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IRC: #boycottnovell @ FreeNode: January 31st, 2010

Posted in IRC Logs at 7:26 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz


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To use your own IRC client, join channel #boycottnovell in FreeNode.

Novell Loses Executive Vice President and Community Manager

Posted in IBM, Microsoft, Novell, OpenSUSE, Ron Hovsepian at 11:18 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Novell’s CTO Jeff Jaffe and Zonker (the symbol of OpenSUSE) say their last words before leaving Novell, replacements are imminent

A Web site called “Boycott Novell” may be biased, but Novell does seem like it's crumbling these days. It is being said by a lot of people outside this Web site. The departure of managers ought to be self explanatory. This post covers just a couple of the latest (there are more), namely those whose last day or week at Novell is right about now.

Jeff Jaffe, Meet Externality

Just a year after he had joined Novell (November 2005), Jaffe played a role in hooking the company up with Microsoft. He gave a talk at the press event announcing the deal, where he explained its technical nature. We wrote about this before [1, 2] and also touched on his professional history (similar to Ron Hovsepian’s because of IBM). In addition, we wrote about his departure before, so it is not exactly news. Novell hid it under the banner of “reorg”, so Ben Kevan, for instance, knew nothing about it until Jeff Jaffe wrote a “goodbye” blog post.

A few days after the news from Zonker, we get the news that Jeff Jaffe, Novells CTO, is also leaving the company for new ventures in life after 4 years.

What does this mean to the company? What really is going on at Novell?

Actually, the news about Jeff Jaffe goes almost a couple of months back. It is surprising how quiet Novell has managed to keep it (same with the departure of Levy).

As we noted here many times before, former Microsoft managers become Novell managers [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8], so it will be interesting to see the professional history of Novell’s new CTO. Here is what Jaffe wrote in his last post:

Nostalgia. I’m writing as I complete my four years at Novell. A great deal achieved—but—as with any company still more to do. Here are my thoughts as I move to my next opportunity.


The Microsoft partnership has been the most fascinating. An arch-competitor. Building bridges between proprietary and open source. Enormous financial benefit for Novell. Viewed as controversial by some. Two companies kept their focus on the ultimate end goal—meeting customers’ needs—and struck an agreement for everyone’s benefit. My participation in the cultivation and creation of this relationship is my most lasting contribution to our shareholders and personal growth.

He says that Microsoft and Novell “struck an agreement for everyone’s benefit.” Wow, isn’t that a sweeping statement? He must never have heard of the notion of externality, has he? Especially one that punishes his very own suppliers. The deal with Microsoft was an utter failure, as his departure too serves to indicate.

OpenSUSE Leadership

Zonker is leaving Novell and his departure was covered by The H, which is not “big” press, but still, it’s something. “Novell loses Linux community manager” was the headline.

Friday was Zonker’s last day and he wrote about it in his blog:

This week has flown by. Tomorrow will be my last “on duty” day with Novell. I’ve spent much of this week handing off tasks or information to co-workers and saying goodbyes.

Well, “goodbyes” is overselling it a bit — I hope. Since I telecommute, I’ll be just as close to everyone I’ve worked with on Monday as I have been the past two years, and hope to remain in touch with all of the friends I’ve made at Novell and in the openSUSE community long after I stop having an @novell.com address.

Now that Novell is looking for a Zonker replacement, Luc Verhaegen (whom Novell laid off) recommends Martin Lasarsch as community manager. Lasarsch has been around SUSE for ages.

Novell and Freedom Are Incompatible

Posted in Apple, Microsoft, Mono, Novell, Vista 7, Windows at 10:13 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Ballmer with Ximian hat

Summary: Novell’s obsession with Microsoft (and even Apple) is highlighted using the latest evidence

Last week we wrote about Novell promoting Apple with .NET [1, 2]. Mono is quite naturally a tool that favours proprietary software stacks. Microsoft MVP Miguel de Icaza created it after he had created GNOME and like many people at Novell, he is fixated on Apple too (in the sense that he likes it), not just Microsoft/Windows. Previously, he complained about Mac OS X people taking more control, but later he drifted away from Freedom and went further into Microsoft’s arms. He even got himself appointed and admitted into the board of Microsoft’s CodePlex Foundation. Being a Microsoft celebrity might help him in some communities other than the Free software one/s.

