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07.13.07

Did GPLv3 Intercept a Planned Patent Deal with Turbolinux?

Posted in America, Asia, GPL, Linspire, Microsoft, Novell, Open XML, Patent Covenant, Patents, Samba, Tivoization, Turbolinux, Xandros at 9:46 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

PCWorld has just published an article that stresses the importance of OpenDocument format, among other things such as opposition. The article strives to be balanced. The brow-raising part of the article is this:

Turbolinux was rumored to be considering signing a similar deal [to Novell's] before the GPLv3 release, but an agreement between the company and Microsoft never materialized.

Remember what we said when Turbolinux announced its involvement in the OOXML translators project? There was a lively rumour and a fair bit of speculation at the time. TurboLinux was an easy victim.

It appears as though the provisions of GPLv3 not only had Microsoft back away from Linux coupons in their deals with Xandros and Linspire; they may have also eliminated IP-related elements in their partnership with TurboLinux. If that is the case, GPLv3 is indeed effective. It is already doing its job as it’s protecting a mass defection into the choir that is paid to sing about intellectual property violations in Linux (no matter how hard they try to retract). Xandros and Novell did try to distance themselves from IP claims, unlike Linspire).

The GPLv3 is good not only because it prevents further manipulation of market perceptions (essentially achieved by ‘bribing’ Linux distributors), but it’s also good because it defends the consumer and the developer. Samba officially made its transition to GPLv3 just days ago. In the following audiocast, Jeremy Allison explains why Samba chose this new licence.

The software that enables Linux to act as a Windows file and print server is adopting the Free Software Foundation’s new license.

The duration of the audiocast is only a few minutes, but it covers the main points. Just to state the obvious again, Jeremy had no faith in Novell after their decision to sign a patent deal with Microsoft.

You may also wish to see the following short rant about Tivoization.

The music and movie industries as well as their helpers are marauding us and torturing even paid use with digital restrictions management (DRM). They obtain well enough money to do their own development. This is the way they should do it. And if they want something for free, then they need to contribute back.

Do-No-Evil Saturday: What’s GNU at Novell?

Posted in Identity Management, Interoperability, Interview, Marketing, Novell, SLES/SLED at 6:45 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Maybe it’s the effect of the summer holidays, but the past week has not been packed with news. When it comes to Novell, there are only a few items worth mentioning.

KDE has received financial support from Novell. The announcement had Intel mentioned as well.

Intel and Novell have each become corporate Patrons of KDE. Their exceptional financial commitment to the KDE e.V. helps the project with community events, infrastructure and developer meetings.

Elsewhere, aircraft engineers seem to have chosen clusters that are running SUSE Linux.

A powerful cluster solution from SGI is helping engineers accelerate the process of designing the largest helicopter in the U.S. military.

[...]

The system runs Novell SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 9.

Novell seems to have begun raving about a new Identity management success story. There is another one in a Canadian Web site.

Novell, meanwhile, announced last month the availability of an open-source information card selector that will allow users to manage their virtual identities across different platforms.

Novell had a guest appearance in the Indian press where it talked about interoperability.

The growth of Linux in the Asia Pacific is outpacing the market average.

As for some personal perspectives, Novell’s PR blog has referred to one. C|Net had an interview with Brad Nicholes, who is working at Novell.

I have a tremendous amount of respect for Brad. He was the voice of experience on Novell’s Open Source Review Board, having earned the distinction of “member” with the Apache Software Foundation.

The biggest news for Novell in the past week is probably Italy’s selection of SUSE Linux for its parliament. Sarcastically for sure, Mr. Asay comes up with the headline Italian Communists choose Novell’s SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop. I’m not too sure about this type of humour, but maybe it’s subjective.

