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11.15.08

Do-No-Evil Saturday – Part III: Novell Report, Schmidtism and More

Posted in Finance, Identity Management, Mail, Marketing, Novell, Videos at 7:18 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

SCO

Most of this story/saga was already covered in the middle of the week, but here is an unexciting addition from Groklaw. It’s about bills.

More bills are in for SCO to pay in the bankruptcy. Tanner, Berger Singerman, and Pachulski Stang all have filed for mo’ money. From the bills, we can discern through a glass darkly what’s been going on. Here’s what: the Swiss SUSE arbitration shows activity. You can find it on page 11 of Berger’s Exhibit A, where we see a notation that SUSE has filed a “submission” to the tribunal. It references “SUSE arbitration statement to tribunal” also, but it could be the same thing. This happened on 10/1/08.

Finance

Speaking of money, Novell’s business was analyzed by Companies and Markets.

Read the rest of this entry »

Do-No-Evil Saturday – Part II: SLES, SLERT, HPC, SLED, and Xandros

Posted in GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Servers, SLES/SLED, Xandros at 6:48 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNU in the wild

SLES

Quite a few articles this week mentioned the role earned or inherited by SUSE. For starters, Teradata sorted out an arrangement with SUSE. From its latest press release:

Read the rest of this entry »

Do-No-Evil Saturday – Part I: OpenSUSE’s Fifth Beta, YaST Raves

Posted in GNU/Linux, Novell, OpenSUSE at 6:09 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Vista-SUSE

LAST week was a busy week for OpenSUSE and this one is pretty much the same, so well done, OpenSUSE.

In focus this week it was Claes Backstrom, a Senior Linux Trainer and VMware Trainer, according to People of OpenSUSE.

Read the rest of this entry »

James Plamondon: Microsoft Guerrilla

Posted in FUD, Marketing, Microsoft at 3:32 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Gorilla
“Organize into a Jihad”

“Evangelism” is a word that’s hardly found outside Microsoft. It sounds a little like “angel” (it contains this as a substring) and it has nothing to do with technical work. It’s more like AstroTrufing (under a fancier name of course), which sometimes reaches sites like ZDNet. Microsoft is said to be encouraging this.

Microsoft has a lot of people that it calls “evangelists” (just watch the size of this list), but one who stood out from the crowd is James Plamondon, whose vile attitude and affinity of guerrilla can be jaw-dropping.

Remember that presentation which talks about Microsoft marketing as "Jihad"? That was him. One has to see it to believe it. The full text is in Groklaw. It turns out that it was composed by the same man who called software developers “pawns”. There were some articles about it at the time of the trial which Microsoft quickly paid to settle out of court (and for the damning evidence to be destructed, just like with Caldera.

James Plamondon was a technical evangelist at the company for eight years

[...]

“They’re essential,” he said about software developer pawns, according to a transcript of his remarks. “So you can’t win without them, and you have to take good care of them. You can’t let them feel like they’re pawns in the struggle.”

In the speech, entitled “Power evangelism and relationship evangelism,” Plamondon continued: “I mean, all through this presentation previously, I talked about how you’re using the pawns and you’re going to screw them if they don’t do what you want, and dah-dah-dah. You can’t let them feel like that. If they feel like that, you’ve lost from the beginning…. So you can’t let them feel like pawns, no matter how much they really are.”

Plamondon a technical evangelist for eight years at Microsoft, did not return an e-mailed request for comment.

[...]

In other comments about developers, Plamondon equated working with them to taking someone out on a first date. “It’s like you’re going out with a girl; forgive me, it goes the other way also. You’re going out with a girl, what you really want to do is have a deep, close and intimate relationship, at least for one night. And, you know, you just can’t let her feel like that, because if you do, it ain’t going to happen, right. So you have to talk long term and white picket fence and all these other wonderful things, or else you’re never going to get what you’re really looking for.”

James Plamondon also has a homepage, so those who are curious can pay a quick visit.

Why did he seemingly escape to Australia? Is he one of those embarrassed Microsoft employees who hide in the suburbs ashamed and guilty of what they had done. That’s the way Robert X. Cringely explained it anyway. Have a look.

