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CNET Senility of the Day: Sun Buying Novell

Posted in GNU/Linux, Java, Mono, Novell, SUN at 6:31 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Crazy girl

Summary: Sun can’t buy Novell; a former Novell engineer fights Mono

It’s hard to take CNET seriously. Megatrolls from CNET tend to include people like Don Reisinger, who generate outrageous headlines just to flame and receive attention. It’s sad to see similar nonsense from Matt Asay. His suggestion is so absurd that it’s hardly worth repeating and Savio Rodrigues has already swept it aside. But it’s the same Savio Rodrigues who said that Microsoft should buy Red Hat. Is this an exercise in thinking or an exercise in trolling?

Why would anyone even conceive a Sun acquisition of Novell? Novell competes against Java, competes against Solaris, and competes even against OpenOffice.org with its fork which seemed to just help Microsoft and OOXML [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7].

In other news, Gnote, which was previously mentioned in [1, 2, 3], has just received some more publicity. The project can assist the eradication of Mono in GNOME.

Ex-Novell developer releases port of Tomboy

A software developer who was sacked by Novell in the first quarter of this year has begun porting Tomboy, one of two Mono-dependent applications which is part of the GNOME desktop, to C++/Gtkmm.

Hubert Figuiere , who is based in Canada, says this has nothing to do with Mono at all, though he is admittedly not a fan of the .NET clone which has been developed by Novell vice-president Miguel de Icaza.

The port of Tomboy is called Gnote.

If widespread adoption of Gnote is a success, this may become a sign of changing tide.

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  1. Dan O'Brian said,

    April 15, 2009 at 7:35 am


    Megatrolls from CNET tend to include people like Don Reisinger, who generate outrageous headlines just to flame and receive attention.

    I find it hilarious that you complain about other people doing the same thing you do every single day.

  2. JohnD said,

    April 15, 2009 at 8:25 am


    That’s a good point.
    If you think someone is way off base with a prediction, why lend it credibility by posting links to it on your site?
    And I fail to see how Novell competes against Java when they include it in their products – yes even Netware has a JVM.
    M$ would have been able to bulldoze OOXML into a standard with or without Novell’s help. Novell is also contributing back to OOO so I don’t see how it’s a true fork or competition.
    While I use tomboy, I’d hardly call it a game changing app in the Linux verse.
    I will say that I just installed SLED 11 and apart from a minor sound problem, I like it a lot. It’s nice not having to jump through hoops to play media files. As I may have stated before, I don’t mind paying a reasonable price for something – it’s the foundation of capitalism after all. M$ stopped being reasonable decades ago.

  3. JohnD said,

    April 15, 2009 at 8:50 am


    I will submit this link:
    As “evidence” supporting my position that providing programmers with tools that allow them to easily port apps from Windows to Linux is a good thing.

  4. Dan O'Brian said,

    April 15, 2009 at 9:03 am


    FWIW, Novell didn’t start the Tomboy project, nor did it push it into GNOME – in fact they were barely even a part of the discussion.

  5. JohnD said,

    April 15, 2009 at 9:34 am


    After reading the article I find that the author was merely speculating about the potential upside of Sun buying Novell, I didn’t see him as advocating the merger. The title of the article pretty much sums up his view point: “Should Sun buy Novell?” That’s a question, not a statement. He also ends the article by stating that Sun should support Linux.
    Seems to me like the Roy meister kinda shot himself in the foot with this post.

  6. Dan O'Brian said,

    April 15, 2009 at 10:13 am


    JohnD: see my first comment ;-)

    JohnD Reply:

    I saw it when I first read it. But you do know that your statements about Novell and Tomboy have provided “them” with more “evidence” about your Novell connection(s).
    I’m surprised that Roy hasn’t posted any responses to our posts, maybe he’s under the weather, or working on his PhD.

    Dan O'Brian Reply:

    It’s all a matter of public knowledge in the GNOME mailing-list archives at http://mail.gnome.org

    This is why no one takes Roy very seriously, he doesn’t bother to research things.

  7. Yfrwlf said,

    April 15, 2009 at 3:27 pm


    “Why would anyone even conceive a Sun acquisition of Novell? Novell competes against Java, competes against Solaris, and competes even against OpenOffice.org”

    Because that’s the point, to get rid of competition. Companies buy other companies that are in the same business all the time, it’s how the land of the monopolies works. :P

    As for Mono, it’s not an open project because it relies upon any data Microsoft wishes to release just like it was with Samba and their difficulties in porting, neither is it patent-free, but it is instead controlled in every way by Microsoft. They just want to control development on Linux is all so they can have everyone under their umbrella. While cross-platform programming is good as long as the “scary” bits that actually interoperate are disposable should the relating platform try to be jerks about that point of interoperability, the entire Mono project is completely in Microsoft’s camp and cannot be shed.

