Novell sounds alot like Microsoft these days, complete with Anti-Linux FUD.
Here are some snippets from the recent forum hosted by The Cape Information Technology Initiative (CITI), these are excerpts from the Question and Answer session (OGG | MP3 ) with Novell SA country manager Stafford Masie.
[ editor's note: I transcribe only as well as I can hear, so my apologies for any typos...]
Join the Dark Side
Apparently, Novell sees a real need for a Patent Cooperation agreement for other Linux distributions like Red Hat and Ubuntu. If you are a Linux distributor (or a developer of any piece of code that you ever give to anyone), Novell recommends that you contact Microsoft to get your very own Patent Cooperation agreement, and consider if your preferred distro provides you indemnification.
We can’t say and speak on Microsoft’s behalf that they will speak to a single developer thats building a commercial product on the distribution and ensure that they have the same agreement covenant in place, we(Novell) can’t say that I mean, someone needs to go to them (Microsoft) and see if they are willing. Microsoft is very willing to sign up now, they are very very willing , so I do believe small, medium large, everyone can go and do this.
Is this(deal) somehow exclusive by inference, because of the size that we are? I don’t believe so, and I also believe the people that are participating the individuals in the community take a look at the linux distros that you are participating in and building your technology upon, and by mere inheritance of agreements that are in place and the patents that they own and how they provide indemnification like RedHat does, like we do, that by inference would cover you.
So, I can’t say that this wont cover the little guy, because the little guys we are encouraging to go speak to Microsoft and take a look at doing that, and Ithink Microsoft will take a look at doing that I dont think they would be aversed to doing that, unless they believe there is a patent infringement – clear, based upon that little thing that youve done but again this is where we would encourage you then to bring your little innovation, put it on SUSE Linux, and we’ll kick Microsoft’s ass jointly with you. (laughter)
That was Masie’s laughter, and it really should have been the classic mad-scientist "Mwah-hah-ha" kind of laugh, but it honestly wasn’t.
Using their friend Big Mike, Novell is doing just what we feared, making the only "MS-Approved" (and presumably safe from their IP litigation) channel for software distribution back to Novell only. Then, you may need to purchase the distribution that includes your code to get continued coverage..
Either way, if you want to distribute your software around here, you need Big Mike’s protection, or Novell’s.
"Open Source" is Dead
"Open Source" died on November 2 2006, and the next frontier in the language battle will be the word "Free" as in Freedom:
"I agree with you. This was the week ‘Open Source’ ceased to be a useful phrase because it denoted everything up to and including Microsoft’s attempts to destroy free. Language is subject to this problem. Since the beginning of time uprising movements have taken pleasure in perverting the language of criticism used against them by the ancien regime – the ‘brave beggars’ of the Netherlands, and Yankee Doodle, and the Whigs and the Tories – it’s all the same terms of dis-endearment turned into a weapon. But the game is also played by modern propaganda in the other direction – by turning language into the property of the guy on top: Fox News "Fair & Balanced ™".
"What Microsoft did to ‘Open Source’ was what Stallman always said could be done to it: first you take the politics out, and when the veal has been bleached absolutely white, you can cover it with any sauce you like. And that’s what Microsoft did, and ‘Open Source’ became the sauce on top of Microsoft proprietarianism. And once that process has been completed they have to go after the next vocabulary."
"So now they’re going to try the hard work of cracking ‘Freedom’. Free, well that means stuff you don’t pay for…"
Further evidence that Novell is now Microsoft’s Linux Division, here were Stafford Masie’s words on the differences between OSS and FOSS during the Q&A session, sounds like Novell is beginning Microsoft’s assault on "Freedom". A member of the audience asked if Novell Linux Desktop and/or SLED were at this moment compliant with a "FOSS" software policy, and this is Masie’s response:
what is foss compliancy mean? that its free and you never pay for it? Yeah, you can get derivatives of that, we can give you that , weve got derivatives of that technology that competes with Ubuntu, Red Hat, Fedora, those things, but we’ve got the enterprise versions of our technology too.
Now, it is clear to me he is referring to OpenSUSE as FOSS compliant, he understands that the enterprise versions of their products are not FOSS, and have proprietary software as well, but I take issue with his interpretation of a FOSS policy. The "F" is for Freedom, and Novell is assisting in diluting the term by inferring it has any other significance.
Personally, I think we should move to "Software Libre", that should be pretty difficult to associate with anything other than Liberty, as opposed to Free(dom) being spun as Free(cost).
Lots more to come on the CITI forum, you can be sure. Novell admits they are a hybrid company, as opposed to Red Hat’s end-to-end open source enterprise approach, Masie explains how Novell’s OpenOffice.org is a fork, that the Microvell deal is "Microsoft’s Official Entrance into the Linux space", Novell will use its patent agreement as a competitive edge against competitors, and more…