Steven continues his fascinating series of analyses which revolve around UNIX and its so-called “imaginary property” (IP). The latest of Novell/SCO was mentioned 3 times a week or so ago [1, 2, 3]. This is a catchup post.
Here is another explanation of why Novell — and by association Microsoft — becomes more of a threat to ‘Open’ Solaris.
Here’s how it works: Novell owns Unix’s IP (intellectual property). SCO sold Unix’s IP to Sun. Sun then included some Unix IP into Solaris. Finally, Sun open sourced Solaris as OpenSolaris. Sounds like trouble, doesn’t it?
While Sun’s Chief Open Source Officer Simon Phipps described the line of logic above as “sheer speculation,” others see a major potential legal problem for Sun. However, analysts, lawyers and open source leaders also agreed that it’s unlikely Novell would ever choose to make trouble for Sun. Novell, however, has not commented on its intentions despite several attempts to get the Linux company’s take on the issue.
Sun Microsystems is no great foe of GNU/Linux, but then again, as the now-promoted Simon Phipps put it, Novell's leadership does not keep up. His take was joined (or followed) by others at Sun [1, 2]. There’s some friction between Novell and Sun, which gets along best with Canonical.
Elsewhere in the news, there was plenty of coverage of SCO’s need for money that it has already spent. From ECT:
SCO will have to shell out more than $2 million to Novell for licensing Unix to Sun Microsystems, a Utah judge has ruled. The dispute in part hinged on whether Novell still owned pre-1995 copyrights to Unix, which it sold that year to SCO. The judge last year ruled that Novell in fact did own them.
A SCO company statement indicated the company will appeal Kimball’s ruling from last year and said it continues to disagree with the premise of the May trial. At that proceeding, SCO contended the case should have gone to trial on its original claims that Novell was interfering with its ownership of Unix.
“We are pleased, however, that the court agreed that Novell is not entitled to anywhere near the more than $20 million dollars it was seeking,” the SCO statement said.
Linux Journal had a go at it too.
The ruling, which comes nearly three months after the four-day bench trial concluded, was a mix of victories and defeats for each party, though Novell clearly came out ahead. The big victory was the court’s determination that SCO lacked authority to enter into its agreement with Sun Microsystems, and as a result, owes Novell just over $2.5 million (plus interest).
For a sense of completeness (because you only live once to witness the end of SCO):
Here is one which is more of an Op-Ed:
The SCO Group got bad news in court last week. Not an unusual event for this company, but I wish the need for such events would finally go away for good.
I’ve now been writing about SCO for five years — how time does fly when you have someone to despise. In my first column about SCO’s decision go into the lawsuit business rather than having to do all the hard work of making a product that someone might want to buy, I thought that someone would just buy the slime off. I was wrong — I guess there is some truth to the punch line of the old joke that “there are just some things a lawyer won’t do.” I guess IBM’s lawyers could not stomach the idea of rewarding such repulsive behavior.
There was also a semi-formal statement from Novell:
Novell issues statement on licensing fee dispute with SCO — Novell Inc. on Monday issued a statement about last week’s federal ruling in which the SCO Group was ordered to make $2.6 million in restitution to the Waltham, Mass. software developer.
That restitution amount is significantly lower than the $19.9 million Novell sought for what it called “unjust enrichment” by SCO because it collected royalty payments on Unix licenses from Sun Microsystems and other Linux users of Unix software without Novell’s approval and allegedly refused to account for them.
U.S. District Judge Dale Kimball, in a ruling issued last Wednesday, found SCO “breached its fiduciary duties” to Novell by failing to account for the revenues SCO received from Sun for rights to opensource its own version of Unix products called OpenSolaris. That Unix product is based on the SVRX code, which Kimball on Aug. 10 determined Novell to be the owner.
“We think this is great news for Novell and for the open source community. We’re very pleased this ruling reaffirms and strengthens Novell’s ownership of the UNIX SVRX copyrights and vindicates Novell’s continuing efforts to protect the open source community from SCO’s claims,” Novell said in Monday’s statement.
“This ruling underlines the court’s earlier decision, issued in August 2007, which found that Novell, not SCO, owns the copyrights to UNIX SVRX code, and further undermines SCO’s claims against Linux users,” according to the statement. “We see a pattern in the legal judgments made in this case: Decision after decision makes it clearer and clearer that SCO’s legal claims against Linux have no merit.”
