Novell: Hubert Mantel Returns, Jeremy Allison Resigns

Quite a bit going on at Novell over the last couple days. We have Hubert Mantel returning and Jeremy Allison resigning. For those that don't remember, Hubert is one of the Suse founders and had resigned from Novell a little over a year ago, saying: “”Too late for me. I just decided to leave Suse/Novell, this is no longer the company I founded 13 years ago.” Jeremy, who is a core Samba guy, joined Novell a bit over a year ago and resigned over the recent Microsoft Patent agreement, saying:
I know you don't want to hear this, I know *nobody* wants to hear this but I'll not be able to live with this if I don't say it publicly at least once.
Whilst the Microsoft patent agreement is in place there is *nothing* we can do to fix community relations. And I really mean nothing.
We can pledge patents all we wish, we can talk to the press and “community leaders”, we can do all the right things w.r.t. all our other interactions, but we will still be known as GPL violators and that's the end of it.
For people who will point out to me we don't “technically” violate the GPLv2 here's an argument I recently made on the mailing lists.
“Do you think that if we'd have found what we legally considered a clever way around the Microsoft EULA so we didn't have to pay for Microsoft licenses and had decided to ship, oh let's say, “Exchange Server” under this “legal hack” that Microsoft would be silent about it – or we should act aggr[i]eved when they change the EULA to stop us doing this?”
The Microsoft patent agreement has put us outside the community, and there is no positive aspect to that fact, and no way to make it so. Until the patent provision is revoked, we are pariahs.

When asked about that deal, Mantel said:
6. What do you think about the Microsoft/Novell deal?
I think it is a good thing especially for the users. If you think some years back, Linux was not taken seriously. Now even Microsoft acknowledges that it exists and will not go away. I understand that many people don't like it as Novell is collaborating with the “evil empire”. But I don't like this way of thinking; we are not working against somebody, but we are working FOR Linux. Fundamentalism always leads to pain. What's important is that Linux is free and will remain to be free. The source code is open to everybody, this is what counts for me. Some people seem to be torn in an interesting way: On one hand they want “world domination”, at the same time they don't like the feeling that Linux has grown up and needs to deal with the real business world out there. We have a saying here in Germany that goes along the lines of “wash me, but do not make me wet”. If you want Linux to succeed, you cannot live in your own separate universe.

One thing is clear, a rift is definitely forming on this issue. Was that one of the goals of the agreement from the Microsoft side? Some are speculating that, but I'm still unsure what the motives were. It took Jeremy about 30 seconds to find a job as he seems to have landed at Google. Regardless of what you think of the patent agreement, you have to applaud Jeremy for sticking up for what he believes in. He put his money where his mouth is and gave up a job he clearly enjoyed because of it. You have to respect that kind of conviction. It will be interesting to see what direction Novell heads in over the next 6 months or so. Meanwhile RHT seems completely unaffected by this or the recent Oracle news. Today they beat analysts expectations handily and the stock jumped over 25%.
–jeremy
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