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Novell/Microsoft Deal Punishment for SCO? 148

Posted by Zonk
from the stranger-things-have-happened dept.
An anonymous reader tipped us off to an article on the Information World site looking at the Novell/Microsoft deal from a new angle. Article author Tom Yager is of the opinion that the deal is Microsoft's punishment for throwing in with SCO. The very public announcement was made, in his opinion, as a stopgap measure against a future lawsuit on Novell's part. From the article: "Novell has exhibited the patience and cunning of a trap door spider. It waited for SCO to taunt from too short a distance. Then Novell would spring, feed a little (saving plenty for later), inject some stupidity serum, and let SCO stride off still cocksure enough to make another run at the nest. That cycle is bleeding SCO, which was the last to notice its own terminal anemia. When it became clear that SCO wouldn't prevail, Microsoft expected only to face close partner IBM. Microsoft did not brace for Novell, an adversary with a decades-long score to settle with Redmond. Through discovery, Microsoft's correspondence with SCO is, or soon will be in, Novell's hands, and it's a safe bet that it will contain more than demand for a license fee and a copy of a certified check."
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Novell/Microsoft Deal Punishment for SCO?

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  • by 0racle (667029) on Friday December 15, 2006 @06:01PM (#17262052)
    Make it sound like a bunch of children or something. I assure you, it's strictly business.
    • by ENOENT (25325) on Friday December 15, 2006 @06:10PM (#17262200) Homepage Journal
      Does that mean that someone is going to wake up next to a horse's head?
    • by mysticgoat (582871) * on Friday December 15, 2006 @06:54PM (#17262744) Homepage Journal

      Make it sound like a bunch of children or something.

      That would make reporting and editorializing about these matters extremely difficult, since the central figure around which all this stuff appears to revolve is a tantrum-prone, potty-mouthed, chair-throwing monkey-dancer.

    • by quill_n_brew (1011327) on Friday December 15, 2006 @06:55PM (#17262748)
      "Make it sound like a bunch of children or something. I assure you, it's strictly business."

      IANAL -- but I have worked with several through the years, particularly the corporate variety. Whether their true character is so or not, many lawyers feel a professional obligation to act as scraping, vindictive rats on behalf of their parent/client. They are best rewarded by said parent for this. The paradox: you might assume their company officers lead and encourage this MO, but the truth is they are often surprised (though secretly delighted) when the more aggressive, nitpicking, predator patience from the legal pack pays off.

      It's never really clear who navigates a company, after it gains a certain shape and size. Lawyers think the parent wants X; parent thinks lawyers want X... (Y? I dunno...) In short, they *are* a bunch of children flicking sand about from their box in the play yard. It's just how things get done -- so, yes, it is strictly business.

      Try not to ascribe too much higher thinking here. Intelligence, yes -- enlightenment, no.

      I know: it all sounds like a lot of simple-minded lawyer bashing. Believe it or not, most I've worked with were cool humans. But with their suits on, Mr. Hyde had rein.

      I am inclined to think that in *less* than the prescribed five years, Novell might be saying to MS from their deathbed, "You had me at hello."
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Frankie70 (803801)

      Make it sound like a bunch of children or something. I assure you, it's strictly business.


      Ob Quote
      Micheal Corleone about his father - "It's all personal, every bit of business. He takes
      everything personal. Like God."
  • by Praedon (707326)
    My personal opinion was that Novell should not have accepted such a deal, and that the end result would bring a major shock wave all through the world. With todays growing number of lawsuits, the continued smack talking (like Palmer did earlier last month) and other things, I feel this may be a turn for the worst.

    Another growing concern that I have, is that the GPL may have to go rounds with all of this, and everyone who has contributed over the years, many many useful tools and services that plays an acti
    • I'd like to see the GPL upheld in court once and for all. A valid license is a valid license, and it'd be nice to see at least some of the FUD surrounding it smacked down via a court ruling.
      • by advocate_one (662832) on Friday December 15, 2006 @06:28PM (#17262418)
        I'd like to see the GPL upheld in court once and for all. A valid license is a valid license, and it'd be nice to see at least some of the FUD surrounding it smacked down via a court ruling.

        It has been... several times in several countries... most recently is was the fool Wallace who got told where to go by an American court [groklaw.net]

        • by Mr. Underbridge (666784) on Friday December 15, 2006 @06:40PM (#17262564)

          It has been... several times in several countries... most recently is was the fool Wallace who got told where to go by an American court

          And to add the usual point...even if the GPL were somehow found invalid, it means you have NO license to distribute the software, and thus have not helped your case any! As you point out, Wallace's assertion that the GPL was somehow synonymous with public domain won't stand scrutiny by even the dumbest judge. ANd that's saying something.

