09.12.08

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How Novell Learned to Stop Worrying About Microsoft FUD and Started Embracing It

Posted in FUD, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Novell, Patents, Red Hat, SCO at 7:17 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

A reader has just brought to our attention what he calls “an interesting E-mail sent from Jack Messman to Novell partners complaining and attempting to correct Microsoft FUD.” This FUD was based on the Yankee Group, largely known as a Microsoft shill [1, 2, 3, 4].

We append this 2004 E-mail at the bottom. Parts of this E-mail can be found here (the original is no longer available, except for in Google cache). Ron Hovsepian signed this message as well and worth noting is the short section under “Indemnification”. It states:

Mr. Ballmer claims that it is rare for open source software to provide customers with any indemnification at all. The Novell® Linux Indemnification Program has been in place for quite some time. It offers indemnification for copyright infringement claims made by third parties against registered Novell customers. Novell has also placed its considerable patent
portfolio squarely behind its customers, to defend against those who might assert patents against open source products marketed, sold or supported by Novell.

Messman actually tried to exploit SCO FUD several years ago. Moreover, Novell did not denounce Microsoft for its FUD assault on GNU/Linux. It only gently explained its patent deal with Microsoft at the time. In other words, Novell’s days as a FUD fighter are over. Novell tore down all its anti-Microsoft FUD pages from Novell.com just shortly after the deal with Microsoft has been signed. Novell is now exploiting Microsoft's FUD and harnesses Microsoft patents as a perceptual advantage over other vendors of GNU/Linux.

In other news that’s explored by Groklaw at the moment, SCO, Norris and possibly the Carlyle Group with which he is associated [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6] are being challenged by Novell’s lawyers. Here are the two articles about it (so far):

1. Novell Objects to SCO’s Request for More Time; Suggests There May Be No SNCP Deal

So what is SCO after in seeking an extension? Novell suggests SCO is maybe seeking to pressure Novell into agreeing to a quick appeal, before the arbitration is finished, or perhaps they are looking for an exit strategy, or they are looking for a litigation advantage, none being reasons for granting them the extension. Novell is quite clear with the court, stating unambiguously that there is no way it can properly grant an open-ended extension. It lays out all the cases for the judge.

2. Crimson Capital LLC et al v. Spartan Group Holding, Stephen Norris, et al

When Novell suggested the other day to the Bankruptcy Court handling SCO’s bankruptcy that the Stephen Norris deal SCO announced (then withdrawn with a promise to make it better) might be bogus, we naturally wondered if there was anything new that Novell knows that caused them to say that.

Then today, a comment was left by stats-for-all that there is a lawsuit against Norris alleging breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duties, shareholder oppression, and (in the alternative) unjust enrichment and promissory estoppel, Crimson Capital LLC et al v. The Spartan Group Holding, LLC et al. It was originally filed in Supreme Court, County of New York, in New York State, Case Number: 601873-08, at the end of July. That’s not “supreme” as in highest court in the state, by the way. It’s where you begin a civil action of this type in New York State. I have no idea why they name it that way, but they do.

SCO keeps harping about a $100 million cash infusion that it may receive from partners of Bill Gates in the middle east. Remember who else has received a $100 million cash infusion very recently? Directly from Microsoft even? It’s the “kill Red Hat” budget and it’s slush funds.


NUI Newsletter – November 2004

Letter from Jack Messman, Novell CEO

You may have seen a letter from Steve Ballmer, CEO of Microsoft, which was sent to all Windows customers in an attempt to slow the flood of migration to Linux. Novell would like to make you aware that the points made by Mr. Ballmer in that letter include only those statements in its paid studies that reflect most positively on Microsoft when comparing their products to Linux.

Novell would like to share some additional facts with you that will shed some light on the bigger picture.

