Does Novell Sell Proprietary Windows Virtualisation? (Corrected)

Posted in Microsoft, Novell, OpenSUSE, Red Hat, Security, SLES/SLED, Virtualisation at 11:28 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

A couple of interesting items (both embedded in a single press release) came out from Novell yesterday. The first one seems to confirm what we already knew — that Novell’s patching process has become assimilated to Microsoft’s. This comes at the same time as another lifeline gets cut: “SUSE Linux 9.3 Security Support is Now Discontinued”.

Novell Inc. on June 18 released its first service pack for SUSE Linux Enterprise Server and SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop 10. This service pack, also known as SP1, features significant enhancements in virtualization, high-performance computing, security, interoperability, and system management.

By contrast, Red Hat released RHEL 4.5 several years after the release of RHEL 4. They did this in order to add some popular virtualisation functionality. There was a regular flow of patches, but never a “Service Pack”. It sometimes seems as though Novell is building Microsoft’s next desktop/server built upon GPL-licensed code. Will Service Packs give Microsoft some control over what gets included in SLED/SLES 10?

The second part of Novell’s announcement left some more room for thought and interpretation. On the face of it, paravirtualisation drivers for Windows are proprietary and they need to be sold (yes, for a price)). Is this the price of openness and interoperability? See for yourself:

The paravirtualized drivers for Windows in the Driver Pack are currently distributed under a proprietary license. The paravirtualized drivers for SUSE Linux and Red Hat Enterprise Linux, on the other hand, will be distributed under an open-source license.

Are they selling the ability to do Windows virtualisation? This continues a worrisome trend where Novell limits Windows/Linux virtualisation as a whole. Are we missing something?

The GPLv3 Debate Returns: Torvalds Still Defends Tivoization, But Not Everyone Agrees

Posted in FSF, GNU/Linux, GPL, Novell, Tivoization at 11:05 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

There have been various misconceptions (some deliberate) which keep surrounding the GPLv3. Some of them led to the conclusion that GPLv3 is all about Novell. At the time, Novell’s deal was the only one to bear in mind. However, as Eben Moglen recently stressed, GPLv3 achieves much beyond this. It is not a Microsoft vendetta and it is not a ‘religious’ statement either. One of the controversial parts of the license is a Tivoization clause that forbids it. In a very recent thread on the kernel mailing lists, Linus Torvalds explicitly says that he supports Tivoization.

[Linus:] I think Tivoization is *good*…

This is not new, but the strong language shows how stubborn he is. This leads to a serious dilemma. There are other sides to this argument. Consider, for example, this rebuttal from Bruce Perens. He addresses misconceptions that are — among other things — associated with Tivoization.

I pulled the article on GPL3, Tivo, and DFSG. Unfortunately, there was too much mis-information. Sorry I wasn’t around to see it earlier. Here’s my rebuttal to the article.

A medical software expert speaks in favour of the GPL. It is also clear that he is not really in favour of Tivoisation, which has negative effects when people’s lives are involved. This relates to Gutmann’s discussions about DRM in Windows Vista. In his paper he described the dangers associated with obfuscation of important information.

The best license for you to use for your Medical Software is the GPL, which makes your software license compatible with the most software packages available.

Let us hope that kernel hackers take more factors into consideration and make the right decision. They should manage to ignore noise and disinformation, of which there is plenty.

Red Hat Responds to Microsoft’s Mistake and Spurious FUD

Posted in FUD, Red Hat at 7:21 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

As SCO found out, threatening your own customers is always a bad strategy. Red Hat points out that Microsoft does something similar, which may ultimately drive away its own customers.

Microsoft going around threatening customers with patent litigation does not make good business sense. This is according to Red Hat’s Middle East and Africa channel sales manager, David Postel, who was speaking in Johannesburg last week.

Jonathan Schwartz said something similar about a month ago. Meanwhile, in the muchly-influenced mainstream media, FUD continues to be spread and Red Hat remains a victim of disinformation. Here is what they had to say:

A narrative is forming around Microsoft’s patent FUD campaign, and it’s not a paean to their business acumen, nor an ode to their brinksmanship. The real story is more of a folktale-in-progress that turns on a simple dramatic question: What is Red Hat going to do?

As Red hat said many times before, patent deals are not going to happen.

Choose SUSE Linux or Choose Windows. Microsoft Will Get Paid Either Way.

Posted in GNU/Linux, Microsoft, NetWare, Novell, Servers, SLES/SLED, Vista, Windows at 3:11 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Novell’s dilemma: It’s our main rival, but it’s our partner as well. We’re very confused.

It is no secret that Novell has become financially dependent on Microsoft. Novell has nobody but itself to blame because it has chosen to go down this route. Novell’s salesman is also its foe, so it’s the case of a fox watching the henhouse.

