Friction in the boards
According to this message from Wednesday, Compiz suffers from a developers vacuum. People move on to forks of this Novell project, notably Compiz-Fusion. This new comment from LinuxToday is about “Novell’s role” and it asks, “Could devs be moving to a different home because of the Microsoft factor?”
It’s worth remembering that Compiz predates Novell’s patent deal with Microsoft. If there is any substance to the argument above, this would not be the first example where developers are leaving Novell because of the Novell/Microsoft patent deal. This actually leads to a different and older story; Novell betrayed partners like Astrum [1, 2, 3] and they got sued for it too, but what about the relationship with AMD?
There are those who insist that hardware acceleration is an area where Novell contributes a lot, but had it not been Novell, it probably would have been more of Red Hat.
“AMD was close to going through with the canning its Novell contract, which would have effectively spelled the death of RadeonHD.”One known example of contribution is the AMD-Novell relationship. But Novell angered AMD in a major way some time ago , despite the fact that AMD and Novell had enjoyed a good relation, as demonstrated publicly in LinuxWorld 2007. It was quite an affair and several press releases came out at the time (this did not recur in LinuxWorld 2008). AMD and Novell were a good match; both were abused by convicted monopolists.
What few people know is that AMD almost cut Novell off on their RadeonHD contract. AMD was getting especially steamed over RadeonHD avoiding AtomBIOS. The RadeonHD developers were not entirely aware of this at the time, and maybe they still don’t know.
A senior AMD official wrote: “And to think I spent the last four months of my life trying to save their sorry asses. What a fool I was. [...] it was scheduled to be finished 5 weeks ago. [...] I escalated high and hard within Novell’s senior management.” It was the Novell developers who were causing the issues, whereas Novell’s management was not the one trying to knock AMD over AtomBIOS. AMD was paying Novell to write a driver to use AtomBIOS, but Novell continued going forward bashing AtomBIOS and avoiding it. The real reason, simply put, was that AtomBIOS is written horribly, or that’s how Novell viewed it anyway. The developers said it was their intention all along to hard-code it with no AtomBIOS.
AMD was close to going through with the canning its Novell contract, which would have effectively spelled the death of RadeonHD.
Were the specs sufficient for anyone else to take over? Hypothetically speaking, for some parts, yes. But for every document that’s publicly available, there are at least three times as many NDA documents than Novell had. However, if they had canned RadeonHD, it’s reasonable to suspect that they would have steered their resources towards Red Hat as they already do for the -ati driver.
NDAs are used all the time when they release documentation that has yet to be sanitised and for documentation and hardware on unreleased products. The danger with Novell is one that revolves around control. It seems like AMD clings on to control. They don’t want the community to leapfrog its own development.
Those NDAs were part of this arrangement and are in some sense akin to what Microsoft arranged with Novell. Microsoft makes source code visible, but only Novell can use it. This leads to a liability path and there’s also the issue of Linux (or broadly speaking, the Free Desktop) depending on Novell’s existence. In a sense, NDAs, just like RAND and software patents, are inherently incompatible with the spirit and goals of the GNU project.
Another related example of control would be Maemo versus the iPhone. In the former case, Nokia lost control of its direction and its equipment, at least in some sense. DRM and all that antifeature fluff wouldn’t be properly enforced; On the contrary — looking at the latter — Apple uses “security” as a codeword for control. It’s prepared to brick iPhones that leap out of its hands (jail-breaking). █