The following fragment of text from a new interview ought to serve as a quick lesson for Novell.
[Q:] Everybody in the Linux scene assumes that when one vendor competes on the basis of legal fear, uncertainty and doubt, programmers are more likely to work for other vendors — since Red Hat has been fairly clean FUD-wise, is this helping to attract talent?
[For Red Hat:] I think that focusing on FUD is not something that resonates the core values in a lot of the open source software community. I think that [ Linux columnist] Jeremy Allison said that his contributions would not support FUD efforts. So, I think our efforts and our mission are not attracting FUD. This helps to attract developers to us. Our developers want to contribute to our work and to keep their eye on open source, as opposed to participating in these FUD campaigns. I think that that is the thing that our CEO always says: “keep your eye on the customer.”
Justin Steinman has been spreading Red Hat FUD and arguably Ron Hovsepian as well. In the former case, it sometimes makes you whose side Novell is on; is it Linux or it is Microsoft? Novell truly likes Novell, but does it favour Microsoft’s crusade against Red Hat and others when it takes a participatory/idle stance? One thing is for sure: Novell has become as selfish [1, 2, 3] and arrogant [1, 2] as Microsoft. █
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There’s no forget and forgive until intimidation ends
There is this new article about open source software in the market and one bit of it brings back memories:
Open source is the biggest shift in the market this decade and market shifts are what the old guard hate. It destabilizes their ability to set high prices at will. Tim O’Reilly recently remarked:
Does Microsoft’s claim that free and open source software infringes on 235 Microsoft patents remind anyone of Joseph McCarthy’s famous claim about communists at the State Department? Whether or not it’s true, citing such a number without providing any detail is such a classic FUD move that, to me at least, it just makes Microsoft look ridiculous. More recently, it’s reminiscent of the bluster of the SCO case against IBM.
As they say you can’t be half pregnant and you can’t be half open source and half proprietary either. Open source companies partnering with Microsoft are siding with a company trying to kill open source – the reason they’re in business. The open source community recognizes this and these firms risk becoming outcasts. In a separate article and blog – “The Open Source Barometer” – I wrote about the impact of partnering with Microsoft and posed the question, “Is partnering with Microsoft good business for an open source company?”
That exactly is the type of question Novell ought to be asking itself. Judging by history and knowing Microsoft’s motives (they want all open source software to be run on Windows, as Steve Ballmer stated last month), Novell is making a huge mistake. It’s all about Microsoft and Windows, not about Microsoft and Novell (nor Windows and Linux).
These talks about FUD bring back thoughts about the legality of it. Microsoft is implicitly compared to SCO in the text above. While the FUD is issued in the United States, it is bound to have impact on the whole world and it may also conflict with foreign laws, as the following old piece suggests.
Here is a translation.
“Ballmer’s assertion must be viewed as the typical Microsoft approach to alienate the market by spreading rumors or threats”, said the official representative of the Linux related companies in Germany in a statement made in Berlin on November 27th 2006. “This is obviously part of a PR campaign related to the market launch of Windows Vista….If Microsoft cannot show evidence to support their claims, then they are outside the boundaries of German competition regulations. We call upon Microsoft to either prove their case, or to refrain from making such unfounded statements. Furthermore, we call upon European Politicians to protect open competition in Europe. In particular, small and mid sized companies, which form the majority of European Linux service providers, need to be protected from tedious legal disputes resulting from pretended assertions of Microsoft.”
It remains to be seen if countries outside the United States will take action and actually put an end to Capone-like saber-rattling tactics. █
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There are quite a few people whose role in the recent developments is that of a bystander. It is a passive role, not an active one. Among those who feel hurt, we feel obliged to take an active role. Some of those who are hurt have to pretend to be happy or apathetic because they are tied to a company’s payroll. Others have to accept changes in the market. These are changes which are absorbed by volunteers, paid developers, end users, and customers. Here are two such examples.
See the folowing article and assess its content briefly. Pay particular and special attention the bits at the bottom which talk about OpenSUSE. I too used to help the OpenSUSE project, but the impact of the deal was too much to bear and accept. It was worth abandoning and making compromises by criticising a decision which had been foolishly made by the management. No advice or opinion was sought which actually involved the community. It was only the Big Egos at Novell that counted.
From the point of view of a developer community, this was unacceptable. It was a betrayal, without a doubt. I know this because I was there, among the SUSE fans. I also saw the reaction from other groups and it was not pleasant. SUSE’s reputation among the Free software enthusiasts was bound to get worse.
Novell has just tried to separate OpenSUSE from Novell. It is using a board’s affiliation as some sort of a PR stunt and a strategic decision. We covered this last week and on Saturday as well. My guess is that Novell tries to elevate levels of participation in OpenSUSE because that’s the distribution Novell feeds on. It hopes that it can hide in the fog while others do all the labour. Later it will sneak out of the fog and grab the free labour (yes, it’s free because many volunteers are still involved).
Someone really ought to fork SLED or OpenSUSE. OpenSUSE is a decent distro, but it’s ruined in Novell’s hands (Mono IP, patents, etc.). As for SLED|S, Novell strongly resists letting its source code go, which says a lot about its hesitant approach towards open source, even as far as SUSE Linux alone is concerned.
