06.04.08

OpenSUSE: The EULA from Novell and the Road to Microsoft Hell

Posted in GNU/Linux, Law, Microsoft, Novell, OpenSUSE at 7:22 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

OpenSUSE users wish to believe that they are independent from Novell and unaffected by the company’s pact with Microsoft. Well, here is a must-read from Beranger. It’s quite an eye opener.

So, the most shocking part for me? The openSUSE 11.0b3 EULA.

“The Grumpy Editor” is quoting the most relevant parts: «It must be said that this distribution got off on rather the wrong foot; it puts up an end-user license agreement which prohibits redistribution for compensation, bundling openSUSE with any other “offering,” reverse engineering, transfer of the software, use in a production environment, or publishing benchmark results (but only if you’re a software vendor). Users are required to stop using the software upon termination of the license, which happens after 90 days, after the next release, or whenever Novell says so. And, just in case one was considering the crime of using the release for too long: “The Software may contain an automatic disabling mechanism that prevents its use after a certain period of time, so You should back up Your system and take other measures to prevent any loss of files or data.”»

[...]

Novell, the only way you can use Linux and feel like you’re using Windows. Read the EULA before our lawyers contact you. Most important: we might disable your copy whenever we want. Free Trojan horse included. “Upgrade to SLED or to Vista” coupon available on request.

Like we didn’t see that coming.

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20 Comments

  1. HumHo said,

    June 4, 2008 at 7:49 am

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    This is just suicide !!!

    They are getting people hooked to so called paid Linux.

  2. HumHo said,

    June 4, 2008 at 7:51 am

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    This is not *OPEN* in anyway at all !!

    Novell thinks that people are stupid

  3. Roy Schestowitz said,

    June 4, 2008 at 7:55 am

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    Watch this. The bottom part shows you that the plan may be materialising, gradually.

  4. Victor Soliz said,

    June 4, 2008 at 8:03 am

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    I find it ridiculous it actually needs an EULA. These things are something we should worry more about, seems firefox 3 needs one as well. I think EULAs are just a way to break all protection you should get from FOSS licenses.

    No redistribution? Reverse engineering? What the heck? I’ll call this thing ClosedSUSE from now on.

  5. Victor Soliz said,

    June 4, 2008 at 8:12 am

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    Just so people don’t just dismiss this as more conspiracy paranoia from this site.

    http://lwn.net/Articles/283566/

    Novell reserves all rights not expressly granted to You. You may not:
    (1) reverse engineer, decompile, or disassemble the Software except
    and only to the extent it is expressly permitted by applicable law or
    the license terms accompanying a component of the Software; or (2)
    transfer the Software or Your license rights under this Agreement, in
    whole or in part.

    No title to or ownership of the Software is transferred to You. Novell
    and/or its licensors owns and retains all title and ownership of all
    intellectual property rights in the Software, including any
    adaptations or copies. You acquire only a license to use the Software.

    You
    may not, without Novell’s prior written consent not to be unreasonably
    withheld, publish or disclose to any third party the results of any
    benchmark test of the Software.

  6. LinuxJedi said,

    June 4, 2008 at 9:01 am

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    I really want to like openSUSE, on the surface it looks like they put a lot of effort into KDE on 11.

    But all this Novell / MS stuff is really putting a dampener on it.

  7. Roy Schestowitz said,

    June 4, 2008 at 9:03 am

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    KDE4 is KDE4 is KDE4. Maybe they put a nice theme on. It’s the same in other distros. Don’t let distro-independent bits fool/distracts you. it’s YaST and the installer (along with some binary drivers) that probably matter the most.

  8. aeshna23 said,

    June 4, 2008 at 9:27 am

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    I have a suggestion to help convert newcomers to this site to our point of view. Take this post, add some more information, and link with a title “Why avoid OpenSuse” at the top of the BoycottNovell homepage. Newcomers need a short, easy to find essay on why they shouldn’t use OpenSuse. The essay should be written towards rather ignorant Windows users and should explain how this EULA differs from others LInux distros. The openSuse certificate of authenticity is a great graphic to end the essay!

    I would even volunteer to do it myself, but I’m still learning the issues.

  9. Roy Schestowitz said,

    June 4, 2008 at 9:30 am

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    What about the Get the Facts page (seen on the left sidebar)?

  10. Jose_X said,

    June 4, 2008 at 10:16 am

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    [LinuxJedi] >> I really want to like openSUSE, on the surface it looks like they put a lot of effort into KDE on 11.

