CyberTech Rambler

January 2, 2007

Jeremy Allison’s interview on his resignation

Filed under: Uncategorized — ctrambler @ 7:51 pm

Before I forget, Happy New Year everyone

As his first act after leaving Novell, Jeremy Allison is giving interviews about his resignation left, right and centre. The two that I found are to BoycottNovell and Mary Jo Foley (with a follow up here) [Update 20070103 RedHerring’s here]. When people found out that Allison got a job from Google soon after announcing his resignation, some chided that it is easy to leave Novell when one have the next job lining up. To them, I will say that for a start, Allison is good enough that if Google does not snatch him up, other big companies will. He knows that and we knows that. Moreover, I do not think he is one of those who jump ship frequently. In fact, in his interview with Ms Foley, he said he approached Google and not the other way round. In a sense, Google was his “second choice” after Novell because for his present job, he turned down an offer by Google.

He believes that Novell is wrong in “screwing” its supplier (open source). In his resignation letter, he says that Microsoft will not be happy if the situation were reversed. I can see the comparison but I think we all miss a trick here. Novell is actually one of the first person to be screwed in this agreement. On the Press Conference that announce the deal, Novell is sitting there being bashed by Steve Ballmer left-right and centre. It may be a join news conference, but on watching it you can see who the dominant force is. Since then, Novell’s reputation was tarnished as it is seen as the effigy that Microsoft used to bash Free and Open Source Software. Novell’s statements on the sequence of events, especially the late inclusion of the “patent agreement”, Novell’s CEO’s letter to the open source community and Microsoft subsequent “reply” shows that at the very least, Novell was “ambushed” from day one. How does it feel to be screwed?

While it is true that as businessmen, the management believe that they are not especially if they can show that money is trickling in from the agreement. Mr Allison’s departure may be felt as just a minor irritant to them and SuSE Linux will of course survive Mr Allison’s departure. However, at the very least they lost the “Goodwill” of Free and Open Source Community. The lost may not be in monetary terms and difficult to quantify monetarily. It may one day turn up to be huge, but this will depends on the reaction of the community, not in emotion or speech, but day-to-day software development.

Allison himself might deal Microsoft a blow in the near future. He will be continuing his work on Samba at Google. One project I can think of that will seriously hurt Microsoft is to use Samba to create a consumer-oriented “GDrive” on your computer desktop that works exactly like an additional hard drive to compete with Microsoft’s. That, my friend, will be sweet revenge.

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