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Novell Still Runs Windows 191

Posted by Zonk
from the slow-going dept.
daria42 writes "Despite Novell's internal migration to Suse and OpenOffice.org, the company admitted today that up to 3000 of its 5000 workers still had dual-boot installations with Microsoft Windows. These users are likely to be migrated to pure Linux boot systems in the next year or so." From the article: "Hovsepian's remarks indicate Novell will have at most a few months' experience as a complete Linux and open source desktop shop behind it when, according to the vendor's predictions, the software starts taking off in the mainstream." Update: 04/11 13:25 GMT by J : At the closing OSCON session, August 5, 2005, Miguel de Icaza talked about Novell's progress. My notes read: "novell's moving 5500 employees from windows to linux. first stage, office->openoffice, is complete. second stage, windows->linux, is 50% complete, proj. 80% by Nov."
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Novell Still Runs Windows

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  • by DataPath (1111) on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @08:51AM (#15104891)
    Windows will probably never completely go away, or at least not for a very long time, since they do still develop products for windows.
  • by metricmusic (766303) on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @08:54AM (#15104907) Homepage Journal
    Novell's shift from Windows and Office to open source software was first begun in March 2004, while microsoft's honey pot was only released on the 3rd of this year?
  • Re:I call bull (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Rekolitus (899752) on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @09:01AM (#15104941)
    However, Linux is closer to desktop readiness this year than ever before.
  • by CastrTroy (595695) on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @09:07AM (#15104974) Homepage
    The only reason that Linux isn't viable on the desktop is because Microsoft locks people into their proprietary standards. If you have a bunch of documents in MS Office, or you exchange documents with those who use MS Office, then you can't really get rid of it. You can't expect OO.o to be 100% compatible because they had to reverse engineer the file format, and there's no way to get it right. Microsoft can't even stay compatible with itself across versions, how is OO.o supposed to get it right? Same thing goes for many other things locking people in, like Exchange to name one. The software on Linux is great, and would be a lot better if we didn't have to spend half our time reverse engineering Microsoft's file formats, and implementing proprietary extentsions that Microsoft has wedged into the few standards it chooses to even recognize.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @09:08AM (#15104975)
    *nix has been managable across a network longer than Windows has even known what a network is. *nix was designed with the network in mind...
  • I call meta (Score:5, Insightful)

    by hey! (33014) on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @09:12AM (#15104993) Homepage Journal
    Face facts folks, Linux still isn't ready for the desktop, and Novell, despite their loads of marketing, knows it.

    If Linux isn't ready for the desktop, there's no such thing as "ready for the desktop". I see absolutely NO criteria of "desktop readiness" that (a)applies to Windows, (b) doesn't apply to Linux and (c) is an attribute solely of the operating system.

    Where Linux adopters run into trouble is C. The problem is what economists call "network effects": if you need software X, and provider of X only targets Windows, then you need Windows.

    The point of a company like Novell migrating to Linux is to help create a Linux market for X, or its competitor X'. But until X or X' is available on Linux, then you're stuck with dual boot.
  • by plazman30 (531348) on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @09:17AM (#15105020) Homepage
    Novell is a company that develops Windows products, as well as Linux and Netware. They are ALWAYS going to have Windows workstations there. We have a number of Novell DSEs at our company and they ALL run NLD or Suse 10 on their work laptops, and use Vmware to run Windows as needed.

    Other Novell support staff needs Windows boxes around to support customers.

    I don't think it's possible for them to be 100% Windows free. Their business demands that they run some Windows boxes.
  • by RootsLINUX (854452) <rootslinux&gmail,com> on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @09:21AM (#15105038) Homepage
    I find it quite ambiguous when people debate whether Linux is "desktop ready" or not. What does that mean? I have the notion that it means something different to everyone. I've been exclusively running Linux on my desktop for over 3 years, and exclusively on my laptop for over one year. I have a Linux system at my workplace, and so does almost everyone else on my floor. Are there occasionally problems with running Linux on my desktop (including problems related to the fact that I'm not running Windows)? Yes, of course there are. The amount of problems may decrease, but will never be fully eliminated (IMHO). I can usually find a detour or alternative to the problems that I face now though, so its not a huge deal. And I can state for a fact that the amount of time I spend fixing problems with my Linux desktop is much less than the amount of time I used to spend solving similar problems on my former Windows machine.

    So I consider Linux is already "desktop ready" for me. I think that for the most part, regular people can do just fine if Ubuntu or another user-friendly distro is completely setup for them and they are given maybe a 30-minute tutorial on how to access the web, e-mail, etc. So who are we talking about here? Who does Linux have to be "ready" for to be called desktop ready? Those idiots that call in to tech support asking which key is the any key? The elderly who don't even know what a mouse is? Or just your normal, average computer user? And if so, who is a normal, aveage computer user anyway?

