This post addresses an ongoing problem that we’ve already covered in:
Novell is almost a proponent and also a vendor of software patents, judging by its own words and also its deeds. So what’s the deal with Novell being a main sponsor — one among only two — of a European conferences that concentrates on Free/open source software? Novell’s open source side of business accounts for under 20% of its overall identity, based on some estimates and criteria. O’Reilly is a separate issue that we won’t tackle this time around, but it’s pro SaaS and use of Free software, which is not the same as contribution.
“Novell’s open source side of business accounts for under 20% of its overall identity, based on some estimates and criteria.”“[This event] is taken by FOSDEM crooks,” tells us one person. And in response to Rui’s letter, off come some gloves at Philip Paeps’ blog. Michael Douglas writes: “Your pathetic excuses to ban Novell from contributing to FOSDEM only goes to show how childish you and the rest of the BoycottNovellers actually are, throwing temper tantrums whenever you don’t get your way.”
This is an ad hominem attack that targets people using labels such as “childish”, “kids”, “brats”, “angry”, “zealots” and so on and so forth. Labels are cheap [1, 2, 3, 4, 5], explanations are not.
This troubling situation has already escalated to ComputerWorld and we heard that Slashdot or Richard Stallman might have something to say on the issue too.
“Free software” or “open source”? It’s a perennial question that has provoked a thousand flame wars. Normally, the factions supporting each label and its associated theoretical baggage manage to work alongside each other for the collective good with only a minimal amount of friction. But occasionally, the sparks begin to fly, and tempers rise. I think we’re in for another bout of this particular fever.
Glyn Moody wants no involvement in such arguments, but it would be interesting to see how FOSDEM justifies giving special treatment (return for investment) to Novell, which says outrageous things like “intellectual property peace of mind” (re: Free software, ‘thanks’ to Microsoft “patent royalties”, paid through vouchers to Microsoft). █
“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
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Technology cowboyism: Fail
WORDS ARE CHEAP, but then again, so is SCO. It may soon be selling its assets, as we noted briefly over the weekend. Heaps of articles were written to cover this at the beginning of the week, so rather than reiterate, let us summarise using a sample of snippets:
Salt Lake Tribune: Technology company SCO Group proposes sale of assets
The embattled SCO Group Inc. is proposing to auction off its core products and use proceeds to continue its controversial lawsuits over the alleged violations of its copyrights in Linux open-source software.
The Lindon company has filed a new reorganization plan with the federal court in Delaware where it sought bankruptcy protection from creditors after an adverse ruling in the Linux litigation.
If approved by a bankruptcy judge, the plan could mean SCO’s server software and mobile products lines are owned by other parties while SCO itself remained largely to pursue the lawsuits under the leadership of CEO Darl McBride.
“One goal of this approach is to separate the legal defense of its intellectual property from its core product business,” McBride said in a letter to customers, partners and shareholders.
Jeff Hunsaker, president and COO of The SCO Group, said the litigation had been distracting to the company’s efforts to market its products.
ITWire: SCO: Garbage Time
Nevertheless, on March 6th 2003 The SCO Group filed a $1 billion lawsuit in the United States against IBM for allegedly “devaluing” its version of the UNIX operating system. The damages were later increased to $3b and subsequently further revised to $5b.
IDG Blogs: SCO: Garbage Time
It’s garbage time now for SCO. Those of you who follow basketball know exactly what I mean. This is when the winning team, Linux, and its chief champions in the SCO lawsuits. Novell and IBM, can send in the reserves from the end of the bench. SCO’s lawsuits are smashed to bits.
As the clock ever so slowly winds down, SCO is now dumping what was once its heart, its Unix OpenServer and UnixWare business, and its newer mobile software, to continue its forlorn lawsuits. SCO has filed a new reorganization plan with the federal bankruptcy court in Delaware on January 8th.
TechDirt: SCO Looking To Ditch Actual Business To Try To Keep Lawsuit Going
It’s amazing that after losing pretty much every aspect of this campaign from the very beginning, that folks at SCO still think it’s worth pursuing.
