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Who Ever Said Novell Was a “Prince”?

Posted in Deception, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Novell, Patents at 7:37 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“Put not your trust in journalists.”

~ Nobody

We were going to simply ignore Bruce Byfield’s piece on Microsoft and Novell not because of the whole history of this but because it’s a classic example of hiding all the known issue and writing two pages of text which present only one side of this debate. Not only that; he downplays the opposition to this deal.

So Microsoft and Novell are extending their two year old partnership. Is anyone really surprised? Similar, if smaller, deals are announced by other partners on an almost daily basis. The truth is, the deal is not nearly as insightful as the reactions to it in the free and open source (FOSS) community.

Oh, lord! That ‘crazy’ “free and open source (FOSS) community.” How dare ‘the’ community stand in the way of business which resolves around code ‘the’ community produced, usually for no pay?

Michael TiemannGroklaw responded to this article last night, saying: “I put this in News Picks, but not because I agree. I think the community doesn’t care if businesses share their values, nor do they expect it. What they *do* expect is that vendors who benefit from FOSS code not actively work against the best interests of the FOSS community. That is the issue, not any of arguments raised in this article, and one the author doesn’t address at all.”

Michael Tiemann is no happy puppy, either. Here is a portion of his remarks, which he posted in Linux Today.

What I find shocking about his article is that on page two he attempts to shift all the questions and concerns about Novell’s dalliance with Microsoft and equate them (with equal skepticism) to the Fedora/Red Hat relationship, which is ridiculous for two reasons.

There are some other noteworthy reactions to this deal. Lisa Hoover said something strange:

Running Novell’s SUSE Linux alongside Windows? Buy a support voucher.

Say what? Patent royalties encouraged in an open source blog? What patents exactly?

“I’ve heard from Novell sales representatives that Microsoft sales executives have started calling the Suse Linux Enterprise Server coupons “royalty payments””

Matt Asay, April 21st, 2008

Charles, of OpenOffice.org fame, once again complained about what Microsoft and Novell had done.

I don’t think enterprise customers want to switch to Linux in order to better stay with Microsoft. Some actually refuse such a deal, and there Novell loses pretty often. But what I also see is the buying process of some customers. Your job as a CIO/CFO/CLO (Chief Legal Officer) is to minimize the risks. And sometimes, you’re ready to do very ridiculous things to have no risk happening. So what does the Novell/Microsoft partnership amount to? In some -unfortunate- cases, it can be seen as a helpful insurance contract. Now, if I were the CEO in such a company, I would be having a serious conversation with my team about signing up for an insurance covering this kind of oddities. But fear is a powerful motivator, and many fall in its trap… especially corporate management.

Why is anyone still defending Novell? Is it because Novell and Microsoft gag journalists [1, 2, 3], police coverage, hijack voices, and have it all serve as brainwash touting a treasonous relationship?


“Our partnership with Microsoft continues to expand.”

Ron Hovsepian, Novell CEO

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  1. Jose_X said,

    August 29, 2008 at 1:34 am


    One possibility with Novell is that Microsoft is looking for the cheapest way to solve many problems. In the end, and it may not take too long, Novell should end up on the side of the road totally fried.

    – Tarnish Novell. Kill Novell’s respectability before customers and the FOSS community.
    – Drain Novell of key employees (in some cases poached by MS, in others they simply dumped Novell).
    – Learn the secrets of Novell’s channel partnerships and gain the trust of these companies where possible, plus get Monopolyware in there as much as possible.
    – Set various precedents which support strategic FUD (eg, royalty payments and “interop”).

    When this is over, do you know why this all would have happened to Novell?

    – Greed and even some fear
    – Trusted Microsoft (more than their ability to work with the community despite all that did a good job through SuSE).
    – Hitched their wagon to “interop” with Microsoft, ie, ran the Rat Race

    My crystal ball fails me on rainy days, so maybe Novell will pull through. But I think they still might have really short-changed their existing assets sale to Microsoft.

    Of course, Novell serves a role today that still helps Microsoft in a number of ways (eg, helps their antitrust status somewhat), but there is a history between these companies and once Novell is milked fully (including their credibility within the FOSS community utterly destroyed beyond repair), the spot Novell is filling can be given to someone that Microsoft trusts more or wants to reward (possibly a company run by ex-softies).