Total Cost of Ownership

Mr. Ballmer quotes selectively from Windows-favorable comments in a Yankee Group report (“Linux, UNIX and Windows TCO Comparison”). However — that’s not the whole story. That same report also states the following:

- “…corporate customers report Linux provides businesses with excellent performance, reliability, ease of use and security. Yes, Linux is a viable alternative to UNIX and Windows. In addition, Linux is the most serious competition to Microsoft’s dominance in the server operating system market to date.”

- “The ability to modify and customize the Linux source code affords customers the most intriguing possibilities for custom application development. This ability stands in stark contrast to the closed or proprietary nature of the Windows operating system.

- “In summary, the Yankee Group’s TCO survey found that Linux does offer compelling cost savings, economies of scale and technical advantages, as many a satisfied user will attest.”

Security

Mr. Ballmer brings up the issue of security, which understandably is much on his mind. He cites Microsoft’s recent investments in security research, process improvements, and customer education, and boasts of Microsoft’s structured software engineering process that is designed to make software more secure.

The truth is, Open Source uses a structured process, but it is definitely different from the one Microsoft utilizes. And to tell the truth, it seems to be working much better.

Evans Data Corporation, in their Linux Development Survey dated Summer, 2004 shows:

- Ninety two percent of survey respondents indicated that their Linux systems have never been infected with a virus Fewer than 7% said that they’d been the victims of three of more hacker intrusions.

- On the other hand, the process Microsoft utilizes clearly has been inadequate at protecting its customers from costly malicious attacks.

For example, two weeks ago Microsoft released a mammoth patch pack to address more than 20 vulnerabilities, most of them critical. Several of them, in Excel, Internet Explorer, and Exchange, could enable mass automated worm attacks.

In a story

that appeared in Computer Business Review Online, Drew Copley, senior research engineer at eEye Digital Security Inc, said that it took Microsoft 71 days to patch the Zip problem after being notified, but another vulnerability, a less-severe privilege escalation problem in Windows, took the firm 408 days to issue a patch for, though it was “stealth-patched” in XP SP2.

“They can do better than that in my opinion. Even when they are fast there are often variants out by the time the patch comes out,” he said. “I think that’s a very important criticism to make.”

Indemnification

Mr. Ballmer claims that it is rare for open source software to provide customers with any indemnification at all. The Novell® Linux Indemnification Program has been in place for quite some time. It offers indemnification for copyright infringement claims made by third parties against registered Novell customers. Novell has also placed its considerable patent
portfolio squarely behind its customers, to defend against those who might assert patents against open source products marketed, sold or supported by Novell.

Bottom Line

Linux can deliver a lower TCO, it is arguably more secure than Windows, and the combination of Novell’s patent policies and the indemnification program offers for its open source products provides protection for customers who wish to make the leap to Linux. We invite you to read the full reports for yourself, and see why Linux is gaining more and more fans every day.

Linux is the fastest growing operating system, used from desktops to the most demanding data centers. According to IDC reports, Linux enjoyed year-to-year growth of nearly 50% in 2003. By 2007, they estimate that 30% of all servers will run Linux, and they project a 44% compound annual growth rate in Linux desktops.

According to an Information Week survey, Linux is now the dominant manifestation of open source. Nearly 70 percent of 420 business-technology professionals surveyed already use the operating system. Three-quarters of those using Linux on some of their companies’ servers chose it for its performance capabilities and reliability.

If the world were as Microsoft states, Linux would not be the world’s fastest growing operating system, ISVs would not be writing to it in ever increasing numbers, partners would not be looking to sell it, and Microsoft would not have put a revenue caution related to Linux in their latest SEC filing. These, however, are the true facts.

This information and much more is available on our website at www.novell.com/linux/truth. We encourage you to examine the facts in their entirety and see if Linux is right for you and your business.

Sincerely,
Jack Messman
Ronald W. Hovsepian

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10 Comments

  1. AlexH said,

    September 12, 2008 at 12:56 pm

    Gravatar

    Um, Novell never “went along” with Microsoft FUD.

