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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 kripkenstein (913150) on Saturday May 26, 2007 @07:34AM (#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 someone1234 (830754) on Saturday May 26, 2007 @07:44AM (#19281861)
      I suppose they expect to be able to warp the language later as need arises. "Clone Products" doesn't say anything. Linux itself could be declared clone, as it implements (clones) an existing concept. (posix/unix/os).
      • by kripkenstein (913150) on Saturday May 26, 2007 @07:54AM (#19281887) Homepage
        That's true, but note that "Clone Products" in this contract are only with respect to the other party. So Linux implementing *NIX isn't an issue since *NIX isn't a Microsoft product.
        • by WrongSizeGlass (838941) on Saturday May 26, 2007 @08:02AM (#19281919)

          So Linux implementing *NIX isn't an issue since *NIX isn't a Microsoft product.
          Yet ... ;-)
        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward
          Did you forget about Microsoft Xenix? All UNIXes pay or paid royalties to Microsoft...at least for about 20 years.
          • by LizardKing (5245) on Saturday May 26, 2007 @08:40AM (#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.

            • SCO shipped Xenix compatibility crap with OpenServer, as required by the contract that transferred Xenix to SCO. SCO didn't actually want to ship this crap, as least for the price being paid. BTW, Microsoft also had shares of SCO from that deal.

              SCO got their freedom in a lawsuit a few years back. As I recall, there was a settlement. Microsoft sold/lost the shares and SCO stopped shipping the Xenix crap.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by jimicus (737525)
          Not now it isn't, but did Microsoft retain any rights to Xenix [wikipedia.org]?
        • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward
          If Novell beats SCO Unix is theirs, does that make Microsoft's Windows Services for UNIX a clone product?
        • by pegr (46683)
          That's true, but note that "Clone Products" in this contract are only with respect to the other party. So Linux implementing *NIX isn't an issue since *NIX isn't a Microsoft product.
           
          I guess you never heard of Xenix [wikipedia.org]?
      • by jellomizer (103300) * on Saturday May 26, 2007 @07:57AM (#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 Kjella (173770) on Saturday May 26, 2007 @08:40AM (#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.
          • You seem to be making the mistake of applying logic to legal documents.

            Don't do that. Implying things means nothing, and making it so people presume something is true without it being true is the name of the game.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Frodo420024 (557006)
          Might it cover GNumeric as well? It has copied every feature from Excel - I even remember the announcement when the implementation was complete.
      • Come on dudes, Linux is a total Xenix clone. You know it. Novell knows it. Balmer knows it.

        (Just don't tell Linus, it'd be awkward.)

    • by Antique Geekmeister (740220) on Saturday May 26, 2007 @08:00AM (#19281907)
      Samba is an interesting issue. Jeremy Allison resigned from Novell as fast as feasible: as one of the core developers of Samba, I have to assume that Jeremy's work was a big factor in the Microsoft/Novell deal. And with all the little network applicance and storage tools currently on the market, and with almost all of them being Samba based, Microsoft had clear reason to limit the usability of Jeremy's work to direct Novell customers.

      Remember also that Novell's Netware tools are still supported: network storage is a big market. And this deal left Microsoft and Novell with a big patent club to be able to use against mutual competitors, without either being restrained by the other company.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by StringBlade (557322)

      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.

    • If it was it would have had a much better IDE and GUI that resembles Visual Studio.

      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?

      Not only is there Mono, but also DotGNU that does a version of those languages.

      They are not clones, but they are trying to make the languages available for multiple platforms. They also make Dotnet available for multiple platforms, because C# and Visual BASIC.net use Dotnet as part of their standard framework.

      The reasons why they aren't clones is because you cannot take Visual Studio code and compile it on Mono and DotGNU unless you modify the code and tweak it. That is because Mono and DotGNU are written from scratch and not actual ports of Visual Studio.

      OpenOffice.Org is not a clone of MS-Office either. It was written from scratch. The only thing it has in common with MS-Office is the MS-Office format files it can save as and read, and possible some primitive VBA support.

      Mono and DotGNU are open source "alternatives" to Visual Studio, not clones.

      OpenOffice.Org is an open source "alternative" to MS-Office.

      Linux is an open source "alternative" to MS-Windows.

      Tux is an open source "alternative" to Mickey Mouse.