Here is Charlotte Betterley from Novell’s PR department promoting de Icaza’s work on Apple iPad and .NET. It’s like company policy, not just the infatuations of one man:

Enter MonoTouch. MonoTouch is a software development kit that will enable iPad developers to utilize code and libraries written for the .NET development framework and easier-to-use programming languages such as C#. Microsoft .NET developers will be able to use MonoTouch while fully complying with Apple’s license terms.

We have already written 3 separate posts about why iPad is an enemy of one’s freedom [1, 2, 3]. Nat Friedman, who left Novell some weeks ago, is apparently buying one. Friedman is probably Miguel’s closest colleague and friend (they both founded Ximian) and he also uses an iPhone based on his latest blog post where he makes a reference to “toys” (reminiscent of notorious remarks made about Mono+Windows a few years ago):

Sleep Cycles. This is an iPhone app that uses the iPhone accelerometer to track your sleep. You put it near your pillow and when you toss and turn at night it knows. You set a wake-up time and it rings an alarm to wake you up before your deadline when you’re in a period of light sleep, and will wake up more easily.

This is the type of management overseeing FOSS development at Novell. They are preoccupied with proprietary software and there is a lot of .NET content in SUSE Planet, for example these two posts from Jonathan Pryor’s blog. It’s like this every week.

Gabriel Burt’s blog (he works for Novell) gives this release schedule and announcement of the release of Banshee 1.5.3. So does Aaron Bockover, who raves about “the return of OS X support”. Need it be added that Banshee is a Novell-developed and Novell-only Mono program because of the limits in Microsoft's community promise?

Sandy from Novell has just released this new version of Tomboy, adding Windows-only features to Tomboy (for Vista 7 even, despite the fact that it is scarcely used).

Probably the coolest new feature in this release, courtesy of Stefan Cosma, is support for Windows 7 Jump Lists, which are totally awesome and should be added to GNOME.

Yay. Windows. Gotta love Mono.

So for those Tomboy users who prefer the better/full “Mono experience”, Tomboy is there with more features but only on Windows. We have always said that Mono is helping Windows, not GNU/Linux [1, 2, 3]. It promotes the notion of GNU/Linux as a second-class platform.

Reader’s Article: Microsoft and ‘Google-Jamming’

Posted in Boycott Novell, Deception, Free/Libre Software, Google, Microsoft, Open XML, OpenDocument, OpenOffice, Search, Windows at 9:19 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz


Summary: Jammed improperly where Free software is mentioned are references to proprietary traps from Microsoft

HERE are some interesting observations sent to us by a reader last Friday:

The articles about Microsoft employees rooting around in Haiti were probably intended to burn up any quota about IT in Haiti so that no more is said about FOSS helping.

The latter example features OpenMRS which is a big name along with the VA’s VistA. It’s worth noting that Windows Vista is probably an attempt a ‘google-jamming’ the name of VistA, just like MSOOXML appears to be an attempt at ‘google-jamming’ the project OpenOffice.org.

On the topic of medical systems, here’s one in the Huffington Post. It may not be worth linking to, for two reasons but it does show one problem:

If Huffington is being rotted by Microsofters [1, 2, 3], then it is intended to ‘saturate, diffuse, and confuse’ on the topic of EMRs. Whether or not that article is worth linking to, the problems with Medcomsoft can be spotted in about 30 seconds of searching the web. Notice not just the content of the page but the .asp. The software was never intended to work, it was intended to sell Microsoft products to naive or uninformed medical staff.

The subject of ‘google-jamming’ was discussed here as far back as 2007. There are very good examples (evidence) of this.

What Makes Hollywood Happy: Microsoft Sues BitTorrent Tracker for $43,000,000

Posted in Courtroom, DRM, Free/Libre Software, Microsoft at 9:07 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz


Summary: Microsoft takes on Web sites that merely provide links to arbitrary files on people’s hard drives

FROM the company that itself applied for patents on DRM-laden torrents comes a lawsuit which would make Hollywood cheerful [1, 2]: [via]

In conjunction with Lithuanian anti-piracy outfit LANVA, software giant Microsoft has sued the alleged operator of the country’s largest BitTorrent site. Microsoft is demanding $43 million from the defendant and his company for assisting in the illegal distribution of Office 2003 and 2007.

