Summary: Bits of news about Microsoft helpers who put a patent tax on Free software
THE state of Novell continues to be tracked and will be caught up with later this month.
One of Novell’s products, Vibe/Pulse, was declared dead earlier this year, but Novell keeps uploading videos about it [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6]. It is probably not a marketing spillover because there are signs that Novell refuses to let this project go. Mixed messages for sure.
Disdain of Novell is a defence of the interests of FOSS because Novell forms a bridge for Microsoft to charge a tax/toll on FOSS. There is this new product coming from another company that does this. It is called Tuxera and it helps Microsoft tax file systems in Linux (and Android). We sometimes aptly call it “taxera”.
There is not much news from Novell, but those who try to keep abreast of things scrape some material that we will cover later this month. Novell won’t be named for much longer because it was bought. Then there is the story of Linspire/Xandros and Turbolinux, whose staff we find in new places:
Prior to Lyris, Luis oversaw global business development and sales at Turbolinux, where he led the launch of international subsidiaries in Argentina, Australia, Germany and the UK. Rivera also led international sales at IMSI, a publicly traded software publishing company, and business development at @Road, a mobile resource management solution provider.
In other news that we shall cover more thoroughly later this month, OpenSUSE (Attachmate) plans to have presence at FOSDEM despite the fact that SUSE is a bit of a pariah. To quote:
FOSDEM is the biggest event organized by and for the Free and Open Source (FOSS) community. Its goal is to provide developers a place to meet, come together and share and discuss ideas. The event happens 4-5 February 2012 in Brussels, Belgium. And there will again be a cross-distribution mini conference at FOSDEM this year. By organizing a mini conference where all distributions participate in we foster collaboration and cross pollination. You are hereby invited to hold a session.
This is actually quite harmless because it does not involve any of Microsoft’s trojan horses that Novell/SUSE is used for (e.g. Mono, Microsoft kernel drivers, OOXML). Let us know of any Novell news we might have missed (in comments/IRC). █
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Summary: A quick look at Novell’s workforce and how it’s getting along
A YEAR ago we wrote about Novell and ACS, noting that Novell’s 5-year contract with ACS was estimated at about $135 million and compromised existing staff that was located in Provo, Utah. Novell’s PR people talked about it later on and now we have this news about ACS and Novell:
Based on these findings, the Department is amending this certification to include workers leased from Affiliated Computer Services, Inc., (ACS) working on-site at the Provo, Utah location of Novell, Inc.
Novell continues to rest on its legacy laurels, which are a dying business that continues to exist in some less modernised places.
Godfrey Lee’s computing environment consists of several Novell servers, file servers and window servers all virtualized with VMware.
Here is Novell’s latest PR in Australia and in New Zealand.
Software vendor, Novell, and its distributor, Open Channel Solutions (OCS), recently held a competition among schools to show off their football skills. Called the NOCS Student Video Competition, it ran from December to April 30 and encouraged students to produce a creative video that ran up to two minutes. It was open to all schools using Novell.
Following a string of dates in Australia, the Novell IT in Action tour will land in Wellington on August 17th.
Does New Zealand know about Novell's policy regarding software patents? Novell is bad influence. And speaking of influence, here is a new press release bearing the headline “Alex Ash Joins Messaging Architects as Business Development Director to Advance Company’s Activities with Microsoft and Novell Partners in the UK”
Other short reports indicate that former Novell staff is coming to other companies, e.g.:
i. Human Capital: People on the Move
FreshAddress Inc., a Newton-based provider of e-mail database services, appointed Andrew Cruickshank and Paul Garland senior account executives. Cruickshank and Garland each have more than 15 years of sales experience. Cruickshank previously served with RentGrow Inc., Lycos.com, Monster.com and Lotus Development. Garland previously served with Grant Thornton LLP, Novell Inc., Electronic Data Systems and Unitech Systems Inc.
ii. Central Logic Hires VP
Lyman has also served at McCann Erickson, Intel Corporation, LANDesk Software, Merit Medical Systems, Wicat Systems, and Novell.
There is a similar movement to watch out for — one which involves TurboLinux staff, e.g.:
i. Lyris Continues Global Growth with Expanded Australian Presence
Stanton has held senior positions in companies such as Foxtel, TurboLinux, IMSI, IDC, Data Solutions, Lead Master and various other international organizations.
ii. Linux Professional Institute Announces Volunteer Prizes and Community Initiatives
LPI’s major financial sponsors are Platinum Sponsors IBM, Linux Journal, Linux Magazine, Novell, SGI, and TurboLinux as well as Gold Sponsors, HP and IDG.
