Novell may be evangelizing Linux and Open Office on the desktop, but more
than half of its own employees can still boot Microsoft Windows and Office if
Ron Hovsepian, Novell's president, speaking at a press event in Sydney, said
that "about 2,000 employees right now out of 5,000 are single-boot only, which
is Linux only, the rest are dual-boot." He said that a project to migrate the
3,000 dual-boot workers to open source is likely to be completed over the next
year or so.
The shift from Microsoft Windows and Office to the open-source software was
first mooted in March 2004, when Novell Chief Information Officer Debra Anderson
was handed the task.
At the time, Anderson said she hoped most of Novell's staff would have moved
to Linux and the OpenOffice.org office suite by mid-2005.
Hovsepian's remarks indicate Novell will have at most a few months'
experience as a complete Linux and open-source desktop shop behind it when,
according to the company's predictions, the software starts taking off in the
mainstream. He told CNET News.com on Friday that Linux
on the desktop would start taking off over the next 12 to 18 months, with
the scheduled mid-2006 release of Suse Linux Desktop 10 being one of the factors
However, while Hovsepian stressed that Novell was "in the process of
finishing the migration right now," and Anderson acknowledged back in 2004 that
the numbers would never be clear-cut because of dual-booting scenarios, the
lengthy time frame required raises questions about the practical challenges for
businesses examining a move to desktop Linux and open-source software.
Hovsepian said in Sydney that Novell's desktop
Linux implementation had been missing some of the pieces businesses needed,
but said version 10 of the software would help the market for desktop Linux adoption.
Regarding his company's own Linux migration, Hovsepian said it had learned a
lot from the implementation and had overcome challenges involving, for example,
porting macros from Microsoft Office to OpenOffice.org.
"We've had actually very good success with it," he said. "We learned a lot
about migration tools, learned a lot about what the usability pieces are."