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Microsoft/Novell Deal Could Create Two-Tier Linux Market 375

Posted by Zonk
from the now-which-hat-will-they-wear dept.
Rob writes writes to mention a Computer Business Review article about the recent Microsoft/Novell Linux deal. Article author Matthew Aslet warns that while some may see the announcement as a step forward, it may ultimately be very divisive for the Linux community. From the article: "Microsoft made it clear that only SUSE users and developers, as well as unsalaried Linux developers, are protected. 'Let me be clear about one thing, we don't license our intellectual property to Linux because of the way Linux licensing GPL framework works, that's not really a possibility,' said Microsoft chief executive, Steve Ballmer. 'Novell is actually just a proxy for its customers, and it's only for its customers,' he added. 'This does not apply to any forms of Linux other than Novell's SUSE Linux. And if people want to have peace and interoperability, they'll look at Novell's SUSE Linux. If they make other choices, they have all of the compliance and intellectual property issues that are associated with that.'"
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Microsoft/Novell Deal Could Create Two-Tier Linux Market

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  • by Harmonious Botch (921977) * on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @11:40AM (#16751891) Homepage Journal
    Bill: I'm worried, Steve. We're losing more ground to Linux. It's on the verge of becoming a non-nerd OS.

    Steve: I've got an idea. Let's buy another version of Linux.

    Bill: Are you crazy? The SCO gambit didn't fool anybody.

    Steve: No, not like that. Instead of trying to fool a judge, we'll try to fool our customers.

    Bill: So? That's already company policy.

    Steve: Yes, but we'll release our own version. We tell the public that we're joining the Linux bandwagon, and with our marketing clout, it will soon become the dominant version on the market. Then when the public is convinced that MSLinux IS Linux, we make gradual changes to turn it into an unusable bloated wreck. Linux will be finished!

    Bill: No way! Remember, Steve, I used to write software. No self-respecting programmer would deliberately wreck an OS. Where are we going to get a bunch of programmers to do that?

    Steve: We have all the guys who wrote Vista. I think they could do it.
  • by csoto (220540) on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @11:42AM (#16751917)
    Novell just bent over and let Stevie "embrace and extend." Rather than usurp Red Hat, this is going to make Microsoft-connected SuSE Linux software coda non grata in the OSS community.

    • From T.F. summary: "If they make other choices, they have all of the compliance and intellectual property issues that are associated with that."

      Rarely have I ever seen such perfect examples of FUD. This has it all; it's an unspoken threat, dropped only in order to create feelings of uncertainty in the marketplace.

      I had thought for a while that Microsoft was just ignoring Linux, but now it seems they're opening up a new front, one where they're going to engage in overt psychological warfare in order to discourage adoption of competing products.

      In a sick way, you have to appreciate watching Microsoft work. It's not as though this hasn't happened a dozen times before, just in the IT market, and yet it still always seems to do the trick. At a certain point, you either have to laugh or cry. I haven't decided which way to go yet.
      • Remember that? "We're not saying we actually have any code or other "intellectual property" in Linux, 'cause if we said that we'd have to .. y'know, identify where it is and that sort of thing. At which time it would be wiped the #$^# out of Linux within hours. We're just saying that in case we do have any you should pay us some money and then we won't sue you. We really don't want to go through the hassle of a big trial, partly because we're such nice guys and partly because there isn't a shred of evidenc
      • by timeOday (582209)

        I had thought for a while that Microsoft was just ignoring Linux, but now it seems they're opening up a new front, one where they're going to engage in overt psychological warfare in order to discourage adoption of competing products.

        My thought was just the opposite - this is a blast from the past. Two or three years ago Microsoft was really trumping this FUD about Linux being legally risky. With the utter failure of the Microsoft-backed SCO lawsuit, I've heard much less of this issue in the past coupl

    • Exactly!

      I'm a SuSE guy, and when I heard this, I thought to myslef (and now you can read my thoughts), "I'm going to have to find a new distro"!

      That being said, I am not sure what M$ thinks that they can bring to the Linux front that is not already there, except more of the same. Are they going to bring "Office"? I doubt it. Are they going to bring AD? Maybe, but who cares. Are they going to bring M$ SQL?

      Oh, I think I just got it. Oracle/Redhat .... M$/SuSE-Novell.

      Once you think about it, it makes perfect s
      • by suggsjc (726146)

        Seriously, its time to drop SuSE. I am truly sad.

        Three words. You - Bun - Too or Ubuntu if you couldn't follow the phonetics.

