Some may think that's like being a rowboat captain, but it's not. Schmidt became CEO in 1997 and managed to refocus a company that didn't know what it was good at. He cut the fat, and had the company concentrate on NetWare and NDS, and had them add Internet infrastructure programs. Schmidt's had a hard time in general--even just a year ago he was flying high as the man who turned Novell around, but recent slightly depressing earnings reports (mind you, the company still makes money) battered the stock price, and there have been the usual takeover rumors.
Recently Novell restructured their executive board, and a new focus on marketing and making a cohesive set of products should help the company get back on track. The fact that NDS is cross-platorm and Active Directory is not should help too.
Schmidt himself came from Sun Microsystems where he was a vice president and one of the people who got Java out there. Before that, he worked at Xerox PARC. He's also a CEO with a Ph. D in computer science from UC Berkeley, and went to college at Princeton University. He's one of the most intelligent sounding CEOs I've seen talk--he makes Bill Gates look like a babbling idiot.
Recently, Eric has become CEO of Google and is will be just Chairman of the Board at Novell when Jack Messman of Cambridge Technology Partners takes over this summer.