Miguel de Icaza, the dude who started the GNOME and Mono projects and now serves as Vice President of Developer platforms over at Novell, painted a picture of Windows users worried about installing software on their machines.
"Everyone is scared of installing applications on Windows either because they break the system or because you might be accidentally installing malware," Miguel wrote in a blog post. "In either case, the end result is countless wasted hours backing data up, reinstalling the operating system and all the applications."
Miguel's criticisms stem from Microsoft's plan to build an App Store for Windows, and while "creative," he says that Microsoft is missing "the fundamental point that people are scared of installing software on Windows." Instead, he says Microsoft should focus its efforts creating an appliance that allows users to install and remove apps in seconds, and at the same time guarantee that installing and remove apps will never break the system.
No easy task, Miguel admits that this approach would involve altering the Windows kernel and coming up a with a new way of distributing apps.
Enterprise software vendor Novell has made it clear that its willing to accept bids from potential buyers, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal.
Novell already turned down a takeover bid in March that would have valued the company at $2 billion. At the time, Elliott Associates offered $5.75 per share, but after reviewing the offer, Novell's board came to the conclusion that the amount was "inadequate."
Despite Novell making itself available, it's not a foregone conclusion that the company will be sold. Novell also said it would review its options, which could include a stock repurchase program or a joint venture.
Novell has perused the most recent list of the top 500 supercomputers in the world, and nine of the top ten run on Linux. Not only that, but 85% of the entire list run Linux. It’s not hard to guess why Novell might take an interest in this; Novell’s SuSE Linux is the distro of choice in six of the top ten supercomputers.
After tabulations were complete, Novell wasted no time patting themselves on the back. “Supercomputers are helping to push the boundary of science and knowledge around the world, and SUSE Linux Enterprise Server from Novell has been chosen as the optimal operating system to power many of these HPC environments for good reasons,” said Novell VP of Business Development Holger Dryoff.
The current king of the supercomputer hill is the Jaguar computer at the US Department of Energy Oak Ridge lab. It's quite a monster of a machine, capable of 2.3 petaflops. It runs Linux, but not Novell's SuSE. Rest assured, as soon as one of these supercomputers develops sentience and proceeds to wipe out humanity, odds are it will be running on open source. There will be no blue screen to save mankind.
Elliot Associates, a New York-based hedge fund who also happens to be one of Novell's largest shareholders, wants to acquire the enterprise software maker and hopes its offer of $2 billion will be enough.
Novell now has a tough decision to make. On one hand, cash hasn't really been a problem for the software vendor, who reported $991 million in cash and equivalents at the end of January. But at the same time, Novell's revenues continue to trend backwards, down 6 percent in the most recent quarter compared to one year ago.
"Over the past several years, [Novell] has attempted to diversify away from its legacy division with a series of acquisitions and changes in strategic focus that have largely been unsuccessful. As a result, we believe the company's stock has meaningfully underperformed all relevant indices and peers," Elliot said in a statement. "With over 33 years of experience in investing in public and private companies and an extensive track record of successfully structuring and executing acquisitions in the technology space, we believe that Elliot is uniquely situated to deliver maximum value to the company's stockholders on an expedited basis."
The offer on the table is $5.75 per share in cash, which was more than $1 over the software maker's closing price earlier this week. When news of the offer spread, however, Novell's stock shot up by as much as 29 percent to over $6 per share.
Novell this week announced the availability of Moonlight 2, essentially an open-source Linux version of Microsoft's Silverlight platform. In addition, Microsoft and Novell said they plan on expanding their collaboration on Moonlight to include support for Moonlight implementations of Silverlight versions 3 and 4..
The companies say Moonlight 2 is interoperable with Microsoft Silverlight 2 and includes some features of Silverlight 3, including support for Bitmap APIs, file dialogs, easing functions, pluggable media pipeline, and custom codecs.
"Moonlight development is quickly catching up to Microsoft Silverlight with each release," Novell said. "A preview release of Moonlight 3 will be made available in the first quarter of 2010 with a final release scheduled for the third quarter of 2010. Moonlight 4 will follow shortly thereafter."
Novel says Moonlight has been downloaded 1.3 million times so far.
