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Novell position on GPL3 draft



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March 28, 2007 9:21 am

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The Free Software Foundation has published today a third draft of the GPL3 license. The FSF had indicated leading up to this draft that it would be addressing some concerns it had with the Novell-Microsoft agreements in the draft. Here’s Novell’s position on the new draft:

  • We will continue to distribute Linux. Nothing in this new draft of GPL3 inhibits Novell’s ability to include GPL3 technologies in SUSE Linux Enterprise, openSUSE, and other Novell open source offerings, now and in the future. This is good news for our customers.
  • This is a draft for public comment. Novell is not going to offer a public interpretation on specific provisions of the draft at this time.
  • We are firmly committed to continuing the partnership with Microsoft and, as we always have, fully complying with the terms of the licenses for the software that we ship, including software licensed under GPL3. If the final version of the GPL3 does potentially impact the agreement we have with Microsoft, we’ll address that with Microsoft.
  • Novell has been and continues to be a strong supporter of free software and open source. We are significant contributors to a range of free software and open source projects, including kernel.org, openOffice.org, Mono, GNU projects, and more.
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Categories: Expert Views, General, PR Blog

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41 Comments

  1. By:john ewing

    Bruce –

    Given that Novell’s deal with Microsoft is considered by many to be a (not-so-veiled) threat of Microsoft-patent-based litigation against non-SuSE users of Linux, doesn’t your suggestion that Novell is “a strong supporter of free software and open source” stretch the limits of credibility ?

    Would you agree, Bruce, that this type of implied legal threat to the users of Open Source software at-large is a strikingly similar (improper) use of Microsoft market power and legal resources that Microsoft used to defeat Novell in the networking business ?

    Now, Bruce, given that Novell sought and received compensation for Microsoft’s prior abuses of market power, wouldn’t it be reasonable for some folks to conclude that Novell is guilty of (comedic) hypocrisy ?

    Wouldn’t you agree, Bruce, that the Open Source response in seeking to force Microsoft to extend it’s legal protections to all Linux users is justified, clever, and embarrasing to Novell and Microsoft ?

    Lastly, do lawyers make good software and generate goodwill with customers ?

    Regards, John.

  2. By:HarryManback

    Wouldn’t you agree, John, that using the author’s first name repeatedly is an intentional attempt to belittle him? Now John, that is very childish. Suppose we stopped being petty and instead merely point out why we think the Novell attitude is disingenuous?

  3. By:jba

    John,

    could you please stop this agressive Bruce, Bruce, Bruce . . .
    Novell is not a wellfare company. If they have contracts with others, pointed to their for ex. Open Enterprise Server services (closed source) – what can you say against it?

    jba

  4. By:Roger

    I’m trying not to get involved in the issues being raised by [Microsoft+Novell] vs GPL3, but can I say that it is helpfull that Novell is now posting its own comments quickly on the subject rather than waiting for a number of days.

  5. By:john ewing

    I think Bruce has dealt with much more difficult issues than suffering the horror of seeing his name properly used in a sentence, Harry.

    It’s not like I called him “Baghdad Bruce” !

    Truth is, I think this guy does a good job of providing information without treading into marketing la-la land (with resultant loss of credibility)…..a place where other Novell personnel seem too comfortable.

  6. By:john ewing

    As much as FSF would have liked to create rules aimed at undermining Novell-Microsoft, it couldn’t really do so directly due legal concerns.

    How can you argue against Novell-Microsofts stated objectives to improve interoperability and cross service each other’s clients without the appearance of intentionally harming a specific competitors business ?

    Of course, FSF distrusts Novell-Microsoft’s motives, which certainly seems fair in light of Microsoft’s history of unethical/illegal business tactics.

    FSF’s response, seems pretty smart, as it seeks to force Novell-Microsoft’s hand by mandating positive actions (you must do this) which benefit the entire Open Source community, rather than negative (you can’t do that).

    Interestingly, it may work to Novell’s favor in the long run, by forcing Microsoft to take FSF’s required actions which Novell couldn’t have obtained independently due to its lack of leverage over Microsoft.

    I am giving Novell the benefit of the doubt here, but if it ends up that Novell gets Microsoft cash and increased market opportunities without getting tainted by Microsofts undisclosed motive to weaken Linux, it could work out well for Novell.

    I am not sure how you effectively dissociate from Microsoft s undisclosed motives though. Getting in bed with the enemy is risky.

  7. By:Tim Ransom

    Why include this point in your bulleted list?:

    “Novell has been and continues to be a strong supporter of free software and open source.”

