11.28.08

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Novell Linux: Another Platform (as in Kernel) for Windows?

Posted in GNU/Linux, Java, Microsoft, Mono, Novell, Windows at 7:40 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Windows is an operating system. It refers to the whole, it represents a complete product. Linux, on the other hand, is not an operating system. It’s a program, it’s a component. It is exceptionally good at what it does, being a very large and vital compartment in products like Fedora or Mandriva.

Novell maintains its own variant (or branch) of Linux and when Microsoft accused GNU/Linux of patent infringement it concentrated on the kernel’s space. Microsoft knows that virtually all other components can be run seamlessly on Windows, whose security, stability and other factors may be vastly inferior. It is also more expensive and restrictive.

“Microsoft fuels Novell in order to increase the number of enterprise that use SUSE, mostly at the expense of Red Hat.”Microsoft faces some tough choices as Windows continues to lose mind share and market share. Its main cash cows are applications that run on Windows. Without Windows, how can high revenues be sustained?

Well, if GNU/Linux was able to natively run programs using the Microsoft API and Linux was a revenue stream to Microsoft (as is already the case with SUSE), then Microsoft would win irrespective of whether people use Linux or Windows. People would run ‘Microsoft applications’ and developers choose the ‘Microsoft tool sets”, all of which are encumbered by Microsoft’s so-called “IP”.

Mono is a Novell project that benefits from peace with Microsoft, provided you are a paying customer of Novell (i.e. someone who compensates Microsoft for the use of SUSE). Microsoft fuels Novell in order to increase the number of enterprise that use SUSE, mostly at the expense of Red Hat. It is deliberate.

As pointed out yesterday in ITWire, Microsoft does not exactly “hate” Linux; it merely tries to embrace and ‘extend’ it at the moment, just as it once tried with Java (it's still trying).

I Wonder: Who is Scared of Linux?

[...]

The long answer is Microsoft, but what it is they’re afraid of isn’t Linux.

What they’re afraid of is Linux + Novell (kinda solved that one), Linux + Oracle, Linux + Hewlett Packard, :Linux + Dell and the biggie, Linux + IBM.

Welcome another new combination, which is Linux + .NET, courtesy of Novell and Microsoft. It contains Novell’s own version of the Linux kernel, topped by the Microsoft-enhanced SUSE (with so-called ‘interoperability’ shims). It also has control and exclusivity for Mono, which mimics the Microsoft API and thus enables Microsoft to control the operating system as a whole, using both technical and legal means.

NindowsBoycott Novell is not alone in voicing its concerns about Mono. Criticisms of Mono predate the existence of this Web site and just a few days ago, in reference to this article about the Mono-filled Ubuntu 9.04, said Groklaw: “Forewarned is forearmed. Many of us prefer to avoid Mono, and so it’s helpful to have news like this, so we can do some hopping around it.”

With Mono, Microsoft can make GNU/Linux just an underlying platform for Windows (.NET applications). This is not as far fetched as typical critics of Boycott Novell wish to make it seem. Fortunately, there is another new motion to remove Mono from GNU/Linux (specifically Ubuntu), and it’s independent from us. People have begun understanding what goals of the Mono projects involve not necessarily from developers’ perspective but from Microsoft’s perspective.

How quickly some people forget that Novell merely elevates a convicted monopolist and makes GNU/Linux no longer free.

“Our partnership with Microsoft continues to expand.”

Ron Hovsepian, Novell CEO

“[The partnership with Microsoft is] going very well insofar as we originally agreed to co-operate on three distinct projects and now we’re working on nine projects and there’s a good list of 19 other projects that we plan to co-operate on.”

Ron Hovsepian, Novell CEO

Just say no to Mono

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23 Comments

  1. Chris said,

    November 28, 2008 at 9:51 am

    Gravatar

    Dear Boy,

    could you please enlighten us what you mean with “Novell maintains its own variant (or branch) of Linux”?

    Is it that Novell / openSUSE applies a patchset to the vanilla kernel (like every other distribution on earth) or do you mean that they provide support for several years for the kernel in SLE and therefore have to maintain a version that isn’t officially supported by the kernel developers any more (like e.g. Debian, RHEL, …) or ….?

