Samba’s Allison Dumps Novell For Google

    December 21, 2006
    WebProNews Staff

The deal between Microsoft and Novell that will promote SuSE Linux to Windows customers proved too much for Jeremy Allison, who has cited it as his reason for departing Novell and its SuSE Linux team.

Concerns over the patent agreement reached as part of Novell and Microsoft’s deal has motivated Allison to submit his resignation to Novell. A copy of the letter posted at Groklaw highlighted the conflict Allison sees with the deal:

As many of you will guess, this is due to the Microsoft/Novell patent agreement, which I believe is a mistake and will be damaging to Novell’s success in the future. But my main issue with this deal is I believe that even if it does not violate the letter of the license it violates the intent of the GPL license the Samba code is released under, which is to treat all recipients of the code equally.

The Microsoft patent agreement has put us outside the community, and there is no positive aspect to that fact, and no way to make it so. Until the patent provision is revoked, we are pariahs.

Samba is one of those open source works that made system administrators truly excited over the past decade. With Samba, a system running the Linux operating system could be configured to handle print and file duties for Windows desktop clients, and do so invisibly to the users on the network.

That meant older hardware could be packed with voluminous hard drives and a copy of Linux for far less expense than a newer system complete with Microsoft licenses to act in the same capacity. Samba might be the most significant project to emerge over the years, save Linux and the Apache web server.

Samba’s supporters have protested the Novell-Microsoft agreement almost since it was made public. On November 12th, the Samba team announced its strong disapproval, and called the deal an exchange of “the long term interests of the entire Free Software community for a short term advantage for Novell over their competitors.”

Allison will move on, and land at Google, as Mary Jo Foley of Microsoft Watch learned from him. It’s an interesting development, considering Google’s reputation for lengthy interviews and lead times between interviews and job offers.

But like other notable Googlers Guido van Rossum, the creator of the Python language, and Vint Cerf, the father of the Internet, Allison brings a pretty solid reputation to the mix, so fast-tracking his move to Mountain View probably became a priority for Google. It should be a win for Samba’s devotees as well.

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David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.