          • ...even if the GPL were somehow found invalid, it means you have NO license to distribute the software, and thus have not helped your case any!

            It depends upon what you're trying to accomplish.

            If you're trying to use the code without releasing the source, then you're right.

            However, if your purpose is to destroy the entire GPL ecosystem, then a rejection of the license on that basis would be quite a coup - you'd render all redistribution of GPL-licensed software illegal.

            • However, if your purpose is to destroy the entire GPL ecosystem, then a rejection of the license on that basis would be quite a coup - you'd render all redistribution of GPL-licensed software illegal.

              What would be the case? For example, would I sue to invalidate a license granted to me by the GPL? That doesn't make much sense. Would I claim some strange entrapment argument?

              The only arguments I can see is on the fringe, as to what constitutes a program, and people playing weasel games (as some have bee

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by DragonWriter (970822)
            And to add the usual point...even if the GPL were somehow found invalid, it means you have NO license to distribute the software, and thus have not helped your case any!


            You seem to think that a license can only be found completely valid or completely invalid by a court.

            That is not the case.
      • It has been upheld in the courts in Germany, but the reason why it hasn't been litigated in most countries, including here in the US, is because it's clear and simple.

        Here's a comparison. Let's say a town counsel passes an ordinance that says you are not permitted to park your car on the street without a parking permit available for purchase from the clerk at city hall, and if you have such a permit, you are only allowed to park on the street according to the conditions on it. You then go to the clerk, buy a parking permit which reads right on it, "The holder if this permit is entitled to park one vehicle on roads in the town for not more than seven days." You then proceed to park your Hummer for three months on Main Street, and as might be expected, your vehicle gets towed.

        You get pissed, so naturally, you want to hire a lawyer. The only two approaches your lawyer could argue are either:
        A) The parking permit is invalid.
        -or-
        B) You can park anywhere you want, and you never needed a permit to begin with.

        Which argument has a chance of succeeding?

        Consider that there is a history of cases unanimously upholding that towns can pass any parking laws they want, and that they can tow your vehicle if you don't follow them.

        Your only chance of success is arguing the parking permit is invalid. Unfortunately, NOTHING ELSE GRANTED YOU PERMISSION TO PARK YOUR VEHICLE. With that pertinent piece of information, perhaps one might be better off not spending a lot of time and money challenging the parking permit.

        The GPL is like that parking permit. Nothing else grants you permission to distribute the software copyrighted by other people unless you agree to its terms.

        So of course it _could_ be tested in court, but spending a lot of time and money to do so will never result in you being permitted to distribute the software without following the terms of a valid license. At best, all could ever accomplish is loosing your right to distribute the software at all.
        • At best, all could ever accomplish is loosing your right to distribute the software at all.

          Which is fine for some, as long as everybody loses that right. Some would pee in the fountain, so long as it ruins the resource, and preserves monopoly privileges for the few.

        • Well, it's not exactly a car analogy but close enough!

          Now we just need the little guy with the mustache to be done.
      • by Zeinfeld (263942)
        I'd like to see the GPL upheld in court once and for all. A valid license is a valid license, and it'd be nice to see at least some of the FUD surrounding it smacked down via a court ruling

        Its not that easy, I don't think you can have a once and for all case. There are two issues that need to be established. It is pretty clear that the GPL does give permission to others to use the code in pretty much any way they choose. It is not so clear that the restrictions on redistribution are enforceable.

        On the N

    • why shouldn't they? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by oohshiny (998054)
      My personal opinion was that Novell should not have accepted such a deal


      Why ever not? They received several hundred million dollars from Microsoft, without giving Microsoft anything or committing to anything.
      • They received several hundred million dollars from Microsoft, without giving Microsoft anything or committing to anything.

        Without committing to anything that they're willing or able to disclose. Microsoft will have had something in return for that money. I really don't think Novell's promise not to sue windows users us worth 300 million to Microsoft.

        So we have to ask ourselves what Novell did agree to that was worth so much money. What are MS getting in return? I doubt many people will buy into TFA's

        • by oohshiny (998054)
          Without committing to anything that they're willing or able to disclose.

          If they are not disclosing it, then it doesn't matter.

          Microsoft will have had something in return for that money.

          Yes: some patent licenses, a PR opportunity, and, most importantly, people like you spreading FUD.

          Seems like you're helping them make their investment pay off.
          • If they are not disclosing it, then it doesn't matter.

            Really? To whom, and on what grounds do they choose not to so concern themselves?

            If two thieves make a pact to rob my home and steal my goods, the details of their discussion still matter to me, irrespective of whether or not they both choose to sign a non disclosure agreement.

            Even if, as in this case, only one party is openly and implacably hostile, while the other , a relative newcomer to our community has been seen in whispered discussions bef

            • by oohshiny (998054)
              Really? To whom, and on what grounds do they choose not to so concern themselves?

