Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!


Forgot your password?
Novell Microsoft Software Linux

Novell May be Banned from Distributing Linux 553

Hymer writes "Reuters is reporting that Novell may be banned from selling Linux. In the wake of the (much maligned) Novell/Microsoft deal, the Free Software Foundation is reviewing Novell's right to sell the operating system at all. The foundation controls the rights to key parts of the operating system, and council for the organization said that 'the community wants to interfere any way it can' with the Novell business arrangement. No decision has yet been reached, but one should be made in the next two weeks." Is this a measured response, or an over-reaction to the Novell/Microsoft arrangement?
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Novell May be Banned from Distributing Linux

Comments Filter:
  • I'm confused (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rm999 ( 775449 ) on Saturday February 03, 2007 @07:21AM (#17871818)
    "The two companies agreed to jointly sell their products and also develop technologies to make it easier for businesses to use Linux alongside Windows software."

    Why is that so bad?
  • Wasn't it once... (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 03, 2007 @07:22AM (#17871822)
    Free as in Beer?
  • For the best (Score:3, Insightful)

    by phat_goat ( 836325 ) on Saturday February 03, 2007 @07:32AM (#17871864)
    I don't think that I ever really trusted this agreement, something about Microsoft wanting to "help" Linux, or free software for that matter, never really digested with me.
  • Stupid move... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by EveryNickIsTaken ( 1054794 ) on Saturday February 03, 2007 @07:38AM (#17871888)
    "...council for the organization said that 'the community wants to interfere any way it can' with the Novell business arrangement."

    Statements like that make lawyers see dollar signs. Nice move, idiots.

  • This is retarded (Score:2, Insightful)

    by dnaumov ( 453672 ) on Saturday February 03, 2007 @07:40AM (#17871898)
    If the FSF can actually do this and if they go through with it, this is going to be very BAD for busines adoption Linux (and therefor, Linux development). And what's worse is not that FSF doesn't know this, they do, it's just that they don't care about anything but their distorted definition of "freedom". As Stallman once said: "We are not here to give users what they want, we are here to spread freedom".
  • Re:I'm confused (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 03, 2007 @07:43AM (#17871914)
    Why is it bad? Because Novell ins't selling it's own products - it's trying to sell someone else's products apparantly in violation (or at least a creative interpretation) of the license agreement under which it was given rights to sell the software. I, and probably most people who contributed to the software that Novell is trying to exploit by playing funny games with legalese interpretation, don't appreciate that.

  • by haakondahl ( 893488 ) on Saturday February 03, 2007 @07:44AM (#17871922)
    If it were good for Linux, Novell would have paid Microsoft instead of the other way around.

    This will be another example of Microsoft's very successful "take and break" strategy. Once SuSE is up to speed and working well with Windows abominations such as Active Directory, other distributions will be the ones which are somehow not compatible with the "SuSE Linux Standard". Once Microsoft has killed off the other major distributions, they will quietly break compatibility even with SuSE, in a flood of tiny little things that just have to be that way, because of the structure of the WIndows kernel (or some damned thing).

    The only reason we are not all using Java desktops with a common intermediate layer is the Microsoft "take and break" implementation of the JVM.

  • Re:I'm confused (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 03, 2007 @07:48AM (#17871934)
    It's not bad at all. If the FSF has this kind of control, then software under GPL isn't truly free as they like to claim. Free should mean free _for all_, not just free for the people who are deemed worthy.

    This is one of the reasons I have always like the BSD style licenses more. A stunt like this would be laughed at and shrugged off.
  • Disproportionate (Score:3, Insightful)

    by OpenSourced ( 323149 ) on Saturday February 03, 2007 @07:49AM (#17871940) Journal
    If they haven't banned SCO from selling Linux, I don't know how they can consider banning Novell.

