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Novell Goes Public with Microsoft Linux Deal 133

InfoWorldMike writes "On the back of defending the agreement this week, Novell did as promised and published details of its landmark November 2006 Linux partnership agreements with Microsoft. Linux advocates are expected to scour the documents for signs of how the agreement may affect Linux and whether anything in it will put Microsoft or Novell in potential violation of the upcoming version 3 of the GNU General Public license (GPL). The GPL is used in licensing many components of the Linux operating system. Open-source advocate Bruce Perens said he would be looking to see exactly what Novell was given through the deal and whether there is any requirement for the Linux vendor to defend Microsoft's patent claims. 'What I'm actually looking for is, to what extent was there a violation of faith?' he said."
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Novell Goes Public with Microsoft Linux Deal

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  • by someone1234 ( 830754 ) on Saturday May 26, 2007 @07:44AM (#19281861)
    I suppose they expect to be able to warp the language later as need arises. "Clone Products" doesn't say anything. Linux itself could be declared clone, as it implements (clones) an existing concept. (posix/unix/os).
  • by kripkenstein ( 913150 ) on Saturday May 26, 2007 @07:54AM (#19281887) Homepage
    That's true, but note that "Clone Products" in this contract are only with respect to the other party. So Linux implementing *NIX isn't an issue since *NIX isn't a Microsoft product.
  • by Ant P. ( 974313 ) on Saturday May 26, 2007 @07:57AM (#19281893) Homepage
    Am I the only one on slashdot with such a limited vocabulary?
    There, fixed that for you.
    Sadly, the answer is probably no.
  • by BlueParrot ( 965239 ) on Saturday May 26, 2007 @07:59AM (#19281901)
    I for one welcome our Zealot Overlord ... oh wait, he has been that way since before I was born?

    The damage is done alright, but it is Novell that has taken a hit to their credibility. Everyone already knew RMS was a bit of a zealot, for better or worse, this won't change that. It has however ruffled the feathers of quite a few in the FLOSS community, and it could very well cause Novell to lose supporters in favor of Redhat, IBM or even Canonical. Whatever criticism you have about RMS it is hard to deny that helping Microsoft spread their FUD and trying to get a competitive advantage by splitting the OSS community is far worse than anything Stallman has ever done.
  • by Antique Geekmeister ( 740220 ) on Saturday May 26, 2007 @08:00AM (#19281907)
    Samba is an interesting issue. Jeremy Allison resigned from Novell as fast as feasible: as one of the core developers of Samba, I have to assume that Jeremy's work was a big factor in the Microsoft/Novell deal. And with all the little network applicance and storage tools currently on the market, and with almost all of them being Samba based, Microsoft had clear reason to limit the usability of Jeremy's work to direct Novell customers.

    Remember also that Novell's Netware tools are still supported: network storage is a big market. And this deal left Microsoft and Novell with a big patent club to be able to use against mutual competitors, without either being restrained by the other company.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 26, 2007 @08:16AM (#19281979)
    Did you forget about Microsoft Xenix? All UNIXes pay or paid royalties to least for about 20 years.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 26, 2007 @09:04AM (#19282175)
    If Novell beats SCO Unix is theirs, does that make Microsoft's Windows Services for UNIX a clone product?
  • Fair is Fair (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 26, 2007 @09:08AM (#19282191)
    You know, companies are mostly free to make deals with other companies provided no laws are broken.
    Microsoft is free to use GPL'd code, provided they follow those (GPL, LGPL) agreements.

    OTOH, if **any** company doesn't follow the agreement - GET THEM!
    Too many of them - []
    Linksys being the most famous: []

    Personally, I'd love to see Microsoft found guilty of violating the GPL/LGPL, but I know how hard they work to ensure that doesn't happen - at least a few years ago they worked really hard.

    OTOH, OSS developers should also respect when a company decides they don't wish to be part of any OSS-based licensing. Personally, I avoid doing business with those companies, unless absolutely necessary and I keep the amount of business to the minimum possible.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 26, 2007 @09:37AM (#19282323)
    Interesting post from Groklaw

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

    Another might be to try to poison NOVL as an acquisition target for IBM or
    Google. NOVL has some networking assets that would be quite valuable tactically
    and strategically for an acquirer, and the SUSE component would have been an
    interesting fit as well. MSFT, as a convicted monopolist, would have a tough
    time buying NOVL, but a 5 year contractual cuckolding of NOVL screws it up for
    others, and protects MSFT.

