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Novell Software Businesses Microsoft Patents SuSE Linux

openSUSE Hobbled By Microsoft Patents 266

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the or-at-least-disfigured dept.
kripkenstein writes "openSUSE 10.2 no longer enables ClearType (which would improve the appearance of fonts). The reason given on the openSUSE mailing list for not enabling it is, 'this feature is covered by several Microsoft patents and should not be activated in any default build of the library.' As reported on and discussed, this matter may be connected to the Microsoft-Novell deal. If so, Novell should have received a license for the Microsoft patents, assuming the deal covered all relevant patents. Does the license therefore extend only to SUSE, but not openSUSE?"
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openSUSE Hobbled By Microsoft Patents

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  • Prior art (Score:5, Informative)

    by Ph33r th3 g(O)at (592622) on Tuesday April 10, 2007 @07:43AM (#18673325)
    Steve Gibson pointed out decades-old prior art [grc.com] that would invalidate the Cleartype patent (if our patent system weren't corrupt) several years ago.
    • Re:Prior art (Score:5, Insightful)

      by gweihir (88907) on Tuesday April 10, 2007 @07:49AM (#18673351)
      Steve Gibson pointed out decades-old prior art that would invalidate the Cleartype patent several years ago.

      Indeed he did. Not that the idea itself merits a patent anyways. It is pretty obvious and shopuld not be patentable in the first place.
      • Re:Prior art (Score:5, Interesting)

        by tomhudson (43916) <barbara.hudsonNO@SPAMbarbara-hudson.com> on Tuesday April 10, 2007 @09:03AM (#18673947) Journal
        The funny thing is I just installed OpenSUSE 10.2 alpha 3 and the fonts look better than ever; if this is how they look without cleartype, who needs it?
        • Re:Prior art (Score:4, Insightful)

          by kobaz (107760) on Tuesday April 10, 2007 @09:14AM (#18674073)
          I couldn't agree more.

          I've never found cleartype to be helpful either, I much rather not have cleartype as on every single display device I've enabled it on it looks like crap. I've tried it on high and low end crts and high and low end lcds, it all looks much better (and more readable) without cleartype.
          • Re:Prior art (Score:5, Insightful)

            by tomz16 (992375) on Tuesday April 10, 2007 @09:49AM (#18674603)
            Any time I've turned on cleartype on a fresh install of windows, my first impression has always been that it just made fonts look "blurrier", for lack of a better word.

            However, after using it for a day or two, turning it off is absolutely painful. IMHO, it really DOES make text MUCH easier to read on an LCD.

            -Tom
            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by someone300 (891284)
              I just looked at a screenshot of "Cleartype" on OS X (From http://www.microsoft.com/typography/ClearTypeFAQ. m spx [microsoft.com]). It looks revolting. I use Linux and OS X with subpixel rendering enabled. The first three lines look OK, but it starts to look blurry after that.

              Screenshot of my OS X system: http://img248.imageshack.us/my.php?image=picture3r p7.png [imageshack.us]

              If you zoom in, you can see I'm definitely using subpixel rendering. I get the odd blurry looking font on my OS X system, but nowhere near the sort of stuff I see
              • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

                by tomz16 (992375)
                The text in your screenshot DOES look blurry past the first line or two... Going to the microsoft page ALL of the cleartype RGB text looks crystal clear on my Dell 2001FP
                with cleartype enabled. Same on my IBM x40 laptop.

                My guess is that your OSX computer is scaling the image in some weird way that doesn't quite line up with your physical LCD pixels.

                -Tom
        • by Hymer (856453)
          Hmmm... I installed OpenSuse 10.2 and the first impession was "Dear god, what have they done... those fonts sucks..." it was much worse than my SuSE 9.3 on the same laptop (A31p with 1600x1200 screen) then I changed the font from Arial (why do I have a poor MS font as the default system font ?) to Luxi Sans... and everything is smooth again...
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      Gibson is exactly right. When I first saw sub-pixel rendering (aka 'ClearType') explained, I remembered programming graphics on an Apple IIe, and you had a difference between even and odd pixels that forced you to draw lines in a way that is exactly the same as how ClearType works.

