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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 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 MichaelSmith (789609) on Thursday June 14, 2007 @08:42AM (#19503739) Homepage Journal

    Thanks to GPLv3 all people who are with Linux because they hate Microsoft will leave

    Why?

  • by morgan_greywolf (835522) on Thursday June 14, 2007 @08:43AM (#19503757) Homepage Journal

    RMS, why do you hate Linux so much?


    Because Linus caught the FSF sleeping on the kernel work and showed the world that building a world-class OS kernel just isn't that hard?
  • 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 Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 14, 2007 @08:48AM (#19503809)
    There seems to be a great big PANIC at Microsoft, because nobody wants Vista. Vista isn't selling. Microsoft has to do these drastical measures to be able to survive in the future.
  • Never (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Das Auge (597142) on Thursday June 14, 2007 @08:54AM (#19503875)
    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.
  • Divide and conquer (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sucker_muts (776572) <sucker_pvn@hotmail. c o m> 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?
  • 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 ...

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 14, 2007 @09:00AM (#19503915)

    Tag this article "quislings" :(

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 14, 2007 @09:12AM (#19504021)
    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 he wouldn't go into any kind of deal like this and I think I believe him. Most of all we've got to hope that Red Hat doesn't, as the largest commercial Linux company it would be disastrous for any possible defence we have against possible patent issues etc
  • by denominateur (194939) on Thursday June 14, 2007 @09:32AM (#19504293) Homepage
    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 redistribute it and/or modify it under the terms of the GNU General Public License as published by the Free Software Foundation; either version 2 of the License, or (at your option) any later version.

    So any of the parts of, say, the linux kernel, copyrighted by Novell, are exempt from downstream patent protection unless either above clause is part of the license (in which case the parts can be forked and relicensed) or Novell specifically agrees to relicense to GPL3.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 14, 2007 @09:43AM (#19504451)
    Well that is another distro we will not be using.
  • by ninevoltz (910404) on Thursday June 14, 2007 @09:47AM (#19504495)
    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.
  • by dclozier (1002772) on Thursday June 14, 2007 @09:58AM (#19504647)
    The wool has been pulled over your eyes. Microsoft is only doing this to give it's patent claims some validity. Their stance will be "see, Linux must infringe, all of these distributors have signed patent deals with us". This is a divide and conquer move.

    But I see this dark cloud with some silver lining. We will know which companies actually are part of the Linux community and which ones are not. So far Redhat and Ubuntu have vocally expressed that they will not do any such deals with Microsoft. There may be others but I am unaware of any at this time.
    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 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.

  • 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.
  • Re:Never (Score:2, Insightful)

    by The-Ixian (168184) on Thursday June 14, 2007 @10:29AM (#19505109)
    And the last time you recommended Linspire was?
  • 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.
  • by Dan Ost (415913) on Thursday June 14, 2007 @10:36AM (#19505227)
    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 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 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 Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 14, 2007 @11:02AM (#19505595)
    TFA says Linspire approached MS. So in theory MS submitted to their demands.
  • Re:I want in! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by _Sprocket_ (42527) on Thursday June 14, 2007 @11:04AM (#19505627)
    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 wife) is willing to go on record for a mere additional $5,000US to confirm that she believes our product may infringe on Microsoft patents. Granted - she's never seen any code and has no idea of the history of software patents, Linux, or Unix in general. But Laura Didio has proven such trivial concerns does not interfere with being an expert. We expect no issue with this announcement and are expressing shock at the back-lash we're about to receive from the Linux community.

    Because I have such a fondness for Slashdot... I'll let you folks in on a scoop. In two months, we'll be liquidating the company and forming a new distro. I'll be doing a search-and-replace on this press release to change the distro / company name. We hope to do this every other month. It beats real work.
  • by laughing rabbit (216615) on Thursday June 14, 2007 @11:37AM (#19506197)

    FreeBSD is looking better all the time

    All hail the daemon savior!

  • by d3xt3r (527989) on Thursday June 14, 2007 @12:54PM (#19507431)

    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) or the product of companies they've bought have been released under the GPL to the community.

    I continue to support Red Hat because I think they do get it.

  • by livewire98801 (916940) on Thursday June 14, 2007 @02:37PM (#19509061)
    What concerns me is that in spite of all the rallying on Slashdot, there seems to be no negative impact on the vendors that sign these deals. openSuSE is still third on distrowatch's [distrowatch.com] rankings. This may not be an concrete indicator for installed base, but it does show that people are still reading about it and linking to their website.

    We need to completely drop any Linux vendor that signs a deal with Microsoft. Change distributions to a "clean" one, remove any currently installed software, and contact the vendor for refunds on any boxed software purchased through them. I don't expect anyone to get refunds, but the calls will serve as a reminder.

    This is serious people.
  • by Tracy Reed (3563) <treed&ultraviolet,org> on Thursday June 14, 2007 @05:44PM (#19512387) Homepage
    Stricter? How is GPLv3 any stricter? As far as I am concerned it only clarifies language and makes certain things explicit instead of implicit. It does not limit any of the things I have ever done with GPL software and as a developer of GPL'd code and long-time Linux user (since 94) I welcome this change. I came to Linux because I was tired of MS after having used their stuff for only a few years. And I'm not going anywhere.
  • by robbak (775424) on Thursday June 14, 2007 @06:38PM (#19513037) Homepage
    You really do not understand the BSD philosophy, do you?

    Because of *BSD, Windows is better than it would have been without it. That is a good thing.

    And when someone uses BSD code for a commercial purpose, It remains in BSD: they cannot 'close' the code. So it's more like - "See this wing? It's a great design. You can copy it if you like. I'm sure it will make you fly better."

    It also means that if I develop something using BSD code, I have the Freedom to release that something however I like. I value that Freedom. I do not want to be locked into some restrictive license. (Although I do believe that it was a mistake to have removed the advertising clause).
    So that's why I want to develop for that.I wouldn't develop where I don't have that Freedom.

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