TurboLinux is pretty much dead by now. That’s what happens to almost every Linux-oriented company that signs a patent deal with Microsoft. █
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Summary: Novell news items reveal a proprietary software company boasting an agenda that conflicts with software freedom; Turbolinux too gets its paws on the Linux cake
WHILE companies and entire cities are bailing out on Novell, there is realisation that Novell “continues to disappoint,” according to this new report (Bharat Book Bureau), which accompanies an older one from the same source. What is up with Novell’s present strategy anyway? Let’s find out by reading this week’s news.
Novell has hardly any new products except the impending release of OpenSUSE 11.3 (notice new alert about Java). Instead of creating something of real value, Novell is taking Sun’s customers:
This second note is for users of Sun Microsystems identity management products. Novell is now offering a free license for the equivalent Novell product. That’s right — Sun customers with a perpetual license can now swap their products with a Novell equivalent for only the cost of maintenance.
Worldox makes another appearance in addition to coverage of GroupWise support and Novell directory services support. These are all proprietary software products (with new security problems [1, 2]), so there is nothing to be celebrated here. This belated coverage of Sentinel Log Manager is probably the only thing which speaks about a new product, but that too is proprietary. Almost everything in Novell news these days is about proprietary software and Fog Computing. Another new example:
BasisOne (Pty) Ltd., a member of Swicon360 group of companies and one of Africa’s first SAP-accredited hosting providers, has received a European Identity Management Award for a cloud computing solution the company implemented utilising IAM technology provided by Novell.
Fog Computing is sometimes worse than proprietary software.
UC4 is getting a new CEO, who happens to be a CEO whose company was bought by Novell:
Liu was most recently president and CEO of Univa UD, a recognized leader in cloud systems management software. His extensive technology and management experience includes serving as CEO of Callisto Software, a mobile systems management company acquired by Novell, and as CEO of Intrinsic Technologies, a Microsoft infrastructure software and services provider.
This is also covered in:
Another former Novell employee makes his move and the founder of Turbolinux is given privileges by the Linux Foundation:
In the other news of the year, one will also note that the Linux Foundation has opened an office in Beijing earlier this year and appointed a local representative, Cliff Miller, who is a Linux and open source veteran. He’s former TurboLinux founder and now a DeviceVM and LF executive. This signals that Chinese companies are also starting to contribute financially the Linux Foundation and it’s a very strong sign of changes in my opinion.
TurboLinux signed a patent deal with Microsoft and DeviceVM has software patents which it uses to sue rival companies. Does the Linux Foundation endorse that?
Novell Versus Sun
Speaking of software patents, Novell's Meeks has some and he is still ridiculing the Sun/Oracle stewardship of OpenOffice.org this week. He mocks other Sun products too, JavaFX for example.
Suffice to say, Novell promotes Mono and Moonlight, so Java and JavaFX are competitors. A few days ago we found this in the news:
As with Flash, Apple remains a non-supporter of Silverlight, because it does not allow runtimes and third party compilers on its operating systems (something that proposed changes to EU competition law may challenge). The main side door with which to run Silverlight on the iPhone – or, until it is officially ported, Android – is the open source Novell Mono project, whose Moonlight platform puts .Net technologies on non-Windows OSs. It has shown off MonoDroid, and iPhone and MeeGo versions (unlike some attempts to divorce Microsoft tools from Windows, Mono has the giant’s support).
Right… OK. So in summary, Novell primarily promotes proprietary software (and adheres to Microsoft protocols), it wants to spread software patents, it strives to control OpenOffice.org and it works against Java, instead promoting Microsoft’s way of doing things. Why are some people still defending Novell? It must be PR. █
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Summary: A little interlude about where the site is going and why it needs help from readers
There is some discussion in the IRC channel about what may happen to Novell next. We are still producing almost 1 megabyte of IRC discussion per day (usually about 600 kilobytes on average), which makes up about 95% of feedback from readers (Boycott Novell is approaching an audience of 10,000 unique visitors per day, but commenting requires an account).
We thought it would be reasonable to say something about the future now that Novell is at a mortal crossroad because of a vulture fund that had a coup planned for 3-4 months [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7]. We append some more references at the bottom.
“If Novell was bought and dismantled, this Web site’s name would remain for all all sorts of practical/technical reasons and considerations.”Four GNU/Linux vendors (as opposed to users of it, mostly those who embed it in hardware) signed a Linux patent deal with Microsoft in 2006-2007. The GPLv3 may have stopped this flood of feeble vendors which ended up joining the racket. Linspire got picked up by Xandros, which appears to have almost quit the GNU/Linux market, Turbolinux sort of collapsed onto another firm in Asia, and Novell is now the last one standing. This is major as it means that almost all the companies we boycotted are dying, as opposed to those who kept it ‘clean’ (notably Mandriva, Canonical, and Red Hat). This just comes to show what happens to those who foolishly take Microsoft’s side.