      I could claim prior art if I could just get those damned 5.25" floppies to read in anything. Of course, this was common practice back in the day, so maybe some old Apple II programmers out there can come up with AppleSoft BASIC
      • by statusbar (314703)
        Well, if AppleSoft BASIC did it with HPLOT, wouldn't that mean that Microsoft had prior art? Or did HPLOT do something different than you are describing?

        --jeffk++
      • I have just thrown away the manual for my NEC P5 printer, but I think it did the same thing too! I bought it when Windows 1.0 came out.

        If no, then something close enough to make the idea clearly obvious to anyone who is not actually stupid. And there's HPs "RET" or whatever it was called to fake up 1200x1200 resolution on printers that could only actually deliver 300x300.

        I should think the photo-type setter people were effectively doing this in the 60's.

    • Re:Prior art (Score:4, Insightful)

      by 0123456789 (467085) on Tuesday April 10, 2007 @09:00AM (#18673907)
      There's a difference between being able to find prior art for something, and being able to afford to go to court to defend yourself against a patent infringement lawsuit. Sadly, the gulf between the two positions is pretty wide. Maybe there should be an appeal process for patent awards? If you can show that a patent affects you in some way, and shouldn't have been granted for some reason (eg prior art), you could appeal against the patent award and attempt to get it rescinded in a quicker and cheaper process than a full-on court case?
      • by Locutus (9039)
        and now you see how Microsoft will use its "IP" to fight OSS. Just by having billions in the bank and flooding the patent office with false patents so they can threaten most OSS projects out of existence. Hey, maybe I should file a patent on THAT business model. ;-/

        LoB
         
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Pharmboy (216950)
          Just by having billions in the bank and flooding the patent office with false patents so they can threaten most OSS projects out of existence.

          Hey, maybe I should file a patent on THAT business model. ;-/


          Sorry, Microsoft can prove prior, invalidate your patent, then reword and patent it themselves.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          Of course, the answer to that is that everyone ignores Microsoft patents and LETS them try to take EVERYBODY to court - including countries that don't give a rat's ass about US patents.

          Microsoft can try to be SCO and build its business on the backs of lawyers, but it's not going to work, however much Bill G might dream of it.

          People forget that IBM holds more patents on everything than anyone and is making billions off Linux - as well as having the best lawyers on the planet. If Microsoft tries such a thing,
    • Re:Prior art (Score:5, Informative)

      by pikine (771084) on Tuesday April 10, 2007 @09:06AM (#18673981) Journal

      I'm afraid the decades-old Apple II and IBM PC is not prior art. Pixels are either on or off for Apple II and IBM PC's CGA displays, so they apparently don't (and can't) care too much about color fringing. Sub-pixel font rendering on LCD screen deals with 256 shades for each sub-pixel, and the emphasis is on how to adjust sub-pixel brightness to reduce color fringing.

      This is explained in Steve Gibson's Turning Theory into Practice [grc.com]. Sub-pixel font rendering is not the same as sub-pixels on CGA displays. The ideas are related, but the plumbing is different.

      Perhaps I'm misleading in saying that CGA is not prior art of ClearType. I haven't actually read the patents of ClearType, so I obviously cannot tell; I'm basing my claim solely on Steve's webpage alone.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Prior art doesn't have to be identical - patents are supposed to be for something novel and nonobvious*, not for a logical progression given technological development. i.e. the fact display subpixels didn't have 256 brightness levels back in the day doesn't mean that it isn't blitheringly obvious that IF THEY ONE DAY DID, similar techniques would naturalyl apply.

        * Yes, in practice the USA grants patents for basically anything regardless of merit, but the USA sucks.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by spitzak (4019)
        Holy confusion, batman!

        That was completely misleading. The use of 256 levels for making antialiased fonts is really old and has nothing to do with this.