  • by ndykman ( 659315 ) on Saturday February 03, 2007 @07:55AM (#17871976)
    If the FSF actually tried to do this, it'd be great for Microsoft. It would basically allow Microsoft to say that Linux can't be taken seriously by any business, because the FSF will basically revoke your "right to use" Linux if they don't like how you do business (do you have software patents? No Linux for you).

    It wouldn't matter if it was technically correct or not, the perception would be enough. And frankly, the fact if the FSF is really even considering this casts a bit of a shadow on Linux and Enterprise Support in general: Is it FSF sanctioned businesses only?

    Besides, why just Novell? IBM has patent agreements with Microsoft. IBM sells Windows Servers. This seems like nothing more that "We don't like the MS/Novell deal, so let's punish them!"
  • Re:I'm confused (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mverwijs ( 815917 ) on Saturday February 03, 2007 @07:57AM (#17871980) Homepage
    It is not about the jointly selling of their products. It's about the way the products are developed.

    Microsoft and Novell have agreed not to sue each other over patent violations. Therefor, Novell can now (continue to?) develop software that violates Microsoft's "Intellectual Property".

    The catch is: Novell develops GPL software. It helps *existing* GPL'd projects, like Evolution, SAMBA, OpenOffice.org.

    Novell doesn't have to worry about patent violation anymore, so they can code whatever they want into those type of projects. The Community, however, does not have this luxury deal with Microsoft.

    SAMBA could get sued. Debian could get sued for distributing SAMBA. All kinds of nastiness that may never happen, but scares the hell out of people. Scares them enough to stay away from all those 'nasty hacker' distributions, and go for Litigation Free Novell Linux.

    *That* is why it is bad. That is why we should do everything and anything to stay away from Novell.



  • Re:I'm confused (Score:5, Insightful)

    by squiggleslash ( 241428 ) on Saturday February 03, 2007 @08:08AM (#17872030) Homepage Journal

    I can't believe the majority of the responses act as if that is what the FSF is objecting to. The FSF (together with most of the developers in the GNU/Linux community) is objecting to a part where Microsoft provides Novell customers with a patent indemnity, which does not apply to non Novell customers.

    In other news: Tensions rise with Iran, which is a country that has 28 television stations.

    Geez. Why the hell would you be concerned that Iran has 28 TV stations? What a stupid thing to threaten war over!

  • Re:Poor Article (Score:5, Insightful)

    by kripkenstein ( 913150 ) on Saturday February 03, 2007 @08:10AM (#17872042) Homepage
    Well, from what I know, it would be really difficult to migrate the Linux Kernel from GPL2 to GPL3, even /if/ Linus liked to do so as each contribution is copyright of the contributor.

    Difficult yes, impossible - no. And Linus may get additional motivation soon. If OpenSolaris goes GPL3, then it can use any "GPL2 or above" code from the Linux kernel (which I have heard is the majority). The Linux kernel, on the other hand, won't be able to use anything from OpenSolaris. This 'one-way-street' of code certainly isn't in Linux's interest.
  • Re:Stupid move... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by EveryNickIsTaken ( 1054794 ) on Saturday February 03, 2007 @08:13AM (#17872060)
    I'm amazed that some people still cannot accept the fact that enterprises use and will continue to use MS Windows for office work. Why? Because it's EASY for people who cannot and will not learn other OS's. You can bitch and moan all you want about how awesome Linux is, but the fact remains that its CEOs that have the final say in companies, not CIOs.
  • lets hope not (Score:3, Insightful)

    by rucs_hack ( 784150 ) on Saturday February 03, 2007 @08:14AM (#17872072)
    A license holder has the right to revoke anothers right to use that license. I don't think it matters if it's GPL2 or 3. They are copyright holders of the technology in question, and can simply refuse to let Novell distribute their stuff any more.

    However, this could kill SUSE, thus hurting a lot of blameless businesses that use it, no doubt pissing them off considerably, and costing a lot of money. Microsoft would love that, they can charge to the rescue amid the confusion, offer cheap license deals with great support packages. Kind of like they did in the 1980s in the Unix wars.

