Bonum Certa Men Certa

Why We Must Unite to Squash the FUD and Untangle the Patent Mess

We have assembled a bunch of analyses from the blogsphere. At least a few of them deserve or receive some attention. The first one stresses the need to fight what has unfortunately descended to being a 'political' rather than a technical battle.

Now, more than ever, we need to stand for our right to build an operating system from scratch without being harassed or receive demanding bills. Recall what Bill Gates said back in the 90s about the absurdity of software patents. This thought- and emotion-provoking item is the reason for the title of this post, which perhaps begs for attention and urgency.

The Open Source community, and not just Linux, needs to wake up, stop being lazy and start fighting again. If they won't, then they may as well just declare Microsoft the winner, because if we, the members of the Open Source community don't start fighting back like we used to, and soon, the victory is and will be entirely Microsoft's. And after seeing Vista and their recent ideas of what "quality software" is, I certainly don't want them to win.


The second item talks about the possibility of Microsoft entering the open source ecosystem with Linux, rather than transforming its own software and its accompanying licenses. It is not so far fetched.

This would give Microsoft an open source future in a very painless way: adopt the already established Linux platforms as your own. Extend the olive branch, give them their new GPL 3 and reap the benefits of Linux in the commercial market, the future commercial market based on open source.


The last short item explains why it all goes back to document formats and how Microsoft exploits the deals in its ongoing struggle to protect the cash cows from emerging openness and vendor-neutrality, such as OpenDocument format.

The game goes like this: On the one hand, suggest that Linux might infringe on some of their patents. On the other hand, pay a few Linux distributions to integrate a technology (OOXML) that people think actually infringes on Microsoft's patents. That makes it easier to convince other people to pay up.


This has always been a very valid point, which Sam Hiser raised once again (yesterday). Such 'organic' support for a lockin should not be accepted. It is only one among several subtle implications of the deals. We shall continue to cover them in this site, which no longer focuses solely on Novell.

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