        What sub pixel rendering does is make the pixel represent *more* than 256 different possible combinations of the fg and bg colors, where combinations are how an fully opaque edge falls into the square the pixel represents. Exactly how many is unclear, it is not 256^3, but I think it is 3*256 for the case of an antialiased vertical straight edge of an object
      • Re:Prior art (Score:5, Informative)

        by AJWM (19027) on Tuesday April 10, 2007 @10:59AM (#18675761) Homepage
        The Apple II didn't have a CGA. Colors were generated by dot-timing the luminance signal into an NTSC composite monitor (read, TV), faking out the color decoding in the monitor. Subpixel rendering was done by reversing that to choose the appropriate color to generate the desired dot timing. On a monochrome monitor these showed up as higher-resolution dots than the nominal pixels in display memory.

        Go look at the circuit diagram for an Apple II, for pete's sake. It's not that complicated, maybe a dozen or so 74-series chips plus the memory and CPU.

        Clear type uses exactly the same idea -- pick the color to activate the desired combination of R, G and/or B stripes in the LCD pixel -- i.e. activate the desired sequence of horizontal dots by color choice.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Sleepy (4551)
      I remember using anti-aliased fonts in "Spectrum 512", a terrific graphics package for the Atari ST series computer. With it, you could optimize images for TV. If you could not afford an Amiga, this was a very impressive way of generating titles and graphics for video. The Atari ST had a composite NTSC output port and the horsepower to drive it.

      I remember the same technique used on the Atari 8-bit computers, in the monochrome "Graphics Mode 8" level. By offsetting the *placement* of pixels, you could accomp
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by mikael (484)
        remember the same technique used on the Atari 8-bit computers, in the monochrome "Graphics Mode 8" level. By offsetting the *placement* of pixels, you could accomplish new colors.

        This method of Artifacting is described in great detail in the Atari Archives [atariarchives.org].

    • There are two things that must exist.

      1. It must be documented.

      I present to you the Beagle Bros Big Tip Book for the Apple ][, by Bert Kersey, ISBN-10: 0553342800, ISBN-13: 9780553342802, Publisher: Bantam Books - 1986. (I forgot the page number, but it's in there, complete with how it works and an example program.)

      As everyone knows, the Apple ][ graphics system was 128 pixels wide -- in color. But in monochrome, one could get 256 pixels wide. What the above book details is a way to get 512 pixels wide on
  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) on Tuesday April 10, 2007 @07:47AM (#18673343) Journal
    I think Novell has become an wholly owned subsidiary of MSFT and is being used for the express purpose of setting up precedents and creating more and more FUD. I have seen a version of anti-aliasing and sub-pixel addressing [grc.com] way back when in, of all places, grc.com.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Woy (606550)
      Novel became the Mr. Hands of the Linux world.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Colin Smith (2679)
      Judas was a goat?

      Anyway. They are very helpfully pointing out the patents which Microsoft says apply to Linux...

       
    • by arivanov (12034)
      The apple version is forced by the sillies of their videoram technical implementation. It is also not the earliest prior art.

      There is a much older prior art, more specifically the sub-pixel version of bresenheim algorithm described in "Fundamentals of Interactive Computer Graphics" which is general, with full mathematical description to accompany it and predates Apple 2. IIRC (I do not have the book in my new house) the book explicitly mentions it as related to fonts and describes subpixel font rendering.
    • This is headed for a major court battle. In fact, it should be obvious that SCO is just the first. They hope that they can use Novell dropping this, to convince a jury that the Linux community "admits" that we are at fault.

