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05.04.08

Marriages of Inconvenience

Posted in Free/Libre Software, FUD, GPL, Microsoft, Novell at 2:37 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Knowing who is who…

The other day we mentioned an eye-opening incident which occurred at Interop. The industry that extracts money from Free software by spreading fear and purporting to resolve real, exaggerated or imaginary issues is a tad controversial, but to be fair, there are two sides in this story.

In light of the fact that Black Duck is among those controversial companies, which are also seen moderating panels or weighing in on the Novell/Microsoft deal (betrayal of the GPL and consequences of GPLv3), it’s worth bringing up the observation that a 'Walli effect' seems possible here and thus we must be careful. Black Duck was actually founded by — wait for it –a Microsoft employee. This is new to us.

I met Black Duck CEO, Doug Levin back in October 2003 at the Enterprise Linux Forum in Washington D.C. I instantly liked him. He was just starting Black Duck Software and as a ex-Microsoftie talking about IP assurance I wasn’t convinced about the bright future of his business. However, I enjoyed meeting Doug and wished him the best of luck and went on my way.

To be fair, just coming from Microsoft does not make a person malicious (cultural effects aside), but other Microsoft employees who started companies which offer ‘open source solutions’ tend to blend in ‘real’ Open Source software with software that’s reliant on the Microsoft stack (inconvenient matchmaking), including .NET stuff with licences unapproved by the OSI. In some way, they serve as bridges and so-called peace-makers, but hidden motives — if any exist — must be born in mind. They may still have some former colleagues and friends, whose goals are different from that of Free software. It’s quite likely actually.

While on this particular subject, 2 days ago I decided to drop Open Sources (an Inforworld blog) from my reading list because every single page there has a huge Microsoft Port 25 ad (it’s AdBlock-resistant) which reads “open source heroes,” showing me photos of Microsoft employees. It’s as though someone approaches me upon every single pageload and says: “These are your friends. Meet your heroes from Microsoft.”

“Black Duck markets itself as an ‘open-sourcy’ company even though it’s purely proprietary.”With all due respect, having read the blog for years, Open Sources can no longer be seen as an (free) open source blog and it’s also run by IBM and Sun employees now, both of whom seem to be fond of hybrid models (dual-licensing). It used to be just Matt Asay and Dave Rosenberg, both of whom moved to CNET and pretty much abandoned InfoWorld, albeit over time. This was merely a straw that broke the camel’s back because trollish blogging (e.g. “Microsoft should buy Red Hat”, use of the derogatory word “freetards”) had me openly protest and threaten to leave before.

Getting back to the main subject at hand, in my personal blog I wrote approximately a year ago about the fact that Black Duck markets itself as an ‘open-sourcy’ company even though it’s purely proprietary. Also noteworthy is the fact that Black Duck got accused by Palamida of ‘stealing’ (coping, typos included) a GPLv3 database that required a huge deal of research.

The bottom line: Despite Black Duck’s latest acquisition (essentially of userbase), which could be worse news than good news, it’s probably safer to stick to those whom we can trust a little more. Palamida appears to be it because Hewlett-Packard, which recently introduced and now boasts a similar project/initiative, is uncomfortably close to Microsoft — to the point of striving to intervene with the already-made vote on OOXML. That was utterly unacceptable.

Last but not least, over the past few years, having read the relevant RSS/news feeds very carefully, it seems as though Black Duck spreads more fear (for sales) than its counterparts. It’s just an observation.

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A Single Comment

  1. LinuxIsFun said,

    May 4, 2008 at 3:16 am

    Gravatar

    GNU/GPL is all about freedom and not about money. Its like you do what you know the best and let others do the same. There is nothing called grabbing market share from competitors – since there are no competitors. The code belongs to the community – the best one wins – irrespective of how much money you spend on marketing / sales – this is about engineering – the best approach wins :D

    Totally opposite to the Microsoft world – where marketing, lawyers, lies, IP, blah blah wins.

    GPL is a better way to build our future world – the license for the true scientist, engineers, programmers and innovators.

    Welcome to the bazaar !

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