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06.08.07

The Xandros Deal Just Doesn’t Make Any Sense

Posted in Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, GPL, Microsoft, Xandros at 11:34 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Red Herring described Microsoft’s Linux deals as “symbiotic”. Yes, it’s right there in the headline. However bizarre it sounds, the subheading makes it clear that they mean by “symbiotic”.

Software giant’s deal with tiny Xandros highlights strategy to conquer open source.

Isn’t that lovely (and obvious)? All those who concede the source are simply opening the gates to damage, which sometimes they get paid to tolerate. It is a case of buying the dismantling of your competitor, which is of course illegal. It’s subversion of the nature of a free market. It’s anti-capitalistic.

I must admit that I don’t understand how the Xandros deal fits GPL provisions. What about the dates, for example? All deals done after March 28th are no longer workable under the final draft of GPLv3. To put it differently, unless this deal was agreed on before March 28th and only announced now, this makes little or no sense. One source suggests that the deal has been negotiated for quite a long time. Was anything in the draft truly intercepted or sabotaged at all? I am not a lawyer and I will admit that Shane is far more familiars with and knowledgeable than me when it comes the legal stuff.

The way I see it, Xandros got penalised the most, but is there anything I fail to see?

Digest: Standards, Junk Patents, and Some More FUD

Posted in Asia, FUD, Open XML, OpenDocument, OpenOffice, Patents, Standard at 11:01 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

New Bill-busting Target for Microsoft

The State of New York will evaluate the use of truly open standards in order to preserve and disseminate its vital information. Reporters seem pessimistic because, having looked at past stories, it is clear that Microsoft is above the American law. It will continue to fight for lockin and a monoculture.

A bill introduced in the New York state legislature on Wednesday would require the state government’s IT director to study the issue of using open document formats within agencies, although the proposal doesn’t seek to mandate an immediate or long-term move to such formats.

[...]

Microsoft also is seeking the ISO stamp of approval for Office Open XML, the default file format in its Office 2007 software. But the software vendor has fought the open formats bills in every state as part of an effort to protect its Office franchise.

On so-called ‘Junk Patents’

Lock your doors and then hide your spouses and children. The infamous monster is back…

USPTO Increases Scope Of Amazon’s 1-Click Patent

It apparently found its way into the hands of a sympathetic (and impatient) USPTO Examiner who had earlier defended his friends for approving 1-Click in the first place and referred 1-Click naysayers to a letter to the WSJ penned by the ex-Commissioner for Patents.

For those who do not know, this patent exemplifies the sad state of the USPTO. It’s a classic. There has never been a better opportunity to shout out in favour of a reform.

Fear and Loathing in Asia

We have some news coming from Asia/Singapore (ComputerWorld to be precise). In a new series of articles, there is evidence to suggest that we must put an end to the FUD once and for all, sooner rather than later.

One article suggests that Microsoft’s FUD tactics are working in Asia, despite the fact that they seem to backfire (i.e. do more harm than good) elsewhere in the world. In another article, a rhetorical question, Who’s afraid of whom?”, is being asked. As we attempted to clarify before, the fragile side is Microsoft, but it hides this fear using projection. It ‘s what psychologists have come to know as ‘the bully complex’. There appears to be another article, which talks about the GPL. It is critical, but its speaks on behalf on industry, not developers.

Novell’s Enemy or Novell’s Sugar Daddy?

It is disappointing to see that while Novell does everything is can to please Microsoft (it must), Novell’s struggles in its ‘fight’ against Microsoft, which has lust for a greater share of the pie.

The Redmond giant’s latest iteration of its e-mail platform is expected to win a great many customers — mainly at the expense of IBM’s Domino and Novell’s GroupWise.

Novell’s CEO said that Novell would fight Microsoft, but are we not seeing them just forming an axis against other smaller rivals? Novell seems to have lost focus completely.

The Latest GPL Myths Get Busted

Posted in Free/Libre Software, FUD, GPL, Law, Novell at 10:33 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Amid the relentless attacks on the GPL, often coordinated by Microsoft which suffers from it the most, many myths are being created. It is time to bust a few of them, or at least point to some new articles that do this, e.g. this one from Ed Burnette:

Myth 2: You can’t mix GPL software with other software.

False. According to experts in open source licenses this is possible, especially with the wording in the latest GPLv3 draft.

Some Word-formatted ‘whitepapers’ from microsoft.com help in perpetuating these GPL myths, but all one has to do is look at Red Hat’s stack, which happily accommodates Oracle on top. This whole misconception which says that “everything in contact with GPL must be GPL” is just plain and utter FUD.

Another attack vector implies and suggests that GPL is not enforceable. Matt Asay addressed point this using some legal literature yesterday.

The GPL is enforceable, but not for the reasons (or, rather, not through the means) generally held.

My comment in the cited blog item provides further references. The GPL is not as unattractive as biased media would like you to believe. Check whose advice you take and whether it’s financially motivated. In some people’s eyes, Novell remains a GPL foe and abuser.

