Novell has insisted it will not "mess up" its move into open source, and will let its acquisitions Ximian and SuSe Linux lead the way.
Just days after finalising its acquisition of SuSE Linux, Novell chief executive and chairman Jack Messman stressed that Novell was serious about Linux, which he said is set to explode.
"2004 will be a great year for Linux. It will be the year the revolution hits full force," he told delegates at LinuxWorld Expo in New York during his keynote speech.
Messman believes that Linux will move out of enterprise infrastructure and departmental servers and into the data centre, and increasingly onto the corporate desktop.
After years of flagging fortunes Novell committed to the open source movement in 2003, buying SuSE and Ximian to help reposition itself from a proprietary to an open source vendor.
Messman insisted that Novell's decision was not a flight of fancy. "We are a billion dollar company betting its future on open source," he said. "We will contribute more [to open source] than we will take away."
He looked to allay any fears about Novell's plans for the Linux market. "I commit to you here today that we will not mess this up," he told delegates.
"SuSE Linux and Ximian simply won't let us. We acquired them, but they will lead the way."
That commitment makes sense for customers and shareholders, he added, because open source has both strong development and business models.
"It is not only possible but profitable to build a business around open source," he said.
Key to that business model is the ability of Linux vendors, including rivals such as Red Hat, to ensure that customers receive the same level of support for their Linux deployments as they expect from proprietary Unix system vendors.
"Customers will pay for a vendor that can manage change in a rapidly changing environment like Linux," said Messman.
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