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12.16.06

Transcript of Stafford Masies Q&A at CITI Forum in South Africa

Posted in Novell at 6:42 pm by Shane Coyle

This is a transcript of the Q&A session at the CITI forum, as posted on tectonic.co.za. I only transcribe as well as I hear, so there may be small errors, but I am confident this is ‘very’ accurate.

Please comment on any discrepancies and I will check them out, I left out any personally identifying information (other than the announced speakers) and there were some times where I could not hear clearly, anything in parentheses is added by me for clarification, triple parentheses represents my paraphrasing events unrelated to the main topic, such as announcements. Questions are in bold, they are from audience members, responses are by Stafford Masie of Novell and Professor Derek Keats of UWC.



…an independent open source developer, on the issue of clarifying the agreement, to me the biggest concern is limiting the protection only to customers using suse and people who contribute to opensuse and, and this is very disturbing to me, people that would contribute ‘not for commercial gain’ which sounds to me as though the protection is for people who hack up the software in their spare time and dont try to make a career of it, and I think this relates to professor Keats’ mention of the piece of the community you’re taking out – what about people that contribute to Ubuntu, or any of the other big distributions? now suddenly they’re left out in the cold and SUSE gets, y’know, all the limelight, so could you please explain and clarify?

Let me address ‘the only SUSE and why?’, I think its because we… because of the SUSE acquisition, the OpenSUSE distribution is within our fold, so we represent that distribution and this agreement with Microsoft, again, wasn’t just an openSUSE agreement, that’s part of the covenant exception for Linux but that covenant extends… it overarches all of our patent portfolio, so its the proprietary patent portfolios and its the open source innovations, etc so its both areas covered – so lets not make it agreement only for opensuse, it was an interoperability agreement with Microsoft this covenant is in place from a patent protection perspective for our entire range of technologies as far as that interoperability is concerned in Linux, so…

Secondly is, this is not exclusive, this is not an exclusive arrangement with Microsoft and we are encouraging Red Hat, Ubuntu, etc to consider a similar agreement, if it makes sense to them, with Microsoft. We, we are encouraging that, especially from a, y’know, patent perspective…

Not for commercial gain? Yes. Those that are hacking, the participants, we are protecting. People that are making a career out of it, people… this covenant does not protect those people, but everything else that we do protects you. We’ve got the OIN, we’ve got indemnification, there are so many other vehicles that have not been nullified by this agreement that you can gain access to.

So, again, make sure that you don’t look at it as an only OpenSUSE thing, it is a broader Microsoft-Novell interoperability that addresses SUSE, because SUSE is ours, and those that are doing it for commercial purposes, they’re covered by, I believe, the other vehicles we have in place, OK?


…Stafford, you said in your presentation two things that I find interesting, you said that Novell does the patenting for protection and Novell will not use this for actually suing people for patent infringements, then you said that Microsoft paid you guys a lot of money for these patents. Is Microsoft, maybe they’ve got a different agenda?

There’s a couple of ways to answer that question, ‘do they have a different agenda?’ I don’t particularly care for their agenda, and I don’t think Novell does, either.

We believe what we’re doing is good for interoperability for our customers based upon the customer demand. If they have an agenda, we have got lots of vehicles to protect ourselves – we have not conceded anything, we have not said that we’ve infringed – they have access to our patents, we have access to their patents – so essentially, its a level playing field. I don’t know what their follow-on agenda could be.

I do believe this is Microsoft’s official entry into the Linux space. If you really take a step back, and let’s talk… the CD’s recording, so I’m on the record… this is Microsoft’s entrance into the Linux game, this is how they get into Linux.

In fact, how else would they have gotten into Linux? If someone can ask that question seriously, sit down and say how… what other choice did Microsoft have? Release their own distribution? No one wants that. Open-source Windows? Damn, no – no one’s going to do that… how do they get into it?

