Rumors circulating that Novell is going to kill off its popular Linux desktop lines are completely false.
A Linux Today story, which asked the rhetorical question “Why has Novell management decided to discontinue their entire SuSE Linux branded desktop and workstation product line?” seems to have been the source of these stories.
Greg Mancusi-Ungaro, Novell Inc.s director of marketing for Linux and open source, said, “Novell has a Linux desktop leadership position with NLD [Novell Linux Desktop] and SuSE 10, and we intend to keep the pedal down hard.”
“The SuSE Linux teams are largely untouched,” Mancusi-Ungaro added. “Novell is focusing more on areas that are strategic, and the desktop is definitely one of them.”
Novell, as had been expected for weeks, announced Wednesday that it was going to cut about 10 percent of its staff worldwide, approximately 600 positions.
At the same time, Novell announced that it would be concentrating its business on key growth opportunities in the Linux and open-source and identity and resource management markets.
Kurt Pfeifle, a KDE developer, stated in his Linux Today story that, “Contrary to what was expected from recent Novell announcements, Novell executives are apparently slicing deeply into the Linux heart of the company.”
“Nonsense,” replied one senior Novell open-source engineer to this comment.
Kevan Barney, Novells senior public relations manager, said, “The Linux teams are largely intact, and the desktops arent going away.
Pfeifle went on to write, “staffers working on Mono, Hula, Evolution and Desktop Strategy are getting the sack.”
While cuts are being made across the company, Mancusi-Ungaro emphasized that “Novell is not pulling the plug on the desktop. We feel we lead it today, and we look forward to the next generation of the desktop. The desktop is in the core set of Novell open enterprise stack of data center, workgroup and desktop, identify and resource management.”
As for the other open-source projects, Mancusi-Ungaro said, “I dont know of any Hula [an open-source e-mail server project] cuts. There have been minimal cuts in Mono [an open-source implementation of Microsofts .Net], and none of those cuts were in developers.”
As for the Evolution e-mail client, “this is a stable, mature product, so we are redeploying its developers to other more strategic projects.”
However, “It also has a lot of community support, and we plan to leverage it with other e-mail programs like Hula.”
Novell is making one large strategic change. The GNOME interface is going to become the default interface on both the SLES (SuSE Linux Enterprise Server) and Novell Linux Desktop line.
KDE libraries will be supplied on both, but the bulk of Novells interface moving forward will be on GNOME.
“The entire KDE graphical interface and product family will continue to be supported and delivered on OpenSuSE,” said Mancusi-Ungaro.
In the past, Novell had explored creating a best of breed desktop, but these efforts came to little.
GNOME and KDE supporters and developers have often feuded over which makes for the better Linux desktop. As a result, almost all Linux distributions default to supporting both.
In the past, those who have tried to pick one over the other have been subjected to pressure from the other.
For example, in 2003, open-source leader Bruce Perens attempt to make GNOME the default desktop for the Debian-based UserLinux was fought by KDE supporters.
A source within Novell speculated that these rumors about Novell moving away from the Linux desktop and open-source programs spring from KDE advocates.
“I can understand being upset. For these guys, on both sides, these are their babies. But saying that Novell is killing its Linux desktop because they picked GNOME over KDE is going way too far,” he said.
“I really dont care which is the default desktop. Im just happy we picked one. It makes no sense to support two desktops that do the same thing when youre trying to cut costs.”