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Is the Microsoft/Novell Deal a Litigation Bomb?

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the pengui-bomb dept.

342

mpapet writes "According to WINE developer Tom Wickline, the Microsoft/Novell deal for Suse support may one day control commercial customers' use of Free Software. Is this the end of commercial OSS developers who are not a part of the Microsoft/Suse pact?" From the article: "Wickline said that the pact means that there will now be a Microsoft-blessed path for such people to make use of Open Source ... 'A logical next move for Microsoft could be to crack down on 'unlicensed Linux' and 'unlicensed Free Software,' now that it can tell the courts that there is a Microsoft-licensed path. Or they can just passively let that threat stay there as a deterrent to anyone who would use Open Source without going through the Microsoft-approved Novell path,' Wickline said." Bruce Perens dropped a line to point out that most of the content actually comes from his post.

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I don't get it (3, Interesting)

Control Group (105494) | more than 7 years ago | (#16708471)

I R'd the FA, and I don't have the first clue what this perceived threat is. How does signing this deal threaten commercial use of OSS? Don't the existing OSS licensing terms still hold? Why should it matter that MS can now show there's an MS-licensed path?

Is this threat a software patent one? If so, how does this deal change the threat - if the patents already exist, couldn't they be used just as easily without the deal as with it?

I'm no lawyer, I don't swim in corporate mega-deal circles, and I didn't even stay in a Holiday Inn Express last night, so it's possible (probable, even) that there's something obvious here that I'm missing. Can someone who knows more about it elaborate for me? Because as it stands, I don't see how MS controlling one licensing path for OSS can suddenly mean that all other methods of acquiring OSS become illegal.

Re:I don't get it (1)

reklusband (862215) | more than 7 years ago | (#16708497)

Don't worry about that...Just flag it fud and notfud and just leave it for the future you to worry about.

Re:I don't get it (1)

eric76 (679787) | more than 7 years ago | (#16708521)

There is some discussion that the whole plan violates the GPL big time.

It makes you wonder whether or not Novell will be in compliance with the GPL. If not, they won't even have the rights to be a Linux vendor.

Re:I don't get it (1)

Drinking Bleach (975757) | more than 7 years ago | (#16708553)

I don't see how it violates the GPL at all, it seems perfectly legal to me (IANAL)

Re:I don't get it (3, Insightful)

Col. Klink (retired) (11632) | more than 7 years ago | (#16708673)

You may not be a lawyer, but Eben Moglen [com.com] is:
"If you make an agreement which requires you to pay a royalty to anybody for the right to distribute GPL software, you may not distribute it under the GPL," Moglen told CNET News.com Thursday. Section 7 of the GPL "requires that you have, and pass along to everybody, the right to distribute software freely and without additional permission."

Moglen is talking out of his a$$ (1)

everphilski (877346) | more than 7 years ago | (#16708753)

He says he didn't even read the terms of the deal - "depends on precise terms of the agreement that Moglen hasn't seen" - ... he has no idea what he is talking about. Patent protection != Royalty.

Re:Moglen is talking out of his a$$ (1)

hairypalmer (1020801) | more than 7 years ago | (#16709167)

Patent protection != Royalty.

Go read the GPL.

if a patent license would not permit royalty-free redistribution of the Program by all those who receive copies directly or indirectly through you, then the only way you could satisfy both it and this License would be to refrain entirely from distribution of the Program.

MS may think they have found a contestable hole in the GPL, does the agreement not to sue constitute a licensed use of patents?

Doesn't matter, all developers need do is resync against code being redistributed by Novell. Either MSFT just agreed not to sue over this code or Novell is violating the GPL.

Re:Moglen is talking out of his a$$ (4, Insightful)

Aim Here (765712) | more than 7 years ago | (#16709227)

The nature of the Novell/Microsoft deal is somewhat irrelevant. The problem is the threat of Microsoft launching patent attacks against ANYONE over anything in SuSE. The public statements say that Microsoft won't launch a patent suit against noncommercial distributors or against Novell - that still leaves commercial distributors open to a patent lawsuit.

