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Before coming to Novell’s annual ring-dang-do of a trade show, BrainShare, here in Salt Lake City, I wondered just how much Linux support I would find at it. I knew Novell’s brass loved Linux, and I knew business Linux supporters loved it, but what would Novell’s old-school partners, developers and resellers think of all of these Linux moves?

Answer: They loved it.

When Linux kernel author Linus Torvalds showed up for a quick visit Monday, they stood and applauded as if he were a rock star.

For the first time since the launch of NetWare 4.0 back in 1993, Novell staffers and partners are excited—I mean really excited—about the company’s direction.

There is a buzz at BrainShare, Novell’s annual party and trade show for true Novell believers, that I haven’t seen surrounding the company in ages.

Heck, it’s hard to believe I’m writing “buzz” and Novell in the same sentence. Novell has been seen as a declining and, let’s just say it, boring company since feisty CEO Ray Noorda retired in 1994.

A big part of the new spark is that the Novell supporters believe, or at least want to believe, in Linux. Another part of it is that they see Novell finally making a big, bold move. For too long, Novell has been seen as moving slowly and cautiously in a world where Microsoft moved quickly with dash and elan.

Even the developers, the group I thought most likely to be slow to warm up to Linux, like it. You see, developing for NetWare is, in big capital letters, not easy.

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