[Important (18/01/07): as the comments at the bottom indicate, Microsoft is in no way involved in this deal, so Pamela's assumptions were incorrect.]
[PJ: I guess this is goodbye then, for me, as far as Mandriva goes. I've used it for years and really loved it, and I thank them for helping me get to use Linux. But TurboLinux signed a patent deal with Microsoft, joined Ecma to help out with MSOOXML, participates in the Interoperability Vendor Alliance, uses Windows Media and made Live Search the default. So you don't have to be a rocket scientist to know what all that means. Since Mandriva and Turbolinux are sharing code now, I don't trust the code so it's a fond farewell from me.]
Is it possible that this isn’t anything like reviving a United Linux and more of a quiet way to enter an agreement which involves patents (remember that Turobolinux got started only with a Microsoft technical collaboration)? If so, what does it say about Dell joining the Novell/Microsoft deal — whatever that means?
[PJ: This has nothing to do with the GPL, but I wanted to show you what I believe will replace patent infringement lawsuits if the patent reforms currently being considered pass. Stuff like this, where one side sits on the other and then they do a deal where one side pays but both get access to each other’s patents to induce acceptance. I think you can extrapolate as to what it would mean for the GPL. What big companies probably hope it means is they win.
Put simply, lawsuits are replaced by ‘Linux tax’. By changing laws (legalising software patents), proprietary software companies strive to marginalise Free software. █
Update: Another source begs to disagree.
However, this joint lab does not mean that we share the agreement with Microsoft, Mandriva still tries to stay as free and open as possible, as Anne explained on the cooker ML.
Hopefully, the latter is absolutely correct.
Update #2: Another good article sheds light on the (non-)issues:
The delay in the announcement is particularly interesting, especially for the fact that last October was also the month that Microsoft and TurboLinux entered into a collaboration agreement, complete with the ever-dubious patent agreements.
Seeing as Mandriva had refused to enter such an agreement with Microsoft, it may have wanted the dust to settle on the Microsoft/TurboLinux deal before going public on the partnership. This was probably worsened by the fact that it was in open conflict with Microsoft over a deal with the Nigerian government. Mandriva accused the Redmondians of hijacking the deal, but eventually won the contract.