Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 24th Feb 2009 10:24 UTC
Novell and Ximian Obviously, Linux vendors will not remain untouched by the economic downturn. Novell has already announced a number of lay offs, and the openSUSE Linux division has not been spared. openSUSE board members Pascal Blesser and Bryen Yunashko announced the lay offs.
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Why Opensuse?
by vivainio on Tue 24th Feb 2009 10:50 UTC
vivainio
Member since:
2008-12-26

If they are laying off 100 out of their 4200 employees, I'm wondering why they are targeting OpenSUSE developers. You'd think that among those 4200 there is a fair share of "fat" that could be cut (middle managers, old-time hangabouts), instead of getting rid of developers in the first place.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Why Opensuse?
by aunzim on Tue 24th Feb 2009 11:01 UTC in reply to "Why Opensuse?"
aunzim Member since:
2008-07-25

This will hurt gnome, that is right now in difficult times with the gtk3 problem

Reply Score: 0

RE: Why Opensuse?
by Thom_Holwerda on Tue 24th Feb 2009 11:13 UTC in reply to "Why Opensuse?"
Thom_Holwerda Member since:
2005-06-29

You are assuming there are no middle managers and other non-devs in the openSUSE division...?

Reply Score: 4

RE[2]: Why Opensuse?
by segedunum on Tue 24th Feb 2009 12:11 UTC in reply to "RE: Why Opensuse?"
segedunum Member since:
2005-07-06

Like most companies such as Novell, they never lay off the people who they should lay off in the right departments - until they realise that there is no one left to do any actual work that pulls in the money.

Reply Score: 4

RE[3]: Why Opensuse?
by zima on Tue 24th Feb 2009 15:28 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Why Opensuse?"
zima Member since:
2005-07-06

OTOH I would really like to think that all this "lay off due to recession" thing is simply a case of companies having a convenient scapegoat, thanks to which they can fire significant quantities of fat without loosing face. While preserving their talent.

That would presume they're sensible though...

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: Why Opensuse?
by kaiwai on Tue 24th Feb 2009 22:21 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Why Opensuse?"
kaiwai Member since:
2005-07-06

Like most companies such as Novell, they never lay off the people who they should lay off in the right departments - until they realise that there is no one left to do any actual work that pulls in the money.


Its always interesting to see who gets the cut. It reminds me of when Sun was doing some downsizing. Was it in the management? marketing? sales? was their reduction in pointless offices located in the middle of no where? was there a move to a more centralised approach? nope - they started firing their top minds - their engineers, programmers and researchers.

I'm no programmer or engineer (my interest is in the management side of the equation) but I do realise that they (the programmers, engineers, researchers etc) are the Geese who lay golden eggs, without them you have no products, you have no competitive edge and you most certainly will have no innovative approaches to give you a leap ahead or a new product range.

If OpenSuSE had reached perfection and thus there were a whole lot of programmers sitting around not knowing what to do - then sure, get rid of them, they're surplus to what the business needs. The reality is that OpenSuSE is far from perfection and needs all the man power and leadership that it can muster.

Take HAL, as mentioned in a previous article regarding VectorLinux, there is a known issue regarding the inefficiency of polling - why aren't some of these programmers who are going to be laid off assigned to working on this issue? it's not only beneficial to OpenSuSE but also Novell by way of making SLED 10 more laptop friendly in reference to energy efficiency - thus able to more effectively target the enterprise desktop.

Then again, here is me thinking in terms of practicality and long term issues rather thsn short term 'save a few bucks' that the MBA wizkids think in.

Edited 2009-02-24 22:24 UTC

Reply Score: 3

RE: Why Opensuse?
by ennoil on Tue 24th Feb 2009 12:25 UTC in reply to "Why Opensuse?"
ennoil Member since:
2009-02-24

I think you will find that the article does not say that OpenSUSE has been targeted, just that it has not been spared. What is more troubling is that while they are laying off openSUSE folks, they are brining on .NET developers to help with MONO.
Novell is becoming too good friends with Microsoft as far as I can tell...

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: Why Opensuse?
by segedunum on Tue 24th Feb 2009 13:56 UTC in reply to "RE: Why Opensuse?"
segedunum Member since:
2005-07-06

It certainly strikes me as a tad insensitive that they are laying off OpenSuse workers and then hoping that they will still continue to work on the project. If the parent company cannot provide direction for it, why should some former workers who have been sacked do that work for them for nothing? It's possible more outside companies will get involved in the project, but I don't see why they would help the main sponsor out here.