”ASUS is caught in the middle of this because it isn’t known why it chose Xandros.“Remember the Eee? That’s the device which can keep Xandros floating for a while. It was roughly 6 months ago that Xandros had layoffs, which they conveniently named “staffing adjustments”.
ASUS is caught in the middle of this because it isn’t known why it chose Xandros. It’s also a bit of a mystery how long they have worked together on this device, which they first unveiled in an Intel conference, if I recall correctly.
To be fair, the unit is said to be hacker-friendly, so one could install another distribution on it (with iffy support nonetheless). Having said that, the sales of Eee units contributes to the bottom line of Xandros and it probably includes the Windows tax (via Xandros), so mixed feelings remain. Microsoft might actually be paid for each Eee unit that is sold.
ASUS should really pull out all that source code and artwork, then graft it and pour it onto another KDE-based GNU/Linux distribution, preferably one which is not associated with Microsoft’s mythical patents in any way. This may never happen, but there is always hope. The same goes for an SUSE fork. █
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The following news story might actually relate nicely to our coverage of OEM tax/chokehold and replacement of that eroding tax with Linux 'patent tax'.
An appeals court on Friday rejected Microsoft Corp.’s challenge to a $142 million trial loss over patents on a way to prevent software piracy.
“Substantial evidence supports the jury’s verdict” that Microsoft infringed two valid patents owned by closely held z4 Technologies Inc., the appeals court in Washington, D.C., ruled.
“There’s something about it that strikes us as, ‘How’d that happen?’ ” said Andrew Culbert, chief Microsoft patent counsel. He said Microsoft probably will ask the court to reconsider.
Also on the issue of patents, here is a good new rebuttal to Bill Hilf’s arguments in the DInformationWeek article.
Page 3 is the best part of the interview. Mr. Hilf talks about having a “map” (which wasn’t correct, as Information Week pointed out); he then adds:
Classically, our preferred plan is to license our technology in a very proactive and productive way versus litigate.
Which doesn’t answer the questions: what, are, these, patents?
Mr. Hilf, please tell us. We all want to know. Please.
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A solution to document formats and standards possibly relies on politicians
According to this new writeup from Andy Updegrove, Obama has pledged his support for open document formats.
The fact of the matter is that I have no idea, but apparently he (or his handlers) believe that open formats are important enough not only to be used in the debate and the full nine-page policy statement available at the Obama Web site, but in the much briefer press release as well.
”The OOXML crimes (lies, briberies, etc.) are well recorded in this Web.“It has been said many time before (here and elsewhere) that Microsoft desperately craves ISO’s blessing [1, 2] in order for a proprietary format (OOXML) to be considered ‘open’ by those insufficiently technical, or by those who must abide by the regulations, which prescribe open standards (whatever the requirements and criteria may be).
This clearly explains why Microsoft was willing to take huge risks and break the rules (Microsoft will deny this using spin doctors, which is something we will illustrate in a moment). The OOXML frauds (lies, briberies, etc.) are well recorded in this Web. We will refer back to them occasionally in the future.
Dirty tricks do not escape without a response. Lawsuits are apparently on their way, but one ought worry though. A lawsuit against Microsoft is also a request for trouble if history’s lesson is anything to go by. If a guy was to face Microsoft’s wrath, would Microsoft bully him out of his job like Peter Quinn and others? There is possibly another guy in Finland, who was a victim of similar treatment.
I have seen a lot of dirty tricks being used by Microsoft. They are using all kinds of proxies and smear campaigns (that’s how they operate secretly before they are caught red-handed). Read the interview with Peter Quinn for example. You’ll soon get a taste of it. Whether our site is a victim or not it would be hard to tell, but there are prior (and almost identical) cases . I might write about it separately in a moment.
Never, ever, ever forget why Novell supports OOXML. It was very obvious at the time and the figure below says it all.
In some arbitrary search for information I came across the following post from Tim Bray.
Rick, I can’t believe that you’re pushing back on the central news story here; this is the most corrupt and politicized standards process I’ve seen in the two decades or so I’ve been mixed up with standards. It’s a real, legitimate, big, news story.
Be sure to see Rick’s reply and remember who he is. He is one among those few people who call themselves “independent” individuals, but Microsoft paid him to edit Wikipedia in Microsoft’s favour (we covered this before). If you do some research about his profile and history, you will also find that Microsoft also flies him around the world and he attends Microsoft events. In the thread above you will find him defending Microsoft not just for technical things, but also for ethical things. But people are not foolish. This is a trivial case of following the money.
It is absolutely fascinating how Microsoft buys itself apologists. In my eyes, that in itself is fraudulent behaviour (never mind the OOXML frauds at hand). Then, come to consider lobbying, which is a polite term for legalised manipulation, harassment and sometime even bribery and bullying (recall the Massachusetts story and also the one from Florida). Rewriting laws and supporting politicians is a way to ensure the government merely serves a corporation, so returning to the start of this post, can Obama make a difference? Will he?
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