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02.10.07

Self-serving Articles versus the Voices of Freedom

Posted in Europe, Free/Libre Software, FSF, FUD, GNU/Linux, Interoperability, Microsoft, Novell, Samba, Virtualisation at 6:10 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Biased articles are becoming ordinary, rather than the rare exception. Take as an example this older review of Linux distributions, or even some anti-Linux spin.

Let us separate apart opinions of those who speak for their career’s sake and those who are realists. Jeremy Allison, for example, understands that the deal is not about interoperability. Microsoft will not gain from interoperability, let alone pay $0.3 million for it. Here is an article with a self-explanatory headline:

Novell-Microsoft pact not about interoperability, says Open Source leader

Compare this article to the voices of those who are torn between commitments (idealogy and GPL spirit, if any) and their employer. Here is a very recent interview with a Novell representative in India:

Customers want interoperability of proprietary systems with Linux

Acquiring SuSE, forming a strategic alliance with Microsoft—Novell has been busy raising its profile in India where Linux as a server OS has entered production environments. Revathi Kasturi, managing director-West Asia, Novell speaks to Abhinav Singh about the pact and the positioning of Novell in the Indian market.

Then there’s the perspective of Microsoft. Again, it is being published in the form of an article in C|Net.

Microsoft: Novell deal a milestone despite squabbles

Nonetheless, Microsoft top lawyer Brad Smith hails the deal as a landmark that still holds the potential of bringing together the open-source and commercial software business models.

Here is another one:

Microsoft is more serious about Linux than Oracle

Microsoft wants to make sure Linux runs as well as they can make it run on Viridian, their future Xen-like hypervisor scheduled for release sometime next year.

The author seems rather convinced that Microsoft has a genuine interest in the benefits of Linux. He also seems to give his approval. Then Novell chimes in:

“Nobody can stop us from selling Linux!

I really hope that the FSF and Novell will find a way out of this, and that what I read in the Infoweek article was just yet another PR mistake from an uninformed and arrogant Novell spokesperson.

It is rather disappointing to see the state of today’s press, which is driven by many factors, some of which are commercial. Journalists are begging for traffic with inflammatory, inaccurate, or imprecise headlines.

On a brighter note, Fluery had some encouraging words for the community: “I have done what I can to help Red Hat succeed. People need to understand that open source is a tsunami that is transforming the software industry in its wake, and its inevitability is now well beyond challenge or the force of individual personality.” In another good column from Jeremy Allison you will find some insights on independent development and its merits in local markets.

Local software for local people

Part of the report deals with the little-known (outside of Europe anyway) success of the GNU/Linux deployment in the Extremadura region of Spain, where regional government adopted a Debian Linux distribution for local use. This involved changing the often rather obscure names of free software programs to something more meaningful to non-technical users (why do we use something called “FireFox” to browse the Web?), complete localization, and — more importantly — customization of the desktop distribution to make it meaningful to local people.

Allison also refers to an high-impact study, which was backed by the European Commisson. Mind you, Microsoft used its pressure groups in Europe as means of lobbying against the study. It put the Commission under a lot of pressure.

The European Commission has resisted efforts by Microsoft to make it abandon its report into open source software, it was revealed this week

[...]

The software giant also commissioned a respected university academic to back its case and enlisted the help of a trade association, CompTIA.

But lobbying is probably a long story worthy of another blog item on another day! :-)

Here are some more links of interest:

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