    Sorry for the early morning rant, but this term has been bothering me for quite some time. :p
  • by SoupIsGood Food (1179) on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @09:25AM (#15105063)
    I can see why they haven't migrated yet. There are a few business apps, mostly vertical applications for ticketing, billing and invoice, that need to be run on Windows. For instance, where I work, we use a proprietary ticketing system that is unlikely to be ported to anything that isn't Windows. It enters problems on a customer's account, and assigns the problem to the appropriate technician, who then updates the ticket as needed.

    But here's the deal... for all of its slowness, awkward GUI implementation, dubious reliability and stratospheric license and support contracts, all it really does is read and update database records. It's a LAMP application with out the L, A or P.

    Here's a bigger deal... almost all vertical client/server apps can be replaced by a web-based application. Almost all of them do nothing but update and display database records.

    Why not just hire a full-time RoR geek or two to crank out LAMP applications that will be robust, secure, customizeable to meet coprorate standards, easy to deploy and dirt cheap compared to a multi-zillion dollar per-seat license?

    Why not indeed.

    This is where the new growth in the IT industry is headed. Already, most of the tools I need to interact with the vast and varied store of corporate data are web-based utilities. Admittedly, I work on the technical side of a major ISP, and we tend to be more elightened about such things, but really... Linux on the desktop will be a reality sooner rather than later.

    The trick isn't porting applications to the Linux desktop, but to the Linux server.
  • by Zphbeeblbrox (816582) <zaphar@gmail.com> on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @09:28AM (#15105090) Homepage
    Exactly which piece of software can't you live without? You said after OpenOffice the choices were limited but for the life of me I just can't think of a single business app without a linux runnable replacement. Perhaps you work in an unusual environment but I'm just a little curious what these mysterios apps are.
  • The training myth (Score:2, Insightful)

    by meosborne (8640) on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @09:36AM (#15105135)
    The oft-hyped training issue is a complete myth in my experience.

    My parents (age 70+) are happily running Fedora Core 5. training was neglible. They e-mail, surf, and play games with no problems at all.

    My present company is completely linux-based using thin-clients. Training issues? None, nada. Complaints? None, nada. No issues teaching people to use Linux, no issues teaching people to use OpenOffice.org, or Gaim, or Evolution, or any of the other applications we use.

    We are a medical facility. Our staff are trained to treat patients and are by no means computer people. They just want the computer to work so that they can get their jobs done. And you know what? That's exactly what it does.

    Linux is not perfect, but neither is Windows. Each is better at some things than the other. Your comments are simply ignorant.
  • by ViX44 (893232) on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @09:37AM (#15105143)
    Just because Novell is offering Linux doesn't make it heresy that they have boxes with Windows dual-booted. If they've already bought their licences for Windows, MS is already paid. Not exercising the licences they own out of protest isn't going to make a dent. Meanwhile, their devs need to be able to run stuff on Windows, so it kinda makes sense that they have Windows at their disposal.

    Speaking as someone who lost a number of potentially productive days trying to get Windows 2000 SP4-slipstreamed to install on a 250G harddrive without crapping out at boot-time when it saw a partition beyond the 128GB barrier, Linux is looking better every day. In fact, after spending five minutes in Fedora, Ubuntu, and SuSE, the chameleon won and is now installed on my hda4. But I still need Windows to run a few things...yes, mostly games, and a few college websites that just have to have IE6. But I already own Win2K, and I'd be silly not to use it just because MS is an idiot sometimes.

    Keeping Windows around for the things Windows is good at makes my computer more powerful. I don't support MS, but I'm not going to rend my nose to spite Bill's face.

    Windows, or at least, the Microsoft Operating System, is never going to go away. If Linux seriously erodes Microsoft's position, they'll sink their pentillions of dollars into making a solid, quality, viable OS product. So don't mind Novell, or myself, for installing SuSE and Windows next to each other. You need not be a zealot or a martyr to be a soldier.
  • Re:Obvious? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mysticgoat (582871) * on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @09:43AM (#15105191) Homepage Journal

    Since a fair wodge of Novell's money comes from selling Windows software, I comfortably predict that this won't happen any time soon.

    Since Novell has a fair wodge of business savvy, I agree. The Windows licenses are sunk costs and removing Windows completely would only add more cost to that, with no measurable benefit. So long as the Windows partitions don't get in the way of doing work, it would be a bad business decision to get rid of them.

