Politics, politics (Novell-Microsoft Deal)

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Ice9
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Post by Ice9 »

I usually don't like Dvorak too much, but this article is disturbing at best!
I sure hope he's wrong this time (like he has been many times before, but still ...)

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Post by Void Main »

Ice9 wrote:I usually don't like Dvorak too much, but this article is disturbing at best!
I sure hope he's wrong this time (like he has been many times before, but still ...)
Heh heh, that man needs to find another line of work. :) He obviously doesn't have the fundamental understanding of a single thing he mentioned in the article. From this "shim" software which is completely unnecessary (if they did need one they could just use Wine and since Wine is open source they could make it work perfectly with their own code, but I would just port the code to run natively), to Oracle selling support for Red Hat linux (they're not, they are selling support for their own fork of Red Hat which then isn't Red Hat), to his complete misunderstanding of Richard Stallman. The only people who read his drivel and believe any of it are the pointy haired boss types who don't understand what FSF/Linux/etc is all about and it's because of people like Dvorak, Fortune, etc. None of what he says even makes any sense. It's funny yet sad because if people would spend just 5 or ten minutes actually reading the GPL and the philosophies behind it this would be a much better world. It's not hard to understand where people who put their code under the GPL are coming from and that they have nothing but noble intensions for doing so. I resent anyone trying to "work around" the license I use on "software that I wrote". Why not just respect my wishes or write your own code?

By working around the license what they are actually doing is "stealing my code", something they have 1,000 lawyers trying to prevent happening with their own code via groups such as the BSA. My code isn't any less important than your code. As PJ said over at Groklaw, my code does have a cost just like your code. You charge money for me to be able to use your code and I charge you with following the GPL when you use my code. I don't steal your code, don't steal mine. I have no problem with you using it though, if you abide by my rules. Don't like my rules then don't use my code. That goes for Microsoft, that goes for Novell, that goes for IBM, that goes for Oracle, that goes for Linus Torvalds, that goes for Richard Stallman, .... I guess that was way more of a rant than needed to say he doesn't know what he is talking about and nothing he mentions could pan out. However, something is definitely up and nobody has come out and said what that something really is. Someone will spill the beans sooner or later and we'll find out what all this is really about.

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Post by Void Main »

Very interesting article:
http://www.linuxjournal.com/node/1000121
Wake up little SUSE, Wake up. No, that's not good enough. Wake up SUSE customers, wake up. Novell is jeopardizing the future of Linux for its own short-term rewards. If you want to see Linux flourish, let alone survive after Novell's five year deal with Microsoft expires, I suggest we make an alternative five year deal with Microsoft. In this case, our part of the deal is to spend the next five minutes, months, or years migrating away from every shred of Novell/SUSE software in our home, office, or enterprise.

...

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Another one:
http://www.groklaw.net/article.php?stor ... 9111321376
The Software Freedom Law Center's CTO Bradley Kuhn has issued a statement regarding the Novell-Microsoft agreements and how they will impact FOSS developers. They have analyzed in particular Microsoft's Patent Pledge for Non-Compensated Developers and see little value and in fact say it's worse than useless, because it creates an illusion of safety and because it limits severely what that developer is allowed to do with his work:
The patent covenant only applies to software that you develop at home and keep for yourself; the promises don't extend to others when you distribute. You cannot pass the rights to your downstream recipients, even to the maintainers of larger projects on which your contribution is built...

It's worse than useless, as this empty promise can create a false sense of security. Don't be confused by the illusion of a truce; developers are no safer from Microsoft patents now than they were before. Instead, Microsoft has used this patent pledge to indicate that, in their view, the only good Free Software developer is an isolated, uncompensated, unimportant Free Software developer.
Personally, I'd go further and say this is Microsoft language designed to kill the GPL and the FOSS development method, whether consciously or unconsciously. Why? Because if you can't share your software with anyone for fear of a patent infringement lawsuit, in what sense is it GPL? How are you part of a community, all building a common pool of code anyone can freely use? That is one of the main purposes of putting software under the GPL in the first place. It's also why Linux development was so much faster than proprietary software development ever can be. So who is going to stay within the lines of this so-called safety from being sued by Microsoft? Obviously nobody in the FOSS community. Microsoft gets to claim it has offered something wonderful, but in reality no one can actually benefit from its pledge without ceasing to be a member of the FOSS community.

