Open Letters: Honesty or Marketing Drivel?

Posted in Marketing, Novell at 9:18 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

If Novell’s deal is not concerned with patents, then why does Novell wave it as a principal and key selling point, even in a place where software patents are invalid? This makes one wonder if the Open Letter was truthful or simply defensive.

Novell is already marketing its Microsoft deal in the UK. A couple of readers have sent me their UK newsletter, and it’s a pip. They mention the patent aspect of the deal, by the way, prominently.


Anybody but me see a disjoint between this wording and Novell’s letter to the community? And if you don’t mind my asking one teeny tiny question: Are software patents legal in the UK? The marketing page puts it on the record that Novell is advertising in the UK a product that supposedly has patent benefits and which implies that users of Novell’s products are specifically protected from Microsoft patents.

It is unsurprising that Novell uses its open letters to alleviate doubt which spreads from customer to customer. But is it possible that Novell misuses open letters in the same way that Microsoft has, namely spreading FUD while the opportunity is there?

Information that Novell feels ashamed of…

Posted in FUD, GNU/Linux, Marketing, Microsoft, Windows at 7:39 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Over at Blogspot, a list is being assembled which points to mirrors of Novell pages that have miraculously vanished.

  • Important Quotes about Linux
  • Why Linux is a Better Choice than Windows…
  • Things Microsoft Failed to Mention…
  • We’ve Reached the Linux Tipping Point…
  • It’s all about Choice. Users want choice…
  • Why Choose Novell for Linux?…

The removal of these pages cannot be misinterpreted. It’s an implication and sign of Novell’s changing mind, or perhaps consent to censorship applied to truthful facts.

Head over to that blog in order to see all the pages for yourselves (in full, and including hyperlinks which are deliberately omitted above).

Correction: I have just been told that all pages have returned (albeit a few may have been edited), apart from one which includes a comparison with Windows (“Why Linux is a Better Choice than Windows…”).

Novell Admits Being Selfish?

Posted in Deals, Finance at 5:06 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Slip of one’s mouth or true admission of egocentricity?

John Dragoon, senior vice president and chief marketing officer for Novell, based in Provo, Utah, told eWEEK in an interview following the release of the open letter that when a customer is making a decision whether or not to deploy in certain environments and there are impediments to that deployment, whether real or imagined, “It is in Novell’s interest – selfish interest, I will admit – to advance-remove whatever those inhibitors be to the advancement of Linux and open source.”

Companies are entitled to pursue their own interests, but spitting at the community that voluntarily put the foundations is simply unacceptable.

Bruce Perens Open Letter to Novell

Posted in Action, Boycott Novell, Petitions at 11:59 am by Shane Coyle

Bruce Perens has authored an Open Letter to Novell, which is also serving as a petition. Please add your name, and comment if you like.

The covenant of the GPL is that in the face of a software patent aggressor we must all hang together, lest we all hang separately. Novell accepted that covenant when you chose to include the Linux kernel, the GNU C library, and hundreds of additional works created at no charge to Novell by individuals in the Free Software community and licensed under the GPL.

It is abundantly clear that Novell and Microsoft took the time to engineer a circuitous legal path of issuing covenants to each other’s customers, rather than licenses to each other, in order to circumvent Novell’s earlier agreement with the community of GPL software developers.

Bruce advises Novell to direct Microsoft to make any such covenants for everyone’s use, or not at all in the future. But, why not correct the current agreement, or cancel it? It is clear that there is much confusion about the significance of the deal, in the community, the corporate world, and even among the parties who signed it.

The solution is simple, as stated by Eben Moglen:

“Microsoft should take back the patent promise to Novell customers or extend the promise of patent safety to everyone, not just Novell customers,” he said.

Until Novell amends the deal and denounces its error, they must not be supported, as put so eloquently by Bruce: “In short, now that Novell has chosen not to hang together with the Free Software community, we’ve chosen not to do so with you.”

Go sign the petition, then spread the word: Boycott Novell.

Yet Another SuSE-Ubuntu Faceoff

Posted in GNOME, OpenSUSE, Ubuntu at 9:39 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

A story from Tectonic (South African tech) shows us that Ubuntu trumps SUSE, even based on purely ‘political’ considerations. Unless Novell retracts its deal with the devil, I am afraid that we are likely to find more stories as such.

SLED 10 is good looking, well designed and very usable. Novell has added some excellent features that make the Gnome desktop just a little bit more friendly to use. Surprisingly, the extra overhead didn’t put too much strain on my lower-end IBM Thinkpad notebook.

The obvious question to ask, however, is how the Novell-Microsoft deal will affect SuSE’s market share, both among the free software community and within the corporate sector.

