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Novell Still Runs Windows 191

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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  • Obvious? (Score:5, Informative)

    by minginqunt ( 225413 ) on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @08:50AM (#15104887) 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.
    • Evidence, please? As an investor in their stock I've looked at their financial statements and I have their annual report on my desk here. Yet I only see them lowering sales of software for Windows.

      Also, why are a few thousand desktops needed to develop and test Windows software for a primarily Linux company? They would only need a small subset of that.
      • ...a fair wodge of Novell's money comes from selling Windows software... ...I only see them lowering sales of software for Windows...

        These two statements are not incompatible. The fact that Novell is suffering a death of a thousand cuts at the hands of Active Directory doesn't make it any less true that Novell makes not insignificant sums from an albeit-dwindling Windowsish installed base.

        • Dying because of Active Directory? What is this, 1992? You need to read their business plans and marketing strategies. Directory services are only one drop in a big bucket.
          • Novell can wave as many marketing strategies at me as it wants; Unfortunately, this is business, and all that matters are those cold, crisp dollars.

            The only place Novell is making any money at all is in its vain defence against the Windows Server encroachment. Okay, so it's not just AD that's killing NDS; There's also Exchange killing Groupwise, SUS killing ZenWorks, and Everything killing Netware. It remains to be seen if they can make money on anything else, Linux included.
            • You're still way behind on the facts. They have linux maintenance contracts with governments. That's a cash cow. Novell isn't all about selling software. They didn't buy a linux distro for the green logo.
    • 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>?

  • Windows will probably never completely go away, or at least not for a very long time, since they do still develop products for windows.
  • Windows? Duh! (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @08:52AM (#15104897)
    I work for Novell, and of course I have a windows machine. I develop software that has to run on Linux, OS X and Windows. All of our developers are in the same boat. If they don't have Windows code, they have NetWare code that needs to be built on Windows. Very few developers don't have code that needs a Win32 box either for development or for testing.

    But ask me what machine I use to read my email, surf the web, write code, etc. It's my Linux box. And most of the developers on my team are the same way. And Novell as a company has been WAY better than anywhere else I have worked about having every business app I need on Linux supported by the IT department, and I even used to work for a company whose main business was their Linux distro (no, it wasn't SuSE).
    • Re:Windows? Duh! (Score:3, Interesting)

      by LWATCDR ( 28044 )
      I as going to say that Novell should keep some Windows systems no matter what. Think about things like Samba or if they want to contribute to OpenOffice they might want a few Windows systems running Office to check compatibility.
      Frankly I would love to hear that Novell has a few Solaris systems, a few BSD systems, and maybe even a VMS system or two.
      I am all for open standards and supporting as many different OSs and ISAs as is practical.
      BTW was the other company you worked for the one that is now unspeakabl
    • Windows is a great operating system, despite all its problems. Let's not forget how many machines run Windows. Linux is cool, and if you are a programmer, maybe it is better, but for everyday use, Windows is fine.

  • by justindz ( 253847 ) on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @09:00AM (#15104931) Homepage
    They make Windows sound like a controlled substance. "Oh man, we're working night and day to get these employees off such a nasty habit. Please don't let this affect your opinion of Novell as a Windows-free workplace."

    Windows is a million times less addictive than nicotine. I kicked the habit on my personal computers in junior high while my peers were just *starting* to smoke.
  • No way (Score:5, Funny)

    by JonJ ( 907502 ) <jon.jahren@gmail.com> on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @09:00AM (#15104934)
    You're trying to tell me that a large corporation with 5000 desktops, who develops Windows software might run Windows on a lot of them? I'm shocked I say, shocked.
  • Worth checking out (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @09:11AM (#15104983)

    We've just had a vendor pitchfest for a replacement OS for an elderly unsupported RH release in use on about 4000 servers (my employer's a dotcom with piles of machines in many remote datacentres round the world.) We've had Sun pitching Solaris, Red Hat on RHEL and Novell/SuSE. I must say the Novell/SuSE pitch was the most unexpectedly impressive; Crispin Cowan's AppArmor is really, really good (I'm biased: I'm a security geek) and seems to be much more usable than SELinux. Xen also seems to be happier on SuSE than RH.

    Sun had a good story now they can say Solaris is really Free, but they seemed very defensive (spent 30 mins showing us balance sheets marked "Sun confidential, internal use only" emphasising they make lots of money and aren't about to go bust. But we would definitely be a relatively small customer for Sun, whereas I'm more convinced that Novell would be prepared to go the extra mile to keep us happy.

