Novell woos Red Hat developers

The extension of the openSuse development environment allows apps and other software to be written for rival Linux distributions, including Red Hat Enterprise Linux

Novell has extended a set of development tools so they can be used to write applications and other software for rival Linux distributions, including Red Hat Enterprise Linux and CentOS.

Novell announced earlier this week that its openSuse Build Service development tool, which already supports Novell's openSuse variations, Ubuntu and Debian, among others, will now support software from Red Hat, Novell's main competitor and the leader in enterprise Linux, and CentOS, a free "clone" of Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL).

OpenSuse Build Services is used by around 4,000 developers, and is evolving into a complete software development and collaboration environment, according to Andreas Jaeger, director of openSuse platforms at Novell. He said Novell "hadn't thought" about whether this would increase the flow of applications to either operating system, to the benefit of either Red Hat or Novell. 

"As its name suggests, the openSuse project is committed to choice and opposed to the exclusion of innovation simply because it may have originated in another project," said Michael Loeffler, openSuse product manager at Novell. Novell wants to improve collaboration with all Linux developers and spread ideas quickly through the open-source community, added Loeffler.

OpenSuse is a community project, consisting of a set of tools and websites, created by Novell with the intention of promoting the use of Linux, the company has claimed.

Although there is a high degree of compatibility between Linux versions, developers can be hampered by differences that mean packages created for one distribution will not work on other versions.

Novell originally created the Build Services system to help programmers package software for different versions of openSuse, and extended it so programmers could create packages for different Linux versions from the same source code. It uses the system-imaging tool Kiwi.

"We are adding full support for building packages for all popular distributions directly at," said Francis Giannaros, a member of the independent openSuse board. "The addition of RHEL and CentOS as build targets further emphasises the commitment of the openSuse Build Service to flexibility."

Even Red Hat welcomed the development: "Novell's announcement appears to be a positive step in making it easier for community members to build applications for multiple Linux distributions. Expanding the service to support Fedora, RHEL and CentOS should have obvious value for developers and end users alike," said Brian Stevens, chief technology officer and vice president of engineering at Red Hat.