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12.15.10

Novell, OIN, and AttachMSFT: Why It Confirms Novell Was Trouble All Along

Posted in Microsoft, Novell, OIN, Patents, SCO at 8:53 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“Our partnership with Microsoft continues to expand.”

Ron Hovsepian, Novell CEO

Executed

Summary: The writings have been on the wall for 4 years, persistently warning that Novell was a ticking time bomb with its growing pile of software patents and growing relationship with Microsoft

NOVELL’S UNIX might still be up for sale, so Novell owning it for the time being is missing the point. It’s many articles like this one which fail to mention the possibility of a UNIX sale. One has to remember that Novell has already decided to sell to Microsoft close to 1,000 patents, mostly software patents. Novell cannot be trusted, so why should AttachMSFT be trusted? Just look what happened to Caldera/SCO. Allies sometimes become enemies for strategic reasons and amoral shareholders. As for the SCO case, delays are bound to become epic as each so-called “bankruptcy hearing” gets cancelled (this happens many times repeatedly, which makes one wonder about the court system). Here is the latest such cancellation (delay until 2011). “Novell Wins Most of the Costs It Asked the Court to Get SCO to Pay” Groklaw says, but time is running out as the company falls into other hands whose interests are foreign.

The Clerk in the US District Court in Utah has signed off on most of the costs Novell asked for from the second SCO v. Novell trial. For the rest, they can ask the judge, as some of the expenses, while the clerk might find them reasonable in a case of this type, can’t be ordered by the clerk. Either side now has seven days to ask the judge to review.

Rick Whiting from CRN says that “Novell Partners See Promise In Attachmate Acquisition”, but the claim seems optimistic (and lacking substance). AttachMSFT is likely to axe some products that partners rely on.

Jack Wallen has published “The Novell deal is done: Let the patent scandals begin”. Therein he repeats the Microsoft-funded Linux libel (from Ken Brown), which sneaks into the news. “Linux was based on Minix,” Wallen claims, but this is utterly false as we clarified before [1, 2, 3]. Here is more from Wallen:

Here’s where I get confused: Linux was based on Minix. Minix was an operating system (Mini UNIX) created by Andrew Tanenbaum designed for education and science. Minix is a UNIX-like operating system, but was built from scratch. There was never any IP infringement on the part of Tanenbaum. When Torvalds decided to create his own operating system, he was just trying to create a “Minix” that would run on x86 hardware (He couldn’t afford the far more expensive hardware required to run Minix). And so Linus Torvalds created Linux. Eventually the GNU applications were added to replace the Minix application. The GNU applications were created by Richard Stallman with the goal of creating free, UNIX-like software from the ground up.

Microsoft insists on getting Linux sued for something, be it false claims relating to Minix, UNIX, and currently Microsoft patents which the company refuses to even name. Microsoft’s Walli (whom we recently mentioned in [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]) continues to promote his employer by playing apologist amid the patents acquisition:

So to me (naively) it looks like Microsoft vacuumed up the Novell portfolio because it could.

It’s almost like saying you can take food from a child because you can. Shame on Microsoft.

Red Hat’s Jan Wildeboer asks: “So why did EMC/VMware back out of the NOVL deal? Questions raised by http://is.gd/ivy2Z MSFT plays a role, ofcourse.” Fascinating revelation (caught also/originally by Groklaw):

Microsoft entered negotiations four to eight weeks before the deal was formally announced, said a fourth source close to the process.

EMC, acting on behalf of VMware, had been representing a consortium of players to be part of the Novell sale, the first source said. When it became clear that the storage company was no longer interested in a transaction, advisors looked elsewhere.

“The Microsoft consortium was able to bridge the gap in valuation that enabled the deal to get done,” the second source noted. Microsoft paid what was considered a “high price” for the IP portfolio, the sources said.

[...]

Microsoft and Golden Gate Capital have a good working relationship so were able to move quickly in negotiating a deal for the patents, the second source said. In 2008, Microsoft invested in Aspect Software, a portfolio company of Golden Gate.

Novell declined to comment for this story. EMC did not respond to a request for comment.

Why could they possibly refuse to comment? Maybe it’s a rhetorical question. Andy Updegrove has posted a followup to his detailed preliminary analysis of the AttachMSFT deal. This time he focuses on the patents Novell has given to Microsoft:

Who are those guys? The first and most obvious question relates to who the other members of CPTN Holdings, LLC (CPTN) the Microsoft syndicate may be. To my knowledge, there has not yet been a leak of this information. As I noted in my previous blog entry, the transaction documents that are made public pursuant to public reporting obligations may never reveal the names, unless one of the consortium members is required to disclose it in one of its own public reporting documents. Presumably that will happen, if it will happen at all, within three to four months, as part of a normal quarterly filing on Form 10-Q.