              It's a legal agreement between Microsoft and Novell and therefore binding only on them, nobody else.

              If two thieves make a pact to rob my home and steal my goods, the details of their discussion still matter to me,

              That analogy doesn't work here. Besides, the only thing of any consequence you can do is not buy SuSE/Novell products, which I suspect you are already not doing.

              So if it's all the same to you, I think I'll be the judg
              • It's a legal agreement between Microsoft and Novell and therefore binding only on them, nobody else.

                Which doesn't imply that those details are not of interest to the community. Nor does it imply that we should not take an interest. For example, the deal between MS and SCO was a private agreement between the two of them. As we learn more about that case, it seems more and more likely (I suspect few would now dispute it) that the agreement was that Microsoft would pay SCO to try misappropriate certain rig

                • by oohshiny (998054)
                  And once again the missing word is "because".

                  Unlike you, I've given plenty of reasons in previous postings.

                  As it turns out, our interest seems more than warranted [referring to SCO]. There are enough similarities here that "shut up and mind your own business" just isn't going to cut it.

                  SCO is working itself out. Why? Because it didn't matter what deals SCO cut with anybody, what mattered was that the source code was GPL'ed and that its developers were careful not to infringe. The SCO example undermines y
                  • I neither know nor care what [Microsoft] were thinking this time because it frankly doesn't matter.

                    And once again the missing word is "because".

                    Unlike you, I've given plenty of reasons in previous postings.

                    Well, if you think there is a post elsewhere in which you express yourself particularly well, feel free to link to it. I do sometimes look up a correspondent's posts on a subject if they seem have something interesting to say, but somehow, I doubt many people will leap to that conclusion based

    • I agree (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jd (1658)
      For similarish reasons. One threat I see is that if Microsoft violates the GPL on a Novell product, there may be something in the contract Microsoft can use to void the GPL as a whole even if they lose. They know how to work the system and we should assume that they have not entered this contract with any more respect for the spirit of it than they did with the Windows 95 non-integration deal, the Spyglass IE deal, or any other deal they've ever entered.

      For all we know, Microsoft entered this deal to secure

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Miseph (979059)
        Sure, unless the banana plantation is also a front for a poaching outfit, one that will happily give out free bananas to a gorilla in need...

        Don't forget, the GPL is (intentionally) written in a very unbalanced way. It wouldn't even be too inaccurate to call it "viral". If something touches GPL, it must either become GPL, or be destroyed and rebuilt from scratch. There is no "undo" button, nor is there a way to go backwards. True, there are some potential workarounds (GPL stubs calling on closed sour
        • by jd (1658)
          Problem is, Microsoft knows this. Let's say Microsoft has poached a whole bunch of GPLed code from SuSE, and the contract agrees to indemnify Microsoft for all prior GPL infractions and to grant them exemption. In secret. Novell's the license holders and can do this. Or, maybe there's a clause that says that Novell accepts full legal responsibility under the GPL for any GPL violations resulting from a joint project. If Microsoft violated the GPL under that kind of contract, Novell would be liable and banned
  • Enough (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Ed Avis (5917) <ed@membled.com> on Friday December 15, 2006 @06:02PM (#17262078) Homepage
    Can we stop treating this as some kind of corporate soap opera? I'll be happy when Slashdot can once again focus on the technical features of SuSE Linux or other Novell software, together with how well it respects the freedoms of its users. Those are things we can have some knowledge of and discuss sensibly, rather than speculating and fanboying.
    • Re:Enough (Score:4, Funny)

      by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Friday December 15, 2006 @06:07PM (#17262166) Homepage Journal
      I'll be happy when Slashdot can once again focus on the technical features of SuSE Linux or other Novell software, together with how well it respects the freedoms of its users. Those are things we can have some knowledge of and discuss sensibly, rather than speculating and fanboying.

      You must be new here :)

      • Look at the user ID's. It's you who is new here. In fact, he was here a long time ago, when slashdot really was a place to read about cool technology innovations and geeky subject matter. Now, ever third story is policital in nature and every 10th story is nothing but a link to a groklaw article.

        I miss the old slashdot as well.
        • by Paul Crowley (837)
          Er, I think that comment was meant as a joke about the low user ID.

          I'm not sure I buy your argument, by the way. Slashdot was always crap. But somehow I keep coming back.
        • by drinkypoo (153816)
          Look at the user ID's. It's you who is new here.

          Were you born without a sense of humor, or did you lose it in a freak blogging accident?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by freeweed (309734)
      I'll be happy when Slashdot can once again focus on the technical features of SuSE Linux or other Novell software, together with how well it respects the freedoms of its users.

      We may not be able to do this for much longer, if any of these idiotic lawsuits actually succeed.