    Also, if with MSFT's permission the agreement is allowed to run for its term,
    after 5 years of "partnering with no obvious adverse effects on competition
    in the networking market, and with obvious shared IP", it would be easier
    for MSFT to shill the government regarding taking over the scarred shell of a
    NOVL that they helped kill. Perfect for Bill and Steve.

    I remember a quote from Peter Drucker, i.e. "Management is doing things
    right, leadership is doing the right things". If the ridiculous terms of
    this agreement are purely an issue of competency within Novell leadership (not a
    secret nefarious sellout), then this is a professional embarrassment for Novell
    senior management, posted for all the world to see.

  • by itsjpr ( 16533 ) on Saturday May 26, 2007 @09:59AM (#19282451) Homepage
    From Exhibit D

    Non-Assertion of Patents Pledge

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

    I like Suse. I've used it for years. I use OpenSuse and hope it will keep itself clear of that but I'm looking for alternatives. Ubuntu has a chance but anything that puts GNOME first is crap. I don't like Mono or the rest of Miguel's M$ fan-boyism. I don't want M$ crap in my life and haven't had it there for years.
  • by Freed ( 2178 ) on Saturday May 26, 2007 @11:57AM (#19283113)
    How could he have done so much excellent writing (e.g., his many manuals and a book of essays) and continue to be invited to speak all over the world if he had no ability to communicate? The basis of your entire post is nonsense. Even if you had a point, it is hardly _evil_ to sincerely express your beliefs. I'd say it's the opposite.

    He's got foibles like anyone else. Your idiotic claim about him and Gates just shows you are talking out of your ass.
  • by symbolset ( 646467 ) on Saturday May 26, 2007 @12:32PM (#19283433) Journal

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • damage to who? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by nanosquid ( 1074949 ) on Saturday May 26, 2007 @12:38PM (#19283473)
    The real damage is that the very thought this agreement will cause Stallman to pretty much COMPLETELY lose it, in the flying-blind-in-the-land-of-batshit kind of way. I can't imagine his behavior will get more reasonable anyway,

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

    with his credibility already stretched and the tensions already rife within the community, it doesn't bode well. Open infighting amongst the FOSS community is just what we need right now......

    There is no "infighting", and fairly little disagreement in the FOSS communities. Mostly, it's just laissez faire. Compare that to the kind of cut-throat competition and dirty tricks going on in the commercial world, where companies not only screw each other but also screw the customer.

    Even if you look at individuals, Stallman and Linux may be abrasive, but they are far more sensible, rational, and smart individuals than Ballmer or other commercial industry leaders.

    The damage is done

    The only "damage" from this is to Microsoft's reputation: Ballmer has shown that he is impotent: he can't stop open source. He can't name any patents, and he can't even get Novell to license their patents without paying Novell hundreds of millions of dollars. And their attempts at getting agreements through FUD are being undermined by license changes within a few months.

    The last few months have shown only one thing: Microsoft's technology is worse than open source, their patents are worthless, and their dirty tricks aren't working either. Yes, there's big damage, and it's to Microsoft's reputation.
  • by Orion Blastar ( 457579 ) <> on Saturday May 26, 2007 @01:57PM (#19284047) Homepage Journal
    If it was it would have had a much better IDE and GUI that resembles Visual Studio.

    Did you know that C#, Visual BASIC.Net, etc Microsoft gave the EMCA the rights to allow the standards for those languages to be given out to open source software?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    None of them are clones of the other.
  • by petrus4 ( 213815 ) on Sunday May 27, 2007 @02:37AM (#19289607) Homepage Journal
    Well, then I suggest you stop using their software. You can start by canceling your Slashdot and Blogspot accounts and stop using Google and Firefox

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

    You've just proven my point, and you've done it very openly, for all to see. I either think and behave in exactly the manner that Stallman and people like yourself specify, or my right to use software at all becomes forfeit.

    I thought the way ZDNet described it once was actually very insightful:- Free as in Do As I Say.

    This is why Stallman is a problem, and this is why I feel as opposed to him as I do.
  • by Ilgaz ( 86384 ) * on Sunday May 27, 2007 @04:16AM (#19290071) Homepage
    Let the Mono developer who is a Slashdot user defend his Framework. He will port Silverlight to Linux too. He also happens to work at Novell.

    I had enough with his personal attack fans last time, not getting into details.

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