      Linus Torvalds is an open source "alternative" to Bill Gates

      None of them are clones of the other.
      • They are not clones, but they are trying to make the languages available for multiple platforms. They also make Dotnet available for multiple platforms, because C# and Visual BASIC.net use Dotnet as part of their standard framework.

        The reasons why they aren't clones is because you cannot take Visual Studio code and compile it on Mono and DotGNU unless you modify the code and tweak it. That is because Mono and DotGNU are written from scratch and not actual ports of Visual Studio.

        Momo does not just implement

        • WinForms is a part of the .Net Framework according to Microsoft [microsoft.com] that is a framework that the C# and Visual BASIC.net language use.

          Next time, read the whole article [mono-project.com] before you quote things out of context. Mono does not even use the Microsoft source code for Winforms, but instead "Mono's Windows.Forms implementation translates the native system events such as X11 into Win32 WM_ messages and dispatches them using the WndProc mechanism. This allows applications that depend on overriding WndProc to get some feat
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Ilgaz (86384) *
        Let the Mono developer who is a Slashdot user defend his Framework. He will port Silverlight to Linux too. He also happens to work at Novell.

        I had enough with his personal attack fans last time, not getting into details.
    • Note that if you add up the money transfer, then MS actually paid Novell M$40. I think that the 'covenant' protects MS against being sued by Novell, not the other way around.
  • by spazmonkey (920425)
    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
    • by BlueParrot (965239) on Saturday May 26, 2007 @07:59AM (#19281901)
      I for one welcome our Zealot Overlord ... oh wait, he has been that way since before I was born?

      The damage is done alright, but it is Novell that has taken a hit to their credibility. Everyone already knew RMS was a bit of a zealot, for better or worse, this won't change that. It has however ruffled the feathers of quite a few in the FLOSS community, and it could very well cause Novell to lose supporters in favor of Redhat, IBM or even Canonical. Whatever criticism you have about RMS 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.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by spazmonkey (920425)
        "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 Brainix (748988) <brainix@gmail.com> on Saturday May 26, 2007 @09:21AM (#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 Kjella (173770) on Saturday May 26, 2007 @01:29PM (#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.
          • "There's enough room for everyone and, frankly, the discussions and flamewars are healthy."


            No they're not.
          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by petrus4 (213815)
            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 genui
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by mw13068 (834804)
          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 communit
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Ravnen (823845)

            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, t

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

          There's nothing to split. FOSS is just a marketplace of different products and licenses, just like any commercial marketplace. RMS has no control over what licenses people use. If FOSS developers don't like the GPLv3, they won't be adopting it. I predict, however, that the GPLv3 will be a big success because many FOSS developers will want its requirements applied to their code.

          RMS won't, so it would be far better for us all if we could keep
          • by petrus4 (213815)
            RMS has no control over what licenses people use.

            Same as how Cardinal Ratzinger has absolutely no control over what anybody does or believes...Right?
            • Neither of them have control on people.

              In many Catholic countries people turn a blind eye to the "teachings of the church" and use contraception and have abortions.

              Just in Mexico City there are around 8000 abortions every year, it being a very Catholic country.

              In Spain gay marriage was legalized last year, another country not being fazed by Mr Benedict the Pope.

          • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

            by petrus4 (213815)
            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 acc
            • Do us a favour; come up with something new.

              Come on, use your head. The accusation of "shill" doesn't mean that I seriously believe you are one, it is simply shorthand for expressing that you are behaving as if you were one: it's people like you who hurt open source, not people like Stallman.

              Expressing critical or dissenting opinions about Richard Stallman

              You're not "expressing critical or dissenting opinions", you're throwing mud at someone who has done more for open source than you will in your entire lif
              • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

                by petrus4 (213815)
                Well, then I suggest you stop using their software. You can start by canceling your Slashdot and Blogspot accounts and stop using Google and Firefox

                Exactly my point. He ends up creating a scenario where his word, his ideology, is law. If you don't like it, your only alternative ultimately ends up becoming hardly using a computer at all. If that isn't raw authoritarianism, I'm not sure what is.

                You've just proven my point, and you've done it very openly, for all to see. I either think and behave in exactl
                • Exactly my point. He ends up creating a scenario where his word, his ideology, is law.

                  Stallman isn't creating a "scenario", he is creating software. Furthermore, he doesn't pick the licenses for software he doesn't write, the authors of that software do.