Slashdot: SCO Proposes Sale of Assets To Continue Litigation
The Lindon company has filed a new reorganization plan with the federal court in Delaware where it sought bankruptcy protection from creditors after an adverse ruling in the Linux litigation. If approved by a bankruptcy judge, the plan could mean SCO’s server software and mobile products lines are owned by other parties while SCO itself remained largely to pursue the lawsuits under the leadership of CEO Darl McBride.
IT Business Edge: SCO Just Won’t Give Up
Please. The company is “distracted” because its leadership is focused on the wrong thing. Like a Slashdot post on the news suggested, SCO should “know when to fold ‘em.” Let it go, and get on with business.
SD Times: SCO to hold auction as part of bankruptcy plan
If SCO’s assets are not sold, SCO will continue to sell OpenServer and its mobile products in what Hunsaker called a “bootstrap plan.” This would require SCO to reduce operating costs and increase pricing for certain products.
SCO was originally due to file its Chapter 11 reorganization plan at the end of 2008, but the company requested an extension, asking for a deadline of Jan. 16. Hunsaker attributed this to SCO needing a few extra days to work through the disclosure statements and reorganization plan.
Mercury News: SCO announces public auction of core products
The company has been embroiled in litigation for almost five years. It has sued IBM, AutoZone and Novell and been sued by Red Hat. In August, SCO lost its legal case against Novell and ended up facing a potentially $40 million summary judgment. SCO has appealed the ruling and sought bankruptcy protection. SCO has considerably cut down on the amount owed to Novell since filing bankruptcy, and claims it will win on appeal.
Tech Rockies: SCO Group Files Reorg Plan, Looks to Split Operations, Lawsuits
Lindon, Utah-based The SCO Group, the Unix software provider which has been battling the Linux operating system community and such companies as IBM and Novell over source code, said Monday that it has filed a formal Reorganization Plan and plans to conduct a public auction of the firm’s last remaining product operations to fund the company.
Ars Technica: SCO aims to reorganize, fight on with corporate garage sale
Seeking to stave off final defeat, SCO has brought a (fourth) new reorganization plan to bankruptcy court. The company has proposed an asset sale to raise funds for paying off the rest of its debts and implementing a new business plan.
As one commenter in Linux Today wrote, “I bid 25 cents (USD) for SCO’s “intellectual property” assets. I know it’s above market value, but I’d hate to look like I was trying to capitalize on a fire sale. I’ll even toss in a couple of extra strength garbage bags with deodorizer for packaging and delivery to the large, green Waste Management bin in my driveway.”
Going forward, some big questions revolve around software patents and Microsoft partners like Novell and Xandros. Novell serves as the village fool who lowers the gate (shakes hands on software patents) and opens up the door (invites Microsoft to F/OSS despite all that we know).
Sam Dean has just commented on a list of directionless companies which are 'led' by Novell. Here is his take:
Novell and Sun Microsystems are the two big open source players on the list, and I’ve made the point before that these companies’ market capitalizations are barely above the amount of cash they have which could definitely make them acquisition targets. They could be bought simply to shut parts of them down. However, I agree with ChannelInsider’s rebuttal that Microsoft has a pronounced vested interest in keeping Novell around, if for no other reason than to slow down Red Hat’s growth. That could be a big factor in any attempt to acquire Novell.
It’s widely agreed that Novell helps Microsoft more than it harms it. Microsoft fuels Novell not due to benevolence; companies, by definition, act on behalf of investors’ interests. That alone should make people suspicious and apprehensive. █
“On the same day that CA blasted SCO, Open Source evangelist Eric Raymond revealed a leaked email from SCO’s strategic consultant Mike Anderer to their management. The email details how, surprise surprise, Microsoft has arranged virtually all of SCO’s financing, hiding behind intermediaries like Baystar Capital.”
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But Novell throws mud
LAST WEEK WE heard about the significant news from Vietnam, which plans to move to Free software within a couple of years. On one occasion in the past we wrote about tricks that Intel and Microsoft had been pulling in Vietnam in order to secure a case of digital colonialism and the subject also arose in the IRC channel (late last week [1, 2, 3]).
Yesterday we saw another nation adopting a similar, pro-Free software stance (mentioned here) and Malaysia had already begun large-scale migrations to OpenOffice.org across the nation, backed by an ODF-supportive policy. Here is the latest encouraging report from Malaysia:
Say it with me slowly, forty million big ones !
