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Novell Saga Takes Another Turn

Novell's story has been a soap opera so long it rivals Days of Our Lives, but without the sex (so far as I know). The company has been through more twists and turns than Mario Andretti.

Here's what I recollect from my years following the company: In the early days it was a simple company focused on LAN operating systems. Then it went into full Carl Icahn-mode, spending more time buying and selling companies than building product. It bought then sold WordPerfect and Borland's Quattro Pro, and later spun off a company that was actually two companies. Caldera, a Ray Noorda pet project, had one part that sold Linux, and another separate concern that held patents, such as DR-DOS, which was acquired from Digital Research. Noorda used DR-DOS rights to sue Microsoft (successfully) for antitrust.

Let's see what else... Oh, Novell bought Unix System V from AT&T, which was a bit of a bust. It was eventually turned over to SCO and fueled lawsuits against pretty much everyone who even touched Linux.

And even though sister company Caldera has its own Linux distribution, Novell bought SUSE and pinned its hopes on open source. And it worked pretty dang well, far as I can tell.

After two-plus decades fixated on fighting Microsoft, four years ago Novell made amends and reached an agreement whereby Novell and Microsoft would support each other's products, increase interoperability and not sue over patents.

Follow all that? Great, because the next episode has Attachmate buying Novell for $2.2 billion. Attachmate plans to operate two separate groups, one focused on SUSE, and the other on Novell's other wares such as groupware and networking.

What is your best Novell memory and what companies do you miss? Send your missive, tear-stained or otherwise, to dbarney@redmondmag.com.

Posted by Doug Barney on 12/01/2010 at 1:18 PM


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