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Linspire Signs Patent Pact With MS 386

Posted by kdawson
from the devil's-sleeping-around dept.
RLiegh sends us to an AP article reporting that Linspire has signed a patent deal with Microsoft. The company, which started out life as "Lindows," joins a growing list of patent agreements reached between Microsoft and vendors. Linspire will be granted a license to use True Type Fonts and "various code" that would allow for Linspire users to use voice on Windows Live Messenger as well as the usual patent protection for Linspire's customers. In return, among other things, Linspire will make Microsoft's search engine the default search on PCs shipped with their OS. Kevin Carmony, the CEO for Linspire, approached Microsoft a year and a half ago, according to the article.
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Linspire Signs Patent Pact With MS

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  • by blcamp (211756) on Thursday June 14, 2007 @08:38AM (#19503709) Homepage

    Allow yourselves to be assimilated, and we will drop all litigation. Hell, we'll even let you call yourselves a "vendor".

    Resistance is futile, indeed...

    • by DuncanE (35734) * on Thursday June 14, 2007 @09:06AM (#19503981) Homepage
      Okay WTF is going on?

      I understand that these kind of small Linux vendors need to make money, but why are they signing up to this?

      I can only think its cold hard cash talking. Both Linspire and Xandros have just signed their death warrants (Novell at least has other options).

      Begun the Microsoft (Clone) wars has.
        1. Ubuntu and Lindows have a deal regarding "click-n-run", etc., and that future Lindows distros will use Ubuntu as the base.
        2. Microsoft can't attack Ubuntu directly
        3. So Microsoft attacks their partner.
        No, there's no "... PROFIT ..." - except for Microsoft.
        • by sumdumass (711423) on Thursday June 14, 2007 @12:43PM (#19507259) Journal
          Don't look at this as an attack on a vendor. If anything this is an attack on the GPLv3.

          But more importantly look at the details of the deal. So far as I can tell, this stuff only covers the use of proprietary stuff with GPLed/third party offerings. Outside the idea of a GPLed program potentially using them, it won't effect the GPLv3 status at all _IF_ the agreement is specific in what code or IP the patent protection covers and that code isn't inside a GPLed program.

          I think this might be another case of jumping the gun on too little details. The reaction to Novell's deal was way overblown and once the details were released, it appeared to no cover anything that would competing with microsoft blah blah blah. People said Novell got screwed. Well they did, by the GPL leaders who reacted over a bunch of misplaced hype. None of this was about the potentials of contaminating OSS. it is all about dealing with Microsoft. You don't even know the specfics of the deal and are accusing "Microsoft attacks" already.

          At best, this just shows MS's effort to fracture the GPLv3. When enough companies need to stick around that projects will be forked or uninformed people implode over using the GPLv3 while having deals like this and become angry enough to make an ass of themselves it will be their doing. MS is likely attempting to do a divide and cause conflict within as their strategy of dealing with OSS and it is going to be highly successful.
        • by Locutus (9039) on Thursday June 14, 2007 @01:48PM (#19508307)
          I believe it was also about Linspire getting continued access to MS codecs. Linspire, IIRC, was/is the only distro which ships with full multimedia access/enabled for US users. They got that from the settlement to change their name from Lindows to Linspire, along with a bunch of cash.

          It appears that rights to use MS codecs was not unlimited and Linspire wanted to continue with that 'feature' of their distro. My guess is that alot of the motives behind this was the extension of the licensing for those codecs. Like in the Novell deal, Microsoft probably 'requires' the fake IP protection crap or else any other deal would fail or cost too much. It's typically how they operate.

          How this will impact the Click-n-Run deal with Ubuntu will be something to look at since I'm sure Microsoft would not want Linspire to just hand out those codecs to just anybody.

          I will warn others to not believe this is about Microsoft collecting fees from Linux. Microsoft runs by Windows and without Windows, they fall. Therefore, all this IP licensing stuff is about killing Linux or killing corporate use of Linux one way or another. They've shown before that they're willing to spend billions just to protect the Windows monopoly/gravy-train and Linux is a threat. IMO.

          LoB
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by tomhudson (43916)
            We really should do more about letting people know about non-US repositories like packman.de that include multimedia codecs.
    • by russ1337 (938915) on Thursday June 14, 2007 @09:21AM (#19504139)
      Auctioneer: Going once.... going twice..... *bang!* This Soul goes to the man in red suit who just threw his chair.
    • by Stocktonian (844758) on Thursday June 14, 2007 @09:59AM (#19504663) Homepage

      In return, among other things, Linspire will make Microsoft's search engine the default search on PCs shipped with their OS.