    It's a dumb move, and contrary to the very essense of Open Source. Good stuff survives, bad stuff dies, no direct intervention is required. This is no more than politicking of the very kind that got Stallman excluded from the conference where they decided on the new name Open Source (to differentiate from free software). They run the risk of marginalising themselves if they do this. It's in no-ones interest to intervene and damage *any* linux distro.

    I could go on for hours, but in defference to the fact thast this is /. I'll shut up now...
  • Re:Stupid move... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by HanzoSpam ( 713251 ) on Saturday February 03, 2007 @08:16AM (#17872086)
    Horseshit. I've been using products from the likes of IBM, HP, Sun, Novell and Microsoft in commercial environments for the last 30 years without having any of those kinds of problems. And as an I/T professional I could give a shit about what the "community" happens to take into it's head about what's good for it, from my perspective avoiding legal problems is a Good Thing. I've never had to contend with the threat of a lawsuit invalidating my license for implementing a solution on Solaris or Windows.
  • by bmo ( 77928 ) on Saturday February 03, 2007 @08:24AM (#17872140)
    First off, unless GPL 3 gets off the ground that specifically bans the actions that Novell and Microsoft have done, nobody can "ban" Novell from distributing Linux, as they have not violated the GPL as it stands (I think, see below).

    Secondly, John Dragoon doesn't get it. He honestly thought that this was a Good Idea and we parted ways agreeing to disagree. He's a PHB sales-type. He's not "one of us."

    I have ranted here and vehemently castigated Novell (see sig) for the stupid move, but I'm not sure that they should be "kicked out of linux" yet. They should be given the chance to redeem themselves or at least clear the air on what they really signed. But I have yet to hear anyone from Novell explain exactly what was in that contract. I've waited and waited for a clear explanation, and it has not been forthcoming from what I can see. So all I've had to base my opinion on is a smattering of articles and analysis on Groklaw of generalities taken from press releases. For all I can tell, it's a lot of hot air.

    I am more of the opinion that we don't need a "Novell Clause." Instead I think that Linux market forces will relegate Novell's brands of Linux to the dustbin if they don't get their act together and get right with the community.


    "I have never come upon a post which makes its point so excellently, and also contains so many F-words." - Bruce Perens
  • by DarkOx ( 621550 ) on Saturday February 03, 2007 @08:36AM (#17872212) Journal
    That's right IBM has patent deals with Microsoft. Novell made a deal on behalf of other parties their customers supposedly. The did this without consultation of those customers. Which is even if legally possible is still from a view of actual justice highly questionable, especially when it puts other parties of unknow relationship to the Novell customers in grave danger.

    Suppose I am and ISV that produces SuperWonderfulMagicPony for Linux. I run SUSE in house for my operational systems. The deal is great Microsoft won'y be sueing me. Wait they start sueing everyone else useing linux. I make a Linux product, I want as much Linux out there as possible regardless of distro because it means a bigger market for my wares. Suddenly I am not so happy with Novell. As there customer if they'd bothered to ask me if I wanted to have them stike this deal with M$ I would have declined.

    IBM has made deal on behalf of IBM with M$. IBM worries about protecting or not protecting IBM's customers. Novell sold out and is letting M$ worry about their customers and possibly screw everyone else if they feel like it. Its not the same thing at all.
  • Re:I'm confused (Score:5, Insightful)

    by elronxenu ( 117773 ) on Saturday February 03, 2007 @08:36AM (#17872214) Homepage

    It's bad because Novell is paying Microsoft for the use of Microsoft patents in Linux. Linux is free software. When we speak of free software, we are referring to freedom, not price. The fact that Novell has effectively admitted that Microsoft holds some Intellectual Property leverage over Linux, implies that Linux is non-free. And that's not acceptable to the community. Worse, it implies that Linux is non-free and beholden to Microsoft, a convicted monopolist, the owner of Linux's principal competitor, a company with no love for Linux and one which is well known for shafting its partners and enemies alike.