...

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Post by Void Main »

http://linux.slashdot.org/linux/06/11/09/2356241.shtml
http://www.vnunet.com/vnunet/news/21681 ... -microsoft
"Novell is providing Eben Moglen's Software Freedom Law Center with confidential access to the legal terms of the Novell-Microsoft partnership, allowing to organization to verify if the deal is compatible with the GPL2 and GPL3 licenses. Moglen in the past has alleged that the patent license between the two companies could be in violation with section 7 of the GPL. Novell on Tuesday published a document on its website, explaining that they circumvented the GPL provisions by providing a patent license to the end user rather than between the two companies."

...
I don't think Eben should look at the agreement unless it the agreement be made available for public viewing. I am appalled that two companies could be making deals that could be made about software that I wrote and I don't even get a chance to see it. I gotta tell you, I went from being a Novell supporter to someone who feels extremely betrayed by Novell in less than a week.

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Post by Void Main »

Shuttleworth had one small mention at the end of theregister article that I agree with (although I hope some of his other predictions do not come true) about Microsoft-Novell:
http://www.theregister.com/2006/11/10/s ... th_oracle/
"We haven't seen the details of the deal. Novell hasn't seen the real plan. The industry is littered with companies that have fought with Microsoft, then went to Microsoft as a cowered partner to do some small deal and then just got axed. Palm, Sybase and, um, Novell."
heh heh...

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Post by JoeDude »

I just thought of something...Didn't IBM give novel loads of money for development of SuSE and /Linux? I wonder what their thoughts on this are...

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Post by Void Main »

Hmmm, I don't remember that. Got any links?

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Post by JoeDude »

it waws a long time ago around SuSE 9.1 era...allo9w me to google.

Yep, I was right, a $50,000,000 investment in novel...

http://news.com.com/2100-7344_3-5101680.html
Novell to acquire SuSE Linux
Longtime Microsoft foe Novell signs an agreement to acquire SuSE Linux for $210 million in cash, while IBM will make a $50 million investment in Novell.
By Stephen Shankland
Staff Writer, CNET News.com

Published: November 4, 2003, 8:14 AM PST
update The balance of Linux power shifted Tuesday, with Novell announcing an IBM-assisted plan to acquire SuSE Linux.

Longtime Microsoft foe Novell has signed an agreement to acquire SuSE Linux for $210 million in cash, while IBM, the most powerful backer of the Linux operating system, will make a $50 million investment in Novell.

What's new:
Novell agrees to buy SuSE Linux for $210 million in cash, and IBM plans a $50 million investment in Novell.
Bottom line:
The deals promise to dramatically alter the Linux landscape, boosting the fortunes of No. 2 SuSE, increasing the competitive pressure on No. 1 Red Hat and providing a new direction for Novell's rivalry with Microsoft.

For more info:
Track the players
The moves, announced Tuesday, could boost the fortunes of SuSE, the No. 2 seller of Linux, increase the competitive pressure on No. 1 Red Hat and provide a new direction for Novell's rivalry with Microsoft.

The three-way action also highlights where much of the power in the Linux realm resides. "IBM was a very important broker in the deal. It's prepared to be the kingmaker to counterbalance SuSE against Red Hat," RedMonk analyst James Governor said.

The SuSE deal is the second Linux acquisition for the Provo, Utah-based company, which bought desktop Linux software specialist Ximian in August. Though Ximian gave Novell a grip on software that's designed for using Linux on desktop computers, SuSE is strongest with the open-source software on servers, the networked machines that handle chores such as hosting Web sites and routing e-mail.

