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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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  • by Salvance (1014001) * on Tuesday February 06, 2007 @01:32PM (#17906972) Homepage Journal
    Isn't the whole point of open-source software free distribution, repackaging, use, modification, etc.? Unless there are non-OSS components that Novell is distrubting, I don't see how the FSF or anyone else would ever have any control over their "distribution rights", unless Novell tried to close the source and violate the license agreements.
  • Not Linux, no... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by morgan_greywolf (835522) on Tuesday February 06, 2007 @01:38PM (#17907112) Homepage Journal
    Linux, as in referring to the Linux kernel? Not likely, of course, for reasons TFA states.

    But to new versions of the GNU toolchain (gcc, gdb, gas, automake etc.)? To new versions of binutils? To new versions of coreutils? Maybe, yes, if GPLV3 looks anything like the current drafts.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 06, 2007 @01:40PM (#17907156)
    is to make sure people cannot distribute FOSS in an 'encumbered' manner.

    In other words, if you distribute GPL v3 code, you wouldn't be able to attach conditions, like patent licenses for instance. Free means free and any attempt to circumvent this goes counter to the spirit of the GPL.
  • by at2000 (715252) * on Tuesday February 06, 2007 @01:51PM (#17907386)
    For sure we are talking about new version of the said programs/libraries.

    The parent article said:

    If the foundation decides to take action, the ban would apply to new versions of Linux covered under a licensing agreement due to take effect in March.

    Replace "Linux" with any program in the list, and this is what they can do.

    If everyone else is using the GPL3 version, sooner or later what distributed by Novell will be obsolete.

  • Not That Simple (Score:4, Insightful)

    by John Hasler (414242) on Tuesday February 06, 2007 @01:55PM (#17907466) Homepage
    > Well, the Free Software Foundation has absolutely no control over Novell's
    > distribution of Linux.

    The FSF owns significant copyrights in the Linux kernel as well as in many utilities and applications.

    > The Novell deal is completely within the bounds of the GPL...

    While I agree that this is probably true, it is a legal opinion. I am not a lawyer. Are you?

    > GPLv3 isn't even done yet, and even when it is the Linux kernel is unlikely
    > to be covered by it.

    True, but irrelevant.

    I agree that the Reuters reporter is an ignorant doofus, but this is no reason to follow him off the deep end.
  • by FishWithAHammer (957772) on Tuesday February 06, 2007 @01:58PM (#17907494)
    Except for all the GPL2 software that's already out there.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 06, 2007 @01:59PM (#17907516)
    All the GNU utilities look likely to be relicensed under the GPL v3, which could make it very difficult for Novell to construct an operating system from only GPL v2 components. They may have to fork and maintain gcc, binutils, coreutils etc. This could become very expensive for Novell if no one else decided to follow suit. While what they are doing is technically not a violation of the license, it is certainly against the spirit and original intention of it, and will only be detrimental to their own success as a Linux packager, distributor, and provider of support contracts (which are actually very good in my experience). Maybe GPL 3 will not stop distribution of a product that consists of both GPL 2 and 3 components, and Novell's dubious 'agreement' with Microsoft can remain for the GPL2 components. Personally, I hope that the GPL v3 does forbid distribution with any product that is subject to dubious 'agreements' of this type, as it is the only way that we can assure long term that greedy commercial interests will not hijack the hard work of others. I don't want my software plagued by vehicles of commercial profit, and unnecessary restrictions. If you can accept anti-user technologies like DRM, there are commercial alternatives, and you can have to choice to go and use them. Open Source should guarantee our freedom not to have to endure restrictions imposed any greedy criminal mafioso.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 06, 2007 @02:21PM (#17907872)

    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?


    Ummm, no.

    We will end up with a Debian-only GPL3 fork of the GNU toolchain, and everyone else will use the GPL2 version.

    RMS has a gun pointed at the head of open source. Will he pull the trigger?
  • Re:GPL is'da bomb (Score:4, Insightful)

    by EsbenMoseHansen (731150) on Tuesday February 06, 2007 @02:39PM (#17908156) Homepage

    but GPL is a "bomb". Not a "time bomb" (for the explosion is not certain), but a remotely activated one whether or not you trust the people, who hold the activator, you'd be comfortable without the bomb entirely.