Ubuntu Founder Denounces Microsoft’s Racketeering

Posted in Deals, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Novell, Patents, Ubuntu, Xandros at 10:14 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Mark Shuttleworth has been a stubborn opposer to Microsoft’s actions ever since the Novell deal had been struck. In a new interview with the South African press, Mr. Shuttleworth had the following words to add:

[Mark:] Microsoft is asking people to pay them for patents, but they won’t say which ones. If a guy walks into a shop and says: “It’s an unsafe neighbourhood, why don’t you pay me 20 bucks and I’ll make sure you’re okay,” that’s illegal. It’s racketeering. What Microsoft is doing with intellectual property is exactly the same. It’s a great company and I have great admiration for it, but this was not a well considered position.

[Question:] So you wouldn’t do a deal?

[Mark:] No, absolutely not. But the time will come when the folks at Microsoft who have a clear vision for the company as a participant in this community, rather than as a hostile antagonist, will win.

We recently said that Mr. Shuttleworth was wrong on patent threats and we stick with this stance, even though the interview suggests that he has not changed his mind. The Xandros and LG deals have apparently led to no reconsideration on his part.

It is also him who said that Microsoft would never take this to court. It is also him who ‘trolled’ the Opensuse mailing (depending on how you look at it). There was a lot more that he said at the time, but all in all, he consistently defends Free software, even if it means liaising with the so-called ‘purists’. It remains highly unlikely (if not altogether impossible) that Canonical will give in to Microsoft’s pressure. The same can be said about Red Hat. These two companies hold the large majority of Linux users on the desktop and the server, respectively. They are doing well financially, unlike Xandros, for example, which according to one source, said it “needed the money”. Deals with feeble distributors can never intimidate the core.

Do-No-Evil Saturday: Opensuse Initiatives and New Novell Partnerships

Posted in GNU/Linux, Marketing, Novell, OpenSUSE, Servers, SLES/SLED, Xen at 9:47 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The following catch-up item might seem like an out-of-place public relations post, but we promised one positive post every week. As such, let’s get started with this week’s batch.

The Novell/BMW Xen affair represents positive progress at Novell. There is no ‘venom’ in the press release, so we applaud Novell for that one.

SUSE Linux Enterprise Server with Xen will save money without sacrificing performance

The developers of Opensuse have decided to take Linux to schools. The article reveals nothing that bothers the mind.

“As more and more schools evaluate Linux as a cost-efficient alternative for their running systems in a way that will be ‘ready for the future of education’ and as more and more home users find out, that their children need a PC (and good PC knowledge) to have a stake in the future,” the team added.

We also hear about preinstalled Opensuse on desktops in Australia .

The desktop computers feature AMD 64-bit dual core or Intel 32-bit dual core processors with hardware specially selected for home or business users and are designed for various power user levels: surfing, office, multimedia and ultimate.

No involvement of a third party, no promises of ‘protection’. That’s the way to do it with Linux.

One columnist, who has been rather annoyed with the batch of Microsoft-Linux deals, suspects that Dell might offer SUSE Linux in the near future (but not for the reasons you expect).

There are a couple of good reasons to draw this conclusion. One, if Dell wants to cosy up to a Linux reseller and not put its relationship with Microsoft under strain, then that reseller has to be Novell.

[...]

Second, Dell would much prefer to deal with a US company rather than an outsider – and, no matter what Mark Shuttleworth’s standing is in the tech community, he is an outsider in the US, certainly not one of the “boys.”

Moving away from Linux, Novell gets a noticeable mention.

QA-IQ’s vendor partners are also in strong support of the programme, as Director of Training Services EMEA at Novell, Maria Thun makes clear; “QA-IQ is one of the leading Novell Platinum learning partners globally. As a focused, committed partner, QA-IQ has made a significant contribution to the development and growth of our portfolio, particularly in the Linux sphere. We have worked with QA-IQ to deliver training solutions to several mutual clients and we are delighted that QA-IQ has developed a sound platform to support these clients on a global scale.”

This one was probably mentioned in Novell’s PR blog just a few days after initial publication as a press release. In any event, here’s the press release

Novacoast, Inc. Announces SentinelRD

Novacoast, Inc., an IT professional services and product development firm, announces SentinelRD, a rapid deployment service for Sentinel 6 from Novell(R), Novell’s real-time security information and event management (SIEM) solution.

There’s also this one:

Columbitech Taps SUSE Linux Enterprise From Novell to Help Retailers Reach PCI Compliance and Safeguard Customer Data

Allows Retailers to Fully Take Advantage of Their Investments in Wireless Networks and Mobile Devices Without Sacrificing the Data Security ERI eXchange 2007

Novell’s PR blog says more about identity interoperability.

Today the Liberty Alliance announced developments in its Concordia Project, a global, cross-industry initiative formed by members of the identity management community to drive harmonization and interoperability among the various identity initiatives and protocols

Finally, Novell is looked at from a financial perpective and it is also named “The voice of network experience”.

Novell and Nasdaq, Microsoft’s Latest Hire

Posted in Finance, Humour, Interoperability, Microsoft, Nasdaq, Novell, OSDL at 1:09 pm by Shane Coyle

A few quick notes on our friends in Waltham and Redmond, respecively.