    Of course SCO claimed the same thing, even after writing to congress that the GPL is a threat to national security.

    Not to mention the baffling contradiction between your first two points. First you say:

    “We will continue to distribute Linux. Nothing in this new draft of GPL3 inhibits Novell’s ability to include GPL3 technologies in SUSE Linux Enterprise, openSUSE, and other Novell open source offerings, now and in the future.”

    Sounds like a “public interpretation on specific provisions” to me. That would be because that’s what it is. Yet your next point is:

    “This is a draft for public comment. Novell is not going to offer a public interpretation on specific provisions of the draft at this time.”

    You just did. In your preceeding point.

    I guess flagrant duplicity will have to do when you’ve got nothing else.

  8. By:john ewing

    to be fair, I don’t think he offered a “public interpretation on specific provisions”, but rather a “public interpretation on the overall draft”, which he claims does not inhibit Novell’s distribution plans.

    I am no expert, here, but presumably we have two important variables:

    1. Novell’s continued Linux distribution business processes unrelated to the Microsoft agreement.

    It would seem a safe bet that Novell can continue doing what it has been doing without respect to the Microsoft arrangement. And this may be the source of Lowry’s broad statement.

    2. Novell’s ability to distribute Linux under the Microsoft alliance.

    It seems arguable that the contstraints which the FSF hopes to place on Microsoft (extending patent liability protections to all) might, in fact, inhibit Novell in some way. However, this would seem to be a question of legal interpretation of FSF’s actions and possibly even an understanding/interpretation of the Novell-Microsoft agreement itself.

    As always, the devil is in the details, and PR folks like Mr. Lowry are adept at providing none, yet appearing responsive at the same time. Good work if you can get it.

    john

  9. By:Bruce Lowry

    Hi Tim:

    Trying to tarnish us with the SCO brush just doesn’t cut it, in my book. We’ve been battling SCO in court for years now, in defense of Linux and open source. You may not like the Microsoft agreement, but to suggest we’ve essentially turned our back on open source is just not true. We continue to be major contributors to a number of projects. On the GPL3 issue, we’ve made a blanket statement that we will continue to ship Linux and that nothing in the current draft inhibits our ability to do that. That reflects our overall interpretation of the draft. That is not the same as commenting on specific provisions of the draft. So I don’t believe we’re being duplicitious here.

    We know there are critics of this deal. But people need to resist painting the deal as some surrogate for Novell abandoning open source. That simply is not the case. We did this deal to promote Linux adoption. Period. Thanks.

  10. By:Joe Buck

    Bruce, I agree that you guys aren’t SCO; Novell employees, particularly those coming from SUSE and Ximian, have made extensive contributions. A lot of good guys work for you.

    Nevertheless, the ink wasn’t dry on your agreement before Microsoft was crowing that you had acknowledged that this was a surrender, that you had acknowledged that all GNU and Linux users owe Microsoft money from their patents, and the only safe way to proceed was to abandon all independent open source development and get your Linux only from Novell. It seems that the least you can do is fight hard to counter Microsoft’s rhetoric: if their assertions about your agreement are correct, then Richard Stallman’s efforts to rein you in with GPLv3 are simply a matter of survival.

    Yes, I’m sure that you were thinking, in part, that this deal would make customers more comfortable with adopting Linux. But I fear that you were also thinking that this deal would frighten customers away from Red Hat and have them choose Novell instead. But the relationship between Red Hat and Novell doesn’t resemble the cutthroat competition you see in other industries: you rely on code that they develop, and they rely on code that you develop, and the only payment that you make to each other is your code. If that code, from you, comes with strings, you’re reneging on the deal. If you succeed in frightening independent open source developers away, since they are not under your patent shield, your own R&D efforts will become much more expensive, because you’ll have to pay everyone. This is not a game that you want to win.

    Microsoft hopes to help you undermine Red Hat and make Linux look more like proprietary software, with one source of development and control, namely Novell. After that, they are confident that they can crush you. That’s how they work.

  11. By:Glanz

    Obviously, you have learned nothing from the long history of Microsoft’s abuses. illegal practices, untrustworthiness, lies, FUD, fabrications to impress shareholders, and the list goes on…

    You have sold your soul for money. You are a traitor to the whole principle of Open Source and Free Software, and unfortunately, so are the developers who work for you, often for free, probably because of some perverted genesis of the Stockholm Syndrome.

