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Novell Software Linux

Novell Worries About GPL v3 157

An anonymous reader writes "In its annual report for the fiscal year ended October 31, 2006, Novell expressed concerns over how the new version of the GPL may affect their business. Microsoft might stop distributing Suse coupons if the GPL version 3 interferes with their agreement or puts Microsoft's patents at risk, ultimately causing Novell's business and operating results to be adversely affected."
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Novell Worries About GPL v3

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  • by Scott Lockwood ( 218839 ) * on Wednesday May 30, 2007 @10:16AM (#19321111) Homepage Journal
    What shock!

    In other news, water is wet, fire still burns to the touch, and we still refuse to make a distinction between Microsoft, and those who harbor them.
  • by loony ( 37622 ) on Wednesday May 30, 2007 @10:24AM (#19321237)
    Ok, let me sum this up... Novel makes money selling Linux. They make money off the work of thousands of developers. Novel knew that the community as a whole dislikes M$... they knew that a large portion of OpenSource developers hate M$ with a passion... They enter into a contract with M$ anyway. Some people publicly call them traitors and worse and are now responding to the way Novel disregarded what they wanted. Licenses change and some projects stopped providing RPMS for SuSE. Its just fair - in a community we're in it together. If you do something I don't like, I have the right to do something you don't like. Or in other words, don't piss off the people on who's back you make money.

    Yes, I surely do feel sorry for Novel.

  • Re:Why worry? (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 30, 2007 @10:40AM (#19321481)
    Because many programs were created by GNU or signed over to GNU. So these programs will automatically be upgraded to GPL3.

    So unless Novell is going to fork all of these, and stick to using the outdated versions, there is not much that they can do.

  • Re:GPL2 vs GPL3 (Score:5, Informative)

    by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF ( 813746 ) on Wednesday May 30, 2007 @10:51AM (#19321685)

    What is the exact loophole that Novel is using that GPL3 is supposed to fix?

    Patent abuse and using patents to threaten and intimidate.

    There seems to be several stories over the whole Novel/MS deal, but I have yet to actually read what about the GPL that was wrong that someone (assuming they did) abused it.

    MS made public statements to the affect that they have patents on unnamed technology used in Linux. In doing so, they may very well have caused some potential adopters of Linux to change their minds and go with Windows for their project. Further, MS agreed to some deal with Novell whereby they are selling coupons that are promises not to sue, if people use Novell technologies instead of more serious competitors to MS on the desktop.

    The idea behind the GPL is that you cannot include code you know is covered by a patent in GPL3 software, unless you agree to license that patent to everyone who uses the copyrighted code. It prevents submarine patents being hidden in GPL3 code and it prevents Novell from gaining customers through veiled threats of patent litigation from MS.

  • Loophole (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 30, 2007 @10:52AM (#19321703)
    Although GPL2 states that if you give away code under GPL, anyone has the rights to the code under the GPL. Even if your code is patented (by you) you get the right to the patent (else the code is worthless: you can copy it but can't run it).

    MS/Novell are saying "MS aren't parties to the GPL because they aren't copying the code and Novell aren't licensing the patents" which means that MS don't have to allow GPL use of their patents in GPL code (because they didn't write it) and Novell don't have the right to the patents they add from MS "to enhance interoperability" so they can't give those rights to any other GPL customer.

    Read Graklaw (reference the Notaduck).
  • Re:Cross Licensing?? (Score:2, Informative)

    by bulled ( 956533 ) on Wednesday May 30, 2007 @11:24AM (#19322181)
    IBM is actually not a Linux distributor, only a contributor. IBM has also stated that they will not threaten any open source project with their patent portfolio but they have not mentioned using the same to protect OSS from anyone else.
  • by tjwhaynes ( 114792 ) on Wednesday May 30, 2007 @11:48AM (#19322585)

    Are all parts of the kernel GPLv2 only? There are tons of contributors, are they all required to do GPLv2 only?

    It looks like some 40% of the Linux kernel is GPL v2 or later.

    How much Linux kernel code is GPL v2 only? [blogspot.com]

    That is not to suggest that parts of the kernel can be distributed under the GPL v3. That would require some careful study of the licenses to work out whether it would be consider just an aggregation of parts.

    Toby Haynes

  • Too bad. (Score:2, Informative)

    by walter_f ( 889353 ) on Wednesday May 30, 2007 @12:01PM (#19322815)
    Some time after the introduction of GPL v3, Novell might end up as the only company in the Linux distribution business that is not permitted to distribute kernel 2.6.xx in any form.

    Business adversely affected? You bet.

    Nobody (except MS people) has told little Ron and his colleagues to sign this foolish deal with Microsoft.

    Next time, Novell, you better look before you leap.

    But wait - there won't be a next time for you and your company? Too bad.
  • by beheaderaswp ( 549877 ) * on Wednesday May 30, 2007 @12:09PM (#19322953)

    22 years of system engineering experience, a thoughtful commentary, and supported opinion get you modded down?

