Novell CEO: Linux Needs Work to Move to Next Level

In order for Linux to prosper it needs to develop a broader base of applications, avoid fragmentation, address data center needs and expand its market, according to Novell CEO Ron Hovsepian.

In addition, Hovsepian said Novell would support GPLv3 in future versions of SUSE Linux and would honor coupons for those versions of the operating system as part of Novell's partnership with Microsoft.

The Novell leader made the remarks during his keynote address to open the third day of the LinuxWorld conference.

Hovsepian started out by declaring that Linux is mainstream.

"Make no mistake about that. We all see that, we are all experiencing that," he said. He thanked the Linux kernel team, the community and the Free Software Foundation for its work on the GPL, including the new Version 3.

Hovsepian then said Novell would be shipping GPLv3 components in upcoming packages of SUSE Linux Enterprise as they are released. Currently there are no components in SUSE Linux licensed under the GPLv3.

In response to a question from the audience, Hovsepian said Novell will redeem Microsoft-issued coupons for software that is licensed under GPLv3.

"Customers will redeem the coupons and we will deliver the latest version of our distribution. It is that straightforward," he said.

As part of an interoperability and cross-licensing patent deal signed in November between the two vendors, Microsoft promised to distribute 70,000 coupons for SUSE Linux Enterprise Server maintenance and support. But on July 5, Microsoft issued a statement saying it had no legal obligations under GPLv3, which forbids the type of patent deal Microsoft and Novell signed.

Hovsepian then moved on, saying the Linux community needs to look forward because there is work to do if people believe Linux is going to replace every Unix server and challenge Microsoft on the desktop.

He said the Linux community needs to progress in unison to obtain a dominant position in the market, and needs to focus on three areas: the ecosystem, the data center and expanding its market reach.

"The No. 1 thing that we need on Linux is applications," he said.

Hovsepian said applications were fragmented in the Unix market and that was a mistake.

"If you look at Windows, their application availability is far and away their biggest advantage," he said. "ISVs go to Microsoft and they know there is one platform." He says Linux is distribution by distribution.

The solution is to build consistency around the API level, and we need to standard the ISV process, he said.

"Today I am asking the open source vendor community to support a vendor-neutral effort to standardize ISV certifications. The ISVs would be able to certify an application and seamlessly port it across Linux distributions."

Hovsepian said Linux also has to focus on the data center specifically in the areas of virtualization, management, security, Linux and power management.

"These are critical components as to where and how the next generation of data centers evolve," he said.

Hovsepian said Novell would intertwine Xen virtualization and ZenWorks management tools.

He acknowledged the controversy around Novell's interoperability work with Microsoft but said the work would continue because a heterogeneous data center is a reality and customers need help to integrate platforms.

On the security front, he said Novell would make additions around its AppArmor platform that include access control on the network, individual firewalls and something he called the Community Application Profile Library, which would allows users to share application profiles. "You will have security via transparency," he said.

He also said tools to help customers manage their environments need to get stronger and said Novell is working on tools that let users know what is happening before it happens.

In terms of expanding the market, he cited deals with SAP, IBM and Lenovo to offer SUSE Linux as a preferred platform, including on the desktop.

He also said Novell would use its openSUSE Build Service, an open and complete distribution development platform, to let hackers roll their own distributions based on SUSE, Debian or any other Linux derivative.

"If we work together with the community and all the stakeholders we can realize the vision and accelerate the adoption of Linux. We have to give them the tools to see the value. That is our responsibility," he said.

This story, "Novell CEO: Linux Needs Work to Move to Next Level" was originally published by Network World.

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