07.12.08

Reminder: Novell and Xandros Are Not Open Source Companies

Posted in Corel, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Novell, OpenSUSE, Xandros at 3:23 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Free software companies? Surely, that would a joke

As a gentle reminder, Novell insists that it’s merely a mixed-source company [1, 2, 3, 4], a concept that even Microsoft is trying to adopt for public relations purposes. It’s easy to subscribe to this agenda because opening up 1% of your code (abandonware) and keeping your crown jewels closed is an easy responsibility to live up to. there is also costly dependency which a ‘mixed stack’ leads to. It’s a total ‘bastardisation’ of the original goals of Free software because to a large degree it involves exploitation of Free software, e.g. the ‘Google way’ a.k.a. free-riding. with minimal returns compared to the available capacity (Google makes billions of dollars).

When companies like Nokia and Microsoft pretend to be contributing [1, 2], then surely it’s nothing like Novell. The truth is that Novell does contribute some code; some fairly valuable code, too.

Nevertheless, why isn’t Novell assisting the Utah Open Source Conference? That’s where much of Novell is located. The following scoop is an eye-opening change.

…we’re going to have the UTOSC 2008 (Utah Open Source Conference, August 28-30, 2008) at the Salt Lake Community College, Redwood Road campus.

And Novell is not one of their sponsors!

I suppose this is not because Novell is not really caring about open source at all, right?

Recall what we’ve stressed many times over the past week or so (because of Xandros [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10]): Novell is the next Corel. It’s losing its focus due to the deal with Microsoft.

Looking into the past, consider this new and excellent article:

Where Xandros is sold in a box, Ubuntu is given away free. Where Ubuntu is seen to donate code back to the community, Xandros and Linspire have developed proprietary extensions. Where Ubuntu asks for manufacturers to free their drivers, Xandros and Linspire have signed patent covenants with Microsoft.

Then there's SLED/SLES, and OpenSUSE which you can only use ‘safely’ provided that you don’t make money from it.

The article also contains an interesting history lesson on Corel. Is this Novell’s vocation?

Cowpland, and Corel, may have made the classic mistake of realising too early where the market was going, and running before the market could walk. Within months Cowpland was forced to step down from the company he had founded, vowing to devote his time to working with unspecified Linux start-ups. “Personally, I intend to get my hands really dirty with a lot of Linux technology,” he told reporters. “I’m fascinated by the potential that’s now emerging.”

He was replaced as CEO by Corel’s chief technology officer, Derek Burney. “Open-source software isn’t a moneymaker”, said Burney, “Microsoft’s .Net strategy will change computing as we know it.”

By this time, Microsoft, which had an interest in keeping WordPerfect afloat for antitrust reasons, had invested $135 million in Corel. According to Burney: “There is a contract that says we have to put the .Net framework into our major applications within six months of the release of .Net.”

Shortly thereafter, Corel divested itself of its Linux distribution, and discontinued support for WordPerfect and CorelDraw on Linux. It has been assumed by many that this was an unwritten condition of Microsoft’s investment in Corel.

In August 2001, Xandros Incorporated announced that it had secured the rights to Corel’s Linux distribution and a US$10 million investment from Linux Global Partners, a Venture Capital firm. Like Corel, Xandros has its roots in Ottawa, Canada, and retained the majority of Corel’s original Linux software development team. Linux Global Partners also invested heavily in other Linux companies, the best known of which are probably CodeWeavers and Ximian (before it was sold to Novell).

[...]

The biggest problem for Xandros and Linspire has been the “patent covenants” that both companies signed with Microsoft, and the detrimental effect that these agreements have had on ongoing relationships with the Linux user and developer communities.

Jeremy Allison of Samba made the point when he resigned from Novell over the same issue. “Whilst the Microsoft patent agreement is in place there is nothing we can do to fix community relations. And I really mean nothing,” he wrote. “Until the patent provision is revoked, we are pariahs…. Unfortunately the time I am willing to wait for this agreement to be changed… has passed, and so I must say goodbye.”

[...]

To which, Alan Cox, the best known of Linux kernel developers after Linus Torvalds, replied: “That would be because we believe in Free Software and doing the right thing (a practice you appear to have given up on). Maybe it is time the term ‘open source’ also did the decent thing and died out with you.”

Can you see what happened to Corel? Two-way assimilation (Microsoft to open [1, 2], and open to the Microsoft API). Good luck to Novell and .Net Mono. The major news at the moment is about GNOME 3.0 (version number bump from 2.3). Miguel de Icaza once said that GNOME 4.0 would be based on .Net. A recent appointment makes the mind boggle a bit [1, 2]. Mono is already there.

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18 Comments

  1. jeni said,

    July 12, 2008 at 9:59 am

    Gravatar

    I support Linux 100% but I feel that people should make an objective decision for themselves after reading The Truth about Linux.

    Note: troll comment. URL to anti-Linux site omitted.

  2. Marcelino said,

    July 12, 2008 at 11:13 pm

    Gravatar

    I have come across too many “user” posting about that joke website “the truth about Linux”. The site is so full of down right wrong statements and lies that it must be Microsoft PR site pretending to be user site….and the posting from someone name “jeni” must really be Microsoft PR person. I read several months ago that Microsoft was hiring “community person” to promote Microsoft software on websites and I guess they found the person(s)….wonder how much the position pays?