    The problem with the above is that it is untrue. Nothing anyone does can prevent me from using & distributing any OSS software, as long as I don't distribute binaries without the source, suitably licensed. So please, tell us what this bomb is? At worst, the software could be abandoned or closed, which is always the risk with any software --- no matter the license. At least, with OSS, you have the source.

  • Re:Gnu tools (Score:2, Insightful)

    by clacke (214199) on Tuesday February 06, 2007 @03:21PM (#17908920)
    This is exactly the fight they want to start. And the draft process is open exactly because they don't want people to jump ship once they switch. I highly doubt that any Debian developers will do that, and I don't think that any of the commercial entities will fork it for Novell's sake.

    Maybe the number of FSF developers is small, but managing your own fork would still force you to remove resources from maintenance and development on other projects, so unless you have a strong motivation to cut of your upstream, you won't. The community will take what GNU gives them.
  • by F452 (97091) * on Tuesday February 06, 2007 @03:35PM (#17909168) Homepage

    And while it sounds like you understand better, this:

    Not if they don't remove that silly DRM clause. The very fact that Stallman et al are willing to use the GPLv3 as a bully pulpit for their political views (with which I happen to agree vis-a-vis DRM, BTW) compromises some of the legitimacy of the license and will make it look to many people like some kind of stand in favor of piracy.

    suggests you're missing something. Stallman and the FSF are pressing forward with the same vision and agenda as they always have. Now that free software has achieved some mainstream acceptance -- despite being quite radical already -- you seem to be afraid of pushing the original goals of the project for fear of what short-sighted corporations might think. I'd rather see the goal of freedom be preserved, as I think you do also. Let's not worry about popularity contests. Stick with principal, and let the chips fall where they will. The original license was all about politics, as are all our decisions about how to conduct a free (or closed, or somewhere in between) society.

  • by cparker15 (779546) on Tuesday February 06, 2007 @03:53PM (#17909506) Homepage Journal
    Well, now that would be a great way for OSS to shoot itself in the foot. "Here, we'll give you some ideological crusade disguised as a license, and we can revoke it at any time for as little as making a deal with a corporation we don't like, or having more patents than we like, or also distributing some closed source programs we don't like, or simply because we've had a bad day and don't like you any more." Dunno about Novell, but I'm willing to bet that a lot of companies would drop Linux like a hot potato. Heck, I would, and I'm writing this in Linux.

    No, you wrote your tirade in a Web browser, which displays with the aid of a graphics toolkit, which runs on top of your window manager, which runs on top of X, which runs on top of the kernel called "Linux". You can't write things "in Linux". People need to understand the distinction between a kernel and some programs run on top of an operating system, which runs on top of a kernel.

    This "idealogical crusade", as you put it, is what gave developers the freedoms necessary for creating Linux and all of the other free components of your operating system.

    There's also a fundamental difference between free/proprietary and open source/closed source. They may look similar on the outside, but in actuality, they are very different. Generally, a person who uses free software shuns proprietary software because they understand the dangers that come coupled with it. Conversely, a person who uses open source software typically doesn't have a problem with using closed source software and often uses both in parallel without making an effort to replace the closed source software with an open source software alternative.

    Free is a matter of principals and ethics. Open source is a matter of convenience and cost.

    If you want to abandon the freedoms that free software affords you and lock yourself into a proprietary system where its creators have complete control over what you can and cannot do with your computer, by all means, go right on ahead. But don't come crying back to the community when Microsoft or Apple have implemented a feature in their operating system that prevents you from being able to run your open source software in conjunction with their closed source software*, because you've been warned well in advance.

    * See also Trusted Computing [wikipedia.org].
  • Re:Gnu tools (Score:2, Insightful)

    by seandiggity (992657) on Tuesday February 06, 2007 @04:09PM (#17909768) Homepage
    ...not to mention that the developers who are most involved with GNU projects wouldn't want to work on Novell's forked projects A) because many share RMS's ideology and B) because they have no incentive to jump ship on the project they've been working on for Novell's version (in fact, the corporate oversight is a turn-off).

    Does anyone really believe that Novell will update/develop/maintain the GPLv2 versions of ALL of the packages in SuSE that will likely be GPLv3'ed? Recreating GNOME as NOME-vell isn't gonna be easy, even if you can port BSD-licensed replacements for some of the core utilities.

    ...I didn't mean to leave out KDE but I couldn't do the "clever" wordplay.

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