Dell Collaboration with Microsoft and Novell

Dell Collaboration with Microsoft and Novell


The Official Dell Corporate Blog

Dell Collaboration with Microsoft and Novell

Today, Microsoft and Novell announced that Dell is the first major systems provider to join a collaboration between the two companies. One purpose of the collaboration is to promote interoperability between Windows Server and SUSE Linux Enterprise. Another is to provide intellectual property assurance to customers.

Under the agreement, Dell will purchase SUSE Linux Enterprise Server certificates from Microsoft and will establish a services and marketing program to help exisiting Linux customers who are not Dell Linux customers to SUSE Linux Enterprise Server.

Update (5/10): This post has sparked a bit of controversy in the Linux community. Some folks like Peacimowen have asked if this agreement has any impact on our plans to offer Ubuntu. Bottom line, no it does not.

Others like TI, Steve, wonderingprint, dbyte and kosmo have reacted negatively. Here's the reality: this agreement is a part of our overall Linux strategy. It's a piece of our overall Linux strategy in the server space, where we support Red Hat Enterprise and SUSE Linux Enterprise. Our Ubuntu plans are aimed at client systems. Dell's interest here is to offer customers choice.

For more perspective on this topic, take a look at recent posts from Christopher Null and Alexander Wolfe. They're on the right track.

Here's a vlog from Judy Chavis, a Director in Dell's Product Group for more about this development.

Format: flv


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  • By making a deal with Novell, you've destroyed the the market that you opened by offering Ubuntu. Many will now view your company as collaborating with MS to shaft Linux with looming and vague threats about IP even though MS probably copies more ideas and innovations developed on Linux than the other way around. By going with Novell, you have made it clear that you are not interested in having a successful desktop Linux as many Linux users who had been considering Ubuntu machines will now feel that they must
    actively work against Dell. To much the community, Novell ==
    Microsoft Puppet that is trying to undermine Linux, and support for them means the community will hate you. More specifically, joining their IP "ring of fire" is what will cost you. On the upside, you are probably helping to insure that GPL 3.0 is stronger and more effective.
  • "Another is to intellectual property assurance to customers."

    More like "Another is to provide intellectual property assurance to customers", but anyhow, that seriously isn't a valid argument, exactly how is GNU/Linux infringing on Microsoft's patents? The question has yet to be answered, and it  probably never will be. Unless Microsoft is able to pinpoint the infringing code, it'll be safe to assume that those accusations are simply new baseless accusations against GNU/Linux simply meant to create fear and lower sales, just like those of SCO.

  • So here's my curiosity - last week Ubuntu, this week Novell, is there something amazing coming from Red Hat next week?

    After all, a lot of Dell's Linux team do actively contribute to Fedora/Red Hat. 

  • Peaceimowen: No, this does not have any impact on the client plans for Ubuntu we announced last week.
  • Is this going to have any impact on the plans for ubuntu as last announced on this site on may 1st ?
  • What do you think of GPLv3's effect on this deal?  What will be the status of Dell and Novell then, any predictions?


  • What things does this Microsoft-Novell deal provide that Ubuntu on the server does not?  Aside from Microsoft's fear-mongering about their patent portfolio, I see no benefit.  Is Microsoft providing Novell things that are unavailable to other Linux developers?  If so, that would be news!


    I think it's particularly galling because of the fact that *all* interop between Windows and Linux has come from the Linux/Unix community, at great cost (e.g. having to reverse-engineer the secret Microsoft protocols and filesystems)

     Microsoft is no friend of interoperability.  They have their users in a vise and they know it.  For example, how friendly are they if they change their secret protocols *just* to shut out Samba?

    In short, Dell, what does this provide aside from Microsoft's promise not to turn into a patent troll for 5 years?

  • Congratulation for this corporate blog, really good!

  • Robert: oops... thanks for the catch. Added the word "provide" to the sentence. That's what I meant to say.
  • Another is to intellectual property assurance to customers.
    I don't think this is a sentence.
  • Reading the comments, and the entry again, there's one even bigger question than Why you did this? that I want to know:

    Can you detail explicitly what this statement covers:

    "Another is to intellectual property assurance to customers."

    I'd like to know everything that I would be covered for in the event I bought one of those SuSE machines.  

    If you can not provide a detailed list like this:

    Item 1

    Item 2

    Item 3


     then I request that you drop the deal in order to save face with the community.  Also, saying that it's secret or under an NDA isn't going to cut it- it's all or nothing.  I'm sorry for the slightly harsh tone, but without solid facts, it appears as though you are giving MS a PR coup, and feeding into the fear that "Linux infringes MS IP".

  • What's the point except pissing off the Linux community? (Sorry for the wording.)
  • Exactly, why are you buying linux from microsoft?????????????

    that does not make any sense.... 

  • The planned Ubuntu pre-installed-laptops was a great thing !

    Joining the MS-Novell deal is just the worst you could do !
    Who was so dumb doing this ??
    Who has been bribed ?

    The huge positive image gain Dell was getting because of the Ubuntu-deal is just melting. That is a pitty !

    I might still buy a Laptop with Ubuntu pre-installed for supporting Dell in this good choice it made to bring linux to a wider audience, but not with the great smile on my face I thought I will have and please fire Judy Chavis !!