The main issues are still the digital hydras known as Apple and Microsoft, both of which are now legally attacking GNU/Linux with software patents (Apple versus HTC [1, 2, 3, 4, 5], Microsoft versus TomTom, SCO versus IBM, et cetera).
If Novell was bought and dismantled, this Web site’s name would remain for all all sorts of practical/technical reasons and considerations.
We will try to focus on delivering news summaries on a daily basis (these are the most popular items here) and also address threats to Free software. With a Ph.D. completed, I hope to write Boycott Novell full time (sacrificing an academic career to advance the freedom of software), but it would not be possible without help from readers. We estimate that there are many thousands of regular readers who have enjoyed this site for over 3 years (almost 10,000 blog posts were published here), so if each reader was willing to donate a few bucks/quid, that would enable us to carry on going. At the same time, we realise that such moves rarely work as they do not bring in funds, so we are left reluctant to ask for financial assistance (even though it’s needed). Any advice would be appreciated. █
 How Much Will Novell Go For? [The 451 Group reckons Novell's sale is inevitable]
As bargains go, Novell’s (NOVL) valuation in the recently floated bid from a hedge fund is a bit like a ‘crazy Eddie’ discount. Earlier this week, Elliott Associates offered $5.75 for each of the roughly 350,000 shares for Novell. Altogether, the equity value totals about $2bn.
 Will Novell Finally Be Acquired? [from the 'Microsoft press']
 Novell Gets $2 Billion Takeover Offer From Elliott
Whether they’re interested in breaking Novell into pieces or simply after Novell’s patent portfolio or intellectual property remains to be seen at this point. Either way I don’t see the acquisition being good for Novell or Open Source though. Which brings the next question. Is another suitor likely to jump in at this point. the Var Guy lists IBM, Hewlett-Packard, Microsoft, Oracle, SAP and Computer Associates as potential options. I’d add Cisco as another potential Dark Horse candidate, but agree that IBM and HP are exceedingly unlikely. The realty is that Novell is going to be difficult to digest from a strategic standpoint. They have at least four divergent businesses and Linux only makes up about 20% of the company’s revenue. That means a private-equity firm taking the company private and restructuring may be the most viable option at this point.
 BBC America: Palast Hunts the Vultures [hedge funds are so unethical that some consider banning them]
Some vultures have feathers, but some have fancy offices and huge homes. Tonight, BBC investigative reporter Greg Palast follows the trail of one “vulture fund” chief, from a locked office door in New York to mud-brick houses in Africa.
How strange. When I arrive at the offices of Eric Hermann at hedge fund FH International, just outside New York City, the company’s corporate sign is unbolted from the wall and the suite number removed from the door.
But wait … I hear noises inside the office. Huh? I knock on the locked door and out steps the office building’s security manager.
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Google trends for TurboLinux (search volume)
Summary: iSoft buys TurboSystems and Novell is in a state of disarray
THE company known as TurboSystems lost its way after it had signed a patent deal with Microsoft. It sold out. According to the news (most of the coverage is in Asian languages), “iSoft Infrastructure Software Co Ltd, a Chinese software company, yesterday announced that it has bought a 51% stake in Japan’s TurboSystems, which belongs to Turbolinux and specially engaged in researching and developing the Linux technology, sources reported.” The headline says that “China’s iSoft buys Japan’s TurboSystems”, so it’s likely to be a complete acquisition (or a majority stake). There’s heaps of coverage in Chinese and it can hopefully draw an accurate picture.
Turbolinux seems like it’s over. Our last update on its terminal state showed that it was just one of those companies that lost GNU/Linux focus after Microsoft deals. What happens to Turbolinux right now is similar the story of Linspire-Xandros. Linspire got absorbed only to be put in its deathbed. This is okay because both Xandros and Linspire sold out to Microsoft, deciding to promote OOXML and to pay Microsoft for imaginary patents. The fewer of these companies that are left, the better. It’s down from 4 to just two now, Xandros and Novell.
“The problem of distributions that sell out to Microsoft is made more densely contained as their activities are ebbing.”Xandros said that it was more or less quiting its “Linux” direction and Novell too seems more focused on Microsoft technology (this one is from yesterday, posted by a Microsoft MVP who is a Novell vice president), just like Corel after the Microsoft deal [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6].
