A couple of weeks ago, the wild idea of Microsoft acquiring Novell was discussed, with reference to similar speculations. SUSE-IRC.org has an interesting new item. Now, bear in mind that the following does not come from a reputed (or idetifiable) source. We will quote it nonetheless.
An internal memo leaked by an anonymous (and unhappy) management level worker at Novell shows an already ongoing plan whereby Microsoft will acquire Novell, by a stock transfer operation to take place in the next few months. Both companies have their legal teams working on the technicalities.
Nothing more needs to be said at the time because it’s probably just a rumour, even an outright lie. No need for premature hypothetical thoughts…
Note: mind the date (in Europe).
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It remains unknown at this stage whether or not Novell will retain access to an up-to-date GPLv2 Linux kernel. But Novell will almost definitely lose access to GNU utilities which, according to the latest licence draft, leave Novell out in the cold. Despite all of these rejections objections, Novell chooses to insist that it can comply. It believes that the licence in its present form does not achieve its goals. Here is an intersting interpretation of this, as well an elaborate explanation about this mistake.
That cavalier attitude could come back to hurt Novell if it sticks by its guns. I think Stallman would take the company to court over these issues in a heartbeat. His GNU tools will most certainly be licensed under the final version of GPL3, since the FSF runs both of those shows. Without that vital glue, you don’t really have an operating system, and the whole Linux platform falls apart. In fact, Stallman has long insisted that we call it GNU/Linux, rather than just naming the kernel, to give the GNU project its props. Either Novell convinces the FSF to drop its anti-Novell wording, or the Microsoft pact is history.
According to another new gem, a typical distribution such as Debian contains a great deal of GNU utilities. In fact, 15% is that chunk of the pie that’s assigned and attributed to GNU, with the kernel being just a fraction in comparison. There are some interesting charts therein.
This isn’t really about “GNU/Linux”, it’s really about asking “Where does free software come from?” In order to answer that question in any really definitive way, of course, you first have to collect all the relevant free software applications into one giant collection so you can do statistical analysis on them.
For obvious reasons, Novell cannot switch to the BSD camp. What would it do if it was denied access to vital code? Fork everything? Return to the Windows environment (choosing the “escape strategy”, as theorised by Perens)? How does the controversial Mono, to which Novell is giving a boost, fit into all of this?
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