Proprietary software company opens ‘open source’
conference, which is organised by IDC|IDG
Summary: How a company that’s suing Linux with help from Novell’s endorsement still harms OSBC
OSBC 2008 WAS kick-started with a keynote from Microsoft’s chief lawyer, who was talking about how or why Microsoft might (or might not) sue open source software. That was a year before Microsoft started suing and Pamela Jones warned attendants/attendees that they should treat Microsoft as though it was already suing (because — as she put it — she believed Microsoft would).
“This year, the crowd will be hearing not from an open source CEO.”Perceptually, in the eyes of many, OSBC ended up like a farce [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]. For instance, instead of focusing on Red Hat’s fantastic results at the time, the press only concentrated on Microsoft and its software patents because Microsoft managed to derail OSBC and change the subject of discussion so as to arouse fear, uncertainty, and doubt.
This year is not so different (not even for OSCON [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8]). People who organise OSBC — and Matt Asay is among them — happily invite one of the funding sources of this event since inception, which also happens to be viciously suing a struggling company using software patents. It also attacks Linux in the courtroom. How lovely, how charming. And by doing all this, Microsoft is hoping to divide, to upset the crowd, and to crash these events for good. It also did this to Apple on purpose, by its very own admission.
This year, the crowd will be hearing not from an open source CEO. The keynote speaker will be from a proprietary software company that uses patents and technical alliances with Microsoft to market its pricey version of GNU/Linux. Yes, here is the press release:
Novell today announced Ron Hovsepian, president and CEO, will deliver a keynote at the Open Source Business Conference (OSBC) on Tuesday, March 24 at 9 a.m. at The Palace Hotel in San Francisco. Owned and produced by InfoWorld, OSBC is the industry’s forum for senior business leaders, C-level technical strategists, lawyers and venture capitalists to collaborate on emerging business models, strategies and profitability through open source. In line with the event’s 2009 focus on open sourcing for the enterprise, the keynote, “Linux in the Service-Driven Data Center,” will discuss the next generation of Linux and the heterogeneous, service-driven data center, as well as the ecosystem necessary to support both.
Need it be added that this conference is being organised or at least managed by Microsoft’s friends at IDC/IDG [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6]? Microsoft is paying a lot of money to these people and last week we learned that IDG was upsetting Linux editors whom it works with. It also sacked at least a couple, quietly and rudely.
To have Novell take the lead here is very wrong. Paul Rubens has just put it like this:
These same worries were behind Microsoft cozying up to Novell, giving it hundreds of millions of dollars in exchange for support certificates it can give or sell to customers who use Novell’s SUSE Linux, to help it fight Red Hat. It’s a kind of ‘divide and conquer’ strategy on the server side of the business, though it doesn’t seem to be working very well: Despite the help from Microsoft, Novell’s Linux business was down 42 percent in the first fiscal quarter of this year (ending January 31st.) By contrast, at the end of December, Red Hat reported revenue up 22 percent in its third quarter.
As that last bit makes very clear, Novell seems like a dying company, so it’s not a bad symbol for open source just because of its alliance with Microsoft; it also represents failure and it demonstrates what happens to those who are gullible enough to trust Microsoft in the vicinity of open source software. Microsoft just wants to devour or to gradually "envelope" it.
Another interesting article has just been punished which makes the company seem as though it’s on the verge of breakage.
The Novell head has no other options.
Novell has “bet the company” on a restructure over the past two years, and Hovsepian is focused on making it a success.
The 30-year-old infrastructure company has downsized its consulting business, which was weighing down overall revenue, and focused on creating infrastructure software products.
At a time when big vendors are using cloud computing to cut out the middlemen and boost profits, Novell will rely mainly on the channel to sell these products.
According to this article, Novell relies on the channel, which it itself admitted to be broken. Novell’s Vice President, Javier Colado, admitted this very recently, having just quit his post as head of Novell’s channel.
Is this the company that OSBC wants to carry its flag? Or has it sold out to Microsoft, just as it did last year? █
“Our partnership with Microsoft continues to expand.”
