Patents not on engineering (or physical products) anymore
Summary: News about patents from all across the Web, placing special emphasis on software patents and how these affect Free software projects, including Linux and Android
THIS week’s patents roundup revolves around practicing companies that act in a way which is almost indistinguishable from patent trolls. As we have said here for several years, the term “patent trolls” can be misleading because many large companies act in the same way but don’t get labeled “trolls”, mostly because of their size. It means that a fight against “patent trolls” often turns out to be a fight over scale, waged by large corporations against smaller ones. Check again who is behind the PATENT Act [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8].
Today’s post brings together several stories and themes/strands in order to keep readers abreast of the latest developments.
Open Invention Network
We have spent over 8 years writing about the Open Invention Network (better known as OIN) and why it cannot effectively protect Free software projects. We also exchanged many E-mails with the OIN and some trolls. We saw how toothless the OIN can be in many scenarios and we challenged the OIN over it. I spoke in length with their CEO a few times over the telephone and I still think that it helps legitimise software patents and rarely achieves very much, except promote the interests of large corporations (like those which founded it and still fund it).
Earlier this morning FOSS Force published this very long interview with Deb Nicholson, who had worked for the FSF before she moved to OIN. This interview is very good and Nicholson’s views on patents are fine. We shared them here before.
“My work at OIN involves a lot of research,” Nicholson says. “I read academic papers on litigation trends and try to stay on top of who’s getting sued this week. It also involves a lot of behind the scenes emailing. I have lots of informal conversations with people about how you run a free and open source software project. Sometimes, they don’t realize that lots of other companies are succeeding with FOSS business models and shared community resources. Once they see that it can be done, they often feel more confident.”
Nicholson then speaks about the role of SCOTUS in lowering the risk of software patents.
“The Supreme Court,” she explains, “has given the lower courts the tools to rule against two specific categories of vague and frivolous patents. This is great for companies that have the cash and the time to go to court. For companies that don’t want to fight in court — which is lots of them, because it really is expensive and time-consuming — the letters will keep coming. Plus, there are still plenty of overly broad or obvious patents on the books that may not be affected by the recent rulings. So, things are improving but I wouldn’t say that we’re finished.”
She makes an important point regarding the cost of litigation, but the matter of fact is, USPTO examiners are now tougher on software patents and fewer companies (or shell firms) are eager to assert software patents for fear of losing them. Not only the extorted party (usually developers) is scared of the courts; the plaintiff, e.g. a patent troll, is too. What SCOTUS has done is, in our humble assessment, the best news in nearly a decade. We cannot recall anything bigger or better in terms of magnitude, at least not when it comes to systematically squashing software patents (not one patent at the time as per the EFF’s much-advertised earlier efforts, dubbed “patent busting”).
The Finjan-led patent extortion crusade was mentioned here just weeks ago (they are Microsoft-connected) and now, just weeks later, this firm’s troll entity (Finjan Holdings) gets extortion money from a really nasty company, Blue Coat, which some say the EPO hired to spy on people like yours truly and EPO staff. “Finjan Holdings,” as a trolls expert explains, is “a patent-licensing company operating in the cybersecurity space” and it has just “won a hefty $39.5 million jury verdict (PDF) on Tuesday, when a San Jose jury found that Blue Coat Systems infringed five of its patents.”
Keep an eye on Finjan, not just because of its Microsoft connections. Finjan has become a very malicious company. It deserves to go out of business. The sooner, the better.
Cisco, now known for its surveillance and back doors (which is even openly discusses when applying for standards), is receiving negative publicly because as its profits run dry (or more meager), it increasingly turns into more of a troll, just like Microsoft and Apple. Is this what Cisco wants to be renowned (or notorious) for? Remember that TrollTracker, a fighter against patent trolls. was a Cisco lawyer, but Cisco is now turning into what it fought. Arista, according to this article, says that Cisco is “Very Much Like a Patent Troll” (that’s the headline) and it’s coming all the way from the top. To quote the article, “Arista’s top lawyer used the company’s earnings call for trash-talk Thursday, saying Cisco is “behaving very much like a patent troll” in its intellectual property lawsuit against Arista.
“Arista Networks Inc. CEO Jayshree Ullal kicked off the badmouthing: “Despite all the overheated rhetoric we’ve been hearing from Cisco blogs about Arista’s brazen copying, we think the only thing brazen about the suit is the extreme length Cisco has gone to,” she said. “Our customers have shown unwavering support.”
