03.22.15

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Canonical Goes to Bed With Company That Sues Linux Using Software Patents and Copyrights (Through SCO)

Posted in Microsoft, SCO, Ubuntu at 9:58 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“Microsoft hardly needs an SCO source license. Its license payment to SCO is simply a good-looking way to pass along a bribe…”

Bruce Perens

Summary: Despite Microsoft’s continued assault on GNU/Linux, Canonical is foolish enough to give Microsoft control over many Ubuntu instances

MICROSOFT is fooling the GNU/Linux world when it says it “loves Linux”. Based on its actions in this past month alone [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6], Microsoft very much hates GNU/Linux and fights it viciously. More than ten years ago Microsoft paid SCO and look how long-lasting the impact of this backing has become. Tom Harvey’s latest report (he is usually pro-SCO) overstates the chances of the lawsuit not being tossed out preemptively as every time in recent memory. Suing for huge sums does not equate to merit, but Harvey floats the claim of “damages of $5 billion” as if there’s a change that SCO will ever see any money at all. Quoting Harvey’s report:

Nearly 12 years after it was filed, a lawsuit against IBM Corp. that riled the open-source computer code community is back on the federal court docket in Utah.

The nearly defunct Utah company SCO Group Inc. and IBM filed a joint report to the U.S. District Court in Salt Lake City saying that legal issues remain in the case, which was initiated in 2003 with SCO claiming damages of $5 billion against the technology giant, based in Armonk, N.Y.

This received more attention than it deserved because of the headline, which reads: “It’s alive! Utah software company’s decade-old suit against IBM revived” (drama over substance).

Microsoft is now swapping money for power (which begets money) in its patent extortion strategy. Samsung has been a top “asset” (like a “high value target”) and Kyocera may be next. It’s all about control. Microsoft now has greater control over Samsung (and by extension over Android), owing to blackmail followed by settlement.

One way or another we should deduce from this that Microsoft’s nefarious attacks on Linux using patents and/or copyrights are not over. Nevertheless, Canonical decided to mimic Novell’s footsteps only in the sense that Canonical trusts Microsoft to prop it up a bit. As FOSS Force put it last week: “There’s little doubt that a few eyebrows were raised by the news on Friday, when Larry Cafiero reported on FOSS Force about Canonical’s partnership with Microsoft involving Microsoft’s OCS hardware and Ubuntu’s open source Metal-as-a-Service (MAAS) deployment product. Those with a little memory might wonder if this is a case of history repeating itself, as we’ve seen Microsoft court aspiring princess distros before, with SUSE, not long after the distro was purchased by Novell, a company with an uneven history.”

The author recalls that “In November, 2006, three years after acquiring SUSE, Novell received an eleventh hour bail out when it entered into a joint compatibility and patent agreement with Microsoft. In the pact, Microsoft agreed to pay SUSE $348 million up front and $46 million annually for five years, with return payment by Novell being mainly in the form of support subscriptions for SUSE Linux Enterprise Server (SLES).”

The conclusion is as follows: “So what does the old SUSE/Microsoft deal have to do with Ubuntu and Redmond’s new partnership arrangement? The quick answer: everything and nothing. Or, perhaps more appropriate for this stage of the game: It’s too soon to tell. One thing’s for sure, even if the deal turns out to be benign and never develops into anything as toxic as SUSE/Microsoft has been, this is sure to develop into something of a brouhaha in the FOSS user community. At the very least, this will become a hot topic on the forums.”

This was posted after Cafiero had written that “Canonical trumpets its partnership with Microsoft — yep, Microsoft — this week at the Open Compute Summit, where the Isle of Man reached across to Redmond to demonstrate how Canonical and Microsoft are working together to create scalable, OCP-compliant architecture.”

Here is Canonical’s original statement, some press coverage, and a blog post stating that “Canonical Deepens Partnership with Microsoft”.

Microsoft had used Novell not just for patent extortion. It later used it for Linux Foundation and events intrusion (like a free press or ticket), HyperV promotion, OOXML promotion, .NET promotion (through Mono), and Silverlight promotion (through Moonlight).

Canonical does not need Microsoft. “MS is reported to have only 10% share of the cloud,” writes Robert Pogson in response to Microsoft propagandist Tony Bradley, so what is Canonical thinking? Microsoft needs Canonical more than Canonical needs Microsoft. When Microsoft says it is changing, well… this is correct; unlike before, it is now embracing and extending (to extinguish) FOSS. It’s s strategic change. It is easy to envision how some time in the future Microsoft will offer ‘in-cloud’ conversions from Ubuntu to Windows. If Microsoft decided to patent the business method of embrace, extend and extinguish (EEE), it would probably not ‘license’ it to anyway. It is its secret weapon and Canonical should be smart enough to know this.

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