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: Not much too see in the land of SUSE and Attachmate, or formerly the company known as Novell
Last week we were asked about Attachmate, which we no longer keep track of because Novell is pretty much dead and SUSE is not doing well. They are going extinct. The Xandros Web site is no longer even accessible and when it comes to SUSE, the community in particular, it is going down the same route. Well, judging by the declining volume of activity in OpenSUSE News, Greg K-H’s move to the Linux Foundation, the fact that community manager left (he works for ownCloud now) and now the departure of the chairman of the OpenSUSE board (more on that here), we think it is safe to treat SUSE as irrelevant, or not relevant enough for us to track. Here is the latest:
The openSUSE Board announced this morning that Vincent Untz has stepped down as the openSUSE Board Chairman.
Several days ago I spent some time looking at years’ worth of Novell news, Attachmate news, and SUSE news (I am still subscribed to dozens of feeds related to all those). This was done after a discussion in IRC. I am reluctant to bother with any of them because 1) there is not much news at all and 2) the news hardly relates to FOSS. Novell will go down the same route as Corel and SUSE will end up like Xandros. As for Xamarin, which was created after Novell/Attachmate had abandoned Mono, it is mostly an extension of Microsoft now (a bit like SUSE, which shows up in Microsoft sites because their goal is to tax GNU/Linux servers).
SUSE and Novell pretty much became what we foresaw and feared. Novell’s patents are in Microsoft’s hands now, SUSE serves no purpose other than taxing GNU/Linux for Microsoft, and Novell was not allowed to truly complete with Microsoft. AttachMSFT ensures that much of Novell’s proprietary portfolio is a dying breed. Mono became more closely tied and entangled with Microsoft. █
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Summary: The lesser-explored side of SUSE, which is being hosted by freedom-hostile companies including Microsoft
OpenSUSE 12.2 is officially dead now  and blogs begin to advertise a new release of the Microsoft-friendly (and funded) distribution, perhaps unknowingly helping Microsoft. One such site says that the new release is now offered in Microsoft-owned servers, demonstrating patent and control issues, not to mention privacy issues. Other reports mention SLE* (SUSE)  on Amazon, the CIA’s privacy-infringing special partner. This is the very opposite of what the GNU/Linux world should strive for. At the same time, Microsoft is “openwashing” its datacentre  and so does the Microsoft-owned (partially) Facebook [4,5], which is a censorship/surveillance company (users are the products, not the customers, and the business model is brainwashing them, also with pseudo “search” like Microsoft’s). Amazon has already shown us how “open” it is when it started paying Microsoft for GNU/Linux, deleted files (remotely) from people’s devices, and kicked out Wikileaks from its hosting plan at its most critical time (censorship). █
Related/contextual items from the news:
The openSUSE Project has just announced that openSUSE 12.2 has reached end of life (EOL) and it will no longer be supported.
“These servers are optimized for Windows Server software and built to handle the enormous availability, scalability and efficiency requirements of Windows Azure, our global cloud platform. They offer dramatic improvements over traditional enterprise server designs: up to 40 percent server cost savings, 15 percent power efficiency gains and 50 percent reduction in deployment and service times,” Laing said.
The Open Compute Project officially got started in 2011 as a way to open up Facebook’s server designs and help the broader IT community — it’s an effort that is paying off for Facebook and many others too.
Facebook is reaping the benefits of designing its own energy efficient servers. Today at the Open Compute Summit, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said that “In the last three years alone, Facebook has saved more than a billion dollars in building out our infrastructure using Open Compute designs.”
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Summary: GNU/Linux hypocrites and their addiction to proprietary software like vBulletin leads to password leakages
Ubuntu and SUSE are too rather dumb projects (in their management) because they let Microsoft spy on their users and they use proprietary software like vBulletin in their forums, showing just how apathetic they are towards software freedom.
Last year Ubuntu Forums got cracked (no surprise, as it was proprietary software) and now it’s OpenSUSE Forums . What do they have in common? Yes, proprietary software. It’s like Canonical’s mistake (leaking out passwords of users) did nothing to teach SUSE a lesson. vBulletin is a mess and it does almost nothing to guard passwords (which many people reuse across sites). In OpenSUSE’s case they say that only E-mails got leaked, but who knows if they’re honest…
What’s hard to grasp is why some companies continue to trust secret code and systems which earned no respect through independent audits.
