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Novell May be Banned from Distributing Linux 553

Posted by Zonk
from the when-penguins-get-to-meddling dept.
Hymer writes "Reuters is reporting that Novell may be banned from selling Linux. In the wake of the (much maligned) Novell/Microsoft deal, the Free Software Foundation is reviewing Novell's right to sell the operating system at all. The foundation controls the rights to key parts of the operating system, and council for the organization said that 'the community wants to interfere any way it can' with the Novell business arrangement. No decision has yet been reached, but one should be made in the next two weeks." Is this a measured response, or an over-reaction to the Novell/Microsoft arrangement?
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Novell May be Banned from Distributing Linux

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  • Dumb Move (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 03, 2007 @06:25AM (#17871830)
    That would be dumb, it would hand Microsoft a victory, even discussing this casts doubt over distributors of Linux. Is the story even real or is it MS FUD?
  • by babbling (952366) on Saturday February 03, 2007 @06:29AM (#17871854)
    If the FSF has the power to do this, I wouldn't necessarily oppose them doing it, but do they have the power to do this with GPLv2? I'm aware that GPLv3 wouldn't allow Novell to enter into a patent swap deal with Microsoft.

    Considering that the software is still all under the GPLv2 and not GPLv3, on what grounds could the FSF revoke Novell's right to distribute copyrighted FSF software?
  • by morleron (574428) * <(morleron) (at) (yahoo.com)> on Saturday February 03, 2007 @06:53AM (#17871962) Journal
    Bear in mind that IANAL, but I suspect that the FSF could make life very difficult for Novell if they change the license for all of the many utilities and applications that they control from GPLv2 to GPLv3. Novell would have a lot of work to do if they were suddenly put in a position in which they could no longer distribute the gcc package, GIMP, GNOME, etc. with SuSE or any other Novell-branded Linux distro. There are a lot of small pieces of the overall that use FSF-developed code and are essential to running a Linux system. We could find out how much truth there is to RMS' statement that the overall system should be called GNU/Linux if the FSF goes ahead with this move.

    Personally, I would support the FSF if they decide to do this. The Novell/ MS deal is nothing, but a way to provide Novell with a marketing tool, the ability to say "use our Linux distro and be safe from MS patent claims", at the expense of the overall community. Novell is essentially saying that it's OK for MS to sue everyone, except Novell customers, for so-called IP infringements. It is a move by Novell to establish themselves as the Linux monopoly by making their product "safe" from MS lawyers. Novell is hoping that the business community will make wholesale migrations to their products in order to avoid the threat of MS litigation and is a, somewhat silent, partner in MS' efforts to spread FUD about the "use of MS proprietary technology in Linux". Make no mistake about it Novell is evil: to my mind it is more evil than MS in that it portrays itself as a friend of the Linux/FOSS community, while doing whatever it can to undermine the philosphical and legal basis for that community. MS at least makes no claim that Linux is OK - they just flat-out hate us and do everything that they can to prevent the spread of freedom within the community of computer users.
  • Re:Stupid move... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by morleron (574428) * <(morleron) (at) (yahoo.com)> on Saturday February 03, 2007 @07:04AM (#17872014) Journal
    Actually, that's not true. Proprietary software is much more dangerous to businesses for a number of reasons, including tying one's business to the fortunes of another company, not having the ability to use the software as one wants, etc. The move being contemplated is one that would be beneficial to the community as a whole in that it would throw a giant monkey-wrench into Novell's attempt to portray itself as a "safe" (in the sense that MS couldn't sue the end-users) Linux distro. The Novell/MS is evil and needs to be countered by legal moves such as this. Stop spreading FUD about the FOSS community, the real problem here is people who think like you.

    Just my $.02,
    Ron
  • by NotZed (19455) on Saturday February 03, 2007 @07:06AM (#17872024)
    If you read the article closely, they are talking about GPL3. The article is poorly written.

    i.e. they're saying that they'll change the license of code they own to be GPL3 once it has been finalised, and they may revoke Novell's right to distribute said code, since they will be in breach of this new license. That is why it will only affect 'future versions of linux'. By which the author probably actually meant 'GNU', not the Linux kernel - e.g. gcc for instance.

