11.26.07

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GNOME and Novell: The FUD Never Existed (Updatedx2)

Posted in GNOME, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Mono, Open XML at 10:33 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

FUD is an acronym which stands for fear, uncertainty, and doubt. You probably know this already. The term FUD is typically used when one instills fear, uncertainty, and doubt in the minds of people using lies, i.e. using false information. We do not believe that FUD is being spread here, not by the de facto definition of the term.

”We don’t write down speculations as though they are facts.“When solid proof is absent, we make decent proposals, speculations, or reach out for feedback. We don’t write down speculations as though they are facts. Rather, we present things which we do not feel comfortable with and make a clear distinction. We present things that seem a little suspicious, or even too ‘coincidental’. We use these as evidence that may or may not support our hypotheses.

Jeff has written a good blog item to clarify things about Novell and GNOME. We never stated (but only wondered) that there is a tighter-than-necessary connection between GNOME and Novell. NOOOXML wondered the same thing and posed this as a question about the relationship.

You are encouraged to read Jeff’s detailed and honest writing on this issue. It alleviates many doubts. I can only spot two facts which strike a nerve and I wish to quote them for future reference (somewhat of a mental note). The first is this:

Interestingly, Miguel was actually the President of the GNOME Foundation until only a few weeks ago, but we have been asking him for years to send a resignation letter, and recently nailed down a plan to finally get his resignation and appoint the President and Vice-President from the directors. As of the last Foundation Board meeting, that process is complete.

It’s important to point out that during this time, the Foundation Chairman was capably performing the role of President, and Miguel was not participating or interacting in GNOME Foundation activities or administration at all.

This is news to me and I cannot help but think of Miguel’s remarks on OOXML (“superb standard”) and the timing (the lack of confidence inside GNOME began a few weeks ago also). Jeff assured us that Miguel was somewhat of a passive president at this stage, so we must assume that he had absolutely no involvement in policies pertaining to OOXML in the GNOME Foundation.

Moving on, there is another bit which seemed a tad interesting.

I sat down with Nat Friedman at GUADEC in order to talk about a few things that were on my mind regarding Novell and GNOME. I had a very clear three-point agenda that I wanted to go through:

1. The relationship and agreement with Microsoft.
2. Novell’s approach to feature development and ‘code dumping’.
3. GNOME and Mono.

We didn’t end up talking about the first two points, because Nat was extremely focused on the Mono issue, and whichever way I tried to lead him through my thought narrative, it would quickly come back to Mono.

I cannot help wondering why point 1 was not discussed at all. Maybe it’s just my paranoia instincts. Nevertheless, it’s something to keep in mind, especially because Nat Friedman used to discredit us and he also defended the pact with Microsoft.

Finally, one thing worth adding is that if any FUD is being spread, then one ought to look at:

  1. Novell, which uses FUD against its Linux competitors
  2. Various parties including Novell, who question the credibility of this site using vague or empty accusations

Remember that there are (at least) two sides in every argument. We too are victims of FUD sometimes (or “muck-raking”, as Jeff calls it) .

Update: we have only just received valuable feedback from Repre Hendor. If you were to ask me, I would honestly say that it does not look good. Here is the comment (left in our Web site), which I will quote in full:

Roy said:

“[Miguel] actively supports OOXML and he is still very influential in GNOME (no matter how hard you try to deny this).”

Jeff said:

“Miguel is not influential in GNOME. I deny it because it’s the truth [....] If anything, these days, Miguel is seen as an irrelevant embarrassment among the majority of GNOME developers. But he is still respected as our founder.”

According to the minutes of the Gnome Foundation Board meeting happeing on 15th of November 2007 (and published a week later, that was: last Thursday), for topic ’4)’ it is noted:

GNOME President

Miguel has officially resigned as the GNOME President.

Uh huh. So up until a week ago, Miguel officially was the GNOME President?

Looks like Jeff himself thinks Miguel is an irrelevant embarrassment to GNOME, so that he even avoids mentioning this ‘hot news’ which reached the public eye only 4 days ago (even though it could have served to strengthen his point).

Why did Miguel resign? Was he put under pressure to do so? Was it because of the continuous negative wave of publicity he is causing for Gnome (see his infamous “OOXML is a superb standard” stance…)?

Update #2: I’ve just received a headsup that informs me of another rebuttal to Jeff’s latest blog post. The strong reaction is summarised as follows:

Well, toute compte fait, I don’t see in which way or to which extent of the imagination is the cited blog post supposed to end the so-called FUD with regards to GNOME, Novell and Mono.

It’s nothing more but a clumsy PR attempt.

