Novell/Microsoft agreement: FUD and reasoning

Ever since the Novell/Microsoft agreement was announced I have been looking at reactions in the press and from various blogs and sites like Slashdot and digg. A lot of the “analysis” I see is paranoid speculation, and an unfortunate example of the ugly side of the open source community. Don’t get me wrong, I have been a member of that community for over five years and I love this industry dearly. However, sometimes our paranoia goes a little too far. Groklaw was a great site to visit for information on the SCO debacle, but I think PJ’s ego has outgrown her abilities and clouded her analysis. She posted an article yesterday titled “Novell ‘Forking’” where she goes on to announce that Novell is producing, “…a Novell edition of and it will support Microsoft OpenXML.” In her “expert” opinion the proof that Novell is forking is the opening line of the press release:

Novell today announced that the Novell® edition of the office productivity suite will now support the Office Open XML format…

I’m not sure she ever read past that line, perhaps to see critical information such as:

The translators will be made available as plug-ins to Novell’s product. Novell will release the code to integrate the Open XML format into its product as open source and submit it for inclusion in the project.

Nor, did she seem to do any research to see that the “Novell Edition of” has existed since the release of Novell Linux Desktop 9, and exists only because we have added functionality that Sun has not yet accepted into the upstream PJ goes on to quip:

The default will be ODF, they claim, but note that the subheading mentions OpenXML instead

Ummmm…. and that means… what? She then goes on a rant about how evil Novell is, and further quips about our corporate tag line. PJ and others seem to be spreading fear, uncertainty and doubt (FUD) that is often based purely on speculation and ignorance. This can only serve to hurt Linux and open source, and it is sad for me to watch.

However, amidst all this FUD there are quite a few commenters, bloggers and journalists whom inject some much needed reason. For instance, most of the comments on PJ’s post point out that there is no indication that Novell is forking, that it is not unusual (and is actually common) for a Linux distribution to include a software package that differs from the upstream version, and that the Novell Edition of has existed for quite some time.

A longtime user of SUSE Linux (and former Ximian customer), whom bought every version of SUSE Linux since 6.4, wrote me the other day to point out what he found was a disturbing analysis of the Novell/Microsoft agreement. He said he was worried that SUSE Linux would suffer the same fate as Corel Linux, so he was going to make sure he was familiar with another Linux distribution to prepare for that eventuality. Please don’t take this as disloyalty. He really is a devoted fan and strong advocate of SUSE Linux, but the “expert analysis” he read lead him to believe his beloved Linux distribution of choice would soon be crushed by the Evil Empire ™. I wrote a lengthy response to him to hopefully allay his fears and bring some levity to the situation, and today he sent me a link to another article. Pete,

The above e-article from network collaborates really well with your previous e-mail nearly word for word.

It is good to see an article that doesn’t deride this agreement, and evaluates it on business reasoning. The author also brushes aside the tumult of comments foretelling the demise of Linux at the hands of Novell, and addresses at least some of the comments he feels (and I agree) are unfounded. Good to see some positive comments coming from mainstream press. Now have any of these links made it to Slashdot or digg?

Does it matter if Vista makes an impact?

This should have been posted last week. Forgot to take it out of draft mode. :-/

I just read an article by John Dvorak entitled, “Will Vista make an impact?” It seems the real question is, “…does it really matter?” Dvorak writes this long article about how boring Vista is and how Microsoft really hasn’t put much effort into promoting Vista. Then at the end he says, “… Eventually this will settle down and we’ll all be using Vista…” Which basically means it doesn’t matter how boring Vista is or how much effort Microsoft puts into promoting it. The sad fact is that people will buy it anyway.

What does this say about the computer operating system industry? Because Microsoft has such a stranglehold on the desktop market they have absolutely no motivation to improve their product. It seems they only do so to marginally satisfy their critics that at least they are doing something.

I ran Vista for a couple of days because I wanted to see what great things they had done. Ok, that’s a lie.. I wanted to see if it actually ran on my three-year-old laptop. It worked fine, but there was nothing really compelling, and in fact some stuff was just annoying.