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Novell Software Linux

Novell Won't Lose Right To Sell Linux 216

Posted by Zonk
from the fact-straightening dept.
BinnyVA writes "You know the story about Novell losing the right to distribute Linux? Well, the Free Software Foundation has absolutely no control over Novell's distribution of Linux. A zealous Reuters reporter apparently conflated the FSF with the open source community in general, took some quotes out of context, and ended up with a sensational headline that fooled a number of people. The Novell deal is completely within the bounds of the GPL, GPLv3 isn't even done yet, and even when it is the Linux kernel is unlikely to be covered by it." Linux.com and Slashdot are both owned by OSTG.
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Novell Won't Lose Right To Sell Linux

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  • Well, duh. (Score:4, Informative)

    by EveryNickIsTaken (1054794) on Tuesday February 06, 2007 @01:30PM (#17906936)
    Anyone who read the comments section of that story would know this.
  • by LurkerXXX (667952) on Tuesday February 06, 2007 @01:44PM (#17907248)
    Anything under a BSD or GPL license, yes, they can distribute (as long as they provide source for the GPL stuff). They didn't violate the GPL, so they don't lose the license. If GPL3 is ugly, they will probably simply keep using the regular GPL version.
  • by myowntrueself (607117) on Tuesday February 06, 2007 @01:45PM (#17907268)
    try this on a debian/ubuntu system:

    apt-get remove libc6

  • by at2000 (715252) * on Tuesday February 06, 2007 @01:46PM (#17907292)
    GPLv2:

    4. You may not copy, modify, sublicense, or distribute the Program except as expressly provided under this License. Any attempt otherwise to copy, modify, sublicense or distribute the Program is void, and will automatically terminate your rights under this License. [...]

    FSF can allege Novell, on that they distribute the program not as expressly provided under the License. If this is proven in court, they automatically lose the right to distribute the program.

    7. If, as a consequence of a court judgment or allegation of patent infringement or for any other reason (not limited to patent issues), conditions are imposed on you (whether by court order, agreement or otherwise) that contradict the conditions of this License, they do not excuse you from the conditions of this License. [...]

    FSF can also ask for an order from the court to refrain them from distributing any more copies. This order will precede the rights granted by the license.
  • by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Tuesday February 06, 2007 @01:51PM (#17907382) Homepage Journal

    If GPL3 is ugly, they will probably simply keep using the regular GPL version.

    Or in other words, we will end up with a Novell-only GPL2 fork of the GNU toolchain, and everyone else will use the GPL3 version? That is quite frankly an utterly untenable position, especially since they wouldn't be able to backport GPL3 code back into their GPL2 programs, meaning that they would have to independently re-engineer every fix or upgrade, or be left in an incompatible state.

    Let's think about this from another angle for a second, though; do you really want to do business with a company in bed with Microsoft? Me neither, which is why I also won't give Sun a dime.

    Microsoft is the devil (at least in computer-land) and anyone who does business with them is tainted, to say the least, regardless of licensing issues.

  • by the_womble (580291) on Tuesday February 06, 2007 @01:52PM (#17907392) Homepage Journal
    Its true that the FSF does not have the power to move the Linux Kernel to GPL version 3.

    However, the FSF is the principal sponsor of the GNU project, and run by the same people.

    So, we can expect most GNU stuff to move to GPL 3. If GPL 3 mucks up the Novel deal, I do not see that Novel is going to find it very useful to be able to distribute the Linux kernel without all the GNU stuff.
  • by hendersj (720767) on Tuesday February 06, 2007 @01:53PM (#17907426)
    Stallman has said unequivocally that Novell has not violated GPLv2. He's said there should be something in GPLv3 to prevent this sort of thing from happening, but very clearly has said that there is no Section 7 violation.
  • Re:GPL is'da bomb (Score:3, Informative)

    by sconeu (64226) on Tuesday February 06, 2007 @02:32PM (#17908056) Homepage Journal
    Drivers are part of the kernel, which is not under GPL.

