EditorsAbout the SiteComes vs. MicrosoftUsing This Web SiteSite ArchivesCredibility IndexOOXMLOpenDocumentPatentsNovellNews DigestSite NewsRSS

03.11.09

Bruce Perens Calls Novell a “Highly Paid [Microsoft] Mouthpiece”

Posted in Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Mono, Novell, OSI, Patents, TomTom at 1:07 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Ron Hovsepian and Steve Ballmer

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.

Novell newspaper

Share this post: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Reddit
  • co.mments
  • DZone
  • email
  • Google Bookmarks
  • LinkedIn
  • NewsVine
  • Print
  • Technorati
  • TwitThis
  • Facebook

If you liked this post, consider subscribing to the RSS feed or join us now at the IRC channels.

Pages that cross-reference this one

13 Comments

  1. David Gerard said,

    March 11, 2009 at 1:18 pm

    Gravatar

    That’s only a rumour, not anything I know for sure! Not even slightly! I asked again on Sounder just now if Canonical considered Mono dangerous like MP3.

    BTW, it looks like it’d go in Universe (community-supported packages, not endorsed by Canonical) along with Moonlight. It’s not hard to get a package into Universe.

  2. Roy Schestowitz said,

    March 11, 2009 at 1:21 pm

    Gravatar

    Thanks, we’re still watching that.

    Novell employees are involved in this too.

  3. aeshna23 said,

    March 11, 2009 at 2:09 pm

    Gravatar

    “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).”

    I disagree with you here. Mono and Moonlight aren’t “just like FAT”. Microsoft’s legal case against Mono and Moonlight will be a far stronger case than what Microsoft can argue about FAT. I would like to suggest a reason why Microsoft is pursuing the Tom Tom case. Microsoft, of course, would like to win the TomTom case, but Microsoft figures it might as well start out with the weaker cases. Microsoft figures it can turn defeats on the weaker cases into a long run victory, by lulling the Linux community into complacency and then attack Mono in a couple of years.

  4. Darren said,

    March 11, 2009 at 3:19 pm

    Gravatar

    Well, if Novell has signed a Patent agreement, we need to somehow find out what it was for. This may mean that they are going against the GPL.

    One can only hope.

  5. Jose_X said,

    March 11, 2009 at 4:40 pm

    Gravatar

    Darren, Novell’s initial deal with Microsoft got a free pass.

    Microsoft and Novell did not violate the GPLv2 by agreeing to a “covenant not to sue customers” rather than a direct patent license as literally forbidden by the GPLv2. The GPLv3 blocks against this new agreement type but isn’t an obstacle either to this initial deal because the GPLv3 set an effective cut-off date that was after the Novell-MS deal (that deal purposely got grandfathered in — in particular, Novell let the FSF gain extra access to details of the deal, perhaps in exchange for an exception for that deal).

    >> [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”.

    Ah, but we know Microsoft is not a trustworthy business partner. What protection are they offering against others that might have patents on that technology, patents possibly sold by Microsoft or allowed by Microsoft to be developed by the proxies?

    Microsoft has close relationship with various patent troll companies.

  6. Roy Schestowitz said,

    March 11, 2009 at 4:46 pm

    Gravatar

    Don’t forget that — as both Novell and Microsoft have openly stressed — the deal does not prevent lawsuits. In other words, it establishes almost nothing, but for a payment it turns Novell into a marketing dunce (of Microsoft patents, of OOXML, .NET and you know the rest).

  7. Dan O'Brian said,

    March 11, 2009 at 5:52 pm

    Gravatar

    I disagree with you here. Mono and Moonlight aren’t “just like FAT”. Microsoft’s legal case against Mono and Moonlight will be a far stronger case than what Microsoft can argue about FAT.

    I think you mean far weaker, since Microsoft is helping Novell develop them. It’ll be kinda hard for Microsoft to claim damages (which they have to do) if they were involved in producing it.

    They’ll get laughed out of court.

  8. Jose_X said,

    March 11, 2009 at 8:05 pm

    Gravatar

    Dan, if those two have a patent understanding, then you might expect that those two won’t end up in court.

    Was that your point? That if you deal with Microsoft, they won’t sue you? Is that the message you wanted to bring?

  9. Roy Schestowitz said,

    March 11, 2009 at 8:15 pm

    Gravatar

    The Munchkins used to say (for years) that Microsoft only uses patents defensively.

  10. Jose_X said,

    March 11, 2009 at 9:21 pm

    Gravatar

    The more their business is threatened, the more likely they are to lash out. I also don’t trust Gates and Myrhvold.

  11. Roy Schestowitz said,

    March 11, 2009 at 9:25 pm

    Gravatar

    Why would you? They express love for software patents now.

    Both have private firms for harvesting patents. IV has already proceeded to “racketeering” phase.

  12. Needs Sunlight said,

    March 12, 2009 at 4:18 am

    Gravatar

    Microsoft’s legal case against Mono and its other crap is far, far stronger than against FAT. FAT appears to have a royalty-free license or at one that is vague enough to argue over for a while.

    Mono doesn’t. Mono has a solid paper trail of payments for royalties going from Novel to Microsoft for years. Any distro allowing packages with dependencies on Mono, Moonlight or any other MS technology is really going out of their way to cause trouble for the distro’s users.

    A half measure is to not have mono in the default:
    http://brainstorm.ubuntu.com/idea/110/

    However, that is only a half-measure. Removal from the repositories is necessary.

