Juergen Geck, former chief technology officer at SuSE Linux, will leave the company at the end of this week, parent company Novell has confirmed. His departure follows on those of several other former SuSE executives.
Both Geck and Novell described the parting as "amicable", with Geck commenting that he had plenty of opportunities within Novell, but wants to work with a smaller company. But his departure comes at a time of turmoil as Novell struggles to unite its Ximian and SuSE acquisitions.
SuSE co-founder Hubert Mantel left Novell in November following a corporate restructuring that claimed hundreds of jobs, many of them in Suse's Nuremberg headquarters. At the time, Mantel said SuSE was "no longer the company I founded".
Last May saw the resignation of Richard Seibt, former chief executive of SuSE and, at the time of his departure, president of Novell EMEA. Suse channel chief Petra Heinrich resigned in July to join Open-Xchange.
Two Novell executives heavily involved in Linux strategy also left the company in recent months - vice chairman Chris Stone in November 2004 and Alan Nugent in March 2005.
The most prominent executives remaining at Novell from the acquisitions of SuSE and Ximian are Nat Friedman, vice president of Linux desktop engineering, and Miguel de Icaza, vice president for developer technologies - both of whom came to Novell via Ximian.
Geck joined SuSE in 1997 and was vice president for Technology Partners starting in 2000, responsible for alliances with AMD, Fujitsu-Siemens, HP, IBM, Intel, Oracle and SAP.
He was instrumental in designing SuSE's flagship SuSE Linux Enterprise Server (SLES), the first enterprise Linux distribution on the market, and the configuration tool Yast. In 2003 he became CTO of SuSE, and was responsible for aligning and communicating the company's technology strategy.
The departures are one of several signs of Linux turmoil within Novell. Last autumn, shortly before Mantel's resignation, Novell attempted to switch to using the Gnome desktop interface as default on SuSE products, despite SuSE's long association with the KDE desktop. The decision raised such an outcry that Novell quickly backtracked.
Novell is integrating both SuSE and Ximian, which makes Gnome-based desktop software. The differences between Ximian and SuSE appear to have created difficulties, according to industry observers. "There was always going to be a tension within the organisation," said RedMonk analyst James Governor last year.
The switch to Gnome and tensions with Ximian appeared to have influenced the decision of Mantel, who had been SuSE's chief kernel maintainer, to leave the company. "This is no longer the company I founded 13 years ago," Mantel wrote in a resignation e-mail. "I'm very confident the Novell management will find a competent successor very quickly. After all, there are lots of extremely skilled people over there in the Ximian division."
SuSE Linux is a major enterprise Linux distribution, and is the principal alternative to Red Hat, though it is far less profitable. Novell acquired the business in 2003 for $210 million.