Re: [SLUG] Novell's CTO Blog

From: Daniel Jarboe (
Date: Mon Apr 03 2006 - 23:06:47 EDT

Thanks for the link John. Like Ken, I was disappointed by the first
half. While Jeff does have an excuse of sorts for it ("This first
posting has been long on thoughts, philosophy, and opinions. Next
posting will get into the facts of the new desktop from Novell."), it
really was a disgustingly weak start. Leading the entry with more
ideas along the lines of the: "Our team that is building SUSE Linux
Enterprise Desktop 10 is a small team that leverages the efforts of
thousands of developers that work on dozens of different Open Source
projects" rather than general notions of how Jeff doesn't like Windows
would have helped get this off to a better start.

And I see he did take a moment to imitate Sun blogs a bit. The
average years of experience for 58% of participants is 11? What's up
with statistics like that?

Anyway, despite the shortcomings, you guys probably gained more ground
than you lost in this particular entry (narrowly) thanks to bonus
points for initiating this form of openness. Jeff seemed to make a
decent effort to define Novell's position in the world. I imagine a
wide range of people, from investors to open source contributors
appreciate Jeff attempting to clarify this position. I'm curious to
see how the next entry compares.

About half way through, Jeff does address the largest obstacle to
competing with Microsoft on the desktop.

"With Windows having such a huge market share advantage over OS/2,
there was simply no interest." and "There was no alternative in terms
of breadth and popularity. And soon, there was no alternative in terms
of capability."

It's unfortunate this shortcoming was not among the six areas Jeff
stated that Novell could be useful to the open community. Maybe he is
hoping IBM, HP, or one of Microsoft's other competitors backing Linux
will do it for him? Really, his sentence following the six areas
nearly undermines the earlier accolades he had given the open source
community and development model.

So Jeff says Novell will be useful by: Participating, Integrating,
Selecting, Completing, Distributing, and Supporting. "To achieve all
of this requires a company." Though there is definitely truth in
this, his particular wording almost seemed to imply the OSS community
model is doomed to failure... at least a failure to meet Novell's
objectives on its own. Well this should come as no surprise since the
objectives of the software community/projects Novell is utilizing are
not 100% aligned with the objectives of Novell itself . But it is
true, integration among disparate projects (often including several
efforts with the same general purpose) tends to be very weak.
However, this weakness feeds the open community's strength: innovation
and technically great software. Depending on your goals, this
weakness can manifest itself as a great strength.

I don't know if Jeff is guiding Novell and Novell's interaction with
open communities largely motivated by anti-Microsoft sentiment and
heavy emotion from the OS/2 era, or if his shots at Microsoft were
taken because he feels that is the way to win the support of the
community. Hopefully neither is true, or maybe now he's got it out of
his system. It is unlikely to benefit him or Novell to have his eyes
blurred/colored by such negative emotion.

I'm glad he wrote it, I just wonder how many people he rubbed the
wrong way. Still, outlining an honest position to the OSS community
is more useful to it than saying nothing.

This went on a lot longer than I expected. Go Gators!
~ Daniel

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