“Cisco has basically become another very malicious company, if not for colluding with espionage agencies, then for bulling/attacking rivals using patents.”“Arista Vice President and General Counsel Marc Taxay agreed. “Ironically … it appears to us at any rate that Cisco is behaving very much like a patent troll, which is pretty much what they’ve spent the last decade condemning.” Cisco is claiming patents for widely implemented features and functionality that exist on a broad range of switches today, and some of the patents affect features the patents were never intended to cover, Taxay said.”
The Wall Street Journal, taking note of “expensive legal battle with Cisco”, also expresses concerns about this case. “That may give some investors pause,” the author claims, “especially when Arista remains embroiled in an expensive legal battle with Cisco, which has accused it of infringing on patents.”
Cisco has basically become another very malicious company, if not for colluding with espionage agencies, then for bulling/attacking rivals using patents. Cisco used to be on the defensive, but now it’s on the ofsensive, and not against trolls. For a company that is eager to be seen as a FOSS and GNU/Linux supporter, this surely is a dumb strategy whose gains — if any — are massively outweighed by public image erosion.
A new article from Timothy B. Lee helps chastise the bully called JDate, which we wrote about very recently. “JDate,” he explains, “recently sued JSwipe, a mobile dating app for Jews that works like Tinder. Most media coverage has focused on mocking JDate for essentially claiming that it has a monopoly on certain uses of the letter J.
“But in some ways, the part of JDate’s lawsuit that really merits mockery is the patent infringement claims. JDate is suing JSwipe for infringing a broad patent that essentially claims the concept of using a computer to match pairs of users who express interest in each other. The lawsuit illustrates the continuing need for patent reform, because the current system makes it too expensive for defendants to challenge dubious patents.”
There are some interesting comments about JDate here. Although this Web site only targets a small niche, we strongly encourage all readers to boycott JDate, or else they’ll continue their shameful bullying, perhaps inspiring other companies to do the same.
The Economist Versus Patents
The Economist, interestingly and surprisingly enough (given its strong pro-business bias), chastises the patents regime in at least two articles this month. One is titled “A question of utility” and says in its summary: “Patents are protected by governments because they are held to promote innovation. But there is plenty of evidence that they do not” (we have covered such evidence for almost a decade).
“The ability to patent,” says the author, “has been extended from physical devices to software and stretches of DNA, not to mention—notably in America—to business processes and financial products.”
Yes, patent scope is a huge part of the problem.
“Time to fix patents” is the second such article from The Economist and it too is an assault on the status quo. “Ideas fuel the economy. Today’s patent systems are a rotten way of rewarding them,” said the summary.
Here is a key part of this article: “Patents are supposed to spread knowledge, by obliging holders to lay out their innovation for all to see; they often fail, because patent-lawyers are masters of obfuscation. Instead, the system has created a parasitic ecology of trolls and defensive patent-holders, who aim to block innovation, or at least to stand in its way unless they can grab a share of the spoils. An early study found that newcomers to the semiconductor business had to buy licences from incumbents for as much as $200m. Patents should spur bursts of innovation; instead, they are used to lock in incumbents’ advantages.”
It is nice to see even The Economist debunking these tiresome myths, many of which still perpetually spread by patent profiteers rather than producing companies. Are we on the cusp of a mindset change?
Patent Propaganda From Lawyers’ Sites
Lawyers’ media, seeking to maximise dependence on patent lawyers, promotes patents on construction in this series that starts with the following paragraph: “In the first of this three part series, clean tech, or green construction, was defined as construction that reduces or minimizes the environmental impact in building construction, operation and use. That article also discussed the importance of building intellectual property walls, and especially with patents, to protect inventions from being incorporated into projects by unlicensed users. Equally important is knowing the patents that may prevent a company from incorporating patented technology for which it has no license. Patent rights can shape an industry; consequently, companies must develop patent strategies. Patents for green construction encompass everything from building materials, to software for optimizing various processes, to green energy systems, amongst others.”
Yes, they even suggest software patents right there.
“The US may not have a world class patent system,” say the patent maximalists of IAM, “but its professionals are second to none” (for taxing by lawyers perhaps). Another site of patent lawyers who lobby for a lot of ludicrous types of patents (including software) pretends that patents take a short time to receive, despite that infamous backlog and these notorious issues which can only be tackled by lowing examination standards, hence granting bogus patents (trivial, and/or with prior art).