    Which would force Novell to fork and continue to use old versions if they wanted to stay in the linux business (without altering the ms deal). But they don't have the resources for that, and there's little reason for any other company to join their fork.

    But there's nothing 'underhanded' going on, it is only possibly because of the imminent completion of the GPL3.
  • Re:I'm confused (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MMC Monster (602931) on Saturday February 03, 2007 @07:27AM (#17872156)
    Fine. Novell can violate any microsoft IP with impunity.

    My question is: Can they release that code under the GPL, knowing that it cannot be freely distributed?
  • by MooUK (905450) on Saturday February 03, 2007 @07:34AM (#17872192)
    As said in an earlier post, Novell's continuing distribution of GPLd software may be against the GPLv2. They have patent indemnification licenses with MS. This suggests they believe that without those licenses they would be violating patents. Distributing GPL software that your customers cannot then distribute in turn without violating patents is expressly forbidden by the GPL, and if you violate one section of the GPL you have no right to distribute GPLd software at all. Hence they are violating the GPL and the copyright on the GPLd code.
  • Re:I'm confused (Score:3, Interesting)

    by GoofyBoy (44399) on Saturday February 03, 2007 @07:48AM (#17872292) Journal
    Isn't this covered before?

    1. If patented code is in there, its being placed there knowingly/mistakenly by Novell, the project can deny it knew it was patented and further, can take steps to remove the offending code.
    2. Is this any different from an employee (ex or current) adding patented code into a GPL project? There is no ban/special treatment of employees of companies with software patents.
    3. Code still has to be accepted into a project. Why not let the individual project leaders decide if they trust Novell or not?
  • by QuickFox (311231) on Saturday February 03, 2007 @07:49AM (#17872294)
    The FSF is shooting itself in the foot big time. They're handing Microsoft a huge victory on a platter.

    Consider how this ban will affect those customers of Novell who use Linux. And consider the kind of reputation that this will give the open-source community.

    One reason companies pay for expensive proprietary software is that the companies that write proprietary software are considered reliable. They won't suddenly throw a tantrum and refuse to deliver.

    If the open-source community is seen as throwing a tantrum and refusing to deliver, then good-bye credibility. Companies just won't dare use open-source software.
  • Re:For the best (Score:3, Interesting)

    by heroofhyr (777687) on Saturday February 03, 2007 @07:58AM (#17872346)
    To me it always stank of some sort of submarine plan to get rid of Novell using their own greed as a blindfold. Sure, you can compete directly against them, attack them in marketing, etc., but that just raises their street cred in the eyes of others in the Linux community. Flashing millions of dollars in front of the CEOs eyes until they are incapable of making any decisions with foresight is a much easier way. The company loses its respect in the community, become isolated by their cooperation with "the enemy," their source contributions are tainted with patent concerns, etc. Meanwhile they have no expectation of that because they're busy dreaming up what to do with their windfall. I'm not one of those annoying people who calls Microsoft the Hitler of computing, they're just a corporation like any other. But this story does sort of remind me of one of those old stories about Satan making a deal that seemed too good to be true, and indeed it turns out to be and the guy gets fucked over in the end despite his newfound fortune. This only goes to show, if someone offers you a dumptruck full of cash and doesn't seem to want anything of equal value in return -- Run. Run like the wind.
  • Re:Poor Article (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Tony Hoyle (11698) <tmh@nodomain.org> on Saturday February 03, 2007 @08:03AM (#17872386) Homepage
    In the absence of any specific statement from those authors they implicitly accepted the license in effect at the time - the one on the whole package which is v2 only. Saying anything different without having a *good* lawyer on retainer is not wise.

    They can't legally change that without contacting every contributing author and getting permission to change to v3... and I can bet that more than a few would refuse (not least Linus). I'm sure my meagre contributions don't exist any more (long time ago) but I personally would refuse if asked.

    Anyway 'bits' or even 'most' of the kernel is still pretty much nonfunctional - you'd have to fork it to rewrite the v2 bits (all the bits that linus wrote, which is a substantial amount of the core..)

  • by MooUK (905450) on Saturday February 03, 2007 @08:14AM (#17872452)
    It was said quite nicely in an earlier post in this thread, but I'll try to summarise here:

    Novell seems to believe that only its patent agreement with MS protects its customers. *If* this is the case, then Novell's customers cannot exercise their rights to redistribute or modify software under the GPL without violating patents. The GPL (yes, even V2) forbids Novell from distributing GPLd software if this is the case.

