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Poll: Novell or Sun Microsystems?

An interesting conversation has sparked recently, and I'm curious what the community thinks. If you had the choice to work for either Novell or Sun Microsystems, who would you work for and why? I would work for Sun for a few reasons:

  1. Novell has made a reputation for itself by laying off employees at a whim, with the AppArmor devs being the most recent example.
  2. Sun has opened up nearly all of it's Solaris operating system. Coming from a Solaris background in the early days, this is cool.
  3. Even though Novell apologized to the community for its agreement with Microsoft, knowing that they could be swallowed up any day now by the Redmond giant makes me nervous.
  4. Sun seems to have a promising future, where Novell seems to be riding the razors edge. I guess time will only tell there, however.
  5. Sun has said, that if Microsoft goes on a patent litigation rampage, Sun will pull out it's portfolio protecting Linux users.

So there you have it. Below is an AJAX poll (you have to visit my site to vote, not from your RSS reader, or the SPLOG you're reading this from). Cast your vote, and post your reasoning in the comments below.

Novell or Sun?
View Results

{ 25 } Comments

  1. Henrik Pauli | October 16, 2007 at 7:46 am | Permalink

    Definitely Sun, and not as a result of the points you raised, somehow I always liked them (even though I can't stand Java personally) -- opening up Solaris was just a lot of brownie points for them.

  2. NJ Hewitt | October 16, 2007 at 7:48 am | Permalink

    Sure Novell is also in the Open Invention Network, along with Sun, and they've made positive noises that they are serious about it. Isn't the OIN the real muscle against a patent litigation rampage?

    I'm also interested in OpenOffice would-be-contributor Kohei's story of Novell supporting him while Sun seemed very obstructive.

    I'm commenting but not voting, because I haven't got strong feelings either way, just thought my points were worth mentioning. Novell seems to be getting worse press than it deserves this year, but I don't work in the software industry, maybe my perception of bias is off, maybe they do deserve it.

  3. Hoàng Đức Hiếu | October 16, 2007 at 7:55 am | Permalink

    How about OpenSPARC? That's a neat move towards free hardware and I hope it will work out nicely.

  4. Jo Shields | October 16, 2007 at 8:32 am | Permalink

    It's gonna have to be Novell. Sun's behaviour has always been at best schizophrenic and at worst downright confusing - I'd feel more comfortable with a company that seems to have some idea of what it's doing, rather than bouncing off in a hundred directions without forethought like a ferret on sugar

  5. Carl | October 16, 2007 at 9:00 am | Permalink

    It looks like Sun has now come full circle. I'm old enough to remember the Sun of the past when they were the new guys on the block with innovative ideas stemming from the old UNIX community where most everything was free. They then closed up during the 90s and now are opening up again. I bet it feels like a breath of fresh air to the guy that started the business back on 2/24/1982.

  6. flossgeek | October 16, 2007 at 9:05 am | Permalink

    Both companies would be interesting in to work for as it would be open source. BUT Novells recent happenings makes you think about their current ethics, so its the ethics I do not agree with. Sun on the other hand seem to have woken up and are leading the way to doing things right with open source development. I would imagine its an exciting time as well with the up and coming GPL'ed release. Suns ethics are changing in the right way far as I'm concerned, and I truly welcome them aboard to the Free Software community.

  7. Nicolas | October 16, 2007 at 9:07 am | Permalink

    Well, for me, it would be Novell: they have more projects directly useful for users and the community, their developpers seem quite happy with their jobs, and as a last point, in my opinion, Sun has the image of a dusty and old company, making low-grade products (excuse me, StarOffice, but I hate you...).
    Cetainly, they're less committed in strange deals, but I really don't see Microsoft buying Novell (they're so afraid of Open Source and GPL...)

  8. Dennis Krul | October 16, 2007 at 9:26 am | Permalink

    While Sun may have some very nice tech and a good reputation, I honestly think they're more evil than Novell is.

    Solaris and Java are only open today because of market pressure, customer demand and competition.

    Despite their efforts, Sun still demands full control by demanding that any contributor hands over all of his copyrights to them. Just look at the recent OOo debate. I really can't support them with such an attitude and disrespect.

    Even though I love Solaris (I admin lots of Solaris systems) and their hardware (mmmm T2000, X4500 :), I don't like to work for them.