      As someone who sells Linux ,and only Linux, pre-installed on PCs and laptops across Europe I'm disappointed in this. My company is a Linspire reseller and system builder and we've been awaiting the new Linspire 6.0 for a few months now with baited breath. Linspire 5.0 doesn't work on most of our hardware so we're not selling it at the moment and news like this makes me want to drop it all together.

      It'll be a cold day in h*ll before I ship a PC with Microsoft Search as the default.
      ---
      http://www.xephi.co.uk/ [xephi.co.uk] for Linux without MS Search
    • by efence (927813) on Thursday June 14, 2007 @10:42AM (#19505305)
      Microsoft: "If You Can't Beat 'em....Charge 'em." [linspire.com]

      Our experience has been that Microsoft gives a lot of lip service to wanting to work with open source Linux, but then proceeds to drag their feet and delay in actually delivering anything meaningful. (Does anyone following ODF believe Microsoft's proposed "open standards" are really open, or just self-serving?) Given their history, I'm understandably very skeptical that Microsoft sincerely wants to do much here.
  • I want in! (Score:5, Funny)

    by morgan_greywolf (835522) on Thursday June 14, 2007 @08:40AM (#19503721) Homepage Journal
    Okay. That does it. I want in. Where do I sign up for the free Microsoft cash?
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by dk90406 (797452)
      Easy: Start your own Distro.
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        1. Start your own Distro.
        2. ???
        3. Profit?

        Wow, I wish I had done that 10 years ago. I'd be rich!
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by _Sprocket_ (42527)
      I also would like to announce the SprocketOS Linux distribution. We at SprocketOS are always concerned with putting our customers first. Just like these other "Linux companies", we also do have customers. Honest. In any case... this wasn't just about Microsoft cash. We believe that our pending agreement with Microsoft will create a rich environment of cooperation and benefit to our company. Micorosoft has a history of this sort of thing. Besides... our CEO of Innovation (who just happens to be my wif
  • by Recovering Hater (833107) on Thursday June 14, 2007 @08:40AM (#19503729)
    ...continues to hang itself. At least we still have Debian. Even though its derivatives will probably all sell out.
    • by MichaelSmith (789609) on Thursday June 14, 2007 @08:44AM (#19503771) Homepage Journal

      At least we still have Debian. Even though its derivatives will probably all sell out

      Even Ubuntu? I think you are wrong, but we will see, won't we.

    • by westlake (615356)
      The LInux business community...continues to hang itself. At least we still have Debian.

      Cross-licensing in business is the norm and, if, like Linspire, you want a piece of home market, some accommodation with reality, the proprietary DVD codec, Windows 95% share, etc., is necessary.

    • by Ganesh999 (1075569) on Thursday June 14, 2007 @10:36AM (#19505229)
      > ...continues to hang itself. At least we still have Debian. Even though its derivatives will > probably all sell out.

      A little perspective here, please.

      * Novell sold out because, despite their purchases of Ximian & SuSE, they never really "got" Linux; they were just trying to shore up a rapidly dying Netware product while continuing business along the same paradigms that killed it. Witness the resulting exodus of several core SUSE developers, further reducing the company's understanding of Linux; frankly I've seen Novell Linux brands as almost defunct for some years now. (go on, flame away...)

      * Xandros sold out because their market share and community was miniscule. They sought to steal Windows market share, but (unsurprisingly) didn't have the resource to tackle Redmond. Xandros are already defunct and starting to smell; they just don't know it yet. (go on, flame some more...)

      * Linspire haven't really recovered since having their teeth pulled, and they really don't "get" the security issue. The whole distro is very much Kevin Carmony's baby, and seems to be very fluid while it tries to find a profitable niche. Ubuntu's just broken into the territory it was trying to win (i.e. preinstalled mainstream linux), so I think the distro will die soon. Strangely, though, I don't think that Linspire has sold out, exactly, it's following in its father's footsteps; it understands business, not OS, and is evolving into a kind of "software accessibility enabler". Personally I detest the proprietary shit its peddling, but Ubuntu's already proven there's a demand for that.

      So MS has munched on the low-hanging fruit. Sad, but not unexpected; the old & weak are always the first to go in war & business. What remains is :

      * Several hundred non-commercial distros, top of the list is Debian, the epitome of idealism.
      * Ubuntu - very smart, idealistic, breaking into the mainstream.
      * Redhat - very smart, idealistic, pwns the enterprise Linux sector and employs the majority of kernel hackers (and just ballsed up royally with its recent partnership - *Symantec*, for gods' sake! - but they should weather it ok).
      * Mandriva - still kicking, playing interesting tunes on 3D desktop usability.
      * Various other commercial appliance distros e.g. firewalls, Tivo, etc.
      * One lone idealistic guy with who owns the damn trademark.

