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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 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.
    • and even then it would probably be unlikely. I mean, aren't their Linux distros with the Intel 3945ABG driver in them? That's not OSS (not completely anyway).

      I think the FSF is probably more interested in keep peoples rights from being abused when it comes to existing OSS applications, or large-scale/severe infractions.

      I think they aren't an evil organization, they are willing to overlook minor infractions.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by at2000 (715252) *
      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
      • 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: (Score:3, Informative)

          by greginnj (891863)
          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 sumdumass (711423)
            This whole anti novel sentiment highly depends on Novell violating the GPL in some way. They havn't and even under GPLv3 they still havn't.

            Lets stop putting the cart before the horse. Nothing Novel has done to date would stop them from using or distributing linux under any of the GPL licenses. Why are we so upset over some suture incedent that has yet to happen when there is no indecation of it happening?

            Show me one thing they are doing that Violate either GPLv2 or the new and underimproved GPLv3 and I will
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by theLOUDroom (556455)
          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 l
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by hendersj (720767)

            Stallman has said unequivocally that Novell has not violated GPLv2.

            Got a link to back that statement up?
            Yes. Link [fsfeurope.org].
    • This is why it's important to say GNU/Linux. Sure, they can keep distributing Linux, but Linux is a trivial and completely replaceable part of a Free *NIX system. The FSF is the sole copyright holder of a huge amount of other parts, such as the compiler, the C standard library, the loader, even the shell. Basically, everything above the kernel and below the GUI in the stack, plus a load of userland utilities (command line and GUI). When GPLv3 comes out, every single GNU package will move to 'GPL Version
  • by at2000 (715252) * on Tuesday February 06, 2007 @01:38PM (#17907106)
    They can distribute linux, but can they distribute glibc, coreutils, gcc, gdb, bash, tar, gzip, gpg, grep, gettext, readline, troff, ...?
    • 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 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.

        • It'd be a mess, but they wouldn't be the only ones refusing to move to GPLv3. All the people refusing to move to 3 could still share each other's GPLv2-only code.

          Also, any code that still says GPLv2 or later, or whose author expressly puts it under GPLv2 for Novell and GPLv3 for the FSF they could use.

          Likewise, BTW, no contributions that are licensed GPLv2-only can be used in GPLv3 projects.

          How many people that would be I don't know. It'd still be worse than everyone sticking with the same GPL. If GPLv3 dri
          • by drinkypoo (153816)

            It'd be a mess, but they wouldn't be the only ones refusing to move to GPLv3. All the people refusing to move to 3 could still share each other's GPLv2-only code.

            Frankly I think those people will not be around long. It would be a horrible nightmare. And I think that now that the GPLv3 hysteria has died down a bit, I think people are becoming more accepting.

            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by ConceptJunkie (24823) *
              And I think that now that the GPLv3 hysteria has died down a bit, I think people are becoming more accepting.

              No, I just think they are waiting for the next draft.

        • Maybe... but a lot of people don't seem to like the nature of GPL v3 as it has been previewed so far, otherwise we wouldn't have seen so much debate on it. I'm not saying it will, but if something like this did happen (a Novell GPLv2 branch), could we see a split in the open source community along GPVv2 versus GPLv3 lines? Just a thought. If someone doesn't like something in a software program, they usually don't use it. Maybe the same could happen with a license. If I recall correctly, Linus Torvalds
          • by drinkypoo (153816)

            If I recall correctly, Linus Torvalds has said he doesn't agree with GPLv3 and will continue releasing the kernel under GPLv2, so already there is a split. Having Stallman make it even more restrictive might encourage more.

            Nothing in GPLv3 or GPLv2 prohibits the distribution of GPLv3 and GPLv2 packages together, so this in itself does not cause a problem. With the second part, I doubt that GPLv3 will be made more restrictive, although I am open to the possibility. I think that it will either remain equall

            • I think that it will either remain equally restrictive, or it will become less restrictive.

              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.