    I see a similar fate for Apple and others perhaps. I think these companies will deserve it, but it is sad in that they did help Microsoft instead of helping dismantle the monopolies and live to tell about it and profit. Microsoft runs partnerships by fear and abuse. They are not only the figurative dope dealer. They are a pimp. [And a thug as hinted on this thread http://linuxhaters.blogspot.com/2008/08/certified-to-suck.html on page 1 or page 2 of the comments .. search for “thug” or “Thug”]

  2. Bob said,

    August 29, 2008 at 10:56 am


    Is it because Novell and Microsoft gag journalists [1, 2, 3], police coverage, hijack voices, and have it all serve as brainwash touting a treasonous relationship?

    It is because not everyone can simply ignore the threat of a Microsoft lawsuit when it comes to their patents under US law. If this is such a bad thing to the “community” why isn’t it doing anything to change those laws, which would be a far more _constructive_ path to take and benefit more people. Or is that what the “community” is all about, lots of rhetoric but no real action.

  3. Roy Schestowitz said,

    August 29, 2008 at 10:58 am


    If you read this site regularly, you will find that we also push for a reform.

  4. Jose_X said,

    August 29, 2008 at 2:07 pm



    Red Hat customers are indemnified.

    There is at least one industry organization that defends against patent attacks against Linux and possibly other FOSS software. [Coalition of many companies including IBM, Red Hat, and Google, plus some other big names and some nonprofits dedicated to this task.]

    There may even be antitrust restrictions on Microsoft. Certainly it would not help their case against ongoing EU investigations which likely would consider their behavior towards US companies (IANAL).

    The community is ready to remove known violations, but Microsoft isn’t talking (that they aren’t talking may negatively impact their ability to seek damages later, IANAL).

    Microsoft has some really bogus patents, and if you stay away from dotnet and MS protocols as much as possible, you are less likely to run into problems.

    In short, Microsoft really appears to be bluffing.

    Meanwhile, Red Hat provides the same sort of protection against their customers as Novell but without signing up with the henchmen as this would add costs to free Linux. Red Hat has a better idea on how to cultivate a community of developers for their products. This will continue to show over time.

    I think those taking the bait, have money to spend. They are paying Microsoft monopoly prices, plus insurance/racketeering* money, plus who knows what else, and then getting less in many ways for all that money while losing out on opportunities to cut costs down the line since free FOSS falls outside the protections (unless they forfeit their protections).

    [*] “The term racket comes from the Italian word ricatto (blackmail) and is also used as a pejorative term for legitimate businesses. Typically, this usage is based on the example of the “protection racket” and indicates that the speaker believes that the business is making money by selling a solution to a problem that it created (or that it intentionally allows to continue to exist), specifically so that continuous purchases of the solution are always needed.” from wikipedia. Microsoft might be breaking the law (a real racket), but they haven’t been charged/convicted at this time.

  5. Roy Schestowitz said,

    August 29, 2008 at 2:11 pm


    They might actually be breaking German law.

  6. Dan O'Brian said,

    August 29, 2008 at 5:44 pm


    There is at least one industry organization that defends against patent attacks against Linux and possibly other FOSS software. [Coalition of many companies including IBM, Red Hat, and Google, plus some other big names and some nonprofits dedicated to this task.]

    Interesting that you conveniently forgot to list Novell as part of that coalition, even though Novell are a big part of it.

    You are allowing your bias to show through and it is not helping your credibility.

  7. Roy Schestowitz said,

    August 29, 2008 at 6:06 pm


    You’ve really got a thing for Novell and Microsoft, Dan O’Brian.

  8. Roy Rogers said,

    August 30, 2008 at 2:36 am


    Since when does telling a truth someone else conveniently ignored equal being partial?

  9. Jose_X said,

    August 30, 2008 at 12:28 pm


    >> Interesting that you conveniently forgot to list Novell as part of that coalition, even though Novell are a big part of it.
    >> You are allowing your bias to show through and it is not helping your credibility.

    I remembered afterwards (I left out many names). You may call it bias, but it goes to show how in my mind Novell’s actions with MS are so surprising when you consider where there were before the deal. Next time Novell talks about Microsoft suing, we should remind them that they are a part of that other club. It’s not my credibility on the line. It’s there’s. As far as I’m concerned, they can drop their MS bologna today and start pointing customers to the protection they already could have offered.

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