I think they have to get in by assimilating and this is one way of participating in it, and this is to me a big… not just a toe, they’re hip-deep in the water now. They’re really feeling this thing out, getting a better understanding, and you know what, its an opportunity for us to get a vendor like Microsoft, which – they’re easy to bash, yes – we don’t really like them, they have this ‘triple E’ – Extend, Ext…what?… Embrace, Extend, Exterminate type strategy – we’ve seen it in the past with their partnerships, but I really do believe that with Ray Ozzie heading up Microsoft now, and alot of the changes that’s happened there, Microsoft realizes that the future lies in the applications aspect of the business, not in the platform aspects of the business.

This that they’ve done now gains them entry into a huge momentum shift, I think what you see now I dont think we all fully fathom what is going to happen 5 years from now because of this agreement, I think this could be massive.

This is the biggest Operating System in the world, Linux, in terms of server shipments in the history of computing, nothing has shipped percentage-wise as big and as quick as this saturation that’s taking place, with the second biggest platform, and now there’s interoperability between these environments, its good for customers, its good for us, its good as the community and I think its gonna take the Linux community really deep into the enterprise, because I can already tell you whats happening on the ground – commercial customers are calling us in and saying ‘y’know what, this virtualization stuff, we’ve been looking at the Windows stuff but y’know we really believe Linux could do some really cool things for us’.

And, when we engage with our partners there… its customers that weve never spoken to, were speaking to partners that weve never spoken to, so everyone is suddenly talking Linux on a scale that we’ve never seen before, its a good thing.

What this will look like 5 years from now, what Microsoft will look like, how the Desktop Operating System, Network Operating System and Office Productivity Suite landscape will look like 5 years from now will be interesting – I believe it will be a commodity, I believe you will pay for support for them – and not what you pay today for them, and its gonna be good for everyone.

So, also – GPL V3 – just to end it off, protects… I believe, you take a look at what GPL the draft looks like today – if Microsoft ever wanted to do anything and we did it off GPL V3 it’d still protect us, so… we’re confident, we’re big enough, we’ve got the patent portfolio and this agreement’s in place, so we can handle their agendas.

Read the rest of this entry »

Microsoft’s Official Entry into the Linux Space

Posted in Deals, Deception, GPL, Intellectual Monopoly, Interoperability, Marketing, Microsoft, Novell, Patent Covenant, Patents, Virtualisation, Windows at 4:07 pm by Shane Coyle

More from the Q&A session with Stafford Masie at the recent CITI forum.

There are a few interesting aspects to this exchange from the Q&A session from the recent CITI conference, the first of which is further evidence that the Patent Covenant quacks very much like a Patent Cross License, that this deal is Microsoft’s "official entry into the Linux space", and Novell feels that they are big enough to take on Microsoft’s agenda:

…Stafford, you said in your presentation two things that I find interesting, you said that Novell does the patenting for protection and Novell will not use this for actually suing people for patent infringements, then you said that Microsoft paid you guys a lot of money for these patents. Is Microsoft, maybe they’ve got a different agenda?

There’s a couple of ways to answer that question, ‘do they have a different agenda?’ I don’t particularly care for their agenda, and I don’t think Novell does, either.

We believe what we’re doing is good for interoperability for our customers based upon the customer demand. If they have an agenda, we have got lots of vehicles to protect ourselves – we have not conceded anything, we have not said that we’ve infringed – they have access to our patents, we have access to their patents – so essentially, its a level playing field. I don’t know what their follow-on agenda could be.

I do believe this is Microsoft’s official entry into the Linux space. If you really take a step back, and let’s talk… the CD’s recording, so I’m on the record… this is Microsoft’s entrance into the Linux game, this is how they get into Linux.

In fact, how else would they have gotten into Linux? If someone can ask that question seriously, sit down and say how… what other choice did Microsoft have? Release their own distribution? No one wants that. Open-source Windows? Damn, no – no one’s going to do that… how do they get into it?