If THAT happens, Section 7 of the GPL kicks in and Novell loses the right to distribute GPLed code in SuSE. Section 7 is the 'liberty or death' clause which says that if you can't distribute GPLed code without some patent(or other) restriction being imposed on your customers, you cannot distribute GPLed code at all. The idea is to prevent code being proprietarised using legal machinery other than copyright - having someone offering GPLed code under a partial patent umbrella that effectively bars, say, commercial distribution, is exactly the sort of thing that section 7 was designed to prevent.

(My theory is that the main reason Microsoft had to offer patent protection to at least one Linux distributor was to skirt antitrust problems if it starts using patent law to crush competition. )

Re:I don't get it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16708757)

Aw, you left out the most important bit from Moglen's quote...you know:

"Whether the partnership precludes Novell from distributing Linux depends on precise terms of the agreement that Moglen hasn't seen, he cautioned."

Before declaring that the sky is falling, it's usually good to see that all the facts are in first. Oh, wait, this is /. - nevermind. As you were, then.

Re:I don't get it (1)

Control Group (105494) | more than 7 years ago | (#16708575)

That's kind of what I was thinking. If the deal somehow restricts someone from redistributing code, then it's a clear violation of the original license. And if it doesn't, I don't see how it can be used to stop people from acquiring the relevant code.

Re:I don't get it (2, Insightful)

Intron (870560) | more than 7 years ago | (#16708919)

MS doesn't distribute Linux, so they don't violate the GPL.

Novell can make any deal that they want, as long as they don't try to pass any restrictions along with GPL code to their customers. In this case it looks like they are passing on the additonal benefit "You won't get sued by MS for patent violations".

As for everyone else, they are free to redistribute, burn CDs, modify the code, mix it with Ubuntu, etc. You can't violate an agreement that you are not a party to.

It doesn't (1)

everphilski (877346) | more than 7 years ago | (#16708665)

People have been dissecting it left and right, and the people who **actually** read the agreement have come to the conclusion realize that it doesn't violate the GPL.

Re:It doesn't (1)

m0rph3us0 (549631) | more than 7 years ago | (#16708787)

The problem with the GPL is that once you distribute the code you give license to the patents contained with in the code. Thus if Microsoft distributes Linux it licenses the patents contained in the code. Also, enforcing a patent against the GPL revokes the license putting MS in very hot water.

Re:It doesn't (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16708869)

I don't think anyone has challenged the GPL in court, which could mean this could get very interesting.

Everyone hopes the GPL has teeth...has it ever neen put in practice?

Re:It doesn't (1)

misterpib (924404) | more than 7 years ago | (#16708937)

That is exactly why Microsoft isn't going to be distributing Linux. They just agreed to not sue Novell, and Novell agreed to not sue Microsoft (over patent matters, that is). And they are working to make their respective products more compatible with eachother.

http://www.novell.com/linux/microsoft/openletter.h tml [novell.com] http://www.novell.com/linux/microsoft/faq.html [novell.com]

Re:It doesn't (1)

Fulcrum of Evil (560260) | more than 7 years ago | (#16708959)

DO you have anything to back up this rather broad claim?

Microsoft is not distributing linux (1)

everphilski (877346) | more than 7 years ago | (#16709139)

Thus if Microsoft distributes Linux it licenses the patents contained in the code.

Microsoft said in plain english in the press release that they WILL NOT distribute Linux. They will merely recommend it if a customer must have a linux solution in a Microsoft environment.

Also, enforcing a patent against the GPL revokes the license putting MS in very hot water.

Sigh... have you even read what this is all about? Microsoft and Novell came to a patent agreement whereby they will not litigate each other. No patent enforcement. FUD. Go away!!!

Re:I don't get it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16708527)

fp?

