I’m wondering why Attachmate is interested in MeeGo.
Okay, I might be getting ahead of myself here. Actually, I don’t know that Attachmate is interested in MeeGo. All I know for sure is that yesterday Jos Poortvliet, the openSUSE community manager, wrote an article for LinuxUser in which he offered openSUSE as a new home for MeeGo:
“As I love MeeGo and what they do, I asked the MeeGo community to join openSUSE. We’re a community much like MeeGo – young, flexible, innovative, open. Continuing to build MeeGo on top of openSUSE would be possible, especially now there is an openSUSE ARM project…”
I found this to be very interesting, especially since he starts the post by expressing the belief that there are very few safe havens for open source projects, that lots of FOSS projects exist at the fickle pleasure of their corporate sponsors. SUSE, according to Poortvliet, is one of the few exceptions:
“I’m not talking about companies like Red Hat or SUSE. They depend on the communities behind their products. But that’s not always the case. Some companies build community around something, but drop it on a whim.”
Call me a cynic, but this made me chuckle a bit.
I agree with his assessment of Red Hat. As far as I can determine, there’s not a for-profit company on the planet more dedicated to both the spirit and letter of the GPL. But SUSE? The distro that crawled into bed with Microsoft under Novell’s ownership, and remains Redmond’s Linux lover under the stewardship of Attachmate?
Excuse me, but I think we can depend on SUSE staying the course about as much as we can depend on Apple not suing Samsung.
I have a feeling that Poortvliet is probably a decent enough sort of open source guy, but I figure he’s got a pretty serious case of denial going on. Does he realize that SLED has an indemnity agreement with Microsoft that’s only legal under the GPL because SUSE lies about their end of the bargain? Or that SUSE is like a kept lover, that Redmond regularly pours $100 million chunks of cash into the company?
So, when I hear the community development project openSUSE is opening their arms and offering MeeGo a home, I have to wonder if the suits at Attachmete, SUSE’s owners, are behind this. Then I wonder, what’s in it for them?
Maybe it’s simple and innocent. Maybe they realize their love affair with Microsoft is a public relations disaster and they’re opening up a home for orphaned open source projects as a way of building up some FOSS cred. That wouldn’t be so bad, but if that’s the motive I wouldn’t count on it lasting very long if I were involved with the MeeGo project. There’s also the possibility they have some idea of having a mobile OS that’s highly integrated with their server OS. I can see where that could have some potential value for enterprise customers down the line.
My fear, however, which may be entirely unwarranted, is that this somehow has something to do with SUSE’s close relationship with Microsoft. I have absolutely no idea what this could be, except I’m pretty sure that Windows Phone 7 would somehow be involved and that ultimately it wouldn’t be good for Android or any other open source mobile OS. In other words, I smell some sort of FUD attack in the making.
I hope my suspicions are unfounded. I hope that Mr. Poortvliet’s offer is entirely altruistic, and that he isn’t being manipulated by the folks at SLED or Attachment. But I still have to wonder, what good is an orphaned mobile operating system without the support of a wireless provider or handset maker?
I find this all very curious.