    I believe your statements as much as I believe Microsoft FUD and Ballmer’s continued lying. I will do all in my power to make sure your OS never finds a place an any of the hundreds of machines over which I have an influence. I will go out of my way to express my views in every University in Canada and all Provincial Governments considering Linux and Open Source as an option.

  12. By:Mitch Andrews

    Thanks for the clarification Bruce.

    My personal opinion on this is that no matter what you say or do, there will always be those in the Linux community who will refuse to see Novell as anything other than the Witch King to Microsoft’s Sauron. They will parse whatever you have to say and throw it back at you with what they might have read between the lines. And nothing at all will satisfy them. Don’t try to point out your good works, as they just don’t care. The townsfolk have their torches and pitchforks, and hysteria ensures that the only thing they want from you is blood.

    As for myself, I remember that the reason I decided to go with Suse Linux to begin with was because at the time, it was the only distro that was in any way stable on the x86_64 hardware. Suse has always been a pretty stable distro for me since, and has allowed me most everything I’ve ever wanted out of Linux. After you’ve treated me so well, I am more than willing to extend to Novell the benefit of the doubt in this matter.

    Have a good one,

    Mitch

  13. By:Armando Ortiz

    We’ve been an adopter of OpenSuSE for some various projects here – including a HA cluster I managed to bring online for our document portal. OpenSuSE is a fantastic community product and I’m almost inclined to push towards the Enterprise version in order to get the support, HOWEVER…

    …when the deal between Novell and Microsoft went forward, it gave me some kind of chilling feeling that somebody wasn’t letting out all the information they needed to.

    And to further confirm that chilling feeling, Microsoft came out at a later date throwing blows at whomever used FOSS claiming patent and IP infringement along with Ballmer tooting his horn that open source isn’t free.

    Shouldn’t Novell re-think this deal due to Ballmer’s bullying around the sandbox and Microsoft’s aggressive position on the use of FOSS by anyone – why should it matter whether it is *SuSE or any other distribution that uses the same FOSS? I certainly am re-thinking my use of anything relative to Novell just to drive the point home.

    Honestly, it almost looks like Novell is just a puppet. Guess who the hand is.

    I seem to recall a company named after a fruit that was in a similar position of being duped by a young man named Bill. They came back with a vengeance. I doubt Novell will survive the bad publicity of this fiasco.

    Source:
    http://news.com.com/Ballmer+repeats+threats+against+Linux/2100-7344_3-6160604.html

  14. By:Chris

    Bruce:

    Let’s be fair here. If it was Novell’s plan to abandon Open Source, you certainly wouldn’t be advertising it. Lets not forget the SCO sold Linux for quite some time before looking for a way to create FUD in an attempt to save their failing business.

    You can say whatever you want about the Microsoft-Novell deal. Good or Bad. History has shown Microsoft to be a ruthless competitor that guts its opposition and leaves them to die on the side of the road. The deal had nothing to do with interoperability or good will. It was to create the exact FUD that this thread is about. Don’t believe me? Balmer’s comments regarding Linux infringing on Microsoft’s IP were almost the exact same day you folks penned the deal…and, it seems, without your knowledge. Coincidence?

    The Open Source community is just that, a community. We cherish our freedom. Feel threatened when its jeapordized. Betrayed, when companies like Novell “have our best interest at heart” but demonstrate that it’s really their own best interest they have at heart. Do I need to remind you of the KDE debacle? How about the Hula project?

    Time will tell. However, with the rise of Ubuntu and Red Hat’s continued tear, Novell is backed into a corner…where it seems Uncle Bill is waiting with open arms.

    Chris

  15. By:Chuck Bermingham

    Bruce:

    I applaud the Novell areangement wth Microsoft, and have always hoped that it would foster better relations between Microsoft and those of us who support Free Software and Open Source Software. I think all of us would be better off in that case.

    On the other hand, I have often had the sense that I cannot trust Microsoft on matters that involve fear, on their part, that they will “lose business” or “not win the day.” Also, I myself have some concern that it might be difficult, or impossible, for a company like Microsoft, which has built its business on selling “software products”, to change its approach to the computer world (one in which, even back to the beginning, people have been writing software on their own, for their own purposes, and to share with others.)

    It seems to me that this is a capsule summary of the issues that have been raised by your arrangement with them.

  16. By:Mark Haniford

    The best thing for Novell to do is to distance itself from the rabid zealots in the FSF camp. They’re not IT decision makers, never will be, and are irrelevant to Novell’s bottom line.

