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Can Open Source Revive Novell?

Just like the old man in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Novell showed this week that it's not quite dead yet. But the question remains -- will users continue

Just like the old man in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Novell showed this week that it's not quite dead yet. But the question remains -- will users continue the film analogy, and throw grandpa on the heap anyway, speeding up the inevitable conclusion? Or can Open Source be the grail that gives life everlasting to Big Red?

(And can you tell what DVD I recently watched?)

Though I didn't attend the LinuxWorld show in New York this week, reports from there had Novell in the spotlight, either for the championing of its new SUSE toy, for pledging to defend its users, or for being sued yet again by SCO. It's been a long time since Novell mattered so much in computing news for things other than being merged sideways

or being whipsawed by Microsoft.

And yet, the company that many have felt free to ignore still somehow manages to sell north of a billion bucks of software each year, so somebody's buying the stuff. But nobody I've talked to in the greater Novell community believes that Novell in 2004 is the Novell of years past, a firm with a serious shot at challenging Microsoft for desktop and network domination.

My best guess? The entrenched base of Netware customers, who are reluctant to completely rip and replace, are still what's keeping the company off the death-cart. By hitching its own wagon to Linux, Novell may yet find a future where it can compete, and perhaps once again challenge Microsoft and others for leadership mindshare. Tools like Ximian and SUSE aren't the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch, but they're a start.

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