This article is my first one on Groklaw. I really wanted to express my feelings about the whole story concerning Novell’s fork. And by the way, are they really forking? There are still several engineers from Novell out there on our mailing lists, and I wish we can still work with them. Yet Michael Meeks’s move essentially turned Novell contributors into read-only members of OpenOffice.org.
Anyway, here’s the summarized version of the article; ever since Novell signed their agreement with Microsoft, they became weird and started to do all kinds of oddities. It’s a pity, but it seems we can do nothing about it. So at some point, they started to become divisive in their politics and emphasize the JCA and Sun as being a major issue of the project. I am however shocked by Michael Meeks’ hypocrisy on all this: he’s still working for the sole company pretending to be an Open Source player but gleefully developing implementations of Microsoft technologies before the rest of the industry even starts to think about it. Should the term « proactive competitors » apply here?
What should be noted here is the essential difference between Novell’s overall strategy and the Samba approach of the problem. Samba is solving a crucial compatibility problem by developing a technology communicating with the existing Microsoft world. Novell, through Mono, Silverlight and the OOXML plugin implements Microsoft technologies even before they become dominant. This double difference (direct implementation of Microsoft technologies and early support of them on the market) bears a name: gleefully partnering with Microsoft.
I pretty much see what Novell’s initial reasoning was behind all this: let the crazies go to the FSF (that much would tell a lot about their whole perception of Free Software) while we are the reasonable, responsible guys out there who truly understood Linux in the enterprise. That could fly but not if all what you’re doing is disrupting the community and several FOSS projects while partnering with Microsoft on intellectual property and implementing technologies that are riddled with patents. That’s Novell number one problem. And as I wrote on Groklaw, Novell remains silent as a grave about their engineers’ actions. Interesting but odd.