  13. David Gerard said,

    March 12, 2009 at 4:23 am

    Gravatar

    Removal is unlikely at this stage. Pretty much anything can be found in Universe (e.g. the stuff that is free software under copyright, but arguably violates MP3 and MPEG-LA patents), and probably should be.

    Removal from Main is another matter.

What Else is New


  1. More of Bill Gates' Investments in GMO and Mass Indoctrination Under the Disguise of 'Donations'

    Microsoft's arrogant and famously corrupt co-founder is taken to task by those whom he is trying to bamboozle for monopoly, unlimited cross-generational power, and never-ending profit without risk



  2. Home Depot Confirmed a Victim of Microsoft's Bad Security, Microsoft Lays Off Security-Related Staff

    News reports circulate showing that Home Depot was knowingly careless with its Windows dependency while Microsoft lays off staff focused on security



  3. European Patent Office/Organisation - Suspicion of Improper Collusion Between EPO President and Chairman of the Administrative Council: Part III

    A preliminary look at Battistelli's reign and how regulatory powers got abolished, leaving the EPO reckless and largely unaccountable



  4. Links 21/9/2014: xorg-server 1.16.1, Linux Kernel 3.16.3

    Links for the day



  5. Links 20/9/2014: GNOME 3.13.92, Android L

    Links for the day



  6. Scanning Patent Troll Implodes; Is the Podcasting Patent Troll Next?

    MPHJ loses and Personal Audio LLC perhaps wins for the last time since software patents are quickly losing legitimacy in the United States



  7. If CAFC is Not Above the Law, Then it Should be Shut Down Now

    A long series of abuses in CAFC may as well suggest that this court has become broken beyond repair



  8. The Latest From Microsoft Patent Trolls and Patent Partners

    Microsoft-linked and Linux-hostile trolls continue their relentless attacks (albeit with little or no success) while patents as a weapon lose their teeth owing to a Supreme Court ruling



  9. Microsoft Proves That Its Massive Layoffs Are Not About Nokia

    Microsoft is laying off a lot of employees who have nothing at all to do with Nokia



  10. Links 19/9/2014: Another Red Hat Acquisition, Netflix Dumps Microsoft Silverlight and Brings DRM to WWW

    Links for the day



  11. Links 18/9/2014: Windows Copying GNU/Linux, Germany Moves to Security

    Links for the day



  12. Web Site 'Patent Progress' Now Officially 'Powered by CCIA' (FRAND Proponent, Microsoft Front)

    After talking a job at CCIA, "Patent Progress" and its chief author should be treated as dubious on real patent progress



  13. Articles About the Death of Software Patents in the United States

    Recent coverage of software patents and their demise in their country of origin, where even proponents of software patents are giving up



  14. The Death of Software Patents is Already Killing Some Major Patent Trolls

    VirnetX seems to be the latest victim of the demise of software patents in the United States



  15. More Microsoft Layoffs

    More Microsoft layoffs go ahead as the company is unable to compete



  16. ODF on the Rise

    Milestones for OpenDocument Format (ODF) and the launch of FixMyDocuments



  17. Links 17/9/2014: CoreOS, ChromeOS, and systemd

    Links for the day



  18. Italy is Cracking Down on Microsoft's Monopoly Abuse While Gradually Moving to GNU/Linux

    Italy is not only moving to Free/Open Source software but also to GNU/Linux while at the same time barring Microsoft from forcibly tying Windows to new PCs



  19. OpenSUSE's 'Assurances' Are Classic MBA School Hogwash

    OpenSUSE is not part of any commitment, except for SUSE's; the impact of the Novell/SUSE acquisition casts uncertainty on the project's future



  20. Links 16/9/2014: Firefox OS Smartphones in Bangladesh, “Treasure Map” of the Internet

    Links for the day



  21. The United Kingdom Should Dump Microsoft For the Sake of National Security

    The UK has issues of Microsoft dependency and Windows viruses; its migration to Free software and GNU/Linux is not fast enough to guard its autonomy in the age of digital imperialism



  22. CBS Hires Even More Microsoft Staff to Cover Microsoft Matters

    CBS continues to be infested with Microsoft staff past and present (this time Dave Johnson) and the bias in output is quite revealing



  23. Microsoft Has Just Killed Minecraft for GNU/Linux and the Possibility of Free/Open Source Releases

    Persson sells out to Microsoft and lets the abusive monopolist destroy the popular cross-platform game that a community has been built around



  24. Another Reason to Boycott Intel UEFI

    More anti-competitive aspects are revealed inside UEFI, which helps merginalise GNU/Linux



  25. Quick Mention: Novell and SUSE Passed to Microsoft's 'Partner of the Year', Microsoft Focus

    Novell is changing hands again, and falling into the hands of even more Microsoft-friendly actors



  26. Links 16/9/2014: Linux 3.17 RC5, KDE Frameworks 5.2.0

    Links for the day



  27. Željko Topić, Benoît Battistelli, and the European Patent Office (EPO): Part II

    Part II of our look into the EPO appointment of Željko Topić and other matters showing the dubious integrity of the EPO



  28. Links 14/9/2014: Android-based Watches Earn Optimism

    Links for the day



  29. Links 14/9/2014: Eucalyptus Devoured

    Links for the day



  30. Links 11/9/2014: Linux Toilet Project, Linux-Based Wheelchair Project

    Links for the day


CoPilotCo

RSS 64x64RSS Feed: subscribe to the RSS feed for regular updates

Home iconSite Wiki: You can improve this site by helping the extension of the site's content

Home iconSite Home: Background about the site and some key features in the front page

Chat iconIRC Channel: Come and chat with us in real time

CoPilotCo

Recent Posts