      So let's not moan doom & gloom too early, eh?

      Now, if someone rings tomorrow to tell me that Torvalds just sold Linux(tm), then you might have a point. But the *source* will still be out there & owned by the community that developed it. There is now a minimum level of code & application quality that proprietary software houses must meet; and while they don't, there will always be an underdog.

      Best regards,

      Conrad
    • by walterbyrd (182728) on Thursday June 14, 2007 @10:51AM (#19505443)
      I believe Ubuntu's founder made it clear that Ubuntu would not sell out to msft in this interview [fmtech.co.za].
    • by d3xt3r (527989)

      Don't forget Red Hat. They turned down Microsoft. They definitely still "get it" in terms of maintaining an open source distribution. Not making business arrangements with companies that tick off the FOSS community is only part of the good behavior expected of companies making money of FOSS software.

      Red Hat is still a big contributor to the Linux kernel, Gnome and the OSS community in general. With the exception of Red Hat Network (paid service) all the products they've built (system config tools)

  • O rly? (Score:5, Funny)

    by EveryNickIsTaken (1054794) on Thursday June 14, 2007 @08:41AM (#19503733)

    Linspire will make Microsoft's search engine the default search on PCs shipped with their OS.
    So that'll increase MS's total by 10 units? Why even make this deal?
    • Re:O rly? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by denominateur (194939) on Thursday June 14, 2007 @09:05AM (#19503967) Homepage
      I'm guessing the point is that Microsoft will have a growing list of vendors who agree that perhaps patents are being violated, thereby justifying their litigation action if any is going to occur.
      • Re:O rly? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by JimDaGeek (983925) on Thursday June 14, 2007 @10:22AM (#19505033)
        No, none of the companies agreed that MS patents are being violated. They signed a deal so they don't have to worry about it. A bad deal IMO, but that is all it is. No company admits to anything. Why do you think so many settle out of court when they can't win/are wrong? Because the settlement does not include an admittance of guilt.

        All Microsoft is doing is going after the fringe Linux distros that have no real user base. These fringe players have nothing to lose. Now, if Ubuntu or Redhat/Fedora jump ship, then that will be news. Though I don't see it happening. Redhat has enough money to fight it out in court. Ubuntu is based where software patents are not valid so they don't have to worry.
    • PR is priceless. Another press release stating 'Another distro signs up for patent protection with Microsoft' is just another accomplishment under the belt for MS and another step towards this being the norm. Doesn't matter if they lose a little occasionally to make the big boys roll over.
    • If so, than all of this is a red-herring. The real target might be Google and yahoo. If so, that is smart on MS's part, but scarey on the distro's part.
  • by Alethes (533985) on Thursday June 14, 2007 @08:42AM (#19503737)
    I don't mean to sound ignorant or naive, but isn't this just what businesses do? All of the distros that have done this are really more concerned about the bottom line than freedom, right? So let them do their thing, maybe get some people and companies to switch to Linux (Which is a Good Thing) and the rest of us will use whatever distro we want regardless of patents and Microsoft, right?
    • by denominateur (194939) on Thursday June 14, 2007 @08:50AM (#19503839) Homepage
      The problem is that a lot of the software we use on a daily basis is largely copyrighted by these businesses in addition to the thousands of developers that have contributed code. Most of the nuts and bolts of a linux distro, including a lot of the kernel, came from redhat developers. As for the desktop, GNOME has a lot of contributions from Novell programmers. KDE is almost entirely Trolltech's child and so on. So in case any patent litigator has valid (in legal terms, we all know how much we agree with software patents) claims in any of these pieces of software, the community at large will be forced to rewrite large portions unless these copyright owners transfer everything to GPL3.
      • by moranar (632206)
        You seem to have a bad understanding of the difference between the meanings of copyright and license.

        Hint: all the contributors to, say, the linux kernel, keep the copyright to their code, but agree to license it under the GPL v2.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by denominateur (194939)
          Maybe I should have worded it differently. In order for the GPL3 patent protection to be effective all copyright holders must agree to relicense their contributions to GPL3 (unless the copyright notice states specifically that any derivative work can be licensed under GPL2 or later, which is true in most cases, thereby making it possible for other people to repackage and rerelease under GPL3 as much as I unerstand)

          e.g from the template header for GPL software: This program is free software; you can redistri
          • by moranar (632206)
            The GPL is not a magic wand against patents: the provisions on v3 said, last time I checked, something to the tune of "you can't use this code in patent wars", but it can't affect the situation of original code that another company states is infringing on some patent. In this case, the code has to be redone, or the suit won, GPL or not.

