12.14.08

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Cisco and the GPL versus Novell and the GPL

Posted in GPL, Microsoft, Novell at 5:14 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Fiasco Cisco
Source

We’ve already made some Cisco-Novell comparisons in the past in order to describe the companies’ relationship with Microsoft. The latest debacle with Cisco, which is taken court for intentional GPL violations, makes another similarity, as Glyn Moody explains.

Once [Cisco] realises that its ignorance and indifference is seriously damaging its reputation among a key constituency – that of developers – I predict it will soon comply with the licence, not least because it will cost a trivial amount of money and effort to do so.

The key difference is that Novell, which knowingly betrayed the GPL (by spirit), is unlikely to ever go back. When it comes to developers and system administrators, Novell has already lost its reputation.

Novell became too dependent on being the bad guy. And as long as this relationship of Novell and Microsoft survives, there will be plenty of fuel for Microsoft to constantly attack GNU/Linux with threats and FUD.

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54 Comments

  1. Ian said,

    December 14, 2008 at 10:46 pm

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    When it comes to developers and system administrators, Novell has already lost its reputation.

    What does this mean?

  2. Dan O'Brian said,

    December 14, 2008 at 11:01 pm

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    I think it’s what he’s trying to make happen but is thus far failing miserably to achieve.

  3. Michael said,

    December 15, 2008 at 1:55 am

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    Novell is a proprietary company that tried to buy into linux to save its arse. Unfortunately that wasn’t going well enough for its shareholders so it ‘sold out’ to try to make some quick cash, and perhaps get a competitive advantage on the side.

    Of course it didn’t really have much time to build much `street cred’ with the free software world, so they didn’t really have any to lose either, to be honest.

    I don’t think the dedicated novell fans from the netware era were too impressed either – they were already pretty upset with the move away from netware to this weird `linux’ thing.

  4. Roy Schestowitz said,

    December 15, 2008 at 3:56 am

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    Ian,

    It means what it says. A lot of people who used SUSE no longer do, due to the deal.

  5. Sebastiaan Veld said,

    December 15, 2008 at 4:45 am

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    “I don’t think the dedicated novell fans from the netware era were too impressed either – they were already pretty upset with the move away from netware to this weird `linux’ thing.”

    Everyone I know is pretty impressed about the achievements Novell made moving from NetWare to OES. NetWare has done it’s job pretty well in the past, but definatly has not future, as it’s a (and always will be) 32 bit OS. OES provides a lot of companies with pieces today not available in the -enterprise- Windows or Linux world, especially looking at integrating those two worlds seamlessly from an administration and end user perspective.

  6. Roy Schestowitz said,

    December 15, 2008 at 4:53 am

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    Everyone I know is pretty impressed about the achievements Novell made moving from NetWare to OES.

    But you’re specialised in Novell stuff. If you look outside the Novell crowd, the story is different. People whom I speak to feel differently.

  7. Ian said,

    December 15, 2008 at 9:23 am

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    As in real statistical evidence, or anecdotal evidence? I’m not claiming you’re wrong, I’m just curious how you came to this conclusion.

  8. Roy Schestowitz said,

    December 15, 2008 at 9:28 am

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    Here’s something you can try.

    Go to Linux forums prior to the deal and see the opinion about Novell and SUSE. Repeat this for post-deal writings.

  9. Dan O'Brian said,

    December 15, 2008 at 9:34 am

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    Roy, you also make a habit of surrounding yourself with people of similar opinion, so /obviously/ the people around you are going to have similar opinions ;-)

    You also write off anyone who disagrees with you as being a “shill” or “naive”.

  10. Roy Schestowitz said,

    December 15, 2008 at 9:37 am

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    No, I occasionally explore potential motives or vested interests. For example, Sebastiaan Veld does Novell stuff for a living, Alex Hudson succeeded a Novell project, and Jo Shields is doing loads of Mono stuff.

  11. Dan O'Brian said,

    December 15, 2008 at 9:42 am

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    Here’s something you can try.

    Go to Linux forums prior to the deal and see the opinion about Novell and SUSE. Repeat this for post-deal writings.