Microsoft is attacking sharing as a whole rather than issue takedown requests that prevent sharing of its proprietary software. This puts Microsoft alongside the RIAA and MPAA. The FSF has been fighting to defend file sharing, which needn’t be copyrighted material at all. Microsoft should go after downloaders of its software, not the Web site which was abused by users. Doesn’t Microsoft have registration mechanisms and kill switches with which to track illegal installations? Maybe it’s just not interested in enforcing these.

“No less than Bill Gates himself said in a recent Fortune article that Microsoft competes better against Linux in China when there’s piracy than when there isn’t.

“So, Microsoft actively looks the other way as people pirate its software. It builds its market share that way, and lets people get used to the idea of having Windows at a certain price.”


For those who wonder why Microsoft is a threat to Free software, this is another reason. Microsoft is seeking to bankrupt the very means of Free software distribution, just as SourceForge was once sued for merely hosting software that might be used to share files that might be copyrighted.

“Should we ban pen and paper because they can be used by terrorists to communicate?”To attack P2P as a whole is like attacking USENET as a whole. Just because something can be used illegally does not mean it should be banned. Should we ban kitchen knives too and use our teeth instead? No? Should we also remove our teeth? How about communication? Should we ban pen and paper because they can be used by terrorists to communicate? Should we ban hard drives because they too can be used for filesharing (plugging them to different computers)? How about USB keys? They already happen to be taxed by the copyright cartel in some countries, so buying them is an admission of (and fine for) copyright violation that was not committed.

“Everybody is connected to everybody else, all data that can be shared will be shared will be shared: get used to it.”

Eben Moglen

Translations Needed

Posted in Site News at 7:00 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Gentle request applying to readers who speak more than just English

HERE is the summary of the site as it is described in our Wiki’s front page.

Boycott Novell is a Web site that was conceived after Novell had signed a patent deal with Microsoft, an abusive monopoly. This deal was sought after by Novell and it has initiated:

  • A campaign of FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) against users and distributors of GNU/Linux. This is similar to SCO.
  • Subsequent patent deals involving GNU/Linux, e.g. Linspire, Xandros, and TurboLinux
  • Patent lawsuits against Linux (e.g. FAT/TomTom)
  • Microsoft’s hijack of of the term “open source”
  • Promotion of “interoperability” at the expense of international standards such as ODF
  • Penetration of Microsoft’s patents-encumbered software into GNU/Linux (e.g. Mono, Moonlight), which leads to liability and promotes Microsoft as a de facto standard

We wish to reach a broader geographic range of audiences as our Wiki’s front page is read about a quarter of a million times per year. If we could add translations of at least the above text, then that would help tremendously (a concise message in one’s native language). If we have Spanish-, Chinese-, and Arabic-speaking readers, for example, we kindly ask that they only translate the text above and post it as a comment or mail it to roy at schestowitz dot com so that we can add it to the Wiki’s front page (with attribution if that’s preferred). To avoid duplication, i.e. two people working on the same translation simultaneously, please state in the comments if you work on a translation or simply paste it there.

As an aside, we are organising other parts of the Web site at the moment, thanks to the generous help of some contributors and regulars. The site is in desperate need of a refresh. The sidebar, for example, goes back all the way to 2007 (yes, 2007!). Here is what it said before we changed it (an hour ago):

An invade, divide, and conquer Grand Plan

Novell CEO Ron HovsepianHighlight: Novell was the first to acknowledge that Microsoft FUD tactics had substance. Novell then used anti-Linux FUD to market itself. Learn more

Xandros founderHighlight: Xandros let Microsoft make patent claims and brag about (paid-for) OOXML support. Learn more

Linspire CEO Kevin CarmonyHighlight: Linspire’s CEO not only fell into Microsoft arms, but he also assisted the company’s attack on GNU/Linux. Learn more

Hand with moneyHighlight: Microsoft craves pseudo (proprietary) standards and gets its way using proxies and influence which it buys. Learn more

Eric RaymondHighlight: The invasion into the open source world is intended to leave Linux companies neglected, due to financial incentives from Microsoft. Learn more

XenSource CEOAnalysis: Xen, an open source hypervisor, possibly fell victim to Microsoft’s aggressive (and stealthy) acquisition-by-proxy strategy. Learn more

More analysis >>

The above is very old and it’s gone now.


