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SuSE Businesses Microsoft

OpenSUSE Opens Up to Questions About the Microsoft Deal 288

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the bad-press-machine dept.
NewsForge is reporting on the recent IRC meeting that the OpenSUSE team held to answer a few questions about the controversial deal between Novell and Microsoft. The most prominent questions are highlighted and the complete IRC log is available from the article while the questions that didn't make the discussion will be posted on the OpenSUSE wiki.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

OpenSUSE Opens Up To Questions About the Microsoft Deal

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  • What is this? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by khasim (1285) <brandioch.conner@gmail.com> on Monday November 27, 2006 @10:48PM (#17011580)
    Nov 27 11:20:23 Novell claims to have not acknowledged any patent infringements
    Nov 27 11:20:23 by Linux. But Novell is now paying a tax to Microsoft on the
    Nov 27 11:20:23 Linux distributions it ships. What, exactly, is Novell paying
    Nov 27 11:20:23 for?

    Nov 27 11:21:05 We're paying for the promise that Microsoft made to our customers not to sue them

    Nov 27 11:21:43 Not to sue them for *what*? For problems you don't acknowledge exist?

    Nov 27 11:21:57 Well, we put together an agreement with MS to make Linux and Windows work better together
    Nov 27 11:22:05 Now, as everyone knows, MS has spent the last 10 years saying negative things about Linux
    Nov 27 11:22:11 including implying that there are IP issues in Linux
    Nov 27 11:22:30 It didn't make sense for us to do a partnersihp with MS on interoperability issues and still have this patent cloud hanging around for our customers
    Nov 27 11:22:39 and so MS asked us to put together a patent agreement as well.
    Nov 27 11:23:00 And so, we promise MS's customers that we won't sue them and they promise the same thing to our customres
    Nov 27 11:23:08 They pay us for our promise and we pay them for their promise
    Nov 27 11:23:24 It doesn't matter if the allegations from MSFT are true or not

    Microsoft asked Novell to "put together a patent agreement" so Novell could market that protection to their customers ... at a cost of $40 million from Novell.

    Does Novell often pay millions of dollars for "protection" for its customers when it does not believe that the threat has any substance?

    Microsoft is the one making the threats.
    Novell is paying Microsoft to NOT follow through on threats that Microsoft has yet to substantiate.
    Not to mention the patent battle that could erupt should Microsoft ever file a patent claim against anyone using Linux.

    WTF?
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by G Money (12364) *
      The balance of payments are by far in Novell's favor from what I've seen. I don't remember the exact numbers but Microsoft is paying far more than Novell is paying them for the patent agreement. It isn't costing Novell anything to add the patent agreement, in fact, they're making a lot of money from Microsoft by doing it. It still seems like a weird deal but Microsoft is the one paying Novell not the other way around.
      • by khasim (1285) <brandioch.conner@gmail.com> on Monday November 27, 2006 @11:23PM (#17011828)
        The balance of payments are by far in Novell's favor from what I've seen. I don't remember the exact numbers but Microsoft is paying far more than Novell is paying them for the patent agreement.

        Yes, that is correct.

        Microsoft is paying hundreds of millions of dollars for SuSE support licenses. Far more than Novell is paying Microsoft.

        Now, when was the last time anyone tried to buy SuSE from Microsoft? Has anyone here tried to? No?

        Okay, when was the last time anyone called Microsoft's tech support about a SuSE issue? Has anyone here tried that? No?

        Well, it seems that Microsoft paid a LOT of money for licenses that it will probably never use and didn't seem to need in the past. You might want to look up the history of the SCO lawsuit and see how Microsoft also paid for SCO licenses that Microsoft will probably never use and didn't seem to need prior to that.

        So, it looks like Microsoft paid for Novell's signature on that "patent agreement". Novell couldn't say "no" to that big of an instant payoff.

        Now, go back and read about Microsoft's other "partners" and how Microsoft treated them. There isn't any reason to believe that Microsoft is suddenly going to play nice and fair with Linux (or Novell). Microsoft's who business model is based upon their monopolistic control of the desktop.
        • by idlake (850372)
          So, it looks like Microsoft paid for Novell's signature on that "patent agreement". Novell couldn't say "no" to that big of an instant payoff.

          Yes, indeed. And that also makes the agreement pretty meaningless. "I give you a net amount of several hundred million dollars, together with a license to all my patents" simply does not demonstrate that someone's patents have any value.
        • Microsoft's lawyer goons promise not to bust you up if, and only if, you buy from their bitch Novell.

          The Mob only wishes there were smooth enough to pull off crap like this.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by vojtech (565680)
          A few points:
          • The patent covenant agreement alone is cash positive for Novell, sales of SLES by MS not included.
          • Microsoft is contractually required to sell those SLES coupons, and failing that, it would create a reason for the termination of the agreement.
          • Microsoft didn't pay for any licenses, only for the right and obligation to sell SLES to its own customers.
          • Novell doesn't at all expect to be treated nice by Microsoft. And it isn't. Your post, attacking Novell, clearly shows that Microsoft's stra
    • by Peter Cooper (660482) on Monday November 27, 2006 @11:10PM (#17011746) Homepage Journal
      If Novell will pay me a mere $4 million over the next five years, I'll promise not to sue any of their customers for any reason at all.

      This offer is also open to any other companies who want to take me up on it.
    • by Bronster (13157) <slashdot@brong.net> on Monday November 27, 2006 @11:11PM (#17011756) Homepage
      Protection money not to indulge in a SCO style SLAPP is what it smells like. "Nice server... pity if it should get turned off by an injunction for 3 years while we hit you with a bunch of non-specific claims about it"...
    • Re:What is this? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Quantam (870027) on Monday November 27, 2006 @11:46PM (#17011986) Homepage
      Novell is paying for their customers' peace of mind. Regardless of what Novell says (or what may be true), MS says that Linux violates MS' IP, implying that MS might sue Linux coders and/or users. That makes Novell's users nervous. They want guarantees that either MS' claims are false, or MS will not sue them, even if they are true. This contract provides that guarantee.

