Novell's CEO issues an apology for Linux comment

Novell Chairman and CEO Jack Messman has issued a written apology and clarification after angering some members of the Linux community when he called Linux "an immature operating system" in an interview with Computerworld US last week.

Messman made his original remarks in an interview on April 14, when he described Novell's decision to use Linux as the migration path of the future for its flagship NetWare network operating system.

While charting the company's direction with Linux in the interview, Messman called it "immature" because it "hasn't had somebody like Novell worrying about making it robust, reliable and scalable for very much time. We think we can bring that to the Linux kernel."

Now, Messman, who was interviewed at this week's Novell BrainShare user and partner conference in Salt Lake City, has apparently had a change of heart about his remarks. In a posting on the Linux Weekly News Web site, Messman said he regretted some of his remarks.

"Let me clarify some of the comments I've made around Novell's move to put NetWare services on the Linux kernel; and let me apologize for my choice of words in the phrase 'immature operating system,'" he said in the posting. "Clearly Novell wouldn't be taking this bold step if we didn't feel Linux was a solid operating system with tremendous momentum in the marketplace. In fact, we believe Linux is quite stable and scalable. If we didn't, we would not commit to using it with our NetWare 7.0 release.

"We certainly recognize the value Linux is providing today to customers around the globe," he wrote. "In fact, the strategy Novell announced this week was the outgrowth of what we've been hearing from many of those customers. Simply put, Linux will continue to grow with or without Novell.

"Novell wouldn't be spending the tremendous time, money and resources to make this strategy a reality if we didn't believe in the present and future of Linux," he wrote.

Messman said his company endorses the structure of the open-source community, and values the talents seen in the community of developers who have been working on Linux.

"We are not experts here, we need your help," he said. "We want to work in close cooperation with the Open Source community to further the growth of Linux. By doing this, we can add even more value for developers and ultimately our customers."

Shawn Dickerson, a Novell spokesman, said Messman's apology came after company officials read the published interview and realized that Messman's remarks "didn't reflect Novell's real position on our support of Linux."

Dickerson said Novell officials later did see some online posts from members of the Linux community that were critical of Messman's statements, but that the apology came independently of those criticisms.

"We saw the greater need was to get right to the Linux community" with an apology, Dickerson said. "That's why we started [on the Linux Weekly News site]. That's where we saw the [negative] comments that began, so we wanted to get right back there."

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