      I expected this of MS. They are the dirtiest company on this planet but they do know how to keep themselves alive. But I am still trying to figure out WHY Novell is partaking of this? At best, it will have only a short-term advantage. But I have dropped SUSE and will not be suggesting
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by advocate_one (662832)
        corporate critters only have an eye for the next quarterly returns... as long as they can make their killing and successfully cash out their stock options, they don't care about the stockholders really... they don't intend to be around when the crap hits the proverbial fan. They'll be off raiding another company
  • Prior art? (Score:4, Informative)

    by 140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) on Tuesday April 10, 2007 @07:50AM (#18673357) Journal
    I have not been to GRC.com for a long time, I quickly grabbed the URL and posted it here in another thread. Looks like that site cites a long list of prior art. [grc.com] Makes the OpenSUSE's decision even more suspect.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Not only that, linux/X.org subpixel rendering works in a somewhat different, rather more general way to ClearType. Any geometric object can be subpixel rendered and antialiased, whereas microsoft's method implements separately for each graphics/font object kind. EVEN IF microsoft patents were to hold up in court, there'd be a good case wouldn't cover the technique used in linux/X.org. I think this is indeed an attempt to sow misleading precedent by microsoft - Novell AND openSuse should be considered co
  • by Anonymous Coward
    No more Suse Linux on my servers. I know that subpixel rendering has no impact on server applications, but I now consider that distribution rogue.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Delkster (820935)

      Out of curiousity, do other major distributions enable this either? In other words, is this news at all?

      A page on the FreeType project site [freetype.org] says:

      Finally, many Linux distributions seem to distribute a patched version of FreeType 2 with the bytecode interpreter activated, unlike to the sources we distribute.

      However, I've previously been under the impression that most distributions would ship at least without some features covered by patents. On the other hand, it's not only MS who owns patents that concern subpixel rendering, and I don't know who owns what, so that's why I'm left wondering if someone else actually knows.

  • Now it is clear (Score:4, Insightful)

    by javilon (99157) on Tuesday April 10, 2007 @07:53AM (#18673373) Homepage
    Novell is the new SCO
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by TangoCharlie (113383)
      Your off-the-cuff remark is more true than you think. Don't forget that SCO (that is Caldera)
      got the unix rights from Novell. The whole SCO vs Novell issue will result in Novell getting
      those rights back. The result? A linux company "owning" unix. We've been here before!! Novell
      OpenSCO here we come....
    • Novell is the new SCO


      Has netcraft confirmed this?
  • by stokessd (89903) on Tuesday April 10, 2007 @07:53AM (#18673377) Homepage
    That might be a good thing(tm). In many cases I prefer non anti-aliased fonts. I have a nice LCD with a DVI connection for a clear picture, then I'm supposed to fuzzy it up? Anti-aliasing lakes me think I need glasses in many cases.

    Sheldon
    • by daeg (828071)
      That's why you can turn it on and off. :-) I know a friend that has sensitive vision can't stand it, either, he says all the letters have a blue halo.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by xoyoyo (949672)
        Depends on the quality of the implementation and the quality/density of the screen. Ironically, the inventor's implementation is poor.

        On a 72dpi LCD attached to a PC running Windows the effect is obvious (and hideous) all the glyphs have red and blue fringes. Turning ClearType off is the first thing I do on a Windows box after disabling the Windows XP theme.

        On my 100dpi+ MacBook Pro I had to use the zoom function to confirm that it was using sub-pixel anti-aliasing. Even on my second monitor it's acceptable
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by jimstapleton (999106)
          I think a lot of it is monitor quality too..

          My old Hitachi was a nice LCD in regards to image quality, and it looked great with clear type.
          However the backlight died (and the response time was a bit low), and now I have a cheap Samsung - The letters have halos on them with clear type.

          So, monitor quality is a big part of it, not just the rendering technology, though both are important.
        • by mattr (78516) <mattr AT telebody DOT com> on Tuesday April 10, 2007 @09:22AM (#18674179) Homepage Journal
          IIRC different displays may have different order of R,G,B component pixels which may require a reversed antialiasing pattern (as if the screen was flipped upside-down). Though the effect is subtle it also shows a red and/or blue fringe. Though that may not be what you are talking about.
        • by jonsmirl (114798)
          If the color fringing is obvious you may have a BRG screen instead of a RGB screen. There is a control panel setting to change this. You may even have a screen with vertical RGB/BGR stripes instead of horizontal.

