This Could Be Uncomfortable

Posted in Action, Novell at 1:23 pm by Shane Coyle

Novell will be appearing at an upcoming forum hosted by The Cape Information Technology Initiative (CITI), the highlight is an opportunity to question Novell directly over the current Microsoft deal.

Answering questions on this deal in any venue is difficult enough, but it is rather interesting to see who is behind the event (link is mine):

The morning will round up with a discussion over the FOSS Forum and the direction which it will take in 2007. Established as a joint initiative between CITI, the University of the Western Cape and Government, this forum aims to foster FOSS growth in the Western Cape and beyond. Development and skills enhancements are key areas of focus.

I can only hope that Novell can still make it, and am hoping a reader or two from the region can attend and provide a report of the event. Anyone who plans to attend and would like to report on the conference here at boycottnovell.com, please email me shane < at > edu-nix.org.

Information from the article regarding the conference registration:

The event takes place at 44 Wale Street, Cape Town from 8am until noon on Thursday December 7.

08h00-08h30 – Registration
M08h30 – Welcoming address Viola Manuel, executive director, CITI
09h00 – Novell Microsoft deal presentation and Q&A by Peter Hunter, regional manager, Novell
09h45- 10h15 – Tea break
10h15 – Company presentations
11h15 – The FOSS Forum presented by Viola Manuel, executive director, CITI
11h30-12h00 – Discussion on ways forward for the FOSS Forum in 2007

To book email leigh.holt@citi.org.za, or call 021 409 7000. Reservations must be made by Tuesday December 5. Space is limited and early reservations are recommended to guarantee your seat.

How We All Benefit from the Novell/Microsoft Deal

Posted in FUD, GPL, Patents at 1:12 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

For the past couple of weeks, this blog has been filled with rants and accusations which were backed by proof. I thought that, for a change, we should also refer you to a more positive analysis. And yes, you’ve guessed it, there’s a snag to this so-called ‘positivity’. it’s akin to looking at the bright side of an irreversible disaster.

13 Reasons to Celebrate the New Microsoft-Novell Pact


“Among the reasons that Linux and other free software, as well as their users, could benefit from this agreement are:


(7) The agreement and accompanying threats are already having a beneficial effect on free software licensing. This is by helping to clarify the final wording of the GLPv3

(8) The agreement will serve as another example to developers of Linux and other free software about the dangers of becoming entangled with Microsoft…

(9) The agreement and accompanying threats could put pressure on Microsoft to reveal the specific patent violations that it is claiming ..

DO NOT Buy, Use or Redistribute SUSE

Posted in Action, Boycott Novell, FUD, GPL, Intellectual Monopoly, Microsoft, Novell, OpenSUSE, Patent Covenant at 12:40 pm by Shane Coyle

As RMS and others have been pointing out, the loophole for Novell in this deal is that MS is giving their patent offer to Novell’s customers (the actual wording is those copies for which Novell has received revenue, with a definition to include upgrades). So, as a Novell Customer you enjoy the benefits of the MS Patent Pledge as a result of Novell’s deal with Microsoft. Great for you, but one problem: you may not be able to redistribute GPL code now.

Think about it, if Section 7 doesn’t apply to Novell since they are not receiving the patent covenant – but the customers who are receiving it. By supporting Novell, you accept these new conditions imposed by Microsoft, you may not be able to simultaneously adhere to the MS Patent Pledge and the conditions of the GPL, since any distribution outside of giving back to OpenSUSE.org is disallowed by the MS Patent Pledge.

Novell customers may have to thank Novell for entering into this agreement with Microsoft on their behalf, their little loophole for attempting to circumvent the GPL. Eben Moglen says that not Novell but its customers may be violating the GPL if they redistribute the software:

[If] the patent license Microsoft has granted to Novell customers only extends to Novell customers, then Novell customers cannot redistribute the software freely. According to Moglen, this may violate the terms of the license.

The community needs to turn its back on Novell and SUSE, DO NOT USE, BUY, REDISTRIBUTE or HOST NOVELL or SUSE. Boycott Novell.

Please, as I have stated before, do not think that I have any animous towards the folks in the OpenSUSE community, just get a new name and website (you can keep the code, it’s GPL).

RMS: Deal is GPL2 Compliant

Posted in Deals, GPL at 11:31 am by Shane Coyle

Richard M Stallman has spoken, and apparently he believes that the Novell-Microsoft deal is in compliance with the GPL2. Stallman also vowed to ensure that GPL3 does not allow for such discriminatory deals:

“What has happened is, Microsoft has not given Novell a patent license, and thus, section 7 of GPL version 2 does not come into play,” he said. “Instead, Microsoft offered a patent licence that is rather limited to Novell’s customers alone.”

“It turns out that perhaps it’s a good thing that Microsoft did this now, because we discovered that the text we had written for GPL version 3 would not have blocked this, but it’s not too late and we’re going to make sure that when GPL version 3 really comes out it will block such deals,” he added.

As stated by Bruce Perens: “It is abundantly clear that Novell and Microsoft took the time to engineer a circuitous legal path of issuing covenants to each other’s customers, rather than licenses to each other, in order to circumvent Novell’s earlier agreement with the community of GPL software developers.”

Whether or not Novell is adhering to the letter of the GPL2, it is certainly not abiding by its spirit, as is outlined in the preamble to the GNU General Public License:

Finally, any free program is threatened constantly by software patents. We wish to avoid the danger that redistributors of a free program will individually obtain patent licenses, in effect making the program proprietary. To prevent this, we have made it clear that any patent must be licensed for everyone’s free use or not licensed at all.

