08.12.07

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OpenSUSE Developers Still Appear to be Microsoft/Novell Victims

Posted in GNU/Linux, GPL, Microsoft, Novell, OpenSUSE, Red Hat, Windows at 9:02 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Several months ago we covered and addressed some concerns which surround OpenSUSE. As Groklaw puts it, Microsoft might be exploiting OpenSUSE developers.

When Mundie said that Microsoft wants to build a bridge to Open Source businesses like the bridge it has to academia, then, have I misunderstood or is he saying he wants FOSS to become, instead of a competitor, more like a kind of cheap subsidiary that innovates principally for Microsoft’s benefit? Microsoft gets innovation and code and makes money from it. Maybe some patents you didn’t notice, too. Linux vendors on the bridge make some money. You get nothing.

Last week we apparently saw some OpenSUSE folks ducking GPLv3 questions. The saga continues with some headbutting in Slashdot.

Relevant links: [1, 2]

Emacsuser says:

The OP just took an opportunity to take a swipe out of NovoSOFT. The comments are in the context of a moderator on OpenSuSE forum saying that it’s just the kernel that is valuable.

He has some more of his own opinions to add (permission was given to post the E-mail in public):

I don’t think GPL 3 (or 2) will make the slightest difference to the ‘covenant’, (unless MS wan’t to shake the litigation tree) as the wording is so carefully vague and MS has a get-out-clause. The main effect is to paint non-SuSE code as being unsafe. Novell lawyers must have been aware of this. Given the nature of the ‘Novell license’ and now this it begs the question as to where Novell stands in relation to Open Source and the GPL.

Novell wants it both ways, a fully paid up supporter of Open Source and a company that engages in closed restrictive contracts like the interoperability one. NetWare was all but defunct which is why they moved to SuSE Linux. Their success is built in a large part by fully GPL code.

Strictly speaking, the Novell license is surely a violation. That in combination with the ‘covenant’ makes it doubly unsafe. I think there are also other companies that offers ‘mixed’ media. Is this strictly legal. It just makes the case for going totally GPL. With the added clauses to OpenSUSE it makes it next to useless, for the developers. Why would anyone want to write to OpenSuSE if they can’t get paid for it and don’t own their own code. This is a major issue, what do you think.

So to summarise: `you can only use our code in house and licensed per processor and you can’t sell it on and you might be sued if you use someone else’s code`. Doesn’t sound much like the GPL does it?

You may get an article out of this ‘The lockin and legal implications of using GPL and proprietary code’. It’s obvious why people are so touchy on the subject. ‘please don’t notice while we totally dilute the meaning and the spirit of Open Source’. I mean a large part of the reason to use Red Hat or Novell was to avoid getting screwed over AGAIN, similar to what happened with MS.

Other questions pondered:

The issue I see and not just for Novell is the mix of GPL and proprietary code and what this means to developers working in it.

01. What are the implications for the GPL in Novell type licenses?

02. Who else has such licenses?

03. Does such licenses breach the GPL, in spirit if not in fact?

04. Would it be a good idea for the FSF to go after such companies (NO)?

05. Why the hostility to the FSF on openSuSE forum? (“Funny, but when I first read the FSF rant this morning” — elsewhere KV)

We would love to hear your thoughts, particularly if you are associated with OpenSUSE and therefore can clarify.

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