There are hundreds of Microsoft millionaires (and even a few Microsoft billionaires) in the suburbs of Seattle. For the most part, these are people who no longer work for Microsoft, but still own company shares. They worked very hard for years and are now reaping the rewards of that work combined with their good luck. Most of them are proud of their careers, but a few are secretly ashamed. Climb high enough in the organization, and it becomes clear that Microsoft’s success has not always been based on legal or ethical behavior. The company is, after all, a convicted monopolist, and the exercise of those monopoly powers wasn’t just through a Gates or a Ballmer, but also through dozens of top managers, at least some of whom had to have known that what they were doing was wrong. These are smart people, but also people trapped by their own success. Some are in denial, some are just quiet. Nobody wants to risk what they have accumulated by talking about it. You would think great wealth would be freeing, but it isn’t always. Sometimes it is a trap.

[...]

During one of those last long nights working to deliver DOS 2.0 in early 1983, I am told that Paul Allen heard Gates and Ballmer discussing his health and talking about how to get his Microsoft shares back if Allen were to die.

Maybe that’s just the sort of fiduciary discussion board members have to have, but it didn’t go over well with Paul Allen, who never returned to Microsoft, and over the next eight years, made huge efforts to secure his wealth from the fate of Microsoft.

To engage in the behaviour projected by James Plamondon, one has to lack human ethics. It’s almost like an illness. Where does Microsoft find and recruit such people?

“Mopping Up can be a lot of fun. In the Mopping Up phase, Evangelism’s goal is to put the final nail into the competing technology’s coffin, and bury it in the burning depths of the earth. Ideally, use of the competing technology becomes associated with mental deficiency, as in, “he believes in Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and OS/2.” Just keep rubbing it in, via the press, analysts, newsgroups, whatever. Make the complete failure of the competition’s technology part of the mythology of the computer industry.”

James Plamondon, Microsoft

Microsoft’s Plan to Harm GNU/Linux and ODF via the Web

Posted in GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Novell, Office Suites, Open XML, OpenDocument, SUN at 11:38 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“Now [Novell is] little better than a branch of Microsoft”

LinuxToday Managing Editor

Several days ago, Simon Phipps from Sun Microsystems outlined what he considered to be the company’s new or existing strategy. As the comments there indicate, there was dissatisfaction (including some from yours truly) about the company’s announcement of collaboration with Microsoft. The discomforting news intersected with this post from Simon. There were some rants also.

Jonathan Schwartz has made some waves with his post The Inside Story (Java, Microsoft and MySQL). My problem is however not what most people think of.

Planète Béranger says nothing about Silverlight and the Microsoft/Live toolbar (H-P did this too), not to mention Sun’s ditching of Google, which bundled and distributed StarOffice only to Windows users anyway (I inquired with Google’s Chris DiBona about GNU/Linux, but they ignored my plea).

“At times, Sun is to Microsoft what Novell is to Microsoft.”At times, Sun is to Microsoft what Novell is to Microsoft. They go to the cleaners looking for a lifeline at the cost of their poor old soul. They also sign dubious patent deals.

Also discomforting is the idea of Sun embedding ads in its office suite, a little like Microsoft Works (an oxymoron, as we all know). Adding this insult to the DRM injury, all in all this could help Novell’s marketing of its patent-encumbered Windows-optimised fork. That’s just what Microsoft would want [1, 2, 3, 4. Microsoft won’t scoop up Novell, at least not for the time being. Novell is more useful for them when people think it’s a ‘Linux company’ (even if 80%+ of Novell’s business, as measured in terms of money, involves proprietary software).

Here is some more cohesive coverage from The Register.

OpenOffice is being pimped out by Sun Microsystems, just as Microsoft takes Office online, if Sun’s chief executive latest blog entry is anything to go by.

Jonathan Schwartz has posted that an “auction’s afoot…to see who we’ll be partnering with us to integrate their business and brands into our binary product distribution” of OpenOffice.

[...]

A Microsoft FAQ has said Office Web Applications will be available to consumers via Office Live with both ad-funded and subscription offerings.

“That seems to imply a free (ad-supported) and paid (subscription) offering will be available. For business customers,” Microsoft said apparently unaware of what’s coming itself. For business customers, Microsoft will also offer Office Web Applications “as a hosted subscription service and through existing volume licensing agreements.”

That last bit is worth expanding on because there was a lot of coverage portraying it as Microsoft accommodating competition. Matt Asay wrote a bad article that miscomprehends the complexity of the situation, so we quote just the reply to it from Michael Tiemann, who understands very well what is going on.

What Microsoft and Novell are doing is totally different than what Office-on-Linux might mean. Microsoft is using Novell to undermine confidence in open source by using a once-trusted brand as a mouthpiece for their legal FUD (fear, uncertainty, and doubt).