    TFA is pure FUD. It might be useful to know how many Novell employees still mostly use Windows, but there is no value in knowing how many have dual boot capability.

    Oh wait... a lot of businesses making the switch to Linux will be dual booting for some time. Looks like Novell is well positioned to provide them with experienced technical support. I wonder if that is accidental or deliberate <sg>?

  • by mysticgoat (582871) * on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @09:51AM (#15105243) Homepage Journal

    This is only another proof that successful companies don't waste money on removing facilities that are no longer useful but don't get in the way.

    An emerging migration strategy from Windows to Linux is

    1. Dual boot
    2. Mothball Windows partitions
    3. Replace desktop hardware with Linux only boxen at end of service life
    4. Maximize profits all the way along

    Oh wait... you know that. You're only trolling, right?

    [too early-- need more coffee...]

  • by myxiplx (906307) on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @09:51AM (#15105246)
    Er... mysterious apps? Just because you don't know of any doesn't mean they don't exist. For example:

    AutoCAD - yup, very mysterious this...

    StruCAD / XSteel - not quite so well known pretty much the only choices for 3D detailing in this industry.

    On top of that we've got our CAD/CAM control software, can't see us moving to a Linux version of that. You need dedicated software to run well over £600,000 worth of machinery, taking data from the above packages. Can't see that running on anything but Windows for the forseeable future.
  • by HighOrbit (631451) on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @10:04AM (#15105358)
    This is slightly offtopic....but

    First to dispense with TFA: since they are developing stuff for Windows, they will never be rid of it, nor should they. So they will always run Windows in-house to some extent.

    But why can't they sell their product to other people? They have all the right parts to replace a Windows/Active Directory infrustructure. They have a desktop (Suse), they have a respected directory server (eDirecotry/NDS), they have general purpose servers (Suse), Zenworks to mananage it all, and they have an entrenched legacy product (i.e. a foot in the door) for which they can provide an upgrade path. Most importantly, they have them integrated seemlessly in their Open Enterprise Server. But they still can't get the sale. Its because their pricing provides no advantage over Microsoft A Novell Open Enterprise Server per user license per year is $230 retail. A MS Win2K3 10 user CAL is $1199 retail (or $119.9 per user). That's retail. MS, being the bigger company, has the ability to come even lower in enterprise or site licensing. Sadly, Novell doesn't seem able to do the math.

    They should take the chance that they could make up the difference in revenue by going with volume over price. More licneses for less each, instead of fewer licenses for more each. They have to realize that every Windows installation is going to lead to an Exchange installation instead of a Groupwise installation. If they could build the market share in the network products, the revenue in services and add-on products will follow.
  • by RetiredMidn (441788) * on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @10:13AM (#15105409) Homepage
    When I was working for Novell, I started my move to Linux by installing it on the second drive in my laptop and dual-booting; it was the easiest way to start with Linux and preserve the data on my Windows volume. I booted into WIndows very few times after that, and the last few times I realized that I really hadn't needed to. But my Windows volume remained intact (and unused) for months, until it was worth my time to re-format the volume and do a clean install of Linux. So I was officially in "dual boot" status for months, but using Linux 99% of the time.

    Having said that, the transition at Novell had its high and low points. I was pleasantly surprised at how quickly the services on the company intranet shifted from supporting WIndows/IE only to generic browsers. I was disappointed in the quality of the GroupWise client on Linux (not that I was wild about the Windows version...), and the lukewarm support for the Evolution client on the GroupWise servers.

    Oddly, the thing that made the Linux move easier for me than many of my co-workers was the fact that I am an OS X user by preference. Of course, the terminal was not a mystery, and I was more accustomed to accepting that similar things are sometimes managed very differently on different platforms.

    One constructive criticism I would leave Novell with is that they could learn a lot from Apple about making *nix palatable to the desktop user (specific example: printing), but, from where I sat, it seemed as though Apple was completely invisible to Novell.

  • Re:I call meta (Score:4, Insightful)

    by bwalling (195998) on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @12:52PM (#15106682) Homepage
    If Linux isn't ready for the desktop, there's no such thing as "ready for the desktop". I see absolutely NO criteria of "desktop readiness" that (a)applies to Windows, (b) doesn't apply to Linux and (c) is an attribute solely of the operating system.

    Well, see, as of a month ago, I still had to hand edit a text file to get wireless working on my laptop. That gets filed under "not ready for the desktop". While it may seem simple to you to type 'apt-get update' and 'apt-get upgrade' you have to keep in mind that *average* users don't ever want to see a command prompt. You're also correct about (c). You can't get Quicken for Linux, and GnuCash doesn't magically talk to my bank for me.

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