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Red Hat Software Businesses Software Microsoft Patents Linux

Red Hat CEO Talked Patents with MS 126

c3ph45 writes "Before the Novel-Microsoft deal, Red Hat was in talks with Microsoft over patents. Thankfully, the deal fell apart before Novel made their infamous partnership with Microsoft. As has been reported before, Red Hat doesn't plan to enter into any patent agreements with Microsoft, but it leaves open the question: What if both Red Hat and Novell had entered into such deals? One large vendor doing so has caused enough disruption. How would the community have coped with two of the largest vendors doing so?"
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Red Hat CEO Talked Patents with MS

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  • Mass hysteria (Score:5, Insightful)

    by LiquidCoooled ( 634315 ) on Friday June 29, 2007 @07:31AM (#19687331) Homepage Journal
    We would have coped the same as always, we would rant and rave and generally work ourselves into a tizz, then get back onto our normal day jobs.
  • Slow news day? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by StringBlade ( 557322 ) on Friday June 29, 2007 @07:33AM (#19687341) Journal
    Slashdot has now become the place to post hypothetical questions just for discussion on the main page?

    "I'm a little verklempt. Talk amongst yourselves....I'll give you a topic: What if RedHat and Novell had both made MS deals? Discuss."
  • by Dr. Smoove ( 1099425 ) on Friday June 29, 2007 @08:12AM (#19687533)
    Guys Szulik basically gave no comment which has been interpreted as an affirmation. If he did 'talk' patents, he probably talked about how Microsoft's vaporpatents don't scare him. RH isn't going to make a deal like Novell did, period. You're way overreacting.
  • Debian is power (Score:5, Insightful)

    by wikinerd ( 809585 ) on Friday June 29, 2007 @08:34AM (#19687641) Journal
    We have Debian []. The community existed before commercial interests took notice of us and we do not need any commercial vendor. SUSE, RedHat, and any other commercial vendor could file for bankruptcy without affecting the GNU/Linux community at all. Our power lies in cooperation, volunteerism, and our love for free software. We don't need money to keep our community alive, because it is based on ideology and love for technology. I moved all of my SUSE-based servers and machines to Debian after the Novell patent deal.
  • Re:Mass hysteria (Score:5, Insightful)

    by simm1701 ( 835424 ) on Friday June 29, 2007 @08:40AM (#19687681)
    The problem with films like fight club is that people watch them, people agree with them, people think "wow, that's so true, I really should be more like that and challenge the system"

    Then they go back to their lives, following the rules, working a job they hate to earn money they don't want to buy stuff they don't need.

    Call me cynical but I can't see that changing any time soon.
  • by Tet ( 2721 ) <slashdot@astradyn[ ] ['e.c' in gap]> on Friday June 29, 2007 @09:00AM (#19687829) Homepage Journal
    Redhat have explicitly stated that they won't go down the whole cross patent deal path, so what's there to deny?

    Red Hat's management would be negligent if they didn't discuss potential patent infringments with the competition. That doesn't mean they're talking about a Novell-style deal, though. I suspect MS appreoached them and said "we think you're infinging our patents, what are you going to do about it". RH probably replied with "...and you're infringing these patents held by OIN". That leads to a discussion between the two parties. Discussion != agreement. Why he can't just come out and say that, I don't know.

  • by dpilot ( 134227 ) on Friday June 29, 2007 @09:20AM (#19687995) Homepage Journal
    Perhaps because every comment made in public may come back to haunt you someday in court. The prudent manager or attorney is very circumspect about public statements. I suspect that in the end game, SCO will learn just a little bit about this area of conduct.
  • by roemcke ( 612429 ) on Friday June 29, 2007 @09:25AM (#19688035)
    The way I see it, only entering a patent deal is not necessary bad. (except for giving MS money and FUD ammo.) The problems only starts the moment you include patented stuff into GPL'd software.

    Without the patent deal, if you by mistake include patented stuff, you will anger the authors of free software AND risk being sued to death by Microsoft. With the deal, MS can't touch you. You only have to find a way to please the authors of any GPL'd code you may have distributed. History has shown that if it only was an honest mistake, they tend to have small demands. Just remove the offending code and everyone will most likely be happy.
  • by ttnb ( 1121411 ) on Friday June 29, 2007 @09:48AM (#19688283)
    I don't know the exact text of the agreement but I am bit worried about the contributions from the distros that have signed the deal.

    Novell etc are hurting their human-to-human relationships with the community and (to the extent that the deals they do violate GPLv2 and GPLv3) they hurt their ability to continue to legally distribute GNU/Linux, but the contributions they've made are irrevocably made under whatever license they distributed their contributions under - these contributions don't become invalid if they violate the license on parts of GNU/Linux that were contributed by others.

  • Talking is his job (Score:3, Insightful)

    by flyingfsck ( 986395 ) on Friday June 29, 2007 @10:08AM (#19688491)
    He would have been negligent if he didn't talk to MS. In the end, he probably made the correct decision.
  • Re:Debian is power (Score:3, Insightful)

    by an.echte.trilingue ( 1063180 ) on Friday June 29, 2007 @10:17AM (#19688601) Homepage
    Ubuntu, for all the good work that they have done to promote Linux to the world, remains little more than Debian sid with bug fixes and a consistent theme, respun every 6 months. Those elitist geeks you so lightly dismiss built Ubuntu. Cannonical markets it. This relationship continues to this day, and this is why Debian will probably outlive Ubuntu.