    The FSF is (probably) working out whether this applies in this case.
  • Re:I'm confused (Score:5, Interesting)

    by stinerman (812158) <nathan...stine@@@gmail...com> on Saturday February 03, 2007 @08:15AM (#17872462) Homepage
    I believe not. Section 7 of the GPL states:

    If you cannot distribute so as to satisfy simultaneously your obligations under this License and any other pertinent obligations, then as a consequence you may not distribute the Program at all. For example, if a patent license would not permit royalty-free redistribution of the Program by all those who receive copies directly or indirectly through you, then the only way you could satisfy both it and this License would be to refrain entirely from distribution of the Program.

    Novell would seem to have a patent license for any of MSFTs patents. Unless Novell can guarantee anyone who uses their GPL'd code would have the same indemnification, they wouldn't be allowed to distribute the code. Of course, Novell can't guarantee this. In fact, the whole point of the deal with MSFT is so that they are the only ones with such a guarantee.

    To get academic, if Novell wrote the code from scratch, they could license the code under the GPL, but I'm not sure how that would work. The GPL can't diminish rights held by the owner of the copyright. One could argue that placing code under the GPL would be a blanket patent license, but that doesn't seem likely to hold up. You'd have to talk to a copyright and/or contract lawyer about that.
  • Re:I'm confused (Score:4, Interesting)

    by TeXMaster (593524) on Saturday February 03, 2007 @08:16AM (#17872464)

    Fine. Novell can violate any microsoft IP with impunity.

    My question is: Can they release that code under the GPL, knowing that it cannot be freely distributed?

    This is the crux of the issue: if Novell develops code to extend any existing GPL program to be more compatible with MS software, they have to distribute it under the GPL. By doing this, they are granting everybody else the right to read, modify, redistribute their contributed code. If said Novell-contributed code makes use of MS protected intellectual property which Novell has the newly-acquired right to use, by redistributing it under the GPL Novell will be granting everybody the right to use such protected intellectual property —a right they do not have.

    This actually means that Novell cannot legally distribute programs that they changed by adding MS protected intellectual property, if and when they will do such changes. The GPLv3 has nothing to do with it: Novell would be in breach of contract even for GPLv2 programs.

    Indeed if Novell does make MS-IP-protected changes to GPL programs and if they do distribute such modified programs (which they must do under the GPL, if they do it at all), it's up to Microsoft to go after them, because Novell would be granting other people rights (the right to use MS protected IP) they (Novell) don't have the right to grant. That's because the Novell-MS deal only protects Novell customers, but the Novell-released GPL products would also be accessible to non-Novell customers, so by distributing such modified programs Novell would be breaking its side of the deal with Microsoft, and not just their contract (licence) with the copyright owners of the GPL programs they would have modified. The FSF (or any other GPL-program-copyright-holder) cannot prevent Novell from distributing their programs currently, but they can sue Novell for breach of contract if and when Novell starts distributing versions of GPL-protected programs modified to include MS-IP-protected changes.

    IOW, Novell has wedged itself in a situation where they can't really exploit the potential benefits of their deal with Microsoft without getting sued by Microsoft, the FSF, or both.

    Finally, a question for the lawyers, if there are any here: if Novell does distribute such conflicting changes and if MS chooses not to sue Novell over this, can they (MS) go after anybody else? Don't they lose the rights they choose not to defend?

  • by ardor (673957) on Saturday February 03, 2007 @08:38AM (#17872644)
    What we see is a problem I noticed a while ago. There are TWO main groups in the Linux community: the pragmatists and the idealists.

    The pragmatists want a Windows alternative. They want Linux to be this alternative. License issues are secondary. This group well accepts closed-source software and -drivers. Their primary goal is to push Desktop Linux so that MS is no longer the hyperpowerful monopoly.

    The idealists want everything to be free. They couldn't care less about Linux being popular, they want a 100% free system, even if it means that only 5 people in the world use it.

    The FSF belongs to the latter group. However, one argument the pragmatists definitely have is by not pushing Linux the idealists ultimately give MS carte blanche to redesign the IT sector to their liking. This can't happen if there is a real competitor. In the end, Linux may not run at all on *any* PC because of this.