Do not support the company that turned its back on the community for a short-lived stock boost, Boycott Novell.

Microsoft Did it Again, History Repeats Itself

Posted in Deals, Intellectual Monopoly, Patents at 6:40 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The folks at Groklaw have just identified a Sun/Microsoft transcript, which used to reside on Microsoft’s Web site back in 2004. Fortunately, the text is still stored in the Web Archive and it’s a real eye opener. Have a look.

STEVE BALLMER: No, there’s a few things. First, we put in place — we deal with all of the antitrust matters. That has to — just so we have a foundation to move forward.

Second, we put in place what I’d best describe as a patent regime between the two companies that serves as a framework to make — to ensure that we don’t run afoul of one another in ways past or forward-looking that would be problematic to the technical collaboration.

Third, we agreed on specific technical collaboration as it relates to how you make servers and clients talk to one another across the network. And each of these is long and detailed and certainly the detail of that is best probably gone through with the key teams on both sides and there are folks here from both Sun and Microsoft who can do that. But there are things that need to get licensed in terms of making these things plug together over the network. There’s a licensing framework that’s put in place for that.

So I’d say that’s the elements and then if you take a look at the payment, some of the money is to resolve our antitrust lawsuit. Some of the payment takes a look back and says let’s make sure we are clean with respect to one another on patents. Some of it is forward-looking in terms of how we work together from a patent perspective. And then some of it is forward-looking, us to Sun and Sun to us, in terms of the licensing of key intellectual property that relates to making these things plug together and interoperate well over the network.

Deja vu anyone? The sheer resemblance between the two deals was mentioned before. Ever since, Sun Microsystems has moved closed to the GPL. They have recently selected the GPL for Java, one of their CPU designs, and they already speak about applying the same type of licencing transformation to Solaris. Meanwhile, on the contray, Novell seems to be going in reverse, back to its proprietary roots. It has escaped in persuit of temptation—short-term gains and egocentric existence.

Anti-Novell Petition Exceeds 2,000 Signatures

Posted in Action, Boycott Novell, Novell at 2:44 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Technocrat, which is the Web site where Bruce Perens initially (and correctly) predicted Microsoft’s yet-to-come ‘FUD campaign’, is reporting, through Bruce himself, that the “strong feeling on this issue seems to be very widespread”. Over 2000 people have signed his Open Letter. Meanwhile, ComputerWorld has just published an article titled “Microsoft and Novell pull a SCO”. Below lies a snippet.

The shape of this agreement suggests that Microsoft and Novell have learned from the best, the corporate strategic masterminds at The SCO Group. The scheme there, which you may recall Microsoft championed early and loudly, was to declare that Linux incorporated source code protected by SCO Group copyrights. This declaration gave SCO the power to send out threatening letters to software vendors and customers. The letters said, in essence, that the lucky recipient could pay SCO a license fee now, or risk having its name added to the big list of defendants in its case and pay far more.

As mentioned previously, this type of comparison is intended to stir up strong feelings and reactions. This may be an overstatement that instills fear, if not a case of ‘trolling’ for traffic, so you are advised take it with a grain of salt.

On Novell and Feisty

Posted in Deals, Novell, Patent Covenant, Ubuntu at 1:54 am by Shane Coyle

OwlManAtt has a wide-ranging writeup that touches on the Novell-Microsoft deal, also raising questions about whether Novell’s deal violates the GPL2 and the prospects of designing GPL3 to prevent “Novellization“, an analysis of the Microsoft Patent Pledge, Mark Shuttleworth’s letter to the OpenSUSE mailing list and Ubuntu’s decision to include proprietary drivers in its next release, in its quest for “Multimedia Enablement”. Like I said, it is wide-ranging.

Novell, being everybody’s favorite knight-in-shining-armor has apparently decided that all of its users need to pay the Microsoft tax. To quote Microsoft’s general counsel:

And you’ll see, as well, an economic commitment from Novell to Microsoft that involves a running royalty, a percentage of revenue on open source software shipped under the agreement.

And by doing this, they are appearing as if they agree that Linux does indeed infringe upon patents held by Microsoft. They do indeed nod their head to Steve’s unfounded claims. But hey – you’re Novell. You didn’t base your entire Linux business around a community of idealogical people who don’t even work for you. You don’t depend on them to improve your product, only paying a small and elite team to put the finishing touches on SUSE and ship it. And you did not just spit in their faces and shake hands with the devil.

Oh, shit, wait. You did!

Indeed you did, Novell. Also raised in the entry is the question regarding whether Novell’s submissions to projects can now be trusted:

And their pledge to OpenSUSE developers – what does this mean for us?

Well, what if Novell wants to contibute code back into the GNOME tree. Or the Samba tree. Or the kernel itself. How are we to know that their contributions are not ‘tainted’? Is it possible that they might write something as a part of their Windows compatability project with Microsoft that obviously violates a patent? They are licensed to redistribute it. The rest of the world is not. That goes against the spirit of the GPL.

These are all valid questions, should the community continue to support a company that admittedly acted selfishly in making this deal? A company that deliberately worked to sidestep the very license that allows them to distribute the community’s work? A company which is trying to proprietize Linux and OSS, and has agreed to pay royalties to a monopolist for interoperability information and undermined the EC Antitrust ruling? No, we should not support Novell in their selfish and short-sighted partnership with Microsoft.

Boycott Novell.

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