“Intellectual property & intangible assets” is the headline of this British article which is so full of nonsense that we don’t know where to start. To quote one part of it: “Newton says the real value in business these days is in knowledge, which is tied up in intellectual property, patents, trademarks and designs.”
That’s nonsense. The term “intellectual property” refers to patents, trademarks, and copyrights, so it cannot be separated as above. Then there are designs, which are already (in most domains) covered by copyrights and if the author wishes to speak about trade secrets, that’s different from all the above and still pertains to knowledge, without having to introduce that vague notion of “intellectual property” and “intangible assets” — both horrible propaganda terms that equate ideas with objects.
“Patent scope has been getting so much worse over time, to the point where abstract concepts like business methods, algorithms, and even basic designs become patents although copyright should definitely suffice.”The article titled “9 Tech Startups Disrupting the Legal Industry” talks about proprietary software that patent lawyers use to keep track of their work. “Experts say the market for legal technology is as much as $400 billion,” the article says, but there is nothing like a citation to support such a figure.
“We hear the same complaints over and over every time Congress tries to improve the patent system,” Matt Levy wrote the other day. “In fact, we’ve been hearing some of them for over 70 years.” Patent scope has been getting so much worse over time, to the point where abstract concepts like business methods, algorithms, and even basic designs become patents although copyright should definitely suffice.
Design Patents and Linux Gadgets
Speaking of design patents, watch what patent maximalists celebrated this weekend: “The text cluster provided here shows that much of Hasbro’s portfolio of 1,772 patents (339 of which are active) are related to toy vehicles, electronic games and ornamental designs, indicating a fair amount of design patents.”
The notion of “design patents” has got to be one of the most loathsome and ridiculous. The article “Apple v. Samsung and a Fight Over the Patents for Designs” was published by Forbes the other day, reminding us of so-called design patents (such as the widely-ridiculed 'rounded corners' patents). Apple is very desperate to stop Android (and by extension Linux), but doing so by bullying with outright bogus patents isn’t the way to compete. CPTN members (i.e. holders of Novell’s patents) Oracle, Apple and Microsoft have been systematically attacking Android using patents and Oracle now takes this further. “Oracle’s lawsuit against Google over Java copyrights probably won’t be back in a courtroom again until next year,” wrote The Register, “but in the meantime, Oracle has asked the court to let it expand the scope of its complaint to include events that have occurred since it was first filed in 2010.”
This forever-legal-limbo scenario helps hurt Android, so we cannot just pretend that software patents are not a problem. More FOSS and GNU/Linux site must learn to address these issues as a matter of priority. Not enough are doing this at the moment and it definitely helps our foes. Many people seem to forget that Microsoft still attacks GNU/Linux using patents (albeit more discreetly than before). █
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The Linux Foundation now helps Windows, too
Summary: By liaising with (or hijacking) existing members of the Linux Foundation, as well as by paying the Linux Foundation, Microsoft turns the Linux Foundation into somewhat of a Windows advocacy group
After the public embarrassment at DockerCon 2015 (causing GNU/Linux software to be tilted in Windows' favour) and more Microsoft payments to the Linux Foundation we can’t help wondering if the Linux Foundation is no longer dedicated to the promotion of GNU/Linux, the operating system. Microsoft is increasingly using its presence and pawns in the Linux Foundation in order to advance Windows at the expense of GNU/Linux. Hyper-V was an early example of that. It’s a Window program and it is proprietary. Why would the Linux Foundation bother supporting that? It was the Microsoft-bribed Novell that did this at the time. Microsoft has moles. In fact, the Linux Foundation now employs some former managers from Microsoft. Can it get much worse than that? One of the worst sites on the Web, a site that mostly rips off other Web sites without any attribution whatsoever, went with the misleading headline “Microsoft joins the Linux Foundation” and some other sites which speak about the Linux Foundation’s R Consortium are emphasising Microsoft [1, 2] as if Microsoft is now the official steward of R. For Microsoft, and by extension for Windows, this is clearly an attempt at buying out a language along with developers. As Linux Veda put it: “The creation of this consortium comes on the heels of Microsoft’s acquisition of Revolution Analytics at the end of January this year. Revolution Analytics are the leading commercial provider of software and services for R. It has been suggested by commentators that Microsoft’s competitors had joined this consortium in an attempt to keep R open.”