  3. Roy Schestowitz said,

    July 13, 2008 at 1:35 am

    Gravatar

    Marcelino, I didn’t folllow the link, so thanks for warning me. The ‘jeni” character left several such comments. I’ll strip the URL.

    In any event, see this:

    http://pogue.blogs.nytimes.com/2007/01/25/a-wake-up-call-to-microsofts-pr-team/

    “Then in 2002, Microsoft’s Web site featured a testimonial called “Confessions of a Mac to PC Convert,” a first-person account by an attractive brunette “freelance writer” about how she had fallen in love with Windows XP.

    “Unfortunately, a Slashdot member discovered that the identical photo was available for rent from the stock-photo libraries of GettyImages.com. Sure enough: Microsoft had hired a PR firm to write the testimonial. The “switcher” did not actually exist.”

  4. Lol said,

    July 13, 2008 at 2:08 am

    Gravatar

    apart from the trolls. what i have seen is companies like redhat have huge amount of money coming in as support revenues are making their software hard to use – so that people are forced to get support contracts from them.

    how badly broken redhat is…and they dont intend to make it any better…they are milking the system in support revenues.

  5. Roy Schestowitz said,

    July 13, 2008 at 2:17 am

    Gravatar

    @ “Lol”,

    Can you try to support this with evidence? I am genuinely interested. Otherwise, I don’t believe this to be true. Don’t forget that Red Hat has competition, so if there’s a gap, someone will make better GUIs and steal Red Hat’s lunch.

  6. Lol said,

    July 13, 2008 at 10:09 am

    Gravatar

    Feodra :
    Package kit sucks
    Eclipse sucks – it wont install a lot of plugins due to wrong permission (long story why)
    Check beranger for their problems with RHEL

    Redhat is just milking the term Enterprise Linux. FUD. they want people to get used to some paid very of linux which comes with some support from a big name vendor. the so called unpaid linux is bad. you need to have he costly enterprise linux.

    They only release the bare minimum scr rpms since they have to.

    I gave up on fedora or anything redhat.

    I once install Linux for a close friends and was explaining to him about the free software. So he ask me one question. If the software is free then they must be making money in support. So you need to make sure that people come to you for support. And how to do that….

    Commercial linux companies are going to make people pay either this way or that…

  7. Lol said,

    July 13, 2008 at 10:20 am

    Gravatar

    Remember there use to be only one Redhat Linux and they used to give it away for free and only charge for support. I used to get them with magazines cds.

    Now they have closed it, labeled it so called enterprise linux …only provided the bare minimum src rpms to comply with GPL…

  8. Lol said,

    July 13, 2008 at 10:23 am

    Gravatar

    In RMS terms “started putting walls around their software…”

  9. Lol said,

    July 13, 2008 at 10:27 am

    Gravatar

    thats the ugly side of Redhat

    they have started erecting barrier in the name of enterprise linux

  10. Lol said,

    July 13, 2008 at 10:37 am

    Gravatar

    you need to get a *license* copy of RHEL

    you need to get all sort wierd licenses from them for 2/4/8/16 cpus.

    you have to pay them every year to use free software

    if you dont – you are a pirate – you are doing illegal things by using RHEL without paying them their *licensing* money every year

    we are all *freetards*

    check their RHEL pricing page. you get the idea.

    initially it was only support money, now it has turned into license copy of linux and free software.

  11. Lol said,

    July 13, 2008 at 11:01 am

    Gravatar

    RHEL is not a free software. You cant freely share it with others. You are locked in with Redhat and you have to pay them every year to use it. Its a licensed software.

    Milking the GNU…nothing new…they are bit evil on this side :D

  12. jeni said,

    July 13, 2008 at 12:13 pm

    Gravatar

    Sorry about that Linux site, I didn’t know people would be so against it. I just thought it might be interesting because it does hold some valid points.

  13. Roy Bixler said,

    July 13, 2008 at 1:21 pm

    Gravatar

    @Lol:

    Red Hat is complying with the GPL, so they are a provider of free software. If you don’t like their prices, then you can use CentOS. If you don’t like Red Hat’s packages, then there are many other distributions out there.

  14. Roy Schestowitz said,

    July 13, 2008 at 2:29 pm

    Gravatar

    ‘Jeni’,

    Now you’re linking to that anti-Linux page from your comment hyperlink. I’ve had to strip it off again.

    This systematic slur is just trolling. We’ve never had to resort to this.

  15. jeni said,

    July 13, 2008 at 3:06 pm

    Gravatar

    Why are you so scared of that site? I thought it was okay to put anything in your name URI. But if you have to sensor it, I understand.

  16. Roy Schestowitz said,

    July 13, 2008 at 3:12 pm

    Gravatar

    I didn’t censor it until a reader complained. I would hardly call the removal of an anti-Linux URL (possibly self-promotional) “censorship”. we never delete comments in this Web site.

  17. jeni said,

    July 13, 2008 at 3:35 pm

    Gravatar

    I do understand if you have a problem with a link in the body of a comment, but considering that now you are removing links from name URIs and that all it takes is for someone to disagree with a link to get it removed, it is censorship however you put it. And if anything, you should also consider that you are making the case now for all the points that you might be disagreeing with at the URL. Such as that Linux users are one-sided, controlling, and xenophobic.

  18. Roy Schestowitz said,

    July 13, 2008 at 10:07 pm

    Gravatar

    You came to this site only to make off-topic remarks (through a link) against something you dislike. The least you can do is be on topic.

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