        Run it on my laptop and it *just works*. Running it on 4-5 servers and couldn't be happier.

        I've never used SuSE for any extended period of time, so I can't compare/contrast, only give credit to the distribution that I know/use.

        Quick thought on the article. I find the different thought patterns concerning microsoft hilarious. On one side there is nothing the company can do r

        • by Kadin2048 (468275) <.slashdot.kadin. .at. .xoxy.net.> on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @01:21PM (#16753553) Homepage Journal
          better/faster than any other company in the world

          Can they really be said to be "better" or "faster" when they actively discourage other people with potentially superior products from competing with them based on technical merits?

          Seems to me that almost every area where Microsoft is dominant and not faced with external competition has stagnated. Look at what happened to the browser between the demise of Navigator and the rise of Firefox: basically nothing (well, except viruses and trojans; it was a great time to be a malware writer).

          They are a huge brake on what ought to be an accelerating, ever-changing industry. The outcome that Microsoft would really like -- one platform, under EULA, with per-seat licensing and DRM for all, Amen -- would be nothing less than a dark age for information technology.

          Microsoft only looks like a good thing when it's compared to nothing at all; if you compare it to what might exist in the absence of such a distorting influence, they've caused nothing but harm.

          Microsoft didn't 'bring computers to business;' businesses would have bought computers in the absence of Microsoft; the advantages are just too great to be ignored. What Microsoft did, was effectively eliminate any choice that businesses might have had in the OS and software they wanted to buy and run, in order to be inter-operable. They injected themselves into computing and ended up in a place where they could become one of the "costs of doing business," applicable to everyone, everywhere. You aren't just paying the Microsoft Tax when you buy a new PC, you're paying it all the time, everywhere, because everyone uses their stuff. You're paying for it in the cost of your food, your electronics, your entertainment, and even your taxes, because not even our government can live without MS.

          Microsoft is a plague, a parasite, that has so thoroughly infested the business world that it's basically impossible to remove. But just because it's too close to our vital bits to get rid of it now, shouldn't prohibit us from considering the nature of the infection and realizing that there could have been -- indeed, was -- a multitude of other ways that things could have gone.

          Microsoft didn't "push technology all over the globe," people in all corners of the globe pulled that technology to themselves; they bought and paid for it because of the benefits it offered, despite the necessity of paying for Microsoft software in order to get anything done. Microsoft didn't create those markets, or those benefits; they would have existed anyway, because the technology really is that good. It's not good because of Microsoft -- MS didn't invent email, or CRM systems, or word processing, or spreadsheets -- and there's little that Microsoft offers that wouldn't be offered by somebody else in their stead. (Even the 'lingua franca' that Microsoft provides to the world could be easily replaced by a variety of open standards, because such a standard would be mutually beneficial in the absence of a standard piece of software.) It's good despite Microsoft.

    • by gstoddart (321705) on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @11:59AM (#16752181) Homepage
      Novell just bent over and let Stevie "embrace and extend." Rather than usurp Red Hat, this is going to make Microsoft-connected SuSE Linux software coda non grata in the OSS community.

      They're not worried about the OSS community. Not even a little.

      This is about making the perception among customers that the only way to have a Linux which is free from being sued by Microsoft for IP violations is to go with Novell/Suse. They hope to make the rest of the Linux offerings 'poisoned' for businesses to use with the veiled threat that all other versions of Linux are potentially tainted.

      Really, who didn't see this coming on the day they announced it?

      Cheers
      • They're not worried about the OSS community. Not even a little.

        Actually they are, otherwise they wouldn't have made the threat. The problem with Linux being free is that it massively reduces the value of the OS as a commodity item. This is a tactic to force people into an expensive alternative to push value back into that portion of the market.

        Their problem is that every piece of software in existence probably infringes on half a dozen patents at least and Microsoft are easily the largest single target in e

  • Bad move by Novell (Score:4, Interesting)

    by ISoldMyLowIdOnEbay (802697) on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @11:43AM (#16751921)
    Agreeing to licence "IP" from Microsoft just gives legitimacy to any claims they are going to pursue against other Linux vendors/developers. It sets a bad precedent, even if those claims are likely to be bogus. It is obvious MS are thinking this way, otherwise why would they pay Novell rather than the other way round?