The second, and far less likely way would be as an indirect result of a filing by CPTN or Attachmate under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Public Improvements Act of 1976 (HSR). Whether or not a filing is required involves a complex analysis of the facts, as summarized in a 20 page Introductory Guide available at the Web site of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the agency which receives HSR filings and determines whether or not to permit a transaction described in an HSR filing to proceed.

If the patent acquisition were to be made by Microsoft alone, an HSR filing would clearly be necessary. Whether an acquisition by a consortium with the specific membership of CPTN would be required is a more complex question.

Intriguingly, the 8-K states that one of the conditions for the closing of the patent acquisition will be:

..the expiration or termination of the waiting period (and any extensions thereof) applicable to the consummation of the Merger under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976, as amended (the “HSR Act”), and certain other antitrust laws;

Unless this language was careless, it suggests that while the main transaction requires an HSR filing (no surprise there), the patent acquisition would not. Otherwise, there would also be a reference to any HSR filing that, if challenged by the FTC, might prevent the patent sale to go through.

In my last blog entry, I had said that I assumed, but had not had time to look up, whether HSR filings are public; I’ve now had time to take a look, and neither the fact that an HSR filing has been made, nor the text of the filing itself, becomes public. In fact, filings are even exempt from disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act.

Redmonk, an analyst which also receives some payments from Redmond (Microsoft), writes about “The End of Novell” and says the following about these patents:

Of far greater concern to some, however, is Novell’s intellectual property portfolio. As has been well documented, as part of the transaction Novell sold some 882 patents to CPTN Holdings, a consortium that counts Microsoft as a member (more on them here), for $450 million dollars. Although Novell subsequently disclosed that it was retaining its Unix copyrights, this does not satisfy fears regarding the patents. Copyrights, remember, refer simply to a given codebase, while patents refer to the idea or invention behind them. It’s entirely possible, then, that Novell could retain the copyrights to code as Microsoft simultaneously acquired patents that read on same. Questions, therefore, remain: what – specifically – was the intellectual property acquired? More importantly, what’s the intent of purchase: are they being purchased for offensive or defensive purposes? It’s admittedly speculative to extract intent merely from Microsoft’s recent history with respect to intellectual property licensing and litigation, but in the absence of other information this reaction is natural.

Over at The Source, Jason’s analysis comes in two parts [1, 2, as do his analyses of Asay's departure (covered last week) and the firing of Blankenhorn (I personally like Blankenhorn, but recently in particular he boosted the agenda of Microsoft Florian, who wants patents to harm FOSS and only days ago openly admitted that he is not pro-FOSS).

Groklaw has been perplexed by what Novell’s patent sale to Microsoft will mean to FOSS and Carlo Piana, an excellent lawyer specialising in this area, says that “OIN is a short term hack to #swpats [software patents], but — as PJ says — can work in cases like Novell pats gone to MSFT”. Here is Groklaw’s analysis, which says:

Here’s how it works. The patents of OIN members are licensed to each other royalty-free in perpetuity. Even on a sale, the license remains in force for all pre-existing members. If you are a member of OIN prior to the closing on the Novell deal, then, you are covered. The proposed closing date is January 23rd, so you still have time to join OIN and get the benefit of the license to those patents. Then, if Microsoft shows up at your door, you can say, “Thanks, but no thanks. I already have a license.” So here’s what it all adds up to, by my reading: if ever you were thinking of joining the Open Invention Network, this is the sensible time to do it, as long as you get it done before this sale closes and that door shuts with respect to the Novell patents.

One can’t assume that the Microsoft consortium has evil plans for these patents, but on the other hand, consider who we are talking about. Novell’s license to OIN members can’t be revoked, even on the sale, so what’s the down side? Looking at it the other way, anyone who is not a member prior to the sale closing, even if it were to join OIN later, will have to deal with the Microsoft consortium regarding those patents. Let me repeat: if you are an OIN member *prior to the closing*, you are covered by the Novell license to OIN.

Here is the LWN discussion. Gentoo joined on the same day, or merely announced it on that day at least. To quote from the Gentoo Web site:

This week Gentoo Foundation joined Open Invention Network as a licensee. OIN is an organization which helps protect the Linux ecosystem by building a variety of defenses against patent attacks. These defenses include both traditional mechanisms, like defensive patent pools, and more innovative approaches, like the Linux Defenders project, which uses a variety of methods to pro actively prevent the publication of particularly egregious patents. As a licensee, we’ll have access to OIN resources in case we’re threatened by operating entities with patents, and over time we’ll likely become more involved in providing our own ideas and resources to OIN projects.