The statement is also available from here. █
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Selling out all the way?
Remember the story about Corel assimilating to Microsoft after a 'special' deal and watch how Novell is moving to .NET (Mono), as well. Both of them happen to support Microsoft’s OOXML. That’s just what happens when one becomes a Microsoft partner. The folks from Redmond pay competitors to turn them into allies.
While it’s not clear how the timeline fares, this new report and mention of Turbolinux stood out
IE7Pro is an add-on for Internet Explorer, not a browser replacement. It’s the work of a “virtual” firm, a team of programmers spread around the world and ironically headed by Faniel Fang, a former team leader at open sauce firm TurboLinux.
Turbolinux began by helping Microsoft with OOXML and later they made it an entire software patents deal and bragged about it. This comes amid times when Microsoft recognises an OOXML defeat (although there is room for interpretation [1, 2, 3]) and, as further evidence, consider this new press release from Babya, which supports only ODF and PDF.
Compared to other similar products, E-Type 6 is under 1MB in size and supports both OpenDocument and PDF, along with RTF and text files.
Those who support OOXML often turn out to be simply sidling with Microsoft rather than addressing real need. Hey, GNOME, are you listening? █
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- Invasion of the Netbooks: New systems from Asus, Acer, and Sylvania
Sylvania g netbook: It’s superlight and weighs less than 2 pounds. It’s a lot like the original Eee PC, in that it’s $399, and it has a 7-inch screen, plus a custom Linux operating system. It has a 30GB standard hard drive (good) and, like the HP 2133 Mini-Note, a 1.2GHz VIA C7 CPU, instead of Intel’s Atom or even Celeron M (not so good).
- Move Over Netbooks, It’s Time for a Nettop
Mandriva — the Parisian Linux outfit behind, of all things, Mandriva Linux — has decided that the days of netbook exclusivity must come to an end, and to that end have partnered up with Precedent Technologies — as far as we can tell an unknown, but up-and-coming, hardware manufacturer — to produce what we hereby dub the nettop.
- Broken Fractal Ventures brings iTunes music to Linux
- An Advocacy Story: Cloning Bootable USB Sticks for the Audience
I strongly believe that spreading GNU/Linux on usb sticks is a highly effective advocacy strategy. For example, it renders the debate about which OS to pre-install pointless if hardware vendors can be persuaded to sell diskless computers.
- Ultamatix: The New Automatix
Today we are pleased to announce the Automatix replacement: Ultamatix! It is actually based on Automatix, therefore it looks and acts exactly the same. The good news is that Ultamatix is designed to work with Ubuntu Ultimate Editon 1.8, Ubuntu 8.04 (Hardy Heron) and the unstable branch of Debian Linux.
- Christmas Comes In July For An Open ATI
Many Linux users will be celebrating the Christmas holiday in five months, but it seems there’s a holiday worth celebrating today for open-source ATI Linux users.
- AMD Releases New AtomBIOS Parser
- NimbleX 2008 Mini-Review
- Compromising to Ubuntu
It’s been nearly a year now since I have worked with my students. I will begin a open source project with a couple of my bright students. Without a doubt, we will use Ubuntu for our servers (though I may opt to switch them to Debian for more stability). It is a compromise I am making on my part. I will install Ubuntu 8.04.1 on my Thinkpad T60. I will keep Arch Linux on my desktop, possibly evening replacing it wil Debian Lenny Beta.
Ubuntu is what they want. I will give it to them.
- Are Gnome and Ubuntu ruining the Linux Desktop?
Why am I asking if Gnome and Ubuntu are ruining the Linux Desktop? Because they are. There are two trends that we are seeing in both Ubuntu and Gnome development, that we also see in other areas (like The Gimp).
- Customize Compiz Fusion effects In Ubuntu
- Ubuntu works great, easy to install
- Full Circle Magazine: Issue 15
- Testdriving Zimbra Desktop Mail for Linux
- Give KDE and Gnome a unified look
Yes, I have a lot of applications open and it’s a bit hard to see where one application stops and where another begins, but that’s the point. From left to right you can see Amarok (KDE), Transmission (Gnome), K3b (KDE) and Abiword (Gnome). As you can see, there’s no difference in the appearance of the menu bars. At the bottom, there are two file dialogs. They’re not exactly the same, but the buttons are. That’s all QTcurve.