    If anyone really REALLY RRRREALLLY likes OpenSUSE, they should fork it and host it for a community of like-minded individuals. Of course, most of what is in OpenSUSE is available in other distros. The OpenSUSE people simply rework the final product but anyone else can start a forum to get this done. Again, if enough people REALLY want to do this, it can be done and should be done. I wouldn’t touch anything that smelled like OpenSUSE except after a long time of me being confident that the copyrights to such a fork were not helping out Novell or Monopolysoft. I also would strip out dotregret mono material and instead use and contribute to the great alternatives to whatever is provided through this fake mono standard.

    Spinning your own distro will become trendy.

    And check out this letter: http://deepakphatak.blogspot.com/2008/05/this-is.html

    [Quote from Roy Schestowitz: but the following comment addressed to LinuxJedi] >> KDE4 is KDE4 is KDE4. Maybe they put a nice theme on.

    Which comes back to the remastering thing. I think adding your own special touch to your #2 live distro, burning it, and giving it out happily without worries beats by a mile most things you are ever likely to be able to do with your #1 distro if that #1 is OpenSUSE. Fork OpenSUSE, or much better, help make your #2 into your #1 because even a fork will add some value to OpenSUSE/Novell into the forseeable future since it would take a while to replace much of the plumbing.

  11. aeshna23 said,

    June 4, 2008 at 11:47 am

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    The Get the Facts pages is far too hard for the first time reader of your page to find, and frankly it’s a lousy page for people new to the issue. The video is much too long, begins with some weirdness about a french restaurant, and provides no context to people new to the issue. Worse, the video begins with Ballmer speaking. Those ignorant of context will not be aware they should perceive Steve Ballmer as Satan and may learn the wrong things before they stop watching. (By the way, the video is an excellent video for people willing to devote the time to watching it, but perhaps a shorter version should be made which cuts off the not-so-interesting last fifteen minutes.)

    You have to remember that only a small percentage of people coming to your website are going to find this subject fascinating enough to dig through the large amount of material you provide. You have to provide these first-time and often last-time readers with easy to find, quick to read, and persuasive arguments that address their issues.

    I believe that there are two distinct groups of people new to the issue you need to address:

    a) institutional decision makers who decide whether or not to buy Novell products
    b) consumers who decide whether to use OpenSuse or not

    You need links to address these two groups on the top of your page. In fact, they should be the only links besides Editors, About this Site, and Using this Site, because this two links need to be easy to find for the first-timer. Or you can even think about further redesign, because you do address so many issues beyond Novell. I’d be glad to help there.

  12. Roy Schestowitz said,

    June 4, 2008 at 11:58 am

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    I’d be grateful if you could assist. Your suggestions are good and I agree that the key message is often missed.

    Do bear in mind that few people ‘land’ in the front page. They arrive the site because of a specific article they wish to read.

  13. stevetheFLY said,

    June 4, 2008 at 3:33 pm

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    Oh, you ignorant nincompoops… This EULA was put in place because German Linux (print-)magazines regularly misuse Betas of openSUSE for cheap attention-whoring. Alpha 1 of openSUSE 11 was promptly pressed onto CD-R and distributed by a big magazine as ‘the new openSUSE 11′ for example…

    You have SO absolutely no idea how this thing came together. The EULA is an open topic of discussion for the openSUSE community BTW.

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

  14. Michael said,

    June 4, 2008 at 7:12 pm

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    A magazine could copy and distribute whatever it wants from opensuse – for all the free software on it, they can do whatever the free software license allows. But there are other legal avenues for redress if they *call it* opensuse 11. e.g. trademarks. Or copyrights on logos and branding – they are not software and are protected by copyrights.

    The EULA is no doubt legal – it can’t override laws anyway and it has exceptions for ‘other’ licenses.

    e.g.
    “The Software is a modular operating system. Most of the components
    are open source packages, developed independently, and accompanied by separate license terms. Your license rights with respect to
    individual components accompanied by separate license terms are
    defined by those terms; nothing in this Agreement (including, for
    example, the “Other License Terms and Restrictions,” below) shall
    restrict, limit, or otherwise affect any rights or obligations You may
    have, or conditions to which You may be subject, under such license
    terms.”

    Of course – none of those terms are listed in the eula itself.

    It just looks scarier than it actually is. Novell is a proprietary software company – the corporate culture is proprietary, buying ximian and suse didn’t change that. Their business plan all along was to ‘value add’ that free nonsense with quality proprietary layers. And there’s really nothing wrong with that model – otherwise how are you going to generate significant revenue, when people could otherwise just copy the software? Remember, the thinking is still along the lines of proprietary boxed content with ongoing licence fees – not as a services company.

