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…