I think they have to get in by assimilating and this is one way of participating in it, and this is to me a big… not just a toe, they’re hip-deep in the water now. They’re really feeling this thing out, getting a better understanding, and you know what, its an opportunity for us to get a vendor like Microsoft, which – they’re easy to bash, yes – we don’t really like them, they have this ‘triple E’ – Extend, Ext…what?… Embrace, Extend, Exterminate type strategy – we’ve seen it in the past with their partnerships, but I really do believe that with Ray Ozzie heading up Microsoft now, and alot of the changes that’s happened there, Microsoft realizes that the future lies in the applications aspect of the business, not in the platform aspects of the business.

This that they’ve done now gains them entry into a huge momentum shift, I think what you see now I dont think we all fully fathom what is going to happen 5 years from now because of this agreement, I think this could be massive.

This is the biggest Operating System in the world, Linux, in terms of server shipments in the history of computing, nothing has shipped percentage-wise as big and as quick as this saturation that’s taking place, with the second biggest platform, and now there’s interoperability between these environments, its good for customers, its good for us, its good as the community and I think its gonna take the Linux community really deep into the enterprise, because I can already tell you whats happening on the ground – commercial customers are calling us in and saying ‘y’know what, this virtualization stuff, we’ve been looking at the Windows stuff but y’know we really believe Linux could do some really cool things for us’.

And, when we engage with our partners there… its customers that weve never spoken to, were speaking to partners that weve never spoken to, so everyone is suddenly talking Linux on a scale that we’ve never seen before, its a good thing.

What this will look like 5 years from now, what Microsoft will look like, how the Desktop Operating System, Network Operating System and Office Productivity Suite landscape will look like 5 years from now will be interesting – I believe it will be a commodity, I believe you will pay for support for them – and not what you pay today for them, and its gonna be good for everyone.

So, also – GPL V3 – just to end it off, protects… I believe, you take a look at what GPL the draft looks like today – if Microsoft ever wanted to do anything and we did it off GPL V3 it’d still protect us, so… we’re confident, we’re big enough, we’ve got the patent portfolio and this agreement’s in place, so we can handle their agendas.

Of course, even if Novell can handle Microsoft’s agenda due to their size, the agreement and their patent portfolio, how could anyone else in the community? Doesn’t this deal exclude all but the largest software companies, with the requisite portfolio for cartel membersip, from the ‘enterprise’ space (assuming they are only interested in suing large corporations)?

By making this deal, Novell essentially says, you can Embrace Microsoft, or Join With Us (in our Embrace with Microsoft).

Contrasting Red Hat and Novell’s Philosophies

Posted in FUD, GNU/Linux, Marketing, Novell, Red Hat, Ubuntu at 2:52 pm by Shane Coyle

At the recent CITI conference, Stafford Masie put out a call for other distributions such as Ubuntu and Red Hat, as well as the Open Source community as whole, to Embrace Microsoft.

Apparently, Mr. Masie hasn’t read chapters 2 and 3 in Microsoft’s playbook, Extend and Exterminate, maybe someone can get him the Cliff’s Notes.

So, while perhaps not well versed in the philosophies of their new partner Microsoft, Masie certainly seems to have an understanding of the philosophies of Novell and their competitor Red Hat.

End to End Open Source vs. Hybrid Stack

So, what about Red Hat, nothing stops Red Hat from doing this.

Why won’t red Hat do this? Because of a different philosophical approach to the enterprise, now let me make this clear, Red Hat’s approach to the enterprise in the Linux stack is end-to-end open source, everything. Ok, so you’re directory will be open source, your management technology will be open source, your platform, your security stack, everything.

We believe today alot of the open source technology has not caught up yet to enterprise customers’ needs in the security domain, management domain. Where Linux is open source, specifically Linux is completely applicable is the platform, the desktop, office productivity suite, the database, etc so there’s kinda 5 major areas where its good enough if not better than whats out there, ok? where its not there yet, Novell has proprietary technology and partners that provide 3rd party technologies to that proprietary technologies where we wrap our technologies around this Linux technology. so, like zenworks management, our zenworks management suite is a proprietary piece of technology.

