RealTime IT News

Novell Joins OSDL Million-Dollar Club

Officials at the Open Source Development Labs (OSDL) have filled the group's last board of director seat with the addition of Novell Vice President Jeffrey Hawkins.

The independent software vendor (ISV) applied for "platinum-level" membership -- with $1 million a year dues -- within the organization last week, and got unanimous approval from the other directors Friday.

Novell's inclusion was apparently helped by its recent decision to acquire Gemany-based SuSE Linux, though officials from both sides hastened to say that the membership was completely independent of the purchase.

"It's not conditional in any way to our deal with SuSE," said Bruce Lowery, a Novell spokesperson.

Last month the San Jose, Calif., company announced its intentions to acquire Germany-based SuSE Linux for $210 million, the latest step in Novell's strategy to embrace open source.

Both the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC) and its German counterpart have to rule whether the two companies can merge, though Novell officials expect to seal the deal in January 2004.

Nelson Pratt, OSDL director of marketing, said the network software developer's inclusion on the board of directors -- which is made up of IBM , Hewlett-Packard , Intel and NEC -- brings a software-centric member to a mostly hardware- and middleware-dominated board.

Pratt said many software contributions to the OSDL have surrounded Linux improvements to increase compatibility with hardware. The only other enterprise software company in the organization's membership, he said, is Computer Associates , a company that doesn't deal in networking software.

"When they assign some of their technicians, engineers and marketing people to the various working groups we have and start working with the rest of our members, they're going to bring that global enterprise software networking perspective that heretofore hasn't been represented in OSDL work at all," he said.

It's an area where the Linux kernel could always use more input. Linux, which started out as a kernel for desktop operations, has quickly proved itself just as adept in the server market, bringing stability and performance that is at the very least on par with other proprietary systems. However, it is still playing a catch up game with other established operating systems like Windows, Solaris and Unix.

And Novell has a vested interest in Linux, outside its purchase of SuSE Linux. In April, executives said they would include Linux on its proprietary flagship network software product, NetWare. The company's next iteration of NetWare, version 6.5, will include Apache, PHP, Perl and MySQL, and version 7 (due out next year) and would operate on both the NetWare and Linux kernels.

Reaffirming its commitment to Linux, the company in August announced the purchase of Ximian, an open-source desktop developer. One of Ximian's projects, Mono, was the development of software that lets .NET applications run on Linux and Unix.