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Torvalds on Novell: "You Guys Can Maybe Be the Next Big Thing in Linux"

Torvalds on Novell: "You Guys Can Maybe Be the Next Big Thing in Linux"

"Novell is back!" declared CEO Jack Messman as he opened his company's 20th annual techfest, BrainShare, at the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City, Utah, yesterday.

He was joined as part of the opening keynote by Linus Torvalds, who in a question and answer session showed himself to be as concerned as ever with the possible conflict between patents and progress, saying:

"Software patents, where nontechnical issues can be used to stop development, stop people from doing what they want to do and can do - that, to me, is the biggest threat." 

It was precisely his decision from the get-go not to make Linux proprietary that "made this all possible in the first place," Torvalds continued.

Novell's embrace of Linux in 2003 and the first quarter of 2004 has been well documented at LinuxWorld.com and in LinuxWorld Magazine. But Messman can hardly have dreamed of the tantalizing thumbs-up from the creator of Linux that his company received when Torvalds was asked what the "next big thing" was likely to be for Linux.

"I only work with the kernel itself," Torvalds replied. Then, gesturing in the direction of Messman and his deputy, Novell's vice chairman Chris Stone, he added: "You guys can maybe be the next big thing in Linux on a different scale."

When it was Chris Stone's turn he announced that Novell will be moving the whole company to OpenOffice by the end of the year, and to Linux on the desktop a year after. 

So Novell is definitely now going to eat in its own kitchen, and the stage was set for a very buoyant BrainShare 2004. 

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SYS-CON's Linux News Desk gathers stories, analysis, and information from around the Linux world and synthesizes them into an easy to digest format for IT/IS managers and other business decision-makers.

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Most Recent Comments
randy cormier 04/29/04 11:00:41 PM EDT

greetings its great to see linux thriving in the world of network computing. I have started a company called super nova computers in atlantic canada dealing with novell networks as well as linux solutions. Through customers atlantic canada is adapting linux desktops over windows one company at a time and im proud to contribute novell and linux solutions and opensource architectures to atlantic canada.

Jeff Perry 03/28/04 12:20:03 PM EST

I attended Brainshare this year and, as a very long time LInux user, was astonished to only see two computers at the entire conference running Windows (aside from users). There were many hundreds of public workstation, hundreds of demonstration machines, every presentation computer, and all the computers in the tech lab.. were running linux.. It was nice that I never once saw PowerPoint, OpenOffice reigned. This was a great demonstration of how far novell and Linux have come in the last few years. We watched clustered SAN devices failover from Novell Netware boxes to Linux boxes. We saw Apache & Tomcat tunning session on Linux.. All in all, I saw more high end business application software running on Linux at this conference then I've ever seen. Kudos to Novell... and I'm just waiting for them to knock the barrier even further down by year end (the speed at which they are migrating applications is astonishing)

Nostalgia 03/23/04 07:01:32 AM EST

Linus's
original USENET post:

Hello everybody out there using minix -I'm doing a
(free) operating system (just a hobby, won't be big andprofessional like
gnu) for 386(486) AT clones. This has been brewingsince april, and is
starting to get ready. I'd like any feedback onthings people like/dislike in
minix, as my OS resembles it somewhat(same physical layout of the
file-system (due to practical reasons)among other things).I've
currently ported bash(1.08) and gcc(1.40), and things seem to work.This
implies that I'll get something practical within a few months, andI'd like
to know what features most people would want. Any suggestionsare welcome,
but I won't promise I'll implement them :-)Linus
(torvalds@kruuna.helsinki.fi)PS. Yes - it's free of any minix code, and
it has a multi-threaded fs.It is NOT protable (uses 386 task switching etc),
and it probably neverwill support anything other than AT-harddisks, as
that's all I have :-(.