Japan Chooses Openness, FSF Challenges OOXML, and South Africa to Decide on Document Formats (Corrected+Updated)

Posted in Africa, Asia, DRM, Europe, Microsoft, Open XML, OpenDocument, Petitions, Turbolinux at 12:40 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

We have recently lost focus of the Linux deals and found ourselves discussing some of their more worrisome impacts of these deals. Document format debates occupied a large number of the recent posts because they are very important. Microsoft strives to keep its cash cow alive by controlling the standard. it wants the Golden Wand. Recently it recruited a 4th Linux company to help it achieve this. Whether money exchanged hands or not (again?), we probably will never know.

The good news is that Japan has just expressed its support for a truly open document format. From the announcement:

The OpenDocument Format Alliance (ODF Alliance), the leading organization advocating for openness and accessibility to government documents and information, today congratulated Japan for adopting a policy under which government ministries and agencies will solicit bids from software vendors whose products support internationally recognized open standards.

Previously, government agencies could ask bidders to submit bids based on whether their products offered functions comparable to particular software suites. With the new interoperability framework, which takes effect immediately, the government will give preference to procuring products that adhere to open standards, and which interoperate easily with other software.

The situation in the United States is not quite the same. However, You can still make a difference in Massachusetts. As you may recall, because we mentioned this the other day, South Africa is currently looking at the appropriateness of Microsoft’s OpenXML. You can help them decide. Just remember to be polite. You can use or re-use some strong and valid arguments.

As Bailey emphasised, the issue at stake is not one of fighting against Microsoft, but rather fighting for the rights of the user to be able to access documents without them becoming obsolete.

Among those attendees were some other members of the committee and something of a strategy meeting developed, with ideas being shared as to how best to obtain community input.

What emerged was that bombarding the SABS with petitions would not benefit the cause and would merely further irritate those involved.

As we recently pointed out, Microsoft has strong relationships in the United Kingdom and it is using them for lobbying. Fortunately, the bias of the BBC did not escape the attention (or wrath) of the FSF, which has just published a good rebuttal.

After Microsoft announced it would work with the UK National Archives to help open old digital document formats, Georg Greve and Joachim Jakobs, of the Free Software Foundation Europe, question the US giant’s motives.

[...]

What happened: Microsoft asked the UK National Archives to invest in a solution that would grant access to their legacy data.

This whole scenario emerged when the BBC and National Archives published what appeared like Microsoft promotion. I called it a “publicity stunt” at the time. It seems to promoted Microsoft’s OOXML lockin under disguise. I later addressed and delivered some criticisms and evidence to back my stance.

Not all hope is lost. There are some encouraging developments at the BBC. Yesterday the Register published an item which indicates that the BBC no longer ignores us. It is willing to explains its decision to enforce the regime of Microsoft DRM and negotiate ways to proceed.

The BBC Trust has asked to meet open source advocates to discuss their complaints over the corporation’s Windows-only on demand broadband TV service, iPlayer.

[...]

Before the trust got in touch on Wednesday, OSC CEO Rick Timmis said: “Everything we’ve done in the trust’s direction has fallen on deaf ears. They’ve completely ignored us.”

Correction: previously, the title stated “Japan Chooses OpenDocument Format, FSF Challenges OOXML, and South Africa to Decide on Document Format”, but the situation in Japan isn’t so, yet. The title was thus corrected.

Update: I have just spotted something which looks rather ugly. It’s not truly a surprise because intent was announced some months ago.

On the face of it, Microsoft will have some ‘OOXML traps’ (or hooks) preinstalled on some consumer PCs. Think of it as a teaser, or what Microsoft called “craplets”. It puts Microsoft in a position of advantage that capitalises on an OEM chokehold (defended through retaliation tactics). Here is the gist:

Microsoft is shipping limited-use copies of Office 2007 with PCs in a try-before-you-buy scheme to seed the market with its latest suite and drive Windows server and client software sales.

Now, two observations are worth making here. Firstly, the trial version of Microsoft Office does not enable the user to save files in formats other than OOXML. Other options (save as/export) are greyed out. This essentially holds the user’s data hostage. The user data is captured in the universe of OOXML format. The second observation to make is that one of the most popular requests in Dell’s IdeaStorm is preinstallation of OpenOffice.org. Dell has so far refused to respond to this demand.

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