Bonum Certa Men Certa

80-85% of Open Source Community Backs Microvell Deal?

That's the assertion being made by Novell's Justin Steinman, spinner extraordinaire for this deal so far.

Novell continues to paint their patent covenant with Microsoft as "simply a covenant not to sue", and not a patent cross-license (they just agreed to pay Microsoft per-unit royalties on open source software that they ship for protection from infringement suits, it's completely different, really).

Question: Many in the broader open source community have accused Novell of "selling out" by collaborating with Microsoft. How do you respond to that?

Steinman: There are a lot of people who do believe that Microsoft is the devil. And that's an opinion that's prevalent in the open source community. However, I think it's an opinion that's prevalent in the minority — and it's a vocal minority. I think the vast majority, and I'd quantify that at about 80 percent to 85 percent, of the open source community actually supports this deal. The reason I think that the community supports the deal is that it supports the adoption of open source in the enterprise.

Let's go back and look at some of the success we've had in the past 90 days with Microsoft. We signed a huge deal with Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart had been messing around with Linux a little bit, on fewer than 50 servers in its environment. Wal-Mart also has a very strong relationship with Microsoft. When Wal-Mart heard that Microsoft had endorsed ... SuSE Linux Enterprise, Wal-Mart decided it was time to stop messing around and get serious with Linux. They added a large number — in the tens of thousands — of SuSE Linux Enterprise servers. These are not Red Hat takeaways; these are not replacing anything. ... These are new Linux. So the vast majority of the community is excited about this because they're seeing new Linux deployments. Net new.

Now if I'm in the minority and I don't like this — if I'm Bruce Perens — then I'm going to be vocal about it. I'm going to be angry and I'm going to make a lot of noise. But if I'm in the large majority, why do I need to stick my nose in someone else's fight? I'd rather just go on doing my job. If I like the Microsoft agreement, there's no real benefit to me, personally, in coming out and saying that. If I did, the vocal minority is going to attack me, too. It's easier just to keep quiet. That's why the community perception has been misconstrued by the media at large.


Slightly more interesting is Steinman's assertion that "Novell is committed to our Microsoft agreement, and we're committed to helping develop a version of the GPL that enables that agreement to continue", noting that Novell is part of the vendors committee B in the drafting process, and Novell lawyers are actively involved in the drafting process.

Novell has already committed to being GPL3 compliant and promised to alter the MS deal if necessary, rather than lose their rights to GNU but not Linux.

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