              You know it isn't and I know it isn't, but CEOs and lawmakers are not likely to see i
              • 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 init100 (915886)

                will make it look to many people like some kind of stand in favor of piracy

                Sure, since as everyone knows, the only reason to dislike DRM is because you want to pirate software/movies/music/etc.</sarcasm>

        • by LurkerXXX (667952)
          As I replied to others in the thread, it's been done before by other OS's/distros. For example, OpenBSD has forked or re-written a lot of apps that initially started as open, but changed to more restrictive licenses. It can be done. Besides, not everyone is in love with GPL3 and will move to it. Plus others might like to, but can't because they can't track down all the authors to get them to agree to the change. My personal prediction is GPL3 is going to be a bust as far as moving most current GPL stuf
          • Everything owned by the FSF (gcc, coreutils, bash, etc) will move over to version 3. How many developers do you think are going to want to fork a GPLv2 version? I would imagine that most of those who are willing to assign copyright to the Free Software Foundation agree with their objectives, and GPLv3 does nothing to contradict those.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by omeg (907329)
          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 Micr
        • by Greg_D (138979)
          More likely that any business that gives a damn about its own bottom line will toss the GPL 3 toolchain out the window like a hot grenade and continue to collaborate along with the rest of the community on a fork of the software licensed under GPL 2, which will continue to be the standard.

          Novell is by no means alone here. If the FSF "attacks" them with unreasonable terms, they won't be the only company to pull the rug out from under the FSF and its relevance in terms of the marketplace.
      • 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.

        • by LurkerXXX (667952)
          Not if Novell forks the current GPL versions of the apps and continue to develop them. It's been done before. Lots.
      • If GPL3 is ugly, they will probably simply keep using the regular GPL version.

        If the FSF decides to only distribute future versions of its software under the GPLv3+, then Novell may be stuck with 2007 versions of GNU. That won't sit well with customers.

        • by LurkerXXX (667952)
          There is nothing that says Novell can't fork off the 2007 version and keep making it better. OpenBSD has done it with lots of apps that changed to unfriendly licenses.
          • Much as I like OpenBSD, how many of those forked apps are actually better, in the marketing check-box sense of the word? If you did a feature comparison of OpenBSD's Apache 1 fork against Apache 2 (for example), which would have more features? The OpenBSD version has two things going for it; it's more stable, and more secure. Having seen some of the code that's come out of Novell recently, I don't think they can claim even that...
          • by init100 (915886)

            What number of applications do you consider "lots of apps"? Is it at all comparable to the entire suite of GNU software?

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        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.

        That may or may not be exactly true. I believe the Microsoft/Novell deal covers the cross licensing of various patented technologies. If Novell implements one of Microsoft's patents in a piece of software, and then tries to distribute it as GPL'd software c

        • by LurkerXXX (667952)
          What's more likely is that Novell is just using this as a marketing technique where they can say, "Other Linux distributions are probably infringing on lots of Microsoft's patents, we have the only distribution safe from a lawsuit from Microsoft."

          I think this is exactly what is going on, and your other argument isn't what is happening at all. This is a typical 'don't use your patents against us, and we won't use ours against you' business deal. It's very common. You can give Stallman all the credit you w
        • by growse (928427)

          The only way for Novell to actually benefit from this deal would be for them to implement Microsoft's patents in new pieces of software that they (Novell) owns outright and distributes under a license other than the GPL. This software would also have to be sufficiently untangled from other GPL software. They could not take a current project covered by the GPL and implement one of Microsoft's patents in it. Or the deal between Microsoft and Novell would have to be such that every patent implemented by Novell, and distributed as part of a software package covered by the GPL, would have to be transferable to (or at least free to use for) every person who receives a copy of said software package.

          This is exactly what they're doing. Think about where Novell are coming from - they want to sell to big business. Currently, big business uses solaris, windows, AIUX, HP-UX, allsorts. If Novell want to sell these people support contracts for SLES, they need a way to make their product as attractive as possible. One of the big attractions to corporations is if your software you're trying to sell them can interact seamlessly with whatever they already have. Novell are building commercial tools that allow int

        • by init100 (915886)

          Or the deal between Microsoft and Novell would have to be such that every patent implemented by Novell, and distributed as part of a software package covered by the GPL, would have to be transferable to (or at least free to use for) every person who receives a copy of said software package.

