08.12.07

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When Management and Investors Betray Free Software and Corrupt Honest Reporting

Posted in Finance, GNU/Linux, Novell, Oracle, Red Hat, SCO, Ubuntu at 1:06 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“Money corrupts”

Brand name variations can make a lot of difference. I have been a SuSE user, but never a SUSE/SLED/Opensuse user. YaST aside, SuSE was once a truly Free software-oriented project with positive spirit behind the company. With Free software in mind, the company was worth tens of millions. Free software was an asset. The other day, Jeremy Allison revealed that an unnamed company had offered his $40 million for Samba, but he declined. He refused to sell out and give up on his mission. On the contrary, CUPS was sold to Apple. So, is Free software a statement against monetary value? Of course not. Freedom is not associated with cost. When exploited, however, its value can be gamed.

SuSE was all about Free software. Novell, on the other hand, had deep proprietary roots. Its mindset has not evolved sufficiently. On several occasions we said that Novell’s management, which is pressured by investors, gives the project as bad name (unless it is a product, not a project).

This sentiment and this issue is not unique to Novell. In fact, several companies such as Mozilla come under fire for similar reasons.

Perhaps it’s inevitable that community-driven development, maintenance, and support will reduce markets for proprietary software up and down all of the stacks. Perhaps the most successful projects will have the strong support of businesses.

Do you want to rely on their goodwill to allow you to use, study, and redistribute software as you see fit? Are you willing to take the risk that they will encourage a healthy commons which allows you to use your data as you see fit?

There are open source companies, there are mixed source companies, and there are those whose products are truly proprietary, although they might mount them atop an open source stack. Canonical (think Ubuntu) has some proprietary software, Red Hat still thrives in open source and services, and Novell does a little bit of both. And then there are companies like Oracle…

Every now and then, a very large software company will throw a bone at the community, whose mindshare it hopes to buy. Oracle is a good example of this because it has contributed some GPL-licensed code. As announced last week:

Oracle Corp. on Wednesday announced that several of its open-source projects — including a file system and a systems management tool — will be available under the GNU General Public License version 2 (GPLv2).

How far can a company go however? MySQL is making headlines at the moment because of its new treatment of source code. MySQL is not on the verge of running out of business. In fact, MySQL is preparing for a very large IPO. So what can possibly justify walking away from Freedom and goodwill? What is it that gets companies scared of the GPLv3 which, among several other things, forbids Tiviozation? Have a look.

The discussion ends with a look at the GPL v3 and the importance, or not, of the Apple iPhone.

He closes by saying the the lawyers are the winners in this scenario. You can still see a battle between corporate greed for money or control and the needs of the consumer that requires independence, freedom, and low cost. The danger here is that developers might be lured into a financial agenda. This is another interesting discussion about this in the new Web site of Don Parris.

The team at GNU/Linux Matters have clarified their comments about the venerable Linux.org site. Their position is that the site is too commercialized and outdated to be of much use, especially to the newcomers it is supposed to help.

There are very few sites that have not yet been tempted and jumped on the bandwagon of commence, but how long will it last? The media, just like software, still seems to be corrupted by the money. If you don’t believe this, watch how a banned journalist returns to publishing corporate tosh from SCO.

Maureen O’Gara, that intrepid American technology [sic] journalist [sic], took a swipe at Judge Kimball’s ruling in SCO v. Novell. And she did it behind the “.NETDJ News Desk” byline on the cutting edge Sys-Con website, Open Source version. (If you want the entire article, Google for it. I refuse to provide a link.

[...]

And you thought Maureen had been banned from Sys-Con, didn’t you?

More public relations placements in the media is what you might find in Sys-Con then. The “Get the Facts” ads there give it all away, don’t they?

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