    Not sure what Novell are thinking of here. Surprised IBM hasn't had something to say...
    • by advocate_one (662832) on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @11:47AM (#16751975)
      Not sure what Novell are thinking of here. Surprised IBM hasn't had something to say...

      give them time, they're busy reviving a fresh batch of lawyers from cold storage, then they've got to work out precisely who to let them loose on, Novell and/or Microsoft

    • by NineNine (235196)
      No, all that's going to happen is MS is going to pay knowledgeable people to look over every line of code, and make sure that it's all clear (something which the other companies should have done long age). It's going to be a HUGE benefit for large companies that are worried about liability. If I were you, I'd relax...breathe... and take off the tin foil hat. The other Linuxes will still exist, but SUSE will just become the new corporate standard.
      • by NineNine (235196)
        Oh, and on SUSE, MS will make sure that Samba and all other pieces that handle interoperability will actually *work*. It'll be a very good thing for everybody (SUSE, MS, Linux users, etc.). Only Red Hat will get squeezed, here. And I'm predicting that Red Hat will be marginalized to a great extent, too, now that Oracle is trying to break free and offer their own support, and of course, anybody with a mixed environment will be using SUSE.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by grimwell (141031)
          Samba is a seperate project... it is not Novell/SUSE technology. So if MS works with Novell on improving Samba interoperability with Windows, Novell would still be required by the GPL to release the source... which would allow others to benefit from work. One of the requirements of distributing code under the GPL requires that the code be free from patent infrigments.

          Only Novell specific/grown code will be afforded the "convant not to sue" protection, as it probably won't be released under the GPL. Possi
      • by cp.tar (871488)

        If I were you, I'd relax...breathe... and take off the tin foil hat.

        Yes, you would.
        </attitude>

        They say, however, that Bill Gates is an experienced Go player, and it does show in his business strategy; I'll keep my tinfoil hat on firmly.
        I won't say I know what exactly is wrong here, except for the obvious part that it doesn't look right. Which is enough for me, at least.

        Anyway, I'm not worried about Linux as such: the other distros will still be there. I'm only worried about Red Hat: they are the

      • by mikesd81 (518581)
        Which isn't really a bad thing. I like Suse, I've been impressed by their products. As long as Microsoft doesn't do any developing of linux (not for, but of) this could be alright. It may even lead to a standard that linux geeks have been hoping for to bring it to the desktop having a universal uniform installation packages and maybe less crap with dependacies.
    • Agreeing to licence "IP" from Microsoft just gives legitimacy to any claims they are going to pursue against other Linux vendors/developers.

      I may well be wrong, but I don't remember there being any "licensing" in this deal. MS has specifically said many times that it won't/cannot license any of its IP to ANY Linux distro because of issues with GPL. They are just promising not to sue Novell or its customers for any of its IP found in Linux. Same end result for Novell basically, but very different from a
    • by Znork (31774) on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @12:32PM (#16752733)
      "Not sure what Novell are thinking of here."

      I doubt Novell were thinking at all. As far as any GPLed code is concerned, the agreement is worse than worthless; if Novell thinks they're distributing GPL code that needs extra rights granted, then they must forward those extra rights to any and all recipients, or they cannot distribute the code at all.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jamstar7 (694492)

      Agreeing to licence "IP" from Microsoft just gives legitimacy to any claims they are going to pursue against other Linux vendors/developers. It sets a bad precedent, even if those claims are likely to be bogus. It is obvious MS are thinking this way, otherwise why would they pay Novell rather than the other way round?

      TFA says Microsoft ain't about to license any IP that can be GPL'ed. So what is Novell really getting? A promise not to get sued for 5 years. Period.

  • Dang. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by LWATCDR (28044) on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @11:47AM (#16751971) Homepage Journal
    I really liked OpenSuse. Oh well I guess Ubuntu isn't a bad choice.
    • by kimvette (919543)
      Ditto here. I love SuSE. I mean, I REALLY love SuSE.

      Why?

      An hour installing then you're ready to work, right out of the box, with very little tweaking required (unless you need support for bleeding-edge hardware).

      However, Novell just made a deal with Vader, and at first it seemed like a great thing for Novell and Linux, but now Vader seems to be altering the terms of the deal, and I guess we are to pray that he does not alter it further.

      Darth Vader: Novell Linux is the only Linux you can use, and the GPL doe
  • It was a trap.
  • by BeBoxer (14448) on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @11:49AM (#16752025)
    I think experience shows us what happens to companies foolish enough to partner with Microsoft. Oh well. It's been nice knowing you Novell.
  • by rcw-work (30090) on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @11:51AM (#16752051)

    If they make other choices, they have all of the compliance and intellectual property issues that are associated with that.