            That assumes:
            -that patent laws apply
            -that the trial is actually done: apart from SCO, I don't see other companies doing this.

            Even if they do business with MS, I doubt Linspir
            • by denominateur (194939) on Thursday June 14, 2007 @10:03AM (#19504733) Homepage
              I realise that, I was specifically referring to section 11 of the current draft. If the Novell/Linspire/Xandros deals include licenses to Microsoft patents, relicensing to GPL3 will extend that patent license downstream to all users of said software, thereby protecting them from any patent claims that Microsoft makes. Of course the enforcability of this third-party downstream patent claim protection is something that will be tested in court. Of course I'm not trained in the legal profession and I'm just trying to understand this whole conundrum for myself. Since the Novell deal essentially grants Novell a license to sublicense Microsoft patents to its users, the following clause will extend this sublicensing to all users of Novell's contributions, irrespective of their status as direct Novell customers.

              From the current GPL3 draft, section 11:
              A contributor's "essential patent claims" are all patent claims owned or controlled by the contributor, whether already acquired or hereafter acquired, that would be infringed by some manner, permitted by this License, of making, using, or selling its contributor version, but do not include claims that would be infringed only as a consequence of further modification of the contributor version. For purposes of this definition, "control" includes the right to grant patent sublicenses in a manner consistent with the requirements of this License.

              Each contributor grants you a non-exclusive, worldwide, royalty-free patent license under the contributor's essential patent claims, to make, use, sell, offer for sale, import and otherwise run, modify and propagate the contents of its contributor version.
              • by moranar (632206)
                Doesn't that assume that the code _can_ be passed downwards? If MS gives access but not GPLed code, distros can't take it, and I doubt they'd touch it then, to avoid any possible tainting.
                • Yes, in essence, as I understand it, it boils down to having to rewrite large portions of the software that Microsoft has any patent claims to unless the patent deal with Novell/Xandros/Linspire includes a license to sublicense patented parts in accordance with the provisions of the GPL (e.g. access to source code, free modification, forking, all the good stuff).

                  So if the deals do not include wording that specifically allows Novell to grant sublicenses to its users in accordance with GPL provisions, this me
                  • by moranar (632206)
                    It seems wrong: commercial distros include in their paid offerings closed source software, most of it patented somehow (e.g. Adobe Reader), and those pose no problem. I don't see how or why Novell would be barred from distributing GPL v3 software. A distro is not a software package or program in the GPL sense. If the v3 license really says that, then I'm seriously against it. Not because of a love of patents, but because it's too intrusive.

                    If other distros really want the MS code, I guess they'll have to sp
    • Microsoft is a special company.

      III. Prohibited Conduct [usdoj.gov]

      A. Microsoft shall not retaliate against an OEM by altering Microsoft's commercial relations with that OEM, or by withholding newly introduced forms of non-monetary Consideration (including but not limited to new versions of existing forms of non-monetary Consideration) from that OEM, because it is known to Microsoft that the OEM is or is contemplating:

      1. developing, distributing, promoting, using, selling, or licensing any software that competes with Microsoft Platform Software or any product or service that distributes or promotes any Non-Microsoft Middleware;


      2. shipping a Personal Computer that (a) includes both a Windows Operating System Product and a non-Microsoft Operating System, or (b) will boot with more than one Operating System; or

      3. exercising any of the options or alternatives provided for under this Final Judgment.

      Nothing in this provision shall prohibit Microsoft from enforcing any provision of any license with any OEM or any intellectual property right that is not inconsistent with this Final Judgment. Microsoft shall not terminate a Covered OEM's license for a Windows Operating System Product without having first given the Covered OEM written notice of the reasons for the proposed termination and not less than thirty days' opportunity to cure. Notwithstanding the foregoing, Microsoft shall have no obligation to provide such a termination notice and opportunity to cure to any Covered OEM that has received two or more such notices during the term of its Windows Operating System Product license.

      Nothing in this provision shall prohibit Microsoft from providing Consideration to any OEM with respect to any Microsoft product or service where that Consideration is commensurate with the absolute level or amount of that OEM's development, distribution, promotion, or licensing of that Microsoft product or service.

    • Why? Because these agreements don't protect the developers. In the long run, it won't do Linspire or whoever any good if they're legally allowed to sell Linux, but the community is dead.

      This is how Microsoft "cuts off the air supply" of Free Software.