Novell have seemingly fallen into a trap that many companies do when it comes to open sourcing things. They hope that they can just throw something out there and hope that they will then benefit from other peoples' ideas and code because they themselves have ran out of ideas. You can't do that. An open source project needs direction, grounding and adequate incentives for many external contributors to get involved.

Edited 2009-02-24 14:13 UTC

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: Why Opensuse?
by Windows Sucks on Tue 24th Feb 2009 14:43 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Why Opensuse?"
Windows Sucks Member since:
2005-11-10

They hope that they can just throw something out there and hope that they will then benefit from other peoples' ideas and code because they themselves have ran out of ideas. You can't do that. An open source project needs direction, grounding and adequate incentives for many external contributors to get involved.


You are right about that. More people need to look at Red Hat to see how Open Source is done right.

Red Hat is making a mint from Linux without totally pissing off Open Source supports or customers!

Red Hat has learned how to provide value in what they offer and people will pay for something of value.

Look what happened with Oracle. They tried to under cut Red Hat with Red Hats own product. But they can't offer the value. And that value is knowledge, control of their product time lines and great support.

Yes Oracle can provide a similar product and lower cost support, but are they really knowlageable? Do they really have the skill and support level that Red Hat has? Can they even patch their OS?? And what is the time frame on that patching etc??

Out of that you have Fedora. Red Hat gets MILLIONS of dollars in free R&D by having their normal paid staff to develop on Fedora and roll those well tested pieces up to their enterprise products. Unlike Novell this is not a seperate paid staff that can be cut. These are core Red Hat developers that develop what end up being Enterprise level components on Fedora, have them tested by the millions of Fedora users out there then roll those ideas up. They are not just making Fedora (Like Novell) to please open source users. Fedora is a major piece of their business model on the OS side.

Reply Score: 7

RE[4]: Why Opensuse?
by flanque on Tue 24th Feb 2009 20:30 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Why Opensuse?"
flanque Member since:
2005-12-15

Look what happened with Oracle. They tried to under cut Red Hat with Red Hats own product. But they can't offer the value. And that value is knowledge, control of their product time lines and great support.

Yes Oracle can provide a similar product and lower cost support, but are they really knowlageable? Do they really have the skill and support level that Red Hat has? Can they even patch their OS?? And what is the time frame on that patching etc??

I can say from regular first hand experience, Oracle support is shit at best. I'd never go with an Oracle product unless I had to just based on support alone.

I completely agree with you on this particular point against Oracle.

Edited 2009-02-24 20:31 UTC

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Why Opensuse?
by gfolkert on Tue 24th Feb 2009 14:04 UTC in reply to "RE: Why Opensuse?"
gfolkert Member since:
2008-12-15

Novell is becoming too good friends with Microsoft as far as I can tell...


Really? I never noticed the Voucher Program. Now I've not noticed this. These two thing in particular are disturbing. Can you please tell me how this means Novell and Microsoft are "partners"?

Really? there is really *NO* evidence they are getting cozy...




Ummm... Yeah. Just what have you been (NOT) noticing the last few years?

Thank you very much Mister Captain Obvious. Consider me "awoke"

/me apologizes for being sarcastic this morning. PCI compliance is a PITA and is ruining my day with farcical requirements aimed at that one OS that keeps getting worms, virus(es?), trojans, key-loggers, Active Hexploits... etc.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Why Opensuse?
by moleskine on Tue 24th Feb 2009 17:17 UTC in reply to "RE: Why Opensuse?"
moleskine Member since:
2005-11-05

That's ironic. I'm typing this on OpenSuSE 11.1 x64 and the one thing that's wobbly is Mono. In fact one flagship Mono app doesn't work at all and I be surprised if it ever has since it seems OpenSuSE haven't yet got around to updating it to a newer, patched version. Another flagship mono app causes freezing and general weird behaviour. Hmmn ...

Reply Score: 2

Novell is Bleeding to Death
by segedunum on Tue 24th Feb 2009 12:29 UTC
segedunum
Member since:
2005-07-06

Like most declines like this it is a long and slow process, but it's yet another nail in the coffin. Novell have been laying a lot of workers off over the past few years and it has made no real difference, so in the current climate the squeeze will get even tighter. There are even a lot of rumours that there are more layoffs being covered up within the company.

