Was Gandhi “a zealot” for sticking to principles?
Summary: Self-appointed judge and jury call “zealots” those whom they are overzealous over
THERE is an interesting trend we have been noticing. Apple/Mac enthusiasts like Matt Asay are calling FOSS advocates who are actually GNU/Linux users “zealots”. Asay is doing this repeatedly. Yes, apparently sticking to FOSS makes it a case of “zealotry” now. That’s how compromise gets justified, by ridiculing those who don’t. Tarus Balog from OpenNMS is rather disturbed by this.
I didn’t make it to OSCON this year (thanks for everyone who voted for us for the CCA, by the way, even though we lost out again to Firebird) and I am quietly thankful for it, because it seems like the conference kicked off a new round of hyperbole and hypocrisy from the fauxpen source crowd and I’m going to try to stay out of it (instead of any kind of rational discussion, this round seems even more full of ad hominem attacks).
I’ve been labeled both an open source purist and a zealot simply because of my assertion that the term “open source” is defined by the open source definition. And while no one calls me a pragmatist, only a pragmatist could have kept a company like OpenNMS going through good times and bad without investment.
As Dana Blankenhorn points out:
Open source advocates still called zealots
We are no longer talking about something that is unproven, or risky. The open source model is a decade old. It has already saved enterprises, small businesses, and individuals literally billions of dollars. It has empowered programmers, it has built new fortunes. It’s not communism, but capitalism at its very best.
Another person suggests that the use of the word “zealots” is supposed to associate FOSS with “terrorism”. We saw this before when Rob Enderle wrote in relation to FOSS advocates: “I have a hard time seeing the Zealots as any different from terrorist… I strongly believe that if September 11 showed us anything, it was that zealots…”
Our reader Goblin compares this to a Monty Python scene when he writes: “He’s not the messiah he’s a very naughty boy!”
We sometimes wonder if people who are not even FOSS users are trying to hijack the voice of FOSS. Black Duck comes to mind.
As one of our readers correctly points out, some of those who accuse of “zealotry” are simply “overzealous for themselves”. This is hypocrisy. Even Microsoft is a very zealous, but big entities are rarely thought of as “zealots”, who are conveniently perceived as a small minority (and thus “mistaken”). █
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Summary: Little bits of ODF news
FOR THOSE who wonder what’s new in Open Document Format (ODF), a new workshop is being organised for users and there is also this new tutorial for ODFDOM. Those who are not familiar with ODFDOM probably ought to notice a short description of it:
The ODFDOM Toolkit API is a framework written in Java and designed to provide an easy common way to create, access and manipulate OpenDocument format (ODF) files, without requiring detailed knowledge of the ODF specification.
David Weinberger has a go at explaining ODF.
[E]ven if ODF were to become the dominant document standard, Microsoft could support it robustly, although that might mean that some of Word’s formatting niceties wouldn’t make the transition. Would business be ok with that? For creators, probably yes; it’d be good to be relieved of the expectation that you will be a document designer. For readers, no. We’ll continue to want highly formatted documents. But, then ODF + formatting specifications can produce quite respectably formatted docs, and that capability will only get better.
ODF is not about supporting Microsoft Word, so this is not relevant. Word can support ODF, but ODF need not supporting any specific office suite. At present, Microsoft Office does not support ODF properly [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7]. █
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Novell should look at the mirror sometimes
Summary: Microsoft’s ally claims moral high ground for helping Windows Server
Novell’s CMO is being disingenuous. As Canonical’s CTO correctly points out, Novell uses Microsoft’s self-serving code [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7] to take a shot at a poster child, Ubuntu. This is not the first time, either.
Novell’s Chief Marketing Officer John Dragoon has taken the opportunity to compare Canonical with Novell partner Microsoft on his blog. As he “commend[s] Microsoft for taking this very significant step”, he points out that the 20,000 lines of source code contributed by Microsoft to the Linux kernel “will far surpass those contributed by Canoncial[sic]“.
John credits Novell colleague Greg Kroah-Hartman for helping Microsoft to achieve this historic milestone. Greg is fond of counting lines of code in the Linux kernel, and based on his commentary elsewhere, I’m sure it was his pleasure to provide this statistic. I haven’t checked the figures myself, but it’s certainly believable that our contributions to the Linux kernel haven’t amounted to 20,000 lines of code.
Before we congratulate Microsoft and Novell too heartily, though, let’s get beyond the numbers, and look at what those 20,000 lines of code actually do. What can Linux do now that it couldn’t do before Microsoft’s contribution? According to Microsoft’s press release, it’s a device driver which enables Linux to run much faster—on Windows servers. That’s right, it helps us to get more value out of our expensive Windows Server 2008 licenses by consolidating our Linux servers into Windows Hyper-V virtual machines. It lets us put Windows in control of our hardware, and rely on Microsoft to allow it to perform well, for as long as that makes sense for them strategically.
Microsoft’s contribution to Linux creates new business opportunities for Microsoft by locking customers into their technology. Canonical’s contribution of Launchpad helps free software developers do what they do best, and benefits Canonical by making it easier for us to package, distribute, maintain, and provide services for free software.
It is possible that Dragoon does not understand just what Microsoft’s code is achieving. He is, after all, a marketing person. Along with Ron Hovsepian, Jeff Jaffe and a some other key people, he must have helped arrange the Linux patent racket with Microsoft — a racket that other companies later subscribed to as well. Novell is very unique in that regard because it has laid the foundations for future racketeering against Linux. The latest victim/accomplice is Melco [1, 2, 3, 4], but Pamela Jones argues that it’s the parent company which should be blamed:
Microsoft is apparently pushing this as a Linux company folding to their patents, but if you go here, the company describes its products. It’s a hardware company, from its own description. The US subsidiary, Buffalo, makes things like external hard drives. The second paragraph here tells the tale, I think. A company reliant upon Microsoft caves to Microsoft. But this is by no means a “Linux vendor” as some are trying to spin it. And without the terms being made public, there’s not telling if Microsoft was paid $1 or what the “protection” involves. But I know I’ll never buy anything from Melco Group from this day forward, speaking just for myself. And it’s one more piece of evidence that Microsoft hasn’t altered its patent strategy one iota. Think Mono, folks. Think carefully.
If it were not for Novell’s deal, all these subsequent deals probably would not come about. It was Novell that came to Microsoft and eventually signed that patent deal. Negotiations began in the middle of 2006. █
“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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Summary: Signs indicating that C# is not catching on raise questions about the essence of Mono
Mono is not a solution for a real problem; it is a ‘solution’ in search of a problem. Mono helps Microsoft resolve its own problems because after many years out there, programmers are still reluctant to use C#.
Balrog points out that new figures of book sales have just come out and it “looks like C# popularity went down”. In relation to this, says David Gerard: “I don’t understand why MS waited until 2009 for this attack, and why they’re doing for the sake of *mono* of all things.”
Mono proponents will probably say that Mono is safe to use because Microsoft promised not to sue, but worth highlighting is this new article from Law.com:
Why Patentees Conveying Covenants Not to Sue Should Take Another Look at the Fine Print
Patentees concerned with downstream use may want to take a closer look at the terms on which they license and covenant not to sue. Very recently, on April 8, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit ruled in TransCore, Inc. v. ETC Corp. that an unconditional covenant not to sue authorizes the sale of a patented article, thereby exhausting patent rights in the article. Although the TransCore ruling represents a logical extension of existing patent exhaustion jurisprudence, it should be carefully considered when drafting patent licenses and covenants not to sue.
The FSF has already remarked on and tackled Microsoft's Community Promise — supposedly a promise not to sue. There are many holes in that promise. █
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