      While that does vaguely resemble mafia "protection" payments (though not as closely as many Slashdotters seem to believe), I really don't see why people are having such a hard time wrapping their heads around the reason for this deal.

      This is also reminiscent of what was going on in the US during the cold war - everyone building bomb shelters, stockpiling food, etc. The reality was that none of this would have been able to keep anybody alive, had nuclear war broken out. But the fact that people thought it would put their minds at ease, and that made all the difference in the cold war.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Moofie (22272)
        "(though not as closely as many Slashdotters seem to believe)"

        Really? I need you to elucidate that for me. Please explain how Microsoft's overtures are substantially different from "Sure is a nice business you have there. Sure would be a shame if something were to...happen to it. Like, you know, a lawsuit. Funded by Microsoft."

        How is that ANY different from a protection racket?
      • Re:What is this? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Bruce Perens (3872) * <bruce@perens.com> on Tuesday November 28, 2006 @01:03AM (#17012486) Homepage Journal
        While that does vaguely resemble mafia "protection" payments ... I really don't see why people are having such a hard time wrapping their heads around the reason for this deal.

        Well, I think most people aren't having problems "wrapping their heads around the deal". They see it as unethical. This is very different from not being able to understand it.

        Bruce

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Arker (91948)
          I wouldn't say I see it as unethical, on Novell's part at least. I'd say it was clueless.

          I believe the Novell statement is basically honest, as honest as corporate statements ever are, at least. And I read it like this:

          Novell wanted a deal on interoperability. MS played along, and managed to slip them a poison pill along with it. I don't think anyone at Novell intended to be played like this - but there's obviously some serious hardcore cluelessness at the pay scales where this deal got vetted and the decis
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by div_2n (525075)
            Novell wanted a deal on interoperability.

            When has Microsoft EVER worked with GPL'ed products for interoperability? I'll give you a few decades to research that and feel quite confident you won't find an example.

            So if interoperability with GPL'ed products isn't on their agenda, what is? Don't think too hard. Look at Ballmer's comments only a few days with the announcement out of the gates for clarity.

            I'd say [Novell} was clueless.

            I don't think clueless even scratches the surface of the level of ineptitude re
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Bruce Perens (3872) *
            There are a lot of things I'd attribute to ignorance. But taking 1/3 Billion dollars to welsh out on a contract with less-well-off folks, no. Novell had enough money to do the best possible due diligence, if they wanted to.

            Bruce

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Elektroschock (659467)
        Mental Peace? If Novell wanted to pay for their customers peace of mind, they should invest in softpat lobbying [ffii.org] as Suse did. As a Suse customer the Novell deal would make me pretty nervous as I was irritated when they pushed for premature Ximian technology in Suse, esp. tainted technology such as Mono, the implementation of MS .NET which will likely infringe their patents. We have a look at Novell-MS and think back: Caldera/SCO. Novell, we don't know on what side they are or will be.

        150 Millions for license
    • Re:What is this? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ForumTroll (900233) on Monday November 27, 2006 @11:53PM (#17012026)
      After reading the IRC logs, what bothers me the most is that Novell doesn't even seem to consider why Microsoft is interested in this deal. They only talk about how they will work on interoperability and that Microsoft is "acknowledging" Linux. Microsoft has never been worried about getting sued by Novell over patent infringement, so what exactly do they think Microsoft's motives are? If Microsoft simply wants better integration with Linux, they have all the means to do so without pursuing any patent deals.

      It seems that Microsoft's true motive was shown only a few days after the deal when Ballmer continued to throw FUD about patent issues regarding Linux. Only now, he can claim that Novell has acknowledged the patent issues in an effort to make the claims appear to be more legitimate.
      • Re:What is this? (Score:4, Interesting)

        by QuantumG (50515) <qg@biodome.org> on Tuesday November 28, 2006 @12:06AM (#17012114) Homepage Journal
        I keep reading this. Seriously, I am going to go over to one of the many patent registry websites and search for Microsoft patents and post one or two that Linux violates if you people don't stop parroting this shit. There is absolutely, positively, no doubt that any given Linux distribution violates at least a few of Microsoft's patents. That's the whole freakin' reason why patents on software is a dumb idea. It is also the reason why Microsoft will never enforce their patents as you can say the same thing about Microsoft's products and IBM's patents. STFU about Linux not infringing on Microsoft's patents.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Enderandrew (866215)
          Wasn't there initially a patent on the double-click?

          I'm beginning to think that we need to seriously rethink the patent process on the whole.

          There is a world of difference in lifting an entire screenplay, design document, or chunk of source code, and using the same small idea. We shouldn't allow patents on small, trivial concepts. But people have patents on trivial things.

          I have no doubt whatsoever that various distros infringe on some small patents. And I also have no doubt that Microsoft stole countles
          • Re:What is this? (Score:4, Insightful)

            by QuantumG (50515) <qg@biodome.org> on Tuesday November 28, 2006 @12:25AM (#17012240) Homepage Journal
            Meh, copyright on source code is pointless too. Here's one of those unspoken ideas: take random open source project that is under a license you don't like. Study it. Once you understand it, think of 20 ways you could improve it. Rewrite it from scratch. How long does it take? Well, ask the OpenBSD team, they've done it half dozen times already. That asshat Darren Reed's ip filter was rewritten in under a week. How the hell can you do that? Well it really aint hard, you just gotta work. Whenever you run into one of those annoying problems that take ages to solve the first time you're writing a piece of software, just look at the original work. So long as you're not copying the text, just the ideas, copyright doesn't apply.

            Does this mean a patent system would be better? Hell no. So what then?
            • Again, copying the source code outright should be protected against.