          Click on the microscope photos [wikipedia.org] at the bottom of the Wikipedia article. They'll show you what is going on.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      I find that cleartype is easy on my eyes while browsing websites etc with lots of text meant to be read by humans. Code, OTOH, looks horrible in cleartype. When I have to tell, single quote from double, where braces are very important, where I have to tell zero from o, two from zee, ell from one, bah... ClearType makes a mess.
      • by KiloByte (825081)
        Depends on the font. With the older MS fonts, ClearType looks outright ugly and unreadable. But if you use their newest set, ClearType is pretty much a must -- and it kicks ass. On LCD, that is. The regular gray-scale AA done by Microsoft doesn't work right -- but with TrueType, the new MS fonts look great both on LCD (sub-pixel AA) and on CRT (gray-scale AA).

        I admit to them: Consolas really pwns Bitstream/DejaVu Mono. Just don't try it without working antialiasing. With MS Courier/MS Lucida, forget a
  • by DrMindWarp (663427) on Tuesday April 10, 2007 @07:54AM (#18673385)
    This is complete nonsense written by someone that is clearly clueless and forwarded by an editor that is equally clueless. This is a FreeType library setting for compiling programs (not ClearType!). It is the same for every Linux distribution as it is the default setting for the development library. It has never been enabled by default.

    • Exactly (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 10, 2007 @08:02AM (#18673423)
      Cleartype is just sub-pixel AA which existed long before MS ever used it for font rendering. Bytecode type hinting is patented by (IIRC) Apple, it is usually disabled in Freetype and and an alternative (auto-hinting) method used instead.

      Apples and oranges, the bug reporter is confused or trolling.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by segedunum (883035)
      That doesn't answer why it was OK to have this enabled before, and has then somehow become a big no-no.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Movi (1005625)
      Yes, indeed Cleartype sucks, and ive not even known you can have it under linux. For an ever better font setup you can enable BCI in freetype and have freetype display font quality on par with Mac OS X (which nobody can dispute displays the best quality). For example ubuntu people can download debs with prepatched freetype here http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=343670&hi ghlight=feisty+fonts [ubuntuforums.org].
      The standalone patches are here http://david.freetype.org/lcd/ [freetype.org]
  • ...which looks worse? The free OS not having the feature enabled by default due to an admission that it is Microsoft patented tech, or having it covered in the agreement so that nobody sees that there "is" Microsoft patented tech in linux. Guess which one 'ol Bally just loves.
  • Suse vs Open Suse (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    I put a store-bought version of Suse on my daughter's machine and everything was good. We upgraded her mobo and downloaded the 64 bit version of Open Suse. There are a myriad of niggling little details that don't quite work the same. The commercial version of Suse was a joy. The other one isn't. We're switching to Ubuntu.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by MollyB (162595) *
      I just last week switched from SuSE 9.1 to Ubuntu 6.06 (Dapper Drake) on my laptop. The old OS always crashed or froze, and was a tempermental beast that chronically corrupted the Reiser FS. The Ubuntu install was less than 20 minutes (although downloading of package upgrades took an hour on DSL) and has been running superbly 24/7 since boottime. I hope you are happy making the change; I most certainly am!

      BTW, if you are a Windows person who is looking for a friendly Linux distro, this is for you. You can r
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by beef623 (998368) *

      Heh, I went the other way not too long ago. I started with Ubuntu, but the more familiar I got with linux, the more I hated Ubuntu. I finally switched to openSuse a few months ago(mainly because it was the only distro I could get running on my laptop at the time) and fell in love with it. I finally completely shed myself of Ubuntu when the box I had at home wouldn't let me even log in anymore. I haven't really looked back.

      I will say that I don't like a lot of the defaults in 10.2, especially the main menu

  • by oergiR (992541) on Tuesday April 10, 2007 @08:06AM (#18673441)
    AFAICT, subpixel rendering is not disabled, only the 5-tap filter that's supposed to reduce colour fringes. See http://www.grc.com/cttech.htm [grc.com]. Apparently this is one of the things Microsoft has patented, and I haven't seen any "prior art" for this specific technique. In my humble opinion disabling the filter is not much of a loss as it just makes fonts look fuzzier.
  • Hidden warning (Score:2, Interesting)

    by b1ufox (987621)
    This as it seems, is yet another legal puns MS has up its sleeves.MS struck a deal with Novell months back, which obviously created a fury among free software zealots.Now this seems to be a Red signal for Linux users, who uses OpenSuse or any other free Linux distribution, as it implies IMO _you_ being a non SUSE(and means even OpenSUSE i guess) users are infringing on MS's so called intellectual property.

