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Microsoft (Probably) Didn't Just Buy Unix

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the how's-that-for-definitive dept.

Businesses 289

jfruhlinger writes "Word came down this morning that when Attachmate bought Novell, certain intellectual property rights were sold to a Microsoft-led consortium as part of the deal. Since Unix is the most valuable piece of IP Novell owns, there was a certain amount of panic that suddenly Redmond is in charge of this foundational technology for Linux and a number of other open source projects. But, while MS is being cagey, Brian Proffitt doubts that Unix was part of the IP package that was sold — and believes that Linux would be safe even if it were."

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289 comments

What if.. (5, Funny)

TechyImmigrant (175943) | more than 3 years ago | (#34311268)

What if Novell sold them Unix, but didn't give them the root password?

Re:What if.. (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34311298)

Then they would boot up a LiveCD, mount the root partition somewhere, chroot into it and run `passwd' to set their own root password.

Re:What if.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34311300)

Ohoho, I see what you did there.

Re:What if.. (5, Funny)

Kraftwerk (629978) | more than 3 years ago | (#34311308)

I'm sure Microsoft can afford a $5 wrench.

Re:What if.. (5, Funny)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 3 years ago | (#34311334)

While that would work on the average Crypto Nerd - I think you underestimate the die-harded-ness of Linux users who would fight to the death to defend the freedom of Open Source. Why do you think Stallman sleeps with swords?

Re:What if.. (0, Troll)

Squiddie (1942230) | more than 3 years ago | (#34311418)

Stallman, maybe. The rest? Nope.

Re:What if.. (1)

DarkKnightRadick (268025) | more than 3 years ago | (#34311468)

You are probably right. I'd fight hard to defend Open Source (as much as I dislike the GPL as an OS license), but probably not to the death.

Re:What if.. (2, Funny)

ae1294 (1547521) | more than 3 years ago | (#34311580)

You'll do what stallman says, or else...

Re:What if.. (4, Funny)

dAzED1 (33635) | more than 3 years ago | (#34311638)

would you fight...to the pain? Because that would probably be redundant, as linux nerds have been a PITA to MS for years already

Re:What if.. (1)

DarkKnightRadick (268025) | more than 3 years ago | (#34311916)

love your Princess Bride reference. (:

To the pain (5, Funny)

Weaselmancer (533834) | more than 3 years ago | (#34311988)

Ballmer: And next will be my kernel I suppose, let's get on with it.

Stallman: WRONG! Your kernel you keep and I'll tell you why. It's so that every missed IRQ, every dropped packet, every sysadmin who wanders by and says "My God what is that abomination" will fall upon your unused IO buffers unserviced.

Re:What if.. (1)

Requiem18th (742389) | more than 3 years ago | (#34311848)

Twin berettas for me, although being an engineer the automatic turrets do most of the work while I sleep, they aren't hard to build from the spare parts available in your average basement, specially if you wait long enough for good parts to be dumped.

What if? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34311316)

What if some lame Slashdot user was trying too hard to be geeky, but just made himself look stupid and anachronistic?

Re:What if? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34311708)

Was that a self-referring post?

Re:What if.. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34311382)

What if Novell sold them Unix, but didn't give them the root password?

Linux would still make you gay.

Re:What if.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34311998)

I've been gay since long before I started using Linux. Though, now that I know this, there are a few attractive straight men who I'll be trying extra-hard to convert to Linux soon.

What if? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34311476)

What if you sucked 10,000 cocks per second?

Re:What if? (5, Funny)

amicusNYCL (1538833) | more than 3 years ago | (#34311572)

What if you sucked 10,000 cocks per second?

.. then you would have a 10KHz CPU (cock processing unit).

Re:What if? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34311780)

Well played

They bought 882 Novell patents; Whither OIN? (5, Interesting)

ciaran_o_riordan (662132) | more than 3 years ago | (#34311284)

Novell's 8-K filing says that Microsoft's "CNPT" bought 882 patents.