  17. By:Richard Steven Hack

    While I do not consider the Novell-Microsoft deal anything significant at all to the success of Linux and OSS in general, it’s just a hair disingenuous to say that Novell will continue to distribute Linux, that there is nothing in GPLv3 that prevents that (which is true ONLY IF the grandfather clause is retained), while at the same time saying it’s a draft – and therefore you don’t KNOW what the final effect will be.

    OTOH, there is ZERO evidence that the Microsoft deal will EVER have ANY effect on the success of OSS, EVEN if Microsoft were to sue somebody in the future. For the FSF to be willing to “punish” a leading OSS company just because Microsoft MIGHT SOME DAY do something to try to damage OSS makes no sense whatsoever – except to a fanatic.

    As far as can be told right now, Microsoft went into this deal to give Steve Ballmer some more FUD talking points. That’s it. Microsoft is in no position to sue anybody over patents – not while IBM has the largest patent portfolio in the industry and is making billions off of Linux and OSS. Not to mention that numerous other countries would ignore such a lawsuit. If OSS had to move “offshore”, it would.

    As was said in the SCO debacle, if Microsoft has patents covering Linux code – “Show us the code.”

    SCO couldn’t do it. Microsoft can’t do it.

    Any Microsoft lawsuit would take as long or longer than the SCO nonsense to come to decision. By that time, no such code would remain in Linux or OSS.

    This is obvious to anybody with a brain – and should be obvious to the FSF. Therefore it is clear to me that Stallman, the FSF, and wannabes like Bruce Perens decided to hype this deal in order to push their own attempts to gain CONTROL – NOT “freedom” – over the open software industry.

    It is clear that the FSF fanatics are doing themselves and OSS no service by trying to damage one of the most successful distros of one of the most successful OSS projects in history. But then the FSF is careful to say that they really don’t care about OSS – they care about “free” software.

    At some point, the industry is going to have to fork the GNU utilities so that Stallman can no longer blackmail the industry in support of his political agenda.

    Might as well happen now.

  18. By:Pieter

    Why is Novell held responsible for patent threats that M$ may or may not bring on ?
    For me Novell gets the benefit of the doubt for now. The deal was great for them and hence for GNU/Linux in general.
    Lets have the patience to wait and see how this contract will paly out. Linus T’s comments this wek were right on the dot, the hate some people have for propriety sofware should not get in the way of the OpenSource and Free Software community.
    Let’s just wait and see…
    Untill then: Put up (some real issues or wrongdoing on Novells part) or shut up !
    P/.

  19. By:Justin

    Bruce,

    You must mean “We did this deal to promote SUSE’s Linux adoption. Period.” RH and SB were very smiley when they jointly issued a threat to all other Linux distributors that they would have to face MS lawyers if they continued distributing non-SUSE versions of Linux. Many of this distributors have produced much of what is actually in SUSE Linux. I would say that doing that was not only ruthless and disloyal, but it was also foolish. Don’t you agree?

  20. By:Eric Pedersen

    Novell has not done ONE thing that would suggest that they are lying to Linux Users and all of those that embrace Open Source Software. If you disagree with this statement- please cite a source of factual information stating such.
    If people FEAR Microsoft will taint Novell, that is one thing. It is entirely another to suggest that is larady had happened. It hasn’t. Novell is stating that it will not. Until you can prove to the contrary- we have no reason to disbelieve the Novell stance on open source software.
    Do not fall prey to the Fear of the unknown. Fear of the unknown is what made Microsoft what they are right now.
    If you Like Linux- if you suuport Linux- stand by Novell and help them steer and navigate and bring Linux to the masses.
    ALways have facts– too many folks let fear rule. Be Smart. Get facts.

  21. By:john ewing

    Justin –

    That’s an important distinction, and it’s really not credible that there was a single motivation anyway (notwithstanding Mr. Lowry’s terse claim). These are complex decisions Novell is making, and it’s likely true that Novell’s decision also was made with these things in mind (in addition to promoting SuSE Linux adoption):

    1. Get closer to Microsoft…..for purposes of benefitting from its market power and/or demonstrating to other possible partners (IBM) that Novell has cards to play.

    2. Get a substantial sum of money up-front ($300 million bucks). Obviously money is a form of power as well…..the more Novell has, the better it can play its cards…..And heaven knows that Novell can’t seem to generate much cash internally from its operations !

    I agree with the fundamental point that Novell is making a deal with the devil (so to speak…..though Microsoft isn’t really as bad as many portray, in part due to regulatory restraints)…….My gut is that its not going to be worth the price, but it would really seem to depend on unknowable terms of the Microsoft deal.

