Its not clear whether other Linux distributions will choose to adopt YaST for themselves now that the code is open, but the GPL-ing of YaST was probably intended to serve a purpose different than garnering wider usage.
More important than the fact that YaST code can now be used and improved by others is the fact that a free YaST removes one of the biggest barriers to an all-free, community-oriented SuSE release, similar to Debian or Red Hats Fedora.
The commercial incarnations of Fedora and Debian draw strength from their broad non-commercial roots—SuSE would benefit from this sort of root system as well, and its a foundation that Novell can afford to provide.
When SuSE Linux was the flagship product of SuSE Linux AG, maybe it made sense to leverage YaSTs license as a tool to ensure that users paid for each copy of SuSE Linux they installed. But as part of Novells new top-to-bottom strategy, SuSE Linux is more important as a building block.
As non-commercial projects, Debian and Fedora invite—and enjoy—broad community participation, enabling those inclined to take those distributions in directions that Red Hat or the Debian Project either chose not to or didnt consider.
In the case of Fedora, the distribution functions both as a testbed for code and technology thatll migrate to subscription-based Red Hat Enterprise Linux, and as an all-free, bleeding/leading-edge Linux distribution for those who wish to run it or build other projects atop it.
With Debian, the central distribution is completely noncommercial, but it provides a strong foundation for a healthy mix of commercial and noncommercial Linux distributions and projects.
Releasing YaST under the GPL is a good start toward building the influence and reach of SuSE Linux, and while Novell has some intra-company organization and integration issues to work out—particularly when it comes to developing a unified, community-facing Web presence—Novell has a good start with its Novell Forge site.
Novell is working to reinvent itself as an open-source-embracing company, and its still in the early stages of that process, digesting acquisitions and deciding how its proprietary code fits with its new direction. While theres still plenty to be done, Novell so far has been making all the right moves.
Senior Analyst Jason Brooks can be reached at email@example.com.