That’s how much government agencies have saved by deploying open source software in favour of proprietary, and costly licensed technology in government ministries, departments and agencies.
A massive big up is due to the folks at MAMPU and the Open Source Competency Centre (OSCC) for this.
How might Microsoft respond to this*? Other than EDGI (which targeted StarOffice at the time [1, 2, 3]), Microsoft could probably resort to a favourite strategy which is infighting (civil wars). Technical evangelism presentation material from Microsoft specifically mentions this as a tactic, so "talking points" will continue to appear.
“One vector of FUD that’s aligned against the OpenOffice.org brand at this moment is Microsoft’s ally, Novell.”One vector of FUD that’s aligned against the OpenOffice.org brand at this moment is Microsoft’s ally, Novell. Microsoft rarely ridicules its rivals directly, but this new comment from Linux Today, titled “Talking Points for the Microsoft Trolls,” asked whether “[T]his is the December talking points list for the Microsoft Trolls.” The commenter refers to Michael Meeks. We wrote about this before [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7] and ZDNet (where Microsoft connections do exist) is still kicking a dead horse by calling/labeling OpenOffice.org a “dying horse”, thereby shedding doubt on its future prospects. These insults are coming through Novell**. Having poisoned the minds of some people, ZDNet Asia generalises:
OpenOffice.org is still not past its expiry date, but more needs to be done to drive community participation and ensure the open source software remains relevant, say industry watchers.
Dana Blankenhorn fuels this. He comments on it too. Guess where? ZDNet.
Meeks was explicit in his meaning at the blog, saying Sun is disengaging from the project, that its participation is not being replaced, and that improvements are grinding toward a halt.
A talking points treadmill, poisoned minds, exaggeration, or is it genuine concern? Probably a combination of all these factors is at play. Either way, let’s press on.
Time may have passed since the OOXML corruptions, but activists from FFII have not given up. The real struggle for freedom is taking place right now when countries like Malaysia are choosing ODF. According to research from Andre at <No>OOXML, European SMEs were against OOXML, but their voices probably got hijacked by Microsoft henchmen like Jonathan Zuck and his handful of empty shells that masquerade as groups advocating for small business [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8].
A real surprise to many observer of the Open XML debate was that most of the usual suspects of SME astroturf were not called to arms in the Open XML standard struggle. The new turf Voices for Innovation seriously lacked maturity and didn’t take off. The attempt appeared rather foolish. Vendor capture was not restrained but frank, as if European standard setting was the natural domain of European sales departments and partners. Another indication of SME weakness in the process.
As now all relevant sides agree that the ISO fasttrack process needs reform, I am curious what proposals the standard technocrats in Europe will come up with to strengthen true SME representation in the standard setting process. New instruments of competition law are expected to be developed to overcome the misrepresentation problem for which OOXML became a paradigm. How to crack down on future standard voting cartells in Europe and foreign influence? I wonder what reform suggestions NORMAPME would make.
It may have been a while since we last wrote about Microsoft’s OOXML mischiefs in Greece. Examples were included in:
The FFII in Greece has gotten some updates about its case against the government’s deal with Microsoft.
On 1 February 2006, the Greek government and Microsoft announced a strategic partnership agreement (the “Agreement”). At least 6 questions by the parliament remained unanswered by the government. On 10 January 2008, the government created a law proposal that would make the Agreement have the power of law. The law was approved by the Parliament on 29 January 2008. The FFII and the Hellenic Linux Users Group filed a complaint to the European Commission, which is still (as of 28 December 2008) under investigation.
“FFII Greece spent 4700 Eur on lawyer fees but the association didn’t make much buzz in other parts of Europe,” based on what we were told. Quebec took similar steps against the government’s illegitimate deals with Microsoft, as we last noted here. Many of these government deals are illegitimate at best and more likely just corrupt. █
“The danger is that Microsoft is using strategic monopolistic pricing in the education market, with the government’s assistance, to turn our state university systems into private workforce training programs for Microsoft.”
* This is an exercise in ‘reverse-engineering’ reaction as means of analysis and prevention.
** Sun chooses not to confront publicly as that would make things worse.
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