    Novell better have a decent backup plan if the costs exceed the benefits on this one……I suppose its not out of the question that Novell could end up keeping the Microsoft cash and letting the FSF handcuff the deal……

    If the end result is that the FSF gets what it wants, Novell could come out of it pretty well by obtaining a sum from Microsoft which would have been unobtainable had Microsoft known the outcome of FSF’s license changes……….whether just good luck, or pre-meditated as an outcome it doesn’t really matter much…..

    john.

  22. By:Manav

    I believe Novell did a great deal to promote Linux in enterprise. Enterprises are too worried of Linux adoption because of patents and other threats. Having the blessing of Microsoft on Linux distribution (even if for one distribution) is beneficial for both customers and Linux adoption.

    I know the hundreds of stallman follower will say otherwise and will tell how you betrayed this etc but the truth is Stallman lives in an idealistic world. He does not see reality. He is adding things to GPLv3 which even intelligent people like Linus hate. To sum it up Stallman is a moron and so are his supporters. They all should be exported to china and russia to promote communism as they don’t understand the realities of the capitalist society.

  23. By:Grzegorz Staniak

    Bruce:

    I want to believe you when you say the MS deal was struck “to promote Linux adoption”. But judging from what is said about it by MS it very much looks like it should read “to promote SuSE Linux adoption”. And to cast legal shadow over all other Linux distributions, one might add.

  24. I personally like the Microsoft – Novell deal. I may not be a huge Novell fan I think it is good for customers and good for business. Patent protection is necessary in this world and trying to force it with a software license is the only thing foolish I see taking place here. If IBM and Novell had been the ones to enter into the deal would the community be so against the deal? probably so, both are “friends” of Open Source where Microsoft is percieved as the enemy. The GPLv3 will fall flat on its face and the only companies that will be standing tall when the smoke clears and the dust settles is Microsoft and Novell.

  25. By:Bob Lawler

    From the view point of all you nay-sayers who sit as end users with nothing to loose, it is easy to make such close minded statements. Put yourself in the shoes of a CIO/CTO. Making IT decisions which will affect your company for years to come. Just the threat of IP lawsuits from MS often forces companies away from Linux and into the MS fold. One lawsuit for whatever reason has the capability of killing a good company and effectively end the Cxx career.
    As for the interoperability, you can not say with any credibility that this would not make admins jobs easier. Having Linux, any Linux, work with a MS environment only help Linux gain ground. Everyone know the benefits of Linux over MS but the cost to change can be huge. Now it will be easier to get Linux into the environments since these OS will be more inter operable.
    The fact that MS acknowledges Linux’s abilities and position never hurts as well.

  26. By:Rafael Diaz

    Novell can continue down this road of their own choosing. I for one have removed SUSE from the 3 (of the 4) servers that were running it and with a bit of luck we’ll have the 4th clean of any Novell software soon.

    Its clear that the one way we can indicate our unhappiness with the Microsoft agreement is to hit them at the pocketbook. Not more Novell support plans for us.

  27. By:Justin

    Bob Lawler,

    Fine, so many corporations are afraid of the MS bullies. Those that are so afraid of MS that they can’t even use Linux because of some theoretical danger of being sued should continue using Windows. They deserve it for being so short sighted. On the other hand, more clue full enterprises that realize that there is nothing to fear and the MS is just bluffing can take advantage of Linux and out compete the fearful ones.

    The thing that most of these corporate minded Novell cheerleaders don’t understand is that free software, including Linux, is not written primarily for their benefit. Also, Linux is not a product that you can buy, package, and license any way you want. Linux is a living *movement* created and maintained by a community. When a threat to this community is felt, the community will react very defensively. So, just as there is a danger in being sued by MS, there is also a danger of having the community turn against you. And that is what is happening to Novell.

    I still think that Novell can get out of this mess, but I don’t know if the current corporate minded management understands the danger they are in and what they need do to get out of it.

  28. 1. Get closer to Microsoft…..for purposes of benefitting from its market power and/or demonstrating to other possible partners (IBM) that Novell has cards to play.

    No actually. There’s a much simpler reason. Microsoft are Novell’s competitor, and are taking business and customers away from Novell. This is a deal where Novell is effectively begging them to stop by paying royalties to Microsoft on Suse. That simple. No more, no less.

    Get a substantial sum of money up-front ($300 million bucks).

    Yes, there’s that as well. It’s worth nothing that that figure is equal to Novell’s cashflow ;-).