                  If you don't like it, your only alternative ultimately ends up becoming hardly using a computer at all.

                  Yes, if you're opposed to people giving you software with source code for free, you indeed have to stop using a computer at all. It is indeed terrible.
                • by Bloater (12932)
                  Stallman's contracts *specifically* grant you the right to his software for any purpose whatever your background/opinions/culture.
                • What you were told is that you are an ungrateful bastard, good manners demand that at the very least you would treat the man with some respect since you are benefitting from his work.

                  Nobody demanded that you stop using computers, the other poster suggested that you stop being such an hypocrate by moudbathing the hand that has fed your software needs. That is not totalitarianism, that is common sense and requesting basic good manners.
            • There is nothing wrong with expressing different ideas and airing them.

              But your position is quite stalinist (or chose your dictator here, be free to do so, at least other people respect your right to express yourself).

              Stallman is a very important voiced that needs to be heard, if anything he has been consistent and is inmovable principles have allowed software for all to thrive.

              This would have been impossible with BSD licensing, where everybody would have run away with the goodies of others and then would h
      • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Interesting post from Groklaw

        Win, Win, Win
        Authored by: givemelibertyor on Saturday, May 26 2007 @ 09:23 AM EDT
        -----There are, I have absolutely no doubt, several other advantageous
        reasons for this deal that I don't come close to. But looking at all this, you
        can't help feel that Bill and Steve are still laughing their socks off.-----

        Another might be to try to poison NOVL as an acquisition target for IBM or
        Google. NOVL has some networking assets that would be quite valuable tactically
        and strategically for an
        • by HiThere (15173)
          That Novell has ever *been* a member of the FOSS community is debatable. SuSE has been, but a corporation buying you doesn't automatically make that corporation a part of the community.

          I used to like Novell, and considered them ethical. That was from around 1980 to a few months ago. Since then I've been in "don't commit" status. Now, actually seeing the agreement, and reading people's interpretations of various pieces (did you know that several of the terms are defined in a web page on a domain that doe
    • by Antique Geekmeister (740220) on Saturday May 26, 2007 @08:03AM (#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 Freed (2178)

        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.

        The problem is that most people do not want to face the fact that the powerful forever keep trying to buy laws that undermine democracy such as the DMCA. Thus, most people are in no position to understand RMS's warnings.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by petrus4 (213815)
        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 hi
        • 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...

          Hold on. I was with you until this point. A _mouthpiece_ for Stallman? I am sure this would be news to him. Can you name this person or is this just as nonsensical as the rest of your post?

          Anyone who has not seen the following link on what Novell's partner Microsoft inspires should see:
          http://www.inlumineconsulting.com:8080/ [inlumineconsulting.com]

        • by grcumb (781340)

          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.

          "Monstrous?" Who the hell modded this scurrilous piece of character assassination Insightful? The only thing that prevents it from being outright libelous is that it consists of nothing but empty venting.

          I've seen Stallman speak in

        • Or trolling.

          Or both.
    • Novell has agreed to pay Microsoft a percentage of revenue from open-source products Although its not entirely unexpected that two corporations seek mutuality in the market, I never expected to see MS get money from open-source products. How MS continues to seek a piece of the FOSS market will be the developing story over the next years. How the FOSS community maintains its ideals in the face of similar commercial opportunities will certainly preoccupy the community.
    • damage to who? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by nanosquid (1074949)
      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,

      Actually, this agreement shows that Stallman's behavior is completely reasonable. It's you who is "batshit" because you still just don't get the kinds of dirty tricks companies like Microsoft are trying.

      with his credibility already stretched and the tensions already rife within the
    • 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
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by petrus4 (213815)
        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 als
        • I've been watching RMS and Bruce Perens for more than 20 years. I don't always agree with them, though they have contributed far more to the cause than I. RMS in particular can get carried away with enthusiasm.

          Having considered the issues myself however, it is my belief that they had considered these issues with what I would consider mathematical rigor long before I was even interested in them. You could see that I sometimes disagree with them about important issues if you were a contributor here, since

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 26, 2007 @08:15AM (#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 symbolset (646467) on Saturday May 26, 2007 @12:32PM (#19283433) Homepage Journal

      I wrote here at the time that the point of a secret covenant was for the companies to be able to sell the same peace more than once.

