02.04.08

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Linus Torvalds Unimpressed with Microsoft ‘Interop’, Calls Patents Bluff

Posted in Audio/Video, GNU/Linux, Interoperability, Interview, Kernel, Microsoft, Novell, Patents at 8:25 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

De facto opinion

Whenever Torvalds speaks out in public, we listen because he is very influential and his personal opinion affects the opinion of many other developers. We certainly do try to parse Torvalds interviews in order to gain better insights into his views on Novell-type deals with Microsoft.

The newly-published second part of his interview with Jim Zemlin contains some good bits, including this one:

Linus Torvalds: Patents are nasty. It’s kind of hard to really say a lot more than the fact that patents on ideas in general are a huge mistake and the whole notion that you can have patents, business models and software is pretty broken to begin with.

And at least in the EU so far they’ve been able to fight that whole notion of patenting software. In the U.S., I think there are certainly more than just open source people who are realizing that software patents are a huge mistake.

There is some further analysis of this interview in NetworkWorld.

“…They have been sued for patents by other people, but I don’t think they’ve — not that I’ve gone through any huge amount of law cases — but I don’t think they’ve generally used patents as a weapon,” Torvalds said. “But they’re perfectly happy to use anything at all as fear, uncertainty and doubt in the marketplace, and patents is just one thing where they say, ‘Hey, isn’t this convenient? We can use this as a PR force.’”

[...]

Microsoft’s recent work around improving its platform’s interoperability with Linux left Torvalds largely unmoved.

“I think there are people inside Microsoft who really want to improve interoperability and I also think there are people inside Microsoft who would much rather just try to stab their competition in the back,” he said. “I think the latter class of people have usually been the one[s] who won out in the end, but — so I wouldn’t exactly trust them.”

We commented the first part if this interview here. There is a good summary with links to previous interviews here. As for Alan Cox, here you have a good summary of his views. He seems to like the GPLv3 and he also believes that it’s right for Novell to be punished for what they did.

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