Stories which Novell’s absurd situation has led to are numerous. Recall the time when Novell issued a joint press release where Windows is argued to be cheaper than LInux. That tactless inclusion of a statement goes back to the deal with HSBC. Don’t forget Novell’s ‘salesman’ (Microsoft), which contradicted Novell’s own stance.

Here is a more recent story. It’s not clear whether we cite a credible source or not, but there appears to be evidence which suggests that Novell’s pro-Linux agenda has hit the conflict of interest due to the relationship with Microsoft. On the face of it, Novell is even willing to recommend Windows. That is sad (if true). To quote a witness:

“Novell tells Howard College that they must use Vista on their desktops with a SUSE Linux server. As any Linux user knows this is a lie and that Novell sold out to Microsoft anyway. So why should anyone listen to Novell any more? IBM, Dell, HP and other companies support Linux Servers because 90% of all servers run Linux. Colleges boycott Novell!”

You’ll find some of the discussions (for context) in the following two consecutive items:

New Co-Host Justin Breithaupt / Microsoft forcing Rent Payments and KVM on Schools!

I just chatted with someone at a College in Big Spring, TX. He told me that they pay rent on Windows Vista.

Will Howard College in Big Spring, TX Choose Vista or Linux?

I have just been informed that they have used NetWare for 10 years at this college and are thinking about switching to the Linux side of Novell because of the machines they have. You can also send a direct link to this post to other colleges if you agree.

[...] [Comment]

I know that you are considering moving to Novell and SUSE Linux. This is a huge mistake. The reason is not because Linux is a bad program or interface but because Novell and SUSE have sided with Microsoft and are trying to direct people and money in Microsoft’s Direction.

This could not be truer and it also relates to the previous post.

Nat Friedman, whom we criticised before for being too close to Microsoft, has the following point of view to share:

Linux desktop adoption is steadily increasing worldwide, but people don’t recognize this fact because there hasn’t been a big adoption surge, Friedman said.

For someone who is regularly labeled a “Microsoft apologist”, this doesn’t seems like an unusual statement. Nonetheless, it’s slightly surprising. Maybe Novell has genuine plans for Linux, but why does it not develop Linux it on its own? It’s a shame that Microsoft is part of these plans. It is sad that this losing party actually earns money no matter which product is chosen. Novell gets nothing from Windows sales. Microsoft earns money from SUSE. Who was the winner in this deal then?

Linspire Has No Patents, So What Did Microsoft Pay Linspire For? (Updated and Corrected)

Posted in FUD, GPL, Intellectual Monopoly, Linspire, Microsoft, Novell, Patents, Xandros at 2:37 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Having just taken a glance at Groklaw News Picks (which I help maintain), I could not ignore PJ’s comment. It indicates that our initial assessment was correct. Just as we have seen before, a company (it’s Linspire turn now) takes some money to eat the bait. This followed the route Corel and Novell had taken.

[PJ: Actually, I went to USPTO and did a simple search and I can’t find any [Linspire] patents at all. So what kind of patent deal is this, and what precisely is Microsoft paying Linspire for? It can’t be interoperability. You can do that with Linux anyway, without any need for an agreement. Yet, news reports are saying Linspire got some money. So if that is true, what was it for? And if it’s a straight patent license, how is it not a violation of GPLv2, let alone v3?] -

The point of interest here is the endowment, the money. GPL aside, here you have a company that pays competitors to sell off their businesses and become victims of taxation. This is monopoly abuse and this aspect of it is covered in the following video. Many years ago, vicious monopolies found ways to make money regardless of which product is bought.

Mandriva, which is at the verge of bankruptcy, is now at the center of some questions and speculations. The Linux Foundation’s involvement might actually be needed here. Mandriva, unlike Linspire and Xandors, has some decent userbase and it contributes code. It doesn’t just repackage somebody else’s work.

Let us return to Groklaw for a moment. Also in Groklaw last night, the new (and hopefully improved) patent processing system got some coverage and a careful first look. This has been muchly anticipated, but one wonders what happens to existing (old) patents. It’s easy to shelf patents, but harder to get them cleaned up, eliminated on grounds of validity (e.g. prior art, “trivial”), or organised (e.g. duplication management). Is the USPTO just broken beyond repair? Have a look.

What the USPTO is also looking for is whether or not the application is sufficiently new and nonobvious to a person of ordinary skill in the art to qualify for a patent under current law. Trust me when I tell you that the USPTO has no clue when it comes to FOSS prior art. If you could have blocked Amazon’s One-Click patent application so it never issued, would you have?

There are clearly some challenges ahead, but as long as the patent system is perceived as a farce (at least by some), the effect of IP FUD will be minimal. The last thing we need is a USPTO with credibility (and a sharp tooth, which it hasn’t).

Update: Have a look at the following item which explains why Mandriva will not sign any patent deals with Microsoft.

Mandriva and Microsoft

So in conclusion from my ramblings, Mandriva would have nothing to gain while everything to loose by signing such an agreement.

