Updated: Novell Sold - What Will Become of openSUSE?

by Ostatic Staff - Nov. 22, 2010

It was announced this morning that Novell has sold off some portion of its intellectual properties to CPTN Holdings, (backed by Microsoft) for $450 million. The remainder of Novell assets will be acquired by Attachmate Corporation for about $2.2 billion. This should be of no surprise as Novell staked a For Sale sign in their front yard several months ago. But this has undoubtedly left users and developers wondering what will become of openSUSE.

The press release says, "Attachmate Corporation plans to operate Novell as two business units: Novell and SUSE; and will join them with its other holdings, Attachmate and NetIQ." However, there was no further mention of openSUSE in either discussion of Attachmate or CPTN Holdings, although some speculate Mono was of primary interest to Microsoft.

Joe Brockmeier, former Community Manager for openSUSE, said:

If you're not familiar with Attachmate, there's a good reason: The company doesn't have a very high profile. It's a private company owned by several investment groups, Francisco Partners, Golden Gate Capital and Thoma Bravo. Apparently the onslaught of attention brought on by the news of the Novell sale was enough to take down Attachmate's Web site - which gives you an idea just how much attention the company usually gets on a regular basis. What the company is decidedly not known for is innovation of any kind. It looks like it's picked everything up via acquisition or mergers. This doesn't bode well for ... the openSUSE community.

Andreas Jaeger, openSUSE Program Manager, could only say, "I have no news yet on what this means for openSUSE besides the [announcement]. We'll keep you informed as soon as we hear more..." He added, "FYI, let's not speculate until we have more information..."

Of course, the first rally cry coming in from bloggers and such is, "FORK!" Opinions around the forum mirror Jaegar in calling for cool heads. One poster said, "IMHO we won't see anything until AFTER the first quarter of 2011." Another speculated, "We'll see what this means for Mono. It would certainly be ammunition for its detractors. But then, it could be an opportunity for MS to show good faith toward OSS."

In essence, all we know right now is that Novell is sold. No one knows what will happen to openSUSE - and we may not know until Spring 2011 after the all the transactions have closed.

Update: Attachmate has addressed openSUSE in a statement released November 23. They said,
The openSUSE project is an important part of the SUSE business,” commented Jeff Hawn, chairman and CEO of Attachmate Corporation. “As noted in the agreement announced today, Attachmate plans to operate SUSE as a stand-alone business unit after the transaction closes. If this transaction closes, then after closing, Attachmate Corporation anticipates no change to the relationship between the SUSE business and the openSUSE project as a result of this transaction.