“Last month we showed how the Linux Foundation actually promoted Vista 10 because of AllSeen.”Here is the press release from the Linux Foundation and some resultant coverage [1, 2, 3]. Mac Asay, who had tried to work for Microsoft, suggested this “embrace” by Microsoft. In his own words:
Given R’s non-corporate nature, I shouldn’t have been surprised by the community’s response to my recent suggestion that Microsoft owned the R code and should consider contributing it to a foundation.
To paraphrase the response: “There already is a foundation — and the foundation, not some corporation, owns the code!!”
I’ll admit that I was taken aback. After all, my primary contention was that re-implementing R to get around its underlying GPL license would sacrifice R’s great community. I hadn’t bothered to take the time to dig into the provenance of the R code, as it wasn’t material to the bulk of my article. Why wasn’t that community grateful for the compliment, and indifferent to my eensie weensie faux pas?
Because the essence of R is important to its community, and that essence can’t be purchased by any corporation.
A reader who linked to the above article told us that Microsoft is “infecting a GNU project” here. It’s easier to see now why Microsoft bought an R company. It’s all about “developers developers developers developers” (Ballmer’s words) and it’s about them using Windows. Why is the Linux Foundation going along with this? Probably the same reason it goes along with horrible UEFI, Intel being a key financeer of the Foundation, even going back to the OSDL days. It’s all about who is paying. The Linux Foundation, and prior to it OSDL, is supposed to exist so that companies cannot snatch Torvalds with a huge salary but instead they will pool together money to pay Torvalds et al. This pooling mechanism is now being exploited or even compromised by Microsoft, which cleverly knows it can bribe or infiltrate the foundation (Nokia, Novell, and so forth) while the Foundation itself is defenseless as it’s not built to decline funds or repel (even ostracise) members. We wrote about this many years ago because Microsoft destroyed some consortia in this way exactly — by paying off to discredit/dilute/distract/alienate collective efforts, e.g. OSA. Zemlin’s Foundation should learn from other foundations which were cleverly destroyed by Microsoft (Android too is 'work in progress').
Watch this new article promoting proprietary Windows and framing it as “contribution” to “open source”, the context being the eerily-named AllSeen Alliance of the Linux Foundation:
Microsoft has contributed open source code called the AllJoyn Device System Bridge to the AllSeen Alliance in order to help connect legacy and purpose-built devices to the Internet of Things.
Last month we showed how the Linux Foundation actually promoted Vista 10 because of AllSeen. This is the same operating system which, according to the news a couple of days ago , “will share your Wi-Fi key with your friends’ friends”. Yes, AllSeen indeed. █
Related/contextual items from the news:
Those contacts include their Outlook.com (nee Hotmail) contacts, Skype contacts and, with an opt-in, their Facebook friends. There is method in the Microsoft madness – it saves having to shout across the office or house “what’s the Wi-Fi password?” – but ease of use has to be teamed with security. If you wander close to a wireless network, and your friend knows the password, and you both have Wi-Fi Sense, you can now log into that network.
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Summary: Promoting a future of subservience to Microsoft even when it comes to GNU/Linux, Android, and Chromebooks
“Embrace, Extend, Extinguish” (EEE) is alive and well at Microsoft. The word subsume is defined as “to include or place within something larger or more comprehensive,” so it’s a good word by which to describe Microsoft’s treatment of GNU/Linux and Free/libre software, be it in Azure or Cyanogen etc.
Microsoft hired Mr. Srinivasan (above) from Novell to help subsume Linux, the kernel. We are concerned about this latest personality grooming from the Linux Foundation, having noted Srinivasan’s role before [1, 2, 3]. Grooming the Microsoft developers who help Microsoft subsume Linux is not wise. The Linux Foundation presents Srinivasan as “an architect in the Windows Server Division at Microsoft where he focuses on making Linux run well on the Hyper-V hypervisor and Azure cloud environment.” In other words, this man puts GNU/Linux in Microsoft’s hands, managed by proprietary software with back doors. Great, eh? As we wrote last week, it’s an entrapment. Microsoft is trying to do the same thing to Android, putting software that captures users’ voice in it (transmitting it to Microsoft, a notorious privacy violator). Microsoft-friendly authors are right now celebrating the extension of Microsoft’s spying network Skype (with NSA access) to GNU/Linux and Chromebooks. What a terrible thing to be doing.