              Taking the concept of how something is done, improving it, and doing it yourself from scratch is another story.
            • Re:What is this? (Score:5, Insightful)

              by Daniel Phillips (238627) on Tuesday November 28, 2006 @03:24AM (#17013264)
              copyright on source code is pointless too. Here's one of those unspoken ideas: take random open source project that is under a license you don't like. Study it. Once you understand it, think of 20 ways you could improve it. Rewrite it from scratch... Whenever you run into one of those annoying problems that take ages to solve the first time you're writing a piece of software, just look at the original work. So long as you're not copying the text, just the ideas, copyright doesn't apply.

              There is indeed nothing wrong with this, quite the contrary. However, this process only works for software at a very local scale. As soon as you get into complete systems with massive internal dependencies, copyright becomes a very effective protection. After all...

              That ... ip filter was rewritten in under a week. How the hell can you do that? Well it really aint hard, you just gotta work.

              Exactly. People are allergic to work, that is what makes copyright on source code so effective. Do you feel like rewriting GCC just to skirt the copyright?
              • by QuantumG (50515)
                not just to skirt the copyright, but primarily because it could be done so much better now than it was in the past.

        • by Bruce Perens (3872) * <bruce@perens.com> on Tuesday November 28, 2006 @12:58AM (#17012458) Homepage Journal
          QuantumG is correct. There are simply so many software patents, on so many fundamental principles, that no non-trivial software program could exist that was licensed by all patent holders with claims reading on the algorithms used. This is regardless of whether it is proprietary or Free Software.

          Bruce

          Protest the Novell-Microsoft Patent Agreement [techp.org].

        • Re:What is this? (Score:5, Interesting)

          by killjoe (766577) on Tuesday November 28, 2006 @03:21AM (#17013258)
          Why don't we do that. Why don't we put together a web site that lists all of MS patents and then declare open season on them. Let's invalidate all of them by digging up prior art. This is a fantastic opportunity for the OSS community to launch an DDOS on MS patents.

          Once MS sees it's patents start being picked apart by the community they will start to panic, it will be fun to watch.
    • Dumbass (Score:3, Informative)

      They clearly state that they are paying up to prevent frivolous lawsuits. Furthermore, in their GPLv3 conversation, they go on to say that Redhat and HP offer the same protection, only they are agreeing to pay for the legal costs if their customers are sued. Read the whole article first.
      • by Bruce Perens (3872) * <bruce@perens.com> on Tuesday November 28, 2006 @12:53AM (#17012424) Homepage Journal
        Red Hat and HP are offering to help you if you get sued by a patent holder who is not them. In contrast, Novell has this friend "Big Mike" who was going to beat you up, but Novell made a deal with him so that Big Mike will now promise not to beat you up. Hopefully everybody can see the difference.

        Bruce

        • Ok true, but I don't see how the situation can be improved with GPL v3 and not affect Redhat Et all. But, going forwards, its going to be difficult to police patents in Linux. I don't think patents should be applicable in software,but unfortunately I'm not in charge of writing the laws. The jpeg and Gif patent cases show the effect of patents on commercial software. If there weren't proprietary software to go after, who are the large patent holding companies going to go after? Anyone who has demonstratable
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Bruce Perens (3872) *
            Ok true, but I don't see how the situation can be improved with GPL v3 and not affect Redhat Et all.

            Oh, it's no problem for Red Hat and HP. It's only a problem for people who own the patents in question or people who have made a deal with the owners of the patents. People who indemnify do so by reimbursing your damages out of their own pockets or through an insurance company, and they do so regardless of whose patents got you in trouble.

            There is a fundamental difference between indemnification and what N


        • Hopefully everyone can also see that Big Mike so-to-say ended up getting shaken down by Novell for an awful lot more than they got from Novell.
      • by suckmysav (763172)
        "They clearly state that they are paying up to prevent frivolous lawsuits."

        Yes. Frivolous lawsuits bought against them by . . . . Microsoft.

        But no, it's not a protection racket, no. Not at all.

         
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by vojtech (565680)
      Three points, from a pure bussiness perspective:
      1. Even if Linux is completely clean with regards to Microsoft patents, and I do believe it is so, there is still a threat of a lawsuit. There always is. It would be unsuccessful, but it still would be very inconvenient, annoying and expensive for those that get hit.
      2. Even if Novell doesn't believe that this threat is worth any action, it's enough if its customers, or potential customers (like those presently being Windows-only) do perceive that threat as impo
  • Novell (Score:4, Informative)

    by loconet (415875) on Monday November 27, 2006 @10:53PM (#17011622) Homepage
    Who else thinks Novell mis-underestimated the magnitude of the uproar due to this deal? This was a very bad move.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by SmokedS (973779)
      Well, for all intents and purposes, to anyone that really believes in FOSS and is informed about the deal, Novell is now a pariah.
      I've lost count of the number of people calling for a boycott, or reporting that they have switched away from, or are in the process of switching away from Novell products.
      I think that it is essential that this is continued. The community is the strength of FOSS. If we cannot stand together against what in essence is a form of corporate blackmail Microsoft will continue to drive
  • by radarsat1 (786772) on Monday November 27, 2006 @10:57PM (#17011646) Homepage
    A few
    Nov 27 11:43:05 <Nat_> We are collaborating with Microsoft on a few different interop areas
    Nov 27 11:43:27 <Nat_> We'll be adding Open XML support to OpenOffice, building a virtualization shim to run SLES optimized on Veridian and Vista on Xen
    Nov 27 11:43:44 <Nat_> We'll also be working together on WS-Management
    Nov 27 11:43:46 <Nat_> All this code will be released open source
    Nov 27 11:43:47 * cboltz (n=cboltz@88.134.58.13) has joined #opensuse-project
    Nov 27 11:43:51 <Nat_> so everyone gets that, and can benefit from it
    Nov 27 11:44:33 <Nat_> (By the way, in that process, we don't plan to add MS-patented code to our contributions)
    Nov 27 11:44:42 <Nat_> (Our policy on that is unchanged -- and MS didn't give us the right to do that anyway!)