    This is why I wonder why BSD wasn't pushed. It does not have any license worries, and could work just as well on a desktop.
  • So much for "open" (Score:3, Interesting)

    by argStyopa (232550) on Saturday February 03, 2007 @09:00AM (#17872782) Journal
    So if I understand, the "open" part of open source means "free to anyone...except you. Because, well, we don't like that jerk you hang around with."

    (?)
  • by muellerr1 (868578) on Saturday February 03, 2007 @09:26AM (#17872942) Homepage
    One reason companies pay for expensive proprietary software is that the companies that write proprietary software are considered reliable. They won't suddenly throw a tantrum and refuse to deliver.

    Just because a company charges for their software doesn't prevent them from adding terms to their EULA that allow them to do just this. I recently had a large well-respected graphics software company (I won't name names, but it starts with 'a' and ends with 'dobe') functionally revoke my licenses because I had bought an individual upgrade for one application in a bundle that I had previously purchased (starts with 'C' and ends with 'S'). They told me that it was 'not a suitable upgrade path' and that I had to upgrade the entire bundle instead. The only place this was detailed was in the EULA of the original bundle, of which I had upgraded the other programs individually already (despite what they said, two of the three applications upgraded individually just fine). I could return the upgrade I had just bought, but if I wanted to upgrade that application I had to either purchase a new license for that application, or upgrade the entire bundle. They had, in effect, thrown a tantrum and refused to deliver.

    I cannot do my job without their proprietary software (and don't tell me to use Gimp, Inkscape and Scribus instead--I've tried, and they are not viable alternatives for professional graphic design). I'm not necessarily disagreeing with the rest of your post, but being expensive and proprietary does not mean that they won't find ways to screw you over anyway.
  • Re:Stupid move... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by morleron (574428) * <(morleron) (at) (yahoo.com)> on Saturday February 03, 2007 @09:26AM (#17872946) Journal
    You seem to have missed my point. I didn't say that no one uses proprietary software, or that it shouldn't exist. I was simply pointing out that problems exist with the use of proprietary software that are at least as bad as anything that attaches to FOSS, with the additional disadvantage of exposing one's business to vendor lock-in which limits one's freedom of action. CEO's who continue to support the use of MS software have either deliberately ignored the threat such software poses to their business or are trapped, via vendor lock-in, into continuing to use it. I find it unfortunate that people continue to use closed-source software, but support their right to do stupid things if they want.

    Just my $.02,
    Ron
  • by reallocate (142797) on Saturday February 03, 2007 @09:39AM (#17873032)
    Credible or not, stories like this represent one big reason why many organizations don't want to invest in Linux or a lot of other open source products. Who wants to risk going with a vendor who's at risk of being tied up by a bunch of lawyers they've never heard of?

    Nor does the fact that when open source hits the non-techie media, the story is usually about geeks and lawyers fighting about byzantine licensing issues that only they care about. If open source delivers better technology, why isn't open source making sure people read about it? (To that, I'm sure, some will blame the Great Evil Mainstream Media Conspiracy. Nonsense, Play the media game as others play it, and the coverage wil be there. If you think that means abandoning your principles, sorry. Convincing all the other players to change the rules is the wrong way to win the game.)
  • Re:Spreading FUD (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 03, 2007 @09:41AM (#17873054)
    Wow, it's a very dangerous FUD article... Reuters is trying to make the FSF looks worse than it is (I am one of the people thinking the GPL-2 is far enough, and the license should stay as simple as possible, and I think the GPL-3 is really bad, and will hinder -and certainly, has already- the adoption of Linux, by new companies), and make other companies think their Linux business could be destroyed, if they did anything to "anger the Linux people"...

    There is a very clear manipulation of what has been really said, and this is very bad indeed...

    This is not just "hype" or "unnecessary waves"... the FSF should react far more strongly. Do you have a right to force Reuters to publish a reply by the FSF, in the US? An article on linux-watch.com surely won't be read by the same people reading Reuters, and the FSF must make things clear to the people who don't read linux-watch.com, because making ennemies of these people won't lead to any benefit for Linux, and, more importantly, will hinder Linux adoption by new companies, including companies involved in hardware, and drivers for hardware...
  • by rick_campbell (62730) on Saturday February 03, 2007 @11:25AM (#17873764) Homepage
    An Anonymous Coward wrote: ``All we ask is that you share with others as well.''

