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Novell: Not Your Father's NetWare Company Anymore

With public utterances of some mild cuss words and jokes about Utah and religion, Chris Stone did his level best Tuesday to convince listeners that today's Novell is not the Novell of yore.

Of course, even Stone admitted that many of the attendees at the Open Source Business Conference in San Francisco might not even be familiar with the legacy of Novell, NetWare, and the company's strong links to the Mormon church.

"Those of you here who are 35 years or older have heard of Novell," said Stone, the company's vice chairman, at the opening of his keynote speech. "Those of you who are younger probably don't have a clue about what the hell they [Novell] do."

What the hell? From Novell? While the sometimes off-color adjectives in Stone's speech might have been startling in their own right (given the company's strait-laced history), what's probably even more shocking to both longtime NetWare users and the open source community is Novell's bet-the-company gamble on Linux, a choice Stone tried to explain Tuesday.

"You can make money with open source," Stone said, as part of an explanation for Novell's decision last year to purchase
Linux leaders SuSE and Ximian. "That's why we spent $260 million buying companies, to drive future revenue," Stone said. "We made a $260 million bet there's money in this business."

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