    Also please enlighten us how you come to the conclusion that “It [Novell] also has control and exclusivity for Mono” since that’s simply not true since it’s neither exclusive (as you have noticed Ubuntu, Fedora and others adopt Mono as well) nor is it controlled by Novell but an international standard. And no, links to another made up “article” of yours isn’t any proof.

    Last but not least the mere thought that Microsoft would use the Novell “variant (or branch) of Linux” as core for Windows is totally laughable. What’s next? “Novell tries to rewrite Linux in Mono – Linux users beware”? Also you should note that Microsoft could use the Linux kernel for Windows if they wanted and for sure they wouldn’t need Novell for this but they chose not to do so, so …

    However, since it just comes to my mind, as you might have noticed openSUSE 11.1 will neither contain proprietary software nor require one to agree with an EULA. Since you tried to make such a big fuzz about those matters during the development of 11.0 I’m kinda astonished that you don’t address this. Or do you, with the usual objectivity, only write about stuff that is “bad” in your opinion?

  2. Roy Schestowitz said,

    November 28, 2008 at 10:10 am

    Gravatar

    Dear Boy,

    Quite a typo there. You are unlikely on QWERTY. ;-)

    could you please enlighten us what you mean with “Novell maintains its own variant (or branch) of Linux”?

    The kernel that Novell puts in SUSE. Not so many distributions have their own. In fact, very few do.

    Also please enlighten us how you come to the conclusion that “It [Novell] also has control and exclusivity for Mono”..

    Who owns the copyrights on Mono? Who received special ‘protection’ (from Microsoft) to use Mono? Who are the main developers employed by?

    What’s next? “Novell tries to rewrite Linux in Mono – Linux users beware”?

    Extreme hypotheses don’t help discredit more reasonable arguments with inside information supporting it.

    I won’t remark on irrelevant comments. I cover positive things (to Novell’s credit) on Saturday.

  3. Chris said,

    November 28, 2008 at 10:37 am

    Gravatar

    1. The kernel that is used in openSUSE and SLE is a patched vanilla kernel and therefore isn’t any different from the way Debian, Fedora, Ubuntu, RHEL and all the others use the vanilla kernel. If you don’t believe it simply look into the kernel’s src.rpms. Or are you applying Wikipedia’s definition of a “fork” (like in that OpenOffice “article”) – as in even the slightest bit of modification would result in a “fork”. If so please enlighten us which distribution uses an original – as in unpatched – vanilla kernel since I don’t know a single one that doesn’t patch the vanilla kernel.

    2. What you are saying isn’t true – except that you are probably right that Novell employs a few of the main Mono developers.

    2. IMHO it is kinda amusing that first you tried to make such a big fuzz about those things (proprietary software and the EULA) and now dismiss it as “irrelevant comments”. Once more it shows that you aren’t interested in objective facts but simply bend the truth if it fits you and ignore the rest.

  4. Chris said,

    November 28, 2008 at 10:37 am

    Gravatar

    1. The kernel that is used in openSUSE and SLE is a patched vanilla kernel and therefore isn’t any different from the way Debian, Fedora, Ubuntu, RHEL and all the others use the vanilla kernel. If you don’t believe it simply look into the kernel’s src.rpms. Or are you applying Wikipedia’s definition of a “fork” (like in that OpenOffice “article”) – as in even the slightest bit of modification would result in a “fork”. If so please enlighten us which distribution uses an original – as in unpatched – vanilla kernel since I don’t know a single one that doesn’t patch the vanilla kernel.

    2. What you are saying isn’t true – except that you are probably right that Novell employs a few of the main Mono developers.

    3. IMHO it is kinda amusing that first you tried to make such a big fuzz about those things (proprietary software and the EULA) and now dismiss it as “irrelevant comments”. Once more it shows that you aren’t interested in objective facts but simply bend the truth if it fits you and ignore the rest.

  5. Chris said,

    November 28, 2008 at 10:39 am

    Gravatar

    Sorry for the double (now triple) post. Please remove this and the double one.