    In contrast, while lots of opensource zealots think that Novell signed a pact with the devil, in my opinion their agreement wasn't that bad. The only bad part is that Microsoft is using that deal to spread FUD about patents and intellectual property. Only uninformed suits believe Microsoft's story and they would have probably used their software anyway.

    The whole patent issue is bogus. Microsoft can't fight opensource by playing the patent/copyright cards, because if they do they will have a lot of big players against them. A patent war would mean the end of Microsoft as we know it (and probably some others as well).

    Novell, just like Sun, has some amazing stuff. They understand how opensource works and they support it fully. They make money by offering value-added software and services. This approach seems to work for them.

    In the end, I think Novell could become a bigger player in the market than Sun will ever be if they don't change their attitude.

    Either way, I wouldn't like to work for Sun nor Novell. I like to fiddle not just with the platform of my employer.

  9. Bogomips | October 16, 2007 at 9:29 am | Permalink

    I think you're mistaken when you say Novell has apologized to the community over the Microsoft deal. They've never said anything of the sort. The only thing they did say was that the agreement wasn't a tacit admission that there were Microsoft patent violations in the Linux ecosystem.

    That being said, Novell has contributed a great deal to the Linux community. First by opening up SUSE, which was one of the most closed Linux distros, along with tools such as YaST and AppArmor. They set the code to Netmail free with the (now seemingly defunct) Hula project, and acquired Ximian which has as far as I know never stopped contributing back to the community.

    They do have their share of bad points, the Microsoft deal being just the latest and most obvious. I'm just trying to highlight that they made some important contributions as well.

    As for Sun pulling out their patent portfolio to protect Linux... no. What possible advantage would they have actively sheltering an OS that's competing directly with Solaris? Their shareholders would be up in arms. To think otherwise is just naive.

    Ok, rant time is over. Bottom line I'd probably choose Sun because Novell is trying to navigate some very dangerous waters right now. And who knows, maybe Solaris will eventually be released under the GPL3.

  10. Stoffe | October 16, 2007 at 9:48 am | Permalink

    Everything Novell does these days are they betting on Microsoft's continued hegemony and they wanting to carve a slice of it - patent deals, voting yes on OOXML in many ISO countries, Mono, Moonlight, a lot of statements by people like Miguel...

    I'd never work there with that leadership and direction. Sun at least moves in the right direction, not in the wrong one, even though Novell might have done more right historically.

    That said, neither is a huge favourite as of today, but Sun "wins". 🙂

  11. Igor | October 16, 2007 at 10:33 am | Permalink

    Novell off course!

    People, why you use Linux? because is better than any other OS or just because it is not Microsoft?

    I will never like to work in SUN because I had to use Mac OSX or Solaris... and both sucks even more than Microsoft Windows :), and been serious Java GPL is a big error of Java people, Apache is very sad with this selfish decision that SUN just made.

  12. Wolfger | October 16, 2007 at 10:39 am | Permalink

    I would have voted "Novell", except for the first of your five points, which I was previously unaware of.

  13. nixternal | October 16, 2007 at 11:11 am | Permalink

    I used to work for Sun here in Chicago. I worked on their Enterprise server lines (3500 up to the e10K), and our whole department was laid off. Sun does just as much laying off as Novell if not more. But also take into consideration that Sun is considerably larger in employee base I think.

  14. Irony | October 16, 2007 at 11:41 am | Permalink

    Why is it that everytime I read clueless FUD, it's usually posted by an Ubuntu user?

    Considering Novell's contribution to the Linux desktop, server and security, it's curious that especially an Ubuntu user, a distribution that leeches everything from others, would criticize it - how's that XGL/Compiz and AppArmor looking in the next Ubuntu release now?

    Ah, the irony.

  15. Damain Wojslaw | October 16, 2007 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

    Sun. I don't feel strong about both corporations and it is naive to believe that they do something out of ideology. The only point is to make shareholders happy, but I believe that right now Sun is taking the right direction. Because, remember, making shareholders happy include making profit in the long run. As for Sun producing low quality products. I used to be all Linux fan, until I installed my first Solaris 10 server. This OS simply rocked my world. Linux is cool and fun, but when you install your first binary kernel module compiled for Solaris 8 and it simply works for Solaris 10, when you DTrace your rampage spamd, you'll understand,

  16. Hub | October 16, 2007 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

    The main difference between Novell and Sun is that Novell works to make Linux and Free Software better, while Sun does not. Sun just use Free Software as a way to save themself, but they don't even beleive in it.