    Ack! I'll refrain from commenting further and go back to running my business.
  • Re:Cross Licensing?? (Score:4, Informative)

    by metamatic ( 202216 ) on Wednesday May 30, 2007 @12:36PM (#19323339) Homepage Journal

    That means that IBM, a Linux distributor, ...

    I work for IBM. I run Linux. I contribute to open source projects in accordance with IBM guidelines. So I think I'm pretty informed on the topic.

    As far as I know, IBM does not distribute Linux, ever. As an IBM employee, I'm not even allowed to give you a free copy of Debian. IBM's position is that customers who want Linux should purchase it from SuSE or RedHat, or download it themselves.

    (Opinions mine, not IBM's. This is not an official statement of policy, just what I understand to be the case.)

  • Re:GPL2 vs GPL3 (Score:3, Informative)

    by mrchaotica ( 681592 ) * on Wednesday May 30, 2007 @12:44PM (#19323469)

    To oversimplify somewhat less drastically: you can use the GPLv3 with patented software, but you're required to license the patent Freely along with it (regardless of whether they got the GPL'd code from you or from anyone else).

  • by good soldier svejk ( 571730 ) on Wednesday May 30, 2007 @05:00PM (#19327513)

    Evolution works people. Sit back and grab a coffee.
    If you really used SUSE you would know Evolution doesn't work at all, at least not with Exchange. But seriously, Evolution (the app) sucks. It will begetting much better very soon however. As part of Novell's current program of kissing my CIO's ass they fixed most of the major bugs which made it useless in the enterprise. So the version he and I are running is actually quite decent. I can't wait till they distribute the patches so I can run it on a better distribution (Ubuntu).
  • by sumdumass ( 711423 ) on Thursday May 31, 2007 @11:09AM (#19337837) Journal

    Well to be technical, Novell has 2 options... They can choose to continue using GPLv2 components and become obsolete over time or they can move to GPLv3 and realize the Microsoft deal is dead in the water.

    Well, To be technical, Novell has a few other choices too. The staying with GPLv2 option can be divided into finding support to keep GPL2 ports going. And if they did it often enough and well enough, they would be driving the GPLv3 counterparts development. OR they could just fracture the FOSS community and cause the split in itself. But to be more technical, Microsoft could just release a license that makes everyone part of the Novell deal and when those companies buy windows licenses, the GPL will stop them from contributing to GPLv3 products. Of course developers can do whatever they want with their code, But users are what keeps developers in demand, so if it is done correctly, the users will end up using the GPLv2 software.

    The option with ditching microsoft and going GPLv3 can be divided into several other options to boot. First they keep MS, use GPLv3 software and then claim unfair business practices and monopoly like collusion between different companies in order to unjustly damage their efforts to compete. This basically will kick in some antitrust investigations, do a couple other things, and more importantly drag any resulting lawsuit through court for the next five, ten or twenty years. And at the same time, portraying the GPL in a negetive manor. Of course novell won't be doing it, It will be microsoft talking about how poisonous the GPL is and spreading the usual fud in the process.

    The FOSS community gets hung up on the philosophy because to be honest if you do not adhere to your original philosophy then you end up like Google's 'Do No Evil' philosophy. Basically it gets ignored or back burner-ed for the reasons of profit.

    This idea has changed over the years. The FOSS community has changed their position and after two successful fully released versions of the GPL, almost 20 years or more of using it, Two draft revisions later, they had placed nothing in any of the license indicating this Deal was unacceptable. It was a special draft number 3 of the GPLv3 almost 20 years later that expressed this concern.

    It is more about Microsoft and making a deal with them then it is any existing philosophy

    Just look at the terms of it, they explicitly exclude Open Office, Wine and I think Samba... If Microsoft was serious about extending the olive branch to the OSS community they would not have made these glaring exceptions in the Novell deal.

    This is the real crux of the matter. People feel shut out because Microsoft excluded them. They are retaliating for this. It isn't anything special, most young kids do the same when they throw a fit. This is a very large form of, it's my ball, I'm taking it and going home.

    Those that want this will see it as their way of bending behavior to their favor. I think they are failing this on several grounds. One, and probable the most important, People and companies don't like to be forced to do anything. When they do something they want to do it because they see a benefit. Microsoft, by shear size and volume, has created the ability to force people just because those people want to continue to be compatible with software other companies are using. It should be noted that this is the exact opposite with FOSS in that people are seeing it as an alternative to Microsoft's tactics. When FOSS starts doing similar stuff, people will resent them too, and given the option of which resentment they should ignore, It will probably be the FOSS options because MS already set the compatibility. They don't need to help MS out.

    The other grounds is that people are the users. You can have all the developers in the world and do everything they developers want. But in the end, the only reason developers are in demand is because they

If you suspect a man, don't employ him.