      PHBs need to understand they can't buy peace -- Not ever. They have to take it by choosing to be Free and Open.

      Novell's contributions to the OIN need to be reassessed now because the value of the patents they contributed may have been wiped out by this agreement. How many other OIN partners have worked a deal like this or outright licensed away their patents? Is the Open Invention Network a complete sham?

      Novell took money from Microsoft. Microsoft always gets something valuable in return. I continue to believe the "something of value" was a pledge for Novell programmers to leverage MS IP in their products so that when this deal expired their customers would be hooked into paying MS licensing fees for products that run in Linux. It's the only way Microsoft encouraging deployment of Linux makes sense from a Microsoft point of view.

      It certainly will be easier to do with Novell offshoring most of their development. High profile evacuations in their onshore development teams show an important trend. The FOSS developers who create great work because they have both skill and a passion for the "free as in liberty" aspect of open source software have fled. Offshore they can hire coders who are interested in personal liberty from the oppressed economic conditions of their community and are less concerned with the Freedom of others who fare better than them at a minimum. It's not a formula for good code. Passion adds considerable quality to the output - perhaps quality that cannot be had any other way. A software system is not a microwave oven.

      Novell desperately needed that money from Microsoft because delays in their financial reporting caused by an audit of options grants allowed their major creditor to call loans that would have seriously impacted their operation. Somebody needs to have a close look at how this squeeze play was engineered. Its timing is suspicious in the extreme. It would not surprise me if both the investigation that triggered the audits and the creditor were both suspiciously motivated. All FOSS companies need to have a close look at their exposure to being leveraged in this way.

      It is my hope and belief that Novell regrets their dance with the devil and they're trying to escape his fee. We will see if they can do it. In any case it should be more clear to all that dancing with the devil is a dangerous game.

      • by petrus4 (213815)
        PHBs need to understand they can't buy peace -- Not ever. They have to take it by choosing to be Free and Open.

        If you really think that peace exists within the FOSS development community, maybe you should spend some time reading about the recent internal conflicts that have been plaguing both the Debian and Gentoo projects.

        What you're not seeing is that whether free or proprietary, in *any* human social environment there will always be authoritarian megalomaniacs who crave power over others, and who also cr
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by HiThere (15173)
          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 co
        • If you really think that peace exists within the FOSS development community, maybe you should spend some time reading about the recent internal conflicts that have been plaguing both the Debian and Gentoo projects.

          Passion can be scary -- anyone who's stood at an altar to be married can tell you that. Passion is a powerful motivator for a lot of things, including innovative problem solving. Yes, passionate people who care about their work can engage in strident discussion. Should it rise to the necessary

        • A magistral performance. Honestly, well done.

          You took us for the ride. I fell for it initially.

          Pat yourself in the back, wonderful performance.
  • wow... (Score:3, Funny)

    by muszek (882567) on Saturday May 26, 2007 @09:05AM (#19282177) Homepage
    The GPL is used in licensing many components of the Linux operating system.

    Finally a summary that contains a very much needed and comprehensive definition of the GPL. That's something every geek's been dreaming about since Slashdot was born!
  • Fair is Fair (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    You know, companies are mostly free to make deals with other companies provided no laws are broken.
    Microsoft is free to use GPL'd code, provided they follow those (GPL, LGPL) agreements.

    OTOH, if **any** company doesn't follow the agreement - GET THEM!
    Too many of them - http://gpl-violations.org/ [gpl-violations.org]
    Linksys being the most famous: http://lwn.net/Articles/51570/ [lwn.net]

    Personally, I'd love to see Microsoft found guilty of violating the GPL/LGPL, but I know how hard they work to ensure that doesn't happen - at least a few
    • Nitpicking here, but you can't be convicted of "violating the GPL". The GPL works totally different from EULA's. EULA's are an attempt to enforce "restrictions" in addition to standard copyright (whether these are even legal is beyond the scope of this argument). On the contrary, the GPL is merely a license to modify and redistribute (things copyright doesn't normally allow). The GPL is the only thing that gives you the right to do this...if you violate the agreement, the GPL no longer applies, and regu
      • Re:Fair is Fair (Score:5, Informative)

        by Akaihiryuu (786040) on Saturday May 26, 2007 @12:03PM (#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 StringBlade (557322) on Saturday May 26, 2007 @09:28AM (#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 itsjpr (16533) on Saturday May 26, 2007 @09:59AM (#19282451) Homepage
    From Exhibit D