    Dear Microsoft,

    How will my baby mulching machine [wikiquote.org] be able to legally interoperate with your software?

    This is very important to me and my colleagues, and I would appreciate it if you would address our concerns.

    • by joe 155 (937621)
      It does feel a tad like M$ is going
      "Nice distro... shame if something were to happen to it!"

      They are obviously just being pretty petty over this, and I suppose that this could be harmful if they used it as a way of avoiding anti-trust rules, other than that I'm happy with my distro (fedora core 6) as it is without having to compromise with MS over my freedom - even, as with OpenBSD, I want to use it in a baby mulching machine (although that might be illegal for other reasons...)
  • by Doc Ruby (173196) on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @11:55AM (#16752103) Homepage Journal
    Microsoft has all kinds of SW patents in its portfolio. MS will sue all the other distros than Novell's for patent infringement, driving everyone to SuSE. Then it will pull the plug on Novell, exactly the way it did on NetWare, when MS folded all NetWare's features into Windows NT.

    The only defense is RedHat and IBM, and possibly other corps with money to fight MS attacking their Linux distros their future OS strategies all depend upon. Maybe Oracle is bought in to Linux enough that it too will defend a Linux version. RedHat is new and bubbly enough that I'm not surprised they're vulnerable to this attack, and maybe Oracle could tell that, too. But IBM should have known that its defense from SCO, which was a defense against Microsoft's proxy, was too close an alliance with Novell. I'm surprised IBM didn't protect themselves from this Microsoft attack through Novell. But then, MS has always made all its biggest victories by attacking IBM's blind spots.

    The other defense is anarchy. Tens of thousands of Linux developers, and tens of millions of users, all across the world, just ignoring MS patent attacks on their distros. If that works, it could also undermine the very patent weapon Microsoft and others wield to destroy SW progress. If they bit off more than they can chew, MS could very well be doing us all a big favor, by destroying itself and patent regime in which it makes its crooked living.
  • oh pleeze (Score:2, Informative)

    by xoyoboxoyobo (945657)
    this is exactly the kind of thing that makes people call it micro$oft. just like during the DNC our startup company was frozen out of a contract because microsoft came in and "donated" hardware with the stipulation that only companies that were m$ certified and did not use linux technology could get contracts. i am sure that the open source community sees it for the load of crap it is - i only hope that the corporate world does as well.
    • by Trelane (16124)
      any links you could provide for verification?
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by xoyoboxoyobo (945657)
        Sorry, don't have any links. This was for the DNC in Boston, we had an agreed verbal contract with the coordinator. Then it went south when he told us that microsoft had donated a bunch of hardware but then required that all businesses that the DNC deal with had to be microsoft compliant. since we were not, we lost the business. IIRC that was 3 million dollars allocated to local businesses to run the DNC. I'm doubly embittered because that was a make or break moment for the company. As it stands, it brok
  • FUD (Score:4, Informative)

    by Stalyn (662) on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @11:55AM (#16752113) Homepage Journal
    As much as I like to bash Microsoft, this whole "Microsoft is the next SCO" is bullshit. The only possible patent infringement going on is in the Microsoft compatibility stack of Mono. This is seperate from the Mono CLI and compiler which is under the Ecma. And also different than the Linux stack which includes Gtk#.

    Microsoft is basically saying "If you want to run your ASP.NET app with open source software then Novell is your only choice". Microsoft is not saying "Novell Linux is the only safe Linux distro from Microsoft lawsuits" because Linux is inherently safe as long as you don't run Microsoft's crappy .NET software on it.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      "Microsoft is not saying "Novell Linux is the only safe Linux distro from Microsoft lawsuits"

      Hey ass-wipe, that's EXACTLY what Microsoft is saying! Read the freaking press releases. Microsoft is stating if you want to be safe from patent infringement use Suse. They did not single out mono. In fact several .NET books use Mono as an example of .NET's cross-platform compatiblity.

      Moron.

      • by Stalyn (662)
        First off press releases are not a good source for information. It's basically an advert for the company. I read the specific PR [microsoft.com] regarding patents and it doesn't say what you claim. But it does say they will not pursue lawsuits over intellectual property they own in Novell's products. So my question for you is what intellectual property does Microsoft own in Novell products other than certain parts of Mono? And cite sources please.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by hey! (33014)
      FUD, it may be. But its source isn't Slashdot. Mr. Ballmer, it seems to me, is doing a reasonable Don Corleone impression here. In effect he's saying, "Nice little operating system you got here; it would be a shame if anything happened to it."
      • Re:FUD (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Stalyn (662) on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @12:30PM (#16752707) Homepage Journal
        Mr. Ballmer is talking specifically to shareholders who think this Novell deal is going to lead to Microsoft releasing portions of their intellectual property to OSS. Which means to the average MS shareholder, "Oh I better sell my stocks".