  • by Puls4r (724907) on Thursday June 14, 2007 @08:44AM (#19503761)
    This is how Microsoft has always done business. From Internet Explorer to Media Player on down the list, bundling the software or having it as a "default" is a very very powerful tool.

    For instance, most companies lock down their computers. I can't even install quick time on ours - which means that unless it works with windows media, I don't visit the website. Many websites know that - so they don't use Quicktime formats. It's a neverending circle.

    If I were google, I'd be thinking about doing the same thing in reverse. Get your office suite working and then begin package it free on every computer manufacturer that you can negotiate with.
    • by Tribbin (565963)
      No no no!

      I'd rather have distributions and programmers choose google as default because it's good.

      What MS does now is saying: "We know other search options are better, that's why we pay you to make our's default".
  • by b1ufox (987621) on Thursday June 14, 2007 @08:46AM (#19503789) Homepage Journal
    What are linux big shots waiting for now?

    Red Hat , Ubuntu please do the rest of the honours. I have no freaking idea what MS has in his pocket that all these companies have agreed to MS terms of so called *patent* protection.Hell yes, i am paranoid but that so only because MS is involved in all of these pacts, i am not at all comfortable taking the bullshit.

    Why is Linux community silent on a whole? Only thing they can do is host a site called as showusthecode.com and challenging Mr Balmer. And MS responded by making one more Linux company its ally. Now i am really getting worried about my submitted code as GPL. Is this just me or something is really cooking up at Redmond?

    • Why is Linux community silent on a whole?

      Good god, man! Are you serious? The Linux community isn't silent about anything. Novell has experienced a backlash, and the CEO had to go so far as to address it publicly. That's not insignificant, in my mind.

      Now i am really getting worried about my submitted code as GPL. Is this just me or something is really cooking up at Redmond?

      I'm struggling with that, too. Trying to figure out how serious a concern this is. My one solace at the moment is that what we've really got is Microsoft managing to rope Novell, and then two bit players in the game. Xandros and Linspire? Microsoft isn't exactly taking down the titans of the Linux world.

      They did get Novell, and I agree that's not small potatoes - but the general opinion really seems to be that as well as getting hosed, Novell also got conned by the boys from Redmond. In the fallout - RedHat specifically rebuffed Microsoft's public offer.

      Many people have compared this to the SCO fud-fest that got going - and that actually seems to be a more apt analogy the further we go. A couple of small-frys have caved in -- in their own defence, they're not equipped for a battle with Microsoft, and we must assume these are businessmen and not fanboys.

      I expect Microsoft will continue to pick off the small distros, trying to build some PR momentum before training their guns on the larger players in the Linux industry. Not dissimilar to SCO's approach.

      What happens then, is what tells us what's really going on here...

  • All of a sudden how did Microsoft become as respected as Don Corleone? Everybody's signing pact with them for "protection". And they're JUST BLUFFING!!

    I feel as if the world's been turned upside down.

    Or maybe the true nature of computer businesses has been revealed. In the end, it's just a bunch of greedy b=$)/"%...

    Oink oink [google.com].
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Dan Ost (415913)
      You know, if the mob offered to pay me to accept their protection...

      That was Novell's deal. Do we know if Xandros and Linspire got paid by MS?
  • by smitty_one_each (243267) * on Thursday June 14, 2007 @08:49AM (#19503827) Homepage Journal
    I've got dozens of friends and the fun never ends
    That is, as long as I'm buying
  • Never (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Das Auge (597142)
    Every time a Linux-related company signs a deal with Microsoft, it guarantees that I'll never use, or, as a consultant, ever even recommend their products.
  • it is a good thing (Score:4, Interesting)

    by FudRucker (866063) on Thursday June 14, 2007 @08:56AM (#19503885)
    This will just separate the wheat from the chaff. when it is all over the GNU/Linux community will be stronger and those that sign on with microsoft will have lost the respect and be shunned by the majority of the Linux community (both developers & users)...
    • by westlake (615356)
      This will just separate the wheat from the chaff.

      - and if the chaff is Red Hot and the product Sun's OpenOffice what then?
      The linux community has expanded far beyond the ideologues and enthusiasts that populate Slashdot.

      • by jedidiah (1196)
        Open Office wasn't even the only productivity software under Linux even when it was still owned by Star Division. Stifle the "one true interface crap". If I wanted that I would still be using Windows.

        Open Office shouldn't be the singular option any more than Microsoft Office should be.
  • Divide and conquer (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sucker_muts (776572) <sucker_pvn@hoSLA ... com minus distro> on Thursday June 14, 2007 @08:56AM (#19503889) Homepage Journal
    Microsoft clearly want to divide and conquer: They know they cannot fight against the movement of open/free software, but they sure can influence companies. As long as there are big distro's as foolisch to walk the path Microsoft lays down for them these kind of agreements will keep coming.