The stupidest suggestion one can come up with right now is Microsoft buying a GNU/Linux vendor or anything along these lines, but corporate media (Fortune) has Barb Darrow say that it “makes sense for Microsoft to buy hot cloud startup Docker” despite Docker being quite closely tied to GNU/Linux (or UNIX). “Other emerging startups like CoreOS and Mesosphere are also working on capabilities that compete with what Docker’s cooking,” Darrow wrote. “And then there’s the aforementioned Google Kubernetes, which is also open source and free, and also promises similar capabilities. Some analysts have said that the product works better than Docker’s nascent orchestration features.”
Docker already responded to this nonsense, saying that it’s not for sale, but the Microsoft-friendly, Bill Bates-bribed media (yes, he subsidises them) released this puff piece which sells the ‘new Microsoft’ illusion. Microsoft's booster Tim Anderson, in the mean while, contributes to the openwashing of Microsoft using abandoned software.
Microsoft has not changed and it is definitely no friend of GNU/Linux and Free software. The Fortune article (finance-leaning) shows what non-technical writers can do when they don’t actually understand what containers are and how they work (unless it was intentional propaganda). Microsoft buying Docker makes as much sense as Coca Cola buying Nokia or something bizarre like that. Do editors even check what they print? Is this just agenda disguised as an article? █
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The risk of Microsoft’s interjection into Free/Open Source software (FOSS) persists
Summary: Attempts to put Mono in GNOME still exist (Xamarin behind it) and the openwashing of .NET continues months after the Big Lie
MONO has been a thorn in the side of Free software for nearly a decade, shortly after it had been conceived by a Microsoft fan who used it to promote Microsoft APIs with associated patent risk and lock-in. It wasn’t too shocking to see the Microsoft-tied Novell joining in the ‘fun’. We have spent many years fighting back against Mono, which was an embodiment of Microsoft’s interests and an attempt to assimilate FOSS to Microsoft. The Microsoft proxy now known as Xamarin is still threatening to bring Microsoft APIs to GNOME. We thought GNOME had already salvaged itself from this risk, but the risk persists and it needs to be stopped. It was already defeated before (GNOME was close to becoming Mono-dependent whereupon we wrote many articles to create protests).
The unfortunate thing is that Microsoft bamboozled many journalists into stating that .NET is "open source" (it is not) and a Dice site is trolling again using that same old .NET spin. Do not let the lie be spread so easily. Microsoft’s .NET is proprietary and it still is a patent threat that favours Windows and Microsoft, i.e. proprietary software with back doors.
“It is a propaganda campaign just like “Scroogled” and the goal is to crush software freedom, not just companies like Google.”IDG recently hired a longtime Microsoft booster, Mary Branscombe, letting her spread these lies every week or so. She was openwashing Microsoft the other day as well as several times last month. She used to write in the CBS-owned ZDNet (very poor-quality Microsoft ads disguised as ‘articles’), but now she escapes the boundaries of tabloids and is really doing a lot of damage not only to Free software but to truth itself.
This whole ‘movement’ which tries to ‘sell’ Mono to GNU/Linux, promote the notion that .NET is ‘open’ and Microsoft is wonderfully ethical needs to be crushed. It is a propaganda campaign just like “Scroogled” and the goal is to crush software freedom, not just companies like Google. █
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Summary: Amid the takeover by Micro Focus, SUSE pays journalists (especially critics) who in turn become some kind of advertisements feed of Novell
RECENTLY we saw a longtime Novell critic, Sam Varghese, describing himself as "guest" of SUSE, having been approached on numerous occasions in the past (by Novell) to write some reviews and reports about SUSE or issue some face-saving PR. There was no consistency, except when it came to Mono.
The Microsoft-focused Micro Focus reminds us of Microsoft in many ways, putting aside the fact that Micro Focus, the new owner of SUSE, was Microsoft’s “Partner of the Year”.
Staff of Micro Focus has been trying to connect to me in LinkedIn as if to befriend me despite not knowing me at all. This is typical of Microsoft staff; they too have been doing this. The company habitually refers to this as "schmoozing".