–Ron Hovsepian, Novell CEO
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Summary: Backlash against Novell; Ubuntu is rumoured to be considering abolishment of Mono
THE man behind the Open Source Definition never liked the Novell-Microsoft deal. After expressions of great concern about Microsoft's involvement inside OSI/"open source" and in direct response to Microsoft's lawsuit against TomTom he wrote:
“They have not turned over a new leaf, and still remain insincere about their involvement in open source,” Perens said.
Making it plain, Perens said:
“I don’t believe Microsoft was ever attempting to be sincere. A perceived involvement in open source by Microsoft, along with highly paid mouthpieces like Novell to chime in for them, is giving Microsoft the ability to speak for open source in government circles, short-circuiting the legislation we need to defend ourselves from software patents or to establish a level playing field on which open source and proprietary software can compete fairly. That’s their true interest.”
The answer is legislation, he said. Perens said legislation is needed to “clean out the software patent system. Developers need to be able to make and sell software without the threat of patent-related extortion. We must unite both proprietary and open-source developers – who are equally at risk – to work for this cause, if we’re to have a hope of being heard by legislators.”
This is similar to what the SFLC had to say, namely that “It’s a good moment for people to take a step back and re-think how friendly Microsoft is to open source.”
Here comes Novell again, characteristically appearing as Microsoft’s beloved role model. Ronald Zink from Microsoft had some interesting words to share, as noted in this article about TomTom. (emphasis is ours)
“We will talk about patents and how they relate to our technologies, but it’s on the basis of private conversations rather than openly broad negotiation,” said [Microsoft's] Zink. “We are willing to license on reasonable terms, and we have covenants not to sue open source developers or for research and development.”
[Microsoft's] Zink added that the covenants, which also extend to those companies such as Novell which agree to cross-license, “give understanding and certainty to people”.
Allison also spoke out about the TomTom case in February, saying Microsoft’s move would alienate the open source community.
We wrote about Jeremy Allison’s take in [1, 2, 3]. Two years ago he told Boycott Novell why he disliked the deal between Microsoft and Novell (his employer at the time) before he even left the company.
Other groups like the FFII and maybe the FSF have already taken it to the streets in order to protest against Microsoft (post-TomTom lawsuit). The dangers of Mono and Moonlight become ever more clear as well. Microsoft wants to fight GNU/Linux using patents and it’s looking to subvert the GPL along with European law in order to achieve this [1, 2, 3].
Sam Varghese wrote this good new article which reinforces the belief that Microsoft has officially taken a SCO-like route to fighting its #1 competitor.
But if any Microsoft employee went to a free software or open source conference today, I doubt he or she would attract anything other than hostile glares. By suing GPS device maker TomTom over alleged violation of patents connected with an implementation of the Linux kernel any goodwill that Microsoft has built up has gone down the drain.
Why did Microsoft decide to sue TomTom at this time? Is it the old arrogance asserting itself again as it has many times in the past? Is it a sense that suing at this time gives it more leeway than at others?
But there is one thing which a corporate entity like Microsoft can never comprehend. And that is the energy of the free software community, the anger and hatred that the lawsuit has generated.
When SCO started its campaign against Linux by suing IBM, it was quite confident that things would go its way. Six years later, the company is just a shell and few people would even bother pissing on it.
Somehow I have the feeling that this time Microsoft may have bitten off more than even it can chew.
It’s probably too late for Microsoft, but it’s not too late for Free software. It is a good time to wake up and realise the dangers of Novell/Microsoft technologies like Moonlight. One must realise that Mono and Moonlight act as legal obstacles which reside at the bottom of many desktop and Web applications, respsectively (thus they create an irreversible, irrevocable dependency, just like FAT).
“Novell spends a lot of time lauding and promoting its work on Mono, MonoDevelop, and Moonlight.”A reader and informant of ours has already embarked on the task involving lots of historical excavation, only to find out that popular distributions accepted Mono because everyone else had (i.e. cattle effect). This means that Mono had become contagious and dangerous at the same time. It’s a lot like FAT because it relies on the ‘network effect’ to spread itself and at the same time it comes with a loose promise not to sue which is not even being honoured (in no case, neither FAT nor Mono). The recent decision regarding Rambus teaches us that this is seen as legitimate in the US.