    Hm, wow, I'm convinced.
    So what was the point of the deal then?
    Either you'll be contributing code that you couldn't have before, meaning no one else who doesn't have a similar MS deal can use, or you'll be contributing code that you could have easily added previously anyways.
    I don't get it.
    • What in the world is "MS-patented code" or "patented code" in the first place?

      A lot of software patents focus on the design, algorithm or architecture of a software "solution", not necessary on the fine grain details of the implementation (the code).
      So if Amazon patents buying via one click, it means just that, you patented that feature (as stupid as it sounds) no matter what code implements it or not.

      If MS patented a C# language feature, again, it doesn't matter how you implemented they patented something
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Bruce Perens (3872) *
        What in the world is "MS-patented code" or "patented code" in the first place?

        Code which practices an algorithm or other technique which is claimed in a patent owned by MS. And MS knows it, and now it's in your program. Sounds risky.

        Bruce

    • by khasim (1285) <brandioch.conner@gmail.com> on Monday November 27, 2006 @11:07PM (#17011728)
      How does a coder know what the specs are?

      #1. They hack them out the way Team Samba does (yay Team Samba!!!)

      #2. They read the specs that are published

      #3. They "clean room" the specs.

      #4. They read the specs that they've just purchased the rights to.

      Anyone have any other ways?

      Now, which way are the Novell coders going to use to get specs ... that does NOT involve a potential software patent issue with Microsoft?

      If you're thinking "Novell just partnered with Microsoft and Microsoft can share their specs with Novell now" ... that's the easiest way for Microsoft to get their software patents into Linux.

      And anyone who thinks that Microsoft wants to play nice with Linux has NOT been reading the history here.
      • And when a monopolist uses illegal business tactics you use the law to ensure interoperability, cooperation, and a competative free market, you don't sign contracts or agreements with a corporation known to use illegal business tactics to destroy competition.

        http://www.redherring.com/Article.aspx?a=19883&hed =Microsoft+Meets+EU+Deadline [redherring.com]
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by ClosedSource (238333)
        You seem to be confusing trade secrets with patents. You can't use the "clean room" approach to avoid a patent issue. Either interoperability can't be acheived without violating MS patents or it can be. Whether Novell coders do or do not get specifications is irrelevent to the patent issue. You don't need to know anything about how Amazon implemented their one-click functionality to violate the one-click patent.
        • He may have one valid point, though. The difference between knowing infringement, and unknowing. Knowing infringement carries treble damages, unknowing only simple damages. I think it might be more difficult to claim unknowing infringement on code that comes from Novell now.

          Bruce

          • I think that's a pretty big stretch. I seriously doubt a court would buy the idea that you were guilty of knowing infringement of any and all MS patents on the basis of an agreement not to sue between Novell and MS. It's a bit like IBM claiming that you knowingly infringed on one of their patents simply because you were aware that they have more patents than anyone else. The relationship is too indirect. Most likely MS (or IBM) would have to prove that you had knowlege that you were infringing on the specif
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by vojtech (565680)
        At SuSE (now part of Novell), we have implemented a number of open-source drivers based on specs we based on documentation received under some kind of contract, including NDAs.

        We always made sure that the contract contained a clause that we're free to use any information we received this way to implement and distribute a driver under the terms of the GPL, and that the other party knows about that and agrees to it. This implies that there either are no patent claims on that code, or that the relevant paten

    • by Coryoth (254751)

      So what was the point of the deal then? Either you'll be contributing code that you couldn't have before, meaning no one else who doesn't have a similar MS deal can use, or you'll be contributing code that you could have easily added previously anyways. I don't get it.

      I believe the "point", as they see it, is that they are being paid a lot of money to write this code. Sure, it might have been things they could have implemented anyway, but being paid enough to have lots of full time paid developers devoted t

  • protection racket (Score:2, Insightful)

    by GeorgeS069 (956679)
    Does anyone else think this sounds very illegal?

    If I walked into an office and told them they needed to pay me cause there's a possibility the place might get robbed
    I'd be in jail so fast it would make my head spin.
    Isn't this pretty much what MS has done here?
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by ewl1217 (922107)
      That's completely wrong. Microsoft is suggesting that Novell needs protection from being sued. Unlike robbing someone, suing someone is a perfectly valid legal process. Legally, as far as I know and barring possible monopoly abuse, there's nothing wrong with what Microsoft is doing. Ethically, morally, logically, and ideologically, it's a completely different issue.
  • Another Take (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jack Action (761544) on Monday November 27, 2006 @11:00PM (#17011666)
    On the other hand, Novell may have done Free Software a great service.

    All those who lambasted RMS for the explicitness of GPLv3 may now have to reconsider their opposition. This includes organizations like Red Hat and OSDL, who called the FSF approach "extremist."

    Who's the extremist now?
    • Only time will tell, the verdict is still not out on the legality of the deal the suits concocted.
      • Only time will tell, the verdict is still not out on the legality of the deal the suits concocted.

        This is part of the problem. Even if the deal is deemed to violate the GPL v2 how long will it take? How much money will it cost?
        Even if Microsoft/Suse looses, they can make subtle tweaks to the agreement and try again.

