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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 spazmonkey (920425) on Saturday May 26, 2007 @06:43AM (#19281857)
    Whether people like it or not, whether the deal goes on as planned or not, or whether this in any way violates GPL, the damage is unfortunately already done - and not necessarily because of any effects that may come out of the agreement. The real damage is that the very thought this agreement will cause Stallman to pretty much COMPLETELY lose it, in the flying-blind-in-the-land-of-batshit kind of way. I can't imagine his behavior will get more reasonable anyway, and with his credibility already stretched and the tensions already rife within the community, it doesn't bode well. Open infighting amongst the FOSS community is just what we need right now......
  • by Antique Geekmeister (740220) on Saturday May 26, 2007 @07:03AM (#19281927)
    Stallman has enough handlers to help keep him out of the realm of shrieking in your face. He's actually matured, and gotten better at convincing strangers that he has some real answers for their concerns.

    Richard has been prophetic about this: his concerns at the Novell/Microsoft deal, and about software patents in general, were exposed as completely correct when Microsoft started its recent claims of hundreds of patent violations without naming a single patent.
  • by spazmonkey (920425) on Saturday May 26, 2007 @07:08AM (#19281941)
    "it is hard to deny that helping Microsoft spread their FUD and trying to get a competitive advantage by splitting the OSS community is far worse than anything Stallman has ever done."

      Unless, of course, what he does is to split the OSS community.

      You rightly called this deal FUD. It will go away with time. RMS won't, so it would be far better for us all if we could keep him just to THIS side of insanely divisive, and this deal isn't going to help that any.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 26, 2007 @07:15AM (#19281969)

    1.9 "Other Excluded Products" means (a) office productivity applications (word processing, spreadsheets, presentation software, etc.) of the Parties that are hosted by or running on a computer acting as a server for a connected client device, and (b) new features and functions in the following categories of products of the Parties, but not to the extent the products embody operating system software or other enabling technologies: (i) video game consoles (e.g., Xbox video game consoles), console games, video game applications designed to run on a computer, and on-line video gaming services (e.g., Xbox live); (ii) business applications designed, marketed and used to meet the data processing requirements of particular business functions, such as accounting, payroll, human resources, project management, personnel performance management, sales management, financial forecasting, financial reporting, customer relationship management, and supply chain management; (iii) mail transfer agents (aka email servers); and (iv) unified communications.
    Looking at the list of excluded items, doesn't this mean that anyone that buys SuSE and thinks that they're protected from suit are just being fooled. I know that OOo comes as part of the distro as do other excluded things. So what does Novel think that they have to offer (besides FUD that is) to their customers? This deal also seems to leave MS open to cancel this deal at anytime. So, there is no protection. It seems to just be the illusion of protection and nothing more.
  • by Kjella (173770) on Saturday May 26, 2007 @07:40AM (#19282063) Homepage
    Well, they explicitly exempted OpenOffice and StarOffice, which I presume means that otherwise they would have been covered. If OpenOffice is a "clone" of MS Office, then I think you can cover just about anything competing in the same market.
  • by jimicus (737525) on Saturday May 26, 2007 @07:41AM (#19282071)
    Not now it isn't, but did Microsoft retain any rights to Xenix [wikipedia.org]?
  • by Brainix (748988) <brainix@gmail.com> on Saturday May 26, 2007 @08:21AM (#19282251) Homepage
    The Free Software / Open Source "community" is and has always been split. That's its greatest strength. Some people (like RMS) are into Free Software for idealistic reasons. Other people (like Linus) are into Open Source for practical reasons. People disagree about everything on every level - from the topmost philosophical level all the way down to the implementation details of the code. There's enough room for everyone and, frankly, the discussions and flamewars are healthy.
  • by StringBlade (557322) on Saturday May 26, 2007 @08:28AM (#19282287) Journal
    Under the business collaboration agreement it lists the Novell and Microsoft products under agreement

    ...Novell and Microsoft agree to provide a combined offering consisting of SLES and a subscription for SLES support with Microsoft Windows Server, Microsoft Virtual Server and Microsoft Viridian.
    It looks like Microsoft has given up and just started naming their products appropriately.
  • by mw13068 (834804) on Saturday May 26, 2007 @10:03AM (#19282817)
    grandparent: "far worse than anything RMS has done..."