    How do we know which of the anonymous forum posters are real and who are just twitter sockpuppets? After all, he’s got 41 accounts he uses to troll against Novell and Mono, now?

    The problem with anonymous comments (and 99% of the comments on any of these distro forums are anonymous) is that you don’t know for sure which opinions are from real people and which are from troll pseudonyms used for venting.

  12. Roy Schestowitz said,

    December 15, 2008 at 9:48 am

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    I doubt people go this far to protest against Novell. Take a sufficiently large sample or ignore anonymous cowards.

  13. Dan O'Brian said,

    December 15, 2008 at 9:49 am

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    In my estimation, if I ignore anonymous cowards, very few are against Novell.

  14. Roy Schestowitz said,

    December 15, 2008 at 9:51 am

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    There are many prominent ones here:

    http://techp.org/petition/show/1

  15. Dan O'Brian said,

    December 15, 2008 at 10:00 am

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    I see a list of people who had a knee-jerk reaction to the deal, because they wrote their name on that list before anyone actually understood what the deal meant.

    They saw the name “Microsoft” and immediately overreacted.

    Besides, who’s to say those names are any more real than twitter’s sockpuppets? In the US, you’d normally verify these to be real people by checking Social Security ID #’s, but none are listed on that page. I’m not sure what is used in Europe or other countries, but without SSIDs in the US, names are worthless.

  16. Roy Schestowitz said,

    December 15, 2008 at 10:04 am

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    The petition took a while to show up. They had time to digest.

  17. Jo Shields said,

    December 15, 2008 at 10:14 am

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    “Jo Shields is doing loads of Mono stuff”

    Packager in “packages things” shocker

  18. Roy Schestowitz said,

    December 15, 2008 at 10:24 am

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    No shocker. It wasn’t a complaint.

  19. Dan O'Brian said,

    December 15, 2008 at 10:50 am

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    FWIW, there’s an interview with Jeremy Allison, the most famous of the “anti Microsoft/Novell deal” crowd, and he doesn’t seem to have any remaining resentment.

    I suspect a lot of the people who signed that list of yours likely have moved on and forgiven Novell as well. Perhaps you should move on and do the same.

  20. Roy Schestowitz said,

    December 15, 2008 at 10:58 am

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    Perhaps you should set up a petition to check how many people have changed their minds.

  21. Ian said,

    December 15, 2008 at 12:54 pm

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    I’m curious how many sys admins/organizations actually dumped Suse or Novell over the deal.

  22. Roy Schestowitz said,

    December 15, 2008 at 1:00 pm

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    Don’t expect them to formally announce it. When the time comes for renewal/reinstall they just pass it over.

  23. Ian said,

    December 15, 2008 at 4:18 pm

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    I guess there’s a difference between Novell having “lost its reputation” and people actually dumping their products as a direct result of the deal with Microsoft. It’s much easier to piss and moan on a website or online petition than to actually do anything about it(I know, I’m guilty of that myself). Novell has never had a great business reputation to begin with. Their reputation is their engineering and I don’t think that took a hit because of the deal.

  24. Roy Schestowitz said,

    December 15, 2008 at 4:21 pm

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    It depends on which part of Novell. the FL/OSS component relies on people’s love for GNU/Linux. The deal was not popular among this crowd.

  25. Ian said,

    December 15, 2008 at 4:25 pm

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    And by that crowd you mean end users or system administrators?

  26. Roy Schestowitz said,

    December 15, 2008 at 4:27 pm

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    Both. They overlap, especially and more so in the niche that’s GNU/Linux.

  27. jo Shields said,

    December 15, 2008 at 4:58 pm

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    But a smidge less in a land where a server license has a starting price of €290.00 for a year of support

  28. Baby In The Bath Water said,

    December 15, 2008 at 5:33 pm

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    It can probably be summed up as such:

    Those that bought Novell products before the deal due to product excellence continue to do so.

    Those that ran openSUSE before the deal because “yip! yip! long live linux! we hate Microsoft!” probably switched to something else.

    Those that didn’t buy Novell products before the deal because of patent fears now have feel safer buying Novell products, and have done so.

    In the end, Novell lost some freeloaders but gained paying customers and didn’t lose more than a handful of developers.

    Note: this comment was posted from Novell’s headquarters.