        If you want something to be against the terms of a contract, it's best to come right out and say it. If the issue becomes one of subtleties and the other party has orders of magnitude mo
  • Stupid (Score:4, Interesting)

    by dotslashdot (694478) on Monday November 27, 2006 @11:01PM (#17011678)
    Thanks to some opensource proponent (was it the FSF?), MS knows where to look to find infringing code in the kernel! Someone did an analysis (to prevent software patents, which was not going to work in the U.S.) to convince every linux user that patents were bad by demonstrating how the linux kernel potentially infringed on 200+ patents. You're going to say "potential," but NO opensource developer will have the $ to defend themselves against MS. I predict MS is going to start suing like a motherfucker and linux is going to go away.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Even if Microsoft manages to pull off a spectacular legal coup d'état, I predict that their success in European and Asian courts will be... less than spectacular. Linux isn't going away anytime soon, and when it does go away it will be for technical reasons (i.e. 100+ years from now they finally rewrite the OS from scratch), not legal reasons.
      • by Coryoth (254751)

        Even if Microsoft manages to pull off a spectacular legal coup d'état, I predict that their success in European and Asian courts will be... less than spectacular. Linux isn't going away anytime soon, and when it does go away it will be for technical reasons (i.e. 100+ years from now they finally rewrite the OS from scratch), not legal reasons.

        Sure, Microsoft is unlikely to be able to kill Linux via this, or any similar route. If they can knock over the businesses backing a couple of major distributions

        • by killjoe (766577)
          Nah.

          Here is how it will go. MS will sue (or they will get novell to sue). There is already a pool of patents donated by Novell and IBM and others so somebody will countersue MS. Furthermore they will demand the source code for windows and start combing through the source code for GPL violations. The community will immediately find prior art which would completely invalidate the MS patent(s) in question. Some GPL violation would be found and MS would be embarrased as hell.

          MS isn't going to sue anybody. Not e
    • NO opensource developer will have the $ to defend themselves against MS.

      These guys IBM [ibm.com] already are; Groklaw [groklaw.net].

      They seem to be coping well enough.

      • IBM really likes its patents. And its patents are in a different part of the company from Linux, and a part that can override the Linux department.

        Remember, we have software patents in the U.S. because of a lawsuit brought by IBM.

        Bruce

        • IBM really likes its patents. And its patents are in a different part of the company from Linux, and a part that can override the Linux department.

          True, but there's an implication in the parent poster's claim that Open Source developers are all too impoverished to defend themselves against MS. It's an extension of the false meme that FOSS is created solely by pasty basement dwellers in their spare time.

          That's no longer the case (if it ever was), and there are now plenty of organisations with relatively

    • I predict MS is going to start suing like a motherfucker and linux is going to go away.

      I think you forget one tiny little thing: IBM is one of the biggest investors in Linux, having pumped several billion Dollars into the development of and services around Linux.

      And even compared to Microsoft, IBM is the 800 pound Gorilla in the patent league.

      Of course I don't know wether IBM really would through its weight behind Linux - but neither does MS, and I don't think they are willing to take that risk.

  • http://lwn.net/Articles/211216/ [lwn.net]

    Much much easier to read.
  • by invisik (227250) on Monday November 27, 2006 @11:14PM (#17011774) Homepage

    I was able to attend the meeting this morning and feel the text of this slashdot story is a little misleading.

    People who are unable to attend can post their questions in the wiki before the meeting (the wiki link in the article). The questions in the wiki were reviewed during the meeting, and many were addressed. Some, however, were not specifically addressed as they were answered during the live Q&A earlier in the meeting. Therefore, all of the questions (live and on the wiki) were addressed in one way or another.

    That being said, I think it was great to hear from Nat directly.

    -m
  • Scripted by PR? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by HiThere (15173) * <{ten.knilhtrae} {ta} {nsxihselrahc}> on Monday November 27, 2006 @11:16PM (#17011784)
    This think reads like it was scripted by the PR department.

    Also, I notice that they had things rigged so that they could censor any questions they didn't like. (Reasonable, an open forum would have been a mad house, but not exactly a process that builds trust.)

    They also didn't say anything about which of their customers could redistribute what. The short answer appears to be "We aren't interested in developers."
    • by invisik (227250)
      I believe it is standard practice for openSUSE meetings to have a moderator in control of the questions (eg, turning on one person at a time to ask questions). I'll find out for sure next status meeting! Anyone in attendance could pose their question to the moderator or to the wiki before to be included. I don't believe there was a hard time limit (although a 1 hour notice was posted, even thought the meeting went for almost 2 hours).

      Also, I think it's reasonable to believe that Nat doesn't know everythi
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by QuantumG (50515)
      Kinda makes you think that half way through the log you'll see:
      <DeveloperBob> Look, it's really not a big deal. This is just business stu.. RUN YOU FOOLS, IT'S A TRAP!!!
      *** DeveloperBob has left IRC
      <DeveloperSteve> ok, so next question please...
      They've been taken over by the borg, man.

  • Nat said, "We're glad they're talking about GPLv3, also, because it means that they don't think there are any incompatiblities between GPLv2 and the covenants issued by Novell and Microsoft."

    But here [cnn.com] I read that, "Moglen offered no opinion on whether the Microsoft-Novell deal violates the GPL currently in effect (known as version 2), but merely pledged that version 3 would clearly bar such "discriminatory" deals."

    Maybe the quote I've used here is wrong, or maybe it's been superceded by something Moglen has

    • A few years ago Red Hat introduced their service license which said that if you bought Linux from them, made a copy of it, and put it on another machine, your service contract for the paid machine was canceled. There was a pretty loud reaction to this, and a lot of people in the community said that Red Hat's service agreement was incompatible with GPLv2. Eventually Eben Moglen and the SFLC reviewed Red Hat's service agreement and said "it's on the edge, but it does not violate GPLv2" (or words to that eff
      • by dcam (615646)
        This is a pretty clear statement that the letter of GPLv2 is not touched.

        (He does go on to say that GPLv3 will include new language.)


        Whether this was the intent or not, the patent side of this deal has pissed off the FSF to the extent that it GPLv3 will be explicitly written to invalidate this deal. Equally this deal is likely to spur the adoption of GPLv3, even among people who were previously opposed.

