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12.07.06

David Sugar’s Take on Microvell

Posted in FSF, GNU/Linux at 2:39 pm by Shane Coyle

Over at Free Software Magazine, David Sugar writes “Never before has the contrast between software freedom and intellectual slavery been more clear thanks to the proud efforts of gNewSense, and the craven ones of Novell.” and challenges Novell’s assertion that they acted on behalf of the community and developers:

It is interesting that Novell chooses to say they negotiated this agreement on “behalf” of all software contributors to (and customers) of Novell. Some of my packages are included in SuSE, though, strangely, I do not recall them ever asking me to negotiate this agreement on my behalf. That it claims to only protect “non commercially involved” contributors, it’s clear it is about limiting what I can do and to whom I can safely distribute my code through. It’s meant to threaten and intimidate those who develop software in freedom, and to control what they will be allowed to do. I do not remember requesting to become Novell’s slave, or of desiring to pay a Microsoft slug for the right to practice freedom. As such it is an insult to everyone who has ever contributed code that they now use.

Sugar likens Novell to a rabid dog that must be put down rather than risk infection of the populace, and issues a call to package owners to investigate if Novell is in violation of the GPL as it stands now, and if it is determined that they are to rescind their distribution rights:

What we can do, those who believe in freedom, those who use GNU/Linux, or those who everywhere who believe in free markets and reject gangsters and thugs and the destruction such people do to society? First and foremost we must stand together in solidarity and not let the enemies of freedom succeed in their game of divide and conquer. If Novell has violated the letter of the GPL as well as its spirit, those of us who maintain packages that are distributed today as part of SuSE/Novell GNU/Linux must exercise our option to issue cease and desist orders. When dealing with a dog with rabies, even if once a loved family pet, it is best to put such an animal down before it also has the opportunity to infect others. As for thugs like Microsoft, they must be treated as the cancer to business and society that they are.

As is evidenced by their recent financial statements, Novell is completely hitched to Linux as their future as their Netware revenues plummet, but it appears that they are also completely hitched to Microsoft as well. Now it appears that the community is not interested in being two-timed, and is divorcing Novell. We don’t do bigamy.

Tivoization of Office Files on Vista?

Posted in DRM, Formats, Microsoft at 1:52 pm by Shane Coyle

This is a scary post on kokonet, in which it is pointed out that Microsoft Vista’s "Trusted Computing" features could make the "openness" of the file format irrelevant and block "unauthorized" readers access to the file.

Think of this, if you will, as the Tivoization of Office files, only with malicious intent. Microsoft could, indeed, open up the document format completely and swear before God that it will never sue anyone for patent infringement. However, this does not prevent Microsoft from locking Office files in such a way that only Vista users can read them. No one else will be able to do so without the proper authorization, thus rendering the open format and Microsoft compatibility entirely meaningless.

In an article entitled "How Vista Lets Microsoft Lock Users In", Cory Doctorow explains how "Information Rights Management" technologies will give Microsoft the tools to control what programs can open Office files, and what they can do after opening it.

But Information Rights Management (IRM), first introduced in Office 2003, goes further — it doesn’t just control who can open the document, it also controls what they can do with it afterwards. Crypto is like an ATM that only lets you get money after you authenticate yourself with your card and PIN. IRM is like some kind of nefarious goon hired by the bank to follow you around after you get your money out, controlling how you spend it.

Read the full article, then remember that Novell is now partnering with Microsoft to help bring their vision of computing to our community. Do you want any part of it?

Novell Explains Their Math

Posted in Finance, Novell at 1:20 pm by Shane Coyle

Matthew Aslett has posted an update to his Dear Novell posting of the other day, in which he openly questioned the manner in which Novell has presented their earnings data. Basically, Aslett had much confusion (as did many of us) over the various categorizations of Linux revenue used by Novell over the past years:

Since it completed the acquisition of SUSE Linux in early 2004, Novell has reported the following Linux-related revenue:

3Q04
$12m "SUSE Linux business"
4Q04
$12m "SUSE Linux business"
1Q05
$15m "SUSE Linux business" (including $7m "SUSE Linux Enterprise Server")
2Q05
$8m "SUSE Linux Enterprise Server"
3Q05
$44m "Linux-related product revenue" (Including $31m Open Enterprise Server and $8m "SUSE Linux Enterprise Server")
4Q05
$61m "Linux platform revenue" (including $46m Open Enterprise Server and $15m "other Linux product and services")
1Q06
$56m "Open Platform Solutions" (including $43m Open Enterprise Server and $13m "Linux Platform Products and other open source products"
2Q06
$57m "Open Platform Solutions" (including $38m Open Enterprise Server and $10m "Linux Platform Products"
3Q06
$12m "Linux Platform Products"
4Q06
$13m "Linux Platform Products"

Novell apparently contacted Aslett, and was able to point him to the "decoder ring" that helped make sense of their math, in which it was questioned: How can $13m be 32% more than $15m?

