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11.24.06

Novell to Put Own Novelty at Risk

Posted in Action, FSF, GPL, Novell at 11:04 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

According to Bruce Perens, one ought to expect SUSE to incorporate outdated packages or face some hard financial dilemmas.

“In the face of these [GPLv2 to GPLv3] changes, Novell will probably be stuck with old versions of the software, under old licenses, with Novell sustaining the entire cost and burden of maintaining that software,” Perens wrote, adding that Novell faces a choice of sticking with Microsoft and being left behind, or turning its back on the patent deal.

Matt Asay goes further and mocks Novell’s judgment.

Again, if Microsoft’s patents are only worth $40M or so, and Novell’s are worth $300M, then does anyone have anything to fear about Microsoft’s patent rattling? If their value is comparatively worthless, why is anyone bothering to take them seriously (this assumes, of course, that someone is)?

This confirms what many people argued before. The sums appear nonsential, which leads to suspicion that the motives go beyond what meets the eye. Microsoft’s legal department is nothing to sneeze at and, quite evidently, Novell has been fooled. It’s time to escape the deal (to the extent possible) and save SUSE before it’s too late.

The recent Open Letter/petition illustrates the fact that a lot of damage has already been done and continues to be done at present, primarily because the management is reluctant to admit its mistake. The intention of this site is not to religiously bash and damage Novell, but rather to knock it back into its senses, rather than let it be driven to a state of bankruptcy. Pressure might be the only path to remedy.

Time to Retract?

Posted in Deals, Microsoft, Novell at 9:38 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Don Parris of LXer.com recently did an interview with itbusinessedge.com. Therein he suggests reversing parts of the deal that are concerned with patents protection. The interview closes with the following statement:

Both parties need to re-think this… What bothers me most about the agreement is that Novell seems somehow caught off guard by Ballmer’s words. Did they not know Microsoft’s position going into the deal? Novell should have reasonably known that Microsoft would use this deal to try to scare people into cutting deals with them — and maybe that’s the real benefit for Novell. If Microsoft believes [the Linux] community’s code infringes [its] patents, why don’t they send letters asking the respective coders to cease and desist? That way, the infringement can stop on amicable terms. Otherwise, Microsoft — especially Ballmer — needs to shut up.


Interoperability should have been the one and only aspect from which to gain. Microsoft’s advantage clearly came from subtle clauses, which opened to door to convenience in argumentation, e.g. pressuring Red Hat, the European Commission, and spreading unfounded FUD.

Lamlaw.com Article

Posted in GPL, Law, Microsoft, Novell, Patent Covenant, Patents at 4:11 pm by Shane Coyle

Here is an article on lamlaw.com regarding Microsoft’s potential Antitrust violations, and whether Novell is violating the GPL or not:

When Microsoft agreed with Novell to cross their promises not to sue customers, Microsoft (and Novell) have likely violated the law.

They can both stand up and make it sound like it is just another cross marketing agreement. But, that might not be the case.

As for Novell, the charge is rather simple. The agreement violates GPL 2. It certainly does so in spirit if not the letter. But, I think a case can easily be made that it also violates the letter.

The article goes on to outline manners in which Microsoft may have intentionally used this deal to sabotage the GPL, also reminding us of Microsoft’s direct and indirect roles in the SCO lawsuit, which had the same intent. Antitrust concerns are also outlined as possible avenues of research.

And, in a response to Novell’s assertions regarding their stance on Patents and Open Source:

It is nice to see Novell do as much as they do in regard to patents. However, working with patents does not permit nor excuse violations of the GPL. And in that regard, it is the perception of the violation that is important. It would not matter if a court of law approved the patent deal or agreed it did not violate the GPL if contributors see it another way.

Microsoft Files Revised Documents with EC

Posted in Antitrust, Deals, Europe, Formats, Interoperability, Microsoft, RAND at 3:32 pm by Shane Coyle

CNNMoney reports that Microsoft has met the EC deadline, and has submitted revised documentation including the technical information required to interoperate with Windows. It will take months for the committee to review the documents to determine if Microsoft is now in compliance:

At the same time, a Monitoring Trustee appointed by the Commission will test the documentation.

If the Commission decides that the documentation is acceptable, it will face the question of whether the price Microsoft plans to charge for the protocols is justified.

Microsoft could face further fines if the Commission finds that the price was based on Microsoft’s exercise of monopoly power rather than on the originality of its product.

The price for the protocols? Wanna bet that price is in line with what Novell just agreed to pay, with similar restrictive license terms?* By agreeing to this deal, Novell is now saying that the Interoperability Protocols are indeed original, and deserving of licensing and paying royalties.

Novell is helping Microsoft exclude Free Software projects from interoperating with Windows without paying royalties, and then you won’t be able to redistribute the code – so I guess no GPL if you want to talk to Windows, or I suppose you could use Novell’s distro – it has patent indemnification straight from Microsoft.