        Sorry Nat but whatever your intentions, I think you guys are in serious trouble.
  • All broke
    has microsoft expressed any interest in cooperating inother compatibility areas? apart from xen and OOo?
    Nov 27 12:21:44 say, samba or kerberos.. or wine
    The three areas we already agreed on are the beginning, not the end. I am sure you will see more going forward.
    Nov 27 12:22:50 hd41, let's say I worry because so far they haven't given the EU much useful documentation
    isnt samba and mono covered too?
    Virtualization, OpenOffice and WebServicesManagement is where we
  • by Azureflare (645778) on Monday November 27, 2006 @11:31PM (#17011880)
    5. This deal does not violate GPLv2.
    Eben Moglen read our agreement and hasn't said a thing about GPLv2 violation. It's abundantly clear that he doesn't think there is any.
    Instead, he and Richard are using the community energy to try to get people to adopt the previously-controversial GPLv3 (which we support also)

    Hey, this is actually a cool way to get GPLv3 accepted. Reading over the log, and seeing their responses, I feel a bit better about the deal. I'm still suspicious but I'm no longer at the point where I am ready to remove openSuSE from my system and install debian.

    I really hope this works out, Novell has done a lot of great things in the past and I would like to see them continue their good work.

    • They seem to be so proud about having engineered this really circuitous granting of promises to each other's customers instead of to each other so that they could (maybe) fit within the letter of the GPL2 by a hair. They should be feeling shame for having screwed their partners that way. Because there's no question that they're way outside of the intent of the agreement that they entered with thousands of GPL programmers.

      My open letter to Novell [techp.org] is still available for you to sign. There are 2245 signatures

  • rofl (Score:3, Funny)

    by bouma (904871) on Monday November 27, 2006 @11:46PM (#17011988)
    (The Vercotti brothers enter. They wear Mafia suits and dark glasses.)
    Dino: (Terry Jones) Good morning, Colonel.
    Colonel: Good morning gentlemen. Now what can I do for you.
    Luigi: (Michael Palin) (looking round office casually) You've ... you've got a nice army base here, Colonel.
    Colonel: Yes.
    Luigi: We wouldn't want anything to happen to it.
    Colonel: What?
    Dino: No, what my brother means is it would be a shame if... (he knocks something off mantel)
    Colonel: Oh.
    Dino: Oh sorry, Colonel.
    Colonel: Well don't worry about that. But please do sit down.
    Luigi: No, we prefer to stand, thank you, Colonel.
    Colonel: All right. All right. But what do you want?
    Dino: What do we want, ha ha ha.
    Luigi: Ha ha ha, very good, Colonel.
    Dino: The Colonel's a joker, Luigi.
    Luigi: Explain it to the Colonel, Dino.
    Dino: How many tanks you got, Colonel?
    Colonel: About five hundred altogether.
    Luigi: Five hundred! Hey!
    Dino: You ought to be careful, Co1onel.
    Colonel: We are careful, extremely careful.
    Dino: 'Cos things break, don't they?
    Colonel: Break?
    Luigi: Well everything breaks, don't it Colonel. (he breaks something on desk) Oh dear.
    Dino: Oh see my brother's clumsy Colonel, and when he gets unhappy he breaks things. Like say, he don't feel the army's playing fair by him, he may start breaking things, Colonel.
    Colonel: What is all this about?
    Luigi: How many men you got here, Colonel?
    Colonel: Oh, er ... seven thousand infantry, six hundred artillery, and er, two divisions of paratroops.
    Luigi: Paratroops, Dino.
    Dino: Be a shame if someone was to set fire to them.
    Colonel: Set fire to them?
    Luigi: Fires happen, Colonel.
    Dino: Things burn.
    Colonel: Look, what is all this about?
    Dino: My brother and I have got a little proposition for you Colonel.
    Luigi: Could save you a lot of bother.
    Dino: I mean you're doing all right here aren't you, Colonel?
    Luigi: Well suppose some of your tanks was to get broken and troops started getting lost, er, fights started breaking out during general inspection, like.
    Dino: It wouldn't be good for business would it, Colonel?
    Colonel: Are you threatening me?
    Dino: Oh, no, no, no.
    Luigi: Whatever made you think that, Colonel?
    Dino: The Colonel doesn't think we're nice people, Luigi.
    Luigi: We're your buddies, Colonel.
    Dino: We want to look after you.
    Colonel: Look after me?
    Luigi: We can guarantee you that not a single armoured division will get done over for fifteen bob a week.
    Colonel: No, no, no.
    Luigi: Twelve and six.
    Colonel: No, no, no.
    Luigi: Eight and six ... five bob...
  • My Rant. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bmo (77928) on Tuesday November 28, 2006 @12:16AM (#17012192)
    " I think people have overreacted to this deal
      I guess because it involves the words "Microsoft" and "patents" "

    BECAUSE, NAT, WE'VE GOT A FUCKING LAWSUIT THAT HAS BEEN GOING ON FOR OVER THREE FUCKING YEARS ASSERTING THAT THERE IS FUCKING INFRINGING IP IN LINUX AND IT HAS BEEN NOTHING MORE THAN VACUOUS STATEMENTS BACKED UP BY ABSOLUTELY NOTHING SINCE FUCKING 2003! AND NOW YOU IDIOTS SIGNED A FUCKING CONTRACT THAT IS BEING SPUN BY MICROSOFT THAT THERE ARE PROBLEMS WITH INFRINGING IP IN LINUX! WELL, FUCK YOU! WHERE THE FUCK HAS NOVELL BEEN FOR THE PAST THREE AND A HALF YEARS? I FUCKING SWEAR THAT HOVESEPIAN CAN FUCKING MESS UP MAKING A FUCKING PEANUT BUTTER SANDWICH!

    I hope that's plain enough.

    Goddamn, they _still_ do not get it.

