So, the ugly consequences of the deal did not take long to emerge. According to a mailing list discussion, Novell’s Linux is losing features which supposedly infringe on Microsoft software patents.
James Ots noticed that Sub-pixel Antialiasing in openSUSE 10.2 seems to be broken, so he recompiled the package from sources, with sub-pixel antialiasing turned on.
Two comments pointed to an openSUSE ML message: [Bug 259718] Sub-pixel antialising does not work when set from KDE Control Center, which quoted comments from the sources to explain the reason and the WONTFIX decision:
Uncomment the line below if you want to activate sub-pixel rendering (a.k.a. LCD rendering, or ClearType) in this build of the library.
Note that this feature is covered by several Microsoft patents and should not be activated in any default build of the library.
Is this the direction taken? Will it expand? Will features be stripped in order to cripple GNU/Linux? In any event, Novell does nobody any favours here, except Microsoft of course, which can now intimidate other distributors. I am aware of the fact that other distributions, such as Ubuntu, take a similar route, but the owner of patents appears to be Apple. We’ll soon find out what exactly is going on here.