In the next post we are going to share some of the latest revelations about the NSA. It is clear that back doors are often there by design, so it’s not a matter of whether or not a piece of proprietary software is secure, it’s a question of where there is a back door. See [2-5] below. The FBI requests that US companies make back doors and the NSA even bribes for it. █
Related/contextual items from the news:
At a recent RSA Security Conference, Nico Sell was on stage announcing that her company—Wickr—was making drastic changes to ensure its users’ security. She said that the company would switch from RSA encryption to elliptic curve encryption, and that the service wouldn’t have a backdoor for anyone.
As she left the stage, before she’d even had a chance to take her microphone off, a man approached her and introduced himself as an agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation. He then proceeded to “casually” ask if she’d be willing to install a backdoor into Wickr that would allow the FBI to retrieve information.
Bruce Schneier, over at the Atlantic, recently made nearly the same point in talking about the massive costs of all of this NSA surveillance (as well as talking about the near total lack of benefits). There’s the cost of running these programs that are massive. There is the fact that these programs will be abused (they always are). There are the costs of destroying trust in various tech businesses (especially from foreign users and customers). But just as important is the fact that the NSA, FBI and others in the intelligence community are flat out weakening our national security by installing backdoors that malicious users can and will find and exploit:
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Summary: A new OpenSUSE is out and it is in Microsoft’s Azure lock-in, helping Microsoft tax GNU/Linux while controlling it entirely
The Microsoft-funded SUSE gets integrated with Microsoft Azure following a lot of Azure openwashing. The VAR Guy says this may be part of a bigger battle, fought between Linux and Ballnux (Ballmer-taxed Linux). To quote his new article:
Red Hat and SUSE are shifting their old Linux battle to a new market: Big Data. Both open source companies made major Big Data statements this week, but they are attacking the market using completely different strategies. Here’s what channel partners need to know.
Techrights ignored the release of OpenSUSE this month. It ought to be remembered that the role of SUSE as a whole, now financially tied to Microsoft, is to normalise Microsoft ‘Linux tax’. This site was founded to oppose exactly that. █
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Summary: Matt Asay writes about SUSE and despite its funding from Microsoft Asay is not too hopeful
A pro-Microsoft ‘news’ site asks, “Does SUSE Linux have a future”? He “cloudwashes” SUSE. This is from Asay of Novell, who had been interviewed for a job at Microsoft as well. Here are some numbers from SUSE and plans for an event. That’s about all we know about SUSE thse days. We hardly ever mention SUSE anymore. It’s dying on its own despite cash infusions from Microsoft, which hopes to use SUSE to tax GNU/Linux use. █
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Summary: Patent tax on Linux is still far from dead, due to proxies of Microsoft
Several months ago (almost half a year) I started just simply ignoring all SUSE and OpenSUSE news, including stories of Microsoft patent tax coming through SLE*, but this one I could not just ignore because it’s posted in the OpenSUSE site and it says:
If thats the way of support we may experience in the future, I am forced to stop actively promoting the project.
Some sites which promoted the project for years sometimes still do so, but I could name a few which no longer cover it, or very rarely do. SUSE is now funded by Microsoft and the 'old Novell' still tries to get money from Microsoft for its abuses in the 90s. Here is the latest:
Novell has filed its opening appeals brief [PDF] in the Novell v. Microsoft antitrust litigation regarding WordPerfect.
Another company that turned from a controversial Linux contributor (NTFS driver) into a Microsoft taxman is Tuxera, which now offers several patent tax options for several platforms including Android. From its latest press release:
Tuxera comprehensive file systems portfolio for storage solutions and other embedded devices include Tuxera NTFS, Tuxera exFAT, Tuxera HFS+, and Tuxera FAT.
Those are Microsoft patent Trojan horses. Just like SUSE in its different ‘flavours’, these should all be avoided. For those who think that Apple file systems (HFS+) are benign, remember Apple’s patent aggression against Linux and consider this latest action which involves software patents:
In ongoing legal proceedings in California, Apple has added six new devices to its patent infringement claims against rival Samsung, getting them in late Friday evening ahead of a deadline on changes to the scope of the complaint. The new additions essentially cover just about every piece of Samsung hardware now available in the U.S. market, with modifications that also account for recent software updates.