* What important patents did Novell have?
* What happens now to Novell's contribution to OIN?

Novell contributed some big patent sets to OIN, like the Commerce One e-commerce patents. What's their status now? Did Novell "give/transfer" them to OIN, or did OIN just have a transferable assurance of access to these patents via Novell?

* http://en.swpat.org/wiki/CPTN_Holdings_LLC [swpat.org]
* http://en.swpat.org/wiki/Novell [swpat.org]
* http://en.swpat.org/wiki/Open_Invention_Network [swpat.org]

Re:They bought 882 Novell patents; Whither OIN? (2, Informative)

diegocg (1680514) | more than 3 years ago | (#34311860)

More importantly, Novell owns a LOT of patents related to networking, directory services and things like that.

Re:They bought 882 Novell patents; Whither OIN? (1)

ciaran_o_riordan (662132) | more than 3 years ago | (#34311994)

If you've any specifics, it would be great to have them on the Novell wiki page.

Any patents that have already been used in litigation, to take something off the market, or to squeeze a developer for licence fees?

Or even just an article or link discussing/mentioning these network patents would be good to have.

Microsoft being cagey (4, Interesting)

gbjbaanb (229885) | more than 3 years ago | (#34311288)

which is exactly what you don't want - if they said "we own it", no-one would believe them until it got to court. If they said "we don't own it", no-one would care.

But, because they say "maybe", everyone starts to panic and worry, and think the problem is far worse that it ever could be.

Lawyers & PR take time (5, Insightful)

TurtleBay (1942166) | more than 3 years ago | (#34311490)

While you may attribute Microsoft's cageyness to an effort to enhance royalty revenue by not being clear on what they own, it is much more likely their large corporate structure and lawyers getting in the way. If someone asked Microsoft's PR what patents they now hold, the PR guy has no idea. He needs to go to the M&A team who did the deal and ask what exactly they now own. When the PR guy hears back he needs to do his job and put some spin on it to make Microsoft sound cutting edge yet not monopolist with the new IP. Then the PR guy needs to forward his response to legal, who will circle back around to M&A to cross check the facts. The legal guys will come back with a list of things that the company can't say and the PR guy will need to apply another round of spin to get around what the lawyers told him would't be fit to print. All of this will probably take a couple of weeks, so don't expect an immediate answer regarding the implications of the specific of a deal to UNIX, especially during the holidays.

Re:Microsoft being cagey (4, Insightful)

HeckRuler (1369601) | more than 3 years ago | (#34311562)

Sooooooo they just bought a billion dollars worth of Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt?

Re:Microsoft being cagey (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34311960)

Not necessarily. MS cannot attack linux/unix with patents for fear of antitrust. Nothing says another corporation cannot actually do so. Lead, but not owned by MS. Antitrust laws get more vague then, so maybe FUD becomes reality. Just one possibility.

FUD parade continues on... (5, Insightful)

RocketRabbit (830691) | more than 3 years ago | (#34311324)

After the revelations years ago that Microsoft had funded SCO during the Darl era, and has been on the attack against Linux for a good 10 years now at least, I would not just put my feet up and rest easy following this news. At this point nobody even knows what MS bought, so it's a little too early to be going down for a nap.

Microsoft knows that there are several threats to its existence, but most of them can just be bought off, paid off, or partnered with. Linux is not really susceptible to any of those vectors. If indeed MS has come away with the Unix intellectual property rights we can expect a renewed set of attacks. Specifically, Microsoft would probably avoid dirtying its hands directly, and instead use some sort of nominally separate entity (which would probably end up being the holder of the Unix IP) to attack Linux through a confusing and expensive court case.

I know it is nice to hope for the best, but while one does that, they should also prepare for the worst.

Re:FUD parade continues on... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34311394)

Turd in a bag. 882 patents but you don't get to know which ones until AFTER you bought them.

