While Novell's ownership of Unix was confirmed by a jury earlier this week, Novell's future as an independent company, at least in its current form, is far from secure. With the recent jury ruling, a Novell acquisition could impact Linux vendors and customers.
Novell recently secured a jury decision against SCO pertaining to the ownership of Unix. Here are two relevant questions and answers from Ian Bruce, Novell's director of PR:
Q: Given that SCO barely exists any more, what is the real relevance of all this?
A: The jury has confirmed Novell's ownership of the Unix copyrights, which SCO had asserted to own in its attack on Linux. An adverse decision would have had profound implications for the Linux community.
Q: If Novell owns the copyrights to Unix, what does that mean for Linux?
A: We own the copyrights and we will continue to protect the open source community, including Linux.
Consider that Novell's board rejected an unsolicited takeover offer from investment fund Elliott Associates just two weeks ago. Novell's board said the offer "undervalues the company's franchise and growth prospects." However, the board did commit to a review of its alternatives, including an outright sale.
Many IT vendors could be considered as viable candidates for acquiring Novell or part of its assets. For instance, rumors, jokes, and suggestions that Microsoft should or could acquire Novell go back to 2007 and at least one April Fool's article. Until now, as Gartner analyst Brian Prentice noted at OSBC, Microsoft's open source strategy remains muddled as an enabler of other open source firms versus being an open source vendor in its own right. Acquiring Novell and distributing Suse Linux would dramatically change that position.