Novell Open Source Carries on Without Stone

By Peter Galli  |  Print this article Print


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The abrupt resignation of Novell Vice Chairman Chris Stone this month may have a negative impact on the company's relationships with the open-source and Linux communities.

The abrupt resignation of Novell Inc. Vice Chairman Chris Stone this month may have a negative impact on the company's relationships with the open-source and Linux communities.

Stone, an executive with Novell since March 2002, was the force behind the Waltham, Mass., company's push into Linux and open-source software, as well as its acquisitions of Ximian Inc. and SuSE Linux AG last year.

Some see his departure weakening Novell's open-source commitment. "I was very disappointed to see Chris leave. It seems that [Novell Chairman and CEO Jack] Messman will now take over Chris' role as the person who is not only the public face of Novell, but to the open-source community," said a senior software executive involved in the open-source community, who requested anonymity. "I think his loss is going to impact Novell tremendously. This is a community, and trust is gained, not just given. ... Jack is not someone we really know," he said.

Click here to read Jason Brooks' assessment of Novell's open source pursuits.

Novell spokesperson Bruce Lowry, in San Francisco, said that Novell's Linux and open-source business is still in good hands. "Our platform business is now being run by David Patrick, the former CEO of Ximian," Lowry said. "Our European operations are run by Richard Seibt, the CEO of SuSE Linux. Nat Friedman, the co-founder of Ximian, runs the group that just brought out the Novell Linux Desktop, and Miguel de Icaza is running Mono." He declined to comment on the reasons for Stone's departure. Stone could not be reached for comment.

A source close to the talks that led to Novell's buying SuSE last year said Novell will feel the loss of Stone's negotiating skills. "Without Chris, the SuSE acquisition would never have happened. It was a tough deal to pull off. ... Chris was one of the few people who could have pulled it off," the source said.

Within days of Stone's departure, Microsoft Corp. last week paid Novell $536 million to settle all outstanding antitrust claims around Novell's NetWare product and all other products and businesses it owns.

The settlement comes as Novell prepares to file another antitrust suit against Microsoft, of Redmond, Wash., over WordPerfect. Joseph LaSala Jr., Novell's general counsel, said the company will seek unspecified damages arising from Microsoft's efforts to eliminate competition in the office productivity applications market during the mid-'90s, when Novell owned the WordPerfect word processing application and the Quattro Pro spreadsheet application.

Check out eWEEK.com's for the latest open-source news, reviews and analysis.

Peter Galli has been a financial/technology reporter for 12 years at leading publications in South Africa, the UK and the US. He has been Investment Editor of South Africa's Business Day Newspaper, the sister publication of the Financial Times of London.

He was also Group Financial Communications Manager for First National Bank, the second largest banking group in South Africa before moving on to become Executive News Editor of Business Report, the largest daily financial newspaper in South Africa, owned by the global Independent Newspapers group.

He was responsible for a national reporting team of 20 based in four bureaus. He also edited and contributed to its weekly technology page, and launched a financial and technology radio service supplying daily news bulletins to the national broadcaster, the South African Broadcasting Corporation, which were then distributed to some 50 radio stations across the country.

He was then transferred to San Francisco as Business Report's U.S. Correspondent to cover Silicon Valley, trade and finance between the US, Europe and emerging markets like South Africa. After serving that role for more than two years, he joined eWeek as a Senior Editor, covering software platforms in August 2000.

He has comprehensively covered Microsoft and its Windows and .Net platforms, as well as the many legal challenges it has faced. He has also focused on Sun Microsystems and its Solaris operating environment, Java and Unix offerings. He covers developments in the open source community, particularly around the Linux kernel and the effects it will have on the enterprise.

He has written extensively about new products for the Linux and Unix platforms, the development of open standards and critically looked at the potential Linux has to offer an alternative operating system and platform to Windows, .Net and Unix-based solutions like Solaris.

His interviews with senior industry executives include Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, Linus Torvalds, the original developer of the Linux operating system, Sun CEO Scot McNealy, and Bill Zeitler, a senior vice president at IBM.

For numerous examples of his writing you can search under his name at the eWEEK Website at www.eweek.com.


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