    WTF are you talking about? The kernel is GPL, specifically V2 only - as opposed to "V2 or later". Linus doesn't like GPL3, so the kernel will likely remain under V2 for some time to come.
  • by greginnj (891863) on Tuesday February 06, 2007 @02:48PM (#17908332) Homepage Journal
    Let's not forget that while Stallman can opine authoritatively on his intent when writing the GPLv2, his intent or his current interpretation thereof is not binding on a civil court. The GPLv2 exists independent of Stallman's interpretation, and anybody who holds copyright on software distributed by Novell would have standing to challenge them in court if that copyright holder feels that Novell infringed. Stallman's opinion would serve as a possible interpretation offered by the defense, nothing more.
  • by omeg (907329) on Tuesday February 06, 2007 @03:06PM (#17908650)
    You're correct. They'd have to start maintaining their own GPLv2 fork of the GNU toolchain, as they wouldn't be able to use any GPLv3 code. Any code that Novell would want in the GPLv3 versions of the software would be rejected. Afterall, it seems that Novell is exempt from patent infringement litigation, which means that there's the possibility of patented code being inserted into GPL programs if they're allowed to edit it, and that would be a serious problem. Because they've made this dodgy deal with Microsoft, I actually wouldn't be very surprised if they tried using this loophole to get Microsoft to be able to sue other major Linux vendors.
  • by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Tuesday February 06, 2007 @03:24PM (#17908964) Homepage Journal

    How dare anyone tell me what I can and cannot do with my own hardware. I am looking forward to the GPL2 / GPL3 fork so we can get that nut Richards Stallman out of our business.

    Well, I do think you have a point, but the whole point of the free software movement is that the software is Free. I don't see a problem or a disconnect here. Well, okay, I see a problem, largely that those who are in favor of DRM being used to lock down the computer so that you cannot modify it will not be able to use the code in a product which does that. Here is the "objectionable" part of the license:

    The Corresponding Source also includes any encryption or authorization keys necessary to install and/or execute modified versions from source code in the recommended or principal context of use, such that they can implement all the same functionality in the same range of circumstances.

    So the only form of DRM that the GPLv3 seeks to prohibit (by castration) is that which prevents you from modifying any GPL-licensed code on your device. Let's take a close look at what this actually means. If your box (like a Tivo) is only able to run signed code, then you must give people the means to sign that code. Otherwise, that code cannot be licensed under the GPL.

    Well, if you don't believe this, why would you use the GPL anyway? The whole point of the GPL is Software Freedom. It's not about your freedom precisely; as the developer of new software, you already have freedom because you hold the copyright. If you want to license it both under the GPL and to a company under a proprietary license, you have the right to do that provided your licenses do not conflict.

    Put another way, people who release code under the GPL want that code to be editable. That's why they use the GPL. Otherwise they could use the BSD license, or just release it into the public domain. But instead, they have chosen the GPL. For their code to wind up in a product where it cannot be modified and run is a serious perversion of their wishes. I think that Tivo was probably the biggest reason that this clause ended up in the GPLv3 draft. I think a lot of people who worked on the Linux kernel were pretty upset when their code was used in such a way that the ability to modify it, the whole reason it's GPL-licensed, was utterly nullified.

    Put simply, if you want to be able to use GPL code, you have to be willing to comply with the author's wishes. If you're the type that would follow the letter of their wishes, but not the spirit, then frankly, we don't need you in the Free Software community anyway.

  • by CoughDropAddict (40792) on Tuesday February 06, 2007 @03:41PM (#17909274) Homepage
    I don't know about anyone elses, but IMHO GPL3 is as invasive a liscense agreement as the one in Windows Vista. How dare anyone tell me what I can and cannot do with my own hardware.

    Huh? How does GPLv3 tell you what you can and cannot do with your own hardware?

    Or is your real beef that you cannot tell your customers what they can and cannot do with their own hardware after they buy it?
  • Re:GPL is'da bomb (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 06, 2007 @03:59PM (#17909582)
    Umm, no. Non-GPL kernel modules are a violation. It's just that the most egregrious offenders find various ways to skirt (having the user build the module, seperating the module into two parts, etc).
  • by theLOUDroom (556455) on Tuesday February 06, 2007 @09:08PM (#17914940)
    Stallman has said unequivocally that Novell has not violated GPLv2.

    Got a link to back that statement up?

    Stallman seems to be a pretty careful guy. I'm not sure that hearsay from a stranger on the internet is enough to convince me he did say exactly this.

    There seems to be an obvious case to be made that this agreement violated the spirt of the GPL, and a pretty good case to be made that this agreement violated the letter of the GPL v2 as well.

    The relevant text would be:
    "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."

    If you buy a CD from Novell and then burn me a copy, I've just indirectly reveived a copy from Novell, but I have NOT been transferred all the patent licenses that you have.

    It's also worth noting that RMS can issue whatever statement he wants, but if someone else doesn't like Novell distributing their GPLv2 software in this manner, Novell could still be on the receiving end of a lawsuit.
  • by hendersj (720767) on Wednesday February 07, 2007 @04:28AM (#17917978)

    Stallman has said unequivocally that Novell has not violated GPLv2.

    Got a link to back that statement up?
    Yes. Link [fsfeurope.org].

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