10.12.08

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Question Revisited: Is Novell’s OpenSUSE Free Software?

Posted in Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Law, Microsoft, Novell at 9:09 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

EULA raises more questions

We have dealt with this issue before [1, 2, 3, 4, 5], but this discussion returns in light of proprietary software inclusion and a draconian EULA. From LWN:

In other words, redistribution of the openSUSE DVD is not permitted. Members of the openSUSE mirror network are, technically, in violation of the EULA, though nobody appears to be in a hurry to call them on that. But the EULA raises eyebrows and makes some users uncomfortable; many people got into free software to avoid dealing with agreements like that.

[...]

The openSUSE distribution is not distancing itself from proprietary software at this time; it is just reorganizing its management of that software to address one of the problems it brings. But it is still hard to avoid the temptation to read between lines and look forward to a day when openSUSE, too, distributes only free software – not as a result of any sort of push for purity, but just because its users no longer have any need for anything else.

The Novell/Microsoft deal clearly harms OpenSUSE, so why don’t volunteer developers take control of the project, rebrand it, and take it out of Novell’s hand? Dedicated members of the OpenSUSE community actually admit that Novell controls OpenSUSE (many of the members of paid employees). Can a Microsoft partner be trusted near a GNU/Linux distribution? A partner whose relationship tightens all the time and is expected to see collaborations almost tripling fairly soon?

“Our partnership with Microsoft continues to expand.”

Ron Hovsepian, Novell CEO

“It’s going very well insofar as we originally agreed to co-operate on three distinct projects and now we’re working on nine projects and there’s a good list of 19 other projects that we plan to co-operate on.”

Ron Hovsepian, Novell CEO

Microvell

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31 Comments

  1. AlbertoP said,

    October 12, 2008 at 12:31 pm

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    [quote]why don’t volunteer developers take control of the project, rebrand it, and take it out of Novell’s hand? [/quote]

    The answer is really simple: because Novell people is doing a great job with openSUSE. In three years the openSUSE community matured a lot, creating a cooperative environment where Novell’s developers, external contributors and users can easily have a role and work together with common goals, in the interest of openSUSE, Novell, and Linux.
    So, to make it short, openSUSE users and contributors don’t really feel the need of a divisive move like a fork, to have a second choice distribution to add to DistroWatch list. It’s a lot better to work together to achieve the best linux distribution :-)

    Regards,
    A.

  2. xISO_ZWT said,

    October 12, 2008 at 2:59 pm

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    Yeah, it’s working at achieving to be the best ‘linux-based’ distro. Of course you couldn’t argue with those semi-commercials in you tube.

  3. AlbertoP said,

    October 12, 2008 at 4:33 pm

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    @xISO_ZWT: openSUSE OSS version is pure Linux, exactly as every other distribution, fully GPL compliant. All the non-OSS additions are in the non-OSS repository, quite clearly separated from the OSS one.

    The team is also working to make a fully OSS distribution medium (DVD), to remove the legal need of the EULA, moving all the non-OSS, non redistributable software (flash, adobe reader, …) to a separate, Novell host, repository.

  4. Xanadu said,

    October 12, 2008 at 6:43 pm

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    Attack of the double standard, AlbertoP supports Novell’s aggressive fork of OpenOffice because Sun was not open enough according to him. Now that Novell forbids openSUSE redistribution he opposes a fork of openSUSE.

  5. xISO_ZWT said,

    October 12, 2008 at 7:35 pm

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    gnewsense is pure Linux.

  6. AlbertoP said,

    October 12, 2008 at 9:33 pm

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    [quote]
    Xanadu said,

    Attack of the double standard, AlbertoP supports Novell’s aggressive fork of OpenOffice because Sun was not open enough according to him. Now that Novell forbids openSUSE redistribution he opposes a fork of openSUSE.
    [/quote]

    Probably you didn’t pay attention at my exact sentences, as you didn’t read the openSUSE Eula correctly.

    OpenSUSE OSS can be redistributed without any problem. The EULA refers simply to those packages contained in the non-OSS repository and on the DVD, whose producers (Adobe mainly) do not allow redistribution. This is clearly explained by the EULA. You just need to read it as it is written, instead than interpreting it at your use.

    However, this issue will be fixed, as I wrote already, in openSUSE 11.1, where the DVD will contain only OSS software, making the redistribution possible also for the DVD medium. This has been discussed on openSUSE mailing lists, which you should read before writing so many attacks, just to give value to what you write.

    To conclude, a note about the fork. I said openSUSE users don’t feel that need because they are OK to work together with the openSUSE and Novell development team instead of wasting time with a fork, which would result in a senseless divisive move, with the only purpose of making noise instead than working in the real interest of the users, the distribution and, finally, Linux.
    You don’t think so? Perfect. I agree to disagree. :-)

  7. Roy Schestowitz said,

    October 13, 2008 at 1:43 am

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    gnewsense is pure Linux.