    I'm very curious what will happen with these agreements with Novell, Xandros and now Linspire when gpl v3 arrives. And don't forget, the list of companies signing agreements with Microsoft will keep on growing.

    But it seems these companies do not handle in the best interest of the community anymore, but only to serve their paying customers.

    Greed, anyone?
    • by ClickOnThis (137803) on Thursday June 14, 2007 @09:34AM (#19504321) Journal
      They know they cannot fight against the movement of open/free software, but they sure can influence companies.

      YESSSS! Give that customer another mod point.

      But rather than trying to "divide and conquer" the FOSS community, I'd suggest it's a new chapter in Microsoft's "embrace, extend, extinguish" strategy. Getting these companies to sign agreements covers the "embrace" part. The "extend" part is, perhaps, the will-not-sue covenant: it offers an extra warm/fuzzy feeling for the customer.

      I'm very curious what will happen with these agreements with Novell, Xandros and now Linspire when gpl v3 arrives.

      Maybe this is the "extinguish" part. AFAIK, the companies who have signed the agreements could no longer include updated versions of code that has gone to GPL3. So ... either they go out of business or they fork their code. (Hmmm, the latter actually does seem like "divide and conquer" after all.)
    • by fwarren (579763) on Thursday June 14, 2007 @10:13AM (#19504917) Homepage
      Microsoft clearly want to divide and conquer: They know they cannot fight against the movement of open/free software, but they sure can influence companies. As long as there are big distro's as foolish to walk the path Microsoft lays down for them these kind of agreements will keep coming.

      Microsoft is doing what they have always done. Made deals with other companies that in the long run, put Microsoft on top and kills the other company (if possible). IBM and Red Hat won't play this game, they are in business to prosper for a long time. Novel was stupid, and made a bad deal...they may yet survive it. It wont be the first mistake they have survived. That is why Microsoft got them in on the deal first. If these small frys had signed up first. Novel would have known it's a trap and not done the deal. So Novel survives, and all these dumb little you have to buy me Linux distros go bye bye. Somehow the Linux community will survive.

      It is good that the business world has recognized the value of Linux. But Linux is not just composed of companies who have paid programmers to add things they need to GNU/Linux. It is made up of programmers who for their own reasons, want to work on this and add stuff to GNU/Linux. It is also world wide, so even these shenanigans in the US will not halt linux from moving on.

      Who knows, even if Microsofts wet dream were to come through, and you could not sell a linux distro in the US, and it could not be used in a business environment. People in the US would still download, and help improve Linux.

      Linux is not going away. The community will still be here, and it will still grow. Also, I think other countries like China or developing thrid world nations will standardize on it which would force readoption of Linux in the US at some point.

      Truthfully, Eve has already bitten the apple. Linux is here to stay in the US. The military does not want to see it go away. Large companies, like Google or banks, rely on it and would not want to see it go away. IBM, who has the power to fight on this issue wants linux as well.

      In the meantime we just have to wait and see how this plays out. I hope it is more of a XBox/Xbox 2, we loose money on every sale but will make it up on volume decision from Microsoft. Instead of the Micosoft of the Netscape/Wordperfect era.

  • I look forward to Microsoft's statement on Friday about how great it is that companies like Linspire are recognizing the need to properly licence Microsoft patents and blah, blah, blah...

    Followed, on Monday, I guess, by a statement from Linspire CEO Kevin Carmony that they never admitted to infringing on Microsoft patents and that they never talked about it, and that Linspire infringes on no one's patents, and, and, and ...

  • I've been wondering actually whether these patent agreements are indeed such a bad thing. It's basically Microsoft agreeing not to sue [insert name of company] and possibly a few sexual favours in return right? I'm asking because I'm actually quite fond of Linux, despite being mainly based in Microsoft tech and I'd actually like Linux to thrive, which with all this patent FUD flying around isn't going to happen.

    'Free' in business terms doesn't exist. It makes investors very nervous as how on earth can you b
    • These agreements specifically deny certain freedoms developers need and explicitly "clone products" like Samba that actually provide the "interoperability" MS is crowing about. The true aim of these agreements is put Linux users on an (eventual) migration path to Windows while increasing developer fear of being sued. Oh well, yet another Linux vendor I won't be doing business with. Thanks ESR!
    • by Tony (765) on Thursday June 14, 2007 @10:53AM (#19505479) Journal
      'Free' in business terms doesn't exist.