    I do agree that most likely non-exclusivity at this point will help Linux out more than Windows, but a purely Windows-based project with closed standards trying to follow a closed source project controlled by the group behind Windows? Sorry, no thanks.

    JohnD Reply:

    Sorry but I think you’re a little off base.
    While it’s true that many companies buy companies to remove competition some buy other firms to expand their product portfolio. Like Novell bought Platespin to improve their virtualization offerings. Platespin is now owned by Novell, but their products still exist. Where I disagree with Roy is that I don’t see how Novell can be considered a Java competitor when Novell doesn’t really offer any standalone programming languages and actually includes Java in it’s offerings.
    Mono is actually built upon defined public standards and the code is available so it’s open in that regard. Where most find the sticking point is that M$ created the standard and they are free to change how .NET works anytime they wish, which could adversely affect Mono projects.
    Samba is actually not encumbered by patents because it’s all reverse engineered by watching Windows network communications. Samba 4 should be better because the are using the information that the EU forced M$ to cough up. I think Samba.org actually bought the license (at a reduced rate thanks to the EU antitrust court) so they can develop version 4 without having to worry about M$.

  8. Dan O'Brian said,

    April 16, 2009 at 6:55 am


    JohnD: I’m pretty sure that reverse engineering doesn’t protect against patents. Nor does documentation. There’s nothing stopping Samba from infringing on patents.

    I’m not saying Samba does or does not infringe on patents. I do not know whether it does or not.

    JohnD Reply:

    Dan: I think it would depend on what was actually patented. Given that Samba is reverse engineered, I find it hard to believe that the Samba code looks even remotely like the M$ code. We also know that Samba doesn’t perfectly interact with Windows so there are some obvious holes. I liken it to multimedia codecs – there are several open ones Flac, ogg etc do they infringe upon the proprietary? M$ was not the first company to create client server communication protocols and I’m willing to bet that if you dig down in the M$ code you will find that they at least “borrowed” some things from Novell.
    At any rate, my real issue is the assertion that Samba is “controlled” by M$ – given that Jeremy Allison left Novell because of the patent deal.
    Yfrwlf is entitled to his/her opinion, but like I said – I think the stated opinion is a bit off base.

    Shane Coyle Reply:

    I find it hard to believe that the Samba code looks even remotely like the M$ code.

    resemblance to code is immaterial in a software patent suit, the wording of such patents are usually “a method, using a computer, …” and a vague description of the process, with the idea that if anyone else implements that process using a computer (regardless of originality of code) it’s an infringement.

    it’s the equivalent of patenting a “method of killing rodents without human intervention” and then saying no one else could ever build a mousetrap without paying a royalty. software and method patents are utterly absurd.

    similarity of code would be more relevant in a copyright suit perhaps, but no one is doubting that Samba is original code (that I’m aware of).

    pcolon Reply:

    According to Jeremy Allison (and he is an integral part of the Samba project). The work accomplished by the Samba team was not “reverse engineering”. He clarified that on a discussion, in one of Glyn Moody’s posts, of the Wine project being equated to Samba development. Coding was done through careful “Network Analysis”. If he said it was not reverse engineered, then it was not.

    JohnD Reply:

    Patent talk is taking us away from the original thread – I was disputing that Samba is controlled by Microsoft. While I agree that if M$ changes their protocols Samba will cease to function correctly, that does not imply control of the project in my opinion.
    My apologies for digressing.

  9. JohnD said,

    April 16, 2009 at 12:21 pm


    pcolon: I think you’re splitting hairs. I did not mean to imply that Samba was reverse engineering the M$ code itself. That is done by analyzing the compiled code. But by analyzing the network traffic that the M$ code and then creating new code to recreate it – you are doing reverse engineering.
    It would probably be more correct to say that Samba is reverse engineering the network traffic/protocol.
    I is my understanding that the Samba org was at least planning on purchasing the license to the M$ communications protocols so hopefully they will be able to figure out what the “brilliant” minds at Microshaft have created – and make something even better.

    Roy Bixler Reply:

    My understanding is that Samba has already paid the fee for Microsoft’s SMB/CIFS protocol documentation under the terms of the last EU anti-trust settlement.

    JohnD Reply:

    That gives them access to the source code, but did they ever decide if it would allow them to keep Samba open/free?

    Roy Bixler Reply:

    I’m sure they’d be smart enough to avoid the trap of looking at the source code. If not, then it wouldn’t be hard to imagine a future SCO-like lawsuit directed at them.

  10. Roy Schestowitz said,

    April 16, 2009 at 1:19 pm


    For reference: Why Mono and Samba Are Patently Different

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