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Novell Could Lose Access to at Least 15% of Its Codebase

Posted in FSF, GNU/Linux, GPL, Law, Mono, Novell at 4:46 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

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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  1. Chris Cox said,

    March 31, 2007 at 3:44 pm


    The escape strategy is to DO exactly WHAT Novell HAS always said it would do and that is to alter the terms of the deal with Microsoft should any license they are using prevent them from BEING a business.

    Look… I know it’s hip and somehow trendy to take shots at Novell armed with ABSOLUTE FUD… after all Microsoft has been slinging it for years. But all of you REALLY need to get your facts straight before you attempt to attack more free software developers. Which is about all you are doing with this. And at the end of the day Microsoft is applauding your efforts.

    So PLEASE, let’s stop the FUD and lies. Novell has stated publicly MANY times (apparently people here CANNOT read??) that they are NOT about to throw away their Linux business so they can be best friends with Microsoft. In fact, they HAVE said things that are exactly the opposite. Attacking Microsoft as a competitor and promoting the benefits of free software. Look… you can call it whatever you want. But what you’ve written here is FUN… just like Microsoft FUD… it’s FUD… FUD, FUD and more FUD. In fact it’s actually lies and more lies.

    Get your facts straight and then post.

    So… the facts (truth rather than a typical boycott Novell post):

    1. Novell has stated publicly that they are 100% behind free software and the technologies behind SUSE and Linux.

    2. Novell contributes a VERY large sum of money to free software developers… putting their money where their mouth is.

    3. Novell has stated publicly many times that if new licensing (e.g. GPLv3) means that they have to change the terms of their deal with Microsoft, that they WOULD DO SO (in case you’re hard of hearing).

    4. Novell IS NOT going to kill their company because of the lies and attacks made at boycottnovell.com or other places.

    5. Novell’s Microsoft deal, whether you like or not, has meant that Linux has entered into some enterprises where it was previously not found. So, if you don’t like that… then by all means, we should kill them all.

    6. Mono is an attempt to bring a .Net environment to Linux. Simply put, it means that in MIXED operating system environments, Mono helps Linux to participate in EXTRA ways with that environment, and often it means displacing that other guy.

    So… if you hate the idea of Linux in your shops. If you hate the idea of free software. If you hate the FSF and RMS… they please continue spreading the FUD.

    Finally, if any of you truly want to engage in a MEANINGFUL conversation about the Novell and Microsoft deal (of which I’m one of the greatest OPPONENTS… but don’t believe in spreading lies or FUD), then I welcome opportunity.

    ’nuff said…

  2. shane said,

    March 31, 2007 at 5:16 pm


    Chris, feel free to email me (shane at edu-nix.org) if you would like us to post one of your "fact-filled" articles… we do a decent job of getting things right here, in my opinion, and are always willing to retract/admit when we are wrong.

    Novell has indeed stated multiple times they will change their deal to comply with GPLv3, in fact early on they said it was the covenant being reworked, then Stafford Masie promised, then it was Bruce Lowry just the other day.

    Now, let’s see them do what they have said… if they are allowed.

  3. Roy Schestowitz said,

    April 1, 2007 at 1:52 am



    Everything I write is based on and backed by the references I provide. Sometimes, as we have seen in the past, inaccurate facts are being digested. That’s where we need the readers’ help and I appreciate your feedback.

    It would be nice if this Web site never had a reason to exist. But since Novell made this irrevocable patent deal (Andreas Jaeger said this to us in the mailing list, way back in November), the site needed to be born. It wasn’t the only one. It it weren’t Shane and I, it would be somebody else.

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