    You guys are nuts. I ask you, what evil has RMS done to the Free Software community?! Starting it in the first place? Seeing into the future of the software industry and writing the GPL to protect the community (1991) or doing it again in 2006-07? Ever ask yourself *why* he does what he does? I'll give you a hint. It's to keep Free Software Free.

    parent: "Unless, of course, what he does is to split the OSS community"

    RMS didn't split the OSS community, the "open-sourcers" split the Free Software community. So if you've got separation anxiety, blame Torvalds, Perens, and that whacko Raymond who may write good software, but don't have the desire or the ability to protect it. Name one OSI license that will help protect Free or "open-source" software as well as the GPL against the enemies of Free Software.

    If it weren't for RMS, Moglen, the FSF, and now the Software Freedom Law Center, all you "open-source" folks would be working for Microsoft or some other proprietary software developer.

    Open Source is dead, because it doesn't mean anything. Even Microsoft can make open source software.

  • by apokryphos (869208) on Saturday May 26, 2007 @10:58AM (#19283119) Homepage
    It's worth noting 3.4:

      3.4 No Acknowledgement of Infringement. Nothing in this Agreement shall imply, or be construed as an admission or acknowledgement by a Party, that any Patents of the other Party are infringed, valid or enforceable.

    Which will hopefully finally put an end to all the nonsense conspiracy theories [boycottnovell.com] that "Novell admitted that Linux infringes patents" etc., even though Novell have constantly re-iterated [novell.com] that such a claim was ridiculous. As I've said several times before, blaming Novell for Microsoft's recent claims is just completely unfounded, and in fact there's nothing new or particularly recent about it; Microsoft have always been flooding the market with falsities about Linux's infringement on their patents.
     
    Hopefully the published results will provide the community with a general better understanding [opensuse.org] of the deal, so that at least if they disagree/hate it, they do it for real reasons (which seems to be rare).
  • by symbolset (646467) on Saturday May 26, 2007 @12:01PM (#19283651) Journal

    In the new dawn emerging from the FOSS revolution we are finally getting what we really need to move technology forward: light. These back room deals for contingent permission to use intangible ideas and leverage market share will not stand the light of day. All deals are eventually exposed. This leads to some business ethics lessons that should have been the standard all along:

    • Don't do business with someone who can't cut a straight deal.
    • Muggers can't be partners. If you make a deal to squeeze out a third party, your partner is already negotiating with the fourth party for your demise.
    • Don't partner with someone who has a history of feasting on the corpses of their former partners.
    • The more desperately you need a deal, the less likely it is to work out well for you.
    • Don't borrow. If you must borrow, choose your lender with exceeding care -- they may be your friend today but they are as subject to the whims of fate and usages of power as you. Lenders can be leveraged too.

    Now let us set out to innovate good products and sell them on their merits, m'k?

  • by Sesostris III (730910) on Saturday May 26, 2007 @12:04PM (#19283675)

    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.

    Bully for you! You manage to lead a pure and Justified existence, unsullied by any contamination of anything from Microsoft.

    Unfortunately, if you hadn't noted from your Edenic paradise of FLOSS perfection, a large of PCs (whether work or home, Server or Desktop) run Windows.

    This begs a question - how to encourage people and companies to migrate from Windows to GNU/Linux? This just doesn't mean providing desktop environments (Gnome/KDE) but also a way to migrate applications (a big concern for business).

    Java is not a problem, but the Microsoft languages (C#.NET and VB.NET) are.

    I know what! What is required is someone to help provide an environment where these applications can run in (say) Linux and not just Windows! That way, the path to paradise is not blocked for all those people and companies using stuff developed with Microsoft technologies. Is there such a person? Is there such a Project? Why, goodness me, there is; Mono, with Miguel as main developer.

    Of course, you may not want Gnu/Linux to become mainstream. If so, may I humbly disagree.

    (Oh, and a query, How will you avoid all the stuff that the Suse folk put into the kernel? They're still at it as well, by the way, looking at the latest change logs. Maybe you should use Hurd instead. I've heard it's very pure and unsullied!)

    Sesostris III

    (PS, I currently dual boot with Ubuntu, having always used KDE before, and I must admit I like it. As mentioned by someone else, there is Kubuntu if you prefer KDE. Xubuntu if you prefer neither!)