          If the italicized part means that every user would be required to ask Microsoft for a free license, then the software cannot be distributed under the GPL (as far as I have understood it). Licensing software under the GPL requires that any patent license is redistributable to subsequent recipients of the software, without asking the patent holder.

    • 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
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by cparker15 (779546)
        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
        • No, you're missing the point. Tirades about freedom are good and fine, but at some point "toe the party line and shut up" clauses are the exact opposite of freedom any way you want to slice it. Freedom is about people, not about code, not about computers. The moment you start restricting what whole businesses are supposed to do -- and not even with the code, but generally what deals they can make, what IP they can have, what software (even unrelated to your code) they're allowed to write -- you've lost the
      • by houghi (78078)
        Mod parent up.
      • by Kjella (173770)
        The thing is, the whole thing doesn't even have a moral high ground any more if it tries to rule with an iron fist over anything else you might do, including business relations, deals, IP, God-knows-what-else. I mean, wth, if MS even hinted at including a "we can revoke your license if you make deals with companies we don't personally approve of" clause in their EULA, everyone would be screaming bloody murder. Yet here we are talking about, basically, "let's change the GPL so we can punish Novel for making
      • You don't seem to get it. The core of the GPL is the protection that you cannot take GPLed code, modify it, and redistribute it with your own imposed restrictions. This prevents unscrupulous characters from taking the code that other people have contributed and co-opting it in a way that benefits only the unscrupulous characters. I.e., it prevents this code from being "embraced and extended". Copyright law gives most of the power to accomplish this, but there is a particular weakness when it comes to pa

      • by zotz (3951)
        "Honestly, the whole idea is reminiscent of some of the worst crops of banana-republic dictatorships."

        Please. Be honest now. The problem isn't that they made a deal with MS. The problem is that they deal they made was crafted specifically to get around the clear intention of the GPL and many of those that release their software under the GPL. Intentionally or unintentionally on their part.

        They either violated the license or found a loophole that many want fixed in the next version.

        There is some problem with
      • by arevos (659374)

        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.

        I think you've entirely misunderstand the issue. First, a quote of the original Novell press release:

        Under the patent agreement, both companies will make up-front payments in exchange for a release from any potential liability for use of each others patented intellectual property, with a net balancing payment from Microsoft to Novell reflecting the larger applicable volume of Microsoft's product shipments. Novell will also make running royalty payments based on a percentage of its revenues from open source products.

        And now section 7 of the GPL (version 2):

        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. 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.

        You don't have to be a lawyer to realise that Novell are, at the very least, treading close to the line here. The Novell-Microsoft deal implies that there are patent issues with GPLed software Novell sells, and that royalties are being paid by Novell to avoid litigation. The GPL says that software distributed under the license must incur no additional conditions on

        • From what I can tell, Novell is just playing it safe.

          The fact is: there's a lot of GPL-ed code out there that _is_, in fact, encumbered by IP problems as it is. If you want to be free of any patents or other IP issues, then for example I hope you're not using or distributing an MP3 player or DVD player.

          And for a while that's just what Novell did. E.g., one of my annoyances with SuSE 10.0 (which is the one I'm using) is that they removed all MP3 codecs, all DVD decoding, etc. They actually crippled their ver
      • by init100 (915886)

        The very idea of sneaking in some sort of "thou shalt not make deals with MS" or generally "though shalt toe the party line"

        I don't think that the FSF would have cared about the Novell-MS deal if it hadn't included the "we will not sue each others' customers" part, as that could empower Microsoft to claim with some credibility that Novell-supplied free software the only "safe" free software. The problem is that this software would hardly be free anymore.

