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Novell hires top Samba programmer from HP

Software company adds another open-source luminary to its staff. Jeremy Allison says, "These guys know a lot about file sharing."

Novell has hired Jeremy Allison, one of the core programmers behind a widely used open-source project called Samba.

Allison previously worked for Hewlett-Packard. He said he made the switch because he believes that he can benefit from the experience Novell programmers have in the area of file servers. "These guys know a lot about file sharing," said Allison, who starts the new job on Thursday.

Samba is used to emulate Microsoft file-sharing technology, letting a server running Linux or Unix take the place of a Windows machine. Novell led the file server market for years with its NetWare operating system, before ceding it to Microsoft in the 1990s, but it's using Linux to try to keep its products competitive.

Novell began embracing open-source software in 2003 and in March brought its NetWare file system to Linux, though the product remains a proprietary add-on. Allison welcomed the move: Using that file system as a foundation for Samba will let the project emulate more of the features Windows provides, such as recording the time a file was originally created, he said.

Novell ships Samba with its SuSE Linux Enterprise Server product, and Allison said he hopes that will mean faster fixes for bugs. "I could have done the same thing at HP, but I would be one step removed from the direct customers," he said.

Keeping open-source luminaries on staff is common for computing companies, despite the fact that those programmers sometimes focus on their own projects rather than a corporation's particular agenda. Earlier this year, Novell hired Greg Kroah-Hartman, a top lieutenant to Linux leader Linus Torvalds and a former IBM employee.

Torvalds himself works for the Open Source Development Labs, an industry-funded consortium that earlier this year hired Allison's Samba collaborator, Andrew Tridgell.