    Personally I'm going to be trying SLES out on at least one machine at home, alongside OpenBSD and Mandriva, regardless which OS our beancounters plump for.

    • AppArmor is interesting. Having played with both, I'd say that for the case of locking down a server running a few must-protect apps, AppArmor is probably a lot easier.

      AppArmor has another advantage over SELinux at least for desktop machines: SELinux requires an incredible slow "relabel" process every so often, as Red Hat push out updates to the policy. It takes places at bootup and you may as well go get lunch whilst it occurs. The idea is that every system object that may be confined has a unique label

    • I couldn't agree more. For anyone who hasn't tried out AppArmor [novell.com] I highly recommend giving it a try with the distro of your choice or trying OpenSUSE [opensuse.org] as all of the newer SUSE products (SLES/NLD 9 sp3+, OpenSUSE 10+, OES sp2+) have it integrated with a stupid simple YAST interface for using it. I'm definitely biased as I've been friends with the Immunix crew for quite some time and work closely with Novell but having used a variety of MAC products (Argus Pitbull, SELinux, and AppArmor) I can say that AppArm
  • I get it - they aren't fully converted. But then - they do DEVELOP software that runs on Windows. And their tools will only succeed if they can integrate into a Windows environment.

    The accomplishment is that they are all dual boot and they use OpenOffice.org. Period.
    • when I worked there 2 years ago, I wasn't dual boot. I just had 4-7 machines all the time with a kvm. I always had at least one windows machine depending on what I was doing, but the good hardware was always running linux. The culture there seemed to be: "MS took our lunch money years ago, and now we're going to face them armed with very little, but at least we're going down swinging." Of course some of the most accomplished technical people that made Netware what it was are long gone, but there are co
  • 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.
    • "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."

      This exists in the open source world (and its LAMP, too :P)
      http://ruqueue.rutgers.edu/ [rutgers.edu]

      We've been using it for 6 months and it rawks. As much as trouble ticket systems can rawk anyway. AND there are a zillion programs like it on freshmeat.net in varying states of readiness.
    • Can everyone please stop with this 'port everything to a web based app' stuff? It sucks. It sucks for the developers and it sucks for the users. Even with AJAX, web development still sucks. Web apps still suck. A good GUI app will beat a good web app in terms of UI every single time.
      • Web apps that rely on a browser like IE suck. Nothing more.

        This will change.

        SCT Banner - which is a HUGE application that runs universities - runs off Oracle Java stuff. Yes, the app itself sucks - but considering that it started out as a mainframe app, got shrunk down to client/server, then further shrunk down to the Web, that's not surprising.

        But there is little about it that doesn't do the exact same thing it did with a client/server GUI native on Windows. Yes, you have to install WebStart and JInitiator
    • 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?

      Probably because LAMP applications are not robust or secure without sinking a lot of effort. If we're talking LAPJ (Postgres, Java) then maybe you've got a case, but LAMP is a joke with anyone who knows what they're doing.
  • Makes sense. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by gregarican ( 694358 ) on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @09:27AM (#15105082) Homepage
    There are likely some departments within Novell that still are dependent on Windows for third party apps. Like an accounting or payroll department perhaps. Are there enterprise level Linux apps that would support them? Not trying to flame. Just a question.
  • 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.
  • Since Novell actively supports and develops Client32 for Windows, Groupwise for Windows, Zen for Windows, etc I hope they'll keep[ some Windows boxen around for developing and testing purposes. And since their PSE's support accounts that run Windows, those cats need to be using dual boot and/or virtualization setups as well. I say don't focus on how many desktops they didn't migrate to 100% Linux, focus instead on how many they did. I'm also willing to bet that if Novell weren't an IT company that had to de
  • Wine (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Until wine is in decent shape, it is pointless to approach general public to switch. While it will never run 100% of the applications,
    it is not necessary. It just a larger fraction of the applications than it currently does.

    Having said I was surprised to see how far it has come. I tested several niche applications used in the insurance industry with codeweavers. None of them had a problem. While I am not ready to recommend wine as an option in our company, I have a hope that
    in future it can become a reason
  • Report (Score:3, Interesting)

    by supra ( 888583 ) on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @09:54AM (#15105276)
    I wonder if they are generating a report of the migration (positives and negatives).
    And if so, will they publish it?
  • 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
    • their pricing provides no advantage over Microsoft

      If that's true, it's good enough. Something that works better but costs the same will take market share. TCO is probably better on the Novell side and your data and employee's time is way to expensive to leave to Microsoft. By now, you have to have a hole in your head to use Exchange or any other M$ server.