        Of course to the average Slashdotter, who doesn't RTFA or does any research, this means Microsoft is going to start suing other Linux companies that aren't blessed by Microsoft. But again how can Microsoft sue over patents when they don't own any in regards to the Linux kernel or Linux development stack. Even Wine is safe from Microsoft. It's just some portions of Mono which deal with .NET and Windows.Forms. Perhaps some other technologies as well that have to do with Microsoft Office.

        And honestly trusting press releases for good information is a waste of time. Doesn't Bush send out PR every day saying how good things are going in Iraq?
         
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by hey! (33014)
          To be sure. But this particularly stood out to me: "And if people want to have peace and interoperability, they'll look at Novell's SUSE Linux."

          How can that be interpreted as other than a threat?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by _Sprocket_ (42527)


      As much as I like to bash Microsoft, this whole "Microsoft is the next SCO" is bullshit.

      ...


      Microsoft is basically saying "If you want to run your ASP.NET app with open source software then Novell is your only choice". Microsoft is not saying "Novell Linux is the only safe Linux distro from Microsoft lawsuits" because Linux is inherently safe as long as you don't run Microsoft's crappy .NET software on it.

      I missed the quote that actually mentions ASP.NET. What I do see is Steve Ballmer saying:

      "This does

    • "now only Novell's SUSE Linux customers are the only Linux vendors that have any assurance that Microsoft won't sue for patent infringement", Steve Ballmer

      "this whole "Microsoft is the next SCO" is bullshit. The only possible patent infringement going on is in the Microsoft compatibility stack of Mono", Stalyn

      "We won't be licensing patents at all but what we will do is grant a covenant [cbronline.com] to them. There is no language where a license is given", Bill Hilf

      But in some sence you are claiming IP rights to
  • An interesting quote (Score:5, Interesting)

    by lucychili (987345) on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @11:56AM (#16752127) Homepage
    [A]n indiscriminate creation of exclusive privileges tends rather to obstruct
    than to stimulate invention. It creates a class of speculative schemers who
    make it their business to watch the advancing wave of improvement, and
    gather its foam in the form of patented monopolies, which enable them to
    lay a heavy tax upon the industry of the country, without contributing
    anything to the real advancement of the arts. It embarrasses the honest
    pursuit of business with fears and apprehensions of concealed liens and
    unknown liabilities to lawsuits and vexatious accountings for profits made
    in good faith. Atlantic Works v. Brady, 107 U.S. 192, 200 (1882) (Bradley, J.).
  • Violating GPL (Score:5, Informative)

    by pavera (320634) on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @11:58AM (#16752163) Homepage Journal
    This statement clearly violates paragraph 7 of the GPL. Novell is no longer able to legally distribute linux because they cannot give royalty free copies to everyone.
    • by AceJohnny (253840)
      You're trying to out-lawyer Microsoft? C'mon! They're the guys who weaseled their way out of every anti-trust lawsuit they've been in!

      No, I guess they aren't foolish enough to try and take the GPL head-on (anymore).

      Instead, I can clearly see them doing something like "hey, buy this perfect SUSE-exclusive CIFS suite, why use that broken Samba thing when you can have this? Oh, besides, we're suing Samba for {patent,IP} infrigement, you don't want to be on the List, do you?"

      Rinse and repeat for every Microsoft
    • by gstoddart (321705)

      This statement clearly violates paragraph 7 of the GPL. Novell is no longer able to legally distribute linux because they cannot give royalty free copies to everyone.

      Well, technically, no.

      Oddly enough, Novell is NOT paying Microsoft royalties. Novell accepted money from Microsoft so that they would accept indemnity from Microsoft for they and their customers.

      Basically, it's protection money in reverse. "We will pay you, so that you accept a get-out-of-litigation free card." This has the result of saying

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by ronanbear (924575)
        Or more specifically Novell will stay out of any patent based legal attack by Microsoft on another distro/application developer because they're indemnified.