Our security, identity management technologies, theres alot of proprietary aspects to that, although we’ve open-sourced some pieces of it. we believe in a hybrid stack within the enterprise, because a hybrid stack gives you greater value than a pure end-to-end open source stack, in time we will get to an open source stack, but we’re not going to take a philosophical stance which we believe will impact the penetration of Linux.

Therefore, we have a greater need of doing this than potentially Red Hat, because Red Hat’s stance is end-to-end open source, which we don’t believe is ready for the enterprise today, there’s alot of hackers, developers and… its a technological way of looking at it, but customers wanting to mitigate risk, providing support, ensuring that the stack is supported by all third parties, etc all those business risks associated with a technology, want to see this linkage, they want to see this interoperability, thats why the covenant is there with Microsoft and Novell.

Novell may not believe that Red Hat is ready for the enterprise today, but it is apparent that all of their prospective customers do. That’s why Novell needed Big Mike’s help to convince them to try SUSE, they’re frustrated with slow SUSE adoption and have run out of ideas.

Big Mike’s idea was to co-sponsor a survey, because that’s sure to convince everyone to switch to SUSE, and hand out some stay out of court free coupons, surely the way to inspire customer confidence.

Of course, a major driving factor in Open Source adoption is that it is an alternative to Microsoft and their monopolistic, bullying tactics. By aligning with Microsoft, Novell loses that selling point and is just seen as Microsoft’s Linux Division.

The Cycle of (FUD) Abuse

Posted in Deals, Deception, FUD, Intellectual Monopoly, Interoperability, Marketing, Microsoft, Novell, Patent Covenant, Patents, Ubuntu, Windows at 1:44 pm by Shane Coyle

The idea of the cycle of abuse is not new, in which denial enables the "abusee" to become the "abuser", perpetuating the abuse across generations. While most often associated with child abuse, interestingly these concepts can also be applied to Novell’s behavior.

Note that I am not a Psych(olog|iatr)ist or doctor of any kind, and this should be taken as a layman’s diagnosis, and not construed as medical (or legal) advice.

The following quotes are from Stafford Masie’s presentation and Q&A session at the recent CITI forum in South Africa. Visit tectonic.co.za for copies of the MP3 or OGG files to listen for yourself, I just have to proofread the transcripts once or twice more before I post them, I want to be sure they are accurate.

Novell as the Abusee

First, try to get past the condescending tone of Masie’s statements and trying to explain how things are in the ‘real world’ to us FOSS hippies, he is demostrating the negative effects of FUD, something we all abhor:

Now,let me give you a real-world scenario of what happens, now all of you are passionate FOSS members,right, you love linux, etc. but, let me tell you what happens in the real world, the real real world, not the coding aspect, when you take this thing and you sell it to a big enterprise.

This is one example of a deal where we were involved, I wont mention the customers name, and online its been said that we should mention this customers name, I’ll pass that by our CEO, its a financial company in the United States. It was a four thousand eight hundred and something server deal, ok.

We were competing with Microsoft, they were going to go with SUSE linux, their minds were pretty much made up, and y’know what happened?…what we believe happened, and I need to be careful because this is recorded, what we believe happened is that the other vendor took the customer behind closed doors and said ‘This is a big server deal, have you considered your liability associated with the GPL? have you considered potential patent infringements? have you considered the fact that we potentially may take action?’

Now, did they have a platform, did they have concrete evidence that they could? No. But, y’know what, the customer came back and said, the customer said ‘Y’know what, we’re gonna go with Microsoft, but we wanna go with you but we’re gonna go with Microsoft for now, over the next two years, ok, we are going to call in an external legal entity, legal company, to review the GPL, to review Microsoft’s patent stance, to review all of this in… in the context of our business, our legal framework, and we’ll get back to you.

