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05.30.07

Rumor: Novell Escapes FSF Wrath

Posted in Action, FSF, FUD, GPL, Novell at 11:43 pm by Shane Coyle

Well, a "source" is being attributed with the scoop that, when the GPLv3 is revealed, Novell will not suffer as they had feared.

What is not specified, (besides the "source") is whether this turn of events is because S11 P5 has remained, but the Grandfather Clause was adopted or if S11 P5 has been removed altogether.

It should also be noted that the article is written by Jim Finkle, author of the original article that started the first FUD-storm over the FSF and Novell’s Linux distribution rights – that Eben Moglen had characterized as creating "unnecessary waves".

We should see shortly exactly what has been decided, after which I believe it is the "last-call" draft – a final 30-day comment period prior to final publication.

For giggles, I think the FSF should initially post the Final-Call Draft in redacted format.

To Novell, Microsoft Comes Before the “Hobbyists”

Posted in Interoperability, Microsoft, Novell, OpenSUSE, Servers, Virtualisation at 7:21 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Enough said. Head over to InformationWeek and read the article.

Under its controversial alliance with Novell, Microsoft is entitled to receive key technical documentation from the Linux distributor even if that documentation is not generally available to open source software developers, according to a Novell document… The catch: “Neither party will publicly release any test results without prior written consent of the other party,” the collaboration agreement states.

New Articles on Novell and Patents (Updated)

Posted in Novell, Patents at 3:15 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Having made some documents available, the main discussion revolves around how Novell’s deal affects patents (and what Novell intends to do about them). Here is a collection of articles that cover this issue.

Eben Moglen: MS should remove patents from Novell agreement (video)

In this segment of our week-long series of video excerpts from our interview with Professor Eben Moglen at last week’s Red Hat Summit in San Diego, he explains why it could be disastrous for Microsoft to continue the patent aggression that is part of their Novell agreement.

Kill the patents, kill the problem

Whatever Novell’s motivations in its dealing with Microsoft and subsequently with the EFF, the fact remains that if software patents are shown to be the harmful and counterproductive mistake we believe them to be, the industry will benefit in many ways. The community must remain united with this in mind. Nothing else matters.

The Patent Puzzle

Patent fights are fights about money. The secondary issue, the one that makes the headlines, is control. To really understand what’s going on in the current patent posturing involving Microsoft, Novell, and a host of open-source companies and groups, it helps to keep those factors firmly in mind.

Novell Tries Striking Delicate Balance on Patents

So when Microsoft claimed Linux and some of its open source programs violate 235 of its patents last week – and held up its agreement with Novell as the template for the royalty payments it wants from everybody – Novell must have wanted to hide under the bed wrapped in a flame mail-retardant blankie.

Novell: GPLv3 Could Be Risky Business [to Novell, not to Linux]

The FSF believes that the patent agreement between Microsoft and Novell, in which both parties agree not to sue each other’s customers for patent violations, is a collusion that undermines the goals of the FSF. GPLv3 is designed to prevent other such agreements from occurring between patent holders and open source distributors.

On a related note, here are a few other new articles that talks about patents and their morbid effect.

Nokia says patent dispute hurts 3G

The success of 3G phone technology is being put at risk by a patent dispute between Nokia and Qualcomm, Nokia said today.

aQuantive is not a Microsoft open source play

Given that software patents are not accepted in Europe (or most of the rest of the world) it means enforcing Microsoft’s patents would impose an enormous burden on the American economy, and on America’s global competitiveness.

UK firms contest ‘absurd’ software patent ruling

The five companies, Astron Clinica Limited, Cyan Holdings Plc, Inrotis Technologies Limited, Software 2000 Limited and Surf Kitchen argue variously that the IPO is stifling British entrepreneurship, forcing UK firms to apply for patents outside the UK, and putting British inventors at a disadvantage.

Further analysis at Groklaw:

Worst-Case Scenario or Sure Shot? – More on the Novell-MS Deal

So, the way this all adds up to my understanding is that it’s certain to happen. It’s not just a worst-case scenario. It’s a train coming straight at Microsoft’s patent threats, and I’m guessing Microsoft is trying to figure out how to untie itself from the track. No doubt Microsoft will in time address the matter and say something, but I can’t help but think that the current “but we never meant to rattle our patent saber” talk may stem from an awareness that the game is over, or at least this part of the game.