"Novell has a pretty dismal record in expanding beyond their original roots, but with Ximian and now this, they're certainly positioned to become a major competitor to Red Hat," Illuminata analyst Gordon Haff said.

Although Novell has had trouble with major changes such as these, Haff added, "the fact that IBM does have involvement here and obviously cares deeply what comes of SuSE could help steer Novell in the right direction."

Investors welcomed Novell's move. In midday trading, its shares were up 37 percent to $8.31, and shares of the SCO Group were up 14 percent to $18.30. Red Hat's stock, meanwhile, was down 9 percent to $14.

Although the acquisition boosts software that competes directly with Microsoft, Novell and SuSE executives insisted that their target is Red Hat. "Together, we are an effective competitor to the current No. 1 company in Linux," Novell Chief Executive Jack Messman said in a conference call Tuesday.


HP applauds
Novell's move
to acquire
SuSE Linux

SuSE will contribute $35 million to $40 million annually to Novell's revenue and 399 employees to its business, Messman said. The acquisition is expected to leave profits unchanged in fiscal 2004 and then boost them afterward, he said.

The acquisition is expected to close by the end of Novell's first fiscal quarter in January, at which point the IBM investment will become effective, Novell said. IBM plans to buy $50 million of Novell preferred stock.

Big Blue made the investment to help "assure IBM's customers that there will be strong, continued support for SuSE Linux" across its server line and server software products," spokesman Mike Darcy said. Pricing terms of the IBM investment haven't been settled, but Big Blue's stake is expected to be "in the 2 percent range," Messman said.

In addition, IBM and Novell are negotiating an extension to SuSE's agreement to support all four of IBM's server lines and are planning a joint marketing and support relationship, the companies said.

New possibilities
In one fell swoop, the moves dramatically alter the Linux landscape:

• It joins SuSE's partnerships and considerable influence in the Linux market with Novell's sales network, customer base and cash. On July 31, Novell had $739 million in cash and marketable securities.

• It gives Novell a second chance to take on Microsoft, applying the lessons it learned a decade ago, when its NetWare operating system for servers lost out to Windows--and this time, Novell will also be able to sell an operating system for desktop computers. Microsoft already has Linux in its crosshairs.

• It could reshape the dispute between Unix owner SCO and its two legal adversaries, IBM and leading Linux seller Red Hat. Novell--a company that has retained significant rights from its former ownership of Unix--now has a strong vested interest in Linux. SuSE, meanwhile, believes that its former alliance with SCO shields it, an assertion SCO denies.

• It puts competitive pressure on Red Hat by giving Nuremberg, Germany-based SuSE better access to buyers in the United States, the world's biggest technology market and Red Hat's stronghold.

• It could accelerate changes in Novell and SuSE's product plans, including SuSE's transformation from a seller of operating systems to a seller of higher-level server software and Novell's move from NetWare to Linux as a foundation for its software.

Novell may end up with SuSE, but it wasn't the only potential candidate. RedMonk's Governor said he learned that SuSE had proposed that Sun Microsystems buy the company, but Sun rejected the offer. Sun was not immediately available for comment.

Although Novell and SuSE plan some changes, much will remain constant, Novell said.

Novell Vice Chairman Chris Stone and Chief Technology Officer Alan Nugent will oversee the Linux work, spokesman Bruce Lowry said.

The role of SuSE Chief Executive Richard Seibt isn't yet clear, but Lowry said Seibt has indicated that he plans to stay with Novell. "We expect many SuSE executives will remain and continue their work with SuSE Linux as a part of the Novell management team," Lowry said.

In the conference call, Seibt offered his "full commitment in making the integration happen and making the joint company successful" but didn't say whether he'd stay in the long term.

It's too early to say whether SuSE staff will lose jobs, Lowry said. Staff from the two companies don't overlap much beyond some areas in administration and finance, he said.

