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Selling a Proprietary GNU/Linux by Spitting in Its Pool of Life

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Novell and Microsoft piss on GNU/Linux codebase



The story of Novell is a rather complicated one because the company mocks the very same product which it tries to sell. Novell uses GNU/Linux FUD to market itself, especially by boasting Microsoft's software patent 'protection' as its advantage, added value, distinguisher (the classic decoy being "interoperability"). The same goes for Mono, which it controls even using copyrights.

It was rather disappointing to find industry leaders such as Wind River and MontaVista using similar techniques, only without patents or Microsoft.

Embedded Linux is the most hyped embedded operating system ever. It is promoted as inexpensive, high quality, high productivity, reliable, widely available, and well supported. It is none of these things, as two of its greatest proponents have recently pointed out. Wind River Systems and MontaVista Software, companies that each describe themselves as "the leader" in embedded Linux, have both initiated marketing campaigns touting the horrors of using embedded Linux.

In the January/February 2008 issue of Military Embedded Systems, Jim Ready, the founder and chief technology officer of MontaVista, says "a [develop-it-yourself] embedded Linux distribution [is] a significant investment (read 'big bucks') in time and money." He estimates the three-year cost of a large scale embedded Linux deployment at $19,623,750.


I spoke to Jim Ready on the phone some months ago and I'm surprised he could 'pull a Palamida' or even 'pull a Black Duck' (or whatever company du jour spreads uncertainty about FOSS and GNU/Linux in the same way that anti-virus vendors exaggerate about the dangers of using Windows and overplay the potency of their security add-ons).

The article above continues however; it sheds light on what we might really be seeing here.

It's more likely that Wind River and MontaVista are telling it as they see it--for marketing purposes. Marketing usually puts forward a problem (bad breath, headaches) that many potential customers will relate to, and then promises a solution. Why would Wind River and MontaVista put forward the problem of embedded Linux nightmares in marketing materials unless they think many potential customers have experienced those nightmares and need a solution?


“In this case, rather proprietary versions of (GNU/)Linux get on their high horses and badmouth their free (libre) equivalents...”In a Free software industry it's important not to exclude competitors unless they threaten the freedom of the software. In this case, rather proprietary versions of (GNU/)Linux get on their high horses and badmouth their free (libre) equivalents -- the very same source owing to which they were made possible in the first place. Neither shame nor sense of guilt?

In other semi-related news, the company which grew and thrived in a community of volunteers continues to get closer to its new and generous paymasters. We told the XenSource story several times before, e.g. here. Imagine the 'surprise' accompanying news where this company's CTO, Simon Crosby, hails the "Citrix-Microsoft alliance as increasing virtualization choice" (versus VMWare). It's almost as though XenSource is now a tool of Microsoft, Citrix, Novell and the rest of that small alliance which wants Red Hat, Ubuntu, Oracle, Sun and VMWare toppled.

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