OSS Watch had this to say about OIN:

I am not a lawyer, but my reading of this clause is that – assuming this agreement was in force between them – Novell needed OIN’s agreement to sell their patents and the patents themselves remain subject to the agreement at their new home. If this is the case, it seems extremely unlikely that they can be used against Linux.

Karsten (FSFE) wrote about Novell’s new business model after sale to AttachMSFT, posing the whole thing as a question.

AttachMSFT is not a company that can be trusted and Groklaw found shades of TurboHercules in this news story which shows AttachMSFT adding Windows Server support to UNIX/Linux products:

Support for the latest release of Microsoft Windows Server heads the list of improvements in version 7.0.

The SFLC’s show (now somewhat detached from the SFLC) spoke about this whole subject in its latest episode which is summarised as follows: “In this episode of Free as in Freedom, Karen and Bradley discuss in the first segment recent press coverage of sexist attitudes at Free Software conferences, and in the second segment, discuss the public filings related to the Novell sale.”

“Customers will continue to be authorized to use Novell products under this intellectual property,” said Novell after the deal. Is this reassuring to Novell rivals who distribute GNU/Linux? Regarding the press release, be sure to read this from Savio Rodrigues:

What is surprising, and frankly astonishing, is that Microsoft would agree to be named as having played such a prominent role in the acquisition press release….

Groklaw responds to this by writing: “To those of us who never believed for a minute that Microsoft was softening toward Open Source and viewed all that as Microsoft softening Open Source up so it could eat its heart, I’m not surprised a bit. And as to what they get out of it, the prominence is, I’m guessing, so they can threaten stragglers and the weak in the community to force them to pay Microsoft for the patents, with the goal of making Linux cost more, so Microsoft can compete, as well as making a little money for Microsoft on the side from the work of others. Litigation is expensive and unpredictable. Some of the patents likely would be found invalid or not infringed, so the behind-the-scenes bullying is way more appealing, I’m supposing. By the way, if your company gets such a visit, you might mention it to OIN. Lots of things that work in the dark lose their power when a light is turned on.”

Be sure Novell will try to spin it. The spin parade has already begun as the VAR Guy sells blog space (adverts as articles) to whitewash the terrible AttachMSFT arrangement. It’s sad to see that the VAR Guy is beginning to post more sponsored “posts” (adverts). He did the same thing with Oracle, which is a shame. This time he put a Novell-paid plug. Anyway, a very interesting (and genuine) post from The VAR Guy explores options that Novell may have rejected:

1. Who else, if anyone, bid on Novell? And what about the rumor that VMware wanted to buy Novell’s SUSE Linux business?

Dragoon’s reply: He declined to get into specifics but he offered this juicy nugget of information: Sometime in December, Novell will file a proxy statement with the SEC that discloses details about the the Novell sale process. The Proxy will also offer key information about due diligence. Also, Dragoon said Novell relations with VMware remain strong, though he declined to say if VMware was among the bidders for Novell.

The VAR Guy’s spin: Sounds like the proxy statement could include a potential list of bidders that didn’t wind up acquiring Novell. The VAR Guy has bookmarked the SEC web site and is standing by for timely reading…

2. Will Dragoon remain Novell’s Channel Chief after Attachmate completes the Novell acquisition?

Dragoon’s reply: His potential role (or non-role) is still to be determined. That discussion is part of the integration planning phase, which starts now. One of the items to be discussed is the structure of the management team moving forward, Dragoon said.

The VAR Guy’s spin: Too soon to say. When it comes to personal matters like career status, our resident blogger tries not to speculate.

Katherine Noyes has published “Microsoft, Attachmate and Novell’s Linuxy Ménage à Trois”

“I’m saddened but not surprised,” wrote znmeb on PCWorld, for example. “I’m a loyal openSUSE user and have three appliances available for download in the SUSE Studio Gallery. My hope was that whoever bought Novell would invest in this technology, not buy it to kill it.”

Novell’s PR people still speak about these appliances and Glyn Moody’s analysis is the best we’ve found so far. He too is not terribly excited.