* UPDATE:

I was digging some more, reviewing some old Groklaw articles from around the time of the Antitrust ruling, and stumbled upon an article from January 2005 that linked to Microsoft’s proposed terms for complying with the ruling. Read through the terms of the various license flavors (pdf links), and also review the program entry requirements including:

SECTION C: REQUIRED PAYMENTS

For each separate Work Group Server Protocol Program License Agreement for Development and Product Distribution identified in the table above as requiring a payment, a prepaid royalty payment of €50,000 is required. These prepaid royalties are nonrefundable unless your participation in the Work Group Server Protocol Program is terminated because you do not complete other Program Entry Requirements.

Novell Makes Mistakes, the GPL ‘Corrects’ Them

Posted in Deals, GPL, Novell at 2:39 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The Novell/Microsoft deal may be the last straw in a sequence of mistakes which, over the years, have led to layoffs. The Inquirer takes a look at what it considers to be Novell’s top 5 mistakes. Here is the gist.

5. Not merging with Lotus.

4. NetWare Lite.

3. Ever-changing strategies.

2. Buying Digital Research.

1. Buying WordPerfect.

In another short writeup, I believe we see the term “Novellization” being coined.

Forget about Tivoization. How about adding a clause to the next version of the GPL that counters Novellization?

It is apparent that Novell is being excluded by the Free Software community inasmuch as it has aliented itself on November 2nd.

Shuttleworth: Welcome SUSE Developers

Posted in Action, OpenSUSE, Ubuntu at 1:36 pm by Shane Coyle

Calls are coming from all over the community for users and developers to turn their backs on Novell. The latest entreaty is from Canonical’s Mark Shuttleworth, the folks behind the Ubuntu flavors of Debian.

If you have an interest in being part of a vibrant community that cares about keeping free software widely available and protecting the rights of people to get it free of charge, free to modify, free of murky encumbrances and “undisclosed balance sheet liabilities”, then please do join us.

Now is the time to show Novell and their shareholders the negative impact of this self-serving deal, OpenSUSE users and developers must walk out and Fork Novell. Projects should follow the lead of projects such as LiVES, who note on their download page:

Suse

LiVES no longer supports Suse, since Novell signed a deal with a certain well known company. If you are using Suse, please consider moving to another distribution.

Novell must not be supported, boycott Novell.

Update: Apparently Mr. Shuttleworth also posted his invitation to SUSE developers on the OpenSUSE mailing list, which in my opinion is somewhat tactless and certainly it is not befitting of Ubuntu’s “leader”.

Didio: Ballmer’s IP Threats an “Intimidation Tactic”

Posted in FUD, GNU/Linux, Intellectual Monopoly, Steve Ballmer at 11:23 am by Shane Coyle

Linuxworld has an article regarding Microsoft’s recent public statements regarding possible IP infringement in Linux and FOSS, and there is a quote that is not as notable so much for its content as its source:

Some observers say the possibility of Ballmer asserting rights to patents that Linux may have potentially infringed upon is slim.

“At this point I think it is more of an intimidation tactic,” says Laura DiDio, an analyst with the Yankee Group. “To tell you the truth, if I am Joe IT, I don’t know if this is much of a deterrent to me. Quite frankly, you have to prove [patent infringement].”

I agree, but more and more, I don’t think this is as much about an attack on Linux as I did initially. The FUD that Mr. Ballmer spewed was genuinely not part of the deal, and I believe this is why Novell had the reaction they did.

This deal is designed to undermine the EC Antitrust Ruling, allowing Microsoft to now argue that Novell (formerly a plaintiff against MS in antitrust litigation) sees the value and necessity in paying license fees and royalties to interoperate with Windows.

Microsoft was worried that the EC ruling establishes a precedent of compulsory licensing, which Microsoft contends would stifle innovation if they were required to do so. As analyst Matt Rosoff put it:

Analyst Rosoff maintained that Microsoft is concerned about the long-term precedent of having a governmental body force it to do something to its core product. From Microsoft’s point of view, he explained, it “owns Windows and it doesn’t make sense that a government body should dictate design points in it.”

Microsoft also has intellectual property concerns about the EC decision, he added. “It doesn’t want what it views as its intellectual property to go into a general public-type license, a GPL-type license, where it can be freely shared,” he said.

Perhaps Novell also is wary of such a precedent, they do have a significant “IP Portfolio” of their own, as they have been noting themselves.

The Age of Untrusted Patches

Posted in Action, Deception, Fork, Intellectual Monopoly, Novell at 8:18 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Nicholas Petreley of Linux Journal warms about the dangers of accepting patches from Novell.

It is with regret that I urge all FOSS developers to treat anything Novell has contributed to the community as suspect, scrutinize any Novell contributions and purge them as deemed appropriate.

As argued before, OpenOffice, Mono, and even Samba, whose developers strongly protested against this deal, are becoming a legal timebomb. Isolation from Novell is separation from Microsoft’s hands.

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