Re:I don't get it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16708653)

It may be a trap in that MS is promising to business customers that "Suse's" brand of OO.org, mono, etc are "safe" from litigation for a few years. If you use Red Hat...well then we just can't guarantee your safe.

It's about appearances and MS trying to legitimize one particular brand of linux. Your right, it doesn't make all other OSS software invalid but it is an attack on OSS in general.

I gotta say, everyone kept saying how great Novell was for buying Suse. "Look at what they are doing for OSS" etc etc. I kept saying let's give them a few years and see what happens. Well I'm sure as heck glad I waited and didn't invest my company or loyalty with them. I'm not a fan of this move.

AC

Re:I don't get it (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#16708749)

It may be a trap in that MS is promising to business customers that "Suse's" brand of OO.org, mono, etc are "safe" from litigation for a few years. If you use Red Hat...well then we just can't guarantee your safe.

From the GPL: "You may charge a fee for the physical act of transferring a copy, and you may at your option offer warranty protection in exchange for a fee."

This in no way conflicts with the GPL or the goals of the GPL. It can in no way invalidate the GPL and so on. Since the GPL is our protection, and this does not interfere with the GPL, it might be a trap, but that's not why. I mean, Microsoft guaranteeing you're safe is like Steve Jobs guaranteeing you will win the lottery - it might be true, but if so, it has nothing to do with the efforts of the individual or organization in question.

It aligns Linux companies with anti-linux-IP-FUD. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16708669)

If so, how does this deal change the threat - if the patents already exist, couldn't they be used just as easily without the deal as with it?


Patent lawsuits cost a lot of money.


Previously you would have expected patent holders to go after corporations (like Novell) that make money off of the allegedly infringing technology.


Now, since the corporations making money off of Linux are signing big-money partnerships.-- and the patent holders (bogus or not) can only go after the end developers rather than Novell for fear of entering into an IP war against the combined portfolios of Microsoft and Novell.


Furthermore, suddenly Novell's interests are aligned with Microsoft in spreading FUD about Linux IP rather than invalidating the bogus patents.


"So customer, do you want to go for that Red Hat version that'll be sued next time Microsoft buys a shill like Darl - or do you want to pay royalties for the nice-safe SuSE version that pays Microsoft a cut?"

Re:I don't get it (1)

Evardsson (959228) | more than 7 years ago | (#16708687)

I'm with you on this one. I don't get what the threat is, what the deal is, or what the articles authors are trying to say. (Yes I followed and read all the linked articles.)

Perhaps the MS threat could (maybe) apply to Wine developers/users, unless they stick with the MS "blessed" Novel SuSE path. But even then, I don't really get it. I was under the impression that Wine was programmed to a "black-box" implementation - in other words, noodle out the expected input/output of MS programs and then code a glue layer to tie them into the *nix environment. So where is the threat from MS?

And under the GPL I can pretty well use Linux any way I want, especially if I'm not distributing anything. So where is the threat from Novel?

Could it be that this is the result of writers looking for the big "OH NOES!" story of the day?

Re:I don't get it (1)

smcdow (114828) | more than 7 years ago | (#16708825)

And under the GPL I can pretty well use Linux any way I want, especially if I'm not distributing anything.

Right, but if you're a business distributing Linux and making money off that and also, say, selling support services, and if any of the OSS you're distributing and making money on happens to infringe on someone else's software patents, then you and your customers can get your asses sued off.

Micro Soft is promising not to sue Suse users' asses off. That's what this is about.

Re:I don't get it (1)

purpledinoz (573045) | more than 7 years ago | (#16708745)

Yeah, I'm in total agreement with you, this makes no sense at all.

From the article: A LEAD DEVELOPER on the Open Source Wine project, Tom Wickline, has warned that Microsoft's deal with Novell is a cunning plan by Vole to take control over the commercial customer's use of Free Software.