Update: the Eben Moglen video is now up for viewing in embedded form.

Forbes Says Novell’s Business Stinks

Posted in Finance, Marketing, Novell at 3:03 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

This seems like a harsh article, but you may still wish to take a quick look.

Unfortunately for Novell, business isn’t good. Analysts expect the company’s second-quarter earnings will come in around $4.7 million on Wednesday–that’s a drop of of 50%. Worse yet, sales are set to slide to $235.1 million from $278.3 million. As a result, over the past year Novell’s shares have plodded along, dropping from $7.82 to $7.55.

[...]

The company could start buying back shares or it may even reward open-source developers with a few acquisitions, analysts say. Spreading a little of its money around in the open-source community may not make it any more popular, but at least it won’t be the only software company accused of selling out

This confirms the possibility of buybacks, which was mentioned last week.

Noteworthy: Novell’s (and Microsoft) Betrayal Illustrated Using an Analogy

Novell Licensed MS Patents for Virtualization

Posted in Deals, Deception, GPL, Intellectual Monopoly, Microsoft, Novell, Patents, SLES/SLED, Virtualisation at 9:51 am by Shane Coyle

It appears that Matthew Aslett has put his finger on at least one bit of Patent IP that Novell has licensed from Microsoft, as well as a little bit about what the deal was really about.

In the meantime, the publication of the agreements also sheds some light on the suggestion that the patent cooperation agreement was necessary for the technical and business collaboration agreements to have occurred.

The patent deal is listed as a pre-requisite for both the other deals, while the technical collaboration agreement was also a pre-requisite for the business collaboration agreement, placing the patent deal at the center of the whole deal.

While the patent covenant included an agreement from each party not to sue each other’s customers, there was also a limited patent deal between Microsoft and Novell, as previously reported. According to the technical collaboration agreement, that patent deal related to Novell getting a free pass on patents related to the HyperCall API specification in order to make SLES run on Microsoft’s Viridian virtualization hypervisor.

I had said the other day that Microsoft is indeed very disturbed by Wine, as is evidenced by the non-redacted portions of the agreement, because it allows users to run their Office toolset without running (and paying for) Windows. Part of the Microvell deal is about virtualization, and keeping Windows relevant and installed by using legal posturing and FUD, which Novell is all too happy to assist with since they are in the unique position to benefit from Microsoft’s FUD campaign against Linux.

So, have a look at the technical cooperation agreement (S3 & S4 are most interesting). Already, GPL fans who are familiar with the Binary Driver debate will note the use of the term "shim".

(c) Development of the Novell Shim. Microsoft hereby grants to Novell a non-exclusive, non-assignable, non-transferable, royalty-free fully paid-up license

(i) under (A) Microsoft’s trade secrets and copyrights to internally use and reproduce the Microsoft HyperCall API Specification for the sole purpose of developing the Novell Shim; and (B) ***, under Microsoft’s trade secrets and copyrights (to the extent the Novell Shim is a derivative work of the Microsoft HyperCall API Specification), to ***; and

(ii) under Microsoft’s Necessary Claims, to (A) make and use the Novell Shim in Source Code and Object Code form, and (B) ***.

If and when Microsoft makes an implementation license for the Microsoft HyperCall API Specification publicly available, then Novell may enter into such license to obtain any additional rights that may be available thereunder.

This does give some more context to Stafford Masie’s statements at CITI regarding how one aspect of the deal was that Microsoft and Novell were teaming up to go after VMware.

(a paragraph or two before it cuts off.)
…virtualization is very very key, customers want to utilize Linux as either a host operating system with Microsoft as a guest operating system, or vice versa, and yes wea re going to support the XEN technology there, the XEN hypervisor technology, Microsoft is going to support it too. Yes, there is a competitive angle there, yes we’re coming at VMware yes yes yes we are, ok thats part of it because but we’re doing it in an open source way, so were going to support the XEN technologies in our server platforms and togther collaborate and ensure it works properly, supported properly, etc

Note that this is a "non-exclusive, non-assignable, non-transferable, royalty-free fully paid-up license", so this is not the reason that Novell has agreed to pay Microsoft royalties on open source software shipped under the agreement.

Novell is paying Microsoft royalties in exchange for a right-to-use license for their customers, just no one is quite sure what it is of Microsoft’s that they have a right-to-use.

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