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05.13.07

Reject Novell → Reject Claims That Linux Violates Patent

Posted in Boycott Novell, GNU/Linux, Novell, Patent Covenant, Patents at 10:09 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

No Patents in Linux

The war of ‘vapour arguments‘ could carry on as long as people buy Novell’s Linux and accept coupons, which are said to cover IP. GPLv3 might offer a solution when it’s ready, but until then, let the latest developments remind you why we should…

Say No to Novell

Let’s Speculate: What IP Did Novell License?

Posted in Action, Boycott Novell, Deals, Deception, Formats, FUD, GNU/Linux, Intellectual Monopoly, Interoperability, Microsoft, Novell, Patent Covenant, Protocol at 9:34 pm by Shane Coyle

Recently, Matthew Aslett has gotten Novell’s Justin Steinman to finally open up some about the true nature of the Microsoft-Novell deal, during which time Steinman mentioned an aspect of the deal that we have suspected but hadn’t been acknowledged publicly before (regardless of assertions that it was missed – trust me, I’ve gone back through the site and it wasn’t).

“Since we announced the Novell-Microsoft agreement in November, we’ve always said that the intellectual property agreement provided a foundation for the interoperability between Windows and SUSE Linux Enterprise. This foundation falls into two primary categories: 1) the “covenant not to sue,” which provides customers with peace of mind when they deploy SUSE Linux Enterprise; and 2) the IP access necessary for the technical collaboration to deliver interoperability between Windows and Linux. For better or worse, the community and press at-large have focused on #1, although Novell has talked about both categories since we signed the agreement.

“As you know, engineers at Novell and Microsoft are hard at work on our technical collaboration, and we demonstrated the first results at BrainShare in March. But in order to deliver the interoperability between Novell eDirectory and Microsoft Active Directory, as well as the bidirectional virtualization between Windows and SUSE Linux Enterprise, Novell required sanctioned access to Microsoft’s code in order to develop open source interoperability without violating Microsoft’s intellectual property.

“The Novell-Microsoft agreement is about bridging the worlds of open source and proprietary software, and in order to build this bridge, we’ve had to do several unique things, including signing an intellectual property agreement that would let Novell’s engineers get a look at some of Microsoft’s proprietary code. We’ve also done several other unique things like having Microsoft representatives sell certificates for SUSE Linux Enterprise Server subscriptions to their customers. I’d submit that all of these things are good for the adoption and growth of Linux.

So, Novell needed access to Microsoft IP and code in order to achieve interoperability – for what? Samba was already doing a splendid job of SMB/CIFS and AD integration, and the argument could be made that Mono was doing quite well in its own regard. Even OpenOffice.org had already achieved quite remarkable conversion of Office’s previous binary file formats, much to Microsoft’s chagrin I would surmise.

Well, there was of course the OOXML that Novell agreed to implement in their version of Novell Open Office – perhaps Novell needed access to MS IP in order to fully implement cryptic specifications like "autoSpaceLikeWord95"? Or maybe they are paying royalties for inclusion of VBA support in OOO, we just don’t know for sure – and that of course is a problem in an open development community.

The only hint that I have been still clinging to is the odd 5-year term that hangs over the deal since its announcement, something that conveniently coincides with Microsoft’s FAQ on their WSPP program terms and conditions, but otherwise I – and everyone outside of Redmond and Waltham – haven’t really a clue, and it seems that Microsoft (and by extension, their Linux Division – Novell) prefer it that way.

Secrecy is unacceptable in an open development model and community, and Novell’s (in)actions threaten to stall or even destroy the advance of Free Software. It is of vital importance to the community – and especially any projects accepting Novell code and patches – for Novell to publicly and unequivocally state the details of their Microsoft agreement once and for all. Now.

Then, we can move forward again – with or without Novell on our side. It’s already clear which side Microsoft will be on, the losing one.

Microsoft Gets Specific, Sorta

Posted in Action, Free/Libre Software, FSF, GNU/Linux, GPL, Intellectual Monopoly, Microsoft, Novell, Patent Covenant, Patents at 8:31 pm by Shane Coyle

Well, as Roy just recently pointed out, here (finally) comes Microsoft’s legal attack on Free Software.