Re:FUD parade continues on... (0, Troll)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#34311482)

Why can't the Linux community just develop a new operating system?
i.e. Stop using unix.

Re:FUD parade continues on... (3, Informative)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 3 years ago | (#34311518)

Linux is not using Unix. It is unix-like, but that is about it. Also don't fix what ain't broke. Even MS is now admitting they must go that way with their powershell and even headless setup.

Re:FUD parade continues on... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34311596)

Why can't the Linux community just develop a new operating system?

They did. It's called Linux. The SCO trial was, in part, about convincing the court that, yes, Linux really, really, really isn't Unix.

Re:FUD parade continues on... (1, Interesting)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#34311748)

Oh good.

Then why all the fear, uncertainty, and doubt?

Re:FUD parade continues on... (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 3 years ago | (#34311792)

Because this is about patents. You can write a whole new OS from scratch and still infringe on some stupid software patent. Odds are all OSes at this point infringe on patents owned by each others creators and patents owned by others.

Re:FUD parade continues on... (1)

Pharmboy (216950) | more than 3 years ago | (#34311668)

Why can't the Linux community just develop a new operating system?
i.e. Stop using unix.

I hope you were trying to be funny. Otherwise, that statement would be considered incredibly stupid. If it was serious, perhaps Linux related threads aren't your cup of tea.

and why would MS even bother going half the way... (1)

Lazy Jones (8403) | more than 3 years ago | (#34311582)

I have serious doubts that MS would be interested in patents other than those with potential to hurt Linux (or even OSX). Was Novell known to own any other patents of significant importance to Microsoft? If they could get their hands on the SCO stuff wouldn't they try very hard? For me, there is no other reasonable explanation for Microsoft getting involved at all and none has been published anywhere as far as I can tell.
So yes, expect a new series of boring attacks on Linux/Android (and perhaps OSX) by Microsoft.

Re:and why would MS even bother going half the way (1)

king neckbeard (1801738) | more than 3 years ago | (#34311652)

MS has two likely choices for patents they want to acquire:
1. patents their competitors infringe
2. patents they infringe
With the large number of patents involved there were probably quite a few of both.

Re:and why would MS even bother going half the way (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 3 years ago | (#34311678)

Microsoft will not attack OSX, they need a "competitor" that is not a real competitor. If OSX ever steps foot in the enterprise space then maybe they would, but for now OSX is a value to them not competition. Linux is competition, google is competition. Nothing that threatens the MS desktop market and operates in the enterprise space is safe, they protect that above all else.

uhhh (1)

mevets (322601) | more than 3 years ago | (#34311834)

IOS which is OSX which is UNIX (real UNIX, not Linux) is the smart-ass kid which is making MicroSofts Mobile OS feel stupid and lonely.
MicroSoft are facing assaults on all fronts, their situation seems a bit reminiscent of Sun circa 2000. Don't put anything past their ability to "innovate" - it worked well to crush netscape and only suffer a tickle on the pinky.

Re:uhhh (0)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 3 years ago | (#34311906)

IOS is a niche OS. Microsoft would love to see it stick around to be another fake competitor to WP7.

They need apple and it's niche products. They fear linux, for it exists in the enterprise space as well including the server room.

Re:FUD parade continues on... (1)

mikael (484) | more than 3 years ago | (#34311820)

Remember, Microsoft bought a whole load of patents from SGI relating to 3D graphics and rendering - there was at least one related to shader languages implemented in hardware.

Poll Missing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34311338)

So how come the /. poll is no longer shown on the home page even though I have it ticked off in my preferences?

(It's not the only thing ticked off.

We are Microsoft of Gates (1)

Konsalik (1921874) | more than 3 years ago | (#34311340)

Your repository will be merged into ours. Your code will serve us. Resistance is futile.

Re:We are Microsoft of Gates (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34311620)

That's going to be one nasty diff...

Anyone else... (5, Insightful)

Haedrian (1676506) | more than 3 years ago | (#34311346)

...Is tired of this whole software patent mess?

