06.01.08

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Novell’s Bold Mission to Clean Up ‘Unlicensed’ GNU/Linux

Posted in Asia, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Mono, NetWare, Novell, Open XML, Red Hat, Ron Hovsepian, Virtualisation at 9:01 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Novell and Microsoft for intellectual monopoly

By means of exclusion, Novell, which is helped by Microsoft, hopes to eradicate what exists and thrives in freedom. It wants to rip-and-replace what has proven difficult to compete against due to the nature of the GPL. Remind yourself of the fact that GNU/Linux distributions sometimes struggle to offer added value compared to their counterparts because everything is shared. That’s fine and that’s the manifesto.

“Novell is squeezing the GPL goose (Gnus?) for that last golden egg.”Novell continues to hope that features which are only available to Microsoft deal-signers and paying customers (e.g. patent-’protected’ Moonlight, Mono, binary shims, hypervisor compatibility, document translators, etc.) will force change. Novell wants to flip the Free Software table and rake in all the cash, even the soul of Free Software in the process. To use a famous parable, Novell is squeezing the GPL goose (Gnus?) for that last golden egg. It’s an insidious plan to lock down users, putting them at Microsoft's mercy and Novell's direct debit list.

The business plan is easy to see. Novell plans to phase out and conquer existing Linux deployments, some of which are not counted or administered by commercial entities. In essence, Novell fights Microsoft’s battles and thou shalt not criticise Novell for it contributes some GPL-licensed code at the same time. It’s the perfect cover-up from Microsoft’s point-of-view. It’s like spitting in the well while filling it with barrels. Ultimate goal: cleaning up all those 'freebie Linuxes'.

Novell released some financial figures a few days ago [1, 2] and the overall message was telling.

“Our partnership with Microsoft continues to expand,” the CEO told the analysts yesterday. “We [have] announced an incremental investment in the China market to focus on converting unsupported Linux users to SUSE Linux Enterprise…We also expanded our technical collaboration agreement to simplify and standardize the management infrastructure needed for efficient Windows Linux management. To date, we have invoiced $157 million, or 65 percent, of the original five-year, $240 million agreement.”

The CEO also noted that, in a “deepening” relationship with German-based SAP, SAP recently announced the selection of SUSE Linux Enterprise Server as the only Linux distribution to run SAP Business All-in-One, a software solution targeted at SMBs.

Steve Ballmer rides SUSEAs you can hopefully see, they work on ‘exclusives’. Microsoft helps Novell achieve this because many of the companies involved are close (and closed-source) Microsoft partners. Microsoft can influence them, financially or otherwise. It essentially turns SUSE into the once-mythical “Microsoft Linux” (that’s Steve Ballmer on the right, brainchild of Steve’s Ballnux). Increasingly we see the ‘Microsoft-approved’ list, not the FSF-approved list. Microsoft’s list is the antithesis of the latter, and it loves this very much.

There are some more tools of manipulation at play. Remember that Microsoft has plans of bundling hypervisor/s with the O/S to fight VMWare along with Novell and others [1, 2, 3, 4]. Ironically enough, as this new article from CIO interprets it, what Microsoft is trying against VMWare at the moment is similar to its former fights against Novell. This time, for a change, Novell is an ‘accomplice’, not a victim. Novell does the homework of the bully who once hit it with a baseball bat for lunch money.

But rather than demonstrate what else a customer could do with network management, groupware and other products that were bundled with the operating system, as Microsoft did, Novell focused on telling everyone how much better NetWare was than NT. Bad move.

[...]

It’s not far down the rathole yet, but VMware is reacting to the promise of direct competition from Microsoft —and existing competition from every vendor that can squeeze a Xen hypervisor into its product bundles—by focusing on the past rather than the future.

Assuming the following new survey is anything to go by, the main competition involving GNU/Linux on the server is between Novell and Red Hat.

One of the main findings from the survey is that, if current trends continue, servers running anything other than Red Hat, Novell Suse or Windows Server will become increasingly rare. A clear majority of those surveyed, 81 percent, ran Windows Server, with Linux (of the Red Hat or Suse flavours) the next most used OS, at 50 percent.

NindowsWhat might the aforementioned exclusions mean for the long term? Need it be mentioned that Novell signed the deal with Microsoft and shortly afterwards acknowledges that it had agreed for SUSE to be the slave on Windows hosts (virtualisation can safely be assumed the way forward)? That was just part of the negotiation. In other words — and also to sum this up in a way — Novell received Microsoft’s endorsement and money in exchange for the crown in the datacentre, higher priority to OOXML as a document format, and .NET as the API of choice. Why again do some people still support Novell?

Say No to Novell

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19 Comments

  1. Uncle_Sam said,

    June 1, 2008 at 10:39 am

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    Really sad…They are like a wolf in sheeps clothing so one can see them what they are upto.