    It appears likely that the patent covenant which Novell signed violates the GPL - either Version 2, or certainly Version 3. If so, Novell loses its right to distribute affected code under the GPL. No other license permits it to do that, so Novell must cease distributing.

    Also, the possibility that Novell has insider access to Microsoft Intellectual Property creates a risk that Novell's contributions to Linux will leak some of that Intellectual Property into Linux. Thus, the scenario described in the first paragraph, while Linux may not presently be tainted by Microsoft's IP, in future it may become so. I think it is purely common sense for the community to reject patches supplied by Novell.

    So, people don't hate Novell, but by their actions they are putting Linux at risk, in order to line their own pockets (presumably funded by patents which Novell owns and which may be used in Windows). Novell aren't playing fair with the community.

  • Re:Dumb Move (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Tony Hoyle ( 11698 ) <tmh@nodomain.org> on Saturday February 03, 2007 @08:37AM (#17872222) Homepage
    Novell will just stop using GPL products and do something else. Closely followed by just about every other business, under fear of litigation from the FSF.

    It could well be the turning point where linux itself gets killed. Which is what MS wanted all along, really. Way to play into their hands, stallman.
  • Re:I'm confused (Score:4, Insightful)

    by EjectButton ( 618561 ) on Saturday February 03, 2007 @08:56AM (#17872334)

    "The two companies agreed to jointly sell their products and also develop technologies to make it easier for businesses to use Linux alongside Windows software." Why is that so bad?

    What is bad is that it's a complete lie, it's the most plausible, positive-sounding story they could come up with to explain away what they are doing. Microsoft has described Linux and the open source movement using terms such as "a cancer", "communist", "viral", and more recently referred to open source developers as "pawns" engaged in a "one-night stand". Also immediately after the Novell-Microsoft deal was announced Balmer said publicly that he believed any non-Novell distribution was now a legitimate target for Microsoft legal attacks. They are doing everything they can to smear, stall, and frustrate open source developers while simultaneously trying to sell the "we cooperate and inter operate with everyone to make your life easier" image to the corporate types with these sort of cover stories.

    What Microsoft is trying to get out of the deal is to turn Suse into the one-and-only Linux distro that is blessed by Microsoft as being "safe" from patent concerns via indemnification. Then when the indemnification period runs out Microsoft can choose to charge Novell an exorbitant amount of money for renewal, or simply pull the plug altogether. This would also have the bonus effect of making lawsuits against other Linux distros more plausible in the minds of corporate customers because the fact that one distro is seeking indemnification makes the notion that others are at risk without a similar deal seem logical. Allowing Microsoft to create yet more FUD around Linux without putting itself as much immediate risk. I personally doubt Microsoft will actually sue any distro directly because of the potential nuclear patent war that could be triggered if, for example any of the Open Invention Network members felt compelled to get involved (specifically IBM).

    What Novell gets out of the deal is a big pile of quick money and potentially greater market share as a side effect of the afore mentioned FUD around competing distros. Unfortunately for Novell these are both short-term benefits that come with the cost of making them beholden to Microsoft, and alienating them from many in the developer community (see samba).

    How Novell thought they could get away with this is beyond me, If I had to guess I would say either the upper management sees other Redhat taking the server support market, and Ubuntu taking the desktop Market, leaving Suse out in the cold so they decided to cash out, not caring what happens in the long term. Or their lawyers came up with their now famous gpl2 end run, thinking themselves clever for coming up with a deal that Microsoft was happy with and didn't violate the letter of the gpl, but having little understanding of what the repercussions would be from the developer community and the fsf. After reading some comments from Novell employees I suspect the latter.

    In either case Novell made the decision to cut this deal, they acted with great disregard to the effect it would have on the community whose work sustains them. They have attempted to sneak through a legal loophole and if it closes around them it will be their comeuppance.

