Bonum Certa Men Certa

Consequences, Intended and Otherwise

Don't think for a second that Microsoft isn't howling over the Linux community's apparent fragmentation over this deal, with the OpenSUSE and Ubuntu camps now publicly trading barbs (and both are right), and admittedly, this site has been somewhat vocal as well.

All Microsoft wanted from this deal was a little bit of FUD-munition and a friendly competitor to roll out at all of their European Interoperability dog and pony shows to show the EC they are "reformed", so this public infighting is just icing on the cake over in Redmond.



Of course, what Microsoft still doesn't get, the strength of Open Development is that EVERYTHING happens in public, even the "family business" and arguments. Fragmentation is healthy, the huge litany of available linux distributions ensures that none of the "leaders" can rest on their laurels. I saw someone's comment the other day (Digg? Slashdot? Don't recall, sorry) which was fantastic: it's "Darwinism for Desktops".

The amazing thing about the GPL is the fact that it has been able to govern the distribution and development of such diverse and amazing quality software, while bringing together peoples and companies of varying motivations - some folks want to take Linux and dominate the Desktop market, some just want a system in their home which is Free and under their control.

Over its lifespan, as with any legal document, loopholes have been discovered and exploited, but for the most part the GPL in its current form has been remarkable and prevented many from seeing the real imminent threat. Novell-Microsoft has changed that, and I urge you to participate in the GPL3 discussion.

One positive consequence of the Novell deal is the clear signal that it has shown to the rest of the corporate IT world: the responsiblilities a company must assume to be a part of a "Community", deciding to participe in Open Source as opposed to Proprietary development, as noted by Dana Gardner:
Based on the Microsoft-Novell deal and its fallout, the entire industry is getting a close look at how open technology communities and companies work, according to Gardner.

"The notion that a vendor can have a secret or fuzzy pact with another vendor doesn't work when the community is instant and global and seamless," he said. "You need to be pretty open and thoughtful about your announcements."

The same factors served to minimize recent industry concerns about Microsoft's vague claims of intellectual property rights to Linux, which were the cause of some disharmony between the two software giants last week.

"If you're going to work in a community, you need to recognize you're exposed," Gardner said. "Sleight of hand doesn't work, and ambiguity will be exposed and discussed."

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