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Novell Linux Business Microsoft

Novell Goes Public with Microsoft Linux Deal 133

Posted by Zonk
from the makes-for-fascinating-reading dept.
InfoWorldMike writes "On the back of defending the agreement this week, Novell did as promised and published details of its landmark November 2006 Linux partnership agreements with Microsoft. Linux advocates are expected to scour the documents for signs of how the agreement may affect Linux and whether anything in it will put Microsoft or Novell in potential violation of the upcoming version 3 of the GNU General Public license (GPL). The GPL is used in licensing many components of the Linux operating system. Open-source advocate Bruce Perens said he would be looking to see exactly what Novell was given through the deal and whether there is any requirement for the Linux vendor to defend Microsoft's patent claims. 'What I'm actually looking for is, to what extent was there a violation of faith?' he said."
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Novell Goes Public with Microsoft Linux Deal

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  • by kripkenstein (913150) on Saturday May 26, 2007 @06:34AM (#19281823) Homepage
    Link to actual agreement [sec.gov]

    I am no lawyer (but I do read contracts from time to time, as a 'hobby'), but this is really an odd 'covenant'. The agreement appears to not state what products are actually covered by the patent covenant, in bizarre ways. For example, "Clone Products" are not covered, "Clone Products" being presumably things like Mono and OpenOffice (as they duplicate Microsoft APIs and products); yet all such products already designed at time of signing are exempt, i.e., they are covered. Yet, the following projects are not subject to the exemption: "Wine, OpenXchange, StarOffice and OpenOffice", i.e., they are not covered. So OpenOffice appears to not be covered.

    Likewise Samba would presumably be a "Clone Product", and not covered as well, except by the exemption due to its existing at time of signing. Yet this might not cover additional functionality added later. It just isn't clear.

    No actual products are named aside from the quote above, and even they are not stated as being covered or not (just not exempted by a particular subsection). So, reading this, I can't tell whether Novell customers are in fact covered or not, in any way. The assumption was always that the agreement did protect them from patent lawsuits. But that assumption may have been wrong.

    Is the contract specifically designed to not mention any products, effectively letting it be ambiguous and perhaps of no legal use - that is, only effective for PR purposes?
  • by jellomizer (103300) * on Saturday May 26, 2007 @06:57AM (#19281895)
    Cloned Products are more considered products which copy the full functionality of the origional app and all development is for improving compatibility or upgrading to match the current version. SMB is a good example of this. It is designed to be compatible with windows networking and that is about it, features added are used to improve compatibility or internal management of the compatibility of the software.
  • by LizardKing (5245) on Saturday May 26, 2007 @07:40AM (#19282067)

    Really? Care to give a citation for that claim? Some features of Xenix were merged into SVR4 around 1990, but that's hardly 20 years ago, and I don't recall any mention of royalties being paid to Microsoft for using SVR4 source code. Anyway, Xenix would have required Microsoft to strike some sort of licensing deal with AT&T in the first place, as they owned the source code that Xenix was based on. I'm not sure what point SCO (old-SCO that is) ended their relationship with MicroSoft, but that may have predated the merging of Xenix features into AT&T's codebase anyway.

  • by StringBlade (557322) on Saturday May 26, 2007 @08:34AM (#19282307) Journal

    Following the links from the article I ended up here [infoworld.com] which does explicitly state that Microsoft and Novell will collaborate to improve interoperability between Microsoft Office and OpenOffice, also between Microsoft Active Directory and Novell eDirectory.

    Unfortunately all the links in that article to the SEC filings are 404s.

  • by cronius (813431) on Saturday May 26, 2007 @09:39AM (#19282651)

    I like Suse. I've used it for years. I use OpenSuse and hope it will keep itself clear of that but I'm looking for alternatives. Ubuntu has a chance but anything that puts GNOME first is crap. I don't like Mono or the rest of Miguel's M$ fan-boyism. I don't want M$ crap in my life and haven't had it there for years.
    You don't need to use GNOME to use ubuntu, just use Kubuntu [kubuntu.org] instead. You get all the goodness of ubuntu plus KDE.
  • Re:Fair is Fair (Score:5, Informative)

    by Akaihiryuu (786040) on Saturday May 26, 2007 @11:03AM (#19283145)
    Straight from the text of the GPL: "You are not required to accept this License, since you have not signed it. However, nothing else grants you permission to modify or distribute the Program or its derivative works. These actions are prohibited by law if you do not accept this License. Therefore, by modifying or distributing the Program (or any work based on the Program), you indicate your acceptance of this License to do so, and all its terms and conditions for copying, distributing or modifying the Program or works based on it."
  • by Frodo420024 (557006) <henrik@fang[ ].dk ['orn' in gap]> on Saturday May 26, 2007 @02:48PM (#19284855) Homepage Journal
    Might it cover GNumeric as well? It has copied every feature from Excel - I even remember the announcement when the implementation was complete.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 26, 2007 @06:41PM (#19286623)
    Well, the Samba project began as a means to share files/printers with Windows systems, and that is still a main goal. But the software and the protocol has also been extended in ways not supported by Windows. For example, UNIX extensions were added to improve interoperability between UNIX-like systems talking SMB. This makes managing file permissions a lot easier when you only have two Samba hosts talking to each other.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 27, 2007 @10:56AM (#19292405)

    Did you know that C#, Visual BASIC.Net, etc Microsoft gave the EMCA the rights to allow the standards for those languages to be given out to open source software?
    They did no such thing. ECMA only requires that Microsoft licenses them under "reasonable and non-discriminatory" license. The wording is geared to business usage, and is by no means actually reasonable and non-discriminatory towards F/OSS, MS has _NEVER_, _EVER_ given a license for .NET technologies that allows sublicensing, for example, which alone makes it entirely incompatible with the GPL.

    And obviously you don't have the slightest clue about what "clone" means in software world either. Something written from scratch to mimic something else is a clone.

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