Despite the growing popularity of open source software, there's still the issue of how to make money with it. No easy task, warns Miguel de Icaza, Vice President of Novell, who also heads up the firm's open source Mono project.
"If your livelihood depends on the product that you're selling, until you can figure how you're going to make money on that thing, I say, keep it proprietary," de Icaza said.
The VP went on to say that it's "incredibly difficult" making an open source business. His remarks were in response to an audience member at the Microsoft PDC (Professional Developers Conference), who raised the question of making money via open source. The issue of making money by selling support also came up.
"You need to take those steps carefully in my opinion," de Icaza said. "And support, by the way, is a horrible business. I want to be writing code, and I want to be paid to write code."
The VP did note that if you're a young developer without a lot of obligations, like a family and tuition, then it's far easier to consider doing open source projects.
Although most Linux users rely on pre-built Linux distros and customize their software configuration after installation, there is nothing quite like having a Linux distro that was custom-designed to your specifications. This allows you to get whatever you want out of the box, but in the past it was difficult to create such a distro since it involved compiling the entire operating system from source. (something firmly in the realm of advanced-to-expert-level users)
In more recent years, it has become possible to create your own Linux distro through various easy-to-use online interfaces. The most well-known distro customization tool is Slax (which we recently discussed) but Novell has a tool called SuSE Studio in closed beta which allows you to assemble your own custom SuSE-based distro from pre-compiled packages. Right now, SuSE Studio is still invite-only since Novell gives you storage space on their servers and bandwidth to both store and download your creations.
Read on to learn how we built our own Maximum PC-themed Linux distro!
During the Enterprise 2.0 conference in San Francisco on Wednesday, Novell unvieled its Novell Pulse, a real-time social and document collaboration platform for enterprises. And the kicker? It works seamlessly with Google Wave, Novell said.
"We designed Google Wave and its open federation protocol to help people collaborate and communicate more efficiently," said Lars Rasmussen, software engineering manager for Google Wave. "We are very excited to see Novell supporting the Google Wave Federation Protocol in their innovative Novell Pulse product."
Novell Pulse gives administrators to ability to provision sign-on and permissions to both keep data secure and make it possible for workers to collaborate on documents online in real-time. Perhaps more importantly, Novell Pulse is one of the first major Wave providers.
Novell said its Pulse platform will be available in the first half of 2010, with a beta scheduled for earlier in the year.
It's not been a very good year for Novell employees, who never know what the next day will bring. For 100 to 130 workers out of Novell's roughly 3,900 global employees, this week brought more pink slips, CNet reports.
CNet's sources are saying that the Workgroup division saw the most layoffs, but according to Ian Bruce, Novell's public-relations director, the cuts sliced "across the company, both geographically and productwise."
Ironically enough, Linux jobs in general are doing a smashing job and are up 6 percent ince January, according to data from Dice.com. So if there's a silver lining to all this, Novell employees that were let go might not have such a rough spot finding employment elsewhere. In the meantime, they'll have several months of severance pay to tide them over, which is based on the number of years they were with the company, plus other factors.
And what about those who still have employment at Novell? The company also announced it would suspending 401(k) matching contributions.
In a win for both iPhone owners and .Net developers alike, Novell this week has begun offering a kit for developers to build iPhone and iPod Touch apps using Microsoft's .Net framework. The kit -- called MonoTouch 1.0 -- lets developers utilize code and libraries written for .Net and progamming languages like C#, providing developer services like garbage collection, thread management, type safety, and Web services, noted Miguel de Icaza, VP of the developer platform at Novell and leader of the Mono project.
"MonoTouch brings a new option to the table," said analyst Al Hilwa, a program director for application software at IDC. "I would say that applications closest to the metal will continue to be written in Objective-C, but where developers want to target multiple platforms, including apps that cross over between desktop and mobile, MonoTouch allows them that portability. Of course, the big win with it is that it opens the door for some 5 million .Net developers to begin to do iPhone applications."
By opening the .Net door to iPhone app development -- and a programming language more familiar to the average developer than Objective-C -- Novell anticipates new apps being developed ranging from productivity software to health care apps and games.