Novell Open Source Carries on Without Stone

The abrupt resignation of Novell Vice Chairman Chris Stone this month may have a negative impact on the company's relationships with the open-source and Linux communities.

The abrupt resignation of Novell Inc. Vice Chairman Chris Stone this month may have a negative impact on the companys relationships with the open-source and Linux communities.

Stone, an executive with Novell since March 2002, was the force behind the Waltham, Mass., companys push into Linux and open-source software, as well as its acquisitions of Ximian Inc. and SuSE Linux AG last year.

Some see his departure weakening Novells open-source commitment. "I was very disappointed to see Chris leave. It seems that [Novell Chairman and CEO Jack] Messman will now take over Chris role as the person who is not only the public face of Novell, but to the open-source community," said a senior software executive involved in the open-source community, who requested anonymity. "I think his loss is going to impact Novell tremendously. This is a community, and trust is gained, not just given. ... Jack is not someone we really know," he said.

/zimages/3/28571.gifClick here to read Jason Brooks assessment of Novells open source pursuits.

Novell spokesperson Bruce Lowry, in San Francisco, said that Novells Linux and open-source business is still in good hands. "Our platform business is now being run by David Patrick, the former CEO of Ximian," Lowry said. "Our European operations are run by Richard Seibt, the CEO of SuSE Linux. Nat Friedman, the co-founder of Ximian, runs the group that just brought out the Novell Linux Desktop, and Miguel de Icaza is running Mono." He declined to comment on the reasons for Stones departure. Stone could not be reached for comment.

A source close to the talks that led to Novells buying SuSE last year said Novell will feel the loss of Stones negotiating skills. "Without Chris, the SuSE acquisition would never have happened. It was a tough deal to pull off. ... Chris was one of the few people who could have pulled it off," the source said.

Within days of Stones departure, Microsoft Corp. last week paid Novell $536 million to settle all outstanding antitrust claims around Novells NetWare product and all other products and businesses it owns.

The settlement comes as Novell prepares to file another antitrust suit against Microsoft, of Redmond, Wash., over WordPerfect. Joseph LaSala Jr., Novells general counsel, said the company will seek unspecified damages arising from Microsofts efforts to eliminate competition in the office productivity applications market during the mid-90s, when Novell owned the WordPerfect word processing application and the Quattro Pro spreadsheet application.

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