Bonum Certa Men Certa

Novell, Sun Microsystems, Red Hat, and Microsoft Patents


Remember Red Hat's response and Sun's immediate reaction to Microsoft's patent-fueled threats? This goes back to May 2007. Novell seems to benefit a lot from that, all at the expense of everybody else.

”It is worrying to find that Matt Asay plays somewhat of an apologist’s role for Novell right now.“It is worrying to find that Matt Asay plays somewhat of an apologist's role for Novell right now. He is still a de facto voice for the parts of the open source world. Novell seems to have asked him to be gentle and kind. He did this with Microsoft too, having defended Bill Hilf around the time of Microsoft/OSI discussions began and got heated. Microsoft eventually made it into the OSI, which has been damaging since.

So, what is this 'apologism' that we speak of? Here is one example.

In last week's podcast from Register, Matt said:

...I saw something where they say, you know, this probably isn’t due to Novell massaging its numbers around Linux, which is what Dana Blakenhorn at ZDNet had claimed, I mean, I can tell you absolutely for a verifiable fact for that Novell does do that, but then again everybody does that. So… I’ve.. I’ve got the sales guys at Novell telling me that, that they do this, but it just doesn’t matter, I… I suspect that this is a tech… like a technicality that Novell has run afoul of and not a big deal, but maybe I’ll.. maybe we’ll be wrong, maybe I’ll be wrong, we should see.

Let's not be too pedantic, but Novell also twisted his arm around that time, so instead of writing (as opposed to talking) about Novell's abysmal performance and results, he concentrated on their spin. What's more, Novell's Bruce Lowry chimes in to thank Matt, having requested that he should be gentler with Novell. He then posts a comment in Matt's CNET blog:

by blowry 13 December 2007 18:02 Hi Matt. Thanks for picking up on the earnings announcement.

To give a newer example, Matt Asay opines that Sun Microsystems pulled a similar stunt to that of Novell back in 2004, but he is wrong to suggest such a comparison. Here's where it all starts.

Novell has taken its share of heat for its Microsoft lovefest that sought to privilege SUSE Linux as patent-protected while everyone else's Linux was ripe for a lawsuit...or 20.

Asay argues that Sun left users exposed to legal action, but he neglects to mention the differences between Star/OpenOffice and code that is shared among many companies and non-profits (communities). Novell hasn't real ownership or exclusive control of the code which it sent over for the hounds to chew (speaking of which, Novell wants OpenOffice for itself). Additionally, StarOffice contains some additional function which may or may not justify Sun's deed. This makes it very different from Novell's situation.

In other news, Sun's plan is to charge for support, so the idea of charging premium for StarOffice seems to have become secondary (Google Pack contains it for free anyway).

Sun Microsystems on Monday plans to announce that it will provide support for the productivity software suite, citing a wave of momentum behind the open-source project.

Moving on to Red Hat's story, the release of their desktop product was recently delayed again. The delays are due to Microsoft's codec battle, which continues to serve as a blackmailing tool for patent deals.

Here's what Beranger says about it.

I hope Red Hat won't join Linspire and Turbolinux in paying for Windows Media 10 Codecs, eh? Adding "worldwide-legal" support for MP3 is much simpler, and there are even 2 choices: Fluendo's free decodec, or an upfront one-time payment of US$ 50,000 (which is what Mandriva seems to have done a couple of years ago).

That's why standards and open/free technology is needed. Proprietary codecs are used against Free software by its rivals. Need it be mentioned that Apple and Nokia intercepted Ogg as a candidate for inclusion in HTML 5? Perhaps they just foresee a future of DRM-laden and patent-encumbered formats that bring revenue. They force customer to buy back their digital rights (purchasing licence to access content rather than own it). But that's another story which falls beyond the scope of this Web site.

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