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Editor's Note: The More Things Change

Mar 16, 2007, 23:30 (27 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Brian Proffitt)

By Brian Proffitt
Managing Editor

Sometimes you just look at things and realize that they are just plain funny.

That was what ran through my mind this week when I saw this headline from Computer Business Review: "HSBC Signs Up for Microsoft's SUSE Linux Support." The double-take took a bit to settle in, because for a second I wondered if Microsoft actually owned SUSE Linux now.

But then, maybe I was just tired this week.

It was one of those weeks when things just seem to be disconnected, you know? There was the Rob Enderle missive that mentioned one of my articles as an attack on Forbe's Dan Lyons, which was a surreal feeling, to be honest, because I didn't know whether to laugh or get upset. I mean, c'mon, if I was going to write an attack article, I think you'd know it. I decided to laugh.

That's the way the week started. And once you start noticing some things are funny, pretty soon you see humor in lots of things. For instance, there was the massive multi-pronged press assault surrounding the release of Red Hat Enterprise Linux on Thursday. RHEL dominated the press cycle that day because they managed to not just release a new server; Red Hat also announced new business models and programs at the same time, so many different stories managed to appear in the pipeline.

What tickled me about all of this? There has been hardly a word about how evil Red Hat has become. I remember a time when not too long ago we were all harping on the Raleigh, NC company for their similarity to a certain company in Redmond, WA. A few grumbling here and there, but much more subdued than the way things were before last November.

Today, Novell is the Bad Guy of the Linux community, a mantle it took from Red Hat the day it announced its partnership arrangement with Microsoft.

Funny how things change.

I'm sure Novell is thrilled, but they certainly had to expect that kind of reaction. Well, next week is their annual Brainshare conference in Salt Lake City, so I'm sure they will enjoy some peace and quiet, mixed with some warm and fuzzy feelings.

Oh, but then there's Bruce Perens' press conference, "The Open Source Community Rains on Novell's Parade," which will be held across the street from the Salt Palace convention center. That should be an interesting event.

(It should be noted that I will be attending both Brainshare and Peren's conference next week, leaving LT in the capable hands of Carla Schroder.)

How companies and distributions are perceived seems a fleeting thing these days. Today Novell is Public Enemy No. 2. Tomorrow, who knows? It occurred to me that in a larger sense, the role of the two major distributions have slowly changed into something completely different from their predecessors. When Red Hat first started, it was the bastion of commercial progress, while Debian was the pure temple of freedom.

Now, today, it is Fedora who is shifting back towards as totally free distribution, while Debian's child Ubuntu is marching towards the proprietary end of the software spectrum for included apps.

Funny how things change.

Something else that was funny this week: there used to be a time when you couldn't get the executives at SCO Group to not talk. Now, its a much different situation, as I discovered when I tried to contact SCO for an interview with Darl McBride, since I was literally going to be in the neighborhood. No response at all.

Funny how things change.

Is there a point to all of this? Maybe not. After three weeks of fussing at the state of hardware and Linux, maybe I needed a small dose of itony before getting back to work next week. The deeper meaning in all of this may just be that once in a while it helps to step back a bit: you get a better perspective sometimes.