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06.06.07

Analogy: Novell Kills the Golden Goose for Its Golden Eggs

Posted in Deals, Finance, GNU/Linux, GPL, Novell, Servers, SLES/SLED, Xandros at 11:10 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Various deals that involve Novell are occasionally being mentioned in news. We have been accumulating these until ‘Do-No-Evil Saturday’ arrives. That’s when Novell usually gets a praise or two, just for a change, maybe a refreshing contrast. Among those items we were about to include the Capgemini deal with Novell, which is very explicitly a ‘mixed source‘. Here is a fragment from the press release.

Capgemini and Novell Enter Broad Mixed-Source Partnership

Capgemini endorses SUSE Linux Enterprise platform from Novell and provides consulting services and support for Novell open source and proprietary software

A lot has been said before (here and elsewhere) about the dangers of this ‘mixed source’ strategy. It bends Open Source and transforms it to fit a more closed and proprietary vocation, which also excludes the supplier. There is a long discussion about this over at Groklaw. It explains why Novell’s “mixed source” model is truly a menace. It also explains why Capgemini made a mig mistake by choosing Novell.

So this is the dream. Mixed source. How foolish is that? You lose the primary benefit of Linux, namely the flexibility to do pretty much whatever you want with it as a customer. And it’s bound to be a very short and bumpy ride. The Xandros deal, to my mind, makes litigation pretty much inevitable.

This whole Novell-Microsoft saga to me was kind of like a hostile takeover of GPL code, or an attempt at it, to neuter it so as to make that code go more proprietary whether it wants to or not. Folks who like the proprietary ways better and didn’t much like the GPL, or don’t understand its value, thought the license doesn’t mean what it says or that they could get cute with it and make oodles and boodles of money by selling code that belongs to other people in ways those authors told them in their license they don’t like.

Well, the GPL does mean what it says. And if you steal the Golden Egg and in so doing kill the Golden Goose that laid it, what have you accomplished? The development method that makes the code so much better is the Golden Goose, and the GPL is central to the health of that Goose. I suppose that is why Microsoft wants to get it neutered or eaten for dinner, but why would anyone else help them, particularly someone selling or wanting to buy Linux? You cut off your own future, or make it subject to Microsoft’s whims.

In other news, Novell will hold a shareholders meeting within a few of month.

Novell, Inc. today announced that its 2007 annual meeting of stockholders will be held on Aug. 30, 2007.

Their last report was not quite so satisfactory and left much to be desired. Then again, Novell has not descended to ‘SCO level’.

The ‘War of Words’ Will End When GPLv3 is Here

Posted in Courtroom, FSF, FUD, GPL, Law, Microsoft at 7:50 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Among the interesting writeups there are also the perspectives of Windows professionals. Even them are willing to admit that Microsoft’s new strategy is motivated by fear and desperation.

Denial. Open source? Never heard of it. Why don’t you come back when you folks are actually making some money?

Anger. What do you mean Linux and Apache are stealing market share from the low end of the server market? That’s our business!

Bargaining. OK, here’s a thought: Maybe Linux and Apache are taking share on the low-end. But as long as Windows Server and Microsoft IIS continue to dominate the Fortune 500, we won’t have any problems.

Depression. What? They’re in the data center now? But…we offer so much more functionality than the open-source solutions! Can’t people see that?

Acceptance…

This leads to the conslusion that a War of Words has become the last resort. SCO tried this, but see where they ended up.

It’s been a while since I mentioned the SCO Group on this blog, largely since it stopped shouting its mouth off about its legal claims and its various court cases are slowly winding their way towards conclusion.

Two recent headlines predict a patent war, but one also acknowledges the fact that staying out of court is the better choice to Microsoft.

Microsoft’s move is seen as a FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) strategy to force open source users into a licensing deal with the software giant or even migrating to a Microsoft platform, Haque said.

With or without the courts, the days of FUD are numbered. GPLv3 is coming and it spells doom to the idea of using patents as an anti-Linux weapon. Again, it is worth emphasising that GPLv3 is not just about patent-related clauses, which are just one type of amendment among several. Matt Aslett appears to be wondering what the GPLv3 is mainly for, just as we did. It’s about a variety of things, so it cannot be characterised as a vendetta targetting Microsoft.

Xandros Grabs the Stick, So Xandros User Says Buh-bye

Posted in FSF, GNU/Linux, Marketing, Microsoft, Novell, Xandros at 7:30 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Parables are fun. You will find some nice use of the “carrot and the stick” analogy in the following blog.

Then Microsoft offers the carrot of legal absolution. “Come with us” they say “We will protect you and your customers from our lawsharks” they promise. The poor scared sods believe them and sign a piece of paper that they think will protect themselves from the “Big Brother”. This of course makes Microsoft very happy and fits right in with their divide and conqueror plans.