    • You havent seen the latest bundle. It's called the Open Workgroup Suite, and it includes SLES, Open Enterprise Server (Linux version, but there is also pricing for the NetWare version), GroupWise, ZEN Suite (manage Windoze and Linux workstations and servers), SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop, and support for OpenOffice.org on Windows (so you can have a mixed deployment). The pricing on it hasn't been announced, but it's in the $100 - $150 / user ballpark.

      Check it out here http://www.novell.com/products/openw [novell.com]
    • I'm not sure about it, but I think Novell includes support, but you have to buy it extra for the Windows-solution. (And that makes sense because if you don't need support you also don't need Novell to run Linux)
    • Go look at the Novell Open Workgroup Suite - http://www.novell.com/products/openworkgroupsuite / [novell.com]

      Quote from the pricing and announcement:

      "The Novell Open Workgroup Suite includes the Linux* version of Novell Open Enterprise Server, Novell GroupWise® for Linux, Novell ZENworks® Suite, SUSE® Linux Enterprise Desktop and the popular OpenOffice.org. Pricing is $110 per device/user for a perpetual license and $75 annually for software maintenance."

  • 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.

  • This has to be the biggest non-story I've ever seen on Slashdot.

    Seriously, did ELSE anyone read that summary and just think, "Wow, who cares what Novell is doing OS-wise internally?".

    Yes, I realize that this story is here for the purpose of reporting on another company converting to a pure-linux environment but the way the story reads, at least to me, is that Novell should be ashamed of itself for not doing it sooner or something.

    Not trolling, just saying...
    • Well, as Novell is supposed to be one of the biggest Linux vendors who publicly stated many many times that they are converting all of their internal systems to Linux and pronto this is certainly not only "another company converting to a pure-linux environment". Do as you say or "Eat your own dog food". Especially as I only yesterday read an interview with Mr Messman from Novell in some financial paper stating that Linux can do everything Windows can do and that there is no need for Windows any more (ok, he
      • And they are quickly and aggressively converting all their internal systems to Linux. Their plan is on schedule. BTW their are shops that converted to all Linux in the late 1990s in a variety of industries. Most (all?) of them were coming from Sun, SCO, not Microsoft so the Linux argument that the problem is one of Windows "addiction" seems borne out by the evidence.
  • I can't imagine why they would even want to dual boot if they could run something like VMWare and just virtualize Windows. Rebooting just to run a piece of software seems a little odd, unless it is a game that doesn't run well in VMWare. Something is fishy about this claim, methinks.

  • by ezs ( 444264 ) on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @10:34AM (#15105576) Homepage
    Disclaimer - I work for Novell.

    The migration away from Windows and Microsoft Office was always a phased approach.

    Office --> Open Office first (Novell is now standardised across the company on OpenOffice 2.0)

    Windows --> Linux workstations for those that can; based on business function, application needs and the 'savviness' of the user

    Right now I'd say that a large proportion of development, test and technical people are using Novell Linux Desktop as their primary desktop. I can see this just by working with people in meetings.

    I can't comment on the overall number of people using single boot Linux, dual boot or just Windows; all I can share is what I see - lots of people using Linux on a daily basis.

    The next phase is 'filling the gaps' - seeing how knowledge workers and those with specific applications can move. The release of SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop 10 in mid-year should help with a lot of these issues.

    Remember - just like any project choose the visible, realistic goals - that's what Novell's IS&T team have done.

  • by RomulusNR ( 29439 ) on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @10:43AM (#15105629) Homepage
    But how are Novell's middle managers going to play with their Gantt charts from Microsoft Project?
  • Novell will have to keep Windows around for as long as they have to:

    - produce Windows software
    - support existing product
    - maintain support contracts with legacy clients (see previous point)
    - need to interoperate with Windows (although based on SuSE 9.3 and 10, they did little testing of KDE/Samba integration with Active Directory in recent release, it took a fair bit of tweaking on my part to make it work)
    - Need to make Evolution work smoothly with Exchange
    - N
    • ...Novell has real products to offer, while IBM is surviving primarily on services now.

      You ought to take a look at IBM's actual annual reports. IBM Software Group has a large portfolio of software products, and pulls in billions of dollars of sales every year. (And yes, it's profitable.) Less than IGS, but not exactly peanuts.

The rich get rich, and the poor get poorer. The haves get more, the have-nots die.