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05.24.07

Interoperability the Wrong Direction and the Wrong Way (Updated)

Posted in GNU/Linux, Interoperability, Microsoft, Novell, Red Hat, Servers, Standard, Windows at 11:08 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

As promised, here is another look (among others) at what shall become “interoperability tax”. The latest news is there to suggest that both Microsoft and Novell have ambitions to make free interaction between applications a thing of the past. Of course, this contradicts the whole raison d’être of establishing industry standards, including communication protocols. This also burns Red Hat’s bridges and stifles antitrust litigation in the EU.

Have a look some of Microsoft’s latest initiatives to go “open”. Microsoft bothers to mention Novell as a cornerstone in interoperability press releases (see snippet from an example below), as though costly deals are a prerequisite.

Microsoft Corp. today announced a series of offerings that foster improved interoperability for online identity management.

Where is a wider consent and why are industry consortia contantly being ignored? Here is another example from the news:

Microsoft has developed a split personality when it comes to its public posture on open source software that could potentially create confusion among IT shops using both.

Last week, Microsoft said its patents were being violated by “Linux-like” software. This week company said it would link its Active Directory with the OpenLDAP Directory, which is an open source implementation of the Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP).

It gets worse. It appears as though this deal with Novell motivates some people to move to Windows, not Linux. This relates to a dicussion that goes back to Novell’s joint press release on HSBC. It said Windows was cheaper than Linux for that one bank. Novell gave its approval. In any event, here is the story of one software vendor that has just ported an application to Windows, reassured by the Microsoft/Novell deal.

Damian Reeves, CTO of Zeus, says his company is “relatively unconcerned” about any potential impact on Linux vendors and the Linux installed base. “There’s a parallel with the IBM v. SCO dispute of a couple years ago when there was a lot of concern about whether using Linux was legal. That became a bit of a non-story and this may play out in a similar way,” he says. He adds that any customers that are concerned about the issue can opt for Novell’s SuSE Linux, which is covered by a Microsoft-Novell agreement that indemnifies customers against any legal liability.

The story contains negatives, not positives. Last but not least, see Microsoft’s own perspective.

This creates a real problem for customers, and Microsoft’s licensing program is designed to solve it, according to Muglia.

However, Microsoft has been accused of creating that very problem. Its patent licensing deals with Novell and other companies have come under fire for creating fear, uncertainty and doubt among users of open-source software.

How has Novell solved anything? It only isolated itself from the community, to reap benefits at the community’s expense. It is discouraging to see that some people give Novell the benefit of the doubt. Others apologise. They want convenient shortcuts to functionality, even if it means compromising the need for free exchange of information and true industry standards.

Update: Novell has just pushed a press release boasting an interoperability award, but is it an accomplishment at all when it’s done by punishing not only Linux rivals, but also the community that gave it Free software?

Novell Sells Community’s Blood, Boasts Earnings

Posted in Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Interoperability, Microsoft, Novell at 10:44 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The headline is inspired by a nice analogy from Pamela Jones. We have identified some very interesting information in the latest discussion at Groklaw. Let us start with this:

Meanwhile, Antone Gonsalves at EETimes reports that Microsoft says it isn’t attacking Open Source. It is just responding to customer demand. Shades of SCO. Must be the same customers SCO told us were begging them to set up SCOsource licensing. Here’s what Microsoft’s Bob Muglia said:

Muglia said Microsoft was focused on interoperability with open source software, not on challenging the use of its intellectual property in court. “Our approach is a licensing based one,” Muglia said. “It’s a real issue for customers, and one that Microsoft is addressing proactively.”

I just can’t turn off my paralegal brain, which translates that to say: We won’t sue you as long as you pay us. I believe I can get similar terms from the Mafia.

We’ll shortly publish an item dedicated solely to the issue of interoperability and the “interop tax” which Microsoft and Novell so stubbornly insist on introducing. But here’s another slip of the mouth (what at least appears to be the case) from Steinman:

Update: Another part of Shankland’s report has this offensive bit, from Justin Steinman. Who else?

Microsoft’s patent tally news both pleased and displeased Novell, said Justin Steinman, the company’s marketing director for Linux.

On the displeased side, Novell saw the news as “another round of, ’0h no, here we go again.’ We generally think comments like that aren’t productive,” Steinman said.