I’ve also been sent this one, which is equally harsh.

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21 Comments

  1. Ploum said,

    November 27, 2007 at 9:39 am

    Gravatar

    As a long time GNOME follower and admirer, I must confirm that Miguel is not really anymore part of the GNOME community (nor is Nat).

    Their ghosts still are there but they don’t do anything related to GNOME, they never interact with GNOME people (at least in an official and visible way). Most GNOME newcomers don’t even know who they are.

    Instead, Miguel is working very hard on Mono. Most of the gnome groupies didn’t even know he was still president of something. And maybe he was not aware himself !

    I agree that there is maybe a communication problem here. We can even imagine that Miguel was too proud to not be the president anymore (GNOME is his little baby after all). We can think that everybody was too respectful to say to Miguel : “You are not a president anymore”. But, seriously, a paranoid conspiracy is the most complicated explanation I’ve ever seen for such little thing. Ocam’s Razor talking.

  2. eet said,

    November 27, 2007 at 10:28 am

    Gravatar

    “a paranoid conspiracy is the most complicated explanation I’ve ever seen for such little thing. Ocam’s Razor talking”

    Finally. A voice of sanity and reason.

    Note: comment has been flagged for arriving from an incarnation of a known (eet), pseudonymous, forever-nymshifting, abusive Internet troll that posts from open proxies and relays around the world.

  3. !e§$e§$t343 said,

    November 27, 2007 at 10:29 am

    Gravatar

    “But, seriously, a paranoid conspiracy is the most complicated explanation I’ve ever seen for such little thing. Ocam’s Razor talking”

    Finally. A voice of sanity and reason.

    Note: comment has been flagged for arriving from a known, pseudonymous, nymshifting, abusive Internet troll

  4. Roy Schestowitz said,

    November 27, 2007 at 1:06 pm

    Gravatar

    Ploum, I have enormous respect for Miguel’s work and I used GNOME when I was as young as 18, if I recall correctly. To set the record straight, I think that Miguel is a brilliant and talented programmer. I am extremely sad to find the direction he has taken, however, when he defended an abusive monopoly against the European Commission, among other things.

  5. Caperizita Colorá said,

    November 27, 2007 at 3:20 pm

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    …and OOXML in the Mexican standardization committee as the best Microsoft defendant against the open standard ODF (ISO 26300), and Silverlight everywhere against the wannabe open standard PDF (ISO DIS 32000) or the open PDF/A (ISO 19005), and .NET everywhere also against the open standard Java…

    Is this all not enough?

    Is there still people blind enough not to see that Miguel is just a Microsoft mercenary?

    Miguel: Thanks for continue trying to split the community!
    (First step was to create another free desktop just the next month after his interview as applicant in Microsoft…)

    Microsoft: Continue trying to divide and conquer. You will just win some extra time… Resistance is futile… ;-)

  6. Roy Schestowitz said,

    November 27, 2007 at 5:16 pm

    Gravatar

    I never realised the proximity between the interview and the announcement until you mentioned it. I know about (and wrote about) Miguel’s correspondence with Richard Stallman and the plans that he had after the interview with Microsoft.

    I found this:

    “KDE was started in Oct 16 1996. Gnome was, if I remember correctly, around May 1997?”

    http://groups.google.com/group/comp.os.linux.x/browse_thread/thread/3353b345b58457ce/28b89183dc2ec19f?lnk=st

    “In summer of 1997, he was interviewed by Microsoft for a job…”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miguel_de_icaza

    I’m just making mental notes ‘out aloud’ here, but maybe they’ll prove handy in the future.

  7. 2234e534e4355t6546 said,

    November 27, 2007 at 5:22 pm

    Gravatar

    You belong into a room with soft, white walls…

    Can you spell W-I-T-C-H-H-U-N-T?

    Note: comment has been flagged for arriving from a known, pseudonymous, nymshifting, abusive Internet troll

  8. Jeff Waugh said,

    November 27, 2007 at 8:37 pm

    Gravatar

    The “valuable feedback” noted in your first update, ie. the issue about Miguel’s presidency, was in fact entirely described and linked to in my post (which was the catalyst for this story). It was not new information by any stretch of the imagination.

  9. Jeff Waugh said,

    November 27, 2007 at 8:39 pm

    Gravatar

    Uh, and now that I read your article again, you actually called this out and quoted it yourself. Bizarre.

  10. Roy Schestowitz said,

    November 27, 2007 at 9:32 pm

    Gravatar

    I’m not sure what you mean by this.