    Worse, they make sure to not help Linux. Example: DTrace and ZFS are not released under a licensing that is compatible with Linux.

  17. Joe Terranova | October 16, 2007 at 4:15 pm | Permalink

    I won't be voting, because it's not that clear-cut an issue. It entirely depends on what I'd be working on.

    For example: if Sun was hiring to ease integration between OpenSolaris and Linux (particularly integrating ZFS into Linux, after they put it under a compatible license), and Novell was hiring for working on integration between SuSe and Microsoft products, I'd definitely go with Sun. On the other hand, if Novell wanted developers to work on projects which benefit Linux (ex: Mono, Samba, etc), and Sun wanted developers to try to compete Solaris against Linux, I'd probably go with Novell (although working with Ian Murdock would be interesting).

    My point? Novell and Sun are very large companies, with departments that many times have differing purposes and directions. If someone put a gun to my head and told me to choose, I'd choose the one offering a position through which I'd have the best opportunity to help the Linux and Open-Source community. On the same token, I'd choose Microsoft over Canonical, if I believed the position at Microsoft would give me a better opportunity to contribute to the Open-Source community. It's about what you do, not what your company does.

  18. sontek | October 16, 2007 at 5:15 pm | Permalink

    I would want to work for Novell just because of the contributions they make to the open source community. I use Banshee, Tomboy, Evolution, Open Office, Compiz, Mono, AppArmor, and F-Spot daily. And I love the innovative things they are doing with banter and giver.

    Sun is *not* an open company, they try to keep as much closed as possible, and although they have been moving towards being open again, they have a long ways to go before they can ever match the contributions Novell has given us.

    But besides all these things, did you forget that Sun and Microsoft struck a deal years before Novell ever did?

  19. heathenx | October 16, 2007 at 5:34 pm | Permalink

    I choose Novell!

    Why does everyone give Sun a pass on partnering with Microsoft but Novell gets raked over the coals?

  20. apokryphos | October 17, 2007 at 3:17 am | Permalink

    The fact that this blog post has made (and said amount of people have voted the way they have) only highlights one important fact: how deeply the FUD has penetrated into the community. It's gone so far that it's not really even funny anymore.

    I take it you like the Linux desktop? Let's not beat around the block here: Novell/SUSE is THE biggest contributor in the world to the Linux desktop. There is simply no other company that hires the amount of Linux engineers to work directly on the desktop, that promotes the use of it as widely as it does, and that has taken it seriously while grounding its future in its success.

    If you think Novell is riding on the "razor's edge" you've been listening to too much FUD from some negative open source headlines. Novell is doing pretty damn well, in fact:
    * More Linux engineers
    * More copies of SLE being sold than ever
    * Stable high stocks
    * Many deals recently with very large OEMs: AMD, IBM, Dell.

    That you think they let off the AppArmor developers "on a whim" is pretty curious. I'd love to hear where you're getting your information from, or how you're deducing that.

    The fact that you think Novell is set for a buyout from Microsoft is mildly hilarious.

  21. NJ Hewitt | October 17, 2007 at 5:15 am | Permalink

    Isn't it odd that most of the comments are pro-Novell and the votes are overwhelmingly pro-Sun?

  22. AK | October 17, 2007 at 8:04 am | Permalink

    Having worked for both companies, there is not much to choose between them.

    Judge them both on actions alone, not PR

  23. Aaron | October 17, 2007 at 10:39 am | Permalink

    I would have to say Novell any day over SUN. The main reason I would select Novell over SUN is SUN has appeared to me as jumpy as a squirrel on jolt when it comes to products and company direction. Specifically Hammy the hyperactive squirrel from Over the Hedge comes to mind.
    Someone made a great joke image on this line of thought.

  24. Nathan Myers | October 17, 2007 at 2:45 pm | Permalink

    Should I vote for Kang or Kodos?

    Don't forget that Sun also made a deal with Microsoft. Neither company has clean hands. Both employ Free Software developers doing cool things, along with lots of people doing decidedly uncool things. Both are doomed, although neither will actually close up shop.

    Probably the question is, will they send some of their available cash your way in exchange for writing some really-Free software, before they lay you off or get bought up by some Evil Empire? Toss-up.

  25. mike 1900 | July 25, 2008 at 2:54 am | Permalink

    It can viewed for majority of high audience that the approach of Sun has been very disturbing towards Microsoft. Hence it is widely acclaimed towards Sun Micro systems.


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