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From LinuxWorld: Messman's found his mojo

Novell head Jack Messman kicked off LinuxWorld Expo in New York City today with a keynote address in which he told attendees that his company was prepared to wager its future on open-source software. He spotlighted Novell's recent moves, Linux benefits, some Linux shortcomings and the general industry need to indemnify users of Linux products.

Chairman and CEO Messman admitted Novell was short on Linux capabilities not too long ago. He said the company's recent Linux-related acquisitions -- notably Ximian and SuSe -- have helped to infect Novell's army of developers with ''the open-source mojo.''

His comments on liability issues come in the wake of systems house SCO's increasing efforts to assert patents on open-source Linux. Messman described SCO in passing as ''another Utah-based company.'' Novell is one of a handful of companies that have pledged to indemnify users against suits related to the ownership of the Linux software they buy.

''Vendors have provided indemnification for years. Why should they expect anything less now?'' he asked. ''We need to do a better job of explaining the intellectual property protections inherent in the open-source model,'' he continued. Messman said there was no indication that SCO's threats had slowed Linux sales, but that there was no way to measure if Linux growth may have been affected as corporate CIOs paused to review these events.

Messman said Novell will work with others in industry to improve Linux on the desktop. There is particular traction in foreign governments to support such systems, he noted. Messman said the surfeit of Linux patches and updates represent an opportunity for Novell.

''Open source is all about change,'' he said, adding that a vendor that can help manage such change can provide substantial value. Novell does not, in effect, sell ''free software,'' but instead ''sells a service that helps CIOs manage Linux in the enterprise,'' he noted.

Messman said Novell's now has a significant position as a protector of the open-source flame. ''We will not mess up,'' he vowed.

For more Linux news, go to ADT LinuxWorld News Page

About the Author

Jack Vaughan is former Editor-at-Large at Application Development Trends magazine.

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