The United States patent and legal system has turned into a battlefield where companies and technology developers can be attacked. Open source and free software developers have historically ignored this secondary battlefield, focusing instead on the primary battlefield of development and proliferation of their project. This omission leaves open source projects and individual developers vulnerable to patent infringement lawsuits. By creating its own defensive patent portfolio as commercial companies do, the open source community can arm itself for this battle.
OIN definitely comes to mind here. That’s what everyone should have done. Novell, however, was too vain to only offer its portfolio to OIN (which is did). It took a shot at the trolls and then also shot itself in the foot when it signed a ‘protection’ deal and exchanged patents with Microsoft.
The following new article on the “strange bedfellows” describes how Microsoft and Novell liaised to compete. But who against? Each other? Probably not, they both fight against common rivals and Microsoft is likely to eliminate Novell when Novell’s hand is no longer useful. Microsoft uses Novell against Linux and Novell uses Microsoft against… well… GNU/Linux, apart from SUSE Linux — for now.
Here is Novell’s take on the relationship with Microsoft.
“There’s always that desire to do what’s best for the relationship, but I want to make sure what I’m doing is helping my company,” said Novell lab manager Suzanne Forsberg.
Good job, Novell. Great job. Not helping Linux, but only helping Novell at the expense of Linux. Patent deals are only good for Novell, and their benefit won’t last for much longer. How foolish a move.
Hopefully, Microsoft will stop giving Novell its ‘precious’ Linux ‘coupons’. Then, Novell will wake up and realise what a mess it has gotten itself into, along with others. Maybe Novell can still escape this deal somehow, or at least reduce the damage done.
It was less than a week ago that we complained about a pattern in eWeek. This pattern apparently continues to live on unaltered. Journalism is biased and unbalanced, so this ought to make everyone worried.
So to sum up – really, Mr Gilli [should be "Galli"], stop trying to make out there’s a major controversy and massive fighting amongst the Open Document Format advocates, because in reality there is none. The only thing which has happened is that a from what I can tell extremely minor participant in the Open Document Format committees has basically gone away in a hissy fit because they didn’t get their own way – that’s how I personally see it anyway.
An observation has just been made and it is particularly interesting. Quotes from Microsoft (on ODF) are aligned against the words of the Foundation as though they are conflicting and peer-balancing views. They are not. The Foundation wants funding from CIOs. Bashing ODF is one possibility for achieving this. Microsoft wants to maintain a proprietary format which is nothing but a matter of its financial interests (by its own admission). At the end of the day, as far as standards go, it’s all about the money. It is neither about the consumer’s needs, nor is it about the requirements set by governments.
We have already mentioned the ASUS Eee a while back. We talked about its uncomfortable technical assocation with Xandros. Ars Technica, among other high-profile publications, characterise Asustek’s choice of Xandros Linux as a loss to Microsoft. It’s not entirely the case however. Here’s what one of the most recent articles says:
Intel wins, and Microsoft loses
Thanks to its combination of Intel hardware and a non-bloated Linux install, reviewers found that Asus’s little laptop performs just as well as much larger and more expensive Windows notebooks. And the company spent enough time tweaking the unit’s default Linux distro that Windows users will supposedly feel right at home.
If you look closely, you’ll find that parts of the interface in this variant of Xandros were significantly changed. They almost perfectly mirror the looks of Windows XP. The artwork’s similarity makes the resemblance uncanny (see this video and judge for yourself). This makes the software used sensitive not only to software patents — however negligible they may be — but to other types of ‘violations’. What were they thinking?
Asustek decided that the Windows operating system was out of the question. The licensing costs would have been the most expensive part of the computer. So it decided to use Linux and build its own user interface, and that became the most time-consuming part of the project.
It is clear, based on another product from Asus, that the company can handle other distributions of Linux or even roll its own. Just consider this recently-unveiled product for example. It doesn’t use Xandros. I know this because I’ve inquired with sources that are close to the company.
”Asustek ought to re-consider its selection process and choice of this KDE-based distribution.“Sadly enough for the Eee, Asustek chose Xandros Linux to work with. Xandros is among those that send Microsoft royalties for the use of Linux (probably per units that is sold, which contradicts the ideology of Free software). Xandros was virtually ‘bribed’ by Microsoft to play along with the ‘mythical patent plot’. Xandros betrayed the very same people that gave it 20+ years of work (GNU and Linux code).
Asustek ought to re-consider its selection process and choice of this KDE-based distribution. The next models of the Eee will be out early next year. There’s time to accommodate underlying changes. There are many other (and better) options if the company insists on using Linux. These options are likely to be less expensive, too. Microsoft has already given discounts to ‘fight’ this Linux threat, but that’s not surprising. Just look what happened in Nigeria last week.
Whether the Eee is worth buying or not, that’s up to the average consumers, who probably don’t know (and could not care less) about the behavior of Xandros. The least one can do is making all this information public and educating/advising buyers. There are several other low-cost laptops that come with Linux preinstalled. None of them (with the exception of SUSE in Dell China and SUSE in Lenovo) is plagued by the ‘Microsoft Windows/patent tax’. Definitely not OLPC, which serves a charitable cause.
”Therefore the core of Gnome is now Mono dependent, just as I predicted it would eventually become.“As you may or may not know, Novell’s Beagle search tool is built on Mono technology, and Yelp is Gnome’s built-in help system (i.e. a core part of Gnome). Therefore the core of Gnome is now Mono dependent, just as I predicted it would eventually become.