  • Re:Poor Article (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Rich0 ( 548339 ) on Saturday February 03, 2007 @09:03AM (#17872388) Homepage
    If OpenSolaris goes GPLv3 I think we'll see a huge adoption - as you said much of the FOSS code out there could be ported over, and linux could not pull solaris code back in. I've heard a lot of good things about dtrace/etc, and I'd expect that with the commercial support that solaris would have much more user-friendly administrative features. I'm not sure how ZFS compares to LVM2, but it looks like it delivers all of that and possibly more.

    Competition is good for everyone!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 03, 2007 @09:06AM (#17872402)
    This gets an insightful? The quote from RMS, roughly, goes "We do not mean free as in beer, but free as in freedom." You've apparently never heard it.

    The notion of that "freedom" is what the GPL is is all about. It's not a "anything you do with this code is OK," it's "Here--someone built this, but they're willing to share it with you for free. All we ask is that you share with others as well."
  • Re:Poor Article (Score:3, Insightful)

    by kripkenstein ( 913150 ) on Saturday February 03, 2007 @09:20AM (#17872506) Homepage
    Well, I guess the lawyers will need to figure out the licensing issues, I certainly am not one. So I am not claiming to be sure of any of the legal issues; I just know what I read. Time will tell, I guess.

    Changing the entire kernel to GPL3 would be very hard, as you say, while getting various parts of it would be much easier. Now, obviously you are right that 'bits and pieces' of the kernel are not functional by themselves. Yet OpenSolaris would want precisely just 'bits and pieces'; they already have a (apparently quite good) basic kernel. What they need are e.g. device drivers. Now, obviously you can't just paste Linux device driver code into OpenSolaris, but you might be able to (a) alter the Linux version much faster than writing it from scratch, or (b) write a 'compatibility' layer to translate some API calls, to automate or semi-automate the process. In either case, OpenSolaris gets a significant push in the device driver area, I would say. This by itself is a good reason for them to adopt the GPL3.
  • by Andrei D ( 965217 ) on Saturday February 03, 2007 @09:34AM (#17872612)
    Once Microsoft has killed off the other major distributions,
    they will buy and dismantle Novell. There, fix that for you.
  • by Teun ( 17872 ) on Saturday February 03, 2007 @09:40AM (#17872668) Homepage

    Kill SuSE and you've killed the most popular business oriented linux distribution in Europe.

    You think that businesses will go back to Linux after that fiasco? Nope. Hell, I'd think twice myself! I can't afford to fight legal battles.

    But in Europe the mysterious MS software licence claims that Novell wants to protect it's customers from are null and void, Suse like any other distribution is not affected.

    (I'm not talking here about IP claims).
  • Re:I'm confused (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Hatta ( 162192 ) on Saturday February 03, 2007 @10:17AM (#17872902) Journal
    it's trying to sell someone else's products apparantly in violation (or at least a creative interpretation) of the license agreement under which it was given rights to sell the software

    How exactly? Selling GPL software is quite clearly [gnu.org] within the bounds of the license. If you have a problem with that you shouldn't have given your code away to begin with. And this response is pretty asinine. How is linux lock-out any better than microsoft lock-in?
  • Re:I'm confused (Score:5, Insightful)

    by passthecrackpipe ( 598773 ) * <passthecrackpipe@hotmail . c om> on Saturday February 03, 2007 @10:27AM (#17872952)
    "You are a moron because your opinion is flawed."

    That reasoning is, initself, flawed. Calling somebody names is hardly a constructive way to begin a discussion. Moreover, as you say yourself, it's an opinion. His opinion. As such, it's hard to see where the flaw is. The OP states his preference for BSD licensing. I read his post as saying "The GPL places restrictions on what you can do with the software under its license. BSD doesn't" as such, I see no flaw in that argument, even if you feel it is important to safeguard the continued access to the sourcecode. As you say yourself, Contributors are free to choose the license they prefer.

    "It is a moron who tries to ridicule the free choice people make.