Novell in Compliance with Nasdaq

This is certainly good to hear for Novell, and I no longer need to ponder making a template for those non-compliance notices each quarter. Now that their stock options review is complete they have filed all of their requisite paperwork, Novell are now considered as being back in the good graces of Nasdaq.

The company received three warnings from the exchange after it failed to submit two quarterly earnings reports and its 2006 annual report. Novell (nasdaq: NOVL – news – people ) said it submitted the reports last month after completing a review of past stock option grants.

Nasdaq officials notified the company Tuesday that the issue has been resolved and the company’s shares will continue trading on the exchange.

Microsoft Hires Director of Linux Interoperability

Microsoft has hired former Linux Foundation engineering director Tom Hanrahan, and I would like to wish him luck in that position. I would have appreciated learning that I did not get the position in some other manner than seeing it in the news, but whatever.

In an e-mail late Thursday night, a Microsoft representative said the role will be filled by Tom Hanrahan, who was most recently the director of engineering at the Linux Foundation, the group created through the recent combination of the Free Standards Group and the Open Source Development Labs.

Now, whether this is a position in which Hanrahan will be able to (or truly desire to) affect any change within Redmond will remain to be seen. Previous experiences with Linux folks who try to reform Microsoft from within have generally ended badly.

Patch Tuesdays Lead to Patent Mondays?

Posted in Antitrust, Intellectual Monopoly, Microsoft, Patents, Wikipedia at 10:12 am by Shane Coyle

From the saw-it-on-Slashdot Department…

This is utterly insane, forget about responsible disclosure arguments, this company is unabashedly and unapologetically twisting the software industry’s predilection for spurious software patents against itself.

Intellectual Weapons is soliciting vulnerability researchers to submit their discoveries to them, rather than the vendor or even the community, and work to "generate and enforce intellectual property such as patents relating to fixes for newly discovered, private or zero day security vulnerabilities, weaknesses, or technical flaws that you have found. We target the intellectual property against the vendors of the vulnerable products and other security providers such as suppliers of intrusion prevention technologies. You share in the income."

Now, from the perspective of Intellectual Weapons, if (as Microsoft and other software patent cartel members assert) software is indeed patentable, then I believe so are the improvements made to those patented inventions. You may patent an improvement and then license that improvement back to the vendor, or (at least) exclude them from using your patented improvement.

A patent is an exclusionary right. It gives the patent owner the right to exclude others from infringing the patent. That does not, however, necessarily give the owner of the patent the right to exploit the patent. For example, many inventions are improvements of prior inventions which may still be covered by someone else’s patent. If an inventor takes an existing patented mouse trap design, adds a new feature to make an improved mouse trap, and obtains a patent on the improvement, he or she can only legally build his or her improved mouse trap with permission from the patent holder of the original mouse trap, assuming the original patent is still in force. On the other hand, the owner of the improved mouse trap can exclude the original patent owner from using the improvement.

Can you imagine, after having purchased a license for a piece of software from a vendor, having to individually secure additional patent right-to-use licenses for security patches with other entities, if the vendor cannot or will not pay for a distribution license? Or, better yet, an improvement or patch is available but the parties cannot come to terms on licensing, preventing it ever from being distributed at all. Ludicrous.

Like Matthew Aslett had quipped the other day, it appears that Microsoft et al are about to be hoisted by their own (software) patent petard. Unless they can "fix" the system in their favor first, of course.

Patent Mess Highlighted, Remedies May Be on Their Way

Posted in America, Interview, Law, Patents, SUN at 1:54 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Last night we dropped a quick note on the shakeup in the USPTO. There are newer articles which appear to indicate that change is on its way. It’s validated by The Register.

Jon Dudas, director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office, says applicants currently have a lot of discretion in how much information they provide to explain why their invention qualifies for patent protection. At present, he says, applications are made with widely varying amounts of information, ranging from “almost nothing” to what he describes as “malicious compliance”…

The issue is also being raised and discussed in a Wall Street Journal blog.

[Question:] Some people, like former Microsoft big wig Nathan Myhrvold, defend the rights of patent-holding companies, arguing that without full rights there is no way for small inventors to get big infringers to the table to settle. How do you respond to that?

[Answer:] The area of software patents is where you see most of the troll activity. Twenty years ago you weren’t able to patent software. As a result of the dot com crash, you see software patents out there that are being bought up for no other purpose than to derive revenues from companies. These aren’t inventors but are mostly lawyers and investors seeking a quick return. These patents in most cases are not being used to create products and innovation which is what our Founding Fathers had in mind when they established the patent system.

Last but not least, there is a reversal of an ITC decision.

Qualcomm Inc.’s chief executive said on Thursday that the company would ask the Bush administration to overturn an order… Another company official said Qualcomm was looking for ways to design around the patent at issue, owned by Broadcom Inc.

The story sounds familiar and solutions are hopefully on their way. Self-serving innovation panels have created a system that is truly a farce.

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