    (as an aside, I actually found Novell a bit creepy to work for sometimes – you mentioned MS and cults in an earlier article, Novell is very cultish. They’re quite proud of their connections to Mormons and their openness to minority religion. From what I gathered talking to Novel veterans, when they were big and everyone went to brainshare every year it sounded like a big family summer christian camp … a bit too weird.)

    If they’re going to add an EULA – why don’t they list the clauses from the GPL that tell you specifically that you CAN modify/copy/distribute the code, AND that you may receive the complete source code by written offer?

    Wouldn’t that be nice.

    But then again, they cannot list every license for every package on the disc.

  15. Peder said,

    June 5, 2008 at 9:04 am

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    As stevetheFLY said, I think the potential time-bomb warning on a beta or RC is pretty harmless, not that I actually think there is one there. As it is “for testing only” I don’t think anyone would want to use it “for real” anyway and I think Novell only adds it as a standard clause.

    If you notice the preamble “Novell Pre-Release Software License Agreement” you see that what we’re talking about is the license of the pre-release, not the real deal (yet anyway).

    Let’s face it, Apple had an EULA that only allowed the windows version of Safari to be installed on an Apple (OSX) PC…

  16. Jaime said,

    June 5, 2008 at 2:17 pm

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    IANAL but, as far as GPL is a legal license, Novell can’t override it. Dot.

    In the other hand, I was a Suse user, even bought Novell Suse 9.1. to show I was backing the effort Novell was putying in the opensource side. But I finished fed up with the yast thing and gave a try to other distros.

    And then, Novell happened to start these deals with m$, which I don’t like at all. I find them ashaming, they are somehow betraying all the guys that ever wrote a piece of Linux.

    Luckily there are plenty of other distros to choose. That’s one of the great things with the open source.

    All that said IMHO, of course.

  17. Miles said,

    June 5, 2008 at 2:37 pm

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    Seems to me that only a handful of the actual Linux/FOSS developers actually cared at all about the deal, it’s just a loud minority of non-code-contributors that care so much.

    (I say non-code-contributors because they may contribute via bug reporting)

    To prove my point, how much of your code is being used inside of SuSE Linux? Odds are that the number is approximately 0 lines.

    There have been very few developers who have protested the deal.

  18. Chris said,

    June 6, 2008 at 10:00 am

    Gravatar

    I’m sorry but most of those comments as well as all of the content on this page is plain lunacy.

    As someone already pointed out this restrictive stuff in the BETA EULA was included because some german magazines distributed alpha or beta versions as FINALS and thereby spread misinformation (just like this site does btw.) about the quality of the final release (funny enough the only comment that contains a bit truth is marked as “trolling”).

    Here is the EULA of the final 10.3 release (and the 11.0 one will be either identical or similar):

    http://download.opensuse.org/distribution/10.3/repo/oss/EULA.txt

    Please feel free to point out where this FINAL EULA restricts your rights.

    Last but not least you folks should read http://en.opensuse.org/FAQ:Novell-MS so you get at least a few facts right.

    Further you should acknowledge the fact that Novell is one of the biggest contributor to various FOSS projects (Kernel, KDE, Gnome, OpenOffice, …) so if you want to avoid using stuff developed by Novell start to write your own operating system.

    So please, if you hat Novell because “they have a deal with the devil” it is fine but just stop spreading FUD based on misinformation which makes you look like an utter moron and start to build your claims on facts.

    regrds

  19. stevetheFLY said,

    June 9, 2008 at 4:29 pm

    Gravatar

    Full ACK!!! :)

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

  20. John Adams said,

    July 19, 2008 at 12:59 pm

    Gravatar

    Lets look at this from the point of view of the cpu, the code it sees is just a load of bit, this is regardless of what is written on the software license.

    If this is about human disagreements, to which is the best team, then it is a sorry thing.

    Open is about working together, even if it means that you end up working with others you may not agree with.

    Novell is building bridges between the two software cultures, and whenever you do this you get traffic both ways, some of it unwanted.

    But this has to be done.

    Novell showed Microsoft the way with directory services, maybe they have more to learn from Novell.

    My favored distribution is whichever is the latest release of (fedora,Ubuntu or OpenSUSE).

    I am downloading Opensuse 11 now , I just want to see what good work has gone into this distribution.

    I will be thankful to all the people who put it together.

    And I will marvel at how well these open working techniques are evolving, regardless of what team people play on.

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