        Novell own a lot of IP such as original UNIX copyrights. Microsoft suing over Linux patent violation might have been a problem if it broke the agreement Novell and Microsoft came to after the previous round of litigation. Going after someone who's already got money off you for antitrust violations might not be a risk they're willing to take.
  • The Easy Way (Score:3, Interesting)

    by blueZhift (652272) on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @11:59AM (#16752187) Homepage Journal
    All of the conspiracy and divide and conquer is all very fun, but seriously, Microsoft doesn't need to work that hard to make more money. The Novell deal is probably just what it looks like, a way for Microsoft to make some money from the Linux market. They don't need to destroy it or any such nonsense. Windows isn't going away any time soon, and sorry Linux isn't taking over either. But Microsoft does have to be careful of running afoul of the GPL in any case, so making deals with companies like Novell, may be a way to get a piece of the market without GPL or antitrust entanglements.
    • by cp.tar (871488)
      Microsoft doesn't need to work that hard to make more money.

      This is not about the money. It's about domination.

  • Licensing (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jamienk (62492) on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @12:00PM (#16752199)
    So what, exactly is Novell licensing from MS? If Novel declares that they only have the right to distribute certain GPL'ed code because of a license that they've bought, then, under the terms of the GPL, they cannot distribute that code at all.

    MS and Novel know this, and that's why they don't call what they've done "licensing." Instead, as they've said, they have carefully taken the GPL into account when they made this deal (in order to work around it), and called their deal a "promise not to sue" or some such.

    If MS DOES successfully sue another distributor or coder over GPL'ed code, then Novell's deal with MS would not give them any EXTRA ability to continue to distribute that code.

    So what have MS and Novell done? They have created the illusion that Novell has licensed MS patents and that other Linux distributions do not have this license. The truth is:

    * No court has ruled that MS holds patents on any GPL'ed code

    * MS has not claimed that any specific GPL'ed code violates MS's patents

    * If MS DID bring a patent suit against a prominent Free software project or it's proxy, it would be resolved:

          - Many big projects would fight in court (Red Hat, FSF, IBM), and MS would lose

          - MS would come under attack by other companies that have interest in GPL'ed software and that have large patent portfolios -- MS would back down

          - If MS did win a suit (or if the legal battle was too much), the code would be replaced quickly

    Question: how does the BSD'ed code (or Apache licensed, etc) fare in the above context?
  • I wonder... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by petrus4 (213815) on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @12:04PM (#16752261) Homepage Journal
    Although I'm not an expert on RICO, I find myself wondering if Microsoft aren't tiptoeing within reach of potential racketeering charges, here.

    If Microsoft are planning on threatening people with suits for using their IP, they're going to have to make damn sure that said people *are* using their IP first. If they threaten a company, the company calls their bluff, and it comes out in the courtroom that said company isn't actually infringing on their patents, an astute judge might then ask some rather awkward questions.

    Methinks Ballmer needs to be very, very careful. An approach of, "Nice distribution you have there. Would be a shame to see anything happen to it," could seriously legally backfire.
  • by HighOrbit (631451) * on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @12:04PM (#16752265)
    "Let me be clear about one thing, we don't license our intellectual property to Linux because of the way Linux licensing GPL framework works, that's not really a possibility," said Microsoft chief executive, Steve Ballmer.
    "Novell is actually just a proxy for its customers, and it's only for its customers," he added. "This does not apply to any forms of Linux other than Novell's SUSE Linux. And if people want to have peace and interoperability, they'll look at Novell's SUSE Linux. If they make other choices, they have all of the compliance and intellectual property issues that are associated with that."

    IANAL, but I think these are empty threats and here is why:
    1. Mutually Assured Destruction, or rather, IBM and its relationship to Linux and Unix. IBM has a stake in Linux and will defend its own interests. Also, Linux mostly implements Unix. Almost any challange to Linux will also be a challange to Unix. IBM (and Sun for that matter) is not about to let that happen.
    2. Again, IANAL, but I would think this would be a case of "estoppel". Linux is a hodgepodge. It is a bunch of contributed "pieces-parts" from other people. Novell/MS can not benefit from contributed software and simutaneously oppose it for everyone else. Nor can Novell equitably get away with knowingly contributing to Open Source and then say "gotcha".

