Novell Dismisses AppArmor Developer

Oct 12, 2007

Two years after acquiring the company that developed AppArmor Novell has dismissed the developer behind the security technology.

The AppArmor Linux security technology is mainly the brainchild of one man: Crispin Cowan, the founder and CEO of Immunix, which was acquired by Novell two years ago. Cowan has now confirmed his dismissal, effective as of September 28; four other people working on the project were dismissed at the same time He was surprised by the decision at the time, says Crispin; he had received salary increases and bonus payments right up to the end. Novell has been unwilling to comment on this move, thus far. Cowan has joined forces with two other people affected by the dismissals, Steve Beattie and Dominic Reynolds to found a new consultancy agency called Mercenary Linux which will focus on AppArmor development and technologies.

Hired, fired and now his own boss again: AppArmor developer Crispin Cowan.

Novell uses AppArmor in its enterprise distribution, Suse Linux Enterprise Server, and intends to carry on updating the software and releasing it on Novell websites. In 2006, Novell released AppArmor as an Open Source technology, and the development process has changed considerably since then. Crispin does not think it is sufficient to leave development of AppArmor up to the community, and is looking for sponsors for the security technology. He would also be happy to sell his new company, with its portfolio of AppArmor services, if a sponsor is interested.

Besides Novell, Canonical, the company behind the free Ubuntu Linux distribution, will be using AppArmor for its next Ubuntu version; and the new Mandriva Linux 2008 distribution also includes the security solution. In contrast to this, Red Hat relies on the competing technology, Security Enhanced Linux (SELinux).

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