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.

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