    Looking for the silver-lining, I hope this will lead to an officially blessed MS smb/ad client that will reveal some of the inner workings that continously stump Samba.
  • This is from a year ago, but it's even more relevant today:
    Microsoft made it abundantly clear that they would use their patent portfolio to prevent the spread of GPL software. Section seven of the GPL (the implicit patent grant of the license) now looks like the most prescient writing Richard Stallman has ever done. If you're not familiar with it I'd suggest you read it and understand why using the GPL to protect your Free Software is so important.
    http://samba.org/samba/news/articles/low_point/col umn11.html [samba.org]
  • 'Novell is actually just a proxy for its customers, and it's only for its customers,' he added. 'This does not apply to any forms of Linux other than Novell's SUSE Linux. And if people want to have peace and interoperability, they'll look at Novell's SUSE Linux. If they make other choices, they have all of the compliance and intellectual property issues that are associated with that.'

    Microsoft should be made to eat those words, and sooner rather than later. It's a shot across the bow, claiming that they

  • So, everyone still happy with GNOME making Mono part of its base desktop?
    • Yep. (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Tony (765)
      So, everyone still happy with GNOME making Mono part of its base desktop?

      Sure. Not so much with Mono, but I'm *way* happy with Gtk+/GNOME. Although, I have been running e17 for a while as my own desktop, GNOME is nice, and I have more faith in its openness than Qt. And GNOME is *not* Ximian/Novell. It's an independent project that Novell works on.

      I'm taking a "wait and see" approach to Mono, though. I never liked C#, so never saw a real reason to use Mono. And the whole .Net framework blows monkey chunks. Y
  • it may be divisive? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by pair-a-noyd (594371) on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @12:09PM (#16752365)
    "it may ultimately be very divisive for the Linux community."

    No shit?

    This development signals a parting of ways for everyone I know with Suse Linux.
    My phone has been ringing off the wall and everyone is asking me, "What should we switch to now?"
    No one I know wants to have anything to do with this abomination.

    This is nothing more than a ploy to poison the well.

    Thanks Suse, it was great while it lasted, but now you've shot yourself in both feet and we don't trust you anymore.

    • there's ALWAYS freebsd.

      M$ won't monkey with that. its still a 'pure' well.

      (and its actually more stable than linux, truth be told. linux had a great run. now maybe its freebsd's turn..)
  • But I do know what worries me... When a recent acquisition of a database project (one based on OSS ideas) occurred, suddenly lots of freebie tools that work with that database were silently and swiftly taken off-line. The developers of said tools usually posted something cryptic on their sites citing issues with the "new management" of the database project.

    Will there be a similar chilling effect on many Linux-based tools that work with the Microsoft/Novell stuff?
  • "the fine print means that the deal might not be good news for those not running Microsoft's approved version of Linux."

    "Microsoft made it clear that only SUSE users and developers, as well as unsalaried Linux developers, are protected"

    "Let me be clear about one thing, we don't license our intellectual property to Linux because of the way Linux licensing GPL framework works, that's not really a possibility," said Microsoft chief executive, Steve Ballmer.

    "Novell is actually just a proxy for its c
  • I suppose part of how you interpret this depends on what you consider SUSE linux. Some of the various SUSE-specific configuration methods, and configuration front-ends etc would be specific and I suppose could have their licenses go more commercial. The majority of the software though (from Firefox to Ekiga to Apache) is going to be primarily developed by third-parties, and will have to respect the individual licenses (GPL, Mozilla License, etc). I can't see a lot changing here, as I haven't seen a lot that
  • by Todd Knarr (15451) * on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @12:26PM (#16752633) Homepage

    Section 7 of the GPL explicitly says it's not limited to any particular thing, so equivocation about "covenant" vs. "license" doesn't get either of them out of it. If Novell can't pass on to it's customers all rights needed for them to redistribute SuSE Linux, then the GPLv2 says it doesn't have a license to distribute Linux at all. If those rights come from a convenant not to sue rather than a patent license, they're still required for SuSE's customers to redistribute SuSE Linux. GPLv3 makes the point even clearer, but GPLv2 has enough language in it to make the argument. I think all Novell's managed to do here is shoot themselves in the foot, and MS won't gain any advantage from having one "blessed" distribution when that blessing calls that distribution's copyright license into question.

  • Novell just pulled an EV1/SCO type deal except being Novell/Microsoft?
  • A Call to Action (Score:3, Interesting)

    by businessnerd (1009815) on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @12:33PM (#16752743)
    This is a call to action for every free software loving Linux user out there. SUSE IS DEAD TO US. WE HAVE NO SUSE! I encourage all to cease and desist use of SUSE distributions as well as contribution to the SUSE projects. Ok so this is really a boycott, and yes boycotts aren't usually very successful, but there is a difference here. SUSE currently does not offer anything so uniquely different that we could not go without it, or make it difficult to go without it. I am sure all of you SUSE fans out there have very legitimate reasons for loving SUSE, but those features, benefits could easily spawn themselves in a new distro, or be integrated into another distro like *ubuntu or a member of the Red Hat family. If Novell wants to dance with the devil in the pale moonlight, then so be it, but the rest of the Linux community will not be in attendance.