The biggest problem for Novell, as it has been since day one of their Linux involvement, is that their mainstay revenue generators of Netware, Groupwise and eDirectory are bleeding all over the floor in favour of Windows Server, Exchange and AD. They've been outflanked technically and strategically, and they still persist in copying from and bowing down before Microsoft. Rather than give themselves a shot in the arm by using open source software to create new products to increase usage and uptake of their own existing ones, they have done..........nothing. Except muck about with stuff like a Silverlight clone that does nothing for their bottom line. Microsoft have thrown a nice bit of 'fire and motion' on Novell there, as Joel Spolsky would say. They'll never learn.

Edited 2009-02-24 12:31 UTC

Reply Score: 1

RE: Novell is Bleeding to Death
by Adurbe on Tue 24th Feb 2009 14:19 UTC in reply to "Novell is Bleeding to Death"
Adurbe Member since:
2005-07-06

come on they have made some very nice products based on their open source aquisitions. They are trying to slowly shift to linux as their revenue earner but its not an instant flick of the switch.

If novell suddenly stopped their groupwise and other suites then they would not be making the money to sustain their linux 'experiment'

I hope the company YOU work for doesnt simply drop its current product line and revenue streams and create a new one with incomplete compatibility.

Reply Score: 5

segedunum Member since:
2005-07-06

come on they have made some very nice products based on their open source aquisitions.

Like what, and which ones are making money for them as Red Hat is doing with what they put their effort into? Fedora -> Red Hat. Fedora Directory Server -> Red Hat Directory Server etc.

Those of us who have followed Novell and seen their software in lots of organsations over the yeats have seen this erosion. They just haven't done anything in the open source arena to help them stabilise and increase revenue of Netware, eDirectory and Groupwise in the face of stiff competition and strategic outflanking from Microsoft. These are their primary revenue generators and what keeps the OpenSuse, Mono and other people in jobs. OpenSuse should have been the base for the new Linux based Netware. It isn't. It should be a stepping stone to increase usage and then increase revenue through familiarity. It isn't.

They are trying to slowly shift to linux as their revenue earner but its not an instant flick of the switch.

It's been over five years and Windows Server has been eating their lunch for all that time. How long do you think it takes to flick a switch? Time has not been on their side.

OpenSuse should have formed the open source base for their new open source Linux network operating system to replace Netware, increased the usage of it and given existing customers a reason not to jump to Windows Server and given Windows admins food for thought. Sod all has happened and there is still an exodus of customers.

If novell suddenly stopped their groupwise and other suites then they would not be making the money to sustain their linux 'experiment'

I'm not saying that they should be stopping their existing product lines at all. They should have been, from day one five years ago, continuing to support what they have but open sourcing them to increase usage, giving them more interesting features and add-ons and giving their existing customers a reason to pay for support and stay with them.

After over five years I think we can say that the Linux 'experiment' has failed conclusively, mainly because Novell hasn't got a clue what they want or need to do.

I hope the company YOU work for doesnt simply drop its current product line and revenue streams and create a new one with incomplete compatibility.

You misunderstand totally. I'm not suggesting that at all, but you have to work out how to move them to where you want to go and where those products will be sustainable. Despite all of Novell's open source aspirations their main revenue generators stand as they always have - alone. No one is using them and even fewer are paying for them.

Reply Score: 3

huh?
by liamdawe on Tue 24th Feb 2009 14:17 UTC
liamdawe
Member since:
2006-07-04

Okay am i being dumb here or what but i thought opensuse was just that an open platform open to any devs that was simply sponsored by novell so how can they lay people off?

Reply Score: 1

RE: huh?
by Adurbe on Tue 24th Feb 2009 14:21 UTC in reply to "huh?"
Adurbe Member since:
2005-07-06

novell (and other companies) pay their workers to work on the open source project

Novells version of openoffice for example is my personal favorite implementation

Reply Score: 4

RE: huh?
by g2devi on Tue 24th Feb 2009 16:10 UTC in reply to "huh?"
g2devi Member since:
2005-07-09

SUSE is based off of OpenSUSE, in much the same way that Red Hat is based off of Fedora and StarOffice is based off of OpenOffice. Because of this, these companies have a vested interest in paying open source developers to work on the project since they can have a voice in the direction of the project and because it makes creating the commercial version from the open source version easier.