It seems to me they're really confused at the concept of free software. There's absolutely no way MS can stop companies from using open source software. For example, I use WinMerge, an open source visual diff program (which, btw, is awesome). So article claims that MS can shutdown WinMerge, and force people to pay and license for the use MS's own shitty visual diff program? That's ridiculous. That means if some programmer comes up with a useful tool, and generously makes the source available to the world, MS can sue him/her for patent infringement, make their own version of the tool and license it? That's the most insane thing I've ever heard.

This is probably one of the worst, non-nonsensical article I've ever read.

I partially get it (1)

Mateo_LeFou (859634) | more than 7 years ago | (#16708871)

Suppose Microsoft decides to sue AutoZone and Chrysler for patent infringement because of their use of Linux. If the victims don't particularly feel like fighting, a logical settlement would be to "come into compliance" by migrating to the Novell/MS distro(s). I could see a lot of judges encouraging this sort of settlement rather than trying to figure out who owns what "intellectual property"...

A few hundred commercial users later, you have the standard EmExEx scenario

Re:I partially get it (1)

purpledinoz (573045) | more than 7 years ago | (#16709069)

Linux is under GPL. No one owns the IP for Linux. How can MS sue? I guess MS has so many patents, it's inevitable that Linux does something that's patented by MS.

Re:I don't get it (1)

Bilbo (7015) | more than 7 years ago | (#16709177)

> There's absolutely no way MS can stop companies from using open source software.

Actually, yes they can, or perhaps more to the point, they can stop organizations (for-profit or not) from distributing that software you are using by bringing "patent infringement" suits against them. They may even be able to sue companies that are just using the software, even though they aren't actively distributing it. (That's the way patents work.) They may not be able to stop your particular application (if it's clearly not covered by any of their patents), but applications rarely stand completely on their own. If they take down, or even cast enough of a shadow on some key parts of the overall system, they can effectively shut you out. True, YOU as an individual developer, can still develop software, but I doubt you're doing all that development on your own, and you can probably be hindered from distributing it.

> That's the most insane thing I've ever heard.

Uh.... Welcome to the world of Software Patents. :-(

Re:I don't get it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16708839)

Me neither. The deal was Novell making an agreement with MS so they can develop more software that works well with windows. Its a good marketting deal for Novell as they can go head and say to their customers, see ours is the only flavor of Linux which works well with MS products as we have a deal with MS. Linux is a GPLd software and there are 1000s of flavor of linux. RH flavor or upcoming Oracle flavor of Linux do not have this deal so they cannot claim the same way as Novell can.
This is also a good thing for MS too as they can now go to EU and say, see we work with OSS vendors too, all we said was we cannot work with Tom, dick and harry developers in OSS as we cannot have 'em sign our NDA. This has got nothing to do with any FUD this article is saying.

Slashdot Captcha f'king sucks

I'll take a stab ... (2, Interesting)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 7 years ago | (#16708931)

I R'd the FA, and I don't have the first clue what this perceived threat is. How does signing this deal threaten commercial use of OSS? Don't the existing OSS licensing terms still hold? Why should it matter that MS can now show there's an MS-licensed path?

I'll take a stab at this one, but I might miss a few points.

1. Microsoft announces agreement with Novell for Suse, and says they won't pursue any patent claims against them (and quite possibly, only them).

2. Suse feeds back technologies to the rest of the Linux community like they are supposed to.

3. Microsoft cries foul and says they only promised not to litigate Novell/Suse for any potential patent violations.

4. OSS community is forced to either not use any of the Suse extensions (now Microsoft proprietary and licenced) or to say that Suse is required to share with the crowd.

5. Microsoft sues all other Linux distributions who are using code contributed by Suse, and claims that those people are violating MS patents, gets an injunction preventing distribution of Linux.

6. Linux is fuxored.

Basically, the fear is that they will do what they do on standards comittees -- play along very nicely, patent the technology they've been holding in open discussions (without telling anyone), and the say nobody is allowed to play except by their rules. Then they get to claim that only people who bought a license (and nobody who is doing pure OSS can buy one) can use the technology.