  6. Roy Schestowitz said,

    November 28, 2008 at 10:50 am

    Gravatar

    1. The kernel that is used in openSUSE and SLE is a patched vanilla kernel and therefore isn’t any different from the way Debian, Fedora, Ubuntu, RHEL and all the others use the vanilla kernel. If you don’t believe it simply look into the kernel’s src.rpms. Or are you applying Wikipedia’s definition of a “fork” (like in that OpenOffice “article”) – as in even the slightest bit of modification would result in a “fork”. If so please enlighten us which distribution uses an original – as in unpatched – vanilla kernel since I don’t know a single one that doesn’t patch the vanilla kernel.

    Whoa. Who said anything about a “fork”? See my previous comment.

    2. What you are saying isn’t true – except that you are probably right that Novell employs a few of the main Mono developers.

    A few? :-)

    Be sure to also check the names. Some of them are indirectly employed by Microsoft.

    3. IMHO it is kinda amusing that first you tried to make such a big fuzz about those things (proprietary software and the EULA) and now dismiss it as “irrelevant comments”. Once more it shows that you aren’t interested in objective facts but simply bend the truth if it fits you and ignore the rest.

    No, I’ll be covering this tomorrow.

  7. Chris said,

    November 28, 2008 at 11:04 am

    Gravatar

    Well, if you use the same definition of “fork” that was used to proof that go-oo is a fork of OpenOffice then openSUSE, SLE and every other linux distributions I know of uses a fork since all of them patch the vanilla kernel (I already said that this definition is pretty retarded).

    However, that’s not the point here.

    You said:

    1. “Novell maintains its own variant (or branch) of Linux”
    2. “The kernel that Novell puts in SUSE. Not so many distributions have their own. In fact, very few do.”

    To me this reads like you want to imply that the way SLE and openSUSE (Novell products) use the vanilla kernel is different from the way other distributions use it.

    Please explain what you mean with “its own variant” and how that differs from what other distributions do. As I already said openSUSE & SLE use a patched vanilla kernel – which is exactly what most if not all other distributions do.

  8. Roy Schestowitz said,

    November 28, 2008 at 11:46 am

    Gravatar

    As I already said openSUSE & SLE use a patched vanilla kernel – which is exactly what most if not all other distributions do.

    Very few do. They inherit it from kernel.org or the distribution from which they are derived.

  9. Chris said,

    November 28, 2008 at 12:14 pm

    Gravatar

    Exactly the opposite is true. In fact I can’t think of a single distribution that uses an unmodified kernel from kernel.org (but please correct me if you know one).

    So, before you make an even bigger fool out of yourself, do yourself a favor and get your facts straight – as in have a look at the kernel packages of Debian, Fedora, Mandriva, Ubuntu, RHEL and all the other distros you know and if you find one that really uses an unmodified / unpatched kernel, let me know here since I would be curious.

  10. Roy Schestowitz said,

    November 28, 2008 at 12:20 pm

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    Your reading comprehension seems lacking. See the second part of the sentence which says “or the distribution from which they are derived.”

  11. AlexH said,

    November 28, 2008 at 12:22 pm

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    @Roy – actually, all those distros that he lists are vanilla + modifications. None use a plain kernel.org or derive from other distros (though Debian tries to get close to the former).

    I’m not sure what point you were trying to make, but I don’t see anything different about what OpenSUSE does with their kernel.

  12. Martyn Hare said,

    November 28, 2008 at 12:25 pm

    Gravatar

    Browsing round here to once again get a feel for Novell ;)

    Anyways, Slackware uses vanilla kernels if I recall.

    Also, Arch Linux takes kernel.org kernels and only changes them once in a while to fix security issues; other than that their kernels are always vanilla (updates are usually updating to the next minor official release)

    By the way, does MS’ deal apply fully to OpenSuSE too? =]

  13. Roy Schestowitz said,

    November 28, 2008 at 12:30 pm

    Gravatar

    Alex,

    The lion’s share of distributions are derivatives, e.g. Sabayon, Mint, Omega, Pardus and so on. It would surprise me if they have kernel hackers that make something truly unique.