It could well be that when we see the final details of Microsoft’s offer, it will be every bit as problematic as you predict. They could have a EULA that forces Red Hat users to swear allegiance to Satan, for example. Or they could stipulate that Office can only run on versions of Linux that have conceded to Microsoft’s vague patent claims–which would be no help to Red Hat at all, and would create a “there you go again” moment as users continue to evaluate what authentic open source means to their business and their freedom.

Silverlight is only suitable for Novell customers (i.e. those who pay Microsoft for GNU/Linux). In other words, this on-line version of Office (in its fuller glory) might work properly for GNU/Linux users some day, provided that they leave their ‘unlicensed’ GNU/Linux distribution. it’s another entrapment.

Moreover, this Web-based software from Microsoft would have data stored as OOXML for more eternal lock-in and stifling of mobility and potability (e.g. OpenOffice.org).

Mono+OOXML are traps striving to claim “willful infringement” and to limit developer control. Office Web Applications are lock-in and they should therefore be avoided.

OOXML is fraud

Monoment [sic] of Novell’s Demise

Posted in FSF, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Mono, Novell, Videos at 10:32 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Monument
Living and dying with Mono

A FREQUENTLY-ASKED question is, “what distinguishes between the FSF’s approach to .NET and that of Novell?”

Aside from the fact that the FSF seems to have lost interest in .NET cloning, the key difference between dotgnu and Mono is that the former is intended to bring legacy applications over to GNU/Linux (much like Wine), whereas the latter — Mono — is somehow making its way into GNOME/GTK applications. Ximian/Novell are the cause for this and Novell encourages use of MonoDevelop.

A reader brought to our attention this video from a year and a half ago where Richard Stallman answers a question about Mono.

Ogg Theora

Direct link

Mr. Stallman says people “shouldn’t implement in .NET.” It is important to use our own tools. For example, it would be impossible to find GNU/Linux developers selecting Microsoft DirectX just because Wine can sort of handle it. Unsurprisingly, one of the most vocal boosters of Mono goes by the name directhex.

Novell is actively developing its desktop with Mono, so it’s not just a matter of bringing applications to GNU/Linux; it’s also about making applications in GNU/Linux using Microsoft technologies and therefore enriching Windows as well. Here is a brand-new reminder that comes with Novell’s release of Banshee 1.4:

Developers should use GPL-licensed tools like net2java (there are also non-Free ones) to escape the .NET trap as soon as possible.

Even Miguel seems to be having regrets. An older article is summarised thusly:

Novell Vice President Miguel de Icaza criticizes choice of Microsoft technology over open-source options.

To quote further from this article:

Speaking on a panel at the MIX 08 conference in Las Vegas, de Icaza said that Novell has done the best it could to balance open-source interests with patent indemnification. However, if he had his way, the company would have remained strictly open source and not gotten into bed with Microsoft. Novell entered into a controversial multimillion dollar cross-patent licensing and interoperability deal with Microsoft in November 2006.

Despite all of this, Novell’s new leadership is looking into further development of Microsoft technologies with Moonlight. Yes, it even “calls for [Moonlight] 2.0 contributors.”

Moonlight 1.0 Beta 1 Nears Rollout, Calls for 2.0 Contributors

The Moonlight team has announced that the first beta release of Moonlight 1.0 is nearly ready for testing. Moonlight is an open source implementation of Microsoft’s Silverlight product.

“Come and volunteer to help the poisoning of GNU/Linux…”

Who are they kidding? Novell should fight XAML, not support it. Fedora knows better.

Truthfully, .NET is Microsoft’s imitation of Java, but the patent office does not recognise the fact that all ideas (or so-called ‘inventions’) are merely aggregations of existing knowledge. This is why we push so hard for a reform and so should everybody else (shall time permit).

“The secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources.”

Albert Einstein

Novell is Losing the Few Supporters It Had Left

Posted in GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Novell, Red Hat, Servers, SLES/SLED at 9:13 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Novell’s desperate actions speak louder than promises and commitments

Novell must realise that death of public trust can sooner or later result in the death of a company. There is a lot of choice in GNU/Linux and too little lock-in. Novell is stepping in quicksand if it believes that stomping on Red Hat (and ‘small’ guys like CentOS) using Microsoft’s budget is going to get its SUSE brochures anywhere but the wastebasket.

It is typically techies who choose what distribution to deploy. Judging by previous articles [1, 2, 3, 4], Novell’s strategy earns it no friends. Au contraire — it buys Novell new enemies.

Tectonic, a notable South African publication specialising in GNU/Linux and FOSS, has routinely commended Novell over the years, but its latest article about Novell receives a lot of responses because it represents a change in attitude.

