12.30.06

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Jeremy Allison Speaks, Post-Novell

Posted in Action, Boycott Novell, Deals, Deception, GNU/Linux, Google, GPL, Microsoft, Patent Covenant, Samba at 6:20 pm by Shane Coyle

As was reported earlier, Jeremy Allison was declining any further comment regarding his resignation from Novell until after it was official on the 29th.

Well, today is the 30th and Jeremy has plenty to say on the subject of his now former employer and the Microvell deal, as well as how he ended up at Google.

MJF: Why do you believe Novell signed the deal with Microsoft? And do you believe Novell or other Linux distributions infringe on Microsoft patents?

Allison: I don’t know exactly why they signed it. I don’t think (Novell CEO) Ron Hovsepian is clueless or malevolent. I’ve met him and think he is a really nice guy. My guess is that the negotiations for the useful parts of the agreement (the virtualization part and the federated directory interoperability part) had, as Ron says, been going on for months and just before Novell wanted to seal the deal Microsoft turned up with “there’s just this one more thing we want you to sign…..” and in desperation to get the other parts of the deal done they rushed it through.

It was carefully prepared by Microsoft legal to try and bypass the GPLv2, and I think to their shame Novell helped them do this. I’ve spoken with Novell executives since I came out internally against the deal and their position on it has been “if it doesn’t violate the GPLv2 what is your problem?” The problem is I do think it violates the intent of the GPLv2 if not the letter, as we explained in the Samba Team statement on this.

The intent *matters*. As I tried to explain in my resignation letter, if you’re screwing over some of your major suppliers by following what your lawyers see as the *letter* of a license, not the good faith intent of the license, then you can’t expect those suppliers to say “well done, you really tricked us on that one…..”.

The GPLv3 will fix any possible hole in the letter of the license (and Samba will hopefully move to it once the copyright contributors are happy with it). But in the meantime I don’t want to give my efforts to a company that is willing to try and trick their way out of their license obligations on my software. When I talked to the Novell Executives we just had to agree to disagree. In part, I see this deal as a personal failure on my part.

Head on over to ZDnet for the complete interview.

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