First, there is nothing to stop Attachmate – or any subsequent owner that later buys Novell from it – deciding that litigation would be a nice way to squeeze money out of companies. Attachmate is run by an “investment group”, so I doubt whether they’d have any qualms about doing this if they thought there would be a net gain from the process. It’s true that SCO, the last company to try this, has been mauled in the courts, and no infringing Linux code has ever been found. But it is also important to note that despite that fact, SCO, is *still* fighting on.

One of the big problems is that winning such battles is as much about (financial) might as right. Because SCO took on IBM, its strategy didn’t work out too well, but it’s not hard to see a stronger aggressor being more successful against smaller companies with more limited resources, or companies that use GNU / Linux only incidentally, for example in embedded software. There are now many of these, and as similar attacks on Android have shown, those that use GNU / Linux in this way have no appetite for defending it, because it’s a means to an end for them – it’s simpler just to pay up and move on. But the knock-on effect of buckling in this way is to increase the pressure on other companies to do the same.

That was the biggest problem with Novell’s 2006 deal with Microsoft: it lent credence to the idea that GNU / Linux might, in some unspecified way, infringe on Microsoft’s patents. One of the frustrating things about it was that Microsoft did not have to prove this: the existence of the deal was enough to suggest it. I’ve certainly had Novell cited to me as “proof” that there are hidden patent problems with GNU / Linux, as well as an example of how free software can / should compromise on these matters.

Novell has moved ahead since 2006. Back then Novell implied that Microsoft’s patent claims had legitimacy. Now it is handing Microsoft lots of patents that can actually fulfill this premise. Shame on Novell. A Novell boycott was justified.

Misc. Novell News: Proprietary Products Galore

Posted in Novell at 7:23 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Proprietary software is to software what junk food is to dining

Burger

Summary: A quick overview of this month’s Novell news about proprietary software

Identity Manager

Cooley Law School Secures Identities for Cloud-based Google Apps with Novell Identity Manager (also here)

Novell announces industry’s first solution- Novell Identity Manager 4 (also here)

Bomgar

Novell Transforms Customer Experience with Collaborative Remote Support from Bomgar

Utah

Utah’s Top Entrepreneurs Recognized at 2010 UVEF Awards (Novell mentioned)

Why You Should Start a Company in… Salt Lake City

Salt Lake also boasts a history of tech giants in Novell and WordPerfect, and a pair of successful startups in storage device maker Fusion IO and Web analytics software firm Omniture which was sold to Adobe for $1.8 billion this year.

History

The 10 Biggest Software Stories Of 2010 (“And there was the pending sale of Novell, once a head-to-head competitor of Microsoft, now a relatively minor player,” it claims)

Under scrutiny: A brief history of the relationship between the EU and technology companies

EU vs Microsoft: This long-running antitrust dispute saw Microsoft accused of abusing its dominant market position to push its own products in favour of those made by competitors. It started with a complaint by Novell in 1993 over Microsoft’s licensing practices, but quickly expanded to become an exhaustive investigation of many aspects of Microsoft’s business practices.

GroupLink and GroupWise

GroupLink Announces Free Service Desk Solution for Open Horizons Members (also here)

This announcement comes as GroupLink shows its commitment to the EMEA market and the members of Open Horizons, the largest Novell user community in the world.

New Maintenance Release for BlackBerry Enterprise Server – Now Available

GroupLink unveils free service desk offering for Open Horizons members

CompanionLink Supports Outlook Sync with Nokia Symbian Phones

Sentinel

Novell Sentinel Log Manager Tomcat Vulnerability

At Novell, Apple Comes Before Linux

Posted in Apple, GNU/Linux, Google, Novell at 7:12 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Fruit

Summary: Novell ignores Symbian and Android users and instead just services hypePhone [sic] users due to “customer demand”

WHAT A BLUNDER. Despite that fact that Android phone activations roughly equate or outpace those of hypePhone, Novell brings Fog Computing control to Apple products like hypePhone but not Linux-based phones which include Android. IDG inquired to get this explanation: “Ben Grubin, director of data center management for Novell, told Network World that the remote management application might appear on other mobile platforms, such as BlackBerry, Android, and Windows 7, if there is sufficient customer demand.”

Well, fine then. So based on the news around IWM — including a press release — Novell continues to market proprietary software, its roadmap shows no signs of change, and it’s mostly about marketing (new brand name for old products) and bribes-for ‘studies’ which are being used for marketing. On top of it all, IWM only services people whose phones run the most locked-down, proprietary operating system and snubs the leading mobile operating systems which are free/open source software, notably Symbian and Android. Shame on Novell for pretending to be a friend of “open source”. In a later post we’ll show how it uses its patents against “open source”, which makes it more like a foe than a friend. The video segment below springs to mind. Novell’s commitment to software freedom is virtually non-existent.