    FUCK YOU NOVELL! Turn your back on us and we'll walk right out the door.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by kyknos.org (643709)
      wHAT A BULLSHIT.
      • Novell's patents are still available for Red Hat to countersue Microsoft if necessary because of membership of both companies in the http://www.openinventionnetwork.com/ [openinventionnetwork.com] - nothing changed with that
      • Novell is still able to sue Microsoft over patents - the agreement contains a covenant not to sue each others customers - what is wrong with that? We don't like SW patents, do we? Why should customers be sued? Sue the company, if wou want to sue, not its customers.
      • Novell didn't admit any Lin
    • by Pecisk (688001)
      [Ironic]Called "common people". They said that you can go easily away. They will stay.[/Ironic]

  • I see all this talk about Novell Licensing and non-Suse distros getting in trouble. What exactly does Linux need to license from MS? Could someone enlighten me?
    • by Dunbal (464142)
      What exactly does Linux need to license from MS?

            The right to exist, apparently.
  • Can we the developers get around this little snag, by getting OPENSUSE to distribute our code? Thus putting it under protection from patent infringement and GPL, to be used by all others?

    GPL v3 doesn't look so silly anymore does it?

  • And when this story was brought up a few days ago, (http://linux.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=06/11/0 3 /2024206) most comments were doubtful that MS would do such a thing.

    MS will simply drag a very visible company selling linux-based software (or two or three) into court and bankrupt them with legal expenses. (Obviously not IBM) Innovative entrepreneurs will surely stop after the litigation begins. MS will continue to raise the price of their products with consumers having no other options. They are afte
  • Sound and Fury (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Tony (765) on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @12:43PM (#16752937) Journal
    This is all a bunch of sound and fury, signifying Vista.

    Seriously.

    When XP rolled out a few years ago, a bunch of businesses used Linux to leverage better deals on corporate licenses for XP and MS-Office. Microsoft probably "lost" hundreds of millions (meaning they didn't make hundreds of millions more) this way.

    Now that Linux is much more mature, some of those threats to migrate to Linux might actually turn out to be real. Wouldn't *that* suck for Microsoft. But even if they didn't, customers would use Linux like they did last time.

    Many companies might delay rollout of Vista simply to take a "wait-and-see" approach, to see if anyone else is moving to Linux. It's not a big threat, but it is a threat. Microsoft needs Vista to not look like a flop out of the gate. This is a big launch for them, and they need it to look good, to drive early sales. Yes, they have the market locked up, but it's better to get everyone's money *now*, and not later, especially for their stock price.

    Anyway. To me, that seems the most reasonable explanation, what with the timing of this. The important thing isn't that Linux is in trouble (which it is not); the important thing is that there is the *appearance* that Linux is in trouble.
  • Hmmm (Score:3, Interesting)

    by daiichi (888740) on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @12:43PM (#16752941)
    You guys aren't near paranoid enough. Ballmer's reference to IP and licensing may be a future reference. Imagine what the linux world would be like if they built into Windows 2003 and Vista servers enforcement of client access licenses--and the only linux that it would work on is SUSE? Suddenly, all those Linux installations out there that rely on talking to Windows file servers, remote desktops, and what-not--all of those will have to move to Microsoft Linux.
  • "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," added Smith

    Ok, so MS thinks that if you contribute code to opensuse, that then you are absolved.... Do they not understand how OSS works? Everyone contributes to the projects, the distributions just take those projects and create a working, installable product. If you contribute directly t
  • This doesn't sound new at all.
    Buy your opponent, then either close them or suck them into your product.
    It's the Microsoft Strategy.
    Since you can't "buy GNU/Linux", they are buying those who sell it. ...neeeext
  • There may be a division, but not along the lines the article seems to envision. The break will be along international borders.

    Keep in mind that software patents hold little sway over the rest of the world. Taxing Linux in the US will just push Linux development and perhaps use abroad. It will also ensure that fewer countries will be willing to adopt software patents. This could be could news for the ongoing battle [nosoftwarepatents.com] in the EU.

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