"Novell is back!" declared CEO Jack Messman as he opened his company's twentieth annual techfest, BrainShare, at the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City, Utah, Monday.
He was joined as part of the opening keynote by Linus Torvalds, who in a question and answer session showed himself to be as concerned as ever with the possible conflict between patents and progress, saying:
"Software patents, where nontechnical issues can be used to stop development, stop people from doing what they want to do and can do -- that, to me, is the biggest threat."
It was precisely his decision from the get-go not to make Linux proprietary that "made this all possible in the first place," Torvalds continued.
Novell Inc.'s embrace of Linux in 2003 and the first quarter of 2004 has been well documented. But Messman can hardly have dreamed of the tantalizing thumbs-up from the creator of Linux that his company received when Torvalds was asked what the "next big thing" was likely to be for Linux.
"I only work with the kernel itself," Torvalds replied. Then, gesturing in the direction of Messman and his deputy, Novell's vice chairman Chris Stone, he added: "You guys can maybe be the next big thing in Linux on a different scale."
When it was Chris Stone's turn he announced that Novell will be moving the whole company to OpenOffice by the end of the year, and to Linux on the desktop a year after.
So Novell is definitely now going to eat in its own kitchen, and the stage was set for a very buoyant BrainShare 2004.