05.24.07

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.

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4 Comments

  1. Stephen Holmes said,

    May 25, 2007 at 5:36 am

    Gravatar

    You’ll find that all companies (and particularly publicly traded companies) are in the business of making profit and not in the business of altruism. This is the point of them being in business. Innovation, R&D, expansion are functions of a growth pattern designed only to increase profits and not better human-kind.

    You’ll also find that the greatest percentage of open source developers are paid by such companies in the first place. The F/OSS market is changed forever, one could argue since IBM put on its own F/OSS attire. It’s a business now, with real and well paid employees.

    My point is, why would you expect any company to behave differently? Turn the rock over on any of the so-called pure F/OSS companies and you’ll find something that will make your stomach churn.

  2. Roy Schestowitz said,

    May 25, 2007 at 6:31 am

    Gravatar

    You could add Google to the list of examples (amid Moglen’s criticisms), but there’s a difference between not giving back (or giving too little) and actually harming that hand that feeds you. Novell is knowingly doing damage. Apparently it thought that damage to its image would be outweighed by this deal with Microsoft.

  3. Ian said,

    May 25, 2007 at 8:30 am

    Gravatar

    But what is the damage that has been done? Despite Microsoft’s positioning and comments, nobody has really taken it seriously. Beyond the hurt feelings department, I’m still left wondering where if any damage has been done up to this point.

  4. Robert Millan said,

    April 1, 2008 at 6:09 am

    Gravatar

    Stephen, I think you’re making the following assumptions:
    – Innovation cannot possibly happen in a free market, and therefore requires protectionist measures (counterexample: everything that was invented in computer software before software patents were allowed).
    – Such protectionist measures aren’t really detrimental for innovation, even if they impose a 20-year delay before newly-invented technology can be used without fear of lawsuits (example: Nokia and Apple think it is dangerous to use OGG).
    – Altruism and ethics are the same thing. Since there are no altruist companies, there are no ethical companies either (counterexample: I leave that up to you; hint: Microsoft ain’t a good one).

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