    Non-Assertion of Patents Pledge

    Microsoft hereby covenants not to assert Microsoft Patents against each Non-Compensated Individual Hobbyist Developer (also referred to as "You") for Your personal creation of an originally authored work ("Original Work") and personal use of Your Original Work. This pledge is personal to You and does not apply to the use of Your Original Work by others or to the distribution of Your Original Work by You or others. A "Non-Compensated Individual Hobbyist Developer" is an individual software developer (i.e., a person and not any corporation, partnership or other legal entity), including a developer of open source software, who receives no monetary payment or any other forms of consideration that can be valued monetarily for their creation of their Original Works. The fact that You may be employed as a software developer by, and receive a salary from, a corporation, partnership or other legal entity, does not disqualify You from treatment as a "Non-Compensated Individual Hobbyist Developer" under this pledge, provided Your activities related to the creation of Your Original Work are performed during Your free time and outside the scope of Your employment. The Microsoft Patents subject to this pledge are all patents issued world-wide to the extent they are owned or controlled by Microsoft or its majority owned subsidiaries. For additional information on obtaining rights under Microsoft patents to contribute Your Original Work to an open source project, please see Microsoft's Patent Pledge for Hobbyist Contributors.
    WTF is that? This is meaningless drivel. The whole point of free software is freedom to work on it community. If all I do is mod code at home and use it at home it ain't open and I'm not free. This also puts a big cloud over free software use commercially, ie. when i participate in and/or lead free software projects are part of my day job...which is a big component of this. Free software is a treasure trove of problem solutions. They are effectively saying you can work on or use that software without paying M$.

    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.
    • by cronius (813431) on Saturday May 26, 2007 @10:39AM (#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.
    • by bersl2 (689221)
      Nobody said anybody has to agree to the covenant in Exhibit D. It simply states the asphyxiating conditions under which MS promises not to sue individuals for patent infringement---conditions which may be unconditionally changed by MS. But clearly, MS has now promised not to sue individuals. ;)
      • by master0ne (655374)
        Court is now in session for the case of Microsoft vs Anonymous Coward(s).... for the Microsoft would like to call ALL of the F/OSS company... err.. community to the stand for cross examination....
    • 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.

      Perhaps PCLinuxOS [pclinuxos.com] might be to your liking, it's KDE-centric and generally receives very good reviews. I use it as my main OS myself, and I've always been very happy with it. It's definitely the

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Sesostris III (730910)

      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 d

      • by itsjpr (16533)

        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.

        You can't be free from M$ if you use their stuff. It's not Windows the OS, it's M$ the organization. There are many other organizations which I can work to empower. I don't feel like undermining my own liberties by empowering the organizations that will take them away.

        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.

        Have you heard of porting? There is nothing in the .NET world that can't be solved by other (free) technologies (especially with the GPLing of Java). It's not about running stuff on Linux, it's about not being beholden to an oligarch.

    • by kimvette (919543)

      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.

      One should always be looking at alternatives, whether one's current choice is $foo Linux, OS X, Windows, OS/2, Solaris, or any other operating system out there. What provides the best solution for you today may not be what provides the best solution for your organization a year from now. I just compared the latest Zimb

  • Its just a matter of time... but this is hardly news at this point.
  • From reading the comments and the snippets in the comments it sounds like it's another damned unintelligible EULA. One of the main reasons I prefer GNU/Linux is their EULA (it may have the GPL and others but in those I can find sites that fully explain it in a common language as well as gives me some tangible rights as well as restrictions.)
    • by jopsen (885607)
      Off topic, but GPL i not an EULA.... The GPL only restricts your redistribution of GPL'ed software or software deriviated from GPL'ed software (ei modifications of GPL software)... As long as you don't redistribute an application the GPL doesn't give you anything but rights...
  • by apokryphos (869208) on Saturday May 26, 2007 @11:58AM (#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).
    • Hopefully the published results will provide the community with a general better understanding of the deal, so that at least if they disagree/hate it, they do it for real reasons (which seems to be rare).