      Hence, the keen interest in the proceedings.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Ed Avis (5917)
        'The proceedings' of important lawsuits are fine. I'm quite happy to read about what happened in court or Groklaw's analysis of the latest ruling. That does not include witless speculation and vapour from pundits on Infoworld or anywhere else.
    • The moment they signed this secret deal to insert MS patented IP into their Linux software all their products became toxic. They can't undo it. They've taken the money and signed a pact in conflict with the well being of their customers. All balking from the deal would do now is make them dishonest both ways. Stick a fork in them. They're done.
      • That's not what happened or is happening, the deal is M$ will not sue the customers of Novell for infringement of M$ patents in Novell products; M$ isn't even saying that they found patented technologies in Novell product, just that they will not sue. There is also work to insure interoperability of SuSE Linux and M$ products for which Novell is getting paid, considering how well Linux plays with M$ when given half a chance, I'd consider it free money and likely paid more from guilt in hopes it'll be seen a
        • MS says patent infringements are in linux, implying SuSE. Novell says they didn't admit to it -- not the same thing as denying it. They took the money, and the public assurances from MS that they won't sue the customers. Implied here is that Novell is performing a service for their $300M, to wit: inserting patented methods into their linux products. More than implied, it's directly stated with their immediately following project announcements. The point of the secret agreement is to provide a five year
    • Re:Enough (Score:4, Interesting)

      by msobkow (48369) on Friday December 15, 2006 @08:14PM (#17263492) Homepage Journal

      It's hard to do that when it takes years and millions of dollars to deal with one case like SCO, even when it's clear to the industry that they don't have a leg to stand on. At least with the dollars and legal teams behind Novell and IBM it'll eventually be settled once and for all -- hopefully leaving SCO and company wide open for damages.

      Another spin I've wondered about is whether Microsoft might be preparing for the possibility of renewed anti-trust investigations and a future breakup. Such a conviction would likely demand that they divest themselves of either Office or Windows, so having Novell ready with a POSIX-compliant OS that runs Mono/.Net, Java, and other key Microsoft applications would be very good for the Microsoft user community.

      Novell is already very well prepared and experienced to take up the file, print, and authentication services as well, should that prove necessary.

      Time will tell...

      • by msobkow (48369)

        Someone is bound to say "No way! Microsoft would never..."

        But a good businessman covers the possibilities, regardless of how likely they seem. No one would ever accuse Bill Gates or the rest of Microsoft's management team of being incompetent in that regard.

        Look at IBM. Once renowned as the biggest and slowest changing organization in the industry, they're now more agile than most, and still huge. Even a bankruptcy or breakup aren't that scary to people who manage such large organizations. If anyt

    • by killjoe (766577)
      Why. Ballmer is promising to sue people. He is not promising to build better products.

      This is all about lawsuits. When the CEO of MS is threating lawsuits we all better stand up and take notice.
  • No, that makes no sense when their deal will expire in 5 years. If that was the intent, they'd have signed some form of permanent, non-revocable license (see IBM's licenses with SCO).

    That way, no matter who ends up purchasing whom or whomever's patents, the deal is still safe (again, look at IBM's licenses with SCO and how many companies they were passed through).
    • by 0racle (667029)
      MS likes making 5 year deals. It worked out good for Apple in the long run, they became more successful then ever before.
  • by lawpoop (604919) on Friday December 15, 2006 @06:05PM (#17262134) Homepage Journal
    ... what can adequately be explained by incompetence. In this case, SCO's incompetence, and utter lack of any kind of sane case. What might look like Novell slowly but surely bleeding SCO dry could just be SCO's braindead stubbornness in pursuing their case, or lack thereof.

    I don't really know the legality and details of the SCO case or the MS/Novell agreement, but this sounds way too clever and complicated for the average corporation to pull off. If Novell is so smart and crafty, why can't they do a better job competing against MS in the marketplace? Does Novell's business acumen lie only in creating clever trapdoors in risky legal deals? It sounds more like the author is writing the plot for a corporate-legal thriller than any analysis of reality.
    • by vertinox (846076)
      Never ascribe to malice what can adequately be explained by incompetence.

      Never ascribe to incompetence what can adequately be achieved through malice.

      As in... If you are going to do something bad to someone... The smartest thing to do is make it look like you did it out of stupidity and then plead ignorance.

      That way they stay your friend or don't fire you and give you a scolding instead.

      Not that I know anything about deleting important user files when they call me up harassing me about deadlines. It was the
    • ... what can adequately be explained by idiocy. In this case, SCO's idiocy, and utter lack of any kind of sane case. What might look like Novell slowly but surely bleeding SCO dry could just be SCO's braindead stubbornness in pursuing their case, or lack thereof.
      ~
      ~
      ~
      ~
      :%s/incompetence/idiocy/g


      There, now we agree completely...
    • If Novell is so smart and crafty, why can't they do a better job competing against MS in the marketplace?