    --
    BMO
    • I'm sure someone is going to mod you troll, but that doesn't take away from the veracity of your post.
    • This is unusual (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Bruce Perens (3872) * <bruce@perens.com> on Tuesday November 28, 2006 @01:12AM (#17012526) Homepage Journal
      In what feels like 10 years of participating on Slashdot, I have never come upon a post which makes its point so excellently, and also contains so many F-words. Those two things have been mutually exclusive. Until now.

      Do me a favor. Take your anger here [techp.org] for a moment and help me out, if you haven't done so yet. But no F-words there, please, it would detract from the document. Even if Novell tosses it off, it's point is already made to a lot of Novell users and VARs and investors and the press. They've been calling me.

      Bruce

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by bmo (77928)
        "I have never come upon a post which makes its point so excellently, and also contains so many F-words."

        It was hand crafted from rare woods, with each syllable hand rubbed with fine oils to bring out the grain.

        "Take your anger here for a moment and help me out ... But no F-words there, please "

        Done.

        --
        BMO
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      I think you proved their point. The deal essentially says that a lawsuit can happen but novell customers or noncommercial devlopers will not be sued. it does not contrary to your well thought out rant, provide any evidence that there is any infringing code and microsoft made it clear that they understood that to be novell's position. If you listen to microsoft's fud and take it as truth thats *your* fault. Emotion is ... not logical. Novell simply went one step farther than redhat or hp did by offering pro
      • Re:My Rant. (Score:4, Insightful)

        by bmo (77928) on Tuesday November 28, 2006 @01:49AM (#17012758)
        "The deal essentially says that a lawsuit can happen but novell customers or noncommercial devlopers will not be sued."

        Which means that everyone else is left swinging in the wind. It means that members of OSDL are not protected because they are paid. Correct me if I am wrong. It means that every author that accepts a paycheck from his regular programming job is a target if he writes software that Microsoft doesn't like.

        And it doesn't even have to be something that infringes. Just the threat of a lawsuit in a strongly worded letter from a Microsoft lawyer makes many people retract projects, because they simply can't afford to go up against a giant like Microsoft.

        Oy, there is so much wrong with your assumptions that I don't know where to finish up.

        "If you listen to microsoft's fud and take it as truth thats *your* fault."

        I am not worried about _my_ ears. I am worried about the FALSEHOOD AND LIES that Microsoft is spreading around to be picked up by every PHB, Purchasing manager, and uninformed internal corporate lawyer. Novell has just signed a deal that _endorses_ Microsoft's behavior and agrees with their POV.

        Get the facts, indeed.

        *grumble*

        --
        BMO - SuSE Linux from versions 6.1 to 10 and no further.
    • very well said (Score:4, Insightful)

      by toby (759) * on Tuesday November 28, 2006 @01:52AM (#17012770) Homepage Journal
      And IBM is pouring millions upon tens of millions into Linux's side of said vacuous case. While Novell crows about their 30 pieces of silver.
    • BECAUSE, NAT, WE'VE GOT A FUCKING LAWSUIT THAT HAS BEEN GOING ON FOR OVER THREE FUCKING YEARS ASSERTING THAT THERE IS FUCKING INFRINGING IP IN LINUX AND IT HAS BEEN NOTHING MORE THAN VACUOUS STATEMENTS BACKED UP BY ABSOLUTELY NOTHING SINCE FUCKING 2003! AND NOW YOU IDIOTS SIGNED A FUCKING CONTRACT THAT IS BEING SPUN BY MICROSOFT THAT THERE ARE PROBLEMS WITH INFRINGING IP IN LINUX! WELL, FUCK YOU! WHERE THE FUCK HAS NOVELL BEEN FOR THE PAST THREE AND A HALF YEARS? I FUCKING SWEAR THAT HOVESEPIAN CAN FUCKING
    • Your rant (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Nat Friedman (31798)

      Novell has not provided any useful precedent or other legal ammunition that ANYONE can use in ANY court case. We didn't acknowledge that there are any MS patents infringed by Linux. So this court case you're screaming about is totally unaffected by the Novell/MS deal. Microsoft has been spreading FUD that Linux infringes MS IP for years -- nothing changed in that respect here.

      Another point I want to make. Open Source Risk Management is a company that makes its money by selling insurance on Linux IP infrin
    • by Builder (103701)
      Dude, really! Hadn't you heard that profanity is the inevitable linguistic crutch of the inarticulate motherfucker? (apologies to Bruce Sherrod). You can't be using words like asserting and vacuous in the same post as fucking.

      I mean, come on, standards people!
  • by zappepcs (820751) on Tuesday November 28, 2006 @12:26AM (#17012250) Journal
    Everyone here knows what happens to people/companies that do a deal with MS... they very quickly become deceased or owned. This simply means the final end of Suse and Novell. MS will do this one distribution at a time... or have we not learned anything from their past behavior?

    Surely, it is not just me that sees this as the first step in MS owning Linux? I KNOW how paranoid that sounds, but lets get real and deal with past history, real fact, actual behaviors...

    I really don't care how this gets modded, it must be said that a tiger doesn't change it's stripes, so why is MS doing this? out of kindness, or out of a desire to own Linux? While that may be paranoid at this point, look at what they stand to gain if one distribution owns up to IP issues? It will tie up all the other distributions in litigation...

    I have to say, personally, I find all this 'love fest' rather dangerous indeed
    • Everyone here knows what happens to people/companies that do a deal with MS... they very quickly become deceased or owned. This simply means the final end of Suse and Novell. MS will do this one distribution at a time... or have we not learned anything from their past behavior?

      Mostly correct, but I disagree with the bit I emphasized. Microsoft are surely smart enough to know that they can't wipe out Linux one distribution at a time; for every distro they quash, a few others will rise up. This tactic may
    • by Nat Friedman (31798) on Tuesday November 28, 2006 @05:18AM (#17013958) Homepage

      People keep saying this, but there are counterexamples.