What this means is uncertain. If the OpenSUSE community steps up to the challenge and Novell focuses its efforts, it could mean that OpenSUSE will be more community driven, and possibly SUSE might be. If not, it could mean that Novell may be focusing its efforts on SUSE and pulling out of its support for OpenSUSE in the same way Novell pulled out of Compiz and focused on its own Nomad branch (which thankfully will finally be merged into Compiz).

Reply Score: 2

...
by Hiev on Tue 24th Feb 2009 14:31 UTC
Hiev
Member since:
2005-09-27

All about the profits.

Are they really making money from OpenSuse? Or is just drayning resources?

This are hard times for everyone.

Reply Score: 1

RE: ...
by JonathanBThompson on Tue 24th Feb 2009 14:58 UTC in reply to "..."
JonathanBThompson Member since:
2006-05-26

Based on the last quarterly financial report as posted on OSNews, Novell simply has not been making profit in the Linux realm as of yet: overall, they've been losing millions of dollars on that. As a company, they aren't profitable. And no, Thom Holwerda, revenue is NOT the same as profit ;)

Thus, it shouldn't be too surprising, if they don't have the bank account to fund things for a long period of time that aren't predicted to make a profit, that they'd get rid of those working on such products and services.

Reply Score: 0

RE[2]: ...
by JonathanBThompson on Thu 26th Feb 2009 00:57 UTC in reply to "RE: ..."
JonathanBThompson Member since:
2006-05-26

Wow, you can tell who the extreme fanbois are, they're the ones that are stupid enough to mark down a post that's applicable and makes sense from a reality/business standpoint, but bugs them that their pet cause isn't doing as great from a reality/business standpoint as they'd really want it to ;)

/me expects this to now get voted down farther, as well as the first post, because of the same stupid fanbois ;)

Reply Score: 2

RE: ...
by Adurbe on Tue 24th Feb 2009 16:10 UTC in reply to "..."
Adurbe Member since:
2005-07-06

if I was to make the choice

1 dev for Open Suse <-- not making and will never make money

OR

1 dev for novel netware <-- making money but not as much as it was

I would have the duty to keep the one 'generating revenue' as the revenue his work generates (indirectly as devs tend to not be sales people) could keep others employed

Reply Score: 3

Ironic
by danieldk on Tue 24th Feb 2009 17:29 UTC
danieldk
Member since:
2005-11-18

I find this slightly ironic, given that the previous Novell-related headline was (yes, I know that revenue is not profit, but their Linux division seems to provide most promise for the future):

"Novell Reports Leap in Linux Revenues"

From that article:

The strongest revenues, however, were found elsewhere in the company: Novell's Linux business sky-rocketed in revenue by 33 percent, to 195 million USD - which is a big chunk of the total of 243 million.


Sometimes nasty things happen. E.g. once Sun opensourced Solaris, they fired some of their operating system engineers, apparently hoping that some productivity could be replaced by 'for-free' community participants (at least, that would be my interpretation). And Novell has some history here as well (AppArmor?).

Edited 2009-02-24 17:30 UTC

Reply Score: 4

RE: Ironic
by moleskine on Tue 24th Feb 2009 19:56 UTC in reply to "Ironic"
moleskine Member since:
2005-11-05

I think a few folks pointed out at the time that the Novell article you mention was boosterism since the growth in their Linux business till left them trailing miles and miles behind Red Hat and not, one presumes, in the position Novell intended to be in when they acquired SuSE. It's one thing to be in second place but another to be in second place by a factor of about 4 to 1.

I really doubt how much of a community can ever really form around a commercial distro. Obviously there are communities around them, but when push comes to shove it's the business and not the community that calls the shots. If the business takes a hit and starts to withdraw funding or change the terms on which it operates, one wonders how strong the community will turn out to be. If OpenSuSE was put up for sale, stand-alone, how much it would be worth?

Reply Score: 2

Lame article
by poohgee on Tue 24th Feb 2009 19:55 UTC
poohgee
Member since:
2005-08-13

The actual topic is the lay-off of 100 people due to cost cutting measures .

There is absolutly no connection between that and some deal between Microsoft and RedHat - the article tries quite hard to suggest that .