  14. aeshna23 said,

    November 28, 2008 at 12:42 pm

    Gravatar

    I don’t think Roy gave the best rebuttal to what Chris is saying. The biggest issue is simply that Chris is nitpicking on minor issues. The point of the article is that Mono is useful to Microsoft, because it enables Microsoft to offer its products on Linux.

    On the other hand, I suppose that best argument Chris could make is that if customers want to buy a Microsoft Office or other Microsoft product that runs on Windows, would that be ok. I suppose I’d even be tempted to agree with that–though my own software kosher laws would prohibit me from buying the Microsoft product.

    My interpretation of this particular issue with Mono and Suse views the Mono as MS platform as less sinister than Roy does. The reason for the difference is I believe that when Microsoft looks to selling its products to Linux users as a source of income, Microsoft will be a much smaller threat. Microsoft’s foul play now is the real issue.

  15. Chris said,

    November 28, 2008 at 12:43 pm

    Gravatar

    @Roy:
    And in what way does it matter if they get a patched kernel from the distro they rip off (e.g. buntu) or if they patch it themself (e.g. Debian)?

    Point being, the kernel is patched and it isn’t different from what “bad bad Novell” ™ does!

    @Marty:
    Thanks for the examples.
    Regarding the Microsoft Novell deal you might want to read http://en.opensuse.org/FAQ:Novell-MS

    AFAIK it doesn’t apply to openSUSE but neither am I sure nor do I care since that whole point is about _IF_ some retarded american (since software patents thankfully don’t hold elsewhere) court decides Linux would violate Microsoft patents then Novell customers would be protected.

    It doesn’t matter IMHO because:
    1. where I live software patents aren’t valid
    2. I doubt Microsoft will ever go in front of a court to get a definitive decision. If they would be sure to win they had already tried much earlier instead of getting Linux as big as it has become.

  16. aeshna23 said,

    November 28, 2008 at 12:43 pm

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    Forgot to mention that I like the Nindows icons. You do have fun with this, Roy!

  17. AlexH said,

    November 28, 2008 at 12:44 pm

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    The lion’s share of _users_ are on those distributions that have the capability to maintain their kernel.

    That’s the _whole point_ of free software after all.

  18. Chris said,

    November 28, 2008 at 12:50 pm

    Gravatar

    @aeshna23
    I’m not arguing about Mono but simply saying that Roys claim that “Novell maintains its own variant (or branch) of Linux” is wrong – or as valid as the claim that Ubuntu, Debian, Fedora, RHEL or maintains its own variant (or branch) of Linux.

    Roy’s Mono ramblings were not the point of this article (at least as the title implies) but just his usual rambling / babbling (which you can try to take serious or not).

  19. Roy Schestowitz said,

    November 28, 2008 at 12:51 pm

    Gravatar

    Alex,

    Talk about spin there. My phrasing was correct, you just attempt to repose the question now.

  20. Martyn Hare said,

    November 28, 2008 at 1:00 pm

    Gravatar

    @ Chris:

    I live in the UK where most software patents yet aren’t an issue, however, that may change in the next few years.. :(

    Hmmm, Nindows… maybe it should just be called Windows NT? ;-)

  21. Roy Schestowitz said,

    November 28, 2008 at 1:16 pm

    Gravatar

    It’s nearer than many people realise, which is why we fight on this front as well.

  22. Jose_X said,

    November 28, 2008 at 1:21 pm

    Gravatar

    >> Hmmm, Nindows… maybe it should just be called Windows NT?

    Windows NV

    ***

    I’m a big believer in forks. I like the wikipedia definition because I think that forking with intent to maintain your own software (vs to merge back) should be the default assumption. You never know how much you may diverge. With tools like git, in fact, I think the implication is that everyone maintains their own fork.. there is no real central repo. ..I’m for finding ways of managing complexity rather than avoiding it.

    So I don’t use “fork” as a derogatory term. Rather, people should try to be smart about which forks they want to get close to. I hope to find time soon to be able to work seriously on a project where forking is simple, fun, and the natural way.

  23. Roy Schestowitz said,

    November 28, 2008 at 1:46 pm

    Gravatar

    Hmmm…

    Windows NV…

    Wouldn’t that step on some NVIDIA project toes?

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