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Re: Novell's Push for Linux Partnerships and Sales

  • Subject: Re: Novell's Push for Linux Partnerships and Sales
  • From: "Rex Ballard" <rex.ballard@xxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: 18 Oct 2006 04:30:11 -0700
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Larry Qualig wrote:
> Rex Ballard wrote:
> > Roy Schestowitz wrote:
> > > Novell Promotes Tom Francese to Executive Vice President for Worldwide
> > > Sales
> > >

> <SNIP the lunatic ramblings>
> My god Rex... what the hell did your parents do to you when you were a
> child? Where on earth do you come up with these ridiculous conspiracy
> theories?
> Is there any proof of this anywhere? An article, a real website (not
> yours) or basically anything at all that substantiates these wild
> claims of yours.

Actually, I got an e-mail from one of the people in the director's
Unfortunately, it was many years ago, probably around 1996-7.  And this
was based on his memory of the events.

It did have a novel.com e-mail address, but the name didn't jump out.
For obvious reasons, he didn't want to give his full name.

So yes, this could have been someone putting me on.  It was consistent
with the public accounts.  Novell did buy UNIX, Novell did have a
version of UnixWare they wanted to offer to workstations, and Novell
did - very suddenly - kill the workstation project.  Noorda did Open
Source license (BSD) a bunch of AT&T code while Novell owned it, and
Novell did eventually sell the remaining distribution rights to SCO.

> Surely if this all happened then you would not be the only person in
> the world who knows this. There would be records, documents, a paper
> trail, etc. of these events.

Actually, there would probably NOT be much of a paper trail.  Keep in
mind that Microsoft normally requires a very comprehensive
nondisclosure agreement even for a job interview.  It's quite likely
that similar NDAs were signed just prior to the meeting.  As a result,
no notes would have been taken, no recording devices would have been
allowed, and about the only record would have been airline tickets for
high ranking Microsoft executives (Bill or Steve?), to Salt Lake or
Provo sometime during that period.

Furthermore, because of the NDAs, the only way those who were on the
board would be allowed to talk about it, is if they were under
subpoena, or if they were being interviewed by law enforcement

This may have been one of the reasons why this guy wasn't terribly
eager to give out lots of personal information.

> This is downright ridiculous. No offense but I almost feel embarassed
> for you when I read stuff like this.

I don't know how much stock I would put into this whole story myself,
except that this person knew names, dates, places, and provided a
plausible story for very unusual behavior on the part of Novell.

Novell spent a huge amount of money (relative to cash flow and equity)
to get UNIX.  They spent even more to develop the workstation version
and prepare it for market.  They showed the product at one of the
computer trade shows (I almost picked up a copy but didn't have $200 in
green money cash at the time).  It was reportedly in pretty good shape,
and there was a big stink because Novell had not included TCP/IP but
only IPX/SPX.  TCP/IP was an "extra cost" item.

Then, very suddenly, workstation development stopped.  Novell dropped
UNIX like a hot potato.  Shortly after that, Noorda left Novell and
formed Canopy Group which functioned as an incubator for Caldera and

According to this mysterious e-mail, many of those working at Caldera,
were the same people who had been terminated from the Novell Unix
Workstation project.  Appearantly, the usual non-compete clauses had
been waved, or were no longer valid because Novell was no longer in the
workstatiton business.

Unfortunately, I recieved this e-mail about 10 years ago.  I might have
it on one of my archives somewhere, but it might take days to find it.
Or, it might already be on my web site (
http://www.open4success.org/List.html ).  I really don't even remember
those precise details anymore.  Maybe, when I have about 500 hours to
do nothing better than to read old e-mail archives and remember the
"good old days", I'll stumble across it and if the alzheimers hasn't
set in completely, I'll post it to this group, along with about 40
gizillion other e-mails that were "interesting" - written sometime
between 1993 and 1997.

It's a really interesting story, but if you don't think provides a
plausible explanation for why Ray Noorda would spend a huge chunk of
money to get UNIX, then develop the product, have it ready for
production, and then scuttle the project, quit Novell, a company he had
built over almost 15 years from almost nothing (I remember when Chuck
Sarogas was one of the "big guys" and Novell made terminal/workstations
that ran CP/M and had graphical displays - almost 2 years before IBM's
PC), and then formed another company, at almost 60 years old, whose
primary purpose was to go into a toe-to-toe slugging match with
Microsoft over Workstation operating systems.

It seems like it would have made much more sense for Noorda to stay
with Novell.  It would have made much more sense for Novell to at least
TRY to market UnixWare for workstations, especially since OS/2 wasn't
doing so well, Windows 95 wasn't even in the beta stages yet, and
Windows NT 3.1 as more like a Beta than a GA release.

Another company who seemed to very abruptly drop theri workstation
effort was Sun Microsystems.  They had captured almost 15% of the
corporate workstation market and SparcStations could be found in
high-profile locations such as the New York Stock exchange.

Sun even had a cute little campaign - with a big fat guinea pig on the
front, reminding potential Microsoft workstation customers that NT was
about 30 million lines of brand new code, while Solaris for Intel was
code that was stablle, dependable, well tested, secure, and reliable.

And then, without an explanation, Sun was no longer offering
workstation software.

What threat, offer, incentive, or form of pressure would have prompted
Scott McNealy to suddenly drop out of a market in which he was doing
pretty well, so that he could become invisible and transparent to
corporate desktop users?

Is it possible that Microsoft approach Sun while McNealy was out of the
country?  Could they have given the Sun board of directors 3 hours to
decide - without McNealy, whether to accept an offer that must have
looked really good, or to avoid a threat that must have looked really
terrifying?  Could that board have met in secret, signed the agreement,
and then informed Scott McNealy?

It's all so cloak and dagger.  It's so clandestine.  And it's probably
also enough to merit criminal charges for anyone who voted in favor of
actions that ultimately cost each company $billions in revenue and lost

My guess is that the real truth is probably even stranger than my
poorly recollected memory of a memo written by someone who says he was
there and didn't want to give me all of the details via e-mail.

If you don't want to believe it, don't.  I'm not even sure I believe
all of it.

If you don't want to investigate it, don't.  Contempt prior to
investigation is the best way to maintain pristine ignorance.

If DFS wants to send e-mails to all of the members of the Novell board
sitting from 1994 to 1997, and get "never heard of him, no truth to it"
from ALL of them, that would certainly be more than enough to convince
me that I was the dupe of a big put-on.

And if you just want to figure "Hey, this is nothing but bad memories
of a bogus memo that Rex claims someone sent, who claims that they were
sitting in Novell's board room when they made that offer - I can't even
tell you that you are wrong about that.

This whole story could have been my terrible memory of a put-on hoax

But it does make an interesting story.

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