      Why not acknowledge a real reason then, namely, that the patent agreement "innovated" a way to turn free software into effectively nonfree software? Moreover, it tries to do this by subverting the most widespread free software license. So serious is this problem that it forced the GPL3 to be delayed just

      • > "innovated" a way to turn free software into effectively nonfree software?

        This is completely baseless. I'm interesting in hearing the way in which you think this is a valid statement though.

        > Moreover, it tries to do this by subverting the most widespread free software license

        We can argue for eons on what the "spirit" or what the "meaning" of an unspoken licence's rule is, but this is completely pointless; if you want to play the legal game, then you have to play by the rules: only
        • by Freed (2178)
          >This is completely baseless. I'm interesting in hearing the way in which you think this is a valid statement though.

          The basis is that Microsoft gives Novell's customers a patent license which is conditional on their not exercising many of the rights that the GPL gives them. This is unacceptable.

          >>So serious is this problem that it forced the GPL3 to be delayed just in order to have language to ban this practice. The publication of a licence was delayed..

          >I'm sorry but this is simply emotive la
          • > The basis is that Microsoft gives Novell's customers a patent license which is conditional on their not exercising many of the rights that the GPL gives them. This is unacceptable.

            Which freedoms cannot be exercised? Could you expand a little more?

            >Yes, Novell contributes to free software, but what good is 10x the contribution if software freedom is threatened and watered down by the sponsor of such contributors?

            Statements like this often make me cringe I'm afraid. The last time it was mentioned
            • by Freed (2178)
              >> The basis is that Microsoft gives Novell's customers a patent license which is conditional on their not exercising many of the rights that the GPL gives them. This is unacceptable.

              >Which freedoms cannot be exercised? Could you expand a little more?

              Any freedoms that they receive that depend on the patent protection cannot be exercised. E.g., the customer cannot _redistribute_ the software with the same degree of patent protection that they themselves were granted; on the other hand, anyone not c
            • Such a deal clearly makes Novell appear as "the clean Linux" while any other distributors are smeared as "those patents thiefs".

              Basically they are abrogating for themselves a role that nobody bestowed into them with the work of the whole community.

              I have no idea if the contrived contracts both companies signed allow for this to be done legally (there have been noises from people better informed than myself abot the deal actually contravening the GPL from both sides of this disgraceful agreement) but I am as
    • > Which will hopefully finally put an end to all the nonsense conspiracy theories that "Novell admitted that Linux infringes patents" etc., even though Novell have constantly re-iterated that such a claim was ridiculous.

      I wouldn't call that a "conspiracy theory" because it was Microsoft who perpetuated that claim. Yes, they went to the media and used it to whip up all this FUD, like the 235 patents bit. And with the rest of us unable to read the agreement...

      Anyhow, I figured that was just Microsoft sta
      • by apokryphos (869208) on Saturday May 26, 2007 @07:58PM (#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?
    • I honestly want to know.

      They agreed not to sue the pants of each other, but Novell knew there was nothing to be sued for. So actually that would imply they took advantage of MS weak position, and all this using as a tool software that they only distribute and for which they have no moral standing to use in such manner.

      We can spin it in many different ways, the one above amuses me the most, the reality is that no matter what, Novell come in no way looking good.

      We knew who MS are. We learned who Novell is. No
  • ...all this is really a distraction from dealing with the core issue of the fraudulent perspective of the patenting software.

    See: http://threeseas.net/abstraction_physics.html [threeseas.net] re: what is universally considered NOT patentable.

  • Novell did as promised and published details of its landmark November 2006 Linux partnership agreements with Microsoft
    Landmark? Eyesore, more like it.

    Partnership? Toady, more like it.

    Did as promised? Spin doctoring, more like it.

    Partnership agreements? Pact, more like it.
  • Another conspiracy theory he can use to attack Novell since the "Novell is trying to be bought out by Microsoft" one was so ridiculous it just made him look like an idiot.

    Naturally in any legal document you can spin the thing any way you want - despite or perhaps because of the supposedly rigorous legal language - so I'm sure he'll come up with something to let him get more play in /. and Linux Today.

  • "not to assert Microsoft's patents against those customers for the customers use of products and services of Novell for which Novell receives revenue. "

    So where does free software fall in this statement. Does Novell receive revenue for all the FLOSS it distributes? Sounds like BOHICA time to me.

Stellar rays prove fibbing never pays. Embezzlement is another matter.

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