    Is this the start of the hide and seek of infringement legalities?

    Lets hope SUSE understand this can

  • by mysidia (191772) on Tuesday April 10, 2007 @08:08AM (#18673453)

    As a result, if you hold a license for a patent that is required to redistribute/sell Freetype (or any piece of software covered by the GPL), then, to comply with the GPL you have two options you must EITHER: (1) not distribute the software, OR (2) the patent license must permit anyone's free use

    The relevant GPL section is the preamble To prevent this, we have made it clear that any patent must be licensed for everyone's free use or not licensed at all. , and under Section 7 of the GNU General Public License: 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.

    This means for instance, that Novell would not be free to provide users of SuSE the benefit of a patent license to use a certain feature of a GPL'ed library or software program, and deny that feature to openSuSE users.

    • by mwvdlee (775178)
      According to the Microsoft point-of-view (which Novell is following), the specific code contains patents and the person who released this code with a GPL license had no right to do so. This person would not have been allowed by the patent holder to release his code in GPL.

      Entertaining the possibility that Microsoft's patent is indeed valid and without prior art, the code should no longer be considered GPL licensed and thus only those entities with a valid license would be allowed to distribute it.

      So from Mi
      • What happens if I add this code in the UK, where s/w patents are invalid?

        Does that mean I can't distribut my code under the GPL, or do I have to put in geographical if statments.

        Why does this remind me of the 32/128 bit encription fieasco all those years ago?
      • by NullProg (70833)

        Entertaining the possibility that Microsoft's patent is indeed valid and without prior art, the code should no longer be considered GPL licensed and thus only those entities with a valid license would be allowed to distribute it.


        IANAL but view this article: http://www.cnn.com/TECH/computing/9812/08/cleartyp e.idg/ [cnn.com]

        SuSE Linux has never distributed Cleartype fonts, its always been a separate download.

        Enjoy,
  • by segedunum (883035) on Tuesday April 10, 2007 @08:09AM (#18673461)
    There's obviously quite a bit of prior art to Cleartype, but Novell as an open source company does not want to stand up and defend itself and its software from it (as well as Red Hat actually). I rather suspect both Red Hat and especially Novell are using the non-issue of patents to try and give their so called enterprise distributions an actual selling point.

    The question really is, why was it deemed OK to enable it before, and suddenly it has become a big deal where it is disabled?

    Additionally, there seems to be some confusion of the Microsoft/Novell deal. The patent agreement would not be legal with the terms of the GPL, rather Microsoft gave a covenant not to sue to Novell's customers and promised to be nice to OpenSuse's users. Whether that would cover this, I don't know.
  • by marcosdumay (620877) <marcosdumay AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday April 10, 2007 @08:11AM (#18673481) Homepage Journal

    The GPL is very clear on one point: if you know your software infringes on some patent, you can't distribute it, even if you have a deal with the patent holder enabling you to do that*. Can Novell now be prosecuted? Is that code GPLed (it seems to be KDE, so it probably is)?

    * Unless that deal is extended to everybody that touches the code.

    • by Kjella (173770)
      The GPL is very clear on one point: if you know your software infringes on some patent, you can't distribute it (...) * Unless that deal is extended to everybody that touches the code.

      Sorry, but it just doesn't. It says that if you have a patent or patent license, you can't distribute it unless that deal is extended to everybody that touches the code. That's exactly what the GPLv3 and MS/Novell deal is about, a "patent indemnification" which acts, talks and walks like a patent license but in legal terms isn
  • never so (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Deternal (239896) on Tuesday April 10, 2007 @08:14AM (#18673519) Homepage
    As far as I can read, it has never been enabled. It needs to be enabled at compile time, which the ansvar to the linked bug report clearly states by c&p of the relevant info from the FreeType lib.