Posted in Site News at 4:38 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Boycott Novell banner

Summary: Few notes about changes that are coming to Boycott Novell

AS longtime readers may know, the site’s layout has been pretty much the same for over three years. We are occasionally being pressured to make changes to it, so we will start by removing the banner at the top (which has been there since day one). We will also attempt to soften the message a little.

While we will not change the page style (we did assess this possibility before, but page content sometimes depends on it), we ought to organise the content more effectively. There are over 10,000 pages in total. The Wiki was merely a first step towards this goal (it is about a year old), but a lot of work remains to be done.

Patents Roundup: Patent Overload, ACTA, and More

Posted in Free/Libre Software, Intellectual Monopoly, Patents at 4:23 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: News about software patents and some of their effects

Almost One Million Patent Applications in China in 2009

China’s State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO) reports the following statistics:

* 976,686 patent applications (up 17.9%)
* 877,611 domestic (89.9% and up 22.4%)
* 99,075 from abroad (10.1%, down 10.9%)

Patentable subject matter – Where are we now? (background)

The presentation concentrated on developments over the past few years in the law on patentable subject matter, in particular relating to so-called software patents (or, according to the EPO’s more accurate general term, ‘computer-implemented inventions’), with emphasis on how the UK Patent Office and courts have dealt with the issue, and how this compares with the approach taken by the EPO and their Boards of Appeal.

Write Brothers® Donates $725K in Software to the USC School of Cinematic Arts

Write Brothers currently holds three software patents and one pending. It holds two for the Dramatica® story assistant, and one for the timeline-based presentation of text used in the Outline 4D™ outlining software, and one pending for its product. Streamline™.

Arigo appoints Bill Ren as Vice President of Engineering

He is also the author of multiple U.S. software patents.

Blogging ACTA Across The Globe: FFII’s Ante Wessels on Exporting Europe’s Flaws

Every major country in the ACTA negotiations claims that its own laws will remain unchanged by the treaty. But without changing a word of domestic law, ACTA can still be dangerous to a country’s — or a continent’s — economy. This week at Deeplinks, we’ve asked guest bloggers from around the world to give their perspective on the trade agreement. Today, giving the view from the heart of the European Union, is Ante Wessels, analyst for the Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure, a group best known for their work in Europe’s debate over software patents.

ACTA Guide, Part Five: Speaking Out

The 7th round of ACTA negotiations will conclude around lunch time today in Mexico. If past meetings are any indication, a few hours later the participating countries will issue a bland statement thanking the host Mexican government, discussing the progress on civil enforcement, border measures, and the Internet as well as noting the transparency discussions and the continued desire to address the issue. The release will then conclude by looking forward to the next meeting in Wellington, New Zealand in April.

ACTA One Step Closer To Being Done; Concerns About Transparency Ignored

Despite widespread demands from politicians around the globe, combined with promises from the USTR to be more open and transparent (despite unsubstantiated and totally ridiculous claims that countries would leave the negotiations if details were made public) and even entertainment industry lobbyists admitting that the process could be more transparent, ACTA negotiations are continuing in a veil of total secrecy to the public (unless you’re a big industry lobbyist — then it’s open). The latest meetings in Mexico were again held in total secrecy, where public concerns were mocked, but appear to have continued to move the negotiations forward with claims coming out that the document is in “final drafting stages.”

Invent Help Sues IPWatchdog Alleging they are Not a Scam (for context)

Ask HN: Cases where software patents have prevented progress? (Many examples are presented there which hopefully show the harms of patents)

A student writing a thesis about software patents emailed me asking about cases “in which having a patent on an algorithm prevented some significant technological progress.” HN seemed the best place to find answers. What are the clearest examples of this happening, and how much did they slow things down?

WIPO Patent Committee Prepares To Discuss Future Work Programme

This week the Free Software Foundation of Europe is proposing the committee consider using a three-step test on whether a particular type of knowledge should become patentable subject matter or not.

These three steps take the form of questions: “1, is there a demonstrated failure of the market to provide innovation in this area?; 2, are there demonstrated positive effects of disclosure from patenting in this area?; 3, in this area, does the patent system work effectively to disseminate knowledge?”

”Patents are a form of regulation, and constitute state intervention in the market,” said Karsten Gerloff, president of the FSFE. And, he added, “as with any regulation and intervention, the first consideration must be to do no harm.” These questions should help ensure that patents aid the cause of innovation, he added.

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