Novell makes itself even harder to trust

[..]

Novell seems determined to weaken the same Linux world by forcing it to fight with itself. This couldn’t be better news for competitors such as Microsoft.

A software patent agreement with Microsoft was also the first hint that Novell was just after a quick buck. This most recent plan pretty much seals that reputation.

It also suggests that Novell is struggling; struggling to convince users to deploy its software and struggling to get migration deals signed. So it turns on the community that helped it avoid an untimely death and devises new ways to destroy it.

Looking elsewhere, it’s a lot of the same. The first few comments (without omissions) on the IDG article bear the headings:

“Another Novell failure in the making”

“Fail !”

“Why would anyone do that ?”

One hour ago in Tectonic, the following comment showed up:

“Novell can give me all the free SuSE they want….

“… and it will remain in the wrapping and quickly find itself in /dev/bin. I hate it with a passion.”

Over in Free Software Magazine, which commented on Novell’s strategy even before Tuesday’s announcement, skepticism was voiced due to Novell’s mixed-source identity [1, 2, 3, 4] (Novell is still a largely-proprietary software company, not just a Microsoft partner).

As I said, the idea that software stacks will become a mixture of free and proprietary products is nothing new. Indeed lots of people are already using such stacks. Personally I believe that once freedom is introduced into a “market place” it will become harder to suppress until eventually it becomes the dominant licencing strategy. This is evident in the fact that a company like Novell not only bought a free software company (SuSE), but bought into the free software philosophy — well partly anyway. So while proprietary software may not entirely die out (more’s the pity) I feel (and hope) it will become the de-facto NON-standard way of licencing software.

“Mixed source” is a bad name for this — er — mix though. The source or openness of it is largely irrelevant if you ask me. When you mix free and proprietary systems in one application stack — like it or not — the entire stack has a proprietary effect. Obviously the degree of that proprietary effect will depend on how vital the proprietary software is to the stack. Use a free software database back-end with a proprietary front-end and your stack is largely subject to the whim of front-end’s vendor.

ComputerWorld credits Boycott Novell for the opposition.

Joint Windows/Linux support is something that a lot of businesses need. That said, Novell working hand-in-glove with Microsoft doesn’t go over at all well with many Linux users. Boycott Novell, after all, which serves as the lightning rod for resentment against Novell and Microsoft working together, is a very popular site.

Novell closed offices in Europe over a week ago, so its clock its definitely ticking. The English-speaking press was rather mute on this important development, perhaps — just perhaps — because it affects only the workforce in Europe (which will work from home).

Novell is desperate for growth (it’s on;y faking success), but it could offer technical help and incentives to move from Windows and UNIX to GNU/Linux. What they do at the moment just weakens their collaborators at Red Hat — those who also help the development of SLED and SLERT because efforts are being pooled and code always shared. They cannibalise GNU/Linux and harm their own breed in the process.

Black widow
Novell: the black widow of Linux

“This is a general misconception, as the name seems to suggest that the males are invariably consumed after mating.”

Black widow spider

Is Microsoft Blocking Firefox Downloads?

Posted in Free/Libre Software, Microsoft at 8:22 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Or could the code wranglers at Mozilla get their markup so terribly wrong?

There’s an old joke which says Windows and Internet Explorer are tools for obtaining/burning GNU/Linux and for downloading Firefox, respectively, depending on one’s preferences. But what happens when the single Web browser that’s installed on a new PC refuses to fetch an alternative to it? Xenophobia?

The following seems too risky (for Microsoft) to be true, but watch this and make personal judgment. It is not verified yet.

Internet Explorer balks at Firefox download link

[...]

[O]n a clean installation of Windows XP (don’t ask; it’s a long story), Internet Explorer 6 claims there’s an error on the GetFirefox.com download page, and refuses to allow a click on the download button.

A screenshot is the best I can do here, since I don’t really have any other way of proving it won’t work.

Remember the alleged tricks Microsoft plays with Hotmail (against GNU/Linux) and its general effect on E-mail. I gave similar examples three and a half years ago when I was an early (pre-1.0) Firefox adopter on S.u.S.E. Linux 8.1.

“On a different topic,” says one reader, “here is an oldie about Microsoft causing spam.

“Get Windows off the desktop and spam goes away…

“Also with the holidays coming up, it might be time to prepare an article about why not to work for free to fix Bill’s mistakes for Christmas (or other holidays).”

Hand grenade
Microsoft Internet Exploder

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