This aligns with the FSF’s interpretation. They realise that fear of Microsoft (not the boycotts) will divide the community, which is why it’s important to prevent similar deal from being made. Boycotts can hopefully open people’s (and company’s) eyes to the truth behind these seemingly-friendly deals.

Xandros Linux users do in fact realise the consequences. In a world of choice and low migration barriers (no lockin), some have already taken action. Here is a story of one Xandros customer who was driven away by the company’s actions.

I got this comment on my Xandros-Microsoft editorial from a gentleman who left the name Bruce Layne (could be real, who knows?), and it’s worth repeating here…

Xandros has a very small userbase (and judging by DistroWatch, it’s probably decreasing). It seems unlikely that they have bought themselves any new customers. According to this new small survey, not even enterprises are deterred by Microsoft’s ploy, so where is the added value Xandros has to offer?

…none of the half-dozen IT executives who were interviewed about Microsoft’s infringement assertions plan to change their open source adoption strategies — at least, not unless and until there’s a good reason for them to do so.

The only business partner Xandros got itself is Microsoft, which will ironically take a slice off Xandros’ revenues.

Pay-to-play for Windows Clone Products

Posted in GNU/Linux, Interoperability, Microsoft, Mono, Novell, Patents, SCO, UNIX at 7:10 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Remind yourselves of ‘interoperability tax’. It is only part of a bigger picture. One thing that Microsoft is determined to do it to charge Linux users for everything which is said to mimic Windows functionality. The Novell deal revealed this. ‘Clones’ apparently include Mono, which Novell puts increased focus on. This discussion comes at a time when yet another product — this time from Mainsoft — gets released.

Mainsoft for Java EE is the result of the company’s four-year collaboration with Mono. Sponsored by Novell, the open source development initiative is developing an open source, multi-platform version of the Microsoft .NET (.NET 1.1 and .NET 2.0) technologies.

Remember that Novell has a special relationship with Microsoft now. Does this permit these programs to run under all Linux distributions? That clearly seems like something Microsoft would frown upon. Novell has essentially taken a route which is separate from what the rest take.

Also in the news yesterday, Microsoft has apparently begun limiting virtualization.

SoftGrid Application Virtualization will be sold only as part of Microsoft’s Desktop Optimization Pack (MDOP) for Software Assurance

In yet another response from Microsoft (similar to an interview from last week), the same argument about “building bridges” is repeated. As Groklaw reminds us, this is almost indentical to SCO’s arguments. This isn’t the first time either. This latest response from Microsoft pretends that the company wants peace. See for yourself:

Reports of Microsoft threatening the Linux community over alleged patent infringements are “sensationalist” and Microsoft is committed to building bridges with the open source community, says Microsoft South Africa’s public sector director, Ashley de Klerk.

At the same time, of course, the company wants a ‘binary bridge’. How convenient (to them). Remember what SCO intended to achieve in very much the same way.

SCO was projecting that revenues of its SCOsource licenses for Linux would generate billions of dollars in revenues for the company, chief executive Darl McBride testified in a deposition on 27 March 2007.

Any Meat to That Fruit? (Updated)

Posted in Deals, Deception, GNU/Linux, Intellectual Monopoly, Interoperability, Marketing, Microsoft, Novell, Patent Covenant, Patents, SLES/SLED, Virtualisation at 2:29 pm by Shane Coyle

Kevan Barney posted an update on Novell’s PR blog the other day touting an available SLES VHD file for Microsoft’s Virtual Server as "More fruit from Novell’s collaboration with Microsoft":

More fruit from Novell’s collaboration with Microsoft … Novell has made available SUSE Linux Enterprise Server on Microsoft’s Virtual Hard Drive (VHD). The VHD image file contains SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 10 Service Pack 1 with most available packages already installed. With this image, folks can run SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 10 SP1 on their Microsoft Virtual Server 2005 R2 and experience Linux easily and risk free. Check it out.

So, I was a bit intrigued – after all, virtualization cooperation (and requisite patent licensing) is one of the areas of collaboration publicized in the Microvell deal – as Stafford Masie said – "Yes, there is a competitive angle there, yes we’re coming at VMware yes yes yes we are".

So, I asked – what about this was made possible by the Microvell deal, and I took the opportunity to link here to an article regarding how Novell has licensed certain Microsoft patents in order to build a binary bridge for Microsoft Windows to run on (SUSE) Linux. My implied question is whether a license is somehow required to implement virtualization in Microsoft products, but anyhow.

What I received was an explanation regarding hypervisor vs non-hypervisor solutions and some gobbledygook about "The SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 10 VHD enables customers using Microsoft Virtual Server to easily check out SLES10." but still – no answer to my (real) question – what, exactly, about this is “fruit” of the Microsoft collaboration? What made this impossible before the deal, is there a technical improvement – or is it licensing related after all?