  • 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 spun (1352)
      That was my first thought, as well. "Linux" as people know it is not just the kernel. It is the toolchain, the desktop environment, and the applications as well, much of which could easily be released under GPLv3. And GPLv3 could easily contain provisions prohibiting this kind of deal. That's more than likely many years down the road, but it could have an impact. My question is, would it only impact SLES and SLED, or would the restrictions apply to OpenSUSE as well? We use all three where I work...
    • Gnu tools (Score:5, Interesting)

      by flaming-opus (8186) on Tuesday February 06, 2007 @01:56PM (#17907468)
      But the current versions of those tools are all licensed under GPLv2. If the FSF wants to play hardball, and releases future versions under GPLv3, Novell, or anyone else for that matter, can fork the GPLv2 version and continue developments from that base. The FSF would have to count on the community adopting the v3 versions, rather than the v2 versions. Since the number of FSF developers is small, relative to the number of other contributors, it's a fight the FSF may not want to start.
      • If there is one thing I have learned about rms, it is that he cares far more about ideology than popularity or practicality. To him and the FSF, "freeing" software from the evils of DRM, etc. MUST be done even if it sets FLOSS back 5-10 years (which it almost certainly will). I wonder if the BSD toolset will now be ported to Linux?
        • Available options:

          1. Attack DRM. Consequences for FOSS? Slithe says it'll set it back 5-10 years (probably hyperbole. What is the basis of the logic? I've yet to see any.)
          2. Don't attack DRM. Consequences for FOSS? Effectively made impractical. Sets it back permanently.

          Here's the thing: most people don't realise that the practical option is usually the one that protects the ideology. Linus "learned" (actually, he didn't, he acts like a whining two year old about it to this day) this lesson with the B

          • by Slithe (894946)

            1. Attack DRM. Consequences for FOSS? Slithe says it'll set it back 5-10 years (probably hyperbole. What is the basis of the logic? I've yet to see any.)

            The reason the switch is a problem is that the GPL is now a victim of its own success. There is quite a bit of code out there that has been licensed under the GPLv2. Since the GPLv3 adds additional restrictions, GPLv2 code is incompatible with GPLv3 code. If the GNU project licenses future versions of the GNU tool-chain under the GPLv3, and several major projects remain under the GPLv2, this could either seriously hamper adoption of GPLv3 or it could cause a lot of chaos as distros have to maintain two dif

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by clacke (214199)
        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 upstr
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by seandiggity (992657)
          ...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
        • They might not fork it for Novell's sake, but how about their own? How many gcc contributors are gplv3 zealots, and how many are compiler zealots? I bet more of the latter. I imagine the pragmatists winning out more often that not.

          Once the fsf lays down the gauntlet, how many foss developers are going to do a doubletake, and get really nervous about getting tied up in a mess.
          • by SL Baur (19540)

            How many gcc contributors are gplv3 zealots, and how many are compiler zealots? I bet more of the latter. I imagine the pragmatists winning out more often that not.
            That's a good example. Gcc has forked before and wasn't particularly hurt by it. The FSF branch withered away and the EGCS fork became the main branch. Emacs was forked too and I certainly don't view that as a negative thing either.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    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 nuzak (959558)
      > In other words, if you distribute GPL v3 code, you wouldn't be able to attach conditions, like patent licenses for instance.

      I fail to see how they can keep Novell from distributing gcc, binutils, and so forth if they don't even modify them. Or is the "mere aggregation" clause completely out now. Libraries might have some leverage, but the only one that links to more or less everything is glibc, which is under the LGPL. I sure wouldn't mind concerted efforts to kill glibc, but for purely technical re
      • I fail to see how they can keep Novell from distributing gcc, binutils, and so forth if they don't even modify them.