    This is patently false.

    The GPL is about restricting what you can do with software.

    Public Domain is about not restricting what you can do with software.

    A more accurate version of the Anonymous Coward's suggestion would be "All we ask is that you drink the Kool-Aid." :-) GPL says: We like Freedom, and we wish we could force you to like exactly our brand of freedom. Sounds a bit like US foreign policy :-)

    Public Domain is not the only way, but perhaps the oldest way among those typically discussed, to truly encourage Free (liberty) Software. BSD licenses and the LGPL are other ways that encourage freedom. GPL encourages restriction, but they are restrictions that lots of people (not me) happen to like. These people are not altruistically giving away the fruits of their labors to benefit humanity. Instead they want to give away the fruits of their labors to people who think like they do while making sure that no part of humanity benefits in a way that they don't approve of, like making money. Of course, this is totally fine for them, up to the point where they try to pretend with absurd statements like ``All we ask is that you share with others as well.''

    At it's most basic, the GPL is about restricting what you are allowed to do with the software. GPL is why I can't use GDBM at work. LGPL would allow it, but GPL restricts my freedom beyond the point where I can use it without having to give away my company's software as well. This is where ``GPL is a virus'' comes from.

    If you care about freedom, you should fight the GPL. Place your Free (liberty) Software in the Public Domain.

    If you want something to be free, then don't add restrictions. Period.
  • Your Confused (Score:3, Interesting)

    by budgenator (254554) on Saturday February 03, 2007 @11:25AM (#17873774) Journal
    Woah, slow that thing down, here's the problem, If Novel can't sell Linux, it's because patent impairments exist, not because they ADMIT the impairment exist. So if Novel can't distribute, then NOBODY can distribute. Brighter minds than mine would have to figure out all the implications of distribution in countries that don't observe software patent vs. those that do.
  • by Famatra (669740) on Saturday February 03, 2007 @11:39AM (#17873890) Journal
    "Ahhh, another AC spreading FUD..."

    I don't see any FUD anywhere, at least not the D[oubt]. The FSF foundation is: "reviewing Novell Inc.'s right to sell new versions of Linux operating system software".

    The FSF is doing a review of the matter to see if they can stop Novell (stop why? read below). Perhaps they can find a legal reason to stop Novell and perhaps they won't, but that the review is taking place isn't in [FU]Doubt.

    What also isn't in doubt is that people (esp. the FSF, enough to do a review) are not impressed with Novell making back room deals with Microsoft in an apparent effort to circumvent the GNU GPL in playing patent agreement games.

    The uncertainty is not really an issue, the FSF is making it clear that the will either restrict Novell now in using the FSF's software (if the review is successful), or they will be restricted (from using the latest FSF versions) later when the GNU GPLv3 comes out and the FSF moves all of its software over th the license which will prevent patent games.

    As for Fear, I'd be afraid too if I was Novell going down the path it's on. They can remove any fear if they choose to back out of their Microsoft deal - the choice is theirs. What isn't their choice is to make use others' works without, at the very least, deference to the license it's under.
  • Re:I'm confused (Score:4, Interesting)

    by jbolden (176878) on Saturday February 03, 2007 @11:41AM (#17873916) Homepage
    6. Courts: "Nope, it hasn't been sublicensed to you"

    But in doing that the courts would be affirmatively establishing a contract violation. That is the Novell claimed to be distributing all patent rights they had when the distributed the software under the GPL. The non customer could then argue that they acted in good faith. I think the non customer has a pretty strong claim that any monies owed microsoft are owed by Novell.

    Further you might get

    6a. licensing code containing your patented material to be distributed in a GPL product constitutes a waver of patent and thus there is no more enforceable patent with respect to this code. A very reasonable outcome btw.
  • Re:Your Confused (Score:3, Interesting)

    by juergen (313397) on Saturday February 03, 2007 @11:58AM (#17874046)
    But other companies don't come with DIRTY HANDS to the table. They never acknowledged Microsoft's claims. Novell on the other hand, at least implicitly, does. That's what their deal with MS is all about. Novell can't have it both ways.