    If irregular releases really distressed people, Microsoft would have regular releases. I would argue that most people prefer the rock solid stability of Debian to a regular release cycle. That is why Mandrake, the Ubuntu of 5 years ago, did not become the wave of today: too buggy. Again, just as RedHat outlived Mandrake, Debian will outlive Ubuntu. (and yes, Ubuntu is buggy compared to Debian)

    Oh, and I should also mention that if you take the time to ask questions on debian mailing lists (not the dev lists, of course) and you are polite, you will find that those "elitist geeks" take the time to help even the "lowly noobs".
  • by spevack ( 210449 ) * on Friday June 29, 2007 @11:31AM (#19689497) Homepage
    Disclosure: I work on the Fedora Project. I am employed by Red Hat, but I am not in corporate communications. However, here is the official statement that was issued by that group:

    "Red Hat has only recently been able to see some of the terms of the original Microsoft/Novell deal, due to the belated and redacted SEC filings that were made. Based on what we have seen, the deal is not interesting to us. Red Hat continues to believe that open source and the innovation it represents should not be subject to an unsubstantiated tax that lacks transparency."

    My own thoughts, that are not necessarily those of my employer:

    CEOs have to be very careful about what they say in public, especially in this day and age in the US business world. Sometimes a "no comment" is the only safe answer. Personally, I do not believe Red Hat would ever make a Novell-style deal. I can't even begin to express how angry and disappointed I would be with Red Hat, and Mr. Szulik, if such a deal were to ever happen. But I don't stay up at night worrying about it, because I trust Red Hat's CEO and top management to do the right thing.
  • Re:Mass hysteria (Score:5, Insightful)

    by WilliamSChips ( 793741 ) <full DOT infinity AT gmail DOT com> on Friday June 29, 2007 @12:03PM (#19689881) Journal
    The problem with the NRA is that they say they need guns to fight off tyranny but essentially define tyranny as not having guns.
  • Re:Mass hysteria (Score:1, Insightful)

    by konquererz ( 915002 ) <> on Friday June 29, 2007 @12:30PM (#19690275)
    I think that the problem does lie with complacency, just no in the same fashion that you speak. People make money and buy cool stuff. They get enthralled with whats on TV, knee deep in World of Warcraft, and basically enjoy their life. People do not stand up to "tyranny" or "challenge the system" as long as their every day existence is not interrupted. In other words, it doesn't truly effect them. While they watch fight club, there is no noticeable impact on their life by anything that the RIAA, or any other company does. My father rarely gets on a computer, he cares nothing for all this "illegal" downloading deal thats been going on for so long. As long as peoples way of life in general doesn't change, no one will care enough to get up and do something.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 29, 2007 @12:55PM (#19690613)
    Note that each of these MS "agreements" are cash-positive to the open source side. Also note that neither MS nor the open source company gets anything of tremendous value. The MS patents are unspecified, of dubious enforceability, and the "protection" is limited. The only real threat from open source is to give away functionality that matches or exceeds what MS is selling. Even with the agreements, the threats to both sides remain pretty much the same.

    The end game is for MS to try and sell the concept that open source uses something that MS must be paid for. None of this would pass the giggle test, so MS pays the open source companies to suppress their laughter. The real test comes when MS tries to use the precedent of these agreements to impose a tax on open source, via a new round of "agreements" in which the cash flows the other way.

    This is MS' attempt to buy the open source industry. Until recently, it was considered impossible -- the community is too large and too diverse to be bought. Evidently, MS thinks there are some common choke points that would hinder open source development. We all know that cash is a very effective tool to influence corporate behavior. This is either very clever or very desperate -- I'm not sure which.

  • by masinick ( 130975 ) on Friday June 29, 2007 @01:10PM (#19690799) Homepage Journal
    I would say that Red Hat and other companies are probably in talks with Microsoft all the time. If they are not, they probably should be. Both companies have customers that use both sets of products, so it is in everyone's interest to communicate and to improve interoperability between distinct, independent products.

    I do not see Red Hat caving in and signing any kind of patent agreement, but I could easily see Red Hat working with Microsoft if the work was in their mutual interest and in the interest of customers.

    Red Hat is probably very reluctant to make those kind of deals because we have seen the kind of press Microsoft has given so far - stuff like "We will not sue this partner", yet in another breath that same day, "We think that Linux infringes on..." ad nauseum.

    I do not think anyone's software should rightly infringe on anything else, because ninety percent of functions are common functions that should not be possible to patent, protect, or license, but there could be open collaborations to share the cost and benefits of implementing new features and improving the interoperability of existing features.

    What we have today is a bunch of baloney. I hope all of it comes to an end soon and we usher in a new generation of collaborative software. Before that happens, there is likely to be quite a bit more nonsense, but perhaps we will get there sooner rather than later after all.
  • NRA (Score:3, Insightful)

    by falconwolf ( 725481 ) <> on Friday June 29, 2007 @11:36PM (#19696925)

    The problem with the NRA is that they say they need guns to fight off tyranny but essentially define tyranny as not having guns.

    There is no problem with the NRA. As for tyranny and firearms, almost if not every population that was tyrannized was disarmed first. This is true even for the 1980s and 1990s. For instance Iran, after the Iranian revolution the Ayatllahs left people alone at first. The Revolutionary Guard then sponsered a program wherein for every firearm a person brought in they were given enough food for a family of 4 for a month, or something like that. Once the populace was disarmed the Revolutionary Guard started cracking down on the populace. How about Rwanda? Once again the populace was disarmed before the genocide started there. Take Sudan today though there has been an ongoing civil war, Darfur is where the population isn't armed, yet is where most of the bloodshed is and entire villages burned down. In the south however where rebel groups are armed still they don't have villages being destroyed.


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