SAP Uses SUSE to Compete Against Novell and Promote Proprietary Software

Posted in Novell, SLES/SLED at 6:49 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

SAP logo for Microsoft business partner

Summary: SAP is competing with Vibe (formerly Pulse) on SLES 11, which only helps reduce freedom in businesses

“Novell Vibe OnPrem Now Available” and so is Novell Messenger 2.2.

For those who missed the memo, Vibe is the new name for Novell Pulse and it was mentioned this month in some articles about Google Wave, on which Vibe is based. Articles include:

i. Google Wave Finds New Life with Apache

ii. Google Wave accepted into Apache Incubator

Collaboration Software Races To Keep Up,” says CRN and CMSWire has a tour of the product, which AttachMSFT may or may not axe. From CRN:

And Novell — almost at the very time the Attachmate announcement was made — launched a beta version of a hosted or on-premise collaboration solution called Vibe, which shows significant promise. In this issue of CRNtech, we are offering this snapshot of collaboration solutions. It’s only a snapshot, really, because the landscape, functionality and features continue to come from developers at breakneck pace.

Is it not fascinating that SAP chose SUSE over Red Hat probably so that it can pay its BFF Microsoft for mythical patents and now it is fighting against Vibe with its own proprietary product? New articles on the subject include:

i. New Innovations in SAP(R) StreamWork(TM) Support Vision for On Premise, On Demand and On Device, Bringing More Choices to Busine

SAP StreamWork, enterprise edition, leverages proven Novell technology to bridge the gap between people’s demands for easy-to-use, quickly available software and access to enterprise information, and IT’s challenge in delivering enterprise data to cloud applications securely.

ii. SAP’s SaaS product StreamWork app now on Google Apps Marketplace (“The enterprise edition of StreamWork runs on Novell’s SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 11,” it says)

iii. SAP StreamWork Eyes Enterprise After Google Wave Crash

iv. SAP Sends Second Wave Into Collaboration Market

v. SAP Taps Novell for StreamWork Collaboration Service

Google tried to lead the way with Wave. Novell followed Google and now we end up with proprietary software from a rather malicious company that lobbies for software patents in Europe.

OpenSUSE’s Future Still Debated, Not Seen Clearly

Posted in Novell, OpenSUSE, SLES/SLED at 6:21 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Christmas

Summary: OpenSUSE’s route after an AttachMSFT takeover is still not defined clearly enough, which puts it at risk and also a good position to fork

AS LONGTIME readers may know, as a former SUSE user my views on the subject are mixed. On the one hand I think that OpenSUSE is a solid distribution with a decent reputation, but on the other hand, OpenSUSE is owned by Novell, which promotes Microsoft agenda (more on that later). Had the OpenSUSE community decided to fork (thus departing from Novell), a lot would change. The OpenSUSE Board, which comprises both Novell employees and outsiders (elections imminent and candidates step forward, in addition to ambassadors), has greetings for this season and there are claims that “Collaboration thrives!”

“Had the OpenSUSE community decided to fork (thus departing from Novell), a lot would change.”“Meanwhile,” says this post, “Linux Journal is noticing the spirit of openSUSE – mentioning the Collaboration days in the linked article! The team feels full of energy and is looking forward to the next two Collaboration Days scheduled for this month. On Monday, 13 December, we’ll have the Marketing Materials Review Day and on Tuesday, 21 December, we’ll have the PR and Social Media Review Day.”

This was written in reference to Susan Linton’s writings about OpenSUSE, which she has been following and using for quite some time (for as long as I’ve read her excellent Web site, TuxMachines). One post asks: “Has the Novell Deal Hampered openSUSE?”

Soon after the reworked openFATE was announced, a rolling release option was introduced by Greg Kroah-Hartman, a kernel developer employed by Novell. This was something he’d been wanting to do for a while, and he said the time was right to start it now. Work will start soon on the 11.3 branch and users with 11.3 or new 11.4 installs should be able to start rolling on the openSUSE river pretty soon, should they choose to do so. This will be accomplished through a separate repository, so users can still enjoy the traditional periodic install or upgrade with important and security fixes as usual if they wish.

The openSUSE Board elections were announced on December 1. The openSUSE board consists of five members to oversee the project. The board helps resolve conflicts, communicate with Novell, facilitate communication with the community, and assist with the decision making processes. There are two seats to fill and only one can be a Novell employee. The election is taking place from January 12 to January 26. Results will be announced January 26. Only openSUSE members are eligible to vote, but becoming a member isn’t difficult. To become a member you will have to have contributed to openSUSE in some manner. All this is just another way one can be involved in the direction of openSUSE.

