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Dell Collaboration with Microsoft and Novell

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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.

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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

    etc.

     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.