    Apart from legal nitpickings, imagine a reversed situation. We find a way to distribute Vista for free by a loophole in their EULA. Now do you really expect MS to not try to remedy this?

    Therefore, the OSS community has every right to protect the spirit of the GPL vigiously. If that means to retaliate with FUD and legal means, that's just the weapons first chosen by the other side, and Novell is their pawn caught in the middle. Chances are they will go the way of all former MS partners (replaced next OS iteration), but they made their own bed in this. Bye Novell, you have provided some good products in the past.
  • Re:I'm confused (Score:3, Interesting)

    by quanticle (843097) on Saturday February 03, 2007 @12:07PM (#17874120) Homepage

    But in doing that the courts would be affirmatively establishing a contract violation. That is the Novell claimed to be distributing all patent rights they had when the distributed the software under the GPL.

    Not necessarily. If you read what the grandparent said about the XVid codecs, you'd see that the Novell agreement is similar. Novell can acknowledge that they don't have the full rights, but as long as they're distributing the rights the do have, they can stay in compliance regarding the GPL.

    As for any monies owed by a non-customer also being owed by Novell, Microsoft can selectively choose to apply their patent agreement. The fact that Microsoft has agreed not to enforce against Novell says nothing about Microsoft choosing or not choosing to enforce against you. As the grandparent states, trademark is the only thing that has to be actively defended. Selective enforcement of copyright and patent is OK.

  • by Anders Andersson (863) on Saturday February 03, 2007 @12:18PM (#17874194) Homepage

    It's bad because the GPL says (section 7):
    If you cannot distribute so as to satisfy simultaneously your obligations under this License and any other pertinent obligations, then as a consequence you may not distribute the Program at all. For example, if a patent license would not permit royalty-free redistribution of the Program by all those who receive copies directly or indirectly through you, then the only way you could satisfy both it and this License would be to refrain entirely from distribution of the Program.

    Since the patent license mentioned above is only given as an example of a GPL violation, I wonder why GPLv2 isn't considered sufficient to block the Novell-Microsoft deal, while GPLv3 will be. The essence of section 7 should be inferred from its first sentence: Can Novell distribute so as to satisfy simultaneously their obligations under the GPL and the deal with Microsoft? As I understand the GPL without having the actual text in front of me, Novell must not only give their own customers the freedom to copy, but they must extend this freedom also to their customers' customers, and in fact to anyone who happens to directly or indirectly obtain copies or modified versions of the software in question. This is implemented in the GPL as a requirement to redistribute under the GPL only, with no restrictions added or removed.

    The deal with Microsoft removes a supposed restriction that is not part of the GPL, and there are doubts whether this restriction is even legally valid (i.e. whether there are any patents being violated). However, if this restriction is legally valid, then it has in fact first been added by someone, and the deal doesn't completely remove the restriction since the removal only applies to Novell's customers, but not to other recipients of the same code, nor even to Novell itself (if I have understood it correctly). Adding a restriction and then not removing it completely is the same as adding a restriction, and that is a GPL violation, regardless of when it was added or by whom. So, either Novell has added a restriction (by acknowledging the potential validity of Microsoft's patent claims), or Novell has received software which wasn't distributed in accordance with the GPL in the first place, even if the distributor said it was.

    ... and that allthough Novell hasn't itself (officially) payed any patent license to Microsoft, they have implicitly acknowledged that the users of the software they sell need a promise from Microsoft not to sue.

    Novell has "paid" for the patent license offered by Microsoft (to Novell's customers) already by entering the deal, regardless of the direction in which money has flowed. It doesn't matter that Microsoft ended up paying millions to Novell; Microsoft received something in return from Novell for their money and their covenant-not-to-sue, and that something was (in part) another covenant-not-to-sue. Maybe Novell's supposed patents were supposedly worth that much more than Microsoft's supposed patents? It's not very implicit really; the deal explicitely involves unspecified legal claims by Microsoft to rights in software sold by Novell, even as Microsoft has had no part in the creation of said software.

    If Novell had merely issued a press release saying "yea, Microsoft may have rights to that software we sell, but we don't dispute that, as we don't care", things wouldn't have been half as bad. But Novell actually made a financial deal with Microsoft involving the transfer of money for effectively making that statement. How much more explicit can you get?

