The New York Post is reporting today that Novell, the corporate entity behind SUSE Linux, “has reached a deal in principle to sell itself in two parts, and is three to four weeks away from signing a deal.” The paper cites sources “close to the process.”
The Post says Novell is in the final stage of closing a two-part deal in which an unnamed “strategic buyer” will acquire the portion of Novell that “develops and delivers” the company’s SUSE Linux product line, while a private equity firm acquires the balance.
The Post’s report has fueled speculation that Novell may be in talks with Red Hat — the leading commercial Linux vendor — or with a virtualization software house such as VMware, with whom it already partners.
The Wall Street Journal lists Oracle as another potential buyer. Oracle has been a strong advocate of Linux for several years, and provides its own Linux product, dubbed Unbreakable Linux, which it positions as “deliver[ing] enterprise-class support for Linux with premier backports, comprehensive management, indemnification, testing and more, all at significantly lower cost.” Oracle’s Unbreakable Linux is derived from Red Hat Linux.
Novell also has had a four year partnership with Microsoft, ostensibly focused on enterprise Windows/Linux interoperability and support. No one mentions Microsoft as a potential Novell acquirer, however.
The core technologies of Novell’s SUSE Linux exist as open source in the OpenSUSE project and elsewhere, independent of Novell. OpenSUSE’s popularity has dwindled in recent years, most likely due at least in part to Novell’s 2006 Microsoft deal.