Novell bought Ximian - a good sign for Linux's future

Discussion in 'NZ Computing' started by Lennier, Nov 21, 2003.

  1. Lennier

    Lennier Guest

    Interesting item on Newsforge:

    Alan Nugent, CTO of Novell, thinks he knows how to drive wide adoption of
    the Linux desktop. Everywhere. Today.


    Make it so users can't tell (and don't care) it's not Windows, and make it
    so admins can manage thousands of Linux desktops as easily as Windows.

    Nugent thinks there are a lot of buyers, and they're ready to spend money
    today: government and education markets are two, but the really
    interesting space is large enterprises. He, and Novell, are so convinced
    of the inevitability of the Linux desktop that they bought Ximian,
    arguably the leader in providing a user-, and admin-, friendly face for

    Nugent says Novell is no newbie to the Linux desktop: customers like Cisco
    and Amerada Hess have already standardized on Linux desktops for technical
    users. People who used to have a Unix workstation for their main tasks and
    a Windows machine so they could get into other employee systems for HR,
    expenses et al. now "have a single, Intel desktop running Linux."

    Truth be known, many Linux-oriented firms point proudly to enterprises
    that have Linux desktop trials in place among their tech-savvy users. But
    Nugent thinks business conditions are such that enterprises are ready to
    try Linux desktops more widely, and Novell is ready to take them to the
    next level.

    He thinks that Novell, with its deep understanding of enterprise IT - from
    both user and administrator perspectives - along with its recent embrace
    of Open Source and its strategic acquisition of Ximian - is perfectly
    positioned to drive Linux desktop acceptance to a wider audience in large
    enterprises. And he thinks that their customers are ready - today - to
    jettison Windows, at least in selected departments.

    The key aspects are both the right technology and customer-centric
    requirements like 'personality migration'. "People customize their
    desktops just like they personalize their cubes," says Nugent. Novell
    already has experience in preserving 'personalities' during Windows
    upgrades. The key will be taking the average cube worker to Linux in such
    a way that initially "they don't think they're not on Windows."

    Ximian's Evolution, with email and calendaring, Ximian Connector to
    Microsoft's Exchange, a tweaked OpenOffice suite and Explorer-like file
    browser will help Novell meet that need.

    Administration is another vital component says Nugent: he sees Ximian's
    Red Carpet as being as important as Evolution in making Linux desktops
    manageable and affordable in enterprise, government and educational
    settings. Nugent calls it the 'holistic approach': given that Novell
    continues to generate around a billion dollars in annual revenue, Novell's
    brand of 'holism' - based on understanding the needs of users and
    administrators - may cause some to rethink that once much-maligned term.

    Nugent thinks that making email and calendaring, as well as productivity
    apps, behave in ways that offer comfort to real-world workers, is crucial.
    So are things like making cut-and-paste work everywhere and hiding parts
    of the file system best left to "guys with ponytails." He also sees a file
    system browser that "just does what you expect it to" whether the
    underlying files are on SAMBA or NFS or Netware shares as "vital."

    Single-application-oriented users like call centers may be the first
    departments to migrate to Linux, after the techies. Nugent also thinks
    that Europeans, with their deep distrust of Microsoft, may be among the
    first to jump, although North America is not far behind, in his opinion.
    Novell is already involved in trials with 'very large' enterprise

    Nugent is not alone among Big Corp execs in seeing an imminent opportunity
    for the Linux desktop. Sun's VP of Software Jonathan Schwartz spent most
    of his LinuxWorld keynote touting Mad Hatter, Sun's cleaned-up,
    cubicle-ized desktop (also featuring Evolution) that will roll out RSN,
    maybe in September.

    Indeed, LinuxWorld saw desktop optimism from Red Hat, SuSE and Xandros to
    name three. HP and IBM execs could even be overheard saying that Linux on
    the desktop was 'very close' or, even 'there.' One commentator noted that
    the 'suits' are suddenly bigger believers in the Linux desktop than the

    Steve Ballmer has famously been quoted as saying that the only thing that
    keeps him up nights is Linux. Until recently, many would have thought that
    the reference was to Linux as a server: suddenly, it's the desktop,
    Microsoft's main stronghold, that seems vulnerable, and it's not just the
    Linux faithful who are preaching this gospel.

    Strategists at large and deep-pocketed corporations think there just might
    be something to this Linux desktop stuff, after all.

    Lennier, Nov 21, 2003
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