    I hereby grant you an exclusive, non-transferrable right to free speech, in return for you granting me the same. Here, have some pocket money as well. Now, let's conquer the world together and sell free speech to anyone who can pay for it! $-)

  • Re:Your Confused (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Sleuth (19262) * on Saturday February 03, 2007 @02:44PM (#17875444) Homepage
    Agreed. And all this commentary about 'Novell's implicit acknowledgement' of some rights of Microsoft sounds like FUD to me. The contract doesn't have any implicit acknowledgements except to those who choose to see them. It's possible that Novell just thought 'Hmm, we can reduce our chance of being sued by MS by making an agreement.' Such an agtreement doesn't give MS any rights other than those specified in the contract. All these implicit conjectures are rather entertaining.

    Someday we'll see the contract. That'll be an interesting day.
  • by pyite69 (463042) on Saturday February 03, 2007 @02:48PM (#17875494)
    I am as anti-Microsoft as anyone, but this seems like a ridiculous concept.

    The whole point of Free Software is freedom - enforced by the GPL. Why would Novell not be able to distribute Linux software? Perhaps there may be trademark issues, but restricting someone from doing what they want with GPL software would make Stallman quite the hypocrite.
  • by noddyxoi (1001532) on Saturday February 03, 2007 @03:03PM (#17875596)
    http://www.novell.com/company/blogs/cmo/ [novell.com] You don't have to be a carpenter to know that it's a lot harder to fix a mistake once the cut has been made. Hence true craftsman know all to well that proper due dilgence up front can save a lot of heartache down the road. And so it is with reacting - or over reacting - to every story, rumor, or misrepresentation about the direction of GPL3 - the work in process update to the GNU General Public License version 2 that governs the use and distribution of some open source software. As GPLv3 is a work in process, we don't speculate on its outcome. Others do, however, including a Reuters report yesterday that intimated dire consequences for Novell - citing Eben Moglen, the Free Softwware Foundation's general counsel as the source of this conclusion. Within hours, Mr. Moglen himself, in an email interview with Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols of Linux-Watch, clarified his position and the Reuter's story stating, "The actual quote he prints is entirely accurate, but his lede destroys the context and is making unnecessary waves." In fact Mr. Vaughan-Nichols has a number of balanced views and articles on this topic that provide a fuller context for many of us to "measure twice and cut once" on this issue. On his site you'll also find an interesting guest post by Bill Weinberg, a long time evangalist on open source licensing to business users, that's worth a read. On this issue as with so many others, it's a good idea to take out your tape measure and use a pencil. John Posted in Uncategorized | No Comments
  • Re:WRONG! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mysticgoat (582871) on Saturday February 03, 2007 @03:10PM (#17875660) Homepage Journal

    Quite Honestly it makes little difference what these customers [of Novell] develop in the first place because their are not redistributing this software.

    You are making a major assumption that no customer of Novell's would ever develop and distribute a derivative of Suse-- and that is absurd.

    One of our projects in early incubation is developing a distro on a flash drive or low cost portable computer that would provide adult students in back-to-work programs with an affordable interactive curriculum. If we can get this funded and developed, we will want to distribute it under GLOSS [see below] licensing both directly to students and to similar back-to-work programs nationwide. This is not a liberal-based feel-good thing; it is a serious effort to take as many people off of public assistance as possible by turning them into taxpayers with living wage jobs as health care technicians, administrative assistants, and so on.

    Novell's actions have poisoned Suse for this work. Any modified distro of Suse we come up with would be at greater risk of patent attack from Microsoft than would be the case for RedHat, Debian, Ubuntu, or any other distro. This would be true even if the modifications were simply stripping out device drivers and functionalities that our students would not need, because there would be no way for us to determine whether Novell had introduced any patent-tainted code into some component that we were retaining.

    Novell has poisoned Suse for this kind of specialized distro development work. Who would willingly step into the FUD and confusion they have swirled around themselves when there are numerous alternatives to Suse that are not so encumbered? For that matter, who would willingly pay support fees to a company that has so publicly hoisted themselves with their own petard? Novell is just too damn clever for its own good.

    Note: GLOSS— Gratis/Libre OSS

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