    The Microsoft deal is not about interoperability, there is no timetable as to what Microsoft will collaborate on, I see no Microsoft engineers on the mailing lists of Open Office, Mono, Linux, Samba or anything else and they’re not getting Windows up and running on Xen. As far as I can see, the extent of the interoperability is some federated directory stuff no one cares about.

    Novell have sold themselves to Microsoft and have helped Microsoft to create exactly the perception they want – that a Linux system contains Microsoft’s propert. That’s what the indemnification letter says to customers. That’s it.

  29. Making IT decisions which will affect your company for years to come. Just the threat of IP lawsuits from MS often forces companies away from Linux and into the MS fold.

    The vast majority of companies make decisions that aren’t based on Microsoft threatening to sue them. They are few and far between, and those that are worried are impressionable organisations Microsoft have cajoled into giving them money – for nothing.

    One lawsuit for whatever reason has the capability of killing a good company and effectively end the Cxx career.

    I know of no instance where that has happened. It’s just one of those mythical situations people get worked up about, and Novell have fallen for it because Microsoft have specifically been threatening some of their customers.

    As for the interoperability, you can not say with any credibility that this would not make admins jobs easier.

    There are no details about what this interoperability is, Microsoft is not validating Windows to run under Xen, they’re not contributing to Samba, Mono or Open Office and eDirectory will not be a drop-in replacement for Active Directory, without AD being present. The whole interoperability thing is smoke and mirrors.

    Now it will be easier to get Linux into the environments since these OS will be more inter operable.

    Why would Microsoft help Novell to do that? That’s Novell’s job, not Microsoft’s, and Microsoft will never divulge the information needed to make that happen. Nowhere is it specified in the deal either.

    You (and Novell) are living in a fantasy world, seeing threats that aren’t there that Microsoft really want you to see and imagining that things are going to happen with this deal that just aren’t there either. In the course of Novell’s history, that’s par for the course – as Microsoft well knows.

  30. By:Justin

    Oh, and one more thing. With regards to being afraid of MS, with the hatred Ballmer has for Google, if there was any legitimacy to their scare tactics they would have already gone after them. The fact that Google continues in their marry way, taking business away from MS, should give everyone a clear message!

  31. Introducing SCO the debate is anything but moot. But not for the reasons one might expect.

    The curtain is about to fall on the SCO drama and Novell’s Unix intellectual property is all but certain. Follow the intellectual property. There is where you will find the material factor in Microsoft’s interest in Novell. The FUD is a sideshow of smoke and mirrors.

    Unfortunately, there are parties on the periphery that have a stake in marginalizing Novell’s role in the Microsoft/Novell negotiations. Namely…the open source community is invested.

    Novell is not a junior partner in the relationship… chiefly because of their intellectual property assets.

    Microsoft negotiations, whether it is with Novell or the FOSS community, contain a huge amount of posturing. SCO’s threat to the world was not credible. Likewise, a similar threat from Microsoft is not credible… It’s marketing.

    What the zealots tend to overlook is the fact that Microsoft needs to protect itself from Novell. The requirements for interoperability are bi-directional. Longhorn contains significant advances in Unix interoperability. Much of the former Unix Services for Windows have been incorporated into Longhorn. Too little credit is given to Novell in this arrangement.

    The GPLv3 issue is a lot of posturing and intimation of concern. There is nothing wrong with that. Novell’s position makes perfect sense. Particularly when considering that all facets of the Novell-Microsoft deal have yet to materialize.

    Technically, this should not be an issue. Unfortunately, strategic concerns and proactive efforts of a strategic nature are rarely visible and even more rarely socialized. Is the cloak and dagger necessary? One could argue both sides.

    I, for one, don’t believe for an instant that the sky is falling or that 20+ year industry rivals would get in bed together unless there were STRONG motivators for both parties.

    The socializing and spin of these chess moves is lackluster and boorish. But the operative point is that it is a game of strategy. All the passion mongers and zealots are fixating on myopic moves instead of giving thought to longer term interests and fiduciary responsibility. You can teach a cat to use a toilet, but that doesn’t make it any less a cat.

    The FSF will play it’s part. The FOSS community will also perform their role as expected. Anyone who thinks there is autonomy in any of the players is simply too tightly wrapped up in their position.

    We are at the end of an era. The OS product is becoming commercially less attractive as a business segment. At the end of the day, decision makers don’t care what the OS is if the applications that drive business decisions continue to deliver value. Microsoft has a stake in advancing Greenfield commercial opportunities. The OS has become a risk to growth and profitability. Commodity business is not what created the Microsoft juggernaut. And litigation to support such commodity interests just doesn’t make sense in a strategic sense.