That’s the problem, we lost a five thousand server deal because of FUD, Fear Uncertainty and Doubt. People don’t like that.

That is the problem, absolutely. It is unacceptable for Microsoft to cast a liability cloud over GNU/Linux based upon nothing other than some intimidating statements, which may or may not be enforcable. I am glad to see Novell take a stand against this behavior and speak out, an important part of ending abuse is to admit it is happening.

For a company to imply that there is any sort of patent or other legal liability when running Linux, just to drive people to select their product offering based upon Fear, Uncertainty or Doubt of that potential legal liability is wrong, and it is good to see Novell take that stance.

In fact, we’ve made it pretty clear on the website that we believe competition between technologies shouldn’t be based on the potential legal liabilities and FUD, it should be based on the technology merits of those solutions, and that’s how we want to compete.

I applaud Novell for making that statement. Of course, Novell is in complete denial about who they have become, and that is Microsoft’s Linux division. Since the deal, Novell has actively campaigned on Microsoft’s behalf in the EU, amongst the ‘community’, and even participates in their anti-Linux FUD campaign, since now they are in the unique position to benefit from it.

Novell as the Abuser

…when the covenant was not there, there was the inherent potential liability of patent infringement when the covenant wasn’t there. So, now we’ve created this covenant in the interest of our customers, not as a competitive advantage, the little guy, etc We’ve done it in the interest of big companies wanting us to explicitly state that they’ll never have this liability associated with Microsoft, because Microsoft is on 100% of their desktops.
[...]

Yeah… I think this does give us a competitive edge. Yeah, it does and we’re gonna compete, and we want to compete, and we’re gonna do what it takes to compete- not to violate the GPL, not to violate the community members, etc But, with Red Hat toe-to-toe, with Ubuntu toe-to-toe we’re gonna do what’s necessary for our customers, based upon their demand. Now, if we do whats right for our customers, and they(Red Hat, Ubuntu, etc) choose not to, and what we’ve done is not exclusive, that’s their prerogative, I can’t be held liable for them not doing what we believe enterprise customers are asking us to do, I can’t be held liable for that, ok?

Judge for yourselves, perhaps Novell is unable, due to years of abuse at the hands of Microsoft, to see that they are committing the same abuse they have themselves suffered, and are only setting themselves up again for their own betrayal by Microsoft.


More to come from the CITI presentation and Q&A, including Stafford Masie on how to inspire confidence in your closed-source, proprietary software… ;^ )

…Y’know, we’re a Linux company, we do identity management, but we’re a Linux company. Identity management, there’s so much happening there to open source alot of the APIs, which we’ve already done, the only thing we haven’t open-sourced in the identity world is kinda our directory, and I can tell you what, we probably won’t, because again – the same reason alot of proprietary vendors wont take their big software and unwrap it, like I’ve always said- if you unwrap this baby its ugly, people will run away, ok, there’s certain proprietary software that you never want anyone to look at…

More Articles Confirm That the Deal’s Winner is Microsoft

Posted in Deals, Deception, Novell, Red Hat at 11:32 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Please pay careful attention to objective articles which analyse the Microsoft/Novell deal. Those that are not delivered by Microsoft analysts (or apologists) are rather consistent in their conclusion. Here are two of the latest:

Redmond vs. Red Hat: Divide and conquer

You have to give Microsoft credit. With one announcement the company significantly undermined the enterprise Linux movement while superficially offering it support.

Microsoft, Novell and Echoes of SCO

Microsoft is giving away 70,000 coupons for SLES to customers who want to run Windows and Linux together. These are “stay out of court free” cards that hope to derail customers’ existing relationships with other commercial Linux vendors. It’s a quick rise to prominence for Novell while its competitors run for cover.

