Novell Set to Acquire SuSE --- What Does this mean to the Linux Community?

By Bill Claybrook

November 4, 2003

Novell announced today that it has entered into an agreement to acquire SuSE, one of the two leading worldwide Linux distributors.

There was a time a couple of years ago that most folks thought that this type of acquisition would not happen, and we thought that it would not be a good thing. Most people thought that keeping the Linux distributors separated from the hardware vendors and ISVs and other software companies was a good thing for Linux. My feeling is that this is a good acquisition for Novell and maybe it will turn out to be a good one for SuSE as well.

There are a number of questions to ponder about this acquisition:

  1. SuSE has been very aggressive in forming partnerships with hardware and software vendors, some of which can be considered competition for Novell. Novell will honor those contractual agreements for the duration, but what will they do when the contracts expire? Will Novell treat SuSE Linux as its own operating system just for its products, or will it continue to promote and sell SuSE Linux to all interested parties?
  2. IBM has a lot at stake because SuSE Linux is supported on all of its eServer platforms and SuSE has worked more closely with IBM than any of the other Linux distributors. IBM intends to make a $50 million investment in Novell stock and is negotiating extensions to the current agreements between IBM and SuSE Linux.
  3. Is this good or bad for Red Hat? I believe that this is good for Red Hat. Not only are they the largest Linux distributor in the world, but they are the only major independent Linux distributor left. Red Hat has to be able to take advantage of the acquisition in its marketing and strategy messaging. Can they do it?
  4. With SuSE Linux being acquired by Novell, we now have to ask what will Novell do with SuSE Linux in the long term? They did not do much with Unix. Will it be allowed to continue to host products that could compete with Novell's desktop and server side offerings? You do not have to ask that question about Red Hat since they are independent.
  5. Will the acquisition of SuSE, make Novell's product offerings more acceptable in the marketplace? Will it enhance Novell's position in the open source community? This acquisition along with the Ximian acquisition makes Novell a big player in the Linux community. The real question is how much the two acquisitions will help Novell's bottom line. They could have worked with Ximian and SuSE without acquiring them, but Novell needed to be seen as a serious Linux player, hoping that that will make their products more acceptable in the enterprise. Perhaps they will become more acceptable, but I am leery.

12:35 ET

Follow-up to Novell Acquisition of SuSE

By Bill Claybrook

November 10, 2003

Last Wednesday there was a second teleconference per the acquisition of SuSE by Novell involving the management of the Linux business at Novell. Novell said the following things:

What do I think?

3:14 ET

Copyright 2003