The Desktop Linux movement is not about the operating system.
It's not just about the applications either. Its advance depends on compatibility, not replacing Windows but building around it, on top of it. On dealing with it.
Every few months, while Jack Messman ran Novell, I'd get a call from a nice PR person inviting me to an interview, where I would be told, once again, "this is the year of desktop Linux." See how easy it is, how simple to install, see the applications.
And then, nothing. Or not very much anyway. So now Messman is out, and Ron Hovsepian (left) is in. Meet the new boss. Is he the same as the old boss?.
Messman bet a substantial part of Novell's credibility and marketing budget selling something that could not happen. Not the way he was pursuing it.
What might work? Something like the Eclipse Rich Client Platform is a start. It lets software vendors and enterprises build native Java applications that run seamlessly on any operating system -- on Linux, on Mac OS X, on Windows. As David Berlind reports, Ubuntu is another way, a localized Linux that speaks the user's language.
Dealing with a user's reality is the only way forward. Novell can't afford any more choruses of "meet the new boss, same as the old boss."
No big enterprise is going to dump their investment in Windows desktops wholesale and replace them with Linux. It must be done slowly, seamlessly, compatibly.
Once again, under Jack Messman, Novell has lost time, lost money, lost credibility, lost mindshare. There is not much left for Hovsepian to work with. Hopefully he will use what he has left to look at Linux from the customer's point of view, and the user's point of view.
That's the only point of view that counts. Novell's point of view does not count at all.