Paladin128 03/23/04 06:58:25 AM EST

Part of what makes the kernel so great is Linus's personal tastes. Lots of people write code -- many of which write different implementations of the same thing. Linus ultimately still determines:

1) What code goes into the official kernel
2) What direction it takes

Stuff that Linus thinks sucks or isn't ready doesn't go in. Yes, Linus defers much of this to his "lieutenants", and yes, there are other forks of the kernel tree, but most of them try to stay in line with Linus' tree. There are no true splits that have any momentum behind them, like in the BSD's. Every other popular tree is the Linus tree +/- some patches. And Linus, even if only as a figurehead, keeps this together because of the amount of respect the community has for him. He didn't write every line of code, but he defined, and still continues to define, what Linux is.

steveha 03/23/04 06:57:03 AM EST

Without Linus, the Linux kernel would not be as amazingly great as it is today.

He has done an outstanding job of managing the dev process for Linux. One of the most valuable things he does is to say "no": he won't let Linux bloat up needlessly and he won't accept badly-written patches. He has a vision for the kernel that has turned out to be excellent; he ignored the prevailing wisdom of the day that microkernel was the way to go, and that worked out (look where HURD is compared to Linux), he pushes at all times for simplicity (consider his interactivity boost, consider his plans to replace numeric IOCTLs with file-like semantics).

He's not perfect. His continuing refusal to accept kernel debugger hooks in the mainline kernel is silly (he has claimed that kernel debuggers are a crutch, for those who don't fully grok the kernel).

jmt9681 03/23/04 06:55:08 AM EST

Linus is an exceptional programmer who also has used his interpersonal skills to accelerate the free software movement. To quote a LinuxWorld interview with Andrew Tridgell:

One of the most memorable parts of that evening was when my Linux NFS [Network File System] server died, to the point that the console seemed completely dead (the load of all those Doom WAD files obviously got to it). I was about to press reset when Linus stepped in and said he wanted to work out why it had crashed, so he could fix it. I then watched in complete amazement as Linus exploited a remote file truncation bug he knew about in the NFS server I was running which allowed him to peek into the proc filesystem on the apparently dead server and work out enough to find the bug. Up till then I had considered myself to be a pretty good programmer, and quite good at debugging system crashes, but that incident taught me that I would always be an also-ran who just isn't in the same league as people like Linus.

YaSTupdate 03/23/04 06:27:13 AM EST

So YaST is now open - you can take it, reuse it, modify and redistribute it. You just have to credit SuSE and print "modified Version" on the menu screen and in the code. YaST license is here: http://www.suse.com/us/private/support/licenses/ya st.html

YouForgot to Say 03/23/04 06:24:08 AM EST

The name "SuSE" is an acronym of the German term "Software- und Systementwicklung," meaning "software and system development."

From Wikipedia 03/23/04 06:22:39 AM EST

SuSE

SuSE (properly pronounced Zoo-zuh, but typically
pronounced soose, or susie) is one of the major Linux distributions
and is produced in Germany. SuSE is also the
founding member of the Desktop Linux
Consortium.

ankou 03/23/04 06:21:00 AM EST

Okay I have heard about 3 or 4 different ways of pronouncing SuSE. Is it "souse" like as in Dr Seuss rhymes with Zeus? Is it "susa" as in how you say porche? Some of my German friends said the second was the proper way of saying it. I also have an IT manager here trying to make everyone pronounce it as "Suzy" which I am almost 100% sure is not correct. Forgive my ignorance; I am a Slackware guy myself.

stateofmind 03/23/04 06:19:41 AM EST

The other day I installed SuSE on my machine I'm building for my four year old. I bought the professional version of it for $80 at Best Buy, and was blown away. It was the easiet install of any OS period.

The two manuals are beautiful. It comes with six cd's and a DVD with everything the six dics have. Talk about going out of your way for the customer.

anon 03/23/04 06:06:54 AM EST

I have gone from not caring about a single thing Novell has done to them being one of my favorite companies, ever.

Buying Suse and Ximian, moving to Linux as a desktop, with OpenOffice.org then cancelling their most popular product, NetWare, for Linux. They seem very, very committed to F/OSS.

Oh, and I've almost forgotten, they're putting YAST under the GPL.

Congrats Novell, you've won my support, and the support of the entire Linux community.

corngrower 03/23/04 06:04:58 AM EST

With their purchases of Ximian and SuSE last year, it was pretty clear that Novell managment saw the need to take their company in a new direction. Novell chooses to embrace the new world. SCO tries to fight against it.