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11.24.10

Black Duck (Proprietary) Gets More Microsoft Employees, Anti-FOSS Coalitions Forming

Posted in Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Microsoft at 3:34 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

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Having failed to compete with code, Microsoft pulls contracts

Summary: The consolidation of GNU/Linux foes as seen not just in the eyes of Groklaw

Black Duck was created by a former Microsoft employee and has since then done some dubious things which we covered quite extensively. It has gotten worse because the company does a great deal not just make people scared of Free software (Black Duck is a proprietary software company) while applying for software patents; Black Duck also gives lip service to Microsoft, helping it get more influence inside the “Open Source” circles. Whenever Black Duck celebrates improved sales, well… then it just means that more proprietary software gets ‘sold’ (licensed for use).

A company called SpikeSource vanished into obscurity a long while ago. We mentioned it in relation to Microsoft crashing OSBC 2009 and reminded readers that SpikeSource had resorted to participating in Microsoft’s anti-GNU/Linux strategy [1, 2]. SpikeSource was not a friend of software freedom but a facilitator of Windows adoption.

This brings us back to Black Duck, the proprietary software company which keeps taking some Microsoft boosters and former employees on board (the latest example being Ohloh). On the Microsoft front this is great news (entryism and what Microsoft privately calls infiltration), especially now that the Microsoft booster SpikeSource becomes part of Black Duck. It’s like a reunion which another Microsoft booster covers:

SpikeSource –a Silicon-Valley startup once blessed by big names and championed as the future of making money on open-source – has shut-up shop after seven years.

The assets of SpikeSource have been bought by Black Duck Software. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Dana Blankenhorn has mentioned this too. There’s no explanation there of what SpikeSource was doing in recent years — something which we consider to be selfish and harmful. They helped a patent bully and corrupt monopolist gain more power and squash freedom while pretending to support it. There is nothing more dangerous than a foe who pretends to be your friend.

Ziff Davis covered this SpikeSource story and Groklaw’s Pamela Jones is finally waking up to the trouble which is Black Duck by quoting: “Black Duck Software acquires the assets of SpikeSource and also hires Sara Ford, former program manager for Microsoft’s CodePlex open-source project hosting site.”

We wrote about Sara Ford several times before [1, 2, 3]. Her agenda and methods were not so different from SpikeSource’s but she worked directly for Microsoft, repeating the very same PR lies. Now she’ll just serve a satellite which in all likelihood will be further assimilated to Microsoft (from which the founder of Black Duck originally came). Jones quotes from the Ziff Davis (funded partly by Microsoft [1, 2, 3]) article:

In related news, Black Duck hired a former Microsoft program manager to help run Ohloh.net. Black Duck hired Sarah Ford, former program manager for Microsoft’s CodePlex site for hosting open-source projects, to be Black Duck’s senior product and community manager for Ohloh.net….

In a Nov. 15 post on the Ohloh blog, Ford said: “I spent the last 5 years promoting open source development on CodePlex.com, Microsoft’s open source project hosting site. During my tenure as the Program Manager for CodePlex.com, I watched 10,000 open source projects get created on a forge hosted by Microsoft. I believe a large part of this success comes from utilizing agile methodologies to respond to community feedback via site enhancements. In upcoming posts, I’ll talk about how agile is the most fundamental thing you can do to improve the user satisfaction of your site.”

“Ohloh.net was started by two ex-Microsoft employees,” Jones points out. “Then Geeknet bought it. Now it’s owned by Black Duck. Geeknet is a member of OIN. This list of OIN licensees indicates that Black Duck is not and Ohloh.net is not.”

Of course not. Groklaw wrote about Geeknet joining OIN at the time (around the same time that Ohloh left).

It is worth noting that even SugarCRM (which pretends to be open source for marketing purposes) is joining the OIN:

SugarCRM and Open Invention Network (OIN) today announced the signing of SugarCRM as an OIN licensee. OIN’s mission is to enable and protect Linux. By becoming a licensee, SugarCRM, a leading provider of open source CRM software, has joined the expanding list of companies that recognize the importance of participating in a substantial community of Linux supporters and leveraging the Open Invention Network to further spur open source innovation.

Some time later in the week we will have more to say about the OIN, also in relation to Novell. Microsoft has several OIN-like entities out there but they are patent trolls, meaning that they are offensive and aggressive (Intellectual Ventures, the new shell where Novell’s patents go, and maybe Traul Allen’s Interval and Acacia). As a reader as ours put it the other day by quoting Groklaw, “I can’t help but wonder if Paul Allen no longer trusts in his Microsoft stock to support him”. Here is a broader part of Groklaw’s new article:

Do you remember when Google, Apple, Facebook, OfficeMax, Yahoo! and Netflix/OfficeDepot/Staples/eBay all filed motions to dismiss or sever Paul Allen’s Interval Licensing’s patent infringement complaint? They filed to dismiss for misjoinder and Google filed a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim. Google and the others want the cases separated into eleven instead of one humungous case, if the court doesn’t toss the complaint out.

Allen has answered with his opposition to both ideas. And the accused Gang of Eleven read the filings and their response could be described simply like this: What do we all have in common? How can it possibly work for any of us to have to go forward as a group? And Google writes, “Interval has not identified any products of any of the defendants that are allegedly infringing.” All it has said “without explanation” is that all the defendants infringe one of its patents with “similar” functionality, but there are no facts to support the claim. What functionality? What is the claim?

AOL is part of this lawsuit and it takes an active role as Groklaw shows: “AOL says if Interval had been specific, it would have just answered, and the case could have progressed. However, it files this reply in support of Google’s motion, joining it, because it has no clear picture of what Interval is complaining about.”

Why does that matter? Well, it sure seems like Microsoft is involuntarily building a sort of coalition containing many Microsoft veterans. They pretend to be for “open source” (Mono and Moonlight for instance). It collects software patents (even Black Duck does) and avoids OIN. At times it is also attacking those who are really supporting software freedom. They try to reform it for Microsoft’s convieniece.

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