    The revisions added to GPLv3 are, at best, tactical moves… predictable and necessary performance by fringe elements.

    Rich Wermske
    http://www.wermske.com

  32. By:BC

    Personally I think Novell is doing a great job with Suse Linux. Years ago as a part of my job I installed and managed Novell Netware servers. Over the years I’ve worked with Netware 2.15 all the way through 5.1. They were rock solid, sure there were a few bumps here and there but nothing like the major problems I have had with Windows servers. I only left Netware because I moved to Linux and FreeBSD. Needless to say I was thrilled when Novell purchased Suse and as a Suse user I’m still a happy camper.

    Mr. Gates and Mr. Ballmer can spew all the FUD they want about Linux but it won’t do them a bit of good. People are catching on to Microsoft’s anti-consumer/anti-business antics. Consumers will only tolerate Microsoft for so long before getting fed up look to someone else like Novell for a new operating system.

    Anyway, I can think of few companies who could take on Microsoft and stand toe to toe. As for the Novell/Microsoft deal I think Novell did the right thing. An old saying comes to mind… “Keep your friends close and your enemies even closer.”

    Keep up the great work Novell, I’m behind you all the way!

  33. By:Aurelio

    These discussion for me are the proof that Ballmer’s plan to divide et impera our community is working very well.
    I’m very disappointed for this.
    If MS is a fisherman we and Novell are fishes.

    By a long long time SuSE user.

  34. By:Jerry L Kreps

    https://www.novell.com/linux/microsoft/press-conference_transcript.html

    BRAD SMITH: “… And you’ll see, as well, an economic commitment from Novell to Microsoft that involves a running *** ROYALTY ***, a percentage of revenue on open source software shipped under the agreement.” AND, Ballmer adds: “… we’re going to make clear that IP, the patent bridge, the IP bridge is an important thing. … And in our case, it means you don’t license – let me be clear about one thing, we don’t license our intellectual property to Linux because of the way the Linux licensing, GPL framework works, that’s not really a possibility. The cleverness was, how do we get protection and respect for our intellectual property in a world in which that license agreement works? So the two top level points, as Ron whispered to me, technical interoperability and patent peace of mind,…”

    What are “royalties” for? The payment for the use of another’s IP, the “IP Bridge”.

    SMITH Continues:
    “… The second thing we did in this area was add a promise that goes to developers, even developers who are getting paid to create code to OpenSUSE.org, code that Novell then takes and incorporates into its distribution, and that is then covered under the patent cooperation agreement between us, because after all Novell is ensuring that our patent rights are respected in an appropriate way, and that gives us the ability to address the needs and interests of those individuals.”

    And what is that promise?

    STEVE BALLMER: “The first is a promise that we won’t assert our patents against individual, non-commercial, open source developers. Who are these? These are individuals who are creating code, contributing code, they’re not being paid for that code, they’re often working in the evenings or at home. They’re not creating it as part of their job, but they’re acting in an individual non-commercial way. The promise doesn’t run to anybody who employs them, because after all, they’re not acting in the course of their employment. But, it gives those folks a new commitment from Microsoft.

    The second thing we did in this area was add a promise that goes to developers, even developers who are getting paid to create code to OpenSUSE.org, code that Novell then takes and incorporates into its distribution, and that is then covered under the patent cooperation agreement between us, because after all Novell is ensuring that our patent rights are respected in an appropriate way, and that gives us the ability to address the needs and interests of those individuals.”

    Let me make it simple for you. Protection against IP lawsuits is for those FOSS coders whose code actually makes it INTO the commercial SELS distribution. ALL other coders/contributors to any OTHER FOSS projects, including OpenSUSE.org, are possible targets of Microsoft IP lawsuits. After all, isn’t that what Novell is paying ROYALTIES to Microsoft for… the putative MS IP in “Linux”? And, didn’t you just read Ballmer’s statement that only FOSS code that is IN Novell’s commercial Linux distribution is free from threat of a Microsoft lawsuit?

    And, from Novell’s point of view, doesn’t that promise make them SUPREME (for at least FIVE years) beneficiaries of that SELS code umbrella?

    RON HOVSEPIAN: “I think it captured the essence of it.”

    Hovesepian cannot be so stupid as to not see the overwhelming PR advantage that royalty payment gives to HIS distro, at the expense of others, in large segments of the business world.

    It also represents the WORST case of EXPLOITATION of FOSS code and coders that the Linux community has ever seen. Not even Apple’s Safari exploitation of Konqueror reached this level.