      Or, as one of my coworkers put it at our company Christmas party last night: "The Novell/Microsoft deal is easy to explain. Novell has already given Microsoft all its NetWare customers. They don't have any left to give. So they have no choice but to start finding Linux customers to give to Microsoft. Novell is actually the most diabolically clever sales tool that Microsoft ever invented."

      Oh, how we

    • Yes, TFA does seem to assume way too much cleverness on Novell's side of the deal. For example he says

      "When I consider Novell to be the party of advantage in the Microsoft partnership deal, the tone of the agreement changes. Microsoft is handing 70,000 copies of a primary competitor's operating system to existing Windows customers, introducing Windows-only shops to the advantages of the heterogeneous enterprise."

      Or, more likely, 70,000 coupons for SUSE will gather dust in a Microsoft drawer.
    • Novell was already in a world of hurt. Loans being called over a delisting threat for restated earnings because of options investigations, Linux business flatlining, Unix business a zombie shell of its former self, etc, etc.

      The brass needed a golden parachute because they were flaming out. Along came a charming gentleman with a fat wad of cash and a deal that's too good to be true... There's only one string attached... They just have to screw everybody who does business with them until the sherriff padl

  • typical (Score:4, Insightful)

    by splatterboy (815820) on Friday December 15, 2006 @06:10PM (#17262186)
    I guess this guy has never read/heard of groklaw... He probably thought SCO really had something 3 years ago, and now he's on the IBM/Novell bandwagon. Discovery in the IBM case is over and if there was evidence of Microsoft correspondence they would have found it already. PJ's take on the Novell/Microsoft contract is pretty much the opposite and she has a legal backround with OSS experince as well. He's grasping at straws.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Chyeld (713439)
      Anyone who thinks that the Microsoft/Novell deal was anything other than a coup for MS either doesn't get it or has far more inside knowledge than anyone else on this planet.
  • ...it would have been entirely one-sided, not give and take like the actual agreement was.
    • In the end, Microsoft ends up giving several hundred million dollars to Novell. All the taking is "virtual"--a small face saver for Microsoft that has no real significance.
  • No (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    This is not what happened. What happened was that Microsoft offered Novell a deal, and Novell took it, and Novell will die from it. The deadly spider is Microsoft.
  • by Doc Ruby (173196) on Friday December 15, 2006 @06:18PM (#17262302) Homepage Journal
    And Microsoft, the most patient and cunning of predators (especially on the Web), coaxes Novell out if the herd with promises to treat it like a pet, not as meat. Then MS attacks the herd, suing the rest of the Linux distributors for patent infringement, including infringement of the Novell patents MS licenses under their Novell deal.

    Then MS finds another way to kill and eat Novell, once Novell can't rely on safety in numbers of Linux distributors. Like MS incorporating a "Linux mode" for either "migrating" Linux source code to Windows, or just a reverse "Wine" (Line-ux, anyone?) that runs Linux apps with a (secret) Linux -> Windows API.

    The MS/Novell deal looks good to Novell when it discounts the value of its own competitors in Linux vendors, and the collective value of their threat to Linux, instead greedily eying the entire Linux industry for itself. That greed could be its downfall when it ignores the Linux community, blinded by the Linux product for which MS will kill it.
    • by jimicus (737525)
      Then MS finds another way to kill and eat Novell

      If Microsoft succeed in taking on the other mainstream Linux distributions, they don't need a way to kill and eat Novell. Remember that a lot of Linux development is undertaken by the various commercial entities such as RedHat, IBM et al. If they're out of the equation, suddenly Novell are left with an operating system which is dying on the vine as nobody else is supporting it.

      Of course, this is all 5-10 years in the future here and the way Microsoft are goi
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        suddenly Novell are left with an operating system which is dying on the vine as nobody else is supporting it
        Huh. Novell stuck with a dying OS that nobody else is supporting. Why is it that sounds so familiar?
    • Parent is exactly right.

      I've been trying figure out a way to describe the Novell/Microsoft situation for weeks.

      Write this one down because this is exactly how the corporate mind works and how Microsoft's game will play out.

      Writer doesn't have a clue. Microsoft doesn't get "punished" by anyone.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by strider44 (650833)
        No it's not - the corporate mind isn't as stupid as either of you are.

        Lets see the holes in the argument.

        Firstly, a patent deal doesn't make patent infringements magically appear. Novell's deal with Microsoft has no legal bearing on Linux at all - NONE. If Microsoft can sue with the deal they can sue without the deal.

