Novell Evaluating Open-Source Options

The company is evaluating its products to determine which ones it wants to open source and has established an Open Source Review Board.

Novell Inc. is currently evaluating its product suite to determine which of those it wants to open source and will be making a decision on this in the near future.

The company has also established an Open Source Review Board, under the chair of Kris Magnusson, who is part of Novells corporate architecture and strategy team.

"We are looking at various options with regard to open sourcing our products, and for me to talk about any one would be premature. But our explicit goal in setting up the review board and concentrating on open-source software is to embrace Linux and work with the community," Magnusson told eWEEK.

The establishment of the review board and the recent reorganization of Novells engineering unit to create a Cross Platform Network Services Group are part of the companys embrace of Linux and its new multiplatform strategy that de-emphasizes its NetWare-centric vision.

Magnusson said that until now, Novell has been active in licensing open-source technology to run on the NetWare platform, "and our goal has been to provide NetWare developers and users with the same applications and tools that run on Linux. Our intent is to make NetWare more like Linux for developers and deliver the value proposition of NetWare as open source code," he said.

Magnusson left a position managing the developer community to return to Novell with the goal of making open source work within the company. Spearheading the creation of the open-source review board is a start in that regard.

The other members on the review board come from the product and legal sides of the company.

"Our job is to review all of the open-source activities that take place inside Novell. We also ensure that our open-source activities dont put the company at risk and that were making sure that whenever its required and appropriate we give back modifications to the community," he said.

"Novell has been working closely with several software code bases: Perl, Apache and Tomcat. We have also ported PHP [a general-purpose scripting language suited to Web development and which can be embedded into HTML] to our platform, and whenever we change these code bases we contribute back to the distribution tree," he said.

Novell will adopt a lot more open source code in the future and is now focusing on Web developers. It will provide these open-source-code bases to those Web developers as well as throw in the NetWare value proposition, support, reliability and higher performance NetWare provides, Magnusson said.

Novell would also like to see some of its core products run on Linux so, going forward, users will not necessarily see open source code but rather commercial, proprietary Novell products running on top of Linux distributions. "Youll probably see greater levels of involvement with partnerships and the like," he said. "I can also see us doing some bundling with Linux vendors down the line, and there are some specific problems we think we can solve with and for Linux. I think we can definitely help improve Linuxs manageability, especially given our directory strength and its ability to manage disparate platforms."

While Novell should probably have embraced Linux and open source earlier, it is "better late than never," Magnusson said. The current management team is allowing the company to move forward aggressively in this regard, he said.