Bonum Certa Men Certa

Has Novell's Deal with Microsoft Ruined Red Hat Desktop? (Updated)

Precedence strikes: "be like Novell or be sued"

To start off, it is worth mentioning that Red Hat has just canceled its plan to release a desktop product. This happened after continued procrastination involving negotiations with Microsoft on the issue of codecs. Microsoft turned this into an extortion opportunity for software patent agreements. Red Hat won't tell you this in public, but sources close to Red Hat knew about this at the time.

That's just the impact of spreading media on the Web which is encoded using proprietary Microsoft technology. It's viral, so it soon becomes means for misusing and abusing power. Need we also permit OOXML and Silverlight on the Web to repeat (or enhance) problems like the ones Red Hat was experiencing? There is probably a lesson to learn here.

Let's explore to see what else is new in Too-Small-To-Compete Land, a land of many intellectual barricades and nonessential fences.

Got Patents?



4G was mentioned some days ago. Those without patents may be excluded from 4G due to the discriminatory assumption that patent peace should revolve around a 'standard' rather than no patents at all. Provided you have a rubber-stamped pile of papers, you are more or less guaranteed a ceasefire. Sounds reassuring, doesn't it? And that's just a necessity for communication which should become a commodity rather than a 'luxury'. [via Andy Updegrove]

The big radio network technology players seem to have banged each others' heads together in a pre-emptive strike against intellectual property squabbles over LTE (long term evolution, the favoured technology for 4G).

Alcatel-Lucent, Ericsson, NEC, NextWave Wireless, Nokia, Nokia Siemens Networks and Sony Ericsson (not Qualcomm, although it has committed to producing LTE chips) say they’re going to spare us the usual courtroom dramas and agree a solid licencing regime for LTE before they start producing kit.


Go Get 'Em, Boy!



The following short article is related to one that which mentioned the other day (same reference as above). It speaks about Seagate finding a business focus in frivolous lawsuits.

STEC is a small player. If it wins, other industry players will applaud its pluck. If it loses, other manufacturers of flash drives like Intel, Toshiba, and SanDisk might decide to line up dutifully to pay Seagate royalties. And since there may not be a pre-existing lawsuit, there won't be as much bad blood.


GPLv3 Kicks In



Adoption of the new licence continues and here is one of the latest comers.

OptNgn today announced that it is offering a floating point VHDL library under the GPLv3 Open Source License.


Intellectual Monopolies Sneeze



It must be love for the GPLv3. Or an allergy rather. Watch the reaction of an industry which is disrespectful when it comes to copyleft licences. It's about what they can exploit rather than contribute, never mind the explicit licence they ought to have read. Shades of McAfee [1, 2, 3].

In software, experts on an open source panel agreed that the latest GPL version 3 license has fueled fears among large corporations who say some of its provisions could put many of their software patents in jeopardy. Both sides agreed companies increasingly use a complex mix of proprietary and open source code that can be complex to manage.

"We worked with one company who thought they had 25 instances of open source code in their software, but it turned out they had 75," said Beyers of HP. "This has to be managed with a lot of rigor and precision," he added.

In one well known example, Linksys had to release as open source code valuable proprietary software used in one of its home routers because it infringed a Linux license, said Mark Gisi, a senior IP manager for Wind River. "It shifted the whole market," he said.

"By and large a number of engineers are starting to come up to speed on open source IP issues and the legal community is starting to come up to speed on it, too, but these two groups need to work together to resolve the issues," Gisi said.


Intellectual monopolies. Are they needed at all? As Richard Stallman put it in a 2004 talk, any non-trivial idea can be patented; a non trivial idea can be defined as non-obvious for someone with an IQ of 7.

"Let's face it - the average computer user has the brain of a Spider Monkey."

--Bill Gates



Update: as further confirmation of our assertion above, consider this new blog post from SJVN:

Why there won’t be a Red Hat Consumer Linux Desktop



[...]

In the meantime, Red Hat, which now had focused on a more traditional desktop found itself stymied by multimedia problems. Red Hat wanted to supply users with legal access to WMF (Windows Media Format) codices. While Microsoft was willing to license these codices to Linux distributors, such as Linspire, Turbolinux and Xandros, Microsoft was only willing to make these deals if the Linux company was willing to sign off on a Microsoft patent agreement. Red Hat was not willing to do this.


There are some other reasons (or excuses), so read the entire post for a good clarification.

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