Suse founder returns to Novell

Hubert Mantel is back developing Linux, a year after walking out

The co-founder of Suse has returned to the company just one year after he resigned.

Hubert Mantel rejoined Novell this month, where he is heading up the kernel quality assurance team. Novell acquired Suse in 2003.

Mantel's appointment marks a significant U-turn, because his departure was not on the best of terms. In an email sent at the time of his departure, Mantel fumed: "This is no longer the company I founded 13 years ago."

Mantel's message now seems to have changed. In an interview with Data Manager Online, an Italian news site, he was asked why he left Novell. He replied: "Basically, I was just burned out. After many years that consisted of nothing else than work and some unpleasant experiences with our investors, it didn't take very much to throw in the towel."

But few would argue with Mantell's comments that Novell has changed significantly, and this year has been no exception. Novell signed a deal with Microsoft in November to co-market each other's solutions, a partnership which has faced scorn from many senior members of the open-source community.

Mantel says he supports the deal. "I think it is a good thing, especially for the users," he said in the interview. "I understand that many people don't like it as Novell is collaborating with the 'evil empire'. But I don't like this way of thinking".

"Fundamentalism always leads to pain. What's important is that Linux is free and will remain to be free," Mantel said.

Mantel is well known for developing SLS and Slackware, two of the earliest Linux distributions, on which Suse is based.

Novell made another appointment on Wednesday with the appointment of a European president. Volker Smid was promoted internally from his previous position as general manager for Central Europe.