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Why did SuSE Linux’s founder resign from Novell?

Nov 17, 20052 mins
Enterprise ApplicationsLinux

* Did a personality clash with Ximian prompt Hubert Mantel to quit Novell?

When SuSE Linux founder Hubert Mantel announced his resignation from Novell last week, he became the third former SuSE executive to leave in the past six months. There was much speculation as to why Mantel left, which was sparked, in part, by the manner of his leaving. He announced his resignation via a Linux e-mail discussion list, claiming that SuSE had changed so much it was no longer the company he had founded 13 years before.

The immediate speculation centered around a cultural or personality clash between the folks from SuSE and those from another Novell acquisition, Ximian. Proof of this was offered by pointing to Novell’s announcement (see “Novell denies killing SuSE”) that it would make the Ximian-developed GNOME interface the default user interface for future server and desktop shipments of SuSE Linux, rather than the KDE interface that was championed by the old SuSE. Some thought Mantel was speaking with tongue firmly in cheek when he wrote in his resignation announcement: “I’m very confident the Novell management will find a competent successor very quickly. After all, there are lots of extremely skilled people over there in the Ximian division.”

This matters to you, the network manager, because it is focused on your primary concern – the server. SuSE brought the Linux server to Novell. The SuSE Linux Enterprise Server (SLES) is the basis of Novell’s Open Enterprise Server (OES). Ximian, on the other hand, was acquired for its desktop expertise. As paltry as Novell’s server sales have been recently, its desktop sales have been all but non-existent, as a glance through its financial statements will attest. 

Of course, Novell has a two-pronged strategy – Linux and identity. Yet last week, as I listened to a number of IT people from the banking community give presentations to the Digital ID World – Financial Services conference, the overriding theme (at least from a Novell perspective) was how many of them had started from a NetWare and NDS system and were now firmly committed to a Windows and Active Directory one. No one, not one of the financial institutions that made presentations (nor any of those I spoke to privately) had any plans whatsoever for NetWare or eDirectory except to replace them. To me that’s a lot more telling than any “march of the penguins” out of Novell’s front door.