Novell Acquires Ximian

UPDATE: In a Linux coup, the networking giant will pick up the developer of the Gnome open-source desktop interface and Mono, the open-source version of .Net. Ximian's CTO told eWEEK Gnome and Mono will stay on

Novell Inc. pulled off a Linux coup today by snapping up developer Ximian Inc., but according to Ximians top developer, it will mostly be business as usual.

Ximian is noted for developing the Gnome open-source desktop interface and Mono, the open-source version of Microsoft Corp.s .Net framework. Most recently, the company released Ximian Desktop Version 2, Professional Edition, which is built atop the Gnome foundation. The open-source-projects will continue on course, and they will also be integrated into Novells product line, said Ximian CTO Miguel de Icaza, who adds the title of chief technology officer for the Novell Ximian Services business unit of Novell.

"My title didnt really change," de Icaza told eWEEK. "Ill be helping develop Linux strategies for the future at Novell. Well be more involved with actual Novell strategies."

For Novell, Ximian allows the Provo, Utah, company to expand its growing Linux business. In June, Novell announced Nterprise Linux Services, the first product in its forthcoming Novell Nterprise Linux suite.

De Icaza said talk had been going on with Novell this summer; even before that date, there was some familiarity between the two companies. "We had been doing other things with Novell for quite a while," de Icaza told eWEEK. "We were working on Evolution for Groupwise. We knew that Novell was putting server components on Linux. We had multiple touch points working together."

De Icaza said Ximian, which will maintain its Boston office (Novell has an engineering facility in Waltham, Mass.), will benefit greatly by having its products integrated into Novells distribution channel. "It will be very helpful in getting things out," he said.

De Icaza said any worries about Ximians status as an open-source stalwart are unfounded. "Even if there was a tiny concern from anyone [about open source], if Novell decided not to do open source, every line that has already been published cannot be taken back [from the open-source realm]. Once you give a present, you cannot take it back.

"The software will remain free," he said. "But Novell not only is going to continue existing software projects but extend the involvement."

The first version of Mono is now expected by the end of this year, he said. "Its going faster than we expected," de Icaza said. "We completed Milestone 1 ahead of time. We will be shipping a PowerPC version of Mono by the 1.0 release. A preview is expected in September."

Terms of the deal were not announced. Novell and Ximian officials will hold a press conference at LinuxWorld in San Francisco Tuesday to provide more details about the acquisition. Follow for the latest developments.

Editors note: This story has been updated to include comments from Miguel de Icaza.

Scot Petersen

Scot Petersen

Scot Petersen is a technology analyst at Ziff Brothers Investments, a private investment firm. Prior to joining Ziff Brothers, Scot was the editorial director, Business Applications & Architecture,...