    I bet the developers would insist on “GNU”. But either way, they purify the kernel too (no proprietary components).

  8. wajaemue said,

    October 13, 2008 at 2:02 am

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    Just to say I’m angry what personally insulting shit Xanadu writes here and in his other comments. Wash your mouth, boy!

  9. Slashdot User said,

    October 13, 2008 at 3:18 am

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    I have to say I find it fascinating that Roy spends all his time *demanding* that people who post here identify themselves, their employment status and the breed of their cats… except when the comments are in his favour, in which case there’s no issue or interrogation whatsoever. Shills, lurkers and fanboys galore. The more the merrier, it seems.

  10. Roy Schestowitz said,

    October 13, 2008 at 3:26 am

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    Not quite. It’s just found to be more suspicious when people come to a Web site only to vilify it. Often enough, once you look deeper, you find that those who criticise the site are Microsoft partners or Novell/OpenSUSE people (AlbertoP, for example, is from OpenSUSE).

  11. pcole said,

    October 13, 2008 at 5:06 am

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    @roy: Doesn’t Debian insists on a non proprietary kernel also?

    @wajaemue: have not read any of xanadu’s comments concerning personal excrement; must have missed that.

    @Slashdot User: have not read any of roy’s comments asking for the breed of their cats; must have missed that also. I think “shills” get paid, therefore, I don’t think that would come to fruition.

  12. Roy Schestowitz said,

    October 13, 2008 at 5:17 am

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    @roy: Doesn’t Debian insists on a non proprietary kernel also?

    This was discussed in the IRC channel quite recently.

    In general, the most vocal readers (those who comment) are hecklers, so I don’t dispense their words without a healthy dose of skepticism. Corporate shills in Web sites are a fact, not a theory (we’ve shown plenty of concrete evidence before), but this does not mean that every opposer is a shill. In many ways, shills have given a bad name to genuine and honest critics, but there you go. Some people even tried to label /me/ a shill and claim that PJ is an IBM front. In some sites, people are targeted by groups who wants them silenced or their reputation ruined (so that nobody listens). It’s fierce corporate aggression, some would say bullying.

  13. Xanadu said,

    October 13, 2008 at 8:29 am

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    a senseless divisive move, with the only purpose of making noise instead than working in the real interest of the users, the distribution and, finally, Linux.

    Aw you mean like go-ooo? Of course there’s a difference, holy saint Novell is behind openSUSE so in that case forks are bad, now when holy saint Novell is doing the divisive fork, it is a holy light move for the better of everyone…

    Slashdot user: You are frigging hypocrite, did you notice you are using a nickname as well? Oooh.

    I don’t want to use my real name anymore, I won’t change my mind simply because Roy demands identification from the idiots that come here to defend Novell, I don’t really care about their identification either. I am also not really related to any big company or project so you wouldn’t care at all if you knew my name, right now my name is barely associated to a very small open source project, and I know that if I used my name you idiots will go to spam that project’s blog and also the openSUSE guys would try very hard to prevent it from going to their repos or fork it, so screw you, I won’t identify myself.

  14. Xanadu said,

    October 13, 2008 at 8:42 am

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    Just to say I’m angry what personally insulting shit Xanadu writes here and in his other comments. Wash your mouth, boy!

    Ok the last two days I did these things:
    - I expressed how embarrassing it is that the Novell fan boys would even accept go-ooo, sorry but it is a little pissing off that they would defend Novell even there… Perhaps you got “personally insulted” after the all caps message I typed, sorry but the whole “Novell contributes to free software therefore it is untouchable” argument is bullocks and it is starting to piss me off that they keep using that.
    - Second post “Wow, people truly buy that BS” Yes, the argument I quoted there is BS, this is not a personal insult, it is a comment against the argument itself.
    - “AlexH is an obvious shill”, and do you know what? He is, just see him sticking to go-ooo’s side even after that quote from Simon Phillips… Still no personal insults, just stating facts here.
    - Then in this “article” I pointed out how AlbertoP’s argument was contradicting with the thing he posted in the other thread, and as his reply confirms it, there’s a strong double standard in it.

    So, until the time you made that comment, I did not incur to personal insults, so you were lying, congratulations?

  15. Roy Schestowitz said,

    October 13, 2008 at 9:08 am

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    AlexH is not a shill, but he’s on some kind of ‘nitpicking war’ against this Web site because he wants to strip the messengers of their voice. I accept that his hundreds of comments have a high accuracy rate, but his goal is very obvious to see; he hunts for things to argue about and sometimes it’s a tad confrontational.