    Huh? So first you ridicule somebodies preference for a certain type of license, the you go on to state that people who do that are morons? I don't get it.
  • Re:I'm confused (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Alchemar ( 720449 ) on Saturday February 03, 2007 @10:32AM (#17872986)
    And then the word games come in.

    The agreement DOES endemnify anyone that Novell distributes to, but it will not endemnify anyone else. Novell is trying to claim that the people they distribute to get the protection so the GPL is followed to the letter. The people that recieved it can not comply with the GPL by providing endemnification and therefore cannot redistribute it. Thus defeating the entire purpose of the GPL.
  • Re:I'm confused (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Kjella ( 173770 ) on Saturday February 03, 2007 @11:12AM (#17873258) Homepage
    If said Novell-contributed code makes use of MS protected intellectual property which Novell has the newly-acquired right to use

    See now, here's the critical issue in the suckerpunch. If Novell had recieved a proper patent license, everything would be very clear cut. They haven't, they've recieved a "promise not to get sued" which smells, acts, talks and walks like a patent license, but in legal terms isn't. For example, say I'm the RIAA and I'm off to sue people. I can arbitrarily decide not to sue people whose names start with 'A' - that doesn't mean those people have any explicit license to the music. I can even choose not to sue people that have donated to the "Friends of RIAA" foundation, which makes it a protection racket but AFAIK not an illegal one. Selective enforcement of civil law by a private company is AFAIK not illegal.

    Indeed if Novell does make MS-IP-protected changes to GPL programs and if they do distribute such modified programs (which they must do under the GPL, if they do it at all), it's up to Microsoft to go after them, because Novell would be granting other people rights (the right to use MS protected IP) they (Novell) don't have the right to grant.

    This is in any case a wrong legal interpretation. Even if we assumed Novell had recieved a proper patent license, they don't have the right to sublicense it beyond their direct customers. Thus it is never granted and Microsoft can sue whoever they want with impunity. It is the FSF (or other GPL copyright holders) who'd have to sue Novell over violation of the GPL (if you can not comply with this license and your other legal obligations, you must refrain from distributing it completely).

    However, let's get back the facts where Novell has nothing but a "promise not to get sued" and not an actual patent license. Because they formally have no license to use the patents, they're in a position much like say the XviD codec. It's covered by plenty patents, they have no patent license but distribute their code under the GPL. Nobody seems to have a problem with that, because they're distributing all the rights that they have even though it's obviously not all the IP rights to the code. Anyone who claimed they had gotten patent licenses by downloading the XviD codec and pointing to the GPL would be laughed out of court when the MPEG4 LA sued them.

    Finally, a question for the lawyers, if there are any here: if Novell does distribute such conflicting changes and if MS chooses not to sue Novell over this, can they (MS) go after anybody else? Don't they lose the rights they choose not to defend?

    No, trademarks have to be defended but copyrights and patents don't.

    Anyway, here's the end game if it goes the way Microsoft and Novell wants:

    1. Novell contributes code covered by patents
    2. Customers get code
    3. Non-customers get code
    4. Microsoft sues non-customers
    5. Non-customers claims they have patent license through GPL
    6. Courts: "Nope, it hasn't been sublicensed to you"
    7. FSF sues Novell over not distributing all their rights
    8. Courts: "Nope, they're distributing all their formal licenses"
    9. FSF sues Novell over being bound by patent lawsuits
    10. Courts: "Nope. that only applies to the sued parties"
    11. Non-customers buy Novell products
    12. Microsoft and Novell: Profit
  • by Anders Andersson ( 863 ) on Saturday February 03, 2007 @11:50AM (#17873538) Homepage

    Selling GPL software is quite clearly within the bounds of the license.

    You are misreading the parent. It's not selling the GPL software that is prohibited; it's selling (or giving away) the GPL software in violation of the license agreement that is prohibited. Nobody is concerned about Novell making money; people are instead concerned about Novell sort of acknowledging that Microsoft may have patent claims as to what they are selling (which is software not produced by Microsoft, but produced by programmers who dislike being branded as plagiarists).