Think submarine patents, but more like submarine licensing. Only the goal is to make sure that by having someone who is a licensee, all others who aren't licensees must be violating the law. Kinda like what SCO thought they could do.

The very paranoid might look at the partnering with Novell/Suse as an attempt to poison the environment so that eventually the rest of the OSS people would be guilty of using MS technology without a proper license.

At least, that seems to be the gist of the argument.

Cheers

My biggest fear... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16709029)

...is that knee-jerk, anti-MS nazis will now abandon SUSE because of some non-specific perceived threat. It's a great distro (my personal favorite) so let's all see that it continues to be great.

Re:I don't get it (1, Insightful)

maggotty (206064) | more than 7 years ago | (#16709049)

I actually am a lawyer. I litigate intellectual property cases. There's nothing to get. The article and Mr. Wickline's comments are the baseless, reactionary ramblings of the grossly uninformed.

Re:I don't get it (1)

ocbwilg (259828) | more than 7 years ago | (#16709209)

I R'd the FA, and I don't have the first clue what this perceived threat is. How does signing this deal threaten commercial use of OSS? Don't the existing OSS licensing terms still hold? Why should it matter that MS can now show there's an MS-licensed path?

Well, I think that at one point Microsoft had started inserting language into it's licensing agreements that stated that you couldn't use their products with open source products, or develop them on MS platforms or something like that. Most people would have laughed that out of court I think, because it was incredibly unreasonable. Now that they have this licensing deal with Novell, they can start re-asserting those sorts of policies in their licenses, or more reasonably they can assert that you can only use open source products in conjunction with MS products if those open source products come from Novell. Of course, that's just a guess. It probably still wouldn't hold up in court, but there might be enough FUD behind it to keep big business in line. Then there's the flip side of support...if you're trying to get your Windows-based software to interoperate with a non-Novell Linux flavor, you'll be SOL.

First Post (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16708481)

Yeah!

Re:First Post (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16708877)

You Wish :P

Heh..Could go either way (2, Insightful)

RagingFuryBlack (956453) | more than 7 years ago | (#16708487)

In one way, you can easily scream OMG ITS A TRAP! The article pretty much gives us the worst case senario, which leaves me thinking FUD. Yeah. That pretty much seems like it. FUD.

I don't get why Novell is dealing with them anyhow (1)

nixmega (972206) | more than 7 years ago | (#16708505)

Other than market share... it's like selling your soul to the devil.

Embrace, Extend, Extinguish (1)

Drinking Bleach (975757) | more than 7 years ago | (#16708517)

The recent Microsoft actions have greatly surprised me, but was it really all that surprising? Microsoft is returning to the pre-DOJ practices that made them a monopoly.

Re:Embrace, Extend, Extinguish (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16708647)

Returning to monopolistic practices by working on interoperability? Damn. Can't do anything right.

Re:Embrace, Extend, Extinguish (1)

Drinking Bleach (975757) | more than 7 years ago | (#16708821)

May I be the first to welcome you to phase one: Embrace.

Re:Embrace, Extend, Extinguish (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16709233)

"Returning to monopolistic practices by working on interoperability? Damn. Can't do anything right."

Historically, anytime Microsoft has entered an interoperability deal it is to defeat its partner not help them. Research on past Microsoft deals is left as an exercise to the reader.

Hard to tell... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16708533)

...since the feds took down the website. I guess their speed indicates that it must be a bomb.

Well, gosh if it "just works"... (1)

Mateo_LeFou (859634) | more than 7 years ago | (#16708537)

This might end up revealing a lot about how many people will accept loss of control for the sake of "pragmatism". If you don't mind non-free drivers, etc. then I suspect you'll like whatever MS/Novell concoct. No doubt it will contain plenty of non-free technology that the proverbial "average user" needs in order to get hisher nonfree hardware to work out-of-the-box, and so on.