The interesting thing we found out about the SUSE coverage (coming from very few journalists but in large quantities) is that Micro Focus paid for it. Eventually we would like to have list of journalists whom SUSE/Attachment (and the new owner, Micro Focus) paid to ‘plant’ such positive coverage in the media. We still see some such coverage [1,2], but we don’t know exactly who was ‘invited’ (paid) for the gesture. This is unethical at the very least. It is hard to forget how Microsoft paid for people to fly half way across the world to manufacture pro-OOXML (or ODF-hostile) coverage. Very shamelessly — and consistently — this has been done on other occasions too. Microsoft is not even shy to admit that it is bribing journalists, albeit it uses other words to describe its bribes (not just to journalists but also university professors). As Will Hill put it last night: “Wow, it’s Sam Varghese. … look at his iTwire stream. He’s cranking out Ballnix propaganda. “How to keep data safe in the cloud”, “SUSE expects storage solution to take industry by storm”, “Another Debian technical panel member quits”, “Chasing the Z/Linux market: A SUSECon attendee’s tale”, “A lesser-known star of openSUSE”. In the last four days, there are all those SuSE love stories and three Debian drama stories. That’s not what I remember Sam for. I have to admire his work volume, but what he’s saying is an odd surprise.” He said that prior to knowing about the payments made by SUSE. The day before that he wrote: “What a bizarre puff piece. Does the Microsoft press want me to be suspicious?”
“The ultimate goal is to shape the press coverage; it’s subversive.”Remember when Novell contacted many FOSS leaders prior to announcing the renewed deal with Microsoft? Several of them, such as Aaron Seigo (from KDE, now in Kolab), publicly complained about it, having criticised the Novell/Microsoft deal beforehand (we covered this extensively several years ago). He wasn’t alone. Novell just sought to pro-actively gag its critics, alleging that criticism of the Microsoft deal was not about facts but about perception and was due to bad communication (the excuse commonly used by the Gates Foundation when it gets exposed for its abuses). The ultimate goal is to shape the press coverage; it’s subversive.
Micro Focus — like Novell — sure likes to target its biggest critics and even pay them in exchange for positive coverage. Evidence of this now comes from Jack Wallen, one of the loud critics of the Novell-Microsoft deal, who now reveals that SUSE and its patrons actually paid his various expenses including travel (i.e. soft bribes) to essentially buy coverage (some self-serving coverage). To quote Wallen: “Thanks to SUSE for sponsoring travel expenses to cover this conference.” Over the years Novell partners tried to invite me to to their events, presumably as part of some efforts to change my mind. █
Related/contextual items from the news:
That’s Linux. It doesn’t tend to break down, and you usually don’t need to reboot it when you patch it. Usually.
Suse logoSOFTWARE-DEFINED STORAGE (SDS) is the latest buzzphrase in the sector, and in recognition of this Linux distributor SUSE has announced a pre-release programme for SUSE Storage.
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Summary: Microsoft’s “Partner of the Year” is taking over the patron of SUSE and all of Novell’s remains, except the patents (Microsoft has already grabbed those)
EIGHT YEARS AGO this site was born. This was motivated by the Microsoft-Novell deal. The deal heralded the beginning of Microsoft’s patent assault on GNU/Linux and Free software — an assault that continues unabated to this date.
Novell’s virtual assets are now being passed to a new entity called Micro Focus, which is Microsoft's "Partner of the Year". This has just been finalised  and there is press coverage about it [2,3], including some interviews [4,5,6,7], reviews [8,9], and analysis from the OSI’s President [10,11] amid SUSECon 2014  that showcased and emitted some technical announcements [13-16] (not many, mostly one that’s actually significant).
SUSE has certainly received a lot of coverage over the past week (while my wife and I moved between homes), but one must remember that SUSE is not free from Microsoft; if anything, now it is more Microsoft-tied than before. People must continue to boycott SUSE, not just Novell (or what’s left of it). Attachmate did not give SUSE full independence, only symbolic. Just look who manages SUSE. It’s not independence. With Microsoft’s “Partner of the Year” in charge of SUSE we can expect to see the same pro-Microsoft agenda and sickening relationships inside SUSE (OOXML, Hyper-V, Mono and so on). It’s about Microsoft controlling and profiting from GNU/Linux, hoping to put Red Hat or Debian at peril.
For those who are still in denial over Micro Focus’s role in SUSE, read . Microsoft’s “Partner of the Year” is now in charge. █
Related/contextual items from the news:
The SUSE parent company Attachmate and Micro Focus merger is now complete and Sam Varghese has several interviews from SUSECon today.
If there is one aspect in the open source world that can prove detrimental, it is companies that indulge in lock-in to the extent possible, according to Gerald Pfeifer, senior director of product management at SUSE.
Speaking to iTWire on the sidelines of SUSECon 2014, the third annual conference of the Germany-based SUSE Linux, which is being held in Orlando, Florida this week, Pfeifer (lictured above) did not mention any companies by name, though he did make a passing reference to Oracle.
