Microsoft has appointed a senior executive from the Linux Foundation to lead efforts to make its software more interoperable with Novell’s Suse Linux distribution.
Tom Hanrahan will fill the new position of director of Linux interoperability. He will report to Sam Ramji, director of platform technology strategy, who runs the Microsoft Open Source Software Lab.
Hanrahan was previously director of engineering at the Linux Foundation. He also worked at IBM's Linux Technology Centre, as well as at Sequent Computer Systems and Intel.
His duties will include running the new Microsoft Novell Interoperability Lab, announced in November when the two companies formed a patent licensing and interoperability deal.
The controversial Microsoft-Novell deal aims to ensure Suse Linux works better with Windows in environments where the two operating systems coexist. Experts from both companies will work in the interoperability lab to test and build interoperable offerings. The companies are also co-marketing each other's technology.
Last month Novell published the terms of the deal, in a move aimed at making it clear that the Linux distributor rejected Microsoft's claims that the open source operating system breaches its patents.
Microsoft’s ability to offer Suse Linux maintenance and support coupons, to customers who want to run the system in their IT environments, could be threatened by the passage of the GNU General Public Licence Version 3.
A provision of the licence provides patent protection for anyone receiving software distributed by it. It was passed in light of bold claims by Microsoft that it will seek damages for 235 patents it says both Linux and other open-source software violate.
Microsoft executives have used the Novell deal as the blueprint for how their company wants those violating its patents to pay for them, while Novell insists its Linux distribution does not infringe upon any Microsoft patents.