        All of these packages are copyrighted. The copyright is owned by the FSF. You may not distribute copyright works unless you have the permission of the copyright holder. The copyright holder (the FSF) grants a non-discriminatoy licence for free to anyone who is willing to abide by a set of conditions preventing them from limiting the freedoms of other software users (the GPL). If Novell do not act in accordance with the GPL (version 3, at some hypothetical point in the future) then they are not going to

  • by myowntrueself (607117) on Tuesday February 06, 2007 @01:45PM (#17907268)
    try this on a debian/ubuntu system:

    apt-get remove libc6

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by friedman101 (618627)
      okay, i did it. now wh
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Raul654 (453029)
      I remember I nearly fell out out of my chair when I found out Ubuntu Dapper didn't come with gcc by default. The idea that Linux would (nay, could) be shipped without gcc was quite shocking. IMHO, where usability is concerned, it's a huge a step in the right direction (by not requiring the end user to compile his own code) but it was shocking nonetheless.
  • 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.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      Except for all the GPL2 software that's already out there.
      • by Andy Dodd (701)
        And in the case of that software, the question will be, while GNU owns the copyright, they don't necessarily own the developers, and they essentially can't "revoke" the GPL2 license for existing software, they can only "upgrade" future releases to the GPLv3 as I understand it.

        Nothing is preventing the last v2 codebase from being forked. Once that happens, the question will be how many of the developers are loyal to the FSF/GPLv3, and how many would rather stick with GPLv2? The answer to that question will
  • by flynt (248848) on Tuesday February 06, 2007 @01:54PM (#17907440)
    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.

    This just reinforces why I read Slashdot instead of other news, there's no chance of something like this happening here.
  • 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.
  • even with the GPLv3, the way it looks now, there is no reason that Novell would have to stop distributing the code. The GPLv3 mainly just takes away the incentive for such deals.
  • it's premature to say. GPLv3 could affect Novell's ability redistribute a bunch of code in Linux. But right now it's all in the air. No story here yet.
  • 1. The FSF has absolutely no control over Novell's distribution of Linux. None at all. Zero.

    The first part is unconditionally, unequivocally untrue. As the copyright holders in part of the Linux kernel, Novell has the right to distribute it ONLY because the FSF (and other copyright holders) have licensed them to do so via the GPL. Therefore the FSF does in fact have a great deal of control over Novell's distribution of Linux. Novell must distribute under the GPL, or they must secure a separate lic

    • by PCM2 (4486)

      The GPL specifically states that patents must be licensed for free use by everyone or not licensed at all. By sublicensing Microsoft's patents for their customers, Novell is violating that clause and risks having their rights under the GPL terminated.

      And yet, Richard Stallman and Eben Moglen seem to agree that you are mistaken. [linux-watch.com]

    • by SL Baur (19540)

      As the copyright holders in part of the Linux kernel , Novell has the right to distribute it ONLY because the FSF (and other copyright holders) have licensed them to do so via the GPL.
      I do not believe any significant part of the Linux Kernel has been FSF copyright assigned. Can you name one part?
      Most of the Hurd Mach kernel is not FSF copyright assigned either.
  • Jesus Christ on a bicycle, folks, Microsoft themselves has been distributing an operating system and other packages containing all kinds of open source code, including GCC, for years. If people aren't up in arms about BSD code in NT and GPL code in Interix then why the hell should they be upset about a company that's just made an agreement with Microsoft?
    • by Salsaman (141471)
      There is no problem with anybody distributing GPL code, provided they abide by the law and the spirit of the GPL.

      The Novell deal, while legal, goes against the spirit of the GPL, because they have negotiated a patent deal with a third party, but only for only their own customers.

      The GPL 3 will fix this problem by ensuring that any patent deals must be applied to anyone who receives the code (customers or not).
      • The Novell deal, while legal, goes against the spirit of the GPL, because they have negotiated a patent deal with a third party, but only for only their own customers.

        Microsoft ships GPLed software alongside all KINDS of non-GPL-ed programs that are only available for their own customers, and Microsoft (obviously) also "protects" their customers from all those same patents.

        Apple ships GPLed software alongside all KINDS of non-GPL-ed programs that are only available for their own customers, and Apple's APSL
        • by Salsaman (141471)
          Microsoft ships GPLed software alongside all KINDS of non-GPL-ed programs that are only available for their own customers, and Microsoft (obviously) also "protects" their customers from all those same patents.

          That's a different situation. If the entity that owns the patents is also the one distributing, then section 7 of the GPL already covers that, and the patent protection is passed on to whoever recievers the code, directly or indirectly.

          The Novell case is different because Novell is distributing, and Mi

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