Microsoft loves SUSE Linux (true!)

Sux to be Red Hat right now


The bad news is raining thick and fast on Red Hat, the dominant Linux distro, what with Oracle last week seeking to undermine its server revenues, and Microsoft today seeking to undermine, its customer base, anointing Novell's SUSE as its Linux distro-in-waiting.

Top executives from Microsoft and Novell convened in San Francisco today to proclaim a landmark deal that sees the companies improve interoperability between Windows and SUSE Enterprise Linux Server (SLES) on virtualization, Microsoft's Active Directory and Novell's eDirectory, and Microsoft Office and OpenOffice XML formats on the desktop.

Microsoft will also promote SLES where customers pick Windows over Linux or decide to run Linux alongside Windows - a move clearly designed to exclude Red Hat from accounts. Microsoft sales staff will distribute 70,000 coupons for SLES.

Furthermore, Microsoft will not prosecute developers and users of SLES over possible infringements of its intellectual property (IP) in SLES. A special Microsoft covenant will cover non-commercial developers and those contributing code to SLES.

At today's conference, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer made it clear that Novell is Microsoft's preferred Linux partner. "We want those customers who are coming to Windows and Linux to chose the Novell SUSE product line, and we are going to put our marketing behind that."

Highlighting the importance of the IP covenant to SUSE customers and developers, Microsoft general counsel Brad Smith said: "Novell is the only company in our industry that is able to provide customers with the code to run Linux, the service and support and also the patent covenant from Microsoft."

IP protection is unlikely to be the only factor in the minds of Windows customers when picking Linux, but will be a big plus that pushes them towards SUSE and pulls them away from Red Hat. "As of today, Novell is the only Linux vendor whose tackling interoperability, patent and the other issue that are really important to our customers," Ballmer said.

Faustian pact

Ron Hovsepian, Novell's CEO, apparently called on Microsoft in April by first contacting Microsoft COO Kevin Turner. The price of his Faustian pact? Novell pays an undisclosed royalty to Microsoft amount based on a percentage of revenues until at least 2012 - the deal's expected lifespan. Financial details were not revealed although Hovsepian said Microsoft is putting an "impressive" amount of its own money into the deal. Ballmer sees "upside" for both businesses.

He sidestepped the question of whether Microsoft would consider a similar deal with Red Hat. He said Microsoft had been in discussion with "a number of players in the industry", but "Ron called and had some ideas about what he wanted to with mixed [open and "proprietary"] source." Hovsepian's thinking "dovetails with what we're thinking about," Ballmer said.

The deal will no doubt be welcomed by many for helping open source because it protects developers from the possibility of IP litigation at the hands of Microsoft. Equally, it will dismay many Open Source advocates: Novell is open to the charge that it is protecting its own interests rather than working with others to safeguard the community as a whole from prosecution by big-name IP holders like Microsoft.

With a few exceptions, Microsoft these days wants to be everyone's friends. Red Hat is one of those few exceptions, so for Microsoft the deal with makes perfect sense if only to help out my enemy's enemy. Novell may be a long-time enemy, but new-time enemy Red Hat presents a much more formidable threat.

For Novell, today's deal is quite the turn-around. Microsoft was an unhealthy obsession for Ray Noorda, Novell's longstanding CEO, who frittered hundreds of millions on buying WordPerfect, in a fruitless attempt to take the fight to the company to the desktops.

Novell's glory days are long gone, and its new new thing, basing a Linux business around SuSE, acquired in 2003, has not taken wing. It would not surprise us if Microsoft is better than Novell at selling SUSE software. ®


Other stories you might like

  • Chip shortage forces temporary Raspberry Pi 4 price rise for the first time

    Ten-buck increase for 2GB model 'not here to stay' says Upton

    The price of a 2GB Raspberry Pi 4 single-board computer is going up $10, and its supply is expected to be capped at seven million devices this year due to the ongoing global chip shortage.

    Demand for components is outstripping manufacturing capacity at the moment; pre-pandemic, assembly lines were being red-lined as cloud giants and others snapped up parts fresh out of the fabs, and the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak really threw a spanner in the works, so to speak, exacerbating the situation.

    Everything from cars to smartphones have been affected by semiconductor supply constraints, including Raspberry Pis, it appears. Stock is especially tight for the Raspberry Pi Zero and the 2GB Raspberry Pi 4 models, we're told. As the semiconductor crunch shows no signs of letting up, the Raspberry Pi project is going to bump up the price for one particular model.

    Continue reading
  • Uncle Sam to clip wings of Pegasus-like spyware – sorry, 'intrusion software' – with proposed export controls

    Surveillance tech faces trade limits as America syncs policy with treaty obligations

    More than six years after proposing export restrictions on "intrusion software," the US Commerce Department's Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) has formulated a rule that it believes balances the latitude required to investigate cyber threats with the need to limit dangerous code.

