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|SUBJECT ||Subject: [NYLXS - HANGOUT] Community: Why Is Novell Chopping Its SUSE Linux Workstation and
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From: "Inker, Evan"
Subject: [NYLXS - HANGOUT] Community: Why Is Novell Chopping Its SUSE Linux Workstation and
Desktop Product Line?
Date: Mon, 7 Nov 2005 14:53:01 -0000
X-Mailer: Internet Mail Service (5.5.2653.19)
Community: Why Is Novell Chopping Its SUSE Linux Workstation and Desktop
Nov 4, 2005, 17 :30 UTC (80 Talkback[s]) (27863 reads)
Other stories by Kurt Pfeifle)
Opinion By Kurt Pfeifle
Why has Novell management decided to discontinue their entire SUSE Linux
branded desktop and workstation product line? Are they heading for economic
These valid questions must be asked after yesterday's proceedings of an on
site meeting at the SUSE headquarters in Nuremberg, Germany. During the
meeting, Novell management informed 200 employees about current business
plans for the company.
Recent announcements and reshuffles in the company leadership already
indicated impending cuts of staff. Some sources have guesstimated the number
being as high as 20% of the Novell workforce; overall, the company announced
that its worldwide cuts would be 600 staffers, which equates to a 10%
Novell's leadership has repeatedly and publicly stated their deep commitment
to Linux in the past 12 months over. They even put substance onto their
claims: they open-sourced (and put under the GPL) YaST, Hula, Evolution, and
more; their recent founding of the openSUSE project is heading towards
complete success; SUSE Linux 10.0 is receiving incredibly good reviews--not
least because of the particular "SUSE polish" that is applied by its
engineers to the rock-solid KDE core of its desktop.
After this week's layoff announcements, most professional IT journalists and
analysts concluded Novell would concentrate the impending cuts mostly on the
side of their traditional, money-losing business departments. I did so too.
Contrary to what was expected from recent Novell announcements, Novell
executives are apparently slicing deeply into the Linux heart of the
company. Jobs and resources are actually being slashed in several areas
previously dubbed by Novell management as "key component parts of Novell's
Linux developments": staffers working on Mono, Hula, Evolution and Desktop
Strategy are getting the sack.
SUSE customers around the world will be shocked and puzzled by this
management decision. If they feel like I do, they'll liken the recent Novell
moves to the ones we witnessed at Sun Microsystems--a management team that
doesn't know what direction they want to head and changes course every other
I grew into, and became familiar with, the Linux world as a SUSE user. SUSE
was my "first love" in the open source family. I found it to be the most
easy to learn and easy to use Linux distribution of its time--and it was a
very complete one too. I recommended SUSE to many friends, colleagues, and
even some members of my family. I had never had cause to regret this--though
I was tempted a few times to look over the fence and test drive other
distros. SUSE remained my favorite desktop distro all the time: being the
most polished and the most complete offering for my personal desktop, SUSE
was my first choice for servers too.
It appears these feelings are shared by more users. After all, SUSE Linux
won all their awards in the past years because it served as a first and
pleasant introduction into the Linux and Open Source world to many hundreds
of thousands of users around the world. They encountered Linux first in the
shape of SUSE--and, loving it, very often they tended to stay loyal for many
years to their initial Linux distro.
This loyalty is being destroyed now. Novell seems to heading for a
subscription-based, server-only product line--much like Red Hat is already
If this is the case: what will be the remaining differentiating items to
make me choose SUSE over Red Hat? Why should I use the bad copy, when I have
the same thing as an original?
As a consequence of their layoffs, Novell is also laying off one KDE core
developer employed by SUSE. But other areas will suffer even more. The
entire Evolution development team (mostly based in India) seems to be
dissolved, with only one maintainer left to keep the product breathing
(after all, there are existing Novell customers); Hula development is said
to be cut completely; Mono development is also seriously affected; what the
future holds for the NLD product remains to be seen.
The GUI requirements needed to satisfy a non-command line interface for the
remaining Novell server product line will apparently be GNOME only.
I feel sorry for SUSE. It was a great distro for Desktop usage. Even the
best, in my personal opinion. Axing and killing it is a setback for all its
users. Figures that I learned to know indicate that amongst all
openSUSE/SUSE 10.0 users there is an 85% preference of KDE for their choice
of desktop environment.
Being a KDE contributor and a KDE user since version 1.2 I also feel this is
a certainly a setback for everyone working towards Linux desktop adoption.
But it definitely is not the end of Linux desktop adoption. And it surely
will not derail KDE from its path of development.
The KDE project at large has a flat and bazaar-like structure. It is based
on a very broad and vibrant user community around the globe; undoubtedly, it
will be able to deal with this setback very efficiently.
KDE in the past steered a course of independence. While working with
commercial corporations as partners, the project has always guarded and
fostered their close links to their user community as their major source of
life. KDE has never allowed itself to become dependent on a single or a few
The developer being laid off has already stated that he keeps contributing
to KDE. KDE's imminent 3.5 release is not affected at all; development for
4.0 continues full speed; KDE-specific support for exciting new technologies
is in the pipeline (see, for example, the upcoming EXA extension for the X11
window system); and porting of important KDE applications such as the
groupware client Kontact and the music player amaroK to the Windows platform
are gaining momentum.
KDE's acceptance in the broad market continues to grow--as is also
demonstrated by the fact that some of its core technologies have been
adopted as key components in new commercial products by Apple, Google, and
Given that there soon may not be a SUSE desktop distribution any more, looks
like I need to switch distro: to Kubuntu, maybe?
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