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Novell upgrades its SUSE marketing and community

Novell just showed that it's not dead yet with a good hire of Joe Brockmeier. But will his voice get lost in Novell's sea of conformity?

Joe Brockmeier, editor-in-chief of, has left the world of Linux evangelism to join the world of...Linux evangelism. However, instead of doing so as the "neutral" voice of a journalist he'll have a bit of an OpenSUSE slant this time around as the OpenSUSE community manager..

And that's just fine.

I've long respected Joe and think this is a good move for Novell, which seems to have a predilection for the analyst and journalist community that covers it. (It hired Bill Claybrook from Aberdeen a few years ago.) One of Novell's core problems in the past two years has been a lack of vocal DNA that will focus on the value of Linux, rather than the value of shacking up with Microsoft. Joe isn't a zealot but he also knows which side his open-source bread is buttered on.

Indeed, he noted that his goal is to help move people from Windows to Linux, rather than from Linux to Linux (which is an unfortunate fetish of other areas of the company):

I'm also going to be focusing my attention on getting the word out about openSUSE to more potential users, and trying to bring in more new users to openSUSE Linux. And by "new users," I don't mean people switching from another Linux distro -- if someone is using another distro and is happy with Linux, that's great. I want to reach the masses of Windows users who are looking for a better computing platform, and find ways to address their needs with Linux.

What a breath of fresh air from Waltham! Perhaps because it's not coming from Waltham, but from Florida, where Joe lives. Novell needs more independent voices talking straight to gain back lost credibility in the open-source community. Bringing Joe on board is a great way to make strides in that direction.

We hosted Joe on last week's recording of Open Season and will be uploading that soon for your listening enjoyment. In it Dave asks Joe point-blank why he'd bother to join a sinking ship. Joe makes a good case for why that description doesn't fit Novell and how he expects to help make it a stronger community brand again.

Stay tuned. Novell's enemies are within its four walls. Joe, I believe firmly, can help to strengthen and improve Novell's message. Will it be enough?