    You can get a REAL sense of the spirit of the discussion by viewing the video of the announcement. It chilled me to the bone.

  35. By:Justin

    JLK (above) wrote:
    “You can get a REAL sense of the spirit of the discussion by viewing the video of the announcement. It chilled me to the bone.”

    The most telling part of the video is the final remark by Steve Ballmer threatening all non-SUSE Linux distributors, while Ron Hovsepian smiles giddily in the background. Interestingly, those words are not included in the available transcript.

  36. By:Lorin

    A Simple solution would be for Torvalds and the major players to revoke Novell’s license to use the kernel and other critical code, by standing with Microsoft while the other players are threatened is reason enough. Make the potential cost of doing business with Microsoft too high.

  37. By:Mike Jackiw

    I have been working with systems and networks for a long time and I think too many people are forgetting two very important factors.

    1) Novell is the only company to not lose legal decisions against Microsoft. They have won hundreds of millions of dollars in their lawsuits against MS. They have one of the best legal teams in the IT industry. They also have one of the largest IP portfolios in the IT industry. All these factors give Novell a very, very large edge over MS in fields that MS has not had control over. I for one see the MS-Novell deal as a boon to Novell and one, which has been speculated upon, is due to Novell holding possible IP litigation over MS’ head with Vista and MS own moves into Linux (which they know they must do).

    2) MS is known as the King of FUD. There hasn’t been any time in the entire history of the company they haven’t threatened, insulted, smeared, or trashed anyone not using their software. That’s what they do. Ballmer though is way more viscious and outspoken, and personally I think stupid, in how he’s talking about Linux users, Mac users, etc. He is not so much Sauron as Lord Haw-Haw.

    The interoperability of MS and Novell products is a huge boon to Linux. Already I know of places willing to move in SLES and SLED just due to the fact their systems will be able to operate more cohesively.

    As for Microsoft? I wouldn’t put it past them to get on board and come out with software for Linux boxes. After all…we know Vista is a failure. ;-)

  38. By:Antony

    I’m an opensource beliver, I love freedom, Im a programmer that suffered the 80’s and 90’s with devil tactics of monoply that Microsof(Microshaft, M$) engaged. Almost R.I.P. Apple Computer, Novell without a business, thousands of companies destroy by Microsoft. And I belive SCO with Microsft did together all that terrible deal to treat Freedom of Software. And you Guys Novell are dealing with your number 1 enemy(Microshaft) and you belive to them that you are infrigin patents? and accept that kind of deal that I have only seen in the Mafia. Microsft is devil, Mafia, bad business tactics and Bill Gates sucks. plus let me tell you your project Mono is dead since day one. nobody on the opensource and linux world will use a cheap copy of Microsft .Net that also is a cheap copy to others inovators. Microsoft is dead as Paul Graham told on his last essay. Really Novell people wakeup Microsoft is dead and dont be afraid of them anymore. Be a legitime great Opensource company Novell. and as the last post said Vista is a total failure (Fiasco).

  39. By:forcerain

    Heh I broke gdm today… SELinux is a total nightmare and yeah i’m annoyed with my current system. I still wouldn’t use Novell’s Linux Distribution(s), because of the somewhat questionable deals with Microsoft.

    I find it insane that Novell could essentially “switch sides” from being a proud supporter of the Free Software community to alienating the same community that makes their £££, $$$ and €€€ possible. Very foolish idea and I hope Novell suffers for it.

    Who contributes the most to Linux? Cuz it sure as hell ain’t Novell! The code isn’t theirs to “protect” in the first place and quite frankly I couldn’t care less if i’m infringing on so-called IP, because to me GPL’d code is mine to use how I like regardless of any stupid “intellectualism” involved in restricting people’s use of software.

    — forcerain

  40. By:forcerain

    “There are no details about what this interoperability is, Microsoft is not validating Windows to run under Xen[….]”

    Not 100% true, I hear “Longhorn Server” intends to support Xen as a DomU in both paravirtualisation and full hardware virtual machine mode. :)

    “As for Microsoft? I wouldn’t put it past them to get on board and come out with software for Linux boxes. After all…we know Vista is a failure. ;-)”

    Yes.. they can start with WINE :P

    — forcerain

  41. By:Tim Ransom

    Umm, what’s your angle *now* Bruce?

    Read the papers in the last few days?

    Novell got into bed with MS to help them leverage their FUD so that people would be intimidated into either avoiding OSS or using only SUSE Linux, which is what *Ballmer recommends*. You did this simply to further your own agenda at the expense of everyone else.

    Just stating the obvious here.

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