Novell spends a lot of time lauding and promoting its work on Mono, MonoDevelop, and Moonlight. Novell also praises Microsoft on various occasions and helps it get a ‘free pass’ — usually resulting in entry into Free software/Linux conferences [1, 2, 3]. Microsoft understands that this is a convenient way of 'crashing' competitors' events. This is all happening while Novell sacks 20% of SUSE's staff without a reasonable explanation (SUSE was one of the only growth products). Whose team is Novell playing ball for and is it being pressured to step away from the Free desktop, as some rumours suggest?
“I think the Mac has a part to play here. Mono for OS X *sucks*… no one uses it. Therefore, if programmers want to target Mac as well, they can’t really use Mono,” wrote Balrog a couple of hours ago. Another person, David Gerard, points out that “There was a rumour that, in the wake of the TomTom case, Canonical was seriously considering removing Mono from main and leaving it to multiverse as too dangerous to support (like mp3). I haven’t been able to find any more info either way, asking around.”
That would be quite a change at Ubuntu after overly-prolonged sleeping time at the wheel. █
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A Novell employee and Moonlight developer, Jeffrey Stedfast1, has just posted this mind-boggling rave about Moonlight spreading and getting inside other hosts (distributions). After the TomTom lawsuit we understand very well why this is trouble [1, 2].
Fedora has already forbidden Moonlight. We also happen to know that some unnamed Red Hat seniors are unhappy with Mono. BLAG, a derivative of Fedora is already in the process of removing Mono indefinitely. █
1 Previously mentioned in [1, 2, 3, 4, 5].
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JUST a quick bunch of links for the curious:
Eset false alarm puts system files on remand
Slovakian anti-virus firm Eset has confirmed that a misfiring virus definition update wrongly labelled Windows system files as infected with malware.
As a result of the dodgy definition key files were identified as a virus and shuffled off into quarantine. Eset said it spotted the problem within minutes and released a new update that was free of the glitch, along with advice on how to unbork affected systems.
On Monday March 9th 2009 at 5:52 CET, ESET released an update of our heuristics v.1091 together with standard virus definition update no. 3918. An error in the heuristics caused a malfunction in the Windows operating system by false identification of several system files including dllhost.exe, and msdtc.exe, which were catalogued as Win32/Kryptik.JX.
Microsoft Fixes Critical Windows Image Flaw
The flaw, MS09-006, involves the way the Windows kernel handles WMF and EMF (Windows Metafile and Enhanced Metafile) images. Simply viewing such an image on an unpatched PC would allow an attacker to execute any command, such as downloading and installing malware, and the risk is rated critical for Windows 2000, XP, Server 2003, Vista and Server 2008.
African executable raises Symantec hackles
TECH BLOGS AND FORUMS are ablaze with panic over an unidentified executable file which is being flagged by Norton’s security software.
It’s not known whether the file, which some have reported trying to phone home to Africa, is malicious in any way, but the folks at Symantec aren’t helping matters by reportedly deleting any posts or queries relating to the problem on their own forums.
Panda: ID Theft Trojans Are on 1 in 100 PCs We Scan
Perhaps as many as ten million PCs are infected with sneaky programs designed to steal sensitive financial information, antivirus vendor Panda Security reports.
More to come later. █
Also this year:
- Microsoft’s Blame-Shifting Strategy Precedes More Trouble
- Leave Microsoft Alone
- Never Blame Microsoft, Blame Users and Exploits
- Botnets and Bounties Versus Real Security
- Is Windows to Blame for Cracking of Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)?
- Windows Problems Take Down Airplanes, JFK Airport, Houston Municipal Courts
- Turkey, France, United Stated Under Attack by Microsoft Windows Insecurities
- Microsoft Adopts Malware Techniques to Advance .NET
- Windows Botnets Go Out of Control, Obama Web Site Delivers Windows Malware
- One Windows Worm, One Week, and Possibly 250,000,000+ New Windows Zombies
- Death by Microsoft Windows
- UNIX/Linux Offer More Security Than Windows: Evidence
- US Army Becomes Zombies Army; London Hospitals Still Ill (Windows Viruses)
- Eye on Microsoft: Another Messy Week for Security
- Why Conficker is a Blessing to GNU/Linux
- New Casualties of Microsoft Windows?
