03.16.07

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FUD for Thought: What If Microsoft Bought Novell?

Posted in GNU/Linux, GPL, Law, Microsoft, Novell at 11:36 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Free Software Magazine raises an interesting question which probably results from speculations about acquisition costs. Could Microsoft ever pay to hijack Novell’s agenda, rather than just control and abuse it by proxy?

Did Novell really believe the agreement would result in increased Linux revenue (to what it would have been)? Do they really think interoperability with Microsoft will be improved? Or have I simply got the wrong end of the stick? The person of wisdom whom I asked put a different perspective on it.

If Microsoft ever truly considered a hostile/friendly takeover, would it inherit GNU/Linux software? Despite the existence of so-called ‘peacemakers’, to whom disregard of the GPL seems acceptable, the deal is unlikely to last, at least in its present form. OSTG has a new article on the Novell deal and its effect on GPLv3 (namely the continuing delays). It is becoming apparent that Novell will see screws tightened on software which it relies on.

Although the FSF soon judged the agreement technically legal under the current version of the GPL, Eben Moglen, general counsel for the FSF and the principal legal architect for GPLv3, is quoted as saying, “Our strategy is to use GPLv3 against the deal.”

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4 Comments

  1. gpl1 said,

    March 17, 2007 at 1:14 am

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    very interesting. I hadn’t thought that MS had thrown a wrench purposely into the GPL3 before, but now it seems so. The “unintended consequences” that Eben Moglen mentions

    BTW very sad to see so many commenters on Linux.com against the gpl3, which is as many have said, a bug fix for the four freedoms that the GPLv2 was supposed to provide (trusted computing/tivo drm, and more recently, patent licensing shenanigins). Stop talking about the smoke shield of “interoperability”, and comment on the ROYALTIES MS receives from Suse off the backs of GPL coders from other companies and coders, as well as the limited patent “covenant not to sue” that goes against the spirit of the GPL2. Otherwise, I will simply take it as propoganda by a poster paid to confuse the issue.

    How many of these companies now benefiting from GPL’d code would have said the GPLv2 would have never worked? Is Red Hat really happy that Novell gets to use patent protections against them for their own customers (instead of licensing for all GPL users) and that Microsoft gets royalties from gpl’d software?

  2. Draconishinobi said,

    March 17, 2007 at 11:17 pm

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    I hear Linus is very very very much against the GPLv3 …

    http://www.informationweek.com/blog/main/archives/2007/03/in_search_of_gp.html

    “In the meantime, Linux kernel author, Linus Torvalds, weighed in with a thoughtful critique of GPLv3 versus GPLv2, some of which is recounted here. The Web master of a sister publication had been forced to remove an earlier Torvalds commentary on GPLv3, he says, because it was laced with so many swear words that it violated the site’s posting policy.”

    I wonder how all this will turn out. Is the GPLv2 enough to stop M$ from destroying Linux ? Can M$ destroy Linux ? Or maybe corrupt it beyond recognition ? Maybe now the development of the Hurd kernel will proceed a bit faster ?

    I suppose Linus may be right about more politics being embedded in GPLv3, politics that he doesn’t agree with … still I think GPLv3 covers loopholes left open in GPLv2 that companies like M$ can take advantage of for personal gain.

  3. Roy Schestowitz said,

    March 17, 2007 at 11:51 pm

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    As Shane suggested before, they ought to make a GPLv2.1 — a licence that leaves Novell out in the cold through slight ‘patches’ to GPLv2. Whether Linus wants Novell out of his house or not, who knows? He never said a thing. Stuart Cohen of the OSDL weighed in and got in trouble.

  4. shane said,

    March 18, 2007 at 8:53 am

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    Remember, Novell is working from within the GPL drafting committee B to ensure that they can keep their MS deal and still comply with the GPL3.

    Here’s an article talking about the GPL3 drafting process, what FSF is trying to accomplish, and how obtuse the language must be – it doesn’t look good, GPL3 is just going to introduce new loopholes and may not effectively fix the old ones.

    Patch GPL2, leaving known security holes in a product in order to force an upgrade to a new product that has features I may not want or need, that’s Microsoft’s strategy.

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