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Novell CEO: We Need To Standardize Linux

SAN FRANCISCO -- According to Novell President and CEO Ron Hovsepian, there needs to be more application availability on Linux in order to accelerate Linux adoption.

Ron HovsepianO
Ron Hovsepian
Source: Novell

Speaking in a keynote session here at LinuxWorld, Hovsepian announced a series of initiatives and gave his ideas on what it will take to help make Linux even more successful.

Among the items announced by Hovsepian were a new OpenSUSE build service, improvements to its AppArmor Linux security suite and new virtualization management options. Hovsepian also vehemently defended his firm's partnership with Microsoft and declared that Novell will ship GPLv3, even to those who have got their Novell Linux subscriptions from Microsoft.

"The number one thing we need on Linux is applications," Hovsepian told the LinuxWorld audience. "We need the software vendors to have their footprints on Linux. On Windows, application availability is their biggest advantage."

Hovsepian explained that today, ISVs [independent software vendors] have to certify their applications on a distribution-by-distribution approach. As such, Linux distros are competing on application availability now and not quality of code.

"We need to standardize the ISV certification process," Hovesepian said. "The industry has a responsibility to have a program to make it easier for ISVs. We have things like LSB [Linux Standards Base], which is great, but we need more. I'm asking people to support a vendor-neutral effort for ISV certification."

Hovsepian also understands that many users will run applications in virtual environments, as well, so today he announced an update to Novell's ZenWorks Orchestrator product. Novell's CEO explained that the new virtual machine manager raises the bar for the management paradigm for virtual machines. It deals with the whole lifecycle management of starting, stopping and migrating virtual machines.

On the security front, Hovsepian announced a new version of Novell's AppArmor Linux security technology. The new features include access control for networks, individual firewalls for each application and something called a community application profile library.

"We're really developing a community-based approach for sharing app profiles," Hovsepian explained. "You will have security by transparency, meaning I can build an SAP profile and then someone else can use it, modify it and then put it back in the community stronger."

The community is also the target for a new version of the openSUSE build service. Novell first announced the build service in January.

"We're allowing hackers to go in and roll their own distribution," Hovsepian said. "We're expanding the market by expanding the community."

There are over 9,800 packages in the build service that let developer custom build their own distributions.

Hovsepian also used his time on the LinuxWorld stage to attack Sun Microsystems and its Unix offerings. Hovsepian called Sun's OpenSolaris a counter attack to what we are doing with Linux.

He then noted that Sun wants to be like Linux, and Project Indiana is proof off that.

Then there is Microsoft.

"We've had 20 years of battling with Microsoft; it's in our blood," Hovsepian said. "But the reality is when we walk in the customer door they have Microsoft. We see a mixed-source world, and the real value lies in making stuff work together."

Novell and Microsoft entered into a controversial interoperability and patent agreement in November. As part of the deal, Microsoft is providing its customer with coupons for Novell SUSE Linux Enterprise subscriptions. The only problem is that Microsoft has now publicly said that it will not ship GPL version 3 licensed software.

Hovsepian declared boldly that Novell would ship GPL version 3. In response to a question from internetnews.com about how Novell intends to ship GPL v3 to its customers that received their Novell software from Microsoft, Hovsepian said it's not a problem.

"How it works is a customer will redeem the coupon and we will give them the latest release," Hovsepian explained. "It's just a redemption coupon and we'll deliver it to them. It's that straightforward.