  • by Ravnen (823845) on Saturday May 26, 2007 @12:23PM (#19283799)

    RMS didn't split the OSS community, the "open-sourcers" split the Free Software community.
    Open source software, including examples such as BSD, was around before Free Software, but without any ideological opposition to its use in proprietary software. Whether or not Stallman's ideological stance is more productive than the one taken by open source developers before him, and those who didn't join the Free Software movement, is an open question, and depends on the goals.

    If the goal is the best software, then the GPL is largely irrelevant. If the goal is the best open source (or Free) software, then the need for something like the GPL ultimately depends on whether or not the open source development model is more effective than the closed model. If it is, there isn't much of a need for preventing proprietary additions, because any temporary advantage from closed development will be negated over time, by parallel open development. If closed source is actually a more efficient development model, then something like the GPL becomes much more important. I don't know which is the case.

    I'm not ideological, so I'm glad to be able to benefit from the incorporation of BSD sockets into proprietary software. If Windows 3.x/9x, SunOS, Mac OS and others hadn't been able to take advantage of BSD sockets code, it almost certainly would have prevented BSD sockets becoming a de facto standard. I don't know which networking API most of us would be using, but my guess would be something designed by Microsoft. Thanks to BSD sockets, all of these systems can interoperate well, and open source systems like Linux are actually useful as network servers, serving mostly Windows and Mac OS clients.

  • by Kjella (173770) on Saturday May 26, 2007 @12:29PM (#19283843) Homepage
    I don't see how it could be any other way, and it's great that everyone can try out "their thing", but sometimes having a standard is more important than its merits. For example I'm sure you can find lots of reasons why we should drive on the left or the right side of the road - but it sure as hell is easier when everyone drives on the same side of the road.

    For example: No matter what program I run, I'd like the "Open file" dialog to look the same. No matter what I'm trying to print, I'd like the "Print" dialog to be the same. When I'm trying to find out why my video doesn't play, it'd be great to have one video backend. It finally looks like everything is starting to standardize on ALSA for sound. Linux is the epitome of "The great thing about standards is that there are so many to choose from!". It's getting better, but still could use a lot of work.
  • by WGR (32993) on Saturday May 26, 2007 @03:22PM (#19285069) Journal
    Microsoft has become one of the biggest sellers of Linux and Linux support by this deal. Microsoft saw that many customers were going to use Linux based servers for specific applications anyway(an internal blog based on LAMP, for example).so Microsoft retains the customer while contracting out the support to Novell.

          Novell gains revenue with the support contract OEM from Microsoft, Microsoft retains customer loyalty (and a cut of the support contract) and is able to sell "total solutions". Microsoft sees future revenue in customer support.

    The patent stuff is more of a red herring in this deal. It is basically there to ease the deal. The main idea is that Microsoft gets to sell more stuff to customers and Novell gets more revenue. It is a win/win deal for both of them.

  • by petrus4 (213815) on Saturday May 26, 2007 @04:55PM (#19285703) Homepage Journal
    In the new dawn emerging from the FOSS revolution we are finally getting what we really need to move technology forward: light.

    No; what we've really been getting is cultic bullying and intimidation, and the sorts of methods of social reform customarily employed by the Amish.

    Microsoft on the one hand make legally questionable back room deals. On the other, Perens gets on a soap box and threatens Novell with the dire things that will happen to them if they don't get back with the Stallmanite program. We also see rank and file Linux users engaging in their usual, continual gutter tactics of slandering and threatening anyone in the IT trade press who prints anything contrary to the opinions they want universally held.

    The beloved "community" has NO moral superiority whatsoever. The approach might be different in some respects, but the goal is more or less the same; control over how people think, and the software they use. In fact, the single reason why I've always believed that the FSF/its' cheerleading squad are actually considerably morally worse than Microsoft is because of the degree of dishonesty inherent in their claim to have more morally desirable intentions. Stallman is an aspiring cult leader, the same as Hubbard or any of the rest of them who have existed throughout history. There's nothing elevated or enlightened about it at all.
  • by petrus4 (213815) on Saturday May 26, 2007 @05:06PM (#19285789) Homepage Journal
    Stallman has enough handlers to help keep him out of the realm of shrieking in your face. He's actually matured, and gotten better at convincing strangers that he has some real answers for their concerns.