We’ll be waiting for Kevan to clear this up, I have a feeling that there is absolutely nothing to do with the collaboration with Microsoft here, but rather was just a vain attempt to credit the deal for a coincidental occurence. We’ll see

# shane coyle Says: Your comment is awaiting moderation.
June 6th, 2007 at 1:09 pm

Thanks, I know that really – I was making a point, but anyhow – what, exactly, about this is “fruit” of the Microsoft collaboration?

What made this impossible before the deal, is there a technical improvement – or is it licensing related?

Update: Here is the latest…

# Kevan Barney Says:
June 6th, 2007 at 4:09 pm

Shane,

It’s fruit from the collaboration between Novell and Microsoft because before we began collaborating, it simply didn’t exist. Now we’ve worked together to make it happen.
——-
# shane coyle Says: Your comment is awaiting moderation.
June 6th, 2007 at 7:11 pm

So, then this is the fruit of a wide ranging collaboration and licensing agreement with EMC/VMware?

Sun’s SCOsource License – Linux Right To Use Included

Posted in Free/Libre Software, FUD, Microsoft, SCO, SUN at 8:10 am by Shane Coyle

Apparently, Sun’s license from SCO a few years ago actually included a right-to-use license for Linux, after all. This appears to contradict Chris Sontag’s statement in his deposition that MS and Sun were not Linux license customers, but then again as Groklaw already noted, that deposition seems to conflict with one of his own prior depositions in the IBM case, so who knows what to make of what Sontag says.

Luckily, many corporations keep records, and these records become exhibits in court cases – then, we can finally get a handle on what the truth is:

According to the court exhibit, Sun bought a “right to use license” for its commercial Linux end users. In addition, Sun was buying “a UnixWare source code license to developers,” and both licenses “contained a covenant not to sue, which provided that the licensee would not be exposed to liability for the use of SCO’s intellectual property in Linux.”

Looks like I need to update our Usual Suspects Game, and we may need to really take another look at Sun’s actions towards Free Software ever since their dealings with SCO and Microsoft…

Update: In somewhat related news, Matthew Aslett notes that SCO’s IP revenue has hit $0 for the most recent quarter. As I say in the comments on his blog: "Of course it hit $0, Microsoft is now directly selling their Linux/FOSS right-to-use licenses and no longer requires SCO to act as a proxy."

When Boycotts Are Misunderstood, Due to Wrong Assumption/Information

Posted in Antitrust, Europe, Interoperability, Microsoft, Novell, SCO, Xandros at 3:46 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Over at ZDNet, Dana seems rather upset with the boycott efforts, of which there are at least two at the moment. I strongly disagree with Dana’s assertion that we target companies for just entering a deal (any deal) with Microsoft. It’s not the deals, but the actual terms therein. Unfortunately, lacking lesser-publicised facts, many people are determined to stick with the wrong & convenient conclusion.

Red Hat wants an interoperability deal with Microsoft, for example, but it will never accept anything which does not build upon open standards. It refuses to play by a peer’s rule when industry standards are widely available and properly implemented. Yes, we need to interact with Microsoft producs, but not be ‘bribed’ to play by their rules, which are carefully designed to make our days numbered.

Why would Linux companies need to pay Microsoft this so-called ‘interoperability tax’ rather than convince Microsoft to play along with the rest? Microsoft deliberately breaks (or ‘extends’) standards, just as the Halloween Memos suggest. It is part of the plan to defeat Free software with moving goalposts, ownership, lacking/pricey documentation, patents, and corruption of standards.

Sadly, Xandros and Novell play by Microsoft’s rules. They gleefully accept Microsoft’s attempts to disrupt a free market. It serves the role of precedence. As reported by Reuters yesterday, even the European court recognised the problem and it will soon rule on this matter; and as Laura Bentley puts it, the community needs to stay united in its goal to deny ‘interoperability tax’, among other things.

To cite a more angry response, let’s remember that Microsoft wants to earn money from the work of poor volunteers. This puts in danger non-commercial distributions as well. To repeat what we mentioned the other day, SCO attempted to do the same thing.

New UK Head for Novell? When Did the Previous One Leave (the Company)?

Posted in Europe, Novell at 2:57 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

A brief community article from ZDNet quotes Jacqueline de Rojas, who has apparently filled an very serious void at Novell.

Jacqueline de Rojas was appointed yesterday as country manager covering both the UK and the Emerald Isle.

A quick look reveals another article:

Novell appoints new UK head

De Rojas has held senior positions at Cartesis, Business Objects, Ascential Software, Informix Software and Computer Associates.

New UK head? When the previous one leave? Not a word about in the news, that’s for sure. We do try to keep a record of major figures that leave the company. The true motives for departure are sometimes harder to discover though. Most people wish to leave in good terms, rather than burn bridges.

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