We should reject every technology which is associated with Apple. This branding company clearly still wants war. Groklaw, which covered the above case better than anyone, has just received a sort of award and finished putting all the trial transcripts from Oracle vs. Google online:
I’m happy to tell you that we now have all the remaining trial transcripts from the Oracle v. Google trial, and you can find them all in the Oracle v. Google Timeline by date.
These attempts to tax Linux/Android using patents have been largely facilitated by the USPTO, but they are not successful yet, with the exception of Microsoft’s FAT patents. █
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Summary: The Microsoft-funded SUSE will reportedly work with Microsoft to restrict the number of operating systems (or distributions) which can run on future hardware
BASED on some reports like this one, “Olaf Kirch of SUSE writes on the blog, “At the implementation layer, we intend to use the shim loader originally developed by Fedora – it’s a smart solution which avoids several nasty legal issues, and simplifies the certification/signing step considerably. This shim loader’s job is to load grub2 and verify it; this version of grub2 in turn will load kernels signed by a SUSE key only. We are currently considering to provide this functionality with SLE11 SP3 on fresh installations with UEFI Secure Boot present.””
“We are currently considering to provide this functionality with SLE11 SP3 on fresh installations with UEFI Secure Boot present.”
–Olaf KirchWe criticised Red Hat for what it did [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7] about UEFI and now we shall criticise the Microsoft-funded SUSE as well. They just never learn, do they? Pamela Jones helps remind us of what Microsoft does to so-called ‘partners’. To quote: “Novell has followed through, as it said it would, and has filed a notice of appeal in its litigation against Microsoft over antitrust issues from WordPerfect.”
Why does Novell run back into the same cave that had it devoured in the past? And why did SUSE not stand up to Microsoft? Or even opted for the Canonical approach (which is the lesser of the two evils)? SUSE does not even like Unity all that much. It seems not to follow Canonical’s footsteps. SUSE’s business model is to use Microsoft to take away from Red Hat while passing Microsoft a share of its gains.
As reports flood the Web with support from SUSE folks Red Hat will surely use SUSE’s choice to defend its own bad policy. Matthew Garrett, for example, writes: “There’s a post here describing SUSE’s approach to implementing Secure Boot support. In summary, it’s pretty similar to the approach we’re taking in Fedora – a first stage shim loader is signed with a key in db, it loads a second stage bootloader (grub 2) that’s signed with a key that’s in shim, the second stage bootloader loads a signed kernel. The main difference between the approaches is the use of a separate key database in shim, whereas we are currently planning on using a built-in key and the contents of the firmware key database.”
“In summary, it’s pretty similar to the approach we’re taking in Fedora…”
–Matthew GarrettOpenSUSE has an anniversary, but coverage about the project is scarce. SUSE is planting some PR in Indian Web sites; that won’t change a thing. When you serve your competitor you lose credibility, especially when that competitor is a convicted monopolist. Debian has been on the good side in all this (supporting the FSF’s petition), but some minutes ago we learned that “GNU/Linux” is being removed from release names (scroll down to the list). █
“What we [Novell and Microsoft] agreed, which is true, is we’ll continue to try to grow Windows share at the expense of Linux. That’s kind of our job. But to the degree that people are going to deploy Linux, we want Suse Linux to have the highest percent share of that, because only a customer who has Suse Linux actually has paid properly for the use of intellectual property from Microsoft. And we took a quota, you could say, to help them sell so much Suse Linux. That’s part of the deal. We are willing to do the same deal with Red Hat and other Linux distributors, it’s not an exclusive thing. But after a few years of working on this problem, Novell actually saw the business opportunity, because there’s so many customers who say, ‘Hey look, we don’t want problems. We don’t want any intellectual property problem or anything else. There’s just a variety of workloads where we, today, feel like we want to run Linux. Please help us Microsoft and please work with the distributors to solve this problem, don’t come try to license this individually.’ So customer push drove us to where we got.”
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