        Secondly, even if there are patent infringements in Linux that probably would only minorly affect Linux - the patents would be only valid and enforceable in the US while the major ce
        • if there are patent infringements in Linux that probably would only minorly affect Linux

          Microsoft doesn't care about kernels. Kernel litigation with SCO failed anyway. They worry about distros because they are stealing Microsoft's lunch.

          And the of the top-100 distros over at distrowatch.org, how many have DEEP pocket to go more than one day in court? Damn Small Linux? Mepis? Slackware? When microsoft has finished culling the herd, they'll litigate most distros into oblivion. They will be careful abou
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by strider44 (650833)
            Uhuh. Let me make this clear - Microsoft's software patents are only enforceable in the US. So no, I probably won't be affected and my PHB won't care since we're not part of the US, and I don't think any businesses actually run Damn Small Linux, Mepis or Slackware. Those distros don't really have a need to be centred in the US so I don't think it matters if Microsoft tries to sue the users of those distros - all it would gain them is a pittance of money and a shitload of bad publicity.

            So, as for Ameri
            • Microsoft's software patents are only enforceable in the US. So no, I probably won't be affected and my PHB won't care since we're not part of the US.

              Strider44, while I don't dispute that, technically, you are correct, I continue to be worried. I see too many people relying on their location outside the USA to protect them. Yes, we are grateful that the world, far from being just the USA, has a healthy number of countries who disagree with the US; but the USA just has way too much clout on this planet.

              I

    • Then MS attacks the herd, suing the rest of the Linux distributors for patent infringement, including infringement of the Novell patents MS licenses under their Novell deal.

      MS won't sue anybody for patent infringement because they know it's pointless. I mean, who are they going to sue? You? Me? RedHat? Fedora? My cat? Even if they have a valid and enforceable patent, it will be worked around within a day of them filing any lawsuit.

      Furthermore, the Microsoft/Novell deal doesn't protect Novell or its cust
      • MS can stop distributors from distributing until the court determines that they are no longer distributing infringing code.

        When they sue RedHat, they will cripple RedHat's finances and management bandwidth. When they sue individuals, like the RIAA has, they will scare developers away in the short term. The long term will see more developers work on Windows rather than Linux. Both because of the intimidation, and the "winning platform".

        The Microsoft deal with Novell licenses MS patents to Novell, which of co
        • by oohshiny (998054)
          MS can stop distributors from distributing until the court determines that they are no longer distributing infringing code.

          Quite right: MS can stop distributors from distributing individual pieces of software that are infringing. They will remain infringing for, oh, probably about a day after Microsoft actually comes through saying what specifically is infringing. Give it another couple of days for the binary packages to be updated. Users won't even notice a hiccup in their update pipeline.

          The Microsoft
        • one more thing (Score:3, Interesting)

          by oohshiny (998054)
          One more thing: because Microsoft actually becomes a distributor of SuSE Linux under this agreement, they automatically grant everybody a license to any patent that any GPL'ed part of SuSE Linux might contain. Well, strictly speaking, they only grant a license to the recipients of those copies, but because that license is transferable, they grant it to the world.

          After signing this contract, Microsoft's entire claims of patent violations in Linux pretty much completely collapse.
    • by Dhalka226 (559740)

      Then MS attacks the herd, suing the rest of the Linux distributors for patent infringement, including infringement of the Novell patents MS licenses under their Novell deal.

      The first half -- okay. Microsoft can obviously sue people for violating their patents, if that is what they think is going on.

      The second half... not so much. Licensing a patent does not give you standing to sue for infringement of that patent. Only the holder of the patent has that legal standing.

      • by Doc Ruby (173196)
        It depends on the license. But even so, any license that doesn't allow MS to [force Novell to] sue infringers is worthless, so I don't believe it exists that weak.

        It's a distinction without a difference.
    • Red Hat supports (used to support?) it.

      There are others, but that's the version I'm familiar with. The last time I tried it, over 5 years ago now, it couldn't successfully run KDE unside of MSWind98. Close though. Even then if you were satisfied with native MS windowing, it was quite good.

      • by Doc Ruby (173196)
        I used CygWin a few times, even wrote some apps for its API. It was crude, but effective for some tasks, which could be tested thoroughly before deployment.

        But the trick is a complete API that runs all KDE or GNOME apps under Windows. With a secret API mapping, so MS can control it and compete with it - roll out Linux apps that work better than the "real" ones, because they use the secret "works faster/better" API to make Windows do its thing.

        CygWin proves that it can be done, has been done for years. With
  • Microsoft getting screwed over by Novell? Does that mean my old copy of DR-DOS is still worth something?
  • Inconsistencies (Score:3, Informative)

    by steelfood (895457) on Friday December 15, 2006 @06:27PM (#17262408)
    I allow that there are at least two facts that weigh against this theory. Red Hat stated that Microsoft offered it the same deal, and the Microsoft/Novell partnership announcement makes mention of a payment by Novell.
    Emphasis mine.

