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Microsoft and Novell (Almost Merged) versus IBM and Sun (to be Merged)

Posted in Database, Fork, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, IBM, Java, Microsoft, Mono, Novell, Open XML, OpenDocument, OpenOffice, SUN, TomTom at 2:13 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: As IBM’s acquisition of Sun Microsystems inches closer, Novell’s role in harming Java and OpenOffice.org is revisited

According to two independent sources, namely The New York Times and Bloomberg, an IBM takeover is likely to come shortly (SJVN seems to believe in a Monday announcement). This would mean that IBM becomes the benevolent dictator behind GPL-licensed Java and also the owner of OpenOffice.org, which it might as well merge with Lotus Symphony. As for MySQL, IBM has already got some database software, but as a former investor in MySQL, it is likely to find room for more.

“Sun’s products are not at risk.”IBM too has come to the realisation that money is to be made from services and hardware, so digital scarcity where duplication is possible (e.g. software) has had its shelf life expire, much like software patents to an extent. It’s the same when it comes to book publishers, newspapers, and other industries where duplication is possible, so its inhibition is a moot fight that can never be won. One can die trying.

Novell’s War on OpenOffice.org

Sun’s products are not at risk. “If IBM doesn’t invest similarly to Sun, people will likely fork,” says Jose X. The trouble that may arise is that forks are coming from Microsoft or its GPL slave, Novell. Go-OO[XML] is just one such example [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7]. “That’s just a fork,” says Jose, “to add Microsoft’s embracing into it… [they] can do that to any product out there… will do that to any FOSS product that gains traction.”

Microsoft has already used Novell to harm ODF, which Sun and IBM promote.

Novell’s War on Java

Novell will never admit this, but it harms Java by promoting its direct rival. This is just one type of harm. Another is the patent trap which Mono has become, as Jose explained in this LinuxToday comment that cites private E-mails from Microsoft.

LinuxToday’s Managing Editor wrote a short essay which discusses this endless controversy because it keeps coming up in that Web site. The crowd which opposes Mono by far outweighs that which defends its existence.

Opinions on whether Mono is dangerous, and on whether it should be avoided or accepted fly thick and fast. If you’re bored with the whole deal feel free to go read something else, but I suspect that the controversy is going to grow as more Linux distributions, such as Ubuntu, ship with Mono applications by default.

To quote a couple more comments from LinuxToday, one says that “the controversy just won’t quit. Microsoft has a lot of chum and other bait. Their house in the middle of the forest is made up of lots of types of candy. No matter how many times we shun their advances, they keep coming back, each time coming from a different angle.”

“It is worth emphasising that Java is still the leading choice among programmers, as measured in several different terms or criteria.”Microsoft has already tried to 'extend' (or ‘fork’) Java and it failed badly, also for legal reasons. So what it is doing right now is substituting Java with .NET using Mono, which can be thought of as the equivalent of early attempts to derail Java. It is worth emphasising that Java is still the leading choice among programmers, as measured in several different terms or criteria. And as Microsoft’s CEO said, it’s all about “developers, developers, developers, developers.”

To quote one last comment from LinuxToday, “After the TomTom affair, the patent threat hidden in Mono must be considered much more seriously than it has been before. There’s no reason why Microsoft would not try and cash from their .Net patents the same way they have been doing with their FAT patents. At the moment they are probably just waiting for Mono to gain a significant userbase, when more people have been locked in they’ll come. As the TomTom case has shown, it doesn’t really matter whether their patent claims are actually valid or not. Most people will simply bow and pay rather than undertaking a very long and expensive legal journey.”

‘We had some painful experiences with C and C++, and when Microsoft came out with .NET, we said, “Yes! That is what we want.”‘

Miguel de Icaza

Novell spooky

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  1. Jose_X said,

    April 6, 2009 at 5:44 pm


    The latest news in the IBM/Sun dance is that these two want to check out the dance floor a little more at least before rushing into anything.

  2. George Samartzidis said,

    May 6, 2009 at 5:06 am


    .Net is a more advanced and mature technology than Java, easier to work with and has excellent tool support in which Java is ages behind. Don’t tell me about eclipse.. it really sucks compared to the visual studio family of tools (in terms of usability and productivity). J2EE is slower and outperformed by .Net (by several orders of magnitude) according to recent studies. J2EE application servers such as WebLogic are also a mess to work with (takes ages to just set up and deploy a simple application).

    And no, I am not a Microsoft fan. I am currently working with both J2EE and .Net technologies plus on legacy C/C++ projects on Unix. I am just telling my view on the subject trying to be as objective as possible from a technical perspective.

    Finally, Java is not the leading choice amongst “real” programmers who still think that programming is fun and.. art. It is the leading choice amongst managers and “beginner” programmers. I.e. children who have just finished the University.


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