    Yep. The problem with him dealing with people directly is that he's never had any real ability himself to hide what he is. The tremendous value inherent in the mouthpiece strategy is that said mouthpieces can be people who know how to sound infinitely more diplomatic, sane, and reasonable than Stallman himself, so he gets more supporters, (who because they don't know better, foolishly assume that Stallman himself is as sane as his representatives sound) and his genuine megalomania also stays safely hidden away from people who would otherwise have serious ethical problems with following him if they knew about it.

    Stallman needs to communicate with people via third parties for exactly the same reason that Darth Vader ended up needing to wear the black suit; the outer appearance needs to be made at least vaguely palatable, because the genuine, internal reality is in fact truly monstrous.
  • by petrus4 (213815) on Saturday May 26, 2007 @05:22PM (#19285937) Homepage Journal
    The Free Software / Open Source "community" is and has always been split.

    This might be true, but the effectiveness of Stallman's fearmongering, coupled with the perception that Microsoft's recent behaviour reinforces it, and aided as always by the aggressive suppression of dissent engaged in by Stallman's followers, means that currently anyway, the cultic half of the abovementioned alliance is predominating.

    We can hope that the pendulum eventually swings back, and things resume some vague semblance of genuine balance, however the prognosis for this is currently not good. As far as the open source side of the equation is concerned, Eric Raymond seems to have largely fallen out of sight, and the zealots are also apparently gradually succeeding at pulling Linus into line; at least to the point where he no longer is willing to express definitive resistance to their goals. Even if he still doesn't agree with the FSF internally, he will thus become controllable.
  • Tyrants may be unavoidable, but you can reduce their scope and their power. If a project can be forked at need, then "absolute control over the code base" means until people get so upset that a group forms to fork the code. This can take lots of provocation, but X Window experienced just such an event a year or two ago.

    OpenSuSE may mean that Novell is already facing a quiet insurrection. It also may not. (I'm not a SUSE user, so I haven't been following them. But even if it doesn't mean that now, it could change to mean that at any time.)

    Guido may have the title "Benevolent Dictator For Life", but if enough people got unhappy with his decisions, a new language would fork off of Python. (It doesn't even require that someone be unhappy. Greg Ewing could decide to develop Pyrex into a full language rather than leaving it to be an intermediate between Python and C, and that would do it in and of itself.)

    So there are lots of "Petty tyrants", both benevolent and otherwise. In the FOSS community their power over each person is generally quite limited.
  • by petrus4 (213815) on Saturday May 26, 2007 @06:00PM (#19286269) Homepage Journal
    What would be better for FOSS is to recognize people like you for what they are: either, you're a Microsoft shill who's trying to use this as an excuse to throw mud at proven open source contributors, or you're just some anti-GPL zealot who is disappointed that the GPL is so widely used.

    Do us a favour; come up with something new. For one thing, the shill argument is getting extremely old, and for another, the people who use it would be lucky if 1% of the time that it had been used, it had actually been accurate. It's a term Linux people use dismissively for anybody who says anything that they don't want to hear. Dissent from the groupthink? You're a shill.

    Expressing critical or dissenting opinions about Richard Stallman is not a groundless activity, and I can assure you that it is not one which you or any of member of his cult will ever dissuade me from engaging in. If you want me or the rest of us to stop, here's how you can make it happen. Create a scenario where the FSF literally ceases to exist, and where Richard Stallman is dissuaded from engaging in any form of public work or appearance ever again. This scenario is what I want, and I'm not going to stop praying for it to happen or from creating any kind of opposition to him or his followers that I possibly can. I'm also going to offer any support I can to others on this site who engage in this activity. Richard Stallman is the proverbial scorpion on Linux's back. His formal organisation and the informal collective of his followers together are a scourge, and I honestly cannot adequately verbalise the extent of the loathing which I feel towards them.

    I'm not merely a shill. From your perspective, I'm something considerably worse.
  • by apokryphos (869208) on Saturday May 26, 2007 @06:58PM (#19286785) Homepage
    No, the conspiracy theory going around was that Novell agreed to those claims as well even though they've continuously denied it. That this deal hasn't been good for Novell is another myth a lot of people apparently like believing, curiously enough. While in actual fact Novell's stocks have gone up, they've got quite a few more Linux engineers than before, and SLE adoption is greatly increasing. Not exactly doing badly, are they?

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