  29. Roy Schestowitz said,

    December 15, 2008 at 6:01 pm

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    Are you suggesting that Novell gained customers because of patents?

  30. jo Shields said,

    December 15, 2008 at 6:33 pm

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    That was the plan, wasn’t it?

    Assuming you don’t call openSUSE users “customers”, it might have have worked. Equally though they might have lost some for the same reason. Shit happens.

  31. Dan O'Brian said,

    December 15, 2008 at 7:27 pm

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    The certainly gained some customers from the deal. Whether they have had a net growth of customers is something only Novell execs would know, however.

  32. Roy Schestowitz said,

    December 15, 2008 at 7:51 pm

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    They could arguably do better without the deal. They had a good product, no liabilities involved. Customers did not need ‘patent protection’; they had already used Red Hat pretty happily.

    Microsoft did, however, tried shoving the patent thing into the press.

  33. G. Michaels said,

    December 15, 2008 at 9:46 pm

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    Don’t expect them to formally announce it. When the time comes for renewal/reinstall they just pass it over.

    Well, that’s certainly convenient.

    Note: writer of this comment adds absolutely nothing but stalking and personal attacks against readers, as documented here.

  34. Dan O'Brian said,

    December 15, 2008 at 10:37 pm

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    What Roy forgets is that the cost of moving to a new system (even when just going from Linux -> Linux) is prohibitively expensive, especially when the only reason to change is nothing more than to spite Novell over the Microsoft deal.

    Companies are not in the habbit of caring about those issues, especially when it is to their advantage to continue using Novell now that they cannot be sued by Microsoft over any patents the software they use may infringe.

  35. Roy Schestowitz said,

    December 16, 2008 at 3:39 am

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    I have shown you companies that said they would avoid SUSE Linux because of the deal. You choose to dismiss the evidence.

  36. Jaime said,

    December 16, 2008 at 3:39 am

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    I, for one, have switched from Suse to a different distro, since the deal.
    Cheers.

  37. Ian said,

    December 16, 2008 at 8:43 am

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    I have shown you companies that said they would avoid SUSE Linux because of the deal. You choose to dismiss the evidence.

    Who?

  38. Roy Schestowitz said,

    December 16, 2008 at 9:10 am

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    These people.

  39. Dan O'Brian said,

    December 16, 2008 at 9:19 am

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    Those aren’t corporations, those are individuals.

  40. Roy Schestowitz said,

    December 16, 2008 at 9:21 am

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    See their affiliations. Some are decision makers.

  41. Dan O'Brian said,

    December 16, 2008 at 9:34 am

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    So they claim. But we do not know for sure whether or not the companies they claim to work for and claim to have decision making power at, actually switched.

    When people are angry, they tend to over-exaggerate the power they have. They also tend to say they’ll do something and later, once they’ve calmed down and thought things through rationally, decide not to go through with it because it’d be a lot more work, a lot more expensive, a lot riskier, etc. than they originally thought.

    Even the people with “decision making power” need to convince other parts of the company to switch. Decision-making power really only comes into play when the rest of the company all agree that the current systems don’t meet their needs and they can’t easily be made to do so.

    Reinstalling all your desktops and servers is not a trivial task, nor is it cheap. Nor does it come without the risk of breaking things, which means loss of business. Time is money.

    Maybe small mom&pop businesses can do afford to switch based on religious beliefs, but not large corporations. Large corporations care about the bottom dollar and having everything run smoothly is part of that.

  42. Roy Schestowitz said,

    December 16, 2008 at 9:46 am

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    Distributions share the same components, so migrating between them is cheap.

  43. Dan O'Brian said,

    December 16, 2008 at 9:52 am

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    Fwiw, I’ve just searched thru that petition, and not a single one of the people claiming they’d switch linux distros claimed to have any decision-making power. All of the people threatening to switch simply claimed to be high school students, college students, linux advocates, or “ubuntu users” (that last one made me laugh, since if they were ubuntu users, presumably they weren’t running novell in the first place).

  44. Dan O'Brian said,

    December 16, 2008 at 9:53 am

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    Roy: wrong. For personal use, it’s probably cheap, but remember that corporations have more complex setups.