“The openSUSE and Ubuntu Rollercoasters” is another Linton post on the subject of OpenSUSE, but all the other posts from the past two weeks are either purely technical or about Tumbleweed, which is basically the possibility that OpenSUSE will become a rolling release [1, 2, 3]. Here is one person’s opinion on OpenSUSE Long-Term Support (LTS) release:

1. I have a feeling the two being analogised to CentOS is a bit unfair. openSUSE’s relation with SLE has always been more the Fedora to RHEL kind. We, as a project, form a base, not a copy of SUSE’s enterprise offerings, if typically more conservatively than competition.

2. openSUSE has the direct primary sponsorship of Novell. CentOS has no official affiliation with RH. An openSLES may antagonise Novell/SUSE/Attachmate’s friendly approach.

3. Offering of an LTS version alternately with a couple of normal versions has not been discussed. I wonder why. Ubuntu does that quite appreciably, (though I have never personally encountered an Ubuntu-powered server).
From Wikipedia, “To date every fourth release, in the second quarter of even-numbered years, has been designated as a Long Term Support (LTS) release, indicating that it has updates for three years for desktop use and five years for server”

Over at Ostatic, Susan Linton wrote about this potentially major news (similar rumours were made about Ubuntu recently, but they turned out to be false). She also ponders “The (open)Fate of openSUSE”. We wrote about OpenSUSE in a dedicated fashion only a couple of times since the AttachMSFT [sic] news [1, 2] and the general feeling is that AttachMSFT would not be sufficiently committed. Think of what Xandros did with Linspire and Freespire if that helps. One of the “OpenSUSE lizards” is “[a]nnouncing factory-tested” while the more major release is OpenSUSE 11.4-milestone4 (screenshots here or here), which brings new manuals. Assuming that OpenSUSE 11.4 is released and marketed by AttachMSFT, is there any guarantee that OpenSUSE 11.5 will ever come out? AttachMSFT is not legally obliged. In general, AttachMSFT needn’t even carry on contributing to Linux at all. Just watch what happened to Caldera/SCO after Kevin McBride came in.

Here is what the 451 Group has to say on the subject:

In conclusion, Linux fans should be encouraged by the quality, diversity and new directions of the Linux kernel development community. While there is cause for some concern regarding Novell’s contribution, overall, Linux development seems to be charging ahead.

“Intel has managed to surpass Novell and IBM” says another source and since AttachMSFT's promise to OpenSUSE is not a legal commitment even the former community manager of the project is not too optimistic (further discussion in LWN). To quote some of Zonker’s good piece:

Now we know who’s buying Novell, but now what? The Attachmate deal, if it goes through, has some serious implications for the rest of the tech industry in 2011 and beyond.

First, a quick disclaimer: I’m a former Novell employee, and worked for the company for two years, ending in January 2010. I don’t have any stock or financial interest in the company.

Now onto the news. I’ve written a bit about this on NetworkWorld when the deal was announced on Monday, November 22. To say the least, I was surprised that the deal went down like this. I was fairly sure, and was hopeful, that Novell would go to VMware. The, as they say, “synergy” between the SUSE part of Novell’s business and VMware is pretty strong. Novell has been focusing a lot on SUSE Studio and virtualization through its “perfect guest,” virtualization strategy. The company hasn’t been focusing very hard on being a host platform for virtualization. That’s not to say you can’t use SUSE Linux Enterprise Server as a host platform — you can, but the focus has been on being a good guest.

For some more news about OpenSUSE see the official project Web site [1, 2]. There is some better news [1, 2], but none which is Earth-shattering. Techrights is genuinely worried about OpenSUSE, thinking that AttachMSFT will do to it what SCOracle [sic] did to OpenSolaris. OpenSUSE is where improvements to GNU/Linux are pushed upstream.

Microsoft Deal Left Novell Broken Hearted, Broke

Posted in Microsoft, Novell, Patents at 5:17 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Ron Hovsepian begs Ballmer

Summary: Microsoft’s patents ally is falling on its face and fails to impress even in its last-ever financial report

Our call to “boycott Novell” is approaching its end of life because Novell is on the verge of being no more. It’s down to administrative processes and there is more new coverage mentioning the Microsoft/AttachMSFT/Novell deal, e.g.:

There are still attempts to stop this takeover, with new litigation from Joseph Klein including posts attributed to him. There is also Shainberg’s motion and maybe the deal won’t go through (although compensation to the claimants is more likely as a compromise, if any).