    I thought it was Microsoft paying Novell $348mil, [slashdot.org] no?
    • Novell also pays MS $40 million a year over the 5 years of the deal: $348M - (5 * $40M) = $148M, Novell net gain. Or so it seems.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Mspangler (770054)
      I noticed them too.

      In 2004 SCO sold Bill some UNIX something that is widely believed to be in Vista, at least the corporate versions. But (and I quote)
      "Section 4.16(b) of the Asset Purchase Agreement reads as follows:

      Buyer shall not, and shall not have the authority to, amend, modify or waive any right under or assign any SVRX License without the prior written consent of Seller."

      Buyer is (old) SCO, now mutated to new SCO. Seller is Novell.

      SCO did NOT clear the sale of whatever with Novell. So, although Bill
  • by paulpach (798828) on Friday December 15, 2006 @06:57PM (#17262772)

    I understand that novel does not violate the GPL, because they did not license the patents from microsoft, instead microsoft licenses the patents to novel customers. Since microsoft is not distributing the software to them, the GPL does not apply to them.

    BUT WAIT, Microsoft is distributing the software, didn't they receive 70,000 copies of SuSE? unless they plan to just throw them in the attic, or use them internally, they will be distributing those copies, and thus are restricted by the GPL. If they put any restriction on the people receiving the GPL code (other than those specified in the GPL itself), then Microsoft is indeed in violation of the GPL.

    So I don't understand, how microsoft can use those 70,000 copies without violating the GPL. Can anyone explain that to me?

    • So I don't understand, how microsoft can use those 70,000 copies without violating the GPL. Can anyone explain that to me?

      Quite to the contrary: if they distribute even a single copy to a third party, then they are effectively giving everybody immunity from patent infringement claims by them because they may not restrict the rights of recipients of the software they distribute under the GPL, through patents or any other means.
  • ...as somehow a clever trap that Novell has come up with. It isn't. Novell are stupid and incompetent. Just face it.

    They have been slapped around, mainly by Microsoft eating their Netware share away, in recent years and they're making zero headway against Red Hat, and Hovsepian and the executives in charge have no idea whatsoever how to arrest the slide. Many customers have given them mixed messages that the problem is that Novell's software doesn't interoperate with Microsoft's - which of course is inte
    • "Novell are Desperate"...

      Ya think?

      Considering that if you remove distro related "religion" from the mix, Suse is a very weak distro.
  • I wouldn't mind getting "punished" by receiving a whole shit-ton of money for intellectual property that's not even mine. That's my kind of punishment.
  • by HalAtWork (926717) on Friday December 15, 2006 @08:06PM (#17263440)
    Please bear with me as I refer to the open source community by using generalizations, and also as I tack on my thoughts on MS. But hey, it's only what I think.

    It's not payback for SCO, it's divide and conquer. In one move, MS has eliminated Novell as a competitor. Novell has confused and/or pissed off a lot of the open source community by entering into this agreement behind closed doors; That is, without the open approval of the majority of SuSE customers, users, and supporters involved with SuSE, and yet they are claiming otherwise.

    Now everyone in the community is paranoid about code touched by Novell post-agreement. Now Novell is no longer of any use to the community as a whole (i.e. those not directly involved with SuSE but still involved with OSS) since they can no longer be trusted by a large portion, which will lead to arguments which will lead to either forks or simply no integration of Novell code and therefore a lot of work that was lost on something that doesn't benefit those who helped build up SuSE or the other OSS projects that share code with SuSE in the first place (by using GPL-compatible licenses and by not restricting them with patent law).

    This move has also caused the community to slow down by everyone putting so much attention on Novell instead of building better code, and to fight amongst each other as we decide what to do with Novell code and the SuSE platform.

    Now Novell is building its software to be compatible with Windows so that businesses can easily migrate from the Novell platform by slowly phasing out their linux boxes and replacing them with Windows ones.

    This is a move that attempts to funnel Novell customers to MS (I'm just saying now there is a much bigger chance of it happening than before, and MS may have some other moves/FUD/threats/patents/whatever up its sleeve to make this much more likely). This is also a move that attempts to cause in-fighting and to put chinks in the armor of the OSS movement/community/whatever.

    MS is trying to figure out how to battle OSS and they are getting more and more successful with every attempt -- even if they are just throwing shit up on the wall to see what sticks, they're tenacious and they're building a strategy around the results of their actions. Slowly and steadily they are figuring out how to "deal with" OSS.