One aspect of GNU/Linux that does not figure much in discussion when commercial Linux is the topic, is the desktop. SUSE Linux is no exception.
The man who in every sense sits at the nerve centre of SUSE Linux has no airs about him. At 38, Vojtěch Pavlík is disarmingly frank and often seems a bit embarrassed to talk about his achievements, which are many and varied.
He is every bit a nerd, but can be candid, though precise. As director of SUSE Labs, it would be no exaggeration to call him the company’s kernel guru. Both recent innovations that have come from SUSE – patching a live kernel, technology called kGraft, and creating a means for booting openSUSE on machines locked down with secure boot, have been his babies.
When Roger Williams wanted to increase the market for ShadowDisk/Z, a product made by the little Gainesville-based company he works for, he headed to meet the experts, those at SUSE Linux which has something like three-quarters of the market for all Z/Linux customers.
Finally. After three and a half years of sucking, openSUSE is a top performance once again. This is an excellent all-around distribution, and it comes with some neat solutions both over and underneath the hood. You can’t deny its amazing looks, and with the 13.2 release, performance, functionality and stability are back.
Now, openSUSE 13.2 has its problems. The screenshot thingie, subvolume handling, missing Samba printing option, plus that one inexplicable crash, which is probably the most serious item. And because of it, the final grade shall be lower. But all combined, the woes pale against the quality and general goodness radiating from this edition. Really, if you ignore the initial setup, and the one time freeze, there’s very little not to like about openSUSE 13.2. I’m pleased. And feeling somewhat fanboyish. But this is good.
Anyhow, if you’re looking for a non-Ubuntu family release that can offer you a great blend and balance between looks, modernity, functionality, stability, and performance, then you have several worthy candidates to consider. CentOS is one of them, and now openSUSE has returned, mighty and strong, and sanity has been restored into the distro world, where for many years, there’s been an almost total dominance by Mint and Ubuntu, with everyone else lagging behind. OpenSUSE 13.2 is definitely worth testing and exploring. Final grade, something like 9/10, and this is with a whole 0.5 point taken off. So it’s good. Do it.
In the first week of November the openSUSE team launched the latest version of its operating system. The project’s release announcement highlights such new features as faster boot times, KDE 4.14, GNOME 3.14 and a technical preview of KDE’s Plasma 5.1 desktop. The new version of openSUSE has undergone some visual changes and presents us with new artwork and a more streamlined system installer. The distribution also offers updated versions of Linux containers and Docker. The project’s configuration panel, YaST, underwent a major re-write last year and should now be faster. The project claims better integration with systemd too. Prior to installing or upgrading to openSUSE 13.2 I recommend reading the project’s release notes where we can find a list of known problems and workarounds.
As its steady post-Novell recovery continues, Suse moves into enterprise software-defined storage
SUSECon 2014 kicked off in Orlando this week, with the company stressing an air of open communication and transparency with its partners befitting its commitment to the Linux open source platform.
“In addition to increasing service availability by updating critical kernel patches without rebooting, and reducing the need for planned downtime by patching frequently, SUSE Linux Enterprise Live Patching preserves security and stability by applying up-to-date patches,” said Matthias Eckermann, senior product manager for SUSE. “It’s a fully open source solution that features zero-interruption interaction with the system and a familiar deployment method. It’s ideal for mission-critical systems, in-memory databases, extended simulations or quick fixes in a large server farm.”
Enterprise Linux vendor SUSE today made a series of announcements at its annual SUSEcon event, providing users with new patching, storage and cloud capabilities.
The human race has sent a small probe called Philae to land on a comet and got it right the first time it tried. As expected, a Linux operating system has been involved in the success of the mission.
The new owner of SUSE Linux does not intend to move the company from Nuremberg or change its method of operation in any substantial way, the chief executive told iTWire on Tuesday.
The deal has been ratified and is expected to be sealed on Thursday, 20 November.
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Summary: OpenSUSE is not part of any commitment, except for SUSE’s; the impact of the Novell/SUSE acquisition casts uncertainty on the project’s future
YESTERDAY we quickly commented on the news that Micro Focus, a very strong British partner of Microsoft, is taking over SUSE and Novell. The British press put it like that:
Attachmate once earned the ire of the open source community for taking on Novell and then putting 882 patents in its Linux portfolio up for sale to a consortium backed by Microsoft.
