There’s a slashdot posting up about Novell disabling a font type, ClearType, from the the openSUSE distribution in connection with possible Microsoft patent concerns. This seems to have created some confusion, in that a number of observers are wondering why, given Novell’s patent agreement with Microsoft, this technology wouldn’t be allowed in openSUSE. We’ve been clear from the beginning of this deal that the Microsoft agreement would not change our development processes in any way.
Here’s the language from the Nov. 7, 2006, Q&A on the Novell-Microsoft deal on this issue:
“Novell will not change its development practices as a result of this agreement. It has always been our policy in all development, open source and proprietary, to stay away from code that infringes another’s patents, and we will continue to develop software using these standard practices. If any of our code is found to infringe someone else’s patents, we will try to find prior technology to invalidate the patents, rework the code to design around the infringement, or as a last resort remove the functionality. Novell is committed to protecting, preserving and promoting freedom for free and open source software.”
In this specific case, the ClearType font is supplied as part of the freetype2 package; last summer the upstream maintainer changed the package’s default settings to disable Clear Type and thereby avoid possibly relevant Microsoft patents. So, consistent with Novell’s preexisting practices and current policy, Novell is using the default settings established by the upstream maintainer. Distributions such as Fedora made the same choice. This issue only came up in the summer of 2006 and therefore older distributions are using the previous default (enabled ClearType).
We hope this clears up any confusion over the issue.