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11.20.06

The Free Software Foundation to Strike Back

Posted in Action, FSF, GPL, Patent Covenant, Patents at 5:30 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Eben Moglen, the Free Software Foundation’s attorney, has just had an interview with The Register. Therein he explains his strategy for breaking any effectiveness of Novell’s Deal with Microsoft. Below lie a couple of snippets which were selectively extracted from the full interview.

“We’re going to make the deal not tenable and we urge Microsoft to back away as gracefully and as quickly as possible from a deal that won’t work.”

[...]

“If GPL 3 goes into effect with these terms in it, Novell will suddenly becomes a patent laundry; the minute Microsoft realizes the laundry is under construction it will withdraw.”

Novell Downgraded

Posted in Finance, Novell at 3:17 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

News just in.

Credit Suisse downgrades Novell

Credit Suisse said shares of Novell have traded up sharply after the recent partnership announcement with Microsoft Corp. The brokerage said although the new relationship with Microsoft will include a net payment to Novell, this is more of a one-time event and it does not believe the 10 percent appreciation in the stock is sustainable.

–The brokerage said the company’s Linux patent deal with Microsoft will hurt its standing in the open source community.

So, the short-term gain which Novell sought might last for a very short term indeed.

Novell’s Changing Image

Posted in Marketing, Novell, OpenSUSE, SLES/SLED at 12:23 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

You can tell something is amiss when a company changes its opinion and sales pitch overnight. And unfortunately, Novell has done just that. Several days ago I spotted the following blog post.

Novell starts pulling down Anti-Microsoft messages from their site.

Do you remember the infamous “Get the facts” campaign. Microsoft put up adverts all over the place for people to “Get the facts”.

[...]

On their website (www.novell.com), Novell now displays a banner, “Microsoft endorses SuSE Linux”. Who needs Microsoft’s endorsement?

It didn’t take a long time for Pamela Jones of Groklaw to point this out as well.

I remember when Novell knew what Microsoft was all about. Remember their webpage, Unbending the Truth: Things Microsoft Hopes You Won’t Notice, answering Microsoft’s Get the Facts campaign? Try going there now. Poof. Redirects you to some pablum about Novell’s SUSE being better than all other Linux distributions

Let us take a closer look.

Jan 13 2006:

“Recently Microsoft has been challenging the suitability of Linux for the enterprise, bending the truth quite a bit to make it fit their view of the world. This site is dedicated to unbending the truth and setting the record straight. Take the time to explore the facts, and you’ll understand why Microsoft is challenging Linux, and why Linux is often a better choice than Windows for satisfying the business needs of enterprises”

http://www.novell.com/linux/truth/

Nov 20 2006:

Why Choose SUSE Linux from Novell?

“Linux* is about more than an operating system. It’s about applications and databases that run on Linux. It’s about technical support. It’s about consulting expertise. It’s about training. And most importantly, it’s about you. How will Linux help you run your business better? Not all Linux distributions are created equally. With SUSE® Linux Enterprise Server 9 from Novell®, you get the best-engineered Linux from a vendor that can deliver a global ecosystem to surround it”

http://www.novell.com/linux/truth/

Now, I suppose, Microsoft’s censors will approve.

Can Novell’s Protection Racket Swing a Timebomb?

Posted in Formats, Microsoft, Novell at 5:18 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Verfasst von Oencke has come up with some interesting insights. He highlights the parallels between a classic protection racket scenario and the Novell/Microsoft deal.

What does the wikipedia say about protection rackets? I’ll add my comments in brackets {..}. These may or may not be accurate:

“A protection racket is an extortion scheme whereby a powerful organization {Microsoft?}, most often a criminal organization or gang, coerces individuals {you} or businesses {you} to pay protection money{ SUSE subscription fee} which allegedly serves to purchase the organization’s “protection” services {“patent peace of mind”, S. Ballmer*} against various external threats {patent lawyers}….

It would be reasonable to assume that Microsoft, being the ‘bully’ here, will use Novell to promote its own agenda and commercial interests. I opine that it is no longer necessary to draw any comparisons with SCO. This analogy has been used by various respectable editors who went overboard with the intention of sending loud warning signals.

While Novell remains committed to ODF, as indicated below, Novell may have also ‘contaminated’ OpenOffice in the process of development. The legal boundaries are vague, but Novell has little fear because it has struck a mutual protection deal while excluding all others. This could work to Novell’s benefit in the short term (shareholders would cheer), at the expense of the rest of the Linux community. In fact, since many of the projects at hand run under multiple platform, it is also a great threat, to be broader, to Free software. Harm can be due to inclusion of Microsoft code, visibility of Microsoft code, or collaboration. Richard Stallman realised this in the dawn of the Free Software movement, which is why Linux easily ensures/d SCO’s (Microsoft proxy) baseless accusations.

We will also continue to contribute as part of the OASIS Open Document Format for Office Applications Technical Committee to enhance ODF and ensure that ODF standards are the premier file format standards for office applications.

Let me take my tinfoil hat and confess that it would be overly presumptuous to jump to conclusions. However, I merely try to present some possibilities here. With regards to Mono or OpenOffice, no clear violation has been identified as there isn’t yet any concrete proof. I would like to close by quoting an item that grabbed my attention a few months ago.

The best part of the file Michael sent to me was that the data was formatted into a “Data Pilot,” which is OpenOffice’s analog to the Microsoft Excel “pivot table.” Data pilots, as well as support for xls pivot tables, is a whole new feature area in OpenOffice.org that I really ought to post something about, too. (So many features, so little time.)

Source: Ted Haeger, Novell

This writeup dates back to August. One wonders if a ‘bomb’ was planted in the code (deliberately by Microsoft while not deliberately by Novell), which sets a legal minefield that has percolated onto other distributions by now. If so, can patches be identified, retracted, or altogether rejected? Can anybody trust Novell at this stage? Their hand on this project, particularly at this stage, seems harmful because any element of FUD is worth a thousand lawsuits, to quote [H]omer.

[puts tinfoil hat back on head /]

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