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I was wondering in the wake of the recent patent lawsuit filed against TomTom by Microsoft, what would happen if SFLC would start looking into the GPL compliance of Novell Linux. Let’s say somebody knocks at Novell’s door asking to see how many GPLd pieces of code are being mentioned in their patent agreement with Microsoft. For example, are they distributing FAT kernel components under GPL while paying for Microsoft licenses for that technology?
Of course they might deny everything but this will make Microsoft happier knowing Novell lies…
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“Consider the problem from the point of view of evil, evil being almost always pleasure’s true and major charm; considered thus, the crime must appear greater when perpetrated upon a being of your identical sort than when inflicted upon one which is not, and this once established, the delight automatically doubles.”
–Marquis de Sade
Summary: Signs of misery from Microsoft as Windows revenues dry up (on sub-notebooks) and GNU/Linux is increasingly adopted
Microsoft Portugal has come under heavy fire by those in the country who understand what the company is up to. The Magalhães fiasco, for example, illustrates the company’s shameless intent to ‘addict’ Portuguese children at the expense of taxpayers [1, 2, 3]. A little bit of investigation from this blog has uncovered Microsoft’s PR efforts and slurring of GNU/Linux in the fight over the Magalhães (there is an English translation with some screenshots for good measure).
“The Magalhães fiasco, for example, illustrates the company’s shameless intent to ‘addict’ Portuguese children at the expense of taxpayers.”Leaving Portugal aside for a moment, Microsoft-affiliated people love bragging about the company’s non-existent operating system, whom they bribed influential bloggers to rave about. Some of the most familiar mouthpieces in the press have been peddling the perception that “Windows 7 will ‘kill’ Linux on netbooks’. By endless repetition in this Big Lie fashion, they hope to stifle adoption of GNU/Linux while hiding the realities behind a plan which is bound to fail.
Not many people are sufficiently aware of the fact that Microsoft will distribute a crippled version of Windows, which is limited to running just 3 processes (at most). Intel’s own CEO (Steve Ballmer’s partner in crime) has just admitted that this strategy is likely to fail. As reported yesterday by the Microsoft-influenced IDG [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]:
Otellini: Windows 7 Upgrade for Netbooks Will Be Tough
Microsoft has a challenge: Sell a Windows upgrade as a way to save money.
The company’s fourth quarter Windows revenue declined 8 percent, as PC buyers opted for lower-priced netbooks that run either Windows XP or Linux, rather than the higher-priced Windows Vista operating system, which does not run on netbook hardware.
There are more new details here:
Reports: Microsoft Cripples Windows 7 Starter Edition in Hopes of Netbook Upgrades
With Windows 7 Microsoft is releasing cheap versions of its OS for netbooks, but faces the challenge of getting customers to buy pricier versions
What type of fool (or fooled OEM) would choose an artificially-crippled operating system over GNU/Linux? And what is going on in Portugal, which chooses an operating system that’s proprietary and no longer properly supported? There is hardly a valid comparison between Windows XP and GNU/Linux, which is a lot more modern and advanced. To achieve this, Microsoft has manufactured lies, just as it’s accustomed to doing as a matter of strategy. █
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Summary: Criminal activity (or practices bordering the criminal) inside Intel are finally detailed by regulators from Korea
ON MANY OCCASIONS before we’ve shown how Intel became Microsoft’s partner in crime, an accomplice [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6]. Unlike Microsoft, Intel gets a break too often, but it should not be passed over. At the bottom we append many previous posts rather than repeat lists of offences with accompanying evidence.
Intel’s collusion with Microsoft is a very serious crime that harms not only GNU/Linux but also consumers in general and the latest news finding is this ruling from Korea.