SuSE's development work will stay in Germany, though Novell plans to "cross-pollinate" SuSE and Novell engineering, Lowry said. Novell will maintain the SuSE brand.

The cultural and geographic distance between the two companies will be difficult to overcome, Governor said. "German-U.S. integration is one of the hardest problems in business. Just look at DaimlerChrysler," he said.

Disdain for SCO's lawsuit
SCO and Novell have been tangling over Linux since SCO launched a legal attack that accused IBM of moving Unix technology into Linux against the terms of its contract with SCO. Novell's public involvement began in May, when the company asserted that it never sold Unix copyrights to SCO, then backed off when SCO unearthed a contract amendment that showed otherwise.

The SuSE acquisition plan indicates that Novell and IBM are unfazed by SCO's position, said Mark Radcliffe, an intellectual property attorney for Gray Cary who has monitored the SCO legal machinations.

"It shows a deep skepticism, if not outright disdain, for the SCO claims," Radcliffe said. "Or else they wouldn't be spending this amount of money."

In particular, the acquisition plan could indicate that IBM has faith in a provision that Radcliffe termed a "silver bullet" in the 1995 Asset Purchase Agreement, under which Novell sold Unix to SCO Group's predecessor. Under that provision, Novell is permitted to waive potential violations of the Unix license agreements that were in effect when it sold Unix, and Novell invoked the right in the IBM case against SCO.

"Maybe (IBM) believes its silver bullet is actually a platinum bullet. If you spend a lot of money, you obviously have a lot of confidence in that part of the situation," Radcliffe said.

SCO sees things from the opposite side. Tuesday's deal means that IBM and Novell "are willing to take on a great deal of risk," spokesman Blake Stowell said. "The intellectual property issues in Linux are controversial and unsettled, and it appears it may be that way for a very long time."

Messman said Novell is considering whether to offer Linux customers legal indemnification to protect them against SCO legal actions, though customers aren't crying out for the move. Beyond that, he reiterated the company's earlier position: "Novell continues to call on SCO to make public the basis of its claims of Linux infringement of Unix."

Other factors are involved in the IBM-Novell-SuSE relationship, however.

For example, SuSE has long supported Linux on Big Blue's in-house server designs, Governor said. "At the moment, IBM needs SuSE."

IBM's iSeries midrange servers and zSeries mainframes are updated every six months, and the company needs to ensure that Linux keeps pace. Big Blue "faced a stark choice--put some money in, or think about delivering its own distribution" of Linux, Governor said.

In addition, IBM, Novell and SuSE are all happy to compete against Microsoft. "What's good for Linux is bad for Microsoft," Haff said, and Tuesday's deal has the potential to "further erect fences around Windows."

Governor believes that Novell's intent is to compete with Microsoft on the Redmond, Wash.-based company's stronghold.

"IBM has been reluctant to step up to the plate when it came to customer calls for a client-side open-source strategy," he said. "It looks like Novell is trying to reinvent itself with a strategy in exactly that direction."

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Post by Void Main »

Ah yes, I remember now. It was in conjunction with the acquisition.

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Here's an audiocast from Novell's CEO regarding some of the questions. It's funny I didn't hear of this before but it's 2 days old:
http://www.novell.com/podcast/Detailpage.jsp?id=107

This doesn't really ease my concerns at all. I still don't understand what the cash transfer was for, specifically. They say a lot of it was for patents but they don't list specifically which patents. I know they are in the business to make as much money as possible but I don't like the way they seem to put a greater importance on getting Linux on as many desktops as possible vs the wishes of the people who actually wrote the software. Linux is NOT Novell's software. It's OUR software. They are making it sound like they own it.

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Post by Void Main »

Samba team asks Novell to undo their "agreement":

http://news.samba.org/announcements/team_to_novell/
Samba Team Asks Novell to Reconsider

The Samba Team disapproves strongly of the actions taken by Novell on November 2nd.

One of the fundamental differences between the proprietary software world and the free software world is that the proprietary software world divides users by forcing them to agree to coercive licensing agreements which restrict their rights to share with each other, whereas the free software world encourages users to unite and share the benefits of the software.