The problem of distributions that sell out to Microsoft is made more densely contained as their activities are ebbing. Novell is arguably the only sellout left now; it makes it a lot easier for us to track the problem with distributions whose use is harmful for GNU/Linux and Free software. Back in 2007 the problem had spread to four separate distributions, 3 of which merely followed the “Novell model”. That’s what makes Novell so unique, except for its size.
As for Novell itself, its SUSE efforts are shattered by the abandonment of Zonker (the latest among several managers like Levy, Jaffe and Friedman, who leave Novell as well). SUSE is crumbling and Michael Löffler looks for a new Community Manager:
In the meantime, I will be working with Andreas Jaeger and other Novell colleagues in marketing and engineering to cover openSUSE community relations activities.
The comments there are interesting too. Back in 2006 SUSE was probably the leading GNU/Linux distribution for the desktop (exceeding even Ubuntu). The deal with Microsoft turned Novell from hero to zero overnight. █
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Sure seems like it
Summary: How four vendors of desktop GNU/Linux lost their direction after joining Microsoft’s software patents racket
LINSPIRE/LINDOWS is no more, as things went downhill after it had signed a patent deal with Microsoft. It sold out, so GNU/Linux users did not give it a second chance. As for Novell, it seems heavily focused these days on Silverlight and .NET. Moonlight and Mono are no longer even targeting GNU/Linux; Novell releases Mono products for platforms like the Apple iPhone, Mac OS X, even Windows [1, 2], with similar impact on the Nintendo Wii. Novell has essentially been transformed by the Microsoft deal just like Corel was.
“Perhaps there has not been high demand for their $50 Microsoft “patent protection” product for Debian derivatives.”Back in June, Xandros publicly revealed that is was not a GNU/Linux company anymore. “We are kind of getting away from being a Linux company” is the exact quote. Perhaps there has not been high demand for their $50 Microsoft "patent protection" product for Debian derivatives.
Well, based on this new press release (also here), Xandros walks further away from GNU/Linux, which is good news given what the company has done to GNU/Linux (and for Microsoft).
Xandros today announced the launch of Apps2Market, the first true cross-platform white label application store and m-commerce service. Apps2Market creates custom app store environments that are capable of reaching users with any digital content and applications in a growing, fragmented internet-connected device market.
Here is a short article about this.
Calling it the “first rue cross-platform white label applications store,” Apps2Market is aimed at creating an app store for any platform out there, so long as it’s Intel or ARM-based web-devices. The idea is that software vendors, automotive vendors, or any other manufacturers can create a marketplace custom-tailored for applications specific to the device they’re selling.
The last time we wrote about Turbolinux we showed that it too had lost its direction after the patent deal with Microsoft. Deals with Microsoft are a death knell. By contrast, companies like Mandriva, Red Hat and Canonical stayed focused. The conclusion is obvious. █
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Summary: Moblin is a step forward for GNU/Linux, but software patents do not appear to be off the table
YESTERDAY we wrote about Moblin eschewing Silverlight, noting that it was (sometimes still is) based on SUSE [1, 2]. There is a complex history to it, which continues to present day.
As we explained two days ago, Intel is not a friend of GNU/Linux, but it must keep up with the competition, so Linux is not a platform that Intel can afford to ignore. Intel and Novell are quite close, as this very recent video of Guy Lunardi shows. Likewise, Intel is close to Microsoft, whose operating system it is constantly promoting these days; there is even collusion with Microsoft [1, 2, 3].
As we repeatedly showed, Dell had mysteriously joined the Microsoft/Novell deal very shortly before Microsoft’s patent attack began [1, 2]. Now we find this in The Inquirer:
Dell and Microsoft back Moblin
During her keynote at the show, Intel corporate vice president and general manager of Software and Services Group Renee James was joined by Ian Ellison-Taylor, Microsoft’s general manager for Client Platforms and Tools to announce the collaboration.
This partnership is expected to help developers write applications once and have them run across Windows and Moblin devices, expanding the reach of Silverlight from the desktop and into mobile consumer electronic devices.
“We see this as a clear extension of our current efforts with Novell where we are building an open source implementation of Silverlight called Moonlight that is targeted at the broad range of Linux–based PCs,” said Ellison-Taylor.
Heise has some more details and Turbolinux, which also joined Microsoft’s Linux racket, is mentioned in various places. This does not necessarily suggest that there is consistency here when it comes to “Linux tax” in Moblin.
Throughout its lifetime, Moblin swapped desktop environments and distributions several times. After the Ubuntu shuffle came OpenSUSE, but also Fedora was put at the centre about a year ago, before Moblin was passed over to the Linux Foundation. According to this, Fedora is still at the centre, which is somewhat baffling and the information may be out of date.