This happens to have happened shortly before Novell’s quarterly results (December 2nd), which got covered in the financial news, more recently in:

To highlight some particular news items, here is the forecast saying that Novell’s sales will dip. With a press release coming it was rightly stated that: “In an earlier announcement, Novell canceled its earnings conference call to discuss these results. Novell has entered into a definitive agreement to be acquired by Attachmate Corporation.” Here is some more coverage and Novell’s press release [1, 2] preceding some informed analysis:

Software maker Novell – which is in the process of selling itself to Attachmate and Microsoft for $2.2bn – reported its financial results for its fourth quarter of fiscal 2010 ended October 31. Rather than face a lot of pesky questions from Wall Street analysts, the top brass at the company ducked out and just pumped out a press release.

Novell didn’t do too badly in Q4, all things considered, with sales only down 4.2 per cent to $206.5m. Software license sales were $31.3m, down a smidgen from the year-ago quarter. Maintenance and subscription sales were off 4.2 per cent, mirroring license declines, at $153.3m, and services revenues fell by 9.7 per cent to just under $22m. In the quarter, Novell booked $308m in non-cash tax benefits related to “certain net deferred tax assets,” which would have been interesting to explain.

The only positive point was due to tax benefits. Groklaw writes: “Partnering with Microsoft didn’t work out, then? They made more money from Linux outside of the Microsoft arrangement? What a surprise.” Groklaw cites and quotes this article:

Novell cancelled its scheduled analyst call to discuss the results and declined to comment to InternetNews.com.

[...]

Novell has a multi-year partnership with Microsoft to resell SUSE Linux Enterprise Server (SLES) support subscriptions. On an overall earnings basis, Novell’s Linux business actually declined during the fourth quarter of 2010.

Tax benefits are also mentioned here. They are not indicative of any real success.

Novell Inc.’s fiscal fourth-quarter earnings surged as the software maker cashed in some tax gains before it’s taken over by Attachmate Corp.

In a later post today (we have a lot to say about Novell) we will show that AttachMSFT makes Novell even more dangerous than the ‘old’ Novell. It’s a matter of software patents, which we wrote about extensively this morning.

Patent System’s LLC Syndrome Shows It’s Time for It to Go

Posted in Patents at 3:04 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: The patent system fell into the hands of entities without real products or any intention to innovate, which means that it no longer serves its said purpose/charter

Wikileaks/Cablegate has been the leading story so far this month. One new article about Wikileaks draws a correlation to the work of Dr. Richard Stallman, notably his opposition to software patents (which includes warning about Mono for reasons covered in the previous post). To quote the relevant part from the Washington Post:

In the early 1980s, Richard Stallman, then an employee at MIT’s artificial-intelligence lab, was denied permission to access and edit computer code for the lab’s laser printer. Frustrated, he kicked off what he calls GNU, a massively collaborative project to create a free and sharable operating system. His efforts sparked a widespread movement challenging the restriction of access to software through patents. Supporters asserted that they had a right to control the code in their own computers.

The battle reached far beyond Stallman, eventually pitting corporations and patent-holders against this early generation of free-software advocates. The bulk of most software is still private, though open-source projects have gained popularity and even dominance in some arenas. Stallman continues to advocate for free software.

The state of the patent system is pathetic, unless one is a lawyer. The latest
Patently-O roundup is “Getting Personal” and rather than find patents making products better we just find them making lawyers richer. They hacked the system. “Foley & Lardner Welcomes Team Led by Prominent IP Attorneys John Lanza and Christopher Mckenna in Boston” says a new release and patents on algorithms are being named as a selling point:

Foley & Lardner now has strong capabilities in the field of software patents across the United States

Also in the news: “XStor Medical Systems Receives Patent for Software Storage Platform” (press release bragging about a new software patent).

XStor Medical Systems, Inc. has been granted a patent for a scalable distributed storage system.

Another “LLC” surfaces with this press release that says: “Ascentive LLC (owners of FinallyFast.com) today announced that they have been awarded their fourth patent by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office, U.S. Patent No. 7,840,652.” There is coverage here and it merely shows that companies without any products go out there in the market just looking for someone to leech. We gave 2 examples this morning, Paul Allen and Jay Walker.

Stallman was right about the patent system all along. Is it too late to rescue? Well, then maybe it’s time to just abolish the whole thing. Based on preliminary tags, Cablegate is about to bring out plenty of material which will discredit the patents and copyrights systems.

