Bonum Certa Men Certa

Enough is Enough. Novell is Becoming a Risk to Free/Libre Software.

With another patent troll out of the way, one must wonder if there are more to come. In recent years, whether we like it or not, many patents have been filed, most of which are probably duplicates of older patents. Some other are 'inventions' that have prior art which was never patented.

China is apparently among those which are most active when it comes to claiming ownership of ideas -- something that each of us has a personal and unique view on.

China has seen a sharp increase in requests for patents, according to the UN's intellectual property agency.


Regardless of our position on patents, irrespective of where we live and what patent laws we have, it seems like certain issues are here to stay. We can protest, but no rebellion is always fruitful. We must cope with the consequences in a reasonable fashion and never leave the door open to another SCO-esque trolling battle.

What seems worrisome to us are some of Novell's recent moves. Novell's customer get exemption for Mono, but no other Linux distributor has this 'advantage'. Meanwhile, Novell continues to make GNOME Mono-dependent and it pushes the changes upstream. This means that GNOME-based distributions of GNU/Linux that have not got a Novell-like deal (Linspire and Xandros do not count here) are being put at risk. Single-handedly, Novell 'poisons' software that many distributors used to happily share.

A new interview that has just been published exemplifies the severity of the issue. Novell does not just accept Mono. As it promised a few months ago, it is actually funding it, thereby encouraging a transformation into a Windows-like Linux.

InfoQ: How is development of Beagle funded?

Joe Shaw: From the beginning Novell has funded at least one person full-time to developing it.


NindowsWhere is this going? Are the hypothetical scenarios we describe not as far fetched as we would like them to be? It would be irresponsible to simply ignore the risks, knowing what we know at the moment. This needs to be stopped before it's getting too late to revert and rollback some changes (or branch, or even fork). It appears as though the direction taken by Novell leads to a cheaper Windows which requires payments to be made to Microsoft. To make matters worse, there is an infectious element to this because Novell, being a large and prominent player in the Linux world, is having other player consume undesired (and dangerous) bits of code.

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