Atom-based devices can run Windows but also Moblin, an open source custom Fedora-based Linux operating system targeted at netbooks, handhelds, smart phones and car computers. Intel started the Moblin project in 2007 then passed it over to the Linux Foundation.
Then there is this press release, which suggests that Ubuntu is somehow magically back under the name “Ubuntu Moblin Remix”. Are there now variants of Moblin, too?
Sam Dean argues about the effect of Moblin on ‘fragmentation’, further adding or at least showing that Moblin targets device types that are almost dominated by ARM.
If Moblin becomes a serious player in open source mobile operating systems, it will contribute to a great deal of fragmentation. Android is just gaining its stride, and heading beyond just smartphones, while Google is likely to put big marketing dollars behind Chrome OS. It’s already announced that it is talking to hardware partners.
At IDF today, the first edition of Moblin Linux for smartphones were demonstrated. They could lead to Intel chip-based smartphones.
There is more information about the smartphones outreach of Moblin, which confirms that to Intel it is mostly about expanding to more hardware, not necessarily replacing Windows. Intel also intends to offer software shops and there is nothing wrong with that. The most interesting report speaks about Moblin coming to full-blown desktops.
Intel has expanded the scope of Linux-based Moblin by porting the OS from netbooks to mobile devices and desktops, where it could compete with Microsoft’s Windows OS.
In its latest filing, Microsoft told its investors that it worried about Hewlett-Packard and Intel turning to Windows alternatives, namely GNU/Linux in this case. It sure looks like it is happening. So to characterise Intel’s work on Moblin as beneficial to Microsoft would be absurd. But that’s not the point; the question is, will Intel bend GNU/Linux in the direction of becoming Microsoft-taxed, just like SUSE? This is hopefully preventable as that would spell a defeat to the freedom of Free software in the mass market. █
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Summary: Cliff Miller from TurboLinux is now at DeviceVM; a snapshot of what TurboLinux is currently up to
THE last vendor of desktop/server-targeted GNU/Linux to have signed a patent deal with Microsoft was TurboLinux. That was in late 2007 when Microsoft’s Linux racket [1, 2, 3, 4, 5] had already run low on steam.
We are still looking mostly at the “main four”, where hardware is not involved (so software patents only — if any — may apply): Novell, Xandros, Linspire, and TurboLinux. Linspire was folded onto Xandros, which simplifies the picture. As for TurboLinux, it is rarely mentioned anywhere these days. Some publications that speak foreign languages (usually from Asia) may still occasionally mention TurboLinux by name, whereas in the English-speaking press it is rare for TurboLinux to make it into large lists of vendors and sometimes a keyword-stuffed press release.
If one looks carefully at the news this week, it turns out that DeviceVM hired the founding CEO of TurboLinux, which means he is no longer at TurboLinux.
Miller, the founding CEO of TurboLinux, brings extensive software platform experience to the DeviceVM executive team.
San Jose, CA (Advertiser Talk) 28-Aug-2009 — DeviceVM, maker of the award-winning Splashtop® instant-on platform, today announced the appointment of Cliff Miller to the newly created position of Chief Strategy Officer. Miller will be responsible for corporate development and strategic customer and partner relationships.
Cliff Miller is widely recognized for his role in commercializing Linux in Asia. As the founder and CEO of TurboLinux, Miller created a leading platform for enterprise computing in Japan and China.
The item above is from the 28th of August, but it seems to go back a few months, as far back as June. There are even prior observations. Here is the DeviceVM page.
“Microsoft has not signed any such patent deal in about 2 years. Leaving them behind would be very helpful indeed.”Is TurboLinux falling apart after its deal with Microsoft? Either way, this is one route to having Microsoft’s FUD squashed for good. Microsoft has not signed any such patent deal in about 2 years. Leaving them behind would be very helpful indeed.
TurboLinux is not very lively. There is hardly any news in their Web site at the moment. 5 news items span a period of 2 years and 40% of these is about the love affair with Microsoft. The flagship product at the moment — the one which appears at the front page — is about Windows. It says in the accompanying press release: “Because all users are unified under a single management scheme, business controls and compliance can be better adhered to, and because of the partnership between Turbolinux and Microsoft in jointly developing this new software with explicit patent permission, a safe and secure mixed Turbolinux and Microsoft Windows environment can be provided.”
Thank goodness for the “explicit patent permission”. It must mean that horrible things would happen without it, so only Turbolinux is the “approved” vendor. Novell has harnessed the same type of spiel. █
“Now [Novell is] little better than a branch of Microsoft”
–LinuxToday Managing Editor
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