      Of course not. That's why the biggest on-line success stories are based on free software (Google, Amazon, others). That's why most fortune-1000 companies use free software. That's why Linux has been the fastest-growing OS for several years. (Not that it means much, as it's also still behind Apple in terms of desktop deployment.)

      The patent agreements are to increase the fears, not allay them. Right now, you can use Linux freely. You can download a copy and install it on all your computers, whether you have one or one thousand or one million. The BSA can't bust down your door and count your Linux seats. (Well, they can, but there's nothing they can do about it.)

      Microsoft aims to change that perception. They want people to believe that Linux has the same licensing requirements as MS-Windows. They want to reduce people's freedoms, or at least change their perception of those freedoms.

      If you can support a company like that, be my guest. I won't. I refuse to use their software. I will never develop for their software. Not that my threats keep Ballmer up at night or anything, but they aught to realize they are alienating their own customers, which is *never* a good business strategy.
  • by SkunkPussy (85271) on Thursday June 14, 2007 @09:09AM (#19503997) Journal
    It seems like M$ are trying to get as many of these agreements out as possible before GPLv3 comes out, although I imagine they will have learnt from the Novell deal.
  • Looked through the article and I see no mention of Apple.
    ------
    Under the agreement, Linspire will license Microsoft code related to Voice over Internet Protocol, Windows Media files and TrueType fonts. With the addition of the Microsoft code to Linspire's operating system, users will be able to voice-chat with Windows Live Messenger buddies, watch Windows Media video and audio files on open-source media players, and view and create documents using familiar typefaces.
    ------
    Now, unless I'm mistaken Ap
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Who do you reakon will be the next distro to enter into a Microsoft deal. So far its been all the ones you'd expect - I suspect we won't be hearing much more of Xandros and Linspire, although I think Novell could still come out unscathed- My guess is Mandriva - although it saddens me to say it - they are having financial troubles etc.

    I suspect that microsoft won't bother with the huge number of non-commercial distros so that leaves Red Hat, Ubuntu, mandriva, Turbo Linux and few others.

    Mark Shuttleworth said
    • by westlake (615356)
      I suspect we won't be hearing much more of Xandros and Linspire.

      The distros of choice for the OEM market? Dell? The big box retailer like Walmart and Target?

      Look around you. The home user. The small businessman. These are not sophisticated technical hobbyists. These are not ideologues. They are the polar opposite of the Slashdot Geek and they have money to spend.

      • by jedidiah (1196)
        Dells ship Ubuntu, Redhat and Suse.

        Xandros and Linspire aren't in there ANYWHERE.

        The half hearted attempts by Walmart and Target don't really count. It remains to be seen whether or not Dell's current half hearted attempt will be at all visible.

        Linspire goes onto the ultracheap bluelight special boxes that places like Target, Frys and Walmart like to sell from time to time. Of those three, Frys is barely visible and then only to geeks. The Target/Walmart boxes aren't even on the radar.

        There isn't yet a "Lin
  • Thanks ESR! (Score:4, Informative)

    by illuminatedwax (537131) <stdrange AT alumni DOT uchicago DOT edu> on Thursday June 14, 2007 @09:15AM (#19504063) Journal
    And guess who just recently joined the board of Linspire who thinks that Linux market share percentage is the only goal worth following? Thanks for another useful contribution to the community, ESR!
  • Isn't it about choice? You can choose Linspire if you want to have those features in place. Or, you can choose another distro.

    Or, are we going to say, "You are free to choose, as long as you don't make these choices?"

    Most "Freedom of X" movements turn into extreme hypocrits at the point where someone decides to be exercise free choice in an opposing direction.

    • by Tony (765) on Thursday June 14, 2007 @10:30AM (#19505135) Journal
      Or, are we going to say, "You are free to choose, as long as you don't make these choices?"

      I do not think that word means what you think it means.

      You are not free to make choices that restrict my freedoms. Full stop.

      Part of freedom is about maintaining freedom. The problem with deals like Linspire and Novell and Xandros is this: they are complicit in Microsoft's attempt to control free software. If they are successful, they have contributed to the reduction of my freedoms.

      This isn't a matter of, "You are free to do as I say." This is a matter of, "Don't tread on me." This is a matter of, "Your right to swing your fist ends just before my nose." This is a matter of, "Those fuckers are trying to destroy a beautiful thing."

      You are free to use Linspire. Go ahead. But as you find yourself free to do what Microsoft says, remember: it was your choice.