I mean, come on. Not only do people have to worry about what patents their newest idea is stepping on, but now when companies are bought, they may have large ramnifications which ripple around?

I'm pretty tired of this rubbish. They should just throw away software patents - then we could still have good companies which actually develop stuff instead of simply being bought for their patents. Alas poor Sun.

Re:Anyone else... (3, Insightful)

Konsalik (1921874) | more than 3 years ago | (#34311452)

Well I think the general consensus among slashdotters is that software patents have indeed been taken way too far. Problem is that most companies cling dearly to what they know i.e. patents. It is their assets, and for some (trolls) the sole reason for their existence. Thus there will always be a bunch of companies throwing money and resources to make sure they are able to patent ever more absurd things. Go watch http://patentabsurdity.com/ [patentabsurdity.com] if you haven't already done so.

Re:Anyone else... (5, Insightful)

sakdoctor (1087155) | more than 3 years ago | (#34311474)

1. Move away from America
2. Develop whilst simultaneously not caring about software patents.
3. Sales and profit.
4. Get sued in America
5. Don't turn up
6. Don't go to America (or South Korea) ever again.

Re:Anyone else... (1)

noidentity (188756) | more than 3 years ago | (#34311532)

Yeah, we could try a new scheme where people can only own physical things. Then as long as you own the material, you can form it into whatever patterns you want. No need to ask permission for certain patterns. Radical idea, I know.

Re:Anyone else... (1)

oldhack (1037484) | more than 3 years ago | (#34311680)

BTW, what exactly is UNIX IP? That thing was born four decades ago, and all the major and minor improvements are applicable (and applied) to OSes in general...

I certainly hope so (4, Funny)

Jugalator (259273) | more than 3 years ago | (#34311352)

A Microsoft Unix 2013 Professional Edition doesn't exactly give me pleasant imagery.

Re:I certainly hope so (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34311372)

Why not? I'd probably cum inside my shorts if this came out. I'd deploy it everywhere.

Re:I certainly hope so (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34311386)

Yes, that imagery is much better, thank you!

Re:I certainly hope so (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34311524)

No problem. I just busted again knowing you enjoyed it.

Re:I certainly hope so (1)

king neckbeard (1801738) | more than 3 years ago | (#34311684)

You might want to see a doctor about that. It sounds like you may have some kind of condition.

Re:I certainly hope so (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34312018)

Condition? It's called being a man. I enjoy ejaculating. I bet King Neckbeard can't even find his penis anymore under all of his fat.

Re:I certainly hope so (1)

Haedrian (1676506) | more than 3 years ago | (#34311448)

And if you pay a little extra you can get a different - more attractive desktop environment, and the ability to change your background.

(For those not in the know - its a reference to the Windows 7 Starter edition)

Re:I certainly hope so (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34311464)

Then how about Microsoft Linux 2013 Professional Edition?

Re:I certainly hope so (1)

ocdscouter (1922930) | more than 3 years ago | (#34311722)

What are you talking about?? I'm sure Microsoft would spare no expense to make it look as attractive as possible!

What? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34311392)

I thought Unix /was/ foundational to Linux, but Linux had moved on enough that no matter what happened to Unix, Linux could carry on. Or is this just the threat of bogus lawsuits, where My Lawyers Can Waste More Time Than Your Lawyers?

And even if Linux is somehow vulnerable, wouldn't that just mean a flurry of activity* while Canonical et al port to BSD?

*[roughly a year of much screaming and flinging of poo, but it'd get done.]

Re:What? (2, Informative)

king neckbeard (1801738) | more than 3 years ago | (#34311584)

Being functionally similar to GNU/Linux, the patents of Unix vendors are quite likely to cover GNU/Linux. Windows is much further away, and yet GNU/Linux allegedly infringes hundreds of MS patents. I'm not particularly worried because as I understand it anything that Novell is an author of or distributes that is under the GPL would be safe from Novell's patents even if said patents are sold. As for porting things to BSD, that wouldn't help anything, especially since the *BSDs have a decent amount of code in common with Unix, and doesn't have a patent clause.