As for the icons, they look the same too, apart from some minor differences and the lack of a “Desktop” icon in the KDE file dialog. I think it looks okay.
- KDE 4.1: What to Expect
KDE 4.1 is going to be a very exciting release. I personally opted not to use KDE 4 when it was first released, since it was way too buggy and was missing far too many features. This could change in a few days.
- Linux Secret Lovers
Some Windows users secretly love Linux. They want to use Linux but are too chicken to install it on their hard drive. So, they use a program like Windows Blinds to radically alter the graphical user interface of their Windows desktop and make it look like that of Linux. To prove it, here are some screenshots of Linux secret lovers’ desktop.
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Novell and its affiliates from GWAVA have recently uploaded various Novell commercials to YouTube, essentially imitating some of that marketing (arguably ‘spam’) which Microsoft does there too. Rather than linking to it (feeding it), this behaviour will just be pointed out occasionally.
More interesting was probably Novell’s attendance at OSCON, which was not felt much. It was definitely dominated by Canonical among the Linux vendors, but then again, Ubuntu Live was canceled, so they had stuff scheduled for display. Here is Novell’s press release about its presence.
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“Talk is cheap. Show me the code.”
icrosoft has only threatened Linux without ever showing any evidence to back it slanderous allegations. That’s FUD and saber-rattling, but it’s not a lawsuit. At the same time, Microsoft quietly resorted to extortion of large Linux users. The mainstream press hardly covers this hush-hush fiasco.
Nonetheless, Mark Shuttleworth, who on Wednesday advocated GPLv3, seems to believe that:
- Microsoft has not attacked yet
- Microsoft won’t attack
In a way, both of these assertions are wrong. The extortion, a mafia-like technique which is documented even by Microsoft, is akin to lynching (punishment without a trial) and Microsoft might already be attacking Linux, by proxy. Here is what he said:
Shuttleworth smirked and then responded.
“I don’t believe Microsoft is going to sue any open source software vendor, doing so would be tantamount to launching nuclear war.”
The audience erupted into laughter.
“We do copyright assignment and I really do believe that’s a valuable practice,” Shuttleworth continued. “As part of our copyright assignment we don’t ask for any statement about patents, we accept the code, it’s a contribution and we take responsibility for it and we carry that forward.”
Mark seems indifferent when it comes to Mono in Ubuntu (Fedora and Debian possibly beg to differ), but copyrights come into play as well. He neglects to account for a point that he made before. The patent trolls are a big problem, more so when they are former Microsoft employees!
Microsoft won’t sue Linux. Of course not, that would be just as foolish as what SCO did (possibly at the behest of Microsoft). they’ll use patent trolls (shell companies) instead. Remember FireStar, which attacked Red Hat [1, 2, 3, 4]? Guess what? There turns out to be a Microsoft connection.
Why go to the effort of developing new software when you can use patents to extort other companies? A story about FireStar Software, which has not updated its software since 2003, preferring to rely on lawyers rather than programmers, to assure its income…
“Under terms of the agreement FireStar Software and Microsoft and will be participating in joint marketing and sales activities targeting Insurance companies faced with issues of rapidly developing applications compliant with industry standards.”
Microsoft connections also exist in another patent troll that attacked Linux [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11]. Don’t forget Intellectual Ventures, which is almost a Microsoft spin-off given the personal involvement of Mhyrvold [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7].
All of this is a strategy of creating and using laws that sideline the competition. The DMCA, which Microsoft is promoting [1, 2, 3], is another such example. It’s reaching Canada while the founder of Red Hat is trying to fight a political (and easily corruptible) muscle. From the news:
His long history with open source development has him concerned about the provisions of Bill C-61 prohibiting software that circumvents technological measures (AKA technical protection measures, or TPMs).
Despite an exemption in Bill C-61 that allows users to circumvent TPMs for the purpose of making software interoperable, Young told ComputerWorld Canada Thursday this could have unintended consequences.
“I don’t want to come across as being hugely anti- (Bill C-61) but I am concerned about one particular feature,” Young said. “It errs on the side of making technology illegal as opposed to making behaviour illegal.”
Because technology could change over the next few years, it’s hard to predict the effect of making circumvention tools illegal.
“It’s the equivalent to making screwdrivers and pliers illegal because they can be used to break and enter instead of making the act of breaking and entering illegal,” Young said.
It’s important to understand the fight against vital rights, which includes an abuse of the system that injures Free software the most. █
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