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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.”

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  1. tz said,

    November 22, 2006 at 9:16 am


    At this point, a GPL 2.5 that didn’t have the (controversial and complex) DRM issue clauses, but did have explicit “you must indemnify all or no users against patents” language would probably be universally accepted.

  2. Roy Schestowitz said,

    November 22, 2006 at 9:59 am


    I suspect that these recent events have woken Linus Torvalds up. OSDL is eerily quiet, as is IBM (Shane agrees about that one), whose executives attended that handshaking sighting and even gave their endorsement. It is quite surprising, I suppose, as IBM assisted Novell’s acquisition of SUSE in its struggle against Microsoft and the likes of it (they has an infamous ‘coupon settlement’ not so long ago). Bill Gates still considers IBM to be Microsoft’s main threat. Not Google; not Linux (which is what Steve Ballmer opines).

    I suspect that only later did IBM realise that it could be heading toward a patent cold war with Microsoft. Bob Sutor suggests that IBM has got the community’s back covered.

    ,—-[ Quote ]
    | “We’ve moved past the ideology,” said Sutor, in Salt Lake City
    | Thursday to attend graduation ceremonies at Neumont University.”
    | Many people have figured out that there are a number of ways to
    | make money from the ‘open source’ model.”
    | […]
    | The litigation has been characterized as part of a proxy war being
    | waged by Microsoft against Linux, seen as a prime challenger to
    | Windows. Microsoft has been a prime funding source for SCO, but
    | earlier this month stunned open-sourcers by announcing a
    | development pact for Novell’s Suse-brand of Linux.
    | IBM is watching the apparent about-face with interest – and
    | skepticism. “I don’t see [Microsoft] doing very much yet for open
    | source that isn’t at arm’s length,” Sutor said. “Possibly this is
    | a way of perpetrating previous [anti-Linux] strategy while
    | superficially looking better.”


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