On the pleased side, Novell potentially can profit from the saber-rattling. “If Microsoft is going to go out and raise concerns, we are comfortable we can offer (customers) coverage,” Steinman said. Overall, though, Novell wasn’t pleased. “Do we wish the tone of the article had been different? I think so.”

I could probably make some money selling my mother’s blood, if I had no conscience. Or I could rob a liquor store. There’s money in that, I hear. Profit isn’t the only indicator of whether a deal is a good idea or not.

Right on point. In part, Novell continues to thrive in the community’s pain. That’s the very same community from which its product came. Novell still bites the hand that feeds it. In case you remain unconvinced, here is another statement which supports this assertion.

When Microsoft suggests that Linux developers have stolen its IP, “I feel that I’ve been called a thief,” he said. As a result, he concluded, the Microsoft/Novell deal might be good for Novell “but it’s not good for the community” of open-source developers and users.

Here is the perspective of Tom Adelstein, which indirectly addresses the exclusionary deal and its impact.

I seem to recall something about unfair trade practices. Can a monopoly favor one organization with the same product offering over another? Hmmm, I’m not a lawyer and I don’t practice law. But, as a private citizen, I can recall some interesting legal battles here and there. Something about Linspire comes to mind. And something about announcements that stop people from buying products because of threatening announcements also comes to mind.

Magnifying Glass on the Latest Anti-GPL FUD

Posted in Deception, FUD, GPL, Microsoft at 10:24 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

A few days ago we mentioned the latest miserable attempt to discredit GPLv3. The attempt has been extremely controversial and it came from no-one other than Microsoft, although Novell will certainly be pleased to see GPLv3 failing. A journalist comments on this study:

In any kind of research environment 34 respondents is not “more than sufficient” for making sweeping statements about the opinions of thousands of people.

Only 16 of those respondents were actually contributing to projects that use the GPL/LGPL

The deeper you look at this, the nastier the creases get. The study is flawed for so many reasons, yet it led to misleading headlines appearing in the news. And that’s precisely what Microsoft wants. A popular SUSE blogged, who recently lost trust in Novell, comments on this ‘study’ as well.

Do I feel pity that Microsoft’s efforts were misconstrued yet again? Hell, no. Microsoft has a long history of lying, cheating, and outright theft in the accomplishment of its singular goal of total domination in all markets it wants to play in. Microsoft went looking yet again to buy more support for their position with regard to the GPLv3. And Microsoft got sloppy in deciding to run with this particular study.

Patents Remain a Threat Against Microsoft (Why It Will Not Litigate)

Posted in GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Novell, Patents, Ubuntu at 10:04 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Some argue that Microsoft’s recent assault on Linux might be a case of reflection. As one reporter puts it:

The Microsoft — Linux controversy has been stoked further by the assertion that Microsoft will ultimately be the company hardest hit by patent litigation.

Mark Shuttleworth said the same thing the other day. Microsoft is at great risk due to software patents.

On the day that Dell starts to sell PCs pre-loaded with Ubuntu, the Linux company’s chief has warned Microsoft that it faces certain defeat if it attempts to start a patent war.

Is it is defensive manoeuvre then? It seems improbable. Chin Wong, a columnist, writes “Patently wrong”, which makes me think of the famous “bully complex”.

Every schoolyard has a bully who uses his size to intimidate the other kids, or a rich brat who threatens to take his ball home if he doesn’t get his way.

Put in a different context, Microsoft tries to show some muscles and keep its potentionally-litigious foes away. ITWire offers a fairly one-sided analysis of the whole Microsoft/Novell/EFF scenario and what it means.

Some will say Microsoft pressure made them do it, but I think the companies concerned were big enough to make their own decisions.

Remember that Microsoft wants a patent reform as well.

Mixed Signals — Novell Takes Open Source and Proprietary Routes

Posted in Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, NetWare, Novell, RHX at 9:52 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Liferay has just joined Novell’s equivalent of Red Hat Exchange, following another recent inclusion. This comes amid more reports on expected acquisitions, which as we have mentioned before, are likely to involve proprietary software. These different development show that Novell continues to cling onto its proprietary software roots rather than truly advance into future business and development models.

Elsewhere in the news we see NetWare losing its appeal. In Australia, for instance, NetWare is being replaced by GNU/Linux.

As part of a core infrastructure refresh project, The NSW Department of State and Regional Development (DSRD) will ditch its legacy NetWare systems in favour of the open source Linux.

