It's not new news. The Wall Street Journal posted in August that Novell was set to be sold in two halves - one half would be the Novell side and the other half, the Linux side. The Linux side, of course, is SuSE Linux. To be more exact SuSE Linux Enterprise (Desktop and Server). So someone out there was going to be purchasing the main competition to Red Hat. But who would it be?
When I first heard the news I was speculating that Canonical would have been a great partner. That would give them an enterprise-worthy client and they, in return, could give to SuSE Enterprise Linux such tools as UbuntuOne (it would be a stretch, but it could work). The combined work the two would bring to life could have serious (and positive) ramifications in the world of operating systems. But that isn't going to happen.
What is most likely going to happen is VMware is going to purchase the Linux half of Novell. This is a very smart move on VMware's part. With the addition of a full-blown OS in their offering, they will have something no other virtualization solution has - a complete software solution from the bottom to the top. VMware has been one of the best virtualization solutions available. But it is in constant competition with free solutions (such as VirtualBox). This purchase could help it to rise above the competition. Imagine purchasing a VMware product, built on top of SuSE, where all you had to do is install the OS which would include a full virtualized solution. Or imagine doing the same thing but only having to run a live CD to gain that same virtualization. The possibilities are endless.
I hope, however, this marriage extends itself to the rest of the family. I am, of course, speaking about OpenSuSE. With OpenSuSE, VMware could easily make a free virtualized offering (with lesser features or such) for those not needing the full blown, costlier version. This would not only benefit VMware, it would benefit OpenSuSE as well. But should VMware separate SuSE from OpenSuSE they will be doing themselves a serious disservice. And now that Oracle is shooting itself in the foot, the future of the Sun-branded version of VirtualBox could be in jeopardy.
There is one benefit most aren't seeing. The purchase of a Linux distribution by a company so deeply ingrained in the enterprise world gives Linux an opportunity it has struggled to gain to this point. If VMware leverages SuSE correctly, it will begin to easily place Linux in the enterprise as both a desktop and server solution.
When Novell bought SuSE I thought it was going to be a good match. I assumed the one time King of network solutions was going to pull itself up again by re-imaging itself under the name Linux. It didn't happen. Novell become nothing more than a patent portfolio and a dying technology. And now, someone (probably VMware) is going to buy the Linux side of Novell while the other side will be purchased by a patent-hungry corporation. So long as Microsoft isn't the buyer of the non-Linux side, things should turn out okay. Should this private equity firm rumored to be purchasing the patent side of Novell turn out to have a vested interest in Microsoft, I would venture say that IP law will have a field day in the courts in the up-coming years.
I feel a tinge of sadness for Novell. I know they employed a lot of really good people when they purchased SuSE. I hope VMware will continue to employ those developers and designers. I do believe the marriage between VMware and SuSE will turn a very positive tide for both SuSE and Linux in general.
In a few weeks there will be no more Novell. It will be de-listed. You will be missed by many old-school admins. Now VMware will most likely hold the key to SuSE and some private equity firm will hold the key to a patent portfolio and not much more. I wish SuSE luck.
Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website jackwallen.com.