If I was to hazard a guess I would say that we’ll see significant drop off in the use of SuSE by the free software community. In large part because of the relationship with Microsoft but also because something like Ubuntu is every bit as good a desktop for most users as is SuSE and it has less of the baggage SuSE now has.

On the corporate front it will take time for the deal to play itself out but Novell provides a compelling desktop Linux option in SLED 10 and perhaps together with the assurance of not being sued by Microsoft might well be a good corporate desktop replacement.

For myself, I am sticking with Ubuntu for now.

As for myself, I still run Opensuse at home and at work. I am waiting to see how things develop before I impulsively replace Opensuse with Debian or Fedora Core (just renamed “Fedora”). If it’s not broken, don’t ‘fix’ it, right? Technically, Opensuse is not broken. And yes, the licensing route to the future seems broken already. A couple of weeks ago I noticed the following when doing a whois.net lookup.

Whois Server: whois.belgiumdomains.com
Referral URL: http://www.belgiumdomains.com
Status: ACTIVE
EPP Status: ok
Updated Date: 01-Nov-2006
Creation Date: 01-Nov-2006
Expiration Date: 01-Nov-2007

A fork to freedom? Some existing SUSE users would hope so. A willing army of developers and testers may already be prepared to embark on such a project. The endeavour involves maintenance of packages that will evolve elsewhere, in companies that foster innovation and serve as incubators.

Love SuSE/SUSE. Blame Novell.

Could Forking be Novell’s and Microsoft’s Trapdoor

Posted in Fork, GPL, Microsoft, Novell at 9:10 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

In the past two days I have stubbornly abstained from silding with this rather extreme perspective, which I perceived as unrealistic. But here we have an opinion piece that earned a place in LinuxToday. Many conservative Linux users appear to see it as reasonable.

Novell will definitely fork any open source software that moves to GPLv3. This is not surprising given that Novell is now being bankrolled by Microsoft. It also appears that Microsoft is willing to fund such forks, in the name of interoperability.

To quote my colleague, “I think it’s realistic, and crazy (on Novell’s part). What this deal is doing, per Microsoft’s terms is saying anyone who wants to hack on the code can, and then give it to Novell only via OpenSuSE.org. Anyone else who redistributes is subject to lawsuit, does Novell really think that the compulsion to code is so great that the community will continue to improve their proprietary code at gunpoint?

The opensuse folks need to leave, en masse, as a signal to Novell that they will need to write their own code (or collaborate with MS) from here on in. Even if they did sidestep GPL2 (which I don’t concede), they will not get around GPL3. This might require a lot of re-writing of code that cannot be relicensed, but maybe that’s the point – to slow down Linux on a massive rewrite so they can catch up with vista 2, since Vista 1 is a trainwreck.”

The Community and Rivals Cope, Despite Novell’s Fluke

Posted in Deals, GPL, Novell, Red Hat at 7:57 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Another opinion piece from ZDNet Blogs clearly suggests that Red Hat will be able to endure, if not prosper more than ever before. It concludes with the following:

…Oracle may hurt Red Hat, but not nearly as much as you’d think. As for Novell and Microsoft they have their own issues to sort out.

It is encouraging to see that Novell’s mistake hurts its own presence more than it affects other Linux vendors. In fact, judging by all those Linux contracts which are struck so frequently (more latterly the City of Vienna, Dakota, and Nokia), it seems like Novell remains an issue for Eben Moglen to address in GPLv3. In the interim, it’s business as usual for GNU/Linux.

Let Steve Ballmer talk. Let him and Ron Hovspeian continue to “agree to disagree”. When the children are through playing perhaps they can start worrying about their dwindling products again. The only genuine gainer at the moment is (non-SUSE) Linux.

More Confusion on the Nature of the Agreement

Posted in Deals, Deception, Microsoft, Novell, Patent Covenant at 2:24 am by Shane Coyle

CNet has a wide-ranging interview with Bill Gates, in which he touches partially on the Novell deal and Open Source / Free Software. Here is an interesting quote:

We’re also letting Novell give something that you get in the commercial model, but you rarely get otherwise, which is the indemnification, just like we always do with every copy of Windows. So we’re pioneering some things here.

Let me get this straight – Novell is providing the indemnification? I thought the brilliance here was the fact that MS was providing the indemnification, therefore sidestepping the GPL2?

So far, I have yet to hear any two people who should have knowledge of the deal’s significance give the same story. We have Ron’s perspective and Microsoft’s official response, Steve Ballmer’s view on what the deal means, and David Kaefer’s spin on what Steve said, and now Chairman Gates.

PJ at Groklaw made a great point the other day about a meeting of the minds as a requirement for a valid contract, with each passing day I wonder if there was ever even a meeting of the executives.

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