Acceptable?

Re:Well, gosh if it "just works"... (1)

guaigean (867316) | more than 7 years ago | (#16709205)

Well, if it works, and the OSS version doesn't, then there really isn't anything wrong if you choose to pay for the working version. What would you rather have, a free piece of trash, or a functional tool that you paid for?

Re:Well, gosh if it "just works"... (1)

guaigean (867316) | more than 7 years ago | (#16709241)

And to clarify, I'm referring to specialty drivers, not to the OS's as a whole.

Give me a break.... (4, Insightful)

common middle name (657525) | more than 7 years ago | (#16708555)

I distrust Microsoft about as much as any other /. reader but this article is just stupid. The author seems to be implying that because Microsoft has made an alliance with a Linux vendor they all of the sudden own all open source software ever created and can just sue people for patent infringement at will. What a crock.

People....CALM DOWN.

The world is not coming to an end. Microsoft is not coming to steal your children.

Re:Give me a break.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16708915)

>>Microsoft is not coming to steal your children.

Bummer.

Re:Give me a break.... (1)

melikamp (631205) | more than 7 years ago | (#16708917)

The world is not coming to an end. Microsoft is not coming to steal your children.

Are you sure?? Microsoft is about to release Vista and I am missing an ugly child. A coincidence? I do not think so...

Re:Give me a break.... (1)

mpapet (761907) | more than 7 years ago | (#16708923)

can just sue people for patent infringement at will

You fail to understand is that's exactly how it works in many american industries. The sole purpose is to eliminate competition. Legally of course.

In this case, it's happened once with SCO. What makes you so certain it won't happen again?

Re:Give me a break.... (1)

boojumbadger (949542) | more than 7 years ago | (#16708971)

Didn't they already do that when they filled our schools with their software?

WTF is "the Vole"? (1)

HighOrbit (631451) | more than 7 years ago | (#16708559)

TFA keeps refering to "the Vole". WTF is "the Vole"? AFAIK, a vole is a rodent endemic to Northern and alpine climes. I have no idea what it means in the given context.

Re:WTF is "the Vole"? (1)

Otter (3800) | more than 7 years ago | (#16708705)

I was wondering the same thing -- is there some witticism here that I'm missing or is it just some Dadaist/jackass version of "M$"?

Re:WTF is "the Vole"? (1)

Chris Pimlott (16212) | more than 7 years ago | (#16708709)

I didn't know either, but apparently that's Inquirer's clever little nickname for Microsoft. You'd think they'd at least both mentioned once who they meant.

Re:WTF is "the Vole"? (1)

Andorion (526481) | more than 7 years ago | (#16708867)

the Vole is a term coined by The Inquirer [theinquirer.net] to refer to Microsoft. They think they're very clever, they frequently come up with similar witticisms and like to pat themselves on the back for them.

Microsoft Execs Shaking Their Heads In Disgust (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16708561)

Microsoft just got one of the major Linux vendors to roll over and be Microsoft's personal patent bitch and endorse the idea publicly that Linux is infringing on Microsoft IP and therefore inherently unsafe for business use...

And Linux fans all over the globe are falling over each other to for some ridiculous notion of 'reasonableness' by trying to look at the 'good side' of this disaster for Linux.

Way to go guys, you get a pat on the back and an atta boy! as your OS was just torpedoed by one of your very own captains...

Re:Microsoft Execs Shaking Their Heads In Disgust (1)

b0s0z0ku (752509) | more than 7 years ago | (#16708649)

Microsoft just got one of the major Linux vendors to roll over and be Microsoft's personal patent bitch and endorse the idea publicly that Linux is infringing on Microsoft IP and therefore inherently unsafe for business use...

This was tried with SCO/Caldera/Corel/Whatever Linux, and worked oh so well. 6 years later, there are Linux distros galore to be had. And it's not as if MS actually owns Novell or SuSE either.