    This is a complete non-issue and has been known for a while. It predates the Novell/MS agreement.
    • Re:never so (Score:5, Informative)

      by oergiR (992541) on Tuesday April 10, 2007 @08:44AM (#18673743)
      Mod parent up.

      The main developer of FreeType decided to disable the filter [mail-archive.com] in September. The Novell deal was later and had nothing to do with this.

    • The question is, with the Novell/MSFT deal, can SuSE (not openSuSE) now enable it at compile time?
      • The question is, with the Novell/MSFT deal, can SuSE (not openSuSE) now enable it at compile time?

        Short answer, no.

        Long answer:

        When they do enable it at compile-time and distribute the result, then they are still bound by the GPL which means that anyone receiving those binaries has the right of getting the source code and distributing both binaries and source (including the patented technology in compiled form). While I am not familiar with all the details of this deal, I do believe that this is not the cas
        • If they distribute unaltered binaries with source, that is no different than Novell distributing them (think: torrents). If they make modifications of the source or binaries, they can't distribute them anyway, as that would infringe on Novell's trademarks (think: the recent issues with various linux distributions distributing modified versions of Firefox without changing the name/icons).

          Or is it now illegal to download SuSE via torrent? (I really don't know. Is it available for purchase, only?)
          • If they distribute unaltered binaries with source, that is no different than Novell distributing them (think: torrents).

            For all I know this is correct.

            If they make modifications of the source or binaries, they can't distribute them anyway, as that would infringe on Novell's trademarks (think: the recent issues with various linux distributions distributing modified versions of Firefox without changing the name/icons).

            You cannot use the name or logo because it is no longer what the name and logo stand for. Yo
  • by Prototerm (762512) on Tuesday April 10, 2007 @08:20AM (#18673545)
    I gave up on Open Suse when the 10.0 version came out, and they started removing stuff from the standard release. They first took out support for the nVidia drivers, then some of the wireless drivers, forcing me to find and install them both manually. So, whenever they get a little antsy about something, they remove it. As much as I really like Suse, I prefer something that just works out of the box, and doesn't make me jump through hoops just to use my own computer.

    If I wanted to do *that*, I'd install Vista!
  • by lmb (32460) * on Tuesday April 10, 2007 @08:20AM (#18673549) Homepage
    openSUSE does not ship code which is known to infringe patents or IP, so the patents either get invalidated (lengthy and expensive) or the code disabled / removed. This policy is not affected by the NOVL/MSFT deal at all; quite the contrary, it has always been Novell/SUSE's policy to not ship such code.

    Just like openSUSE doesn't ship infringing Linux drivers, or Debian not shipping certain licenses.

    What the heck is the fuzz about?
  • by GFree (853379) on Tuesday April 10, 2007 @08:23AM (#18673567)
    I think this makes for a pretty good example of one of the strengths of something like Linux. If you find your distro moving into directions you don't like, you can leave pretty easily and try another distro. They're all Linux, just wrapped up differently, and so if a distro decides to pull some shit like this, they'll only be hurting themselves because there's no real lock-in to any one distribution.

    Microsoft are trying to cripple Linux using traditional methods, but all they can really cripple is openSUSE due to the Novell partnership. It's not like MS can take over EVERY SINGLE DISTRO, particularly the homegrown stuff. A good example of the power of choice I think.
    • by Aequo (923926) on Tuesday April 10, 2007 @09:12AM (#18674043)
      Do you have any examples of how openSUSE has been crippled by Microsoft? It has already been pointed out further up that this article was _clearly_ either written by someone trying to spread FUD or by someone who just isn't very knowledgable (subpixel hinting is a freetype setting that the freetype developers themselves suggest disabling for distros). It is quite funny to see so many people jumping on the bandwagon, attempting to find 'omgz evil' in Novell because they made a business deal with Microsoft; obviously a deal that turns out to have done them more bad than good in the eyes of the community.
  • by Kim0 (106623) on Tuesday April 10, 2007 @08:28AM (#18673605)
    They could just use this replacement, which is not patented:
    http://oyhus.no/SubLCD.html [oyhus.no]
    • It is brilliant! And it certainly is different than Microsoft's implementation and not covered by any patent.