      In 1997 Microsoft invested $150 million in Apple. The deal also involved a promise from Microsoft to make Office available on Macintoshes, and there was a patent agreement as well. Bill Gates appeared on the big screen at MacWorld to jeers and shouts. People said Apple had done a deal with the devil and was dead. But in fact the deal gave Apple the money and the breathing room to build itself up and they are far from dead now (though not the most open company in the world, obviously).

      In 2004 Sun did a deal with Microsoft, were paid $1 billion, and signed a patent agreement with MS as well. This month they announced they are GPLing Java.

      So while I agree that MS is a dangerous company and you have to be careful when you do anything with them, it's simply not true that doing a deal with them is always fatal.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Vitriol+Angst (458300)
        That "investment" was when Jobs had Gates over the barrell with a sawed off shotgun aimed at his head. Microsoft was found guilty of stealing the API of Quicktime in its Video for Windows 1.4c (if memory serves) - the rip-off was so blatant, the compiled binaries matched up (on Windows, of course). It was either give Apple some marketplace credibility with this "investment" or finally get caught red-handed being software pirates. The second option would have hurt Microsoft a lot more, but helped Apple, thei
  • The issue is not what Novell intentions were or what they were thinking at the time when entering the deal, it's what the deal now allows MS to achieve. Novell just got pawned as they have now just strengthened MS ability to print FUD about Linux.

    This deal was a trojan from the start. Before the ink was even dry Ballmer was screaming that they were finally getting economic return from the use of their IP in Linux and that anyone not using Suse will have an 'undisclosed balance sheet liability'. There was no
  • I believe their recent PR efforts to "correct any misconceptions" have been insincere. Here's my take on why I will boycott Suse and Novell: here it is [gnufans.net]
  • The single best place to go for information on this ms/novell deal, best estimates of what it means to the FOSS community and the GPL is Groklaw. PJ, as usual, has put a lot of effort into gathering information, explaining legal points, providing links to more information and getting opinions form many in the community. She has about four posts up on this subject and each is worth the read.

    Just my two cents worth.
  • "Our Customers" (Score:3, Insightful)

    by LuYu (519260) on Tuesday November 28, 2006 @01:07AM (#17012504) Homepage Journal

    Q: Novell claims to have not acknowledged any patent infringements by Linux. But Novell is now paying a tax to Microsoft on the Linux distributions it ships. What, exactly, is Novell paying for?

    Nat Friedman: We're paying for the promise that Microsoft made to our customers not to sue them.

    Q: Not to sue them for *what*? For problems you don't acknowledge exist?

    Nat Friedman: We put together an agreement with Microsoft to make Linux and Windows work better together. Now, as everyone knows, Microsoft has spent the last 10 years saying negative things about Linux, including implying that there are IP issues in Linux. It didn't make sense for us to do a partnersihp with Microsoft on interoperability issues and still have this patent cloud hanging around for our customers, so Microsoft asked us to put together a patent agreement as well. And so we promise Microsoft's customers that we won't sue them and they promise the same thing to our customers. They pay us for our promise and we pay them for their promise. It doesn't matter if the allegations from MSFT are true or not. People can sue each other anyway, and a patent lawsuit is very expensive to defend against.

    This "our customers" language is typical of Novell's statements surrounding this issue. They constantly speak of their customers but do not speak of the wider impact on the FOSS community itself. This might sound like a non-customer asking for a handout, but the fact remains that the majority of Linux developers and users are not associated with SUSE or Novell. The fact also remains that Novell relies on the FOSS community for its development. Therefore, a patent lawsuit that caused, say, X or kernel development to be halted or altered would affect Novell as well, even though MS could claim that they have not violated the agreement.

    It goes without saying that Ballmer's statements have caused harm to the FOSS community and that many more people were exposed to Ballmer's statements than Hovespan's.

    I think the reason that RMS and Moglen are so incensed about this agreement is obvious. This agreement to create a de facto ownership of Linux by suing anybody who competes with Novell. If MS sues successfully for patent infringement in Application A, Novell can continue to use it without being sued, but no one else can. In this way, they can become the only non-MS people to be able to use it in consequence of their "get out of jail free" card. It is an end run around the GPL.

    Both MS and Novell benefit from this. Novell destroys its competition in the Linux arena and becomes the only "legitimate" Linux vendor. MS reduces its competitors to one complacent one which it can dispatch at its lesiure or use to prove that MS is not a monopoly.

    In light of this, Novell only has two options if it truly believes in FOSS:

    1. Require MS to agree not to sue any FOSS project for patent infringement.
    2. Back out of the deal and admit Novell did not have the consent of all of its developers when it entered this contract.

    Whether Novell sees this future or not, it is screwing the Linux community. And garbage like this [novell.com]:

    Ubuntu's open week sounds like a really good idea. I'm just surprised that it is done to get users away from openSUSE as Mark Shuttleworth announced on the opensuse mailing lists.

    Mark, let me reiterate that the openSUSE community and the Ubuntu communities share the same goals. We might put different emphasis on some of them, so let me speak just about one where I see a different focus.

    . . .

    Mark, I'd like to invite you to discuss what possibilities we have to work together against the domination of Microsoft on the desktops and servers - instead of fighting against each other.

    ... is just proof that the Novell develo

  • Cher Ron,

    Je suis a bit fromaged off avec votre decision to compromise la communauté de source ouvert avec le contrat avec le diable. Je reckon vous must have d'autres choses in La Belle Novell itself pour donner ? Unixware ? Votre premier fils ? votre soul, puet etre ?

    Frappez le crows avec stones, Sport! La guerre contre m$ n'est pas fini. We need ce contrat about as beacoup as poisson need les bicyclettes.

    Un autre point, cobber. Votre histoire de produit dev isn't tres flash, consisting, n'est-c

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