Yesterday I spotted an article that supports the deal. Unsurprisingly, however, it was composed by a Microsoft analyst who has just been banned by the New York Times for neglecting to disclose a key affiliation while commenting on Microsoft products. The article also lists IDC and Gartner as biased sources which have, over time, built relationships with Microsoft.

Another article supporting the deal came from a Redmond magazine/site. This was authored by a Microsoft Professional, but yet again, there was too little (perhaps nothing at all) to indicate this.

Be very careful whose advice you take and who you listen to. The studies, much like self-serving press releases and mainstream media, contain a lot of bias. More examples are included below.

The Free Software Foundation Needs Your Help

Posted in FSF, Videos at 4:22 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The FSF has just posted an appeal for assistance through supportive membership. The YouTube-transformed video is embedded in this post.

In related news, the Software Freedom Law Center has also served Microsoft, which is strange.

The Software Freedom Law Center (SFLC), a non-profit organization that provides pro-bono legal services to protect and advance open-source software, filed a brief today with the U.S. Supreme Court in support of Microsoft’s appeal of a software patent decision.

Update: the FSF has just launched a new blog. It warns about the hidden dangers in Windows Vista.

The Free Software Foundation (FSF) today launched BadVista.org, a campaign with a twofold mission of exposing the harms inflicted on computer users by the new Microsoft Windows Vista and promoting free software alternatives that respect users’ security and privacy rights.

The Free Software Foundation (FSF) today launched BadVista.org, a campaign with a twofold mission of exposing the harms inflicted on computer users by the new Microsoft Windows Vista and promoting free software alternatives that respect users’ security and privacy rights.

Whether or not any of these nasty features will make it into SUSE Linux is an interesting question. Adoption through compliance is a risky step. After some patent nonesense, Hula, so-called interoperability, and OpenXML support it has become fairly clear that Microsoft calls the shots at Novell.

Steinman: Ballmer’s PASS Statements Taken Out of Context

Posted in Deception, FUD, Intellectual Monopoly, Marketing, Microsoft, Novell, Ron Hovsepian, Steve Ballmer at 1:53 am by Shane Coyle

It is more and more clear with each passing day that Novell has become Microsoft’s Linux Division, and is actively involved in their PR and FUD campaigns.

Justin Steinman, of Novell, now is performing damage control, working to minimize Steve Ballmer’s incendiary comments and says they were taken "out of context", something Ron Hovsepian, CEO of Novell, recently implied as well.

In an article that parrots the results of the spurious, co-sponsored survey, I found this gem, where Justin Steinman is apologizing and spinning Steve Ballmer’s recent statements at the Professional Association for Sequel Server conference. You know, the "undisclosed balance sheet liability" statements when Steve Ballmer of Microsoft said:

And we agreed on a, we call it an IP bridge, essentially an arrangement under which they pay us some money for the right to tell the customer that anybody who uses Suse Linux is appropriately covered. There will be no patent issues. They’ve appropriately compensated Microsoft for our intellectual property, which is important to us. In a sense you could say anybody who has got Linux in their data center today sort of has an undisclosed balance sheet liability, because it’s not just Microsoft patents. Because of the way open-source works, there’s nobody who’s been able to do patent coverage or patent indemnification behind that.

Now, please take a moment to visit the Seattle PI site where the story "broke", I personally feel the statements were covered perfectly, with the question and the entire answer, fully in context. There is even an MP3 available for download so that you can verify the transcription, and perform a voiceprint, I suppose, if necessary. Anyhow, here is Microvell’s PR team at work spinning the situation [rel=nofollow]:

Ballmer’s responses to a question at a sequel users’ conference "was put of context," by a blogger and it has since been laid to rest publicly by the CEOs of the two IT vendors themselves, stated Justin Steinman, director of product marketing for Linux and open source solutions at Novell.

So, were Mr. Ballmer’s statements taken out of context? Hardly. Was the disagreement between the parties laid to rest? Only if you think agreeing to disagree is laying it to rest.

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