There is further confirmation in ComputerWorld, which yesterday described NetWare as a dead/dying skill.

8. Certified NetWare Engineers

In the early 1990s, it was all the rage to become a Certified NetWare Engineer, especially with Novell Inc. enjoying 90% market share for PC-based servers. Today, however, you don’t have to look far to find CNEs retraining themselves with other skills to stay marketable. “It seems like it happened overnight,” Hayes says. “Everyone had Novell, and within a two-year period, they’d all switched to NT.” Novell says it will continue supporting NetWare 6.5 through at least 2015; however, it has also retired several of its NetWare certifications, including Master CNE and NetWare 5 CNE, and it plans to retire NetWare 6 CNE. “Companies are still paying skill premiums for CNEs, but they’re losing value,” Foote says.

Is Novell a WSPP or MCPP Licensee?

Posted in Deception, Intellectual Monopoly, Interoperability, Microsoft, Novell at 1:28 pm by Shane Coyle

That was a question posed directly to Novell as part of Matthew Aslett’s dogged attempts to get to the bottom of the Microsoft-Novell deal, and in response we receive a standard non-denial denial:"As a general policy, licensing deals to which we’re a party aren’t made public by Novell".

Of course, we do expect the MS Agreement to be a part of their upcoming 10-K, perhaps this information will be part of the already-promised redacted sections. Will we ever learn what open source products shipped under the agreement that Novell has agreed to pay Microsoft royalties on in exchange for a promise not to pursue their supposed patent rights?

Anyhow, Aslett also is trying to get to the truth regarding Justin Steinman’s ominous statements regarding Novell engineers getting sanctioned access to MS code for Windows-SUSE interoperability:

Q. How does Microsoft promising not sue Novell customers gives Novell engineers sanctioned access to Microsoft code?

A. The covenants Microsoft makes to Novell customers do not provide Novell with access to Microsoft code. The terms of those covenants are publicly available on the Web sites of both Novell and Microsoft. As announced in November 2006, Novell and Microsoft have entered into a Technical Collaboration Agreement under which the companies work to achieve interoperability between Novell and Microsoft offerings. When ISVs enter such agreements, the terms customarily provide for exchanging relevant technical information. Novell has no intention to distribute the code of Microsoft or any third party in an unauthorized manner, and employs customary measures to comply with our license obligations.

Aside form the point that this final answer is a non-denial denial, the answers do explain how Novell got “sanctioned access” to Microsoft’s code, but to my mind, also undermine the suggestion that the patent covenant agreement was somehow necessary for the technical collaboration.

In fact, I would suggest that the answer to the first question makes it clear that the patent access granted by the technical collaboration agreement and the patent covenant not to sue customers are completely unrelated.

It certainly appears to be at odds with Steinman’s earlier statement: “the intellectual property agreement provided a foundation for the interoperability between Windows and SUSE Linux Enterprise”.

So, we’re back at step 1: Let’s speculate, what IP did Novell License, and why?

Wide Adoption of GPLv3 Expected by Eben Moglen

Posted in Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, GPL at 4:04 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Eben Moglen is very optimistic. He predicts that regardless of all the noise, GPLv3 will be welcomed by many, just as OpenLogic previously suggested.

Eben Moglen, the law professor and open-source legal expert who has helped lead the revision of the General Public License, is predicting broad success for the upcoming new version.

Let’s not forget the endless and aggressive Microsoft lobbying against the GPLv3.

As a side note, I could not help wondering why Microsoft (let alone Novell) attend OSBC, despite the explicit request for a boycott. What is a company that attacks Free software doing at an Open Source event? The scene is attended by the same folks which Microsoft threatens. It’s quite absurd.

Microsoft: No Patent Specifics, Because of Paper

Posted in Deception, FUD, Microsoft, Patents at 3:54 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Microsoft’s lies never cease to amaze. The company now blames paperwork for its reluctance to let the dogs out.

First you get everyone riled claiming open source and Linux infringe on your patents, then you won’t detail those patents. Why? The paperwork.

Yes, Microsoft cited administrative overhead for not detailing the 235 Microsoft patents its chief legal counsel recently told Forbes exist in Linux and open source.

Hasn’t the company produced over 6,000 pages of nasty technical documentation quite recently? Even SCO was able to file some legal documents over the years. It’s yet another excuse because FUD is more rewarding than a legal failure.

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