It’s hardly surprising that this infestation comes to us via Novell, since Miguel de Icaza is deeply connected to all three entities; Novell, Gnome and Mono. And again as you may or may not know, Icaza is a hair’s breadth away from being a Microsoft MVP in his activities, regularly attending Microsoft developer conferences and private meetings. Indeed, it would not at all surprise me if de Icaza had MSCE certification by now.
I’m going to blog this, but before I do, I’ll need some confirmation. Specifically: Every build is unique to the build host, and this version of Yelp is built by a third party who maintains recent versions of Firefox for Fedora Core 6 (Fedora’s /official/ Firefox release on FC6 is stuck on the 1.x branch. They only maintain Firefox 2.x for Fedora 7 and above).
Since Yelp is also dependent on Firefox (it uses Gecko) then a Firefox update pulls in a Yelp update by dependency, and the version of Yelp required to utilise Firefox 2.x support libraries is different from the official 1.x release for FC6. Thus the maintainer must also rebuild and release newer versions of Yelp on his repo, to satisfy that dependency.
The only Fedora 7 system that I have is a headless server, and thus devoid of many things like Firefox and Yelp, but I might easily assume that the official Fedora 7 builds of Firefox and Yelp do also pull in libbeagle as a dependency. I’ll have to verify.
It is possible that this third party has enabled a configure option that is not the default. Even so, I am deeply troubled by this discovery, since it is at least suggestive of the future direction that Gnome intends to follow – just as I suspected – with Mono fully integrated into Gnome. The mere fact that such a configure option is even there at all, would suggest that there is a concerted effort to poison Gnome with Mono at the core developer level.
I’ll be contacting the repo maintainer today, to ask him what’s going on, but I suspect he’ll be blissfully ignorant of the problem, if he’s running an automated buildsystem. I’ll also check the SRPM; the spec file may have comments that reveal the truth.
As a side note; I would just add that this repo maintainer is also in violation of Mozilla Corporation’s trademark policy, since he is distributing a modified build of Firefox that retains the Firefox® trademarked name and logo. Between encumbered components like Mozilla products and Mono, the so-called Free Software tree is being slowly poisoned, and there doesn’t seem to be many who care this is happening.
My instincts tell me that this is a very sad day for the Gnome project; the turning point at which Gnome essentially became Microsoft property.
It seems like it’s getting harder and harder to avoid Microsoft IP, thanks to people like you and de Icaza. Thankfully there are those who are prepared to do the work to undo the damage you’re doing.
And even if Gnome /does/ become infested with Mono, that’s no big deal, right? After all, Mono /is/ “Free Software”, isn’t it? And it has /nothing/ whatever to do with Microsoft, and I’m sure Microsoft /will/ keep their non-legally binding “Reasonable And Non-Discriminatory” “promise”, right Jeff. Microsoft would /never/ dream of using their IP claims to undermine Free Software, now would they? Nor would they ever make exclusionary deals to “protect” /one/ GNU/Linux vendor from .NET patent litigation, but not others … right?
So once you’ve finished poisoning the Free Software tree with encumbered Microsoft technology, just make sure to send me the invoice, so I know who to write the cheque out to. I wouldn’t want to be caught running an “illegal” GNU/Linux distribution without paying Microsoft the correct “protection” fee, now would I?
“Nothing in life is to be feared. It is only to be understood.” –Marie Curie
An anonymous reader contributes the following piece of analysis.
Microsoft benefits from standard bodies, then breaks/drops the standards
It reminds me too much of the way Microsoft has recently used ECMA in order to advance their competing office format and tried to avoid/derail adoption of the (truly) open standard already approved by ISO: ODF/ISO26300.
We have covered Microsoft’s perversion of Web standards many times before and Novell’s role in this mess is made most apparent because of their Silverlight support. They lend Microsoft a hand and essentially serve as a GPL proxy at the same time.
When it comes to ‘extension’ and corruption of well-established consensus, it’s not just the Web, let alone OOXML. Think about HD/JPEG. As we have argued in the past, Microsoft will possibly have MS-DRM ‘addons’ as soon as this direction suits its financial interests. The same goes for XPS, so let’s keep our eyes open.
Dennis Crouch reports that patent filings in the Eastern District of Texas are, or soon will be, waning.
I strongly disagree. First, the statistics that Dennis reports are strongly to the contrary. He notes that almost one in six patent cases in the US filed in the last two months were filed in Eastern Texas. In fact, the number of cases filed in 2007 in EDTX has already shattered all previous records. As I will soon report, there have been 309 patent cases filed in EDTX this year already, through 304 days. CDCA is a distant second.*
The protection of trademarks is always a tough issue at ICANN meetings – whether Delta Airlines get preference over Delta Faucet where some kind of “delta” domain is concerned is a typical problem, since the domain space leans heavily toward abbreviated, or at least shortened, forms.
The monopoly abusers are at it again. They just won’t let sanity be restored.
The new patent rules, which were criticized as stifling American innovation by limiting the scope of patent protection to inventors, were set to go into effect on November 1, 2007. On the eve of the rules’ implementation, in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline won a preliminary injunction against the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (“PTO”), temporarily blocking the enactment of the new patent rules. The patent rules were largely criticized in solicited commentary to the PTO because the new rules would increase the cost of seeking patent protection and limit the rights of applicants.
Microsoft’s mythical patents, which it claims are infringed on by Linux, give no reason for hesitation. We all knows it's bogus and strategic. There may be an exception however. A certain someone, whose name ought not to be mentioned (ad hominem attacks to be avoided), mimics Windows. Here he is talking (in Spanish) about software patents (not for the first time).