      In fact it is a good deal simpler, it seems to reduce the color fringing naturally without having the calculation for one pixel effect nearby ones. It also only requires 2x horizontal resolution of the original rendering, rather than 3x.

      From discussion here it sounds like what Microsoft patented is a filter, similar to their "font smoothing" filter, that turns a 1x resolution image into the colored c
  • by w_albright (27497) on Tuesday April 10, 2007 @08:31AM (#18673621)
    IMHO, they did the right thing. One of openSUSE's goals is to be completely open source software (hence the 'open' in 'openSUSE'). Even if they may have the right to use them due to the MS/Novell patent deal, they do not want the distro encumbered with non-OSS software in the default install. Fedora 7 also disables this feature.

    If you want a distro protected (encumbered) by MS patents, buy SUSE Enterprise.
  • by HangingChad (677530) on Tuesday April 10, 2007 @08:43AM (#18673729) Homepage

    It really doesn't matter if this is related to the patent deal with Microsoft or not. The damage is done by the mere perception that Novell is aligned with Redmond.

    This whole deal is to IT was Iraq is to foreign policy: A bad idea implemented without a clear exit strategy.

    Unless the goal was to drive users to Ubuntu. In that case it's a brilliant plan.

    • by bwalling (195998) on Tuesday April 10, 2007 @09:16AM (#18674085) Homepage
      The damage is done by the mere perception that Novell is aligned with Redmond.

      I won't disagree with that statement, but that's no excuse for this ridiculous story posted to Slashdot. For all of the griping around here about other companies' FUD, this is basically pure FUD itself. Alas, it's not an isolated case. It's too bad so many people read this site - it's a very poor source of information if you just scan the front page.
  • by JetScootr (319545) on Tuesday April 10, 2007 @09:14AM (#18674075) Journal
    I seem to recall about 10 years ago font copyrights, etc, and the ClearType issue came up regarding Linux. The question then was whether it was OK to do *something* like this, or include fonts, etc, in OSS files and/or SW. Anyone remember the details?
  • by Anonymous Coward
    M$FT is simply using openSUSE here as a tool to prove that Linux violates patents (I don't believe this to be true). The more that Novell disables due to Microsoft patents, the more you can be sure that such disabling will be pointed to in the major legal war coming soon. This is the equivalent of troop movement...small pockets of M$FT troops are being moved into strategic areas near Linux's borders...they're hiding out in farmhouses and covered up with bales of hay, but they are indeed there. It's only a m
  • "As reported on and discussed, this matter may be connected to the Microsoft-Novell deal. If so, Novell should have received a license for the Microsoft patents, assuming the deal covered all relevant patents. Does the license therefore extend only to SUSE, but not openSUSE?"

    The Microsoft-Novell deal only protects their customers, not the companies themselves. If Novell violates a MS patent, they can be sued by MS; the deal doesn't change that scenario in any way.
  • When were the cleartype patents filed? Patents only last 17 years.
  • by davevr (29843) on Tuesday April 10, 2007 @11:29AM (#18676293) Homepage
    openSUSE hobbled by patents??

    yeah, right, and my access to your wallet is hobbled by those pesky anti-mugging laws.. geez.

  • Licenses. (Score:4, Informative)

    by miguel (7116) on Tuesday April 10, 2007 @12:39PM (#18677481) Homepage
    Just to clarify the thesis of the post.

    Novell has not received any licenses to any patents, and neither has SUSE, nor OpenSUSE.

    The Microsoft-Novell agreement is about not suing customers over any potential patent infringement.

    Since OpenSUSE is a community effort, and it is used by people that might not be customers of Novell, removing code that is known to infringe on a patent is the correct thing to do (same policy applies to Mono).

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