  16. AlexH said,

    October 13, 2008 at 10:46 am

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    No, I’m not in a “war”. I think there are better targets to pick on than free software projects and I stand up for them, even in the face of software patents.

    Nice that you agree I’m not a shill, although I did notice you called me a troll the other day :P

  17. Roy Schestowitz said,

    October 13, 2008 at 10:50 am

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    Nice that you agree I’m not a shill, although I did notice you called me a troll the other day :P

    I did not. I referred collectively to another group.

  18. Balzac said,

    October 13, 2008 at 6:37 pm

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    The best response the free software community could do in retaliation to the Microsoft/Novell pact would be to dissolve the SUSE community entirely.

    I would encourage all volunteer contributors of SUSE to defect from that compromised distro and be welcomed into the fold of a distro which has not become a pawn in Microsoft’s attack on all GNU/Linux users.

    Let SUSE go the way of Caldera and Novell will be the next SCO.

  19. Roy Schestowitz said,

    October 14, 2008 at 3:15 am

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    @Balzac:

    A Lot of SUSE Developers Left Because of Microsoft/Novell Deal

  20. marbrough said,

    October 14, 2008 at 6:22 am

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    Roy, I’ve followed your link expecting to see some shocking numbers like “50% of Novel’s Kernel developers leaving!”. Instead I find another link. That link points to a story about executives who switched companies (such flux happens in all kind of companies all the time). The only actual developers that went notably were some SAMBA-guys who are pretty radical in the views of FOSS. But that’s not ‘many developers’ leaving SUSE.

    So, WHERE ARE the ‘lot of’ developers that left SUSE?

    @Balzac: You wish, pal.

  21. Roy Schestowitz said,

    October 14, 2008 at 6:27 am

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    It’s not just Samba. We covered many more examples, especially in 2007. This includes SUSE’s top cheerleader (whom I consider|ed a friend). He wrote:

    http://mschlander.wordpress.com/2008/03/13/novell-from-an-opensuse-perspective/#comment-122

    Did you know that I left Novell 11 months ago? I’m not part of the “Novell marketing people” that you seem to think I am. I parted ways with Novell for the very same reasons that you cite about the MS agreement–not its evilness, but the careless disregard for the people that the company never bothered to consult (including me)…

  22. marbrough said,

    October 14, 2008 at 6:35 am

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    Martin did some translating and beta-testing; that hardly qualifies as ‘developer’.

    http://news.opensuse.org/2007/08/16/people-of-opensuse-martin-schlander/

  23. marbrough said,

    October 14, 2008 at 6:37 am

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    Martin did some translating and beta-testing; that hardly qualifies as ‘developer’ as far as I’m concerned.

    http://news.opensuse.org/2007/08/16/people-of-opensuse-martin-schlander/

  24. frankmiller said,

    October 14, 2008 at 6:39 am

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    A cheerleader isn’t a developers, yesno?

  25. Roy Schestowitz said,

    October 14, 2008 at 6:43 am

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    Fair enough. Well, a lot of SUSE developers are on a payroll, but I don’t know how many volunteers left.

  26. AlexH said,

    October 14, 2008 at 10:37 am

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    @Roy:

    Sadly, your name calling is on record. You weren’t referring to another group, you were referring to me in the singular.

    And again you propagate this myth that anyone who defends the free software that you attack is somehow defending Microsoft.

  27. Roy Schestowitz said,

    October 14, 2008 at 11:43 am

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    I see now. These things in the IRC channel are written fast and instinctively. I think I was a bit angry at something you said at the time.

  28. honkapontas said,

    October 16, 2008 at 1:21 am

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    Easily build your own openSUSE-based distribution with openSUSE’s Kiwi imaging tools:
    http://lizards.opensuse.org/2008/10/16/remastering-opensuse-how-to-build-your-own-opensuse-based-distro/

    Great how-to by Masim Sugianto there!

  29. honkapontas said,

    October 16, 2008 at 1:24 am

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    …and soon even much more easily with openSUSE studio: http://studio.suse.com/

    http://www.susestudio.com/ (currently in alpha-testing phase)

  30. honkapontas said,

    October 16, 2008 at 1:36 am

    Gravatar

    BTW, for weeks now the preparations for the first free elections for openSUSE’s board have been going on. FREE elections for the governing body of openSUSE! If you want to change the direction that openSUSE’s taking become an openSUSE-member and VOTE – or run for the board yourself.

    Writing hate-mails (well, hate-blogs) is not the way we change things in FLOSS.

  31. stevetheFLY said,

    November 26, 2008 at 9:00 am

    Gravatar

    openSUSE: DING-DONG, the EULA’s dead!

    http://zonker.opensuse.org/2008/11/26/opensuse-sports-a-new-license-ding-dong-the-eulas-dead/

    No more EULA, only a lincense, based on the wording of Fedora’s license.

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

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