  • Just to ask a rhetorical question : if it's a 'collaboration', as in both parties working together to a common goal, and the stated goal is improved interoperability between MS and Linux OSes, then what exactly is MS doing to improve this interoperability? Will they change their kerberos implementation so that it actually complies with the standard? Will they release details of their SMB protocol? Will MS Office support the ODF file format?

    In fact, MS has a long history of deliberately hampering interoperability with any other OS, as this is vital to maintaining their near-monopoly (which a court has already ruled to be illegal). So if MS is for it, and it has anything at all to do with Linux, you can safely bet it is bad for Linux and consumers in general. In this case, it's an attempt at lending credibility to the 'Linux infringes MS IP' FUD. We know it, MS know it, and I'm sure Dell know it. I hope that someone at Dell will quickly realise that insulting your customers' intelligence like this is a BAD MOVE.

  • Every poster here represents thousands of users who do not post - to throw my 1,000 + votes in - I agree with the suggestion to fire the team who thought that buying  Suse (Novhell) from M$ = "Added Value" to potential  Linux customers - who by definition "care" where the 
    software comes from .
     I can not, at this time, come up with a worse move on Dells part, and I have a very active imagination. 
    It would have to be a car metaphor - I am unsure of the hypothsis
     but the conclusion  is "and you have to get the car from someone 
    you don't trust (yet) , who got it from someone you hate, so you don't buy one."

    The good news about all this is that dell will be selling computers that we can have high confidence in RE linux drivers etc for all the hardware. But that leads to three questions.

    1) Will the preloaded computers contain any non-GPL code?  especially binary-only stuff that I could only get from dell/novell/microsoft?(=DNM)

     2) If I buy the same hardware with Vista installed, what will be the mechanism (if any) to return vista for a refund?  There seem to be a few existence proofs around but the fact that whenever anyone does successfully get a refund on this preinstalled malware it's trumpeted all over the web, makes me think the odds are the same as winning the lottery...

    3) Here's an evil one.  In the same spirit as 2), will there be a mechanism for me to get a refund on the _DNM_ certificate, if I blow SUSE off the machine in favor of eg slackware? 






  • Interresting that you use the word "interoperability" and "Microsoft" in one go. Does Dell really think its Linux-customers don't understand what this is about?

     A sad Day for Dell, I was expecting Dell to make a difference :-(

  • I'd be interested to know why Dell wouldn't buy their licenses from Novelll, and not via M$. I was wondering what the other shoe was going to be, in Dell's latest 'staggering into the world of Linux', and running w/ Novell/M$ licenses surely is an indicator. *sigh*
  • Take your IP protection and stick it where you think appropriate.  You really want to validate Microsoft false claims of IP?  F you Dell.  You won me over with the ability to buy Ubuntu and I would still like to, but this announcement is crap and turns me to system76 for my Ubuntu PCs.


  • Has Microsoft specified what "intellectual property" it claims rights to within Linux? No? Why is Dell spending its consumer dollars on Microsoft licenses for Linux -- so that the company can help make sure Linux users still pay the Microsoft tax anyway? The announcement about preloading Ubuntu was quite good... it was encouraging me to think about returning to Dell as a customer. The current news, however, is quite off-putting...
  • Very, very, very poor decison on the part of Dell. I was so looking forward to Dell being an active participant to the world of open source and contributing positively to its growth.

    This landmark decision will have incalcuable negative influence. See SCOX for an example.

  • Until Microsoft is willing to spell out what IP they claim they own that Linux infringes on and makes it possible for the Linux community to come up with a response, I am going to consider this deal to be another extortion scheme on the same order as the SCOsource scheme.  And I don't want to do any more business with anyone involved in the scheme than I absolutely have to.

    I have been building my own PCs for home use for several years, but I have been seriously considering buying a Dell monitor for at least one of my computers and I was going to buy a laptop with Ubuntu on it if there was a model I liked, even though I don't really need a laptop.  However, as a result of this deal, I will at least postpone those purchases a little longer and look more seriously at other suppliers before making a final decision. 

  • I'm flabbergasted...

     It's absolutely amazing... your left hand does not know what your right hand is doing... I, and no doubt countless other open source advocates, absolutely detest the Novell-Microsoft patent pact... you've just killed my plans for purchasing a laptop with Ubuntu pre-installed.

    We do not trust Steve Ballmer at all... note how he just couldn't restrain himself the moment the deal was signed... the ink wasn't even dry before he started going on about Linux having an "Intellectual Property" problem with Microsoft technology...

    "Number two, we've struck a deal under which we can provide patent agreements to Linux customers in which Microsoft's intellectual property is respected, and we are appropriately compensated for the use of our intellectual property.[...] And in our case, it means you don't license – let me be clear about one thing, we don't license our intellectual property to Linux because of the way the Linux licensing, GPL framework works, that's not really a possibility. The cleverness was, how do we get protection and respect for our intellectual property in a world in which that license agreement works?"

    So Steve, exactly which patents are infringed by Linux? We want numbers and specificity... without those, it's all merely bluster designed to browbeat the gullible into surrendering. Not only that anyone who gets one of these indemnifications from Microsoft cannot redistribute any changes they may make to Linux...

  • I completely and wholeheartedly agree with Steve (the Steve who left a comment, not the one who trashes furniture). I was planning on shifting to Dell for my new machine when Ubuntu would be pre-loaded, but this trick made me think again.