  45. Dan O'Brian said,

    December 16, 2008 at 9:55 am

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    Large corporations live by the rule of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” .

  46. Roy Schestowitz said,

    December 16, 2008 at 9:58 am

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    Upgrades arrive though.

    Red Hat won’t be replaced by SUSE and it’s simple to move from SUSE (SLES) to Red Hat.

  47. Chris said,

    December 16, 2008 at 10:03 am

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    STOP THE PRESS !!!

    “Über-twitter” the most notorious slashdot troll decided to switch his serverfarm he uses for controlling all his sockpuppets ( http://slashdot.org/~SockDisclosure/journal/214377 ) from the “bad bad Novell” ™ to the mighty fine Ubuntu since “bad bad Novell” ™ made a deal with the devil (M$) and therefore can’t be trusted with serious trolling business.

    See Boy, that argumentation actually proves nothing. The only people who still care about that deal are you, your shills and, of course, the people who like to make fun of you & your shills. The rest of the world just moved on.

    And yes Boy, migrating e.g. from RHEL to SLE or the other direction for a few more machines than your single file server is cheap … Just get a clue and some serious help while you are on the way.

  48. Ian said,

    December 16, 2008 at 10:22 am

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    Red Hat won’t be replaced by SUSE and it’s simple to move from SUSE (SLES) to Red Hat.

    I’ll take it from that comment you have never had to upgrade or migrate mission critical systems. Like Dan said, it’s not as easy as you’re making it out to be. Sure, for a distro jockey, it’s easy to switch. For critical systems, it isn’t. It doesn’t matter whether you’re going from Red Hat to Suse, Suse to Red Hat, Red Hat to Debian, Solaris to FreeBSD, Windows Server 2000 to Windows Server 2003. There will always be complications, training that must be done, proper planning, hardware costs(less these days with virtualization), and time spent doing a migration. It just isn’t that easy.

  49. Jo Shields said,

    December 16, 2008 at 10:41 am

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    Migrating from RH 7.2 to RH 9 took me about 2-3 months of prep & testing

    I think “it’s simple to move from SUSE (SLES) to Red Hat.” is a pretty telling comment about the bedroom nature of a site which claims to have deep insight into business matters

    Try running production services on 300-odd machines, then talk about how easy it is to change distro. It’s hard enough running a software update sometimes.

  50. Roy Schestowitz said,

    December 16, 2008 at 10:59 am

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    On a comparative/relative level, what was said is valid because moving between platforms (e.g. Windows to Linux) or frameworks (higher up the stack) can be complicated.

    I’ve had my job interviews for sysadmin positions at Google, so please don’t treat me like a kid. It’s them who came to me.

  51. Jo Shields said,

    December 16, 2008 at 11:10 am

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    Google carpet bomb places. After my second “work for us!” spam, I stopped paying attention. Sorry, but getting Google recruitment spam doesn’t make you special, it makes you googleable

  52. Baby In The Bath Water said,

    December 16, 2008 at 11:34 am

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    Even I’ve gotten job interviews at Google. Who hasn’t? I went through 4 phone interviews and 1 in-person interview (with another in-person interview scheduled) before I took a job elsewhere because they didn’t dilly-dally.

    I take it that since you aren’t working for Google, that the interview process didn’t last more than a single phone interview before they decided they didn’t want you?

    I reckon that’s why you’re still unable to get a paying job.

    Note: this comment was posted from Novell’s headquarters.

  53. Ian said,

    December 16, 2008 at 12:01 pm

    Gravatar

    On a comparative/relative level, what was said is valid because moving between platforms (e.g. Windows to Linux) or frameworks (higher up the stack) can be complicated.

    Well, moving from Suse to Red Hat is comparatively easier than moving from stone tablets to an AS400, but that doesn’t mean it’s trivial to do the former. :)

    I’ve had my job interviews for sysadmin positions at Google, so please don’t treat me like a kid. It’s them who came to me.

    I’m not sure if this was directed at me, but if you had interviews at google, congrats. That still doesn’t make the above any easier.

  54. Roy Schestowitz said,

    December 16, 2008 at 12:06 pm

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    Ian, it was directed at the regular hecklers, not you.

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