Re:What? (2, Funny)

SilverHatHacker (1381259) | more than 3 years ago | (#34311624)

I would think BSD would be more at risk than Linux. I don't claim to understand what exactly was patented, but BSD is Berkeley Unix, while Linux is not considered an operating system without the GNU project - which, as we all know, is Not Unix.

Re:What? (2, Informative)

ruinevil (852677) | more than 3 years ago | (#34311730)

BSD's UNIX code was replaced in accordance to the terms of settlement of USL v BSDi. Though this case happened almost 17 years ago, so the patents in question are probably no longer enforceable.

Linux Is Not UniX (1)

slag02 (1359687) | more than 3 years ago | (#34311396)

Linux Is Not UniX so what is the big deal?

Re:Linux Is Not UniX (1)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 3 years ago | (#34311436)

In the same way that a spoon is not a fork* but one definately brought about the other - there is likely an overlap in patents.

*Pun not intended

Re:Linux Is Not UniX (5, Funny)

sakdoctor (1087155) | more than 3 years ago | (#34311486)

A spoon may not be a fork, but a spork is a fork of a spoon.

Pun intended.

Re:Linux Is Not UniX (1)

Lundse (1036754) | more than 3 years ago | (#34311698)

Welll, since you might as well have said that a spork is a fork of a fork, a spork can't really be a fork of either a spoon or a fork. A fork is a fork of one thing; be it a fork or spoon - only one of them forked (code is nonsexually reproductive at it's core, which might explain a whole lot and lead to a lot of bad slashdot jokes if we're not careful). So the spork cannot have been created through a fork, neither from a fork or a spoon.

PS: I must have gotten something wrong there. Let the pedantry ensue!

Re:Linux Is Not UniX (1)

Haedrian (1676506) | more than 3 years ago | (#34311466)

Because to pay good enough lawyers to say that to a bunch of people who know very little about computers, while other lawyers attempt to show these bunch of people that it is the case... requires money?

Linux IS classified as a form of UNIX though... (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34311478)

See my subject-line above, & this -> http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/1998/09/08/BU85830.DTL&type=tech_article [sfgate.com]

PERTINENT QUOTE/EXCERPT #1 of 2:

"Linux is a form of Unix"

and also this -> http://www.informationweek.com/blog/main/archives/2006/02/letter_writers.html;jsessionid=ZVAVPXEVVZMITQE1GHRSKH4ATMY32JVN [informationweek.com]

PERTINENT QUOTE/EXCERPT #2 of 2:

"Unix as an operating system is not disappearing because of Linux. Linux is Unix"

APK

P.S.=> Well, "will wonders NEVER cease"... however: I have always wondered IF those are "official", & what-not, though... any takers? Thanks for the info., either way... apk

Re:Linux IS classified as a form of UNIX though... (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 3 years ago | (#34311530)

Linux is not Unix, it is only unix-like.

Re:Linux IS classified as a form of UNIX though... (3, Informative)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 3 years ago | (#34311544)

Forgot to mention, two articles written by two idiots does not change this fact.

Unix is a trademarked term that belongs to the open group, genetic unix would be the BSDs. Linux does not fall into either of these groups, it is only unix-like.

Re:Linux IS classified as a form of UNIX though... (3, Interesting)

king neckbeard (1801738) | more than 3 years ago | (#34311798)

Dennis Ritchie includes GNU/Linux when speaking of Unix [linuxfocus.org]. Just the word 'Unix' is rather ambiguous. I generally use four sets of terms and try to be specific whenever possible:
1. AT&T UNIX or Bell Labs UNIX. The operating system developed by AT&T/Bell Labs (SysV, Version 7 UNIX)
2. Genetic UNIX. Any operating system that can trace it's history to AT&T UNIX.
3. Branded UNIX or SUS. Any operating system that meets the Single Unix Specification and pays the necessary fees.
4. Unix-like, functional Unix, or *nix. Any operating system that is designed to be have the same functionality and overall design as AT&T UNIX.

