Bonum Certa Men Certa

Mark Shuttleworth Denounced Microsoft-Novell Deal Again

Good to see a man's mind does not soften

Enveloped in the third page of an interview that we cited yesterday was this:

What’s your sense of the Novell-Microsoft deal? Is it a net negative for Linux, or is there anything positive in it?

[Mark Shuttleworth: ] I think it’s positive in that it suggests that Microsoft is increasingly conscious of the need to engage with Linux. I think the terms under which they concluded that specific deal are negative for Linux as a whole, in that they tried to lock down, to entrench, a certain view of the economics of Free software. If you look at the deal, it very much assumes that software is being sold, so it tries to impose the economics of the ‘80s on the 21st century, and I don’t think that’s going to fly.

It’s a little bit like DRM, which tries to impose the economics of vinyl on a digital music industry. I think a lot of people are now saying, ‘Gosh, it’s not actually the music industry that’s suffering, it’s the record industry that’s suffering’ – the music industry is thriving.

And similarly, I think, any attempt to slow down the pace of innovation in the economics, as much as in the technology, is doomed to fail. And at heart I think that’s what’s wrong with the deal that was struck there.

It was very interesting to see, after the announcement of the deal, how much disagreement there was between the parties as to what the deal actually meant. And I think that’s a clear sign that it was something that was hastily concluded.

Anyhow, we don’t begrudge anybody their partnerships, we’re just very clear about the specific values that we hold dear. And we would not conclude a deal with Microsoft on the same terms – we don’t think that would be constructive for our users or for Free software as a whole.


This is not the first time that Mark criticises the Novell/Microsoft deal [1, 2]. In previous interviews he even called it "racketeering".

"It is in Novell's interest - selfish interest, I will admit - to advance-remove whatever those inhibitors be to the advancement of Linux and open source."

--John Dragoon, Novell

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