Microsoft ‘Has Acknowledged The Enterprise Role Of Linux’

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Three years on from Microsoft’s deal with Novell, the real importance is coming through, says Novell’s OpenSUSE community manager, Joe Brockmeier

When Novell and Microsoft signed a deal to support Windows and Linux in the enterprise, it caused a furore. Three years on, the deal shows that Microsoft really does acknowledge the value of Linux in the enterprise – at least that’s the view from the OpenSUSE community.

All open source projects have a community attached to them, and for SUSE Linux Enterprise the community version is OpenSUSE, whose community is managed by Joe “Zonker” Brockmeier.

“Community Manager is a misnomer,” Brockmeier admits, however. “It’s kind of like saying ‘cat manager’. I manage some of the events around the OpenSUSE community – for example the OpenSUSE conference, and things like the budget for any promotions around OpenSUSE.”

Most open source projects with corporate interests, like OpenSUSE OpenIngres or OpenOffice, have community managers, either officially or unoffically, he says, but their aims may differ. “Novell has the goal of increasing community participation,” he says, “but Firefox, for instance, focuses very heavily on increasing the user base – and contributors.”

The deal: Microsoft has acknowledged Linux

When Novell and Microsoft signed a support deal three years ago there was vocal criticism of Novell – but Brockmeier reckons that it has come good, showing a real change of direction for Microsoft. “It’s much less of an issue now than it was three years ago,” he says.


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“If you go back and look at what was written about the deal at the time, at what was trying to predict what would happen, it has been wildly inaccurate,” he says.

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At the time Brockmeier’s role didn’t exist, and thanks to poor communications from Novell, people with a negative view of the deal “carried the day”, even though plenty of people supported it. “Even Eben Moglen [Columbia law professor and founder of the Software Freedom Law Center] approved of the deal and said it was compliant with the GPLv2 licence agreement.”

[ Update: Joe Brockmeier has withdrawn this remark, saying “Eben is not a strong supporter of the deal”. ]

“Novell was the first company to get Microsoft to acknowledge Linux as a contender in the market – and the effect of that has been under-rated,” says Brockmeier. “Do you remember the way Microsoft used to talk about Linux? In that dismissive fashion?”

“Once you get to the point where Microsoft feels the need to deliver Linux to its customers, you have a huge tacit acknowledgement that Linux is suitable for the enterprise,” he says. “That’s an enormous thing that I don’t think Novell has gotten enough credit for.”

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