  • Re:I'm confused (Score:4, Insightful)

    by marcello_dl ( 667940 ) on Saturday February 03, 2007 @12:11PM (#17873640) Homepage Journal
    The strange kind of agreement between Novell and MS seems to point to a scenario like you describe. That makes Novell either:
    A company trying to hijack Linux by providing kind of a "safest" distro for enterprises
    A SCO-like proxy to hurt free software

    Therefore, Novell must end the SCO way.
  • by KevinColyer ( 883316 ) on Saturday February 03, 2007 @12:14PM (#17873676) Homepage
    I think what the FSF can do is to upgrade the licence from GPLv2 to GPLv3 automatically for the products that they distribute, and that includes the term "GPL v2 or greater" in the licence.

    Now the Kernel is GPLv2, Linus seems to want to keep it like that. So Novell will be able to have a kernel. But, as the FSF like to say, Novell distributes a GNU/Linux system. The kernel is Linux but the important system libraries and userland utilities belong to GNU and without which the kernel is a hunk of code. It can`t boot, and the use can`t use a shell, none of the basic disk commands would work for example. Yes, the desktop applications on top are important but it is the base of the stack that would be most vulnerable. Imagine no security fixes or support for new and old devices or bugs for critical system operation!

    It is a software stack and Novell is wobbling on the top of it. FSF has the power to force a licence change over their software. Novell would be stuck at their current level and be unable to use the improved versions of the software without rewriting it all themselves (or borrowing from BSD for example). This may prove tricky for them! I doubt they would get much community help as they have somewhat disenfranchised themselves there.

    This is where the "viral" nature of the GPL comes in to play. Stallman was smart enough to write it this way in order to protect the freedom of the software. I think it shows some of the brilliance of Stallmann and co.

    Now the issue for him and the FSF is whether they will follow this tack. They can, they might not want to. They have a powerful bargaining chip here.

  • by anagama ( 611277 ) <obamaisaneocon@nothingchanged.org> on Saturday February 03, 2007 @12:43PM (#17873928) Homepage
    Wouldn't a copyright violation be plagarism? A patent violation could technically be 100% your own work, its just that the patent holder got a patent and others did not.
  • Re:Spreading FUD (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 03, 2007 @01:54PM (#17874478)
    The whole Reuters article is FUD. Novell has not crossed any license, nor anybody at FSF thinks they can ban Novell from anything.

    Only on slashdot can you be modded 5 informative and be wrong.

    The GPL (any version) is like any license. It gives the holders 'exclusive' rights. They can refuse to let Novell use Linux anytime. Are you sayin that if I own the rights to a piece of music or a book I don't have the option of refusing to license it? What doctrine in law are you referring to?
  • Re:I'm confused (Score:5, Insightful)

    by HiThere ( 15173 ) <charleshixsn@ea r t h l i n k.net> on Saturday February 03, 2007 @01:59PM (#17874530)
    The GPL is not and never has been free in the same way that BSD is free.

    OTOH, the GPL is freer in a different way. With the GPL, derivative works are also GPL-free. With the BSD, there aren't significant limits on derivative works. They are frequently sold into slavery.

    Saying that the GPL isn't free is like saying that because a country doesn't allow you to sell your children into slavery it isn't free. That would mean that YOU would be more free, but your children would be less free. The GPL is a rule requiring that the children remain free.

    There is no absolute freedom. BSD is one compromise. GPL is another. I prefer the GPL.

    P.S.: Sorry about the emotional nature of the argument, but it's the closest analogy that I can think of.