Ever since the Microvell deal, both companies have gone to great pains to paint the deal as a non-specific patent cooperation agreement, but lately it appears that the true nature of the agreement is finally coming to light. Novell agreed to pay Microsoft royalties on "certain open source offerings shipped under the agreement" in exchange for a promise from MS not to enforce their perceived patent rights against Novell customers and contributors.

As is well known, FUD is best when it is non-specific and thus unimpeachable. In earlier statements, Microsoft has been very careful to never make any concrete statement regarding potential infringement, but now they are apparently confident enough to start listing some statistics – meaning they have, indeed, performed a detailed analysis and should be able to respond to any requests for specificity in regards to their legal claims.

I look forward to the next few days, you can be sure that some of the larger Linux-related companies and organizations out there will take some exception to Mr Smith’s assertions. It appears that we are on the eve of the "Patent Apocalypse", and I for one am looking forward to the fight.

Microsoft Pulls an SCO, Novell Gives Credence to Arguments

Posted in FUD, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Patents, Steve Ballmer at 7:13 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Who didn’t see that coming?

Feeling the great pressure, Microsoft has just declared a patent war on Free software (including GNU/Linux).

Microsoft claims that free software like Linux, which runs a big chunk of corporate America, violates 235 of its patents. It wants royalties from distributors and users.

Recall the approach of SCO:

…Darl McBride, CEO of SCO, in 2003:

“The intellectual property roots of Linux are obviously flawed at a systemic level under the current model. To date, we claim that more than one million lines of UNIX System V protected code have been contributed to Linux through this model. The flaws inherent in the Linux process must be openly addressed and fixed.”

Microsoft’s approach here is similar.

Microsoft refuses to state which particular patents are infringed in an attempt to avoid retaliation from FOSS advocates. However, the statements certainly put Linux and its users under a dark cloud — potentially sufficient for a declaratory judgment action under MedImmune v. Genentech (2006).

This is surely going to become a huge debate in weeks to come. How does Novell fit into this? As we have said all along, Novell acknowledges that there is patent infringement.

‘In mid-November, shortly after the pact was announced, Microsoft chief Steve Ballmer said companies that sell or run Linux, but aren’t covered under the Novell deal, are illegally using Microsoft’s IP. “We believe every Linux customer basically has an undisclosed balance-sheet liability,” he said.

He said in a later meeting: “I do think it clearly establishes that open source is not free.”

For that, Novell, you will be remembered as the puppet which, instead of fighting patent claims, only offered endorsement. Whose side were you on?

Praise Time: Novell Does Something Right

Posted in Asia, Novell at 10:20 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Credit where credit is due.

It is often said that we are being overly harsh with Novell, but we do bother to mention Novell’s raves and achievements as well. It’s just that there haven’t been many of them recently, apart from self-promotional press releases (which we cited without exception). Perhaps the co-called ‘apologists’ are more vocal in this Web site. But maybe we should tone ourselves down a little.

Here is the latest good deed from Novell.

Novell Inc has signed a memorandum of understanding with seven universities and institutes of higher learning to offer Open Source and Linux training as part of their information technology curriculum.

The institutions that signed up for the programme are INTI International University College and INTI College Subang , Kolej Tunku Abdul Rahman College, Multimedia University , i-Systems College Kuching, Centre for IT Advancement – International Islamic University Malaysia, Universiti Kuala Lumpur and German Malaysian Institute.

The plan is to get these students on SUSE Linux certification programs, but the skills are generic. So, while Novell has its share of sins, it also shows that it is able to help Linux as a whole.

Dell on Joining the Microsoft/Novell Liaison, in Video

Posted in Dell, FUD, Intellectual Monopoly, Novell, UNIX, Videos at 5:35 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

In the following video, Dell talks about the deal with Novell and Microsoft. It mentions the offering of IP, but that’s not new anyway.

Among some quotes (roughly correct):

…no UNIX we’re [Dell] trying to protect…

…we’re not trying to protect proprietary UNIX…

This seems like a marriage of convenience. Remind yourselves who Novell is working with in Microsoft’s Linux Labs. Here’s what their principal man had to say quite recently:

“The Free Software movement is dead. Linux doesn’t exist in 2007. Even Linus has got a job today.” Controversial statements from the head of Microsoft’s Linux Labs, Bill Hilf.

Are these the people whom Novell trusts? They are clearly trying to destory Linux, not facilitate its adoption. They have also hijacked Linux conferences in order to confuse the attendees. Novell, please wake up.

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