      And choices have consequences.
  • As soon as this MS patent bullshit started, I locally mirrored livna and fedora 7 and all the sources. I'm planning to burn several DVDs to put in storage soon too. Now I have a snapshot of Linux "the way it was" and "the way I use it" before Microsoft fucks everything up (as usual). You know, as much as the sky is blue, they are going to fuck it up for everyone, bastards.
  • I wonder if this could end up being a good thing for the Linux community, even though it's not what Microsoft intended.

    What if Microsoft continues to do deals with various second-tier Linux vendors? And what if Linux users and customers, by and large, shun those vendors? (Ok, Novell wasn't a second-tier vendor but they're already being shunned.)

    And what if Red Hat and Canonical continue to refuse to sign, because, y'know, people are actually *using* their Linux distros in large numbers? Could the Linux-
  • Actually, I think what we are seeing is Microsoft adapting to the market place. Microsoft is at a point that they haven't been in for at least 10 to 15 years; competition that they view as either currently or potentially viable as a replacement for their product, and consumer/corporate reaction to the marketplace. It started mainly with Firefox. It was a popular 3rd party product that has been steadily gaining marketshare on their product (IE) since it's creation, and has for the most part been resistant to
  • That's really funny (Score:5, Interesting)

    by kimvette (919543) on Thursday June 14, 2007 @10:29AM (#19505113) Homepage Journal
    It's really funny that Microsoft is "letting" Linspire use Truetype, especially considering that:

        - Truetype is an APPLE innovation
        - Truetype was developed over 20 years ago, so any patents pertaining to such have long run out. Even if there were valid claims, APPLE would have to be the one to pursue the claims. Somehow I cannot see Apple doing this.
        - Fonts aren't copyrightable, based on numerous court precedents (note: a font is distinct from a typeface: a font is a typeface with a style, weight, size applied)

    A typeface dscriptor (a .ttf file) may be coprightable ( http://nwalsh.com/comp.fonts/FAQ/cf_13.htm [nwalsh.com] ) however that is easily resolved: ttf2afm $foo $bar && afm2ttf $bar $zag. Granted, that is a sleezy way to work around the issue, but the end result is likely not going to be an identical binary file. That would be a slightly interesting test case. Considering that the outline itself is not copyrightable but the binary representation of it is, I wonder if such a tactic is clear of infringement in a court of law? I'm sure the big business would win, but it's not outside feasibility for that to be considered not infringing since typefaces are an odd creative work in terms of copyright.

    So, licensing truetype fonts to Linux distributions? Ha. I hope these linux vendors are not paying so much as a dime for these "agreements"
  • These patent agreements with MS are the equivalent of George Bush's infamous "Bring them on!". It would have been a slow migration from GPL2 to GPL3 with significant holdouts (e.g., Torvalds) and significant confusion. Now I think it will move en masse.
  • by walterbyrd (182728) on Thursday June 14, 2007 @11:02AM (#19505589)
    Quoting a poster on another board:

    "Xandros are about to go BK (and this deal guarantees it), desperation
    creates mistakes. EV1 was headed by a business incompetent. Novell had just had
    Hovsepian parachute in with a desperate need to impose his authority despite a
    shaky understanding of the business.

    Seeing a pattern yet... only screwed up companies went for the deals. Knowing
    that its real hard to take SCOX or MSFTs few success's totally seriously."

    Come to think of it, scox was heading towards certain bankruptcy before msft got
    involved. And let's face it folks, Linspire was never much of a distro.

    The real Linux heavyweights: Redhat, Debian, Ubuntu, etc. Have flatly stated that they have no interest in msft's patent deals.

    Mark Shuttle gives excellent commentary on the scam . . er, I mean deal, in this interview [mybroadband.co.za].
  • by halovaa (774219) on Thursday June 14, 2007 @11:27AM (#19506005)
    Did anyone here actually read the AP summary? Linspire went out and licensed actual code from MS for Windows Live Voice stuff, Windows Media files, and Truetype Fonts (it doesn't say anything at all about patents for fonts, they probably just mean providing the fonts). They're also working on translating between OpenXML and ODF. These are all pretty important to people who want commercial Linuxes to "just work" in a Windows-centric world, and can't settle for partially working reverse-engineered implementations. And oh yeah, they also agreed to protect Linspire users against legal action by Microsoft in regards to any patents. It sounds more like Linspire went out to license these technologies from MS, then MS wanted to add in the patent protection stuff to make it sound like another Linux vendor is paying protection money to them (even though MS seems to be paying most of the money so far). Yes, I hate MS, and yes I think the patent deals spread a lot of FUD, but I think Linspire has managed to get some good things out of this deal, depending on how much they paid. Or maybe MS paid them again?

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