    N.B.: I'm a bit of a dreamer. I freely acknowledge that current code is not sentient, and can't be properly considered to have any rights. But the GPL is, essentially, all about giving code ownership of itself. It hasn't gotten there yet, it's only a couple of steps along the way. The BSD was one step, and the GPL is a successor step. I think that the GPL3 is a third step, but I could be wrong. Where we ought to be headed, my guess, is towards sentient code that owns itself. We won't get there for awhile, but the pieces need to be crafted separately, and they need to be able to work together. That means a license that encourages code with compatible license. BSD code tends to flake off into proprietary branchings. This probably puts a limit on the complexity of the systems that can evolve. OTOH, something like BSD (or LGPL) is needed for things like interfaces. GPL3 is trying to be a "one size fits all", and this is probably a mistake. I suspect that GPL4 will branch into GPL4a and GPL4b (c? d?) with different specialized purposes...but mutually compatible.
  • Re:I'm confused (Score:4, Insightful)

    by kimvette ( 919543 ) on Saturday February 03, 2007 @03:23PM (#17875234) Homepage Journal
    The BSD allows mega-corps to borrow code, embrace and extend that standard, and contribute NOTHING back to the community who spent thousands of man-hours developing the product to begin with. Windows' TCP/IP stack, anyone?

    If it were GPL then mega-corps can borrow code, embrace and extend it, and be required contribute the derived work back to the community. Apple's Safari and KHTML, for example (Thanks, Apple!).
  • Re:I'm confused (Score:3, Insightful)

    by fredrik70 ( 161208 ) on Saturday February 03, 2007 @05:56PM (#17876500) Homepage
    >that the GPL isn't free is like saying that because a country doesn't allow you to sell your children into slavery it isn't free.
    This is a bit harsh really. What licence an author decides to use is up to him/her. If he/she is up for other party using the code for their benefit then so be it BSD otherwise GPL, it's about how yuo're happy with how people treat your code. to compare it with slavery etc. is bit over the top imho.
  • Re:WRONG! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by JPriest ( 547211 ) on Saturday February 03, 2007 @07:43PM (#17877262) Homepage
    You are making a major assumption that no customer of Novell's would ever develop and distribute a derivative of Suse-- and that is absurd.

    No I am not. Any software you plan to distribute will be handled the same as it always has. You can rebrand and distribute Suse if you see fit. If you contributed code you are welcome to release it under GPL as well so long as it does not infringe on someone elses legal rights. The only thing that changes is that you CAN develop and use portions of MS code in house. If you have access to Windows source code, this may permit you to "steal" portions of that code to make you applications work on Linux.

    You can not expect to release _that_ code under the GPL, but that is a change from what exactly?

    Because there would be no way for us to determine whether Novell had introduced any patent-tainted code into some component that we were retaining.

    And you are throwing around the word FUD? Please go and actually read section 7. I stated earlier this agreement was not about what Novell was releasing but what the customers were contributing. If Novell DID release something "patent-tainted" under the GPL then guess what? They are allowing any recipient, and recipients recipient full use of any patent pertaining to that code AS PER THE GPL (sections 7). Java for instance has several patents, but when Sun GPL'd it, they in effect were releasing any GPL users from any litigations as a result of using or distributing this software as GPL.

    If you do not understand the GPL, then maybe you should refrain from burning Novell at the stake in the name of violating it.

  • Re:Spreading FUD (Score:4, Insightful)

    by rtb61 ( 674572 ) on Saturday February 03, 2007 @08:06PM (#17877414) Homepage
    Now that is just plain wrong. The end user should never be deprived of quality software. So there should never be a reason for anybody to stop anybody from distributing Linux. The real operative word here is 'Free'.

    There is absolutely no point in stopping anybody from distributing quality open source software, however should companies infringe upon whatever version of GPL the code developers decided to use to protect their work, then those infringers should be made to pay and pay through the nose.

    I could envisage a suitable charity fund that gives away the bulk of it's money every year (not just a miserly 5%) funded by those ass hats who would steal work that is meant to be shared by all and be for the common good.

Solutions are obvious if one only has the optical power to observe them over the horizon. -- K.A. Arsdall