Microsoft’s strategy remains the same. It is using patents to attack Linux and it is determined destroy, co-opt, assimilate, acquire, destroy, etc. Microsoft can only continue to ‘sell’ licences (for Windows, SUSE, etc.) if competition is gone and this is the reason Microsoft keeps making SUSE its own. SUSE is basically “Microsoft Linux”, which is why Microsoft keeps advertising it as the only ‘true’ GNU/Linux.
Swapnil Bhartiya, an OpenSUSE sympathiser, correctly says:
The merger will once again ruffle some features at SUSE and openSUSE which have been under continuous financial instability.
Bhartiya also covered the message sent to the mailing list of OpenSUSE (documented by LWN). It states:
Dear openSUSE Community,
As you might be aware, SUSE’s parent entity, the Attachmate Group has
entered into an agreement to merge with Micro Focus, a UK-based
enterprise software company. As the primary sponsor of the openSUSE
Project, SUSE’s President and General Manager, Nils Brauckmann has
contacted the openSUSE Board to share the following key points
* Business as Usual: There are no changes planned for the SUSE
business structure and leadership. There is no need for any action by
the openSUSE Project as a result of this announcement.
* Commitment to Open Source: SUSE remains passionately committed to
innovation through Open Source. This has always been the foundation of
our business and that will continue as we grow and innovate in new
* Commitment to openSUSE: SUSE is also fully committed to being a
sponsor and supporter of an open, highly independent and dynamic
openSUSE community and project. We are proud of openSUSE and greatly
value the collaborative relationship between SUSE and the openSUSE
The combination of the Attachmate Group and Micro Focus creates a
larger, global enterprise software entity, operating at a greater
global scale. This provides an even stronger foundation for the
continued investment in SUSE and our continued innovation through Open
The openSUSE Board would like to thank Nils and SUSE for this
reassuring statement. The Board is enthusiastic about the benefits of
the merger may bring to SUSE and ultimately also to our openSUSE
If anyone has any questions, there will be an opportunity to raise
them at tomorrow (Wednesdays) regular openSUSE Project Meeting at
15:00 UTC in #opensuse-project on the Freenode IRC network.
The openSUSE Board
Notice how Brauckmann does not say anything at all about a commitment from Micro Focus to SUSE and OpenSUSE. He speaks of a SUSE commitment to OpenSUSE. That’s it. This is a classic non-denying denial, where what one neglects to say actually says quite a lot.
Michael Larabel’s interpretation is that “Richard Brown relayed a message on the behalf of SUSE’s President and General Manager, Nils Brauckmann, that basically everything is alive and well.”
That’s MBA speak. As it was put by Susan Linton: “The Attachmate Group, announced a merger with Micro Focus leaving openSUSE users nervous.”
This nervousness is why Brauckmann, by proxy, relayed some face-saving talking points. The acquisition seems imminent:
Micro Focus buying Novell, Suse Linux owner for $1.2 billion
Micro Focus expects the deal to close by November.
Our assessment is that changes are afoot. SUSE is now at the mercy of a strong ally of Microsoft, which is likely to keep SUSE or run SUSE only in a way that appeases Microsoft’s interests. █
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Summary: Novell is changing hands again, and falling into the hands of even more Microsoft-friendly actors
Many GNU/Linux sites have not properly covered — if at all — the news about Microsoft’s very special partner (with a long track record) buying what’s left of Novell and SUSE after Microsoft took the patents.
Microsoft Focus, or Micro Focus, would soon be in charge of SUSE. One GNU/Linux-centric journalist said: “Micro Focus announced today its intention to acquire privately-held Attachmate in a deal valued at approximately $2.3 billion.
“The deal includes the issuance of 86.60 million shares of Micro Focus to Attachmate’s parent company, Wizard Parent LLC. Micro Focus states that the value of the granted shares is approximately $1.19 billion. Micro Focus also will take on Attachmate’s net debt of $1.17 billion.
“Micro Focus is an enterprise application modernization and testing software vendor with a long list of products in its portfolio. The company’s core products include its Visual COBOL, Enterprise Analyzer and Enterprise Developer platforms.
“Attachmate is an amalgam of multiple companies, including a namesake company that provides enterprise file share and legacy application management products, and the NetIQ business for networking application visibility software. Attachmate also owns Novell, which it acquired in a $2.2 billion deal in 2011. Following the acquisition of Novell, Attachmate spun out SUSE Linux as its own operating division.”
Oddly enough, nothing is being said about the Microsoft connection or even the mysterious sale of Novell to Attachmate via secretive proxies.
We are probably going to revisit this acquisition very soon. █
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