-b.

Re:Microsoft Execs Shaking Their Heads In Disgust (1)

SpaceLifeForm (228190) | more than 7 years ago | (#16708853)

And it's not as if MS actually owns Novell or SuSE either.

Not yet.

Re:Microsoft Execs Shaking Their Heads In Disgust (1)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 7 years ago | (#16709121)

This was tried with SCO/Caldera/Corel/Whatever Linux, and worked oh so well. 6 years later, there are Linux distros galore to be had. And it's not as if MS actually owns Novell or SuSE either.

But, worryingly, Microsoft owns a LOT more patents, and has the resources to fight such a court battle.

Should they decide to later on behave like they have in the past, things could get messy. I mean, really, partnering with MS is like cuddling a crocodile -- sooner or later it's going to do what a crocodile does and bite you. Historically, such partnerships are (seem?) beneficial at first, and then become damaging in the long run.

One just never really knows what they're planning.

Cheers

Re:Microsoft Execs Shaking Their Heads In Disgust (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16709247)

What Microsoft is planning in the future is of little relevance when the damage done to Linux in the commercial world is already:

1) Made it clear that only those Linux distributions 'blessed' by Microsoft are 'safe' for a commercial company to use

2) Linux is so riddled with Microsoft patented processes that it requires a major Linux vendor to enter such a one sided 'agreement' with Microsoft

3) Mono - I don't even know where to start with that fiasco for Linux

The damage Novell has done is most likely irreparable. Right now only IBM has a chance of saving Linux in the commercial world.

Tin-Foils Hats Securely Fastened (1)

JerkyBoy (455854) | more than 7 years ago | (#16708567)

This move by Microsoft was largely in response to Oracle's alignment with Red Hat. If Microsoft asserts its patents against OSF, Oracle, IBM, others, are very likely to pound the beejezus out of Microsoft for infringing on their own patents. It's very much like a nuclear deterrent: it's one that you don't want to ever have to use, because it means the demise of everyone. This article is just hyped banal trash.

Re:Tin-Foils Hats Securely Fastened (1)

SpaceLifeForm (228190) | more than 7 years ago | (#16708743)

In could not have been in response to Oracle and Red Hat. This has been planned out for years (Novell bought SuSE nearly 3 years ago), and the Microsoft-Novell discussions started in April 2006, well before Oracle made their announcement.

I *knew* something was fishy when Novell bought SuSE.

Re:Tin-Foils Hats Securely Fastened (1)

b0s0z0ku (752509) | more than 7 years ago | (#16709125)

In could not have been in response to Oracle and Red Hat. This has been planned out for years (Novell bought SuSE nearly 3 years ago), and the Microsoft-Novell discussions started in April 2006, well before Oracle made their announcement.

How long have Oracle (no great saint either, witness Larry Ellison's pushing of a national ID schem^Wscam upon the American people) and RedHat been in talks? Probably also 6 or 8 months before their deal became public. And such news has a way of leaking to the competition before it becomes public.

-b.

Problem with your statement... (1)

jrcahoon (630815) | more than 7 years ago | (#16708899)

This deal started back in April when Ron Hovsepian called Microsoft. This can't be a reaction to the Oracle announcement because it has taken 6+ months to wade through the legal mine field.

Re:Tin-Foils Hats Securely Fastened (1)

elysian1 (533581) | more than 7 years ago | (#16708961)

I don't know if it has anything to do with Oracle, but the rest of parent's comment is right on.

SCOX (1)

masouds (451077) | more than 7 years ago | (#16708579)

Isn't this what Microsoft wanted SCO to do? (litigate the Linux back to the stone age). Guess they failed there and are retrying again, this time with Novell as their minion.

There has to be something patented... (1)

spiritraveller (641174) | more than 7 years ago | (#16708581)

in the code though.

The Volnovo pact will mean that non-commercial individual contributors can make Open Source, but if anyone actually uses it for something other than a hobby or a non-profit organisation Vole can bring a software patent lawsuit against them unless they are a Novell customer, he said.