""
In their open letter to openSUSE community members on Thursday, Bleser and Yunashko ... did say :

.. we do take offense [at] those outside our community who have decided to exploit the hardship of our fellow community members in these trying times for their own personal gain in their misguided rants against the Project and misinterpreted portrayals to the general public.
""

I can only think that this article is such an example of exploitation & manipulation .

If the deal Novell & Microsoft agreed apon ,has been worth it ,can only be speculated by the extra profit this has meant for the company - they are after all not a good-will charity .

Novell were "most evil and treacherous" for this several years ago ; I donĀ“t see the big difference to what RedHat is doing now ,except that it might be a cleaner deal this time round .

The question might also be vaild ,what the implications of the Novell-Microsoft deal have been and any advantages this has created for the wider community ,including RedHat .

Edited 2009-02-24 19:58 UTC

Reply Score: 3

Who actually got fired
by KugelKurt on Wed 25th Feb 2009 02:20 UTC
KugelKurt
Member since:
2005-07-06

Novell fired overall 100 people, not 100 openSUSE developers.
I dug a bit through blogs (Planet SUSE) and the "opensuse-project" mailing list and if I didn't miss anyone, for far only four reported to have been fired:

Hubert Figuiere -- AbiWord, OpenOffice, and GNOME developer. http://www.figuiere.net/hub/blog/?2009/02/09/650-the-good-the-bad-a...

Stephan Binner -- KDE developer. http://www.kdedevelopers.org/node/3902

Rodrigo Moya -- GNOME developer. http://blogs.gnome.org/rodrigo/2009/02/12/unemployed/

Martin Lasarsch -- Infrastructure guy and evangelist. http://lists.opensuse.org/opensuse-project/2009-02/msg00067.html

I'm not sure if that's everybody who is (or was) directly related to the openSUSE project.
If it's indeed such a low number, the openSUSE project overall will be fine (according to Wikipedia, Novell employs ca. 500 people who work on FOSS) and maybe after the recession those who were fired might even come back.
I'm a bit worried about Stephan's departure, though. I use openSUSE solely because of its excellent KDE support (not that the rest of SUSE is bad, KDE was just my key reason). KDE on SUSE has an extra polish. Binner and his colleagues even made KDE 4.0.4 (on openSUSE 11.0) a relatively good release.

PS: Thom, next time just link directly to the open letter instead of a crappy BetaNews article: http://dev-loki.blogspot.com/2009/02/open-letter-to-opensuse-commun...

Reply Score: 4

RE: Who actually got fired
by segedunum on Wed 25th Feb 2009 16:05 UTC in reply to "Who actually got fired"
segedunum Member since:
2005-07-06

The problem always is with these companies that you never hear the full story. One hundred layoffs sounds quite small. It almost always is worse than anyone is saying, and past Novell layoffs and other company culls have bourne that out. You can't just add up the blogs, and remember, those writing will probably be unable to talk about it fully.

Look at what Hubert Figuiere hinted at in his blog post as to Novell's rudderless position. Acquisitions in Novell's state and in the current climate and laying off employees? WTF?

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Who actually got fired
by KugelKurt on Wed 25th Feb 2009 17:10 UTC in reply to "RE: Who actually got fired"
KugelKurt Member since:
2005-07-06

Acquisitions in Novell's state and in the current climate and laying off employees? WTF?

Acquisitions during a recession make a lot of sense, because the buy-out targets are very cheap.
I also doubt that Novell plans any large-scale takeovers.

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: Who actually got fired
by segedunum on Wed 25th Feb 2009 17:36 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Who actually got fired"
segedunum Member since:
2005-07-06

Acquisitions during a recession make a lot of sense, because the buy-out targets are very cheap.

Not when you've been losing revenue and customers for several years, even when times were supposedly better ;-).

Acquisiations mean taking on more staff, spending a ton of time and money integrating them into your company and with no guarantee at all that you'll make it ultimately pay. Novell certainly haven't made the Suse acquisition pay. There comes a time when it pays just to invest in and trust your own employees. Novell look as if they do neither.

Reply Score: 3

solution
by tobyv on Wed 25th Feb 2009 03:00 UTC
tobyv
Member since:
2008-08-25

nationalize openSUSE!!! it is too big to fail...

Reply Score: 3