.NET is Microsoft’s Patent Poison Pill Inside Any GNU/Linux Distribution With Mono

Posted in GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Mono, Novell, Patents at 2:32 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“I saw that internally inside Microsoft many times when I was told to stay away from supporting Mono in public. They reserve the right to sue”

Robert Scoble, former Microsoft evangelist

Summary: Mono is still a major patent trap based on any rational analysis of the MCP and today’s distributions of GNU/Linux

PROJECT Mono is co-developed by Microsoft and AttachMSFT, which had many of its software patents passed to Microsoft. It takes extreme discipline to be blind to this problem, especially given that Microsoft is turning into a patent troll and suing companies that sell Linux. Fortunately to Microsoft, advocates of irrational appeasement are determined to plant Microsoft’s trap right inside all GNU/Linux distributions and even Microsoft booster Thom Holwerda covered the facts as presented by Jason, who for the sake of confirmation also spoke to Jo Shields, the man who pushes Mono into GNU/Linux distributions.

So, it appears that there are non-ECMA bits even in the “most basic” Mono library. At this point, I was pretty sure we could reject the claim.

However, even in my freetarded factfinding frenzy I wanted to be sure, so I did something absolutely insane: I asked Jo Shields about it. (In case you don’t know, Mr. Shields packages Mono for Debian and Ubuntu.)

Mr. Shields was kind enough to respond, and here’s the summarized deal:

1. ECMA/non-ECMA is not a consideration in packaging Mono.
2. No distribution ships Mono with ECMA-only components.
3. It is not possible to do so without “deep surgery”.
4. Splitting along ECMA/non-ECMA lines is not a priority.

So, we can reject the claim that distribution packagers are splitting Mono into ECMA/non-ECMA components.

“Even most basic Mono bits contain non-ECMA bits,” wrote gnufreex in response to it, “Jo Shields confirms but launches ad hominem at me and @schestowitz”

Yes, that’s typical Shields. We have been presenting the facts for years and all the likes of him could only launch personal attacks to distract from the message. Many of these personal attacks came from Novell employees, some of whom also worked on helping Silver Lie adoption with Moonlight. Now that Vista Phony 7 [sic] is failing in the market, it seems likely that Silver Lie will die altogether, not just on the Web. Microsoft MVP and Novell VP Miguel de Icaza refuses to accept this:

Silverlight is supported on Windows, Macintosh, and Windows Phone. Novell, meanwhile, has offered a Linux version of Silverlight called Moonlight. Goldfarb expressed optimism that there would be a version of Moonlight with Silverlight 5 capabilities. Novell’s Miguel de Icaza, who has headed up Moonlight development, said Attachmate’s acquisition of Novell would not impact future releases of Moonlight.

Mind the Banshee lie which continues to live on around sites like Twitter (we first noticed it originating from Shields a few weeks ago). Jason has produced a good record of the lie being repeated over and over again:

More Mono Misinformation Meticulously Dematerialized

[...]

Of course, those who are paying attention in class already know the problem, but I’ll point it out here for anyone just joining us:

* Banshee is not covered, in any sense.
* All of the non-ECMA components were not removed.
* That commit doesn’t remove all the non-ECMA components.

3 tweets, every one of which is totally, 100% wrong presented as casually as you like without disclaimer, explainer or retainer.

Let me also note there is also an important distinction to be made between “Banshee is covered” and “Mono is covered”. If applications were directly being covered, then we wouldn’t care if Mono or Logo or Any Other Language were being used. But the Community Promise is applied to the C#/CLI implementation, which means it is Mono that the application developer is relying on to be safe within the confines of the Microsoft Community Promise.

In effect, the Mono project and its promoters are making a promise to application developers and users: “Use Mono to develop your applications, it’s useful and safe. Microsoft has made a promise.” The implication is that developers and users need not be concerned with verifying they are remaining withing the boundaries of Microsoft’s promise. But, this sort of Mono Apologist violates that trust by not only implementing things they know are not covered by the promise, but also by obfuscating which bits are “safe” and “unsafe” and then lying about it.

[...]

I am supremely confident that we will never again hear another argument from a Mono Apologist suggesting otherwise. I also fully expect those very vocal Mono Apologists who manage to appear in every thread to defend Mono and may have stated or implied different, to go back and correct themselves so they don’t continue to mislead others. After all, I know factual accuracy is of the highest concern.

The Mono project — just like Microsoft — is based on many big lies. Will more people notice and also react, despite systematic bullying and daemonisation from Mono proponents? Discouragement of truth is vile act.

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