    The BIS on Wednesday announced an interim final rule that defines when an export license will be required to distribute what is basically commercial spyware, in order to align US policy with the 1996 Wassenaar Arrangement, an international arms control regime.

    The rule [PDF] – which spans 65 pages – aims to prevent the distribution of surveillance tools, like NSO Group's Pegasus, to countries subject to arms controls, like China and Russia, while allowing legitimate security research and transactions to continue. Made available for public comment over the next 45 days, the rule is scheduled to be finalized in 90 days.

    Continue reading
  • Global IT spending to hit $4.5 trillion in 2022, says Gartner

    The future's bright, and expensive

    Corporate technology soothsayer Gartner is forecasting worldwide IT spending will hit $4.5tr in 2022, up 5.5 per cent from 2021.

    The strongest growth is set to come from enterprise software, which the analyst firm expects to increase by 11.5 per cent in 2022 to reach a global spending level of £670bn. Growth has fallen slightly, though. In 2021 it was 13.6 per cent for this market segment. The increase was driven by infrastructure software spending, which outpaced application software spending.

    The largest chunk of IT spending is set to remain communication services, which will reach £1.48tr next year, after modest growth of 2.1 per cent. The next largest category is IT services, which is set to grow by 8.9 per cent to reach $1.29tr over the next year, according to the analysts.

    Continue reading
  • Memory maker Micron moots $150bn mega manufacturing moneybag

    AI and 5G to fuel demand for new plants and R&D

    Chip giant Micron has announced a $150bn global investment plan designed to support manufacturing and research over the next decade.

    The memory maker said it would include expansion of its fabrication facilities to help meet demand.

    As well as chip shortages due to COVID-19 disruption, the $21bn-revenue company said it wanted to take advantage of the fact memory and storage accounts for around 30 per cent of the global semiconductor industry today.

    Continue reading
  • China to allow overseas investment in VPNs but Beijing keeps control of the generally discouraged tech

    Foreign ownership capped at 50%

    After years of restricting the use and ownership of VPNs, Beijing has agreed to let foreign entities hold up to a 50 per cent stake in domestic VPN companies.

    China has simultaneously a huge market and strict rules for VPNs as the country's Great Firewall attempts to keep its residents out of what it deems undesirable content and influence, such as Facebook or international news outlets.

    And while VPN technology is not illegal per se (it's just not practical for multinationals and other entities), users need a licence to operate one.

    Continue reading
  • Microsoft unveils Android apps for Windows 11 (for US users only)

    Windows Insiders get their hands on the Windows Subsystem for Android

    Microsoft has further teased the arrival of the Windows Subsystem for Android by detailing how the platform will work via a newly published document for Windows Insiders.

    The document, spotted by inveterate Microsoft prodder "WalkingCat" makes for interesting reading for developers keen to make their applications work in the Windows Subsystem for Android (WSA).

    WSA itself comprises the Android OS based on the Android Open Source Project 1.1 and, like the Windows Subsystem for Linux, runs in a virtual machine.

    Continue reading
  • Software Freedom Conservancy sues TV maker Vizio for GPL infringement

    Companies using GPL software should meet their obligations, lawsuit says

    The Software Freedom Conservancy (SFC), a non-profit which supports and defends free software, has taken legal action against Californian TV manufacturer Vizio Inc, claiming "repeated failures to fulfill even the basic requirements of the General Public License (GPL)."

    Member projects of the SFC include the Debian Copyright Aggregation Project, BusyBox, Git, GPL Compliance Project for Linux Developers, Homebrew, Mercurial, OpenWrt, phpMyAdmin, QEMU, Samba, Selenium, Wine, and many more.

    The GPL Compliance Project is described as "comprised of copyright holders in the kernel, Linux, who have contributed to Linux under its license, the GPLv2. These copyright holders have formally asked Conservancy to engage in compliance efforts for their copyrights in the Linux kernel."

    Continue reading
  • DRAM, it stacks up: SK hynix rolls out 819GB/s HBM3 tech

    Kit using the chips to appear next year at the earliest

    Korean DRAM fabber SK hynix has developed an HBM3 DRAM chip operating at 819GB/sec.

    HBM3 (High Bandwidth Memory 3) is a third generation of the HBM architecture which stacks DRAM chips one above another, connects them by vertical current-carrying holes called Through Silicon Vias (TSVs) to a base interposer board, via connecting micro-bumps, upon which is fastened a processor that accesses the data in the DRAM chip faster than it would through the traditional CPU socket interface.

    Seon-yong Cha, SK hynix's senior vice president for DRAM development, said: "Since its launch of the world's first HBM DRAM, SK hynix has succeeded in developing the industry's first HBM3 after leading the HBM2E market. We will continue our efforts to solidify our leadership in the premium memory market."

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2021