  2. Uncle_Sam said,

    June 1, 2008 at 10:48 am

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    Server management special report…in asociation with Microsoft.

    Yeah right….

    See how they diss Linux in the report.

    MS is nothing but a scam. Only thing they do is spread lies. They have no shame. Novell seems to lately join them in doing the same. Birds of the same feather flock together.

  3. Roy Schestowitz said,

    June 1, 2008 at 11:43 am

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    That’s how it works. Those who have the money ‘generate’ the (dis)information. Spotted earlier today:


    Gartner sells white paper reports ? Just business ? Not FUD ?
    Submitted by atang1 on Sat, 05/31/2008 – 20:09.

    I guess you qualify Gartner by the price($7,700 on Oracle) of their reports. Arthur D. Little reports cost $20,000. Most other reports are around $3,500 each, depending on the number of reports they sell.

    If Gartner writes for Novell or RedHat, the white paper reports will be on open sourced benefits or propietary open sourced benefits copyrighted by Novell(YaST or mono or gnome) or RedHat(anaconda or rpm) with limited GPL licence which RedHat threatens disk service people from unauthorized distribution of RedHat operating systems. You can get Suse for $1 per disk, but not sles, sled or slert.

    Just facts of life, sad but true. Soon even Puppy will have propietary architecture in their installer(stand alone propietary, not open sourced or copy from others’), that you can only have limited GPL. You have to buy an official copy to use Puppy linux?

  4. Uncle_Sam said,

    June 1, 2008 at 12:10 pm

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    The more I try to understand FOSS – the more clear it becomes that likes of Novell/MS and their partners are just in here to make money – nothing more. All these are just money games – with no shred of integrity.

    All these talks about business, forbes xxx list, top 10 world richest people, some freaking power brand rating, innovation, investment, ROI, patents, marketing, PR, competition…its load of bull crap. Only thing they want is money and success.

    Sad that world had fallen so much in greed. Everyone is trying to grab and control all they can, grab, grab, grab.

    I remmember what Einstine said “Strive not to be a man of success, but rather strive to be a man of value”.

  5. Roy Schestowitz said,

    June 1, 2008 at 12:22 pm

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    A company lacking values and integrity is doomed to never reach success. Microsoft may be the exception because it proved many times before that crime pays (and that’s a bad lesson for our children). Sadly, an ingredient of this is tight media control, AstroTurfing and a variety of activities that enable Microsoft to hide poor ethics while operating as though it’s virtually above the law.

    Novell has always been very arrogant. Like Microsoft, it continues to be arrogant. It used to be a wealthier business that merely took orders without having to market much. Things have changed and Novell goes as far as exploiting FUD to make more sales. With better awareness, Novell’s lack of consciousness, let alone feelings of guilt, will hopefully be seen by its clients (and betrayed partners like Astrum).

  6. jmpnop said,

    June 1, 2008 at 5:23 pm

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    Roy, you have done a very thorough and eloquent job of documenting vile corporate schemings. I think a lot of people know or are starting to realize their rights are getting trampled by the Big Corps all over the world.

    But I still wonder about one thing. Your whole thesis hinges on the assumption that micro-soft will use mono as leverage when the time comes. So they do. Big deal. Most of linux is mono-free, and will probably stay mono-free, and presumably (hopefully) most parts of Gnome too. So what can Microsoft do? Even in the most unlikely and extreme case people just aren’t going to give up on something extraordinary just because some Judge in the US decrees it so.

    I think the harder they pull, the stronger the backlash, and its likely that in the end these schemes will do more harm then good to micro-soft and novell’s cause.

    Surely things aren’t as bad as you sometimes seem to suggest?
    Kind regards,

  7. Victor Soliz said,

    June 1, 2008 at 5:34 pm

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    So they do. Big deal. Most of linux is mono-free, and will probably stay mono-free, and presumably (hopefully) most parts of Gnome too. So what can Microsoft do?

    The whole point is to prevent the Mono dependency to happen, right now we would lose what? “Tomboy”? It is up to us to let it stay this way.

  8. Roy Bixler said,

    June 1, 2008 at 7:31 pm

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    In the context of KDE vs. Gnome, it’s ironic that this sort of question even exists. After all, Gnome was meant to be a completely libre replacement for KDE, which depends on the then-proprietary Qt library. All of the big distros prefer Gnome. Until Suse was bought by Novell, it was the exception . Now that the licencing issues with Qt have been resolved, KDE seems like a real alternative to Gnome.

  9. Roy Schestowitz said,

    June 1, 2008 at 9:40 pm

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    It isn’t hinged just on Mono, but think of this as the equivalent of SCO and header files (or something along those lines).

    Additionally, Microsoft needn’t attack directly. It can sell some of its imaginary property to Myrvold and then use him to coerce vendors like Red Hat (‘licensing’).

