been the same all throughout history; exploitation or slavery. Except this time people once gave it away in good faith. And THAT is why Linux will ultimately die. I would not want to program just so some big-name company or two can make gross sums of money off of my work. Not when they couldn't care less if I lost my job and died in the gutter as a "thank you" for doing all of that programming work for them.

    Sorry, "mixed source" is a total joke.

    And the saddest part is, I use and love Linux. And I was once happy with Novell taking it over. Not any more. Not when I could bamboozle their support staff and not when their "90 days of free support" is hidden to an obscure web page going into grandiose detail as to what is and is not covered. (an example: Video resolutions up to only 1024x768x16-bit are supported. They will NOT help you with a dual-boot installation... if you explain in detail a problem, they will then try to get YOU to pay for the support, even though the problem is clearly a software bug and not user error. Since when does changing a screen resolution require one going into the SysConfig editor to replace the original login menu GUI? Never. I never had to do that before, not from versions 7.0 through 9.2 and all the little dot-numbers inbetween. And as SuSE incorporates a LOT of non-open-source components pertaining to installation and configuration, you bet it's their problem. And no customer should be paying for their mistake. Not in this world.)
    HypnoToad
    • hmmm

      actually Novell has opensourced YaST, the installer part and everything...

      Ive found a few buggy issues in version 9.3, like sometimes changing resolutions around sysconfig changes to xdm instead of kdm... but its easy to fix.

      I dont pay them for my OS just for the support, its quicker to find support at google.com. I pay them because they give me a great package doing everything i want to do very user friendly, and my money is going to help support making future versions.

      I had the upgrade version of 9.3 which does NOT come with full support, and was obvious to me before i bought it. it comes with 90 days of installtion support, just installation support, not full support for everything.
      doh123
      • got a ?? for you

        drop me a line at linuxuser147560@yahoo.com please. I run SuSE 9.3 and would like to compare some notes with you... if you don't mind.
        Linux User 147560
    • Just about right.

      Great paragraph:

      Many people volunteer in making Linux. That is the concept. That is how society should be. But, once a big brand name comes along and finds a way to profit it from it, they'll do it. It's been the same all throughout history; exploitation or slavery. Except this time people once gave it away in good faith. And THAT is why Linux will ultimately die. I would not want to program just so some big-name company or two can make gross sums of money off of my work. Not when they couldn't care less if I lost my job and died in the gutter as a "thank you" for doing all of that programming work for them.


      The only idea I'd ask you to rethink is that society and commerce should be based on volunteer efforts. Money doesn't go just to companies; it also goes to you and your family.
      Anton Philidor
    • You contradict yourself...

      ---"Many people VOLUNTEER in making Linux. That is the concept. That is how society SHOULD BE."---


      You say people volunteer and then turn around and say that is how everyone should be. Volunteer means I decide what I do, not you. When you force someone to something they are not a volunteer. In fact they have a name for them, its called slaves.

      Look, you don't like the fact companies that pay salaries need to make a buck ok, don't use their products I guess. You seem to have everything under complete control anyhow.

      Tell ya what, if your truly convinced your way is better get some like minded folks together, build a distro and give it away. Seems simple enough to me and I'm certain you'll have no problem getting volunteers...
      No_Ax_to_Grind
    • SuSE lose-SE

      THe commercialization of a linux distro usually ruins its reputation as a leader. I used DeadRat for years, until they stopped providing a free, downloadable version. I then looked around and decided that Mandrake was the best distro for me. Subsequentially, DeadRat DID come out with Fedora - but too little, too late in my book.

      SuSE was known as a good ENGINEERING distro. Everything worked, and SuSE was responsive in making improvements. Enter Novell, and SuSE becomes just another kidnap victim in the corporate world.

      I just loaded the first Mandriva distro (2005 LE), and was very UNIMPRESSED! My x86_64 machine COULDN'T COMPILE ANYTHING - it was VERY annoying to say the least. There were random freezes and freezes on the shutdown. If this is what Mandrake envisioned when they acquired Connectiva, then they had BLINDERS on. I may be shopping for a new distro (NEVER Debian, maybe Gentoo).
      Roger Ramjet
    • OSS will not die for that reason.

      It's not about free-as-in-beer. Most programmers are not shrink-wrap software developers; they are not even a large percentage of the developer population.

      No, most developers are involved in customising software, or developing new software on top of an existing base. OSS makes that task easier. It does not threaten software development as a profession AT ALL.
      imric_z
  • Assertion:

    Because of the ability to work with applications by other companies, there are two main distributions of Linux for corporations; Red Hat and SuSE.

    If this is true, then the loss of SuSE would have a significant impact.
    Anton Philidor
  • I don't know.

    Is it ABILITY to work with limited distributions, or simply narrowing thier support options? Distros can be replaced.
    imric_z