By reading the speculations about this so far, it all seems like 99% FUD to me while the only valid reasoning behind the speculations being the fact that a few other vendors has already done so..

I have been saying all along that Mandriva, unlike Linspire and Xandros, has an open source spirit, so it won’t be victimised. I apologise for an incorrect assertion (mistake pointed out by a reader), which I have just corrected.

The End of Windows and the Arrival of GPLv3

Posted in Deals, GNU/Linux, GPL, Microsoft, Red Hat, Windows at 2:10 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Things are looking great for Linux. Development pace is peaking everywhere, except Redmond.

Among some of the newest articles (e.g. one that heralds the arrival of Linux to many people’s desktops), there are several which talk about the deals and explain why these simply indicate that Microsoft needs to be part of the future, with or without Windows. Consider the following analysis from Linux Watch. It discusses the recent deals and closes with the following couple of paragraphs.

Red Hat’s wonderful Truth Happens video ends with the famous Mohandas Gandhi quote, “First they ignore you. Then they laugh at you. Then they fight you. Then you win.” It’s exactly right.

To me, the Linux/Microsoft deals not only make sense, they show that we are in the last stage. Linux is winning, and Microsoft is acknowledging it. After all, if Microsoft didn’t have to deal with Linux as something like an equal, why would they bother to make agreements at all?

These feelings are echoed elsewhere as well. They would seem overly optimistic to some, but ambition has its merits. Either way, things do not look too encouraging for the company which, according to another source, is bound to lose its grip on a world of Windows. It tries to get a grip on the next best thing, which is Linux. Have a quick look at this short article/op-ed.

Some of the best analysis of the Microsoft/Linspire deal was written by Dennis Byron (Research 2.0) Should this deal eventually involve vouchers like the Novell deal, he says, what we might be looking at is Microsoft’s graceful exit from Windows (well, maybe not graceful and maybe not without milking it for a good decade, a la IBM and its mainframes).

What will happen with IP? Well, Microsoft ‘taxation’ on Linux sales is something which is bound to fail, simply because GPLv3 prohibits it. It works around the issues and its wide adoption seems like a matter of time, not viability. Have a look at what Bruce Byfield had to say.

In the longer term — say the next five years — GPLv3 will probably win out through attrition. If nothing else, as the discussion on TiVoization makes clear, the FSF cares strongly about the issues behind the provisions in the new version of the license while those who think like Torvalds, for all the animation with which he expresses himself, care relatively little. In the end, they would rather be coding. As more projects move to GPLv3, open source advocates will probably move with the rest of the community.

More Media Manipulation — Shills Promote Document Format Lockin

Posted in America, Corel, Deception, Formats, Linspire, Microsoft, Novell, Office Suites, Open XML, OpenDocument, Xandros at 1:48 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

If you can’t earn support, then buy support

Here we go again. In the latest among a long series of deceitful moves, Microsoft pulls another trick in order to encourage acceptance of its lockin (formats monopoly).

At this point, we have three deals with Linux vendors that are in Microsoft’s pocket as far as document formats are concerned. Xandros, Novell, and Linspire seem committed to their binding contract. Corel could be considered here as well. It’s not about the quality of the format. Instead, it’s all about the money flow. Format monoculture is in fact a major part of these deals, which helps protect and strengthen Microsoft’s grip on the office suites market.

Here, however, is the latest. Now we have another Microsoft ‘pal’ making an appearance in the media. Nowhere does it say anything about affiliation. There is no disclosure. The discussion is at times warped from a technical one into a political one (we have seen that before), e.g.:

Finally, he said that many people were worsening the situation by confusing the ISO’s health and safety standards, which are often enforced by member countries as law, and technical specifications such as Open XML.

That’s the guy whom Microsoft paid to edit Wikipedia in Microsoft’s favour. He attends Microsoft’s events and drinks the kool-aid. He is essentially a Microsoft consultant and therefore not an “Open Standards advocate” as the article suggests. This could be yet another media manoeuvre, which is similar to many others that we regularly find.

It goes beyond the media however. Consider the fact that Microsoft employees are voting on behalf of Microsoft at the ISO. Isn’t ‘democracy’ a wonderful thing? We thought that Microsoft had “voted for choice”, according to its own press releases. Let’s just suppose Microsoft mind who it is that votes.

You might still recall the latest endeavour to get ODF support in the United States. People set their eyes on New York, but as it turns out Microsoft is now taking over the the NYS legislature, setting rules that are hostile toward open source.

Microsoft’s proposed change to state law would effectively render our current requirements for escrow and the ability for independent review of source code in the event of disputes completely meaningless – and with it the protections the public fought so hard for.

This makes you wonder what will happen to ODF proposals there. Microsoft is above the law. It’s not a compliment, but a strong criticism. Will companies learn to say “no”? Will governments finally intervene?

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