The patent agreement struck between Novell and Microsoft is a divisive agreement. It deals with users and creators of free software differently depending on their "commercial" versus "non-commercial" status, and deals with them differently depending on whether they obtained their free software directly from Novell or from someone else.

The goals of the Free Software community and the GNU GPL allow for no such distinctions.

Furthermore, the GPL makes it clear that all distributors of GPL'd software must stand together in the fight against software patents. Only by standing together do we stand a chance of defending against the peril represented by software patents. With this agreement Novell is attempting to destroy that unified defense, exchanging the long term interests of the entire Free Software community for a short term advantage for Novell over their competitors.

For Novell to make this deal shows a profound disregard for the relationship that they have with the Free Software community. We are, in essence, their suppliers, and Novell should know that they have no right to make self serving deals on behalf of others which run contrary to the goals and ideals of the Free Software community.

Using patents as competitive tools in the free software world is not acceptable. Novell, as a participant in numerous debates, discussions and conferences on the topic knew this to be the case. We call upon Novell to work with the Software Freedom Law Center to undo the patent agreement and acknowledge its obligations as a beneficiary of the Free Software community.

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Post by Void Main »

Oh my God. I am going to break my own rule and use profanity here. Steve Ballmer is a lying CeNsOrEd! Steve, if Linux has your patented IP in it then tell us exactly what patented IP and we would be more than happy to deal with it. If not, just shut your pie hole. Thanks for ruining Novell. If the agreement that you made with Novell is what you just said it is then they have violated the GPL and are no longer allowed to distribute Linux. Looks like you've won a battle but you will not win the war, moron.

http://blog.seattlepi.nwsource.com/micr ... 108806.asp
Ballmer on Novell, Linux and patents

Since the announcement of the patent and business collaboration deal between Microsoft and Novell two weeks ago, some have labeled Novell a sell-out for making the agreement. But during a session this morning at the Professional Association for SQL Server (PASS) summit in Seattle, an audience member turned the question around on Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, asking if the Redmond company was selling out by collaborating with a Linux vendor.

Ballmer answered the question with a long explanation of the Novell deal, from his perspective. I'll post the full question and answer in the extended entry, below. In particular, it will be interesting to see how people react to Ballmer's comments on Microsoft, Linux and intellectual property -- including his view that, because of the Novell deal, "only a (Linux) customer who has Suse Linux actually has paid properly for the use of intellectual property from Microsoft."

Additionally, he reiterated Microsoft's interest in striking a similar patent deal with Red Hat, something Red Hat says it won't do.

Read on for the complete text. (Here's an MP3, as well: 6:01, 6.9 mb.)

Q: "My question is about your deal with Novell and Linux. I thought Windows and Linux were trying to stay apart, and now I see you as kind of siding with the open-source community. Are you guys kinda selling out a little bit, or what's going on?" (Audience laughs, claps.)

Ballmer, laughing: "That of course is the $64 billion question. Let me explain what we did, and I think at the end of the day we'll all agree it's got a lot of positive attributes. Let me just do a small show of hands. How many people have Windows Server in their data centers? (It's a user conference for a Microsoft product, and hands are raised throughout the audience.)

"Good, that's what I figured. How many people would have Linux someplace in your data center? (Not as many, but still quite a lot.) Whoops, not what I would have hoped, but nonetheless. How many of the people who have both sometimes ask themselves questions about the interoperability between those two environments, anybody? (A good number raise their hands.)

"At the end of the day for basically the whole 18, 19 years that we've been pursuing the server and enterprise opportunity, our number one competitor in the data center for new applications has been Unix. Unix, Unix, Unix, Unix. Today ... the form of Unix that people want is Unix that runs on Intel architecture systems. I think everybody has kind of gotten themselves to the point of understanding, at the end of the day, Intel architecture systems are going to be most of what you have in a data center. What is the popular form of Unix on Intel? It's Linux. We have a lot of customers who have both, and while we have about 65 or 70 percent of the server business, Linux has about 20 percent and other forms of Unix have the other 10 percent, at the end of the day, we understand there's going to be Unix on Intel, and therefore Linux, for the long foreseeable future.