    How does one ‘work around’ Mono patents without losing compatibility? There are other issues here other than patents. Using Mono helps Microsoft win the programming wars and makes everything (Web, programs, distros) more Microsoft-controlled.

  10. Roy Bixler said,

    June 1, 2008 at 10:16 pm

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    : It isn’t hinged just on Mono, but think of this as the equivalent of
    : SCO and header files (or something along those lines).
    :
    : Additionally, Microsoft needn’t attack directly. It can sell some of its
    : imaginary property to Myrvold and then use him to coerce vendors
    : like Red Hat (’licensing’).

    I agree that it isn’t hinged on Mono because this is a problem with software patents in general. In fact, I seem to remember not so long ago that some patent troll sued both Red Hat and Novell over something that pretty much everyone uses. So, it’s come to pass.

    : Using Mono helps Microsoft win the programming wars and makes
    : everything (Web, programs, distros) more Microsoft-controlled.

    I agree with this. For this reason, it seems unwise to develop dependencies based on Mono.

  11. Michael said,

    June 1, 2008 at 11:12 pm

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    Where is a reference for the puppy-proprietary framework claim? I could find nothing on this site or the net.

    I don’t think anything M$ (yes, M$) is doing is really different from what is done normally in the proprietary world. What is sad is that GNU/Linux distributions are buying into it. They’re effectively stealing others work and then paying for the privilege.

  12. HumHo said,

    June 2, 2008 at 4:27 am

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    exactttlyyy…mono is bad for foss/linux.

    never ever trust ms. they have a past record of being very ruthless when it comes to money. they are indeed developing mono/moonlight…as a cheap replacement to their propritory stack using novell as a proxy.

    mono/moonlight is a bait

    they want to make linux non-free so they can stiffle and crush it later..using a proxy like it did with SCO..novell is next.

  13. Roy Schestowitz said,

    June 2, 2008 at 4:34 am

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    Well, you’d better speak to Miguel. He has been doing a good deal of Mono blogging over the weekend (I noticed this some hours ago). That’s a push that’s coming mainly from Novell.

    BTW, a bird whispered in my ear to say that Fedora is reconsidering Mono.

  14. Woods said,

    June 2, 2008 at 4:50 am

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    >BTW, a bird whispered in my ear to say that Fedora is reconsidering Mono.

    Details, please, as soon as you can release them…(‘twould be good news)

  15. Roy Schestowitz said,

    June 2, 2008 at 5:15 am

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    Just posted a pointer, but I can’t say much more at this moment. Groklaw is helping in the sense that it’s starting to look into these issues as well.

  16. Shane Coyle said,

    June 2, 2008 at 7:18 am

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    Why don’t we ask the gNewSense guys (nicely) exactly what their rationale behind Mono is, like I noted the other day – gNewSense DeltaH includes Tomboy, which I believe is C#/Mono. No?

    It may be instructive that gNewSense, a FSF -affiliated or maybe -approved distribution, apparently feels that Mono is (safely) distributable. Did the FSF consult at all on the package selections?

    They spend quite a bit of time at gNewSense going through the code itself, having found a licensing bug or two that we all were blissfully unaware of, and ensuring that the code in their distro is Free.

    Anyhow, many here will know I’ve had a nasty thing or two to say about Mono before, but all I really have ever wanted is truth. It would be interesting to see what they have to say, maybe I can be swayed. (I still don’t use anything that needs it, personally, but always good to know.)

    Of course, just about any software could come under scrutiny for its potential infringement of spurious software patents, I suppose. Then again, is it smart to go play stickball on the lawn of the one old man on the block who always seems to call the cops?

    So, I had once (or twice) told the OpenSuse community once to walk out on Novell’s deal made in their name, and get a new website*, saying they could "keep the code – its GPL", maybe the same is true for Mono?

    * mainly because the covenant itself used the actual web address of opensuse.org to convey the ‘protection’ to their developers, the logic being that even if they started opensuse.info MS’ covenant would be useless. Didn’t go over big. Go figure.

  17. Roy Schestowitz said,

    June 2, 2008 at 7:23 am

    Gravatar

    A bunch of us discuss Mono and the FSF in the IRC channel (log will go up later). It’s complicated, but I agree we must find answers (ideally solutions, assuming the problems are as serious as imagined).

  18. Roy Bixler said,

    June 2, 2008 at 7:39 am

    Gravatar

    Here’s the link to the suit I referred to earlier:

    Patent-troll company attacks Novell and Red Hat
    http://www.linux-watch.com/news/NS2013674721.html

    Acacia is the troll and had hired a few ex-Softies, including a couple right before filing suit. I have admit that my reaction after seeing this story was “a lot of good that patent covenant did for Novell.”

  19. Roy Schestowitz said,

    June 2, 2008 at 7:42 am

    Gravatar

    it was symbolic (the deal). Novell got some cash and got an advantage in deal-making over Red Hat (or so it thought).

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