From the Raining on Novell’s Parade Department…
Bruce Perens spoke out today against Novell’s self-serving and morally questionable attempt to circumvent the spirit of the GNU General Public License, referring to the arrangement as he had in the past: as a "protection racket"
Perens, a vocal opponent of the Microsoft/Novell patent deal, stated that while the arrangement was legal under the GPLv3, Novell’s deal was made in “bad faith with the open-source community and [was] not moral.”
More than that, though, Perens said, if the Novell-Microsoft patent deal is allowed to stand. It would take only as few as “two or three intellectual property law-suits” of open-source developers or small business at a cost of at least $5 million dollars a pop, to destroy open-source development. So, from where he sits, Novell is running a “protection racket” with “Big Mikey” as the enforcer
Perens also surmises that the deal may be the beginning of Novell’s exit strategy from their Linux business, which "hasn’t taken off, and won’t anytime soon". Perens also believes Microsoft may indeed buy Novell, since Novell would lack the resources to fork the numerous essential GNU utilities that will be moving to GPL3.
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Recently, we noted that Novell’s Justin Steinman had asserted that their Microsoft agreement is backed by 80-85% of the open source community.
During that interview, Steinman also made statements regarding Novell’s "significant" financial support of the Free Software Foundation and their intention to work with the drafters of the next version, "helping develop a version of the GPL that enables that (Microsoft) agreement to continue".
Well, those comments didn’t sit well with many, including Pamela Jones of Groklaw. PJ contacted Peter Brown at the FSF for a reaction, and well, it seems that Mr Steinman is working off of old, if not inaccurate, data:
But, what matters is, is it true? Has Novell bought FSF into going along with the Novell-Microsoft patent agreement? I asked Peter Brown of FSF for a reaction and here is his statement:
Novell last gave funds to the FSF in October 2005, when they donated $5K as part of FSF Corporate Patron program. Since their deal with Microsoft was announced we have not asked them to renew as a patron, nor would we. Novell is not “a significant financial contributor to the Free Software Foundation”, but what’s a little exaggeration compared to their deal with Microsoft?
We remain determined to make sure that GPLv3 does not permit deals of this kind. We are now studying how to achieve this without causing unintended trouble for other industry practices.
You can verify it for yourself by going to the FSF’s list of corporate patrons. Do you see Novell on the list on that page? No, you don’t. Because they aren’t a corporate patron currently.
Here’s what I know: even if Novell gave FSF $5 million, it couldn’t get what it wants. Some people are not for sale. Marketing guys might not get that concept. But there you are. Now for my request…
PJ’s request is simple, and is a sentiment echoed here at this site often: Microvell, give us the details. Until Novell makes the details of their patent covenant public, they cannot and will not be trusted nor fully embraced by the Free Software community. Instead, they can embrace Microsoft in their attempts to proprietize Free Software and cartelize the software industry.
Someone should tell Novell’s management what the steps after embrace are when dealing with Microsoft.
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The relationship between Novell and Microsoft has never been a healthy one. Some weeks ago we mentioned the newly-leaked memos, extracted through Comes vs. Microsoft (class action at Iowa and the most recent antitrust case).
What will you get out of a little bit of browsing through thousands of document which expose Microsoft’s dirty tricks? Well, for one, Novell’s involvement leads to some interesting finds. So, let us dive in and explore the relationship between Microsoft and Novell in the last decade, shall we?
In some of the following memos, Novell argued that Microsoft had refused to fix bugs and even hid/excluded necessary files, APIs, and documentation. I would like to thank ‘Doug Mentohl’ for extracting the text from the scanned exhibits, beginning with this one:
Novell Confidential No 6665
Product and Price Change Notification
Attached a copy of the standard business and financial plans.
Originator: John Bodine Ext: 2.7082 Mailstop: ORM D-167
Type of change
X Other Patch Disk
FCS Date 7/10/95
Patch Disk for WordPerfect and PerfectOffice
The Windowes Product Marketing team, in conjunction with developement has decided to produce a and distribute a “patch” disk for both PerfectOffice and WordPerfect 6.1 for Windows. To reiterate, the reason we have decided to produce a patch is to address two main concerns:
1) Win95 compatibility
2) High priority bugs
It should be noted that these bugs, for the most part, are not problems with our software (the Win95 bugs are problems we addressed with Microsoft which they refused to fix). In both cases, the patch will be limited to one diskette.
These patch disks provide updates to WordPerfect 6.1, Presentations 3.0, and the PerfectOffice 3.0 Desktop Application Director (in the PexfectFit directory). The patch disks address key complaints that technical services and large accounts are currently receiving, such as memory leaks, Support of DOS in a network environment (DuPont, 100,000 users), ODMA problems, temp files eating up hard disk space, problems with styles, DDE link problems, and printing problems with Presentations.
In addition some known problems with running PerfectOffice 3.0 on Windows 95 have been addressed such as prompting for network ID when opened, bad title bar display, Show Me problems with Coaches, and Grammatik GPF’s.
The time line for completion of the patch disks are as follows:
6/27 – Gold master candidate released to testing-testing continues throughout weekend
7/5 – First Article candidate released to MFG.
7/6 – Manufacturing to begin duplicating disks
The disks will be available for download off our Novell home page and over our electronic bulletin board services. The disk will also be available directly, via our 800 numbers. The disks are sent out free of charge.
Tota cost for this project: $11,500.00
An example of technical sabotage and missing documentation can IBM has been referring to can be found here.
From: Richard Jones
To : Internet : firstname.lastname@example.org
Date: 7/21/95 9:48am
subject: A couple of issues
I wanted to check that you received our Alpha 11 CD early last week. I checked with our Beta administrator and it was sent to John Ludwig.
I have one issue that was escalated to me by our messaging group concerning MAPI. Here is the message:
“My MAPI service providers that used to work in the M7 time frame (January beta) no longer seem to work. Can we get documentation on the changes that have been made to the SPls (especially transport and address book) since M7.
Bruce had sent this request almost a month ago to NOVSUP and has received no response. Could you help us out please?
If there are any issues you need resolved with us, please let us know.
BTW: any more news on us getting a beta copy of “Maple’?
Here is Novell’s plea for missing header files.
Below is the text of 2 messages sent previously regarding header files and libraries for implementing a Windows 95 Password Provider. To date, we have had no response, but we need this information. Can someone please respond with the information we need?
We have the 950 DDK, and in the network.doc file, located on that CD, these same constants are mentioned, as are the API’s we need to implement: PPGetPasswordStatusa and PPChangePassword.
In short, we have everything but the headers and libraries to actually implement this functionality. If the constants and API’s have been removed, why are they so well documented? Also, if they have been removed, how do we integrated password changes with Windows 95.
These patterns and their intent can be summed up by once again quoting Jim Allchin, a senior Microsoft manager.
[Allchin:] We need to slaughter Novell before they get stronger… If you’re going to kill someone, there isn’t much reason to get all worked up about it and angry. You just pull the trigger. Any discussions beforehand are a waste of time. We need to smile at Novell while we pull the trigger.
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