    Anyway, what the update shows is a misalignment in terms of the stories being told:

    Jeff: “…Miguel was actually the President of the GNOME Foundation until only a few weeks ago”

    Repre:

    According to the minutes of the Gnome Foundation Board meeting happeing on 15th of November 2007 (and published a week later, that was: last Thursday), for topic ‘4)’ it is noted:

    GNOME President

    Miguel has officially resigned as the GNOME President.

    Uh huh. So up until a week ago, Miguel officially was the GNOME President?

    Looks like Jeff himself thinks Miguel is an irrelevant embarrassment to GNOME, so that he even avoids mentioning this ‘hot news’ which reached the public eye only 4 days ago (even though it could have served to strengthen his point).

    That’s just what’s so suspicious. It almost as though someone is trying to hide something.

  11. Jeff Waugh said,

    November 27, 2007 at 10:22 pm

    Gravatar

    There’s only something suspicious here if you’re actively looking to make something suspicious of it.

    If you asked for a simple explanation, you’d get one. The problem is, you’re not here to do anything constructive, you’re here to find anything you possibly can to create suspicion and division.

    Despite the fact that you didn’t make any reasonable attempt to ask what happened here — and I do suggest that you show some reasonableness and do this in future, because you’re doing a disservice to the community by approaching all of these issues with such negativity — I’ll describe it:

    Miguel provided a resignation letter a few weeks ago, in according to a plan I described on the GNOME Foundation mailing list a couple of months ago, and we reported this and our appointment of the new President and VP in our minutes of the first board meeting held after his resignation.

    You’ll note that nothing was hidden. The plan to do this was published to the GNOME community, the outcome of the completed plan was published to the GNOME community.

    I think any reasonable person who was not looking to create controversy and suspicion would see there is nothing particularly interesting about our actions in this regard at all. Just open, transparent process.

    I look forward to seeing how you try to squeeze controversy and suspicion out of this issue next.

  12. Roy Schestowitz said,

    November 27, 2007 at 10:40 pm

    Gravatar

    One issue that you have not yet addressed is the interesting timing of Miguel’s departure.

  13. Ed Landaveri said,

    November 27, 2007 at 10:44 pm

    Gravatar

    Roy, hats of to you and all the persons involved on this project. I know you’re criticized for telling the truth. They might say anything they want against you and the site but they can’t cover the sun with a finger. Truth hurts! That’s why they react that way. Like you, Caperizita Colora, and millions around the globe am sad at the direction Miguel took, but we do acknowledge that he is just a Judas Novell employee. A mercenary who will attack the community for a few coins they might get. Remember Truth always prevails. Just keep the site because of sites like this the community never will be on its knees. Keep up the good work!

  14. Jeff Waugh said,

    November 27, 2007 at 10:54 pm

    Gravatar

    One issue that you have not yet addressed is the interesting timing of Miguel’s departure.

    As outlined in the plan I published on the GNOME Foundation list, we asked for his resignation letter (as we have many times over the years, by the way), we pestered, and Miguel finally wrote the letter which had to be done as a matter of process. We simply formalised what has already been in practice for years now.

    There is absolutely nothing of suspicion here. You should do your research and demonstrate a responsibility the the community you purport to serve.

  15. Roy Schestowitz said,

    November 27, 2007 at 11:06 pm

    Gravatar

    As outlined in the plan I published on the GNOME Foundation list, we asked for his resignation letter (as we have many times over the years, by the way)

    I am relieved to hear this. Just one minor thing (sorry, it’s a pet peeve of mine because I like to clearly distinguish between claims and factual evidence): Could you please produce evidence to make me 100% confident? A URL? Maybe you can forward me an E-mail (you have my address)?

    I only ask for this because later on you can have other companies or people or communities denying it, in which case you’re left with conflicting views, but no hard evidence. I’m thinking about the SCO-BayStar-Microsoft connection, for example.

    …we pestered, and Miguel finally wrote the letter which had to be done as a matter of process. We simply formalised what has already been in practice for years now.

    But why now? If you have tried this for years, why has it finally worked, especially amid unhealthy developments like this one?

    I just come across this entry, i hit via the Planet Gnome feeds. As a Gnome user, and packager, i come ashamed of it.

    I strongly agree with his view (and yours) that it was a repulsive attack that made me want to look away.

    There is absolutely nothing of suspicion here.

    But *I* am the suspicious party. You cannot try to convince me that I have dropped suspicion.

    You should do your research and demonstrate a responsibility the the community you purport to serve.

    That’s exactly what I do.

  16. Jeff Waugh said,

    November 28, 2007 at 4:49 am

    Gravatar

    Could you please produce evidence to make me 100% confident?

