Earlier today, Shane pointed out that Ubuntu is not about to fall victim to Microsoft’s pressure. I fact, this was just one among several clarifications that Mark Shuttleworth had made recently. At one point he even went further and accused Microsoft of ‘racketeering’, which is illegal. It is worth re-emphasising that the most popular (as in “widely used”) desktop distribution, just like that in the server space, refuses and will continue to refuse to sell out. A couple of days ago, Red Hat repeated its stance on this issue.
“We continue to believe that open source and the innovation it represents should not be subject to an unsubstantiated tax that lacks transparency,” she said in an e-mail.
This echoes the argument that Red Hat made quite some time ago. Open standards are the only way forward. Not even a ‘portfolio’ of sellouts can change this. It will only make those who stand stubborn more popular and attractive. I moved to Ubuntu two days ago.
Send this to a friend
Mark Shuttleworth has felt it necessary to respond to some of the speculation that Ubuntu, upon which Linspire is based, may be the next GNU/Linux distribution to make a deal with Microsoft under the pressure of unspecified patent infringement claims.
For the record, let me state my position, and I think this is also roughly the position of Canonical and the Ubuntu Community Council though I haven’t caucused with the CC on this specifically.
We have declined to discuss any agreement with Microsoft under the threat of unspecified patent infringements.
Allegations of “infringement of unspecified patents” carry no weight whatsoever. We don’t think they have any legal merit, and they are no incentive for us to work with Microsoft on any of the wonderful things we could do together. A promise by Microsoft not to sue for infringement of unspecified patents has no value at all and is not worth paying for. It does not protect users from the real risk of a patent suit from a pure-IP-holder (Microsoft itself is regularly found to violate such patents and regularly settles such suits). People who pay protection money for that promise are likely living in a false sense of security.
Shuttleworth also shows his disdain for Microsoft’s OOXML "standard" format and indicates that, like Red Hat, he is not opposed to the concept of working with Microsoft, just in "ways that further the cause of free software" and that "I don’t believe that the intent of the current round of agreements is supportive of free software…".
Send this to a friend
When Novell and Microsoft decided to make their patent covenants, there was quite a furor and even some confusion, over Microsoft’s patent covenant to OpenSUSE.org contributors and it’s apparent value.
Of course, I see it as a mechanism of proprietizing Free Software using spurious and unspecified software patents, essentially it will provide patent coverage to any OpenSUSE.org code contribution that makes it into SUSE because Novell has already agreed to pay Microsoft an ongoing royalty in exchange for a right-to-use patent license for their customers.
Stafford Masie, shortly after the Microvell deal announcement, urged other distributions to approach and "embrace Microsoft" (seriously, he used that word – he said we should "embrace Microsoft", apparently he was unaware of what the next two steps in the MS strategy were). But, the message that Masie had was that all open source developers – large or small – should get right with Microsoft, and contact them soon for their very own IP license to their own code – or, join up with Novell since they are already paying for a license.
So, where then, is the FreeSpire.org covenant? This goes to why there hasn’t been nearly the outcry and backlash over the Xandros and Linspire deals: it is not acceptance, it is indifference. Besides the obvious lack of interest in either distribution prior to the deal, both Linspire and Xandros are essentially GNU/Linux repackagers, not nearly the contributors at the level of Novell, and as such do not command a large and dedicated volunteer developer community to upset and sell out.
Often on this site, Roy and I have each pined about how it is somewhat uncomfortable to go after Novell so vociferously for this deal, and no one here argues the fact that Novell has been a tremendous community member and contributor, excepting of course they allowed themselves to be the linchpin Microsoft pulled to make the wheels fall off of the GPLv2. And, I cannot accept that.
Send this to a friend
Pressure is now being applied to an aggressive Microsoft from several different direction. To those of you who follow the news, this may not be a surprise, but the Linux Foundation talks about taking action in a counter attack against Microsoft and its plan. This is not their first rebuttal.
Linux is the best-known variant of so-called open source software — software that is freely available to the public to be used, revised and shared. Linux suppliers earn money selling improvements and technical services. By contrast, Microsoft charges for software and opposes freely sharing its code.
This comes at a time when Microsoft faces increasing pressure from many different directions, including its value. Have a look at this article from SmartMoney:
Long seen as a thorn in Microsoft’s side, Linux is an operating system that is based on the ideas of freedom and collaboration. It opens up its code so programmers can add or change applications to suit their needs. By doing so, open source offers a level of customization that proprietary software like Windows, which keeps its code locked up, never had.
The third version of the GPL is another cause for a headache. The following article explains why it may force Microsoft’s core business to evolve as it gives place to Free software.
In my analysis, Microsoft will move away from selling technology in favor of going all SaaS (look for the Live… brand on everything from entertainment software to really cool new B2C stuff to Longhorn). The next decade for Microsoft is all about the experience according to Ray Ozzie.
The last emerging pain are Google and the Justice Department, which have returned to looking to Microsoft’s business practices.
Google argues that this feature violates a consent decree that monitors Microsoft’s behavior as part of its settlement with the U.S. government, which had accused the company of using its monopoly to harm competition by incorporating new features into its operating system at no additional costs.
Send this to a friend