    One of the first things they said after the Microsoft deal was that they did not agree with Microsoft that GNU/Linux infringed any of their patents. This is well documented (elsewhere, obviously).

  2. Jose_X said,

    September 12, 2008 at 8:11 pm

    Gravatar

    >> Um, Novell never “went along” with Microsoft FUD.

    Their salespeople may use that FUD (I had heard of an incident in the UK but could not find a link).

    There is implicit support for various other FUD or misleading when you recommend and champion Microsoft software and “standards.”

    Anyway, today will be a “be sort of nice to Novell” day. From here http://boycottnovell.com/2007/08/18/dissection-micrososft-novell/#comment-23076 :
    >> Novell can redeem itself to an extent as follow: When the contract is over (maybe even anger Microsoft quickly to have them end it), drop everything and then tell the newly acquired customers that you needed to remain alive so took the money from Microsoft but otherwise think Microsoft is screwed in the brain. Show them what Linux is like in a Linux only environment and tell them first thing is to dump Vista as the virtualization host. Later on Novell can help these customers migrate to anything else (eg, ODF…), and Novell can start contributing well to FOSS again. Make Microsoft lose time and money having to come play on our terms (even if they will try and cheat.. eg, as they will almost certainly do with ODF). Hopefully, Novell hasn’t signed away its rights to do these sorts of things or to pass on the names or particularly valuable clients.

    Today, the more Novell appears out of there mind, the worse that will reflect on whatever message Microsoft is trying to push.

    When/if Novell returns home (if the damage is not severe), they should be embraced and supported as they once were. But how much has the company changed? Caldera -> SCOX?

    It’s OK to give up on a company. Companies are not living like people and their compositions change. The same communities and even people can move to work under a new banner.

  3. Roy Schestowitz said,

    September 13, 2008 at 12:31 am

    Gravatar

    Novell becomes more indistinguishable from Microsoft (technology-wise) as time goes by. I doubt it can be knocked back to its former self.

  4. AlexH said,

    September 13, 2008 at 4:56 am

    Gravatar

    Indistinguishable, technology-wise?

    It has always had very similar products to Microsoft; in the server-side space they’ve been virtual identical and competing toe-to-toe since the late 80s.

    I’m not sure what “former self” you’re referring to in that regard :)

  5. Roy Schestowitz said,

    September 13, 2008 at 4:59 am

    Gravatar

    The F/OSS side. Novell was not about Mono when it acquired S.u.S.E. “Former self” refers to a particular period.

  6. AlexH said,

    September 13, 2008 at 5:14 am

    Gravatar

    I think your “particular period” never really existed.

    Novell purchased Ximian in August 2003, including all the people working for Ximian on Mono, and didn’t purchase SUSE until the end of 2003 – November, I think.

    Novell is “about Mono” for reasons I still don’t think you understand, and picked it up well before the deal with Microsoft was even on the table.

  7. Roy Schestowitz said,

    September 13, 2008 at 5:18 am

    Gravatar

    You’re trying to ‘delay’ the S.u.S.E. buyout to suit your argument. By the way, the reasoning for Ximian being acquired you can read about here.

  8. AlexH said,

    September 13, 2008 at 6:40 am

    Gravatar

    Well, the date at which SUSE was acquired is “fact”: so what do you mean that I’m trying to “delay” it?

    As for what you mean by the Stafford Masie transcript, maybe you should state what point you think you’re making? It doesn’t contradict my argument at all.

  9. Roy Schestowitz said,

    September 13, 2008 at 9:09 am

    Gravatar

    As for what you mean by the Stafford Masie transcript, maybe you should state what point you think you’re making? It doesn’t contradict my argument at all.

    Look at the “red carpet” bit. Shane reckoned it was preparatory, IIRC.

  10. AlexH said,

    September 13, 2008 at 9:34 am

    Gravatar

    I still don’t see what your point is, unless you’re reading what he’s saying in the most of literal of all ways.

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