Micro Focus announced that they had plans to sell the SUSE open-source brand to a Swedish group called EQT Partners. Preliminary reports insinuate that the price tag would be somewhere over $2.5 billion US. The British-based company agreed to sell it to EQT in part because they need fresh funds to reduce their debt and return money to shareholders.
The company was long known for making dramatic acquisitions, with many sending strong ripples throughout the world of open-source software. Micro Focus has unfortunately been struggling in recent years as they’ve been grappling with a nearly $9 billion HP Enterprise deal.
Like Canonical’s Ubuntu brand, Micro Focus primarily focused on offering support for corporate users of SUSE. The underlying software is still free, and many private individuals deploy openSUSE on their own desktops or laptops. openSUSE also has a fairly large share of the server market as well.
The openSUSE project is sponsored by SUSE, but it doesn’t look like this buyout should have any influence on development itself. As a result, those who are currently using openSUSE or other rolling release distros based on it shouldn’t experience any service disruptions when it comes to receiving new packages.
In fact, those who want to download fresh install images shouldn’t have any issues doing so either. Companies woh had difficulty with custom implementations have long relied on paid support systems, which in turn has helped the business side of the equation fund development of FOSS-based packages.
Over its long history, SUSE Linux went from a restrictive and delayed distribution to a very free and open one that shares quite a bit of information on its development. Since they’ve moved toward such a transparent coding model, SUSE has gone through a number of ownership changes insofar as the financial crews are concerned.
None of these previous ones caused any disruptions, so most Linux experts feel that this news shouldn’t have too much of a lasting influence either. The core distribution shouldn’t change, nor should it’s quirky yet fun mascot.
While some users have expressed a wish to know how much other distros are worth, it should be noted that what’s for sale here is essentially a support scheme. Since GNU/Linux distros are free, they don’t usually have a value that can be measured in dollars and cents.