"Therefore, our job has got to be to help our customers get interoperability. And, of course, all vendors secretly are wondering when they do interoperability, did I do something that's going to help me win more of their customers, or something that's going to help them win more of my own customers. Of course, you don't know for years after. But interoperability is always good for the customer, and it's important. And we know customers want the interoperability that the hands showed between the Windows world and the Linux world.

"We've had an issue, a problem that we've had to confront, which is because of the way the GPL (General Public License) works, and because open-source Linux does not come from a company -- Linux comes from the community -- the fact that that product uses our patented intellectual property is a problem for our shareholders. We spend $7 billion a year on R&D, our shareholders expect us to protect or license or get economic benefit from our patented innovations. So how do we somehow get the appropriate economic return for our patented innovation, and how do we do interoperability. The truth is, because of the complex licensing around the GPL, we actually didn't want to do one without the other.

"What we were able to craft, with a lot of hard work with Novell, was an agreement essentially where we would do the technical work in a variety of different areas to improve interoperability between the two environments. And we agreed on a, we call it an IP bridge, essentially an arrangement under which they pay us some money for the right to tell the customer that anybody who uses Suse Linux is appropriately covered. There will be no patent issues. They've appropriately compensated Microsoft for our intellectual property, which is important to us. In a sense you could say anybody who has got Linux in their data center today sort of has an undisclosed balance sheet liability, because it's not just Microsoft patents. Because of the way open-source works, there's nobody who's been able to do patent coverage or patent indemnification behind that.

"So we built a technology bridge, and we built an IP bridge and a commercial framework that supports that. Novell said to us, 'Hey, look, if you're serious about this stuff, you better help us promote Suse Linux.' To which we said, 'You know we're trying to sell Windows, that's what we do for a living! Windows, Windows, Windows, baby! We don't do Linux that way here.'

"What we agreed, which is true, is we'll continue to try to grow Windows share at the expense of Linux. That's kind of our job. But to the degree that people are going to deploy Linux, we want Suse Linux to have the highest percent share of that, because only a customer who has Suse Linux actually has paid properly for the use of intellectual property from Microsoft. And we took a quota, you could say, to help them sell so much Suse Linux. That's part of the deal. We are willing to do the same deal with Red Hat and other Linux distributors, it's not an exclusive thing. But after a few years of working on this problem, Novell actually saw the business opportunity, because there's so many customers who say, 'Hey look, we don't want problems. We don't want any intellectual property problem or anything else. There's just a variety of workloads where we, today, feel like we want to run Linux. Please help us Microsoft and please work with the distributors to solve this problem, don't come try to license this individually.' So customer push drove us to where we got.

"But we haven't lost our -- well, you asked whether we'd sold out. I'll let you decide at this stage. We have been customer-focused."

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Post by worker201 »

So are we all going to have to rebuild our kernels without NTFS or FAT support?

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Post by Void Main »

First of all Ballmer does say either of those technologies infringe on any of his patented IP. He doesn't say anything specifically and I am pretty sure he never will. Besides, my kernel doesn't come with NTFS support, nor do I need it. I'm not clear on any FAT patent violations but I would certainly challenge it or stop using it completely if necessary but I don't see that ever being needed. I only currently need it for digital cameras. If they want to assert some patent on this and it be honored then I will strip it and not purchase any device that uses it but I don't believe this would hold up.

Until Ballmer and Microsoft come right out and say specifically where the problem is I can only assume that they are lying and spreading FUD. They will never come out and say specifically where the problem is because they will lose. The only way they have a chance of winning is by spreading lies, being unethical, and probably breaking many laws. That, and line the pockets of key people in the process (Novell).

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