    MS is easily forgiven as long as money and other flash are thrown around, but OSS has its integrity and the fruit of our sweat and blood. Let's show them which is most important.
    • Run that by me again. How does creating tools that make in easier to run Windows and MS Office applications under Linux encourage customers to move from Linux to Windows? Even if you believe Novell is lying through their teeth about the objective of the deal, I see absolutely nothing in it that facilitates migration from Netware, Linux or Unix to Windows.

      I can (just about) understand a point of view that says that noone should deal with the Great Satan on principle, regardless of whether it is in the int

      • by HalAtWork (926717)
        Like I said, I'm just saying now there is a much bigger chance of it happening than before, and MS may have some other moves/FUD/threats/patents/whatever up its sleeve to make this much more likely.

        MS will always keep its crown jewels to itself, and may hold back a lot of the glue that keeps the Linux tools being developed in "cooperation" with them to themselves, and make businesses that use the functionality introduced into Linux by this cooperation as a crutch to introduce more and more MS software.

        Any
  • by nathanh (1214) on Friday December 15, 2006 @08:26PM (#17263628) Homepage

    If we were to believe Tom then there is some sort of dark sinister plot unwinding with steely eyed CEOs plotting the downfall of their rival companies. The CEO of Novell is sitting back in his leather chair, surrounded by bikini clad girly girls and hired goons with steel brimmed bowler hats, cackling madly in glee as his plan to use SCO's hubris to destroy Microsoft has finally comes to fruition.

    That's fiction. The real world is much simpler. Novell is doing what all IT companies eventually do; realise that you can't fight Microsoft, so you might as well make sure your software interoperates. I don't give a shit what conspiracy theories are flying around Slashdot about the Novell/Microsoft deal; the ability for OpenOffice to read Word documents is farking awesome and I'll gladly pay money to Novell if necessary to get in on that. Sun did the same thing (identity software). IBM and HP and Apple as well. The money that changes hands and the lawsuits just serve to obscure the benficial outcomes for you and I; software from multiple vendors that works together. Sometimes (you might say always) the business relationship with Microsoft works to their eventual detriment (R.I.P SGI) but there's no business sense in taunting the 800lb gorilla. You give it a banana as a peace offering and hope it doesn't sit on you.

    SCO isn't a pawn of Microsoft. That's a fiction invented by Groklaw and it's the worst kind of conjecture and conspiracy imaginable. SCO's CEO convinced himself that they owned UNIX, that Linux stole from UNIX, and that SCO deserved a piece of the action. "Never ascribe to malice what can be explained by incompetence". There is no doubt that Darl is incompetent, so there's no need to paint him as a malicious figure. It was a stupid lawsuit initiated by a desperate CEO to save a pathetic, dying company. The 1000s of articles generated by The Site Whose Name Makes Even Cthulu Cringe has made an echo chamber, where conjecture is used as proof for the next piece of conjecture. It's like the fishing story where the fish keeps getting bigger with each telling.

    This is just business. There's no conspiracy. It must be a slow news day when "journalists" start inventing Tom Clancy plotlines and making stupid analogies with trapdoor spiders.

    • SCO isn't a pawn of Microsoft.

      The evidence certainly doesn't support this position. We already know that MS gave SCO a significant amount of money through various channels with absolutely no visible return (the licenses, the PIPE funding, underwriting the EV1 deal, etc.).

      It certainly seems more reasonable to assume that Microsoft is paying SCO to do exactly what SCO is doing rather than assuming that they've decided to start just giving away money for no particular reason.

      --MarkusQ

      • We already know that MS gave SCO a significant amount of money through various channels with absolutely no visible return (the licenses, the PIPE funding, underwriting the EV1 deal, etc.). It certainly seems more reasonable to assume that Microsoft is paying SCO to do exactly what SCO is doing rather than assuming that they've decided to start just giving away money for no particular reason.

        Conspiracy and conjecture. Exactly the sort of nonsense I was ridiculing. You don't know why the investment was

        • by swillden (191260) *

          Conspiracy and conjecture. Exactly the sort of nonsense I was ridiculing.

          Umm, wrong. No conjecture or conspiracy required here. Microsoft paid several million dollars to TSG for a Unix license that they don't need and aren't using. This is a matter of public record, reported in TSG's SEC filings (and press releases, and quarterly conference calls and... they were really crowing about it). Of course, it's always possible that Microsoft might start making use of their license in the future, so if you squint really hard you can convince yourself that it had nothing to do with

        • by MarkusQ (450076)

          Go back to reading Tom Clancy novels.

          I have never read a Tom Clancy novel but a quick google turns up the fact that their plots typically revolve around things like CIA spies and plots to blow things up and double agents and such, none of which are being suggested here. Instead, what is being suggested is that corporate executives might funnel money to third parties to do their dirty work, defame competitors, and bring frivolous lawsuits against groups or individuals who threaten their market dominance.

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