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Novell is losing a key figure driving development of the Banshee open-source music player it helped pioneer.

Banshee creator Aaron Bockover is leaving Novell after six years and joining Skype co-founders Janus Friis with Niklas Zennström on their latest venture: an on-demand, social music service called Rdio.

Bockover is leaving Novell as the company is being absorbed by Attachmate, which hasn't exactly made headlines as a supporter or maintainer of Linux and other open source software. Novell's sale has spooked open sourcers, not only due to uncertainty over the future of SuSE Linux and the openSuSE project, but also because the company also sold 882 patents to a Microsoft-led closed-vendor consortium.

Bockover originally joined Novell to develop Banshee, but he said that for the last two years, he's been move involved with SuSE MeeGo and SuSE Mobile. Banshee is now the default music player for MeeGo. Meanwhile, Ubuntu daddy Canonical plans to make Banshee its default music player with the release of "Natty Narwhal" this spring.

Bockover said that the last major piece of work he'd done on Banshee was the Amazon MP3 store integration and downloader, which was built last summer. He also said he expects to take Banshee into "yet another new direction" at Rdio. I'm excited about the possibilities ahead, but will save my thoughts for another time.

"While there's much I'd like to do in Banshee that Rdio is already doing, there's perhaps even more I'd like to see Rdio doing that Banshee does. It will be an exciting time to come, and I'm eager to jump in," he blogged.

Rdio streams music to your browser, desktop, or mobile device for a monthly subscription of $9.99, and there's a web-only edition that's priced at $4.99 a month.

Banshee runs on SuSE Linux, Ubuntu, Fedora, Debian, Mandriva, Foresight, and Apple's OS X, but not yet Windows. The web version of Rdio runs in Firefox 3.5 and above for all major OS platforms, Safari on Mac and Windows, Internet Explorer 7 and 8 for Windows, and Google Chrome.

The full version of Rdio runs on iPhones running iOS 3.0 and higher; the Curve 8900, Bold, and Tour models of Blackberry; and devices running Android OS 1.6 or higher. ®

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