GNU/Linux only meets the terms of functional Unix, but being functional Unix is more important than being branded or genetic Unix in most usage, so it's not uncommon to use Unix just to describe functional Unix.

Re:Linux IS classified as a form of UNIX though... (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 3 years ago | (#34311886)

It is also not uncommon for people to call all cattle cows, even though only females are actually that.

It is unix-like, that is all.

Re:Linux IS classified as a form of UNIX though... (1)

king neckbeard (1801738) | more than 3 years ago | (#34311952)

Saying that "GNU/Linux isn't branded Unix" is much more clear than "GNU/Linux is not Unix." I personally put more stock in the opinion of one of the main developers of the original system than the party that happens to own the trademark right now, but even if you feel differently, you can still properly differentiate what you mean and never need to argue.

Re:Linux Is Not UniX (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34311506)

Linux Is Not UniX

so what is the big deal?

Because the FUD is that Linux somehow "contains" UNIX intellectual property.

But since Novell/SuSE has a pass on UNIX IP, why can't everybody just fork OpenSuSE back into their own distros and continue on?

Microsoft's Brilliance ( +3, Ingenious ) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34311434)

Dear Windows Users:

We've been working on this project for decades. The good news is that your new operating systems is based on Unix.
The bad news ( for you ) is that you owe Microsoft U.S. $200.00.
The good news ( for us ) is we're U.S. $300,000,000,000 richer.

Please proceed now to your upgrade with Winix 1.0 for your operating system pleasure.

Yours In F.U.D.,
Steve Ballmer

 

Enough! (5, Insightful)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | more than 3 years ago | (#34311570)

Bill Gates Jr. retired from Microsoft some time ago. Couldn't you Slashdot guys at least update the silly icon so it shows Ballmer as a Borg?

You could even make him the Borg queen...

What really happened - OIN Emasculated (5, Insightful)

Bruce Perens (3872) | more than 3 years ago | (#34311576)

There is a threat here, but it has nothing to do with the Unix copyrights. We have already established really, really well that the Unix copyrights are irrelevant at this late date. They can't be used like patents to enforce against other similar works. They were released under an unterminating BSD license and covered by a government standard. Forget them.

What they got was 481 patents that were part of a portfolio that Open Invention Network had previously used to defend Linux against patent suits. So, this is escalation in the patent war they are running against Linux, because they just removed one of our defensive weapons.

Wait (1)

Vahokif (1292866) | more than 3 years ago | (#34311592)

Don't they already own it? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xenix [wikipedia.org]

Re:Wait (2, Informative)

Guy Harris (3803) | more than 3 years ago | (#34311772)

No, they licensed UNIX from AT&T to make Xenix - AT&T still owned the rights. (Newer versions of System V licensed some code back from Microsoft - there's some code with Microsoft copyrights on it.)

Miguel must be ecstatic (2, Insightful)

melted (227442) | more than 3 years ago | (#34311816)

Miguel must be ecstatic. Seems like he always wanted to work for Microsoft, and now he will, albeit indirectly.

If you want the story, see Groklaw (5, Informative)

Nefarious Wheel (628136) | more than 3 years ago | (#34312022)

www.groklaw.net. Pamela Jones is the Empress, the rightful dispenser of knowledge on who goeth there regarding Linux, the Law, and the great game called Follow The Money.

That Russian guy (2, Interesting)

Trogre (513942) | more than 3 years ago | (#34312036)

Perhaps that Russian guy who a few days ago commented that Linux was near the end of its release cycle knew something!

In all seriousness, given the FUD Microsoft spreads about Linux to their customers, I wonder if this purchase has been working its way into their propaganda engine for a while.

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