So, according to Novell:

"Linux Platform Products as reported in FY 2006 are SUSE Linux Enterprise Server and SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop. Linux products and services as reported in FY2005 included SUSE Linux Enterprise Server, SUSE Linux Professional, Novell Linux Desktop, ZENworks Linux Management (Red Carpet), and Technical Support Services related to Linux. Linux Platform Products went from $9.2892 million in Q4 FY2005 to $13.017 million in Q$ FY2006, hence the 32% increase."

The article goes on to break out from the previous quarters a comparable set of figures to those provided recently, by applying the same “Linux Platform Products” definition to prior announcements, Aslett actually paints a positive picture for Novell’s Linux revenue:

With the Linux Platform Products categorization, it’s now possible to get a better idea of Novell’s Linux revenue performance, and it’s a picture of slow improvement:

Q105
$8.5m

Q205
$8.6m

Q305
$8.9m

Q405
$9.3m

Q106
$10.4m

Q206
$10.3m

Q306
$11.6m

Q406
$13.0m

It’s heading in the right direction, but it’s not exactly setting the world alight, and with Linux revenue only accounting for 5.3% of Novell’s total revenue in the fourth quarter (4.7% for the fiscal year) it is not fast enough growth to offset the demise of Novell’s NetWare business.

Nicholas Petreley Joins the Criticism of Novell

Posted in FSF, FUD, OpenOffice, SUN at 3:28 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

It is not only Bruce Perens who debunks Novell apologism. Linux Journal has a piece that rebuts some poor argument from Miguel de Icaza.

Who created OpenOffice? Who bought it? Who opened it? Anyone ever hear of Star Division gmbh or Sun? Since when did Novell become the earliest contributor to OpenOffice.org? The earliest and largest external corporate contributor, maybe. I’d like to see some hard facts to back up an assertion like that (not that facts matter, as Miguel admitted), but his hyperbolic boasting of Novell’s contribution is obviously overblown. And is a contribution that doesn’t make it into the main code base really a contribution? After all, in the same blog entry, Miguel himself makes much of the fact that Novell’s OpenOffice.org really isn’t THE OpenOffice.org. It’s Novell’s unique version, patched and modified.

He moves on to criticising Novell’s insertion of Excel VBA and suggests the the community rejects all OpenOffice contributions from Novell. This is very consistent with Nicholas’ previous views on this deal.

Signs That Your “Open Standard” May Not Be Open Enough

Posted in Apple, DRM, ECMA, Formats, Interoperability, Microsoft, Office Suites, Open XML, OpenDocument, OpenOffice, Standard at 2:16 am by Shane Coyle

Microsoft has submitted their Office Open XML document format for ECMA approval, actually I believe they vote today, and will be seeking ISO approval as well – all in the hopes of proving that their file format is an "open standard" and they are serious about "interoperability".

When the ECMA International standards board approves Microsoft’s XML file format technology this week and hands it off to the International Standards Organization (ISO) for another level of approval, the software colossus will have nailed down an important piece of its strategy to keep the IT world in the Microsoft fold.

ECMA’s approval, a foregone conclusion after more than a year of study, likely won’t stop the parade of governmental bodies from adopting the competing OpenDocument Format (ODF), but it will help Microsoft in its effort to claim it is serious about providing interoperability for its hundreds of millions of users worldwide.

If OOXML is an open standard, why must Mac MS Office users wait so long for OOXML support? Correct me if I am wrong, but MS Office on the Mac is developed by Microsoft themselves, how is it that the Windows Office development team had access to the OOXML specification but the Mac Office team did not? Microsoft is promising to provide converters, but not for some months:

Without the converters, Open XML documents opened in Office for Mac 2004 are garbled and unusable. Microsoft developer Sheridan Jones said the Mac team had to wait until Office 2007 and the new file format were “locked down” before beginning the work. The free public beta version of the file converters is set for release in spring 2007.

The final version would be available six to eight weeks after the launch of the next version of Office for Mac, which is expected six to eight months after the launch of the Windows version of Office 2007. “The next version of Office for Mac will natively read the Open XML format; users of the current version of Office will have converters in order to maintain compatibility with the new Office for Windows,” Jones said.

So, the Mac team had to wait for OOXML to be "locked down" and the Windows team did not, that seems odd. But, lets get past that; How can it possibly take so long for implementation of OOXML?, you may ask. Well, as has been stated before, the Office Open XML specification is huge, making it difficult if not impossible to implement. How can this be? Try this for perspective: (emphasis mine)

ODF has a head start with ISO approval, which it received last summer and which was formally published by the standards organization last week. Microsoft’s ECMA submission comprised more than 6,000 pages. The challenge of plowing through so much could drag out approval by ISO. (ODF’s submission was less than 700 pages.)

“The ECMA spec stacks up on a desk as high as your shoulder,” said Hiser. “It can cost $1,000 just to print it out.”

So, while Microsoft’s own developers struggle to comprehend and implement their own proposed "standard" file format, perhaps Mac MS Office customers can use Novell OpenOffice for their Windows MS Office compatibility needs.

Now that’s interoperability.

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