    Well, sorry Roy, but I’m going to wait and see if you’re capable of doing the absolute rock-bottom basics of research. It’s in an utterly obvious place and locatable via Google.

    I find it absolutely hilarious that you don’t know where to find this, you don’t know what CIA is, on and on, and you purport to do research and demonstrate a responsibility to the community you purport to serve.

    I’m sorry, Roy, but you are clueless and incompetent in your mission, and you are nasty, reckless and irresponsible in your approach.

  17. Roy Schestowitz said,

    November 28, 2007 at 4:59 am

    Gravatar

    You have just escaped the more important question here, Jeff. Why now? Why did Miguel leave just a few weeks ago, coincidentally at the same time when there’s turmoil? Why was this only brought to the community’s attention a few days ago after years of debate?

  18. Jeff Waugh said,

    November 28, 2007 at 5:06 am

    Gravatar

    There wasn’t years of debate. The board had made casual, off-and-on contact with Miguel to suggest he provide the resignation letter to make it official, but it wasn’t until recently that we decided to adopt a plan and pursue it properly. It should’ve been fixed up ages ago, but there was not a lot of inspiration or need to do so. I was charged up to do it after reading the bylaws a lot during the recent changes we made.

    You’re still just trying to dredge up anything you possibly can, and looking everywhere possible for controversy.

    I’m not going to participate on this site anymore. There’s no point. You’ll continue to attack us, you’re not interested in actual research or knowledge of the things you report about, you disrespect my input, and nothing will change your mind.

    Save up all your nastiness and insinuations and throw it all at me for the interview. Then hopefully you’ll actually show some respect and humanity.

  19. Roy Schestowitz said,

    November 28, 2007 at 5:12 am

    Gravatar

    …it wasn’t until recently that we decided to adopt a plan and pursue it properly.

    Why recently?

    You’re still just trying to dredge up anything you possibly can, and looking everywhere possible for controversy.

    I have my reasons and it’s not as though I wish to find more internal issues, of which they are already quite a few (mainly involving Novell and other Microsoft ‘partners’). Au contraire — I would love to know that nothing is amiss. Linux was blooming like a flower before the deal with Novell, which was accompanied by FUD.

    The rest of your comment is hostile, which I interpret as feelings of lack of comfort. I do not believe that it serves your cause. There remains a question at the top of my comment and it’s better to answer it than to ignore it.

  20. Jeff Waugh said,

    November 28, 2007 at 5:37 am

    Gravatar

    Why recently?

    I answered that in the previous comment, but you are so desperate to find fault, that you refuse to listen: “I was charged up to do it after reading the bylaws a lot during the recent changes we made.”

    My cause is not served by wasting my time here, butting my head against your problems. You have shown such disrespect by your insinuations, and for my open participation on this site, that very little you raise will be “better to answer than to ignore”.

    Save it for the interview, Roy. Throw everything you’ve got at me, and I’ll answer with knowledge, integrity and absolute comfort in the actions of my peers and project.

    Goodbye.

  21. Repre Hendor said,

    November 28, 2007 at 5:41 pm

    Gravatar

    I believe Jeff, when he says:

    Miguel provided a resignation letter a few weeks ago, in according to a plan I described on the GNOME Foundation mailing list a couple of months ago, and we reported this and our appointment of the new President and VP in our minutes of the first board meeting held after his resignation.

    You’ll note that nothing was hidden. The plan to do this was published to the GNOME community, the outcome of the completed plan was published to the GNOME community.

    I think any reasonable person who was not looking to create controversy and suspicion would see there is nothing particularly interesting about our actions in this regard at all. Just open, transparent process.

    —Jeff

    However, it was a not-smallish stupidity to not make that context clear when he initially said that “Miguel has officially resigned”, and also stating this little known fact only after being pressed about Miguel’s lasting (or not) influence over Gnome’s direction.

    That stupidity probably stems from the fact that Jeff himself is one of those who regard Miguel as an “embarrassment to Gnome”. He doesn’t dare say *that* in public, but it’s obvious from the whole exchange now. And I can’t blame him for that attitude either. Given Miguel’s past, and his role as a founder of Gnome, his current actions and direction can’t be else but regarded as an embarrassment and a liability to all his former co-developers (with exception those who are his personal fan-boys).

    It’s somehow ironic how the Miguel-champion of Free Software who founded Gnome to counter the evil of KDE’s association with evil dual-licensed Qt software evolved to end up now in the camp that is helping the biggest Unfree Software monopoly to stay as a monopoly, — and how KDE and Trolltech/Qt have been moving towards GPL licenses more and more during the same timespan… And they’ll probably go GPL3 too in the near future.

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