Samsung was one of the firms named in the suit as having been bullied into choosing Intel CPUs over AMD’s back in 2002. Apparently, Intel “continuously requested” Samsung stop buying from its competitors, and when the word “please” didn’t work, Intel decided to get abusive, significantly reducing its volume of rebates to the electronics giant in the first and second quarter of 2002. Chipzilla then asked again. With a little ‘aggressive’ tone on the “please” no doubt.
Come May 2002, Intel purportedly realised it needed to take things to another level, implementing a “long term support plan” offering sweeteners like maximum-level rebates on the condition, of course, Samsung spent its cash buying blue.
The AAI document reckons Intel put an $800 million rebate proposal on the table in exchange for Samsung dumping AMD CPUs. No prizes for guessing whether or not Samsung took the bait. After all, it would be bad business not to, right? To hell with the moral high-ground.
Here is a semi-formal translation of this decision.
The Korea Fair Trade Commission issued a decision late in 2008 finding Intel liable for abuse of dominance in the microchip market. This 131-page document has not been available in English. This translation by AAI Research Fellow Byung-Geon Lee presents the highlights.
In closing, to endorse Intel is to endorse crime. And this is far from promoting freedom, let alone fair competition.
Freedom aside, Intel does not even obey the law and it still gets prosecuted for this in several continents (independently). █
“Behind every great fortune there is a crime.”
–Honor de Balzac
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Summary: Novell made more reliant on Microsoft, then spreads more of its patents-protected technology inside GNU/Linux
NOVELL MIGHT not survive this year, according to the opinion of some people in the IRC channel. In fact, given the company’s obvious problems and lack of access to hardware, things are bound to escalate and the commitment to SUSE itself is now in doubt. According to a recent survey, Novell is the least likely technology company to survive through 2009 (in its current form).
Over at Server Watch, an article has just been published which points out Novell’s dependence on Microsoft. The thought-provoking headline was, “What’s the point of SUSE Linux Enterprise Server?”
Some might say SLES is the obvious candidate in that it’s backed by Novell, and with other strings to its bow Novell should be better able to withstand any price wars or other financial problems a Linux champion might encounter. But there’s a problem with this argument. Over the years Novell has comprehensively had its ass whipped by Microsoft. What it comes down to is this: Microsoft is a winner while Novell is a perennial loser.
But it gets worse. Novell, as we all know, is in Microsoft’s back pocket when it comes to SLES. The Redmond giant subsidizes SLES by buying support coupons off Novell (it’s committed to up to $340 million worth so far), which it uses to get Microsoft customers who are interested in Linux to spurn Red Hat.
This reliance on Microsoft is by no means surprising. In fact, that Novell promotes people who wanted to work at Microsoft (Miguel de Icaza) and still go there on a regular basis [1, 2] is not surprising either. In recent shuffles [1, 2, 3], Microsoft was also given executive positions of control inside Novell.
Novell is at the moment laying off SUSE staff while advancing .NET because, as the TomTom case teaches, this enables Novell (or Microsoft) to poison GNU/Linux and sell its own ‘licensed’ (and almost closed-source) distribution called SLED/SLES.
Fortunately, people are beginning to realise what Novell is up with Microsoft. We have already seen explanations of what the FAT/TomTom lawsuit means to Mono and Moonlight. Here is another one from yesterday.
Well lo and behold what happens? Microsoft comes out against Tom Tom and three of the 7 patents they claim infringe target technologies used in the Linux kernel and technology built on top of Linux. Fat patents and Windowing environment are at stake here.
Alas, back to Mono and once again I must ask myself. Is if really worth it to dance with the beast? How many times are we going to ferry the scorpion across the river on our backs only to be stung each time we reach the shore? The old adage proclaims: “Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice shame on me.” We’ve been fooled way to many times now and I for one am sick of looking like an idiot.
If you always do what you’ve always done, you will always get what you always got. Microsoft has not changed it’s colors at all. Why should we continue to compromise?
To defend GNU/Linux from Microsoft’s last resort (patent attacks), users ought to abolish Mono and abolish Novell. █
“I saw that internally inside Microsoft many times when I was told to stay away from supporting Mono in public. They reserve the right to sue”
–Robert Scoble, former Microsoft evangelist
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