The eLearning Fundi

Random reflections about eLearning in Africa

Where does this Leave My Clients?

A few hours ago, our CIO issued a warning in a widely circulated letter that he will lobby for our institution to dissociate itself from any Novell software following the recent marriage between Microsoft and Novell. I do not feel obligated to comment about the bedroom matters of the marriage, but I wonder what two parties with a history of long court battles realised to seal the marriage deal. I personally feel betrayed by any move that would curtail the freedom I enjoy using Free and Open Software. I am also disturbed by the uncertainties that such marriages would bring on the face of the progress to more freedom. Is this not a betrayal of the people who have contributed to the success of the Novell applications? Or is there something am not understanding about the whole deal? Is this a genesis of more marriages of convenience? What is the next big news?

What is disturbing me the most is where decisions by organisations providing software applications agree on dining with the enemy, and the subsequent resolutions like the one our CIO is making leave the clients (the normal users of the services), who in most cases do not have an idea of what the marriage is all about. I wonder if the 6000+ users of our eLearning site know that it runs on SUSE Linux Enterprise Server (SLES) – a Novell product. Happily there we are in the process of getting other solutions for the site and Novell products are definitely out of the equation. While for the server technology it might be easy to do a change over without the users’ knowledge, I foresee hardships (that can be overcame) in changing the client technologies like the Novell Groupwise. I am also happy that for two months since I got SUSE 10 DVD, I have not brought down the Fedora Core 5 I use on my laptop and the Mark Webbink of Redhat has posted his criticism of the marriage. For now, I wait for Fedora Core 6 to be available on our mirror site for my next laptop!

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