Well sure, but only if you assume that there are patented procedures in Linux. Do we know that there are? I'm almost sure that there are in the Wine project. But can anyone point to an example of something in the Linux kernel that is patented by Microsoft?

Re:There has to be something patented... (1)

entrylevel (559061) | more than 7 years ago | (#16708875)

I also think the article is inane fear mongering, but isn't CIFS patented? (I tried to search but uspto.gov is a mess.)

Haven't we been here before? (1)

Channard (693317) | more than 7 years ago | (#16708585)

Or could be, rather. It seems to me that Microsoft would have to be idiots to try and pull the kind of crap SCO were doing.

I was waiting for this to happen (3, Interesting)

sarathmenon (751376) | more than 7 years ago | (#16708589)

Seriously, as the article said Microsoft needs a new deterrent for all the players in the free software movement. SCO is history, now they need a new partner, someone who's not as big (or will be) as Microsoft is today. A major linux vendor is the perfect way to achieve that. Microsoft will keep continuing to push only that much technology that they would like to - I doubt whether we'll see MAPI being opened up, whether the doc format will, whether we'll see a pam_ad etc ... All Microsoft wants is to look good in the press, give a cozy feeling to its customers and more importantly have a position to draw lines in the free software movement. Patents and litigation will be seen as a major drawback by all the majors looking at deploying free software solutions. I am not talking about the average bearded nerd here in /., but the multi-millionaire CEOs who don't know jargon from garbage.

As for me, I am in India, I can keep laughing whenever talk about software patents happen.

Re:I was waiting for this to happen (1)

deepestblue (206649) | more than 7 years ago | (#16708733)

As for me, I am in India, I can keep laughing whenever talk about software patents happen.


while India has already ordered [ffii.org] legislation of software patents.

Novell is like everyone else... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16708597)

As I read the FAQ and announcements last night, with the M$ logo prominent on the webcast, I was reminded of the movie _The_Empire_Strikes_Back_, specifically the scene just before Luke gets into his battle with Vader. He encounters Leia and the armed guards escorting her, and when she realizes it's Luke, she screams "It's a trap!" as she's dragged away.

*Everyone* who has ever climbed into bed with M$ has been screwed: Spyglass, Stac Software, IBM, HP, Citrix, et. al. ad. nauseum. How Novell could think it's somehow immune is beyond me.

Even as Ballmer was busy announcing this in SF, I have little doubt that a literal army of lawyers were busy in Redmon, poring over the agreements and looking at the placement of commas to find loopholes, ambiguities and workarounds (beyond those that they slipped in before signing and that Novell's legal beagles missed) that will allow Redmond to rape the spirit of the agreements while nevertheless adhering to the letter.

Bruce where are you! (1)

headkase (533448) | more than 7 years ago | (#16708601)

If Microsoft attempted to assert their patents against a complete sector of activity could it be construed as anti-competitive and a basis for new anti-trust proceedings?

I would hope so.

Re:Bruce where are you! (1)

common middle name (657525) | more than 7 years ago | (#16708855)

Assert what patent rights? Everyone keeps implying that all open source software infringes on some Microsoft patent or other. This whole line of reasoning is ridiculous. I don't even see why a WINE developer should be afraid. I'm sure the source for it has already been looked over by Microsoft. Why would they decide to sue now? And over what?

Gotta be one of the dumber arguments I've heard... (1)

jhutch2000 (801707) | more than 7 years ago | (#16708633)

"Your honor, they aren't using Microsoft approved Linux!"

WTF! The whole point of Free and Open Software is that no one CAN say that in a court.

Now, if the argument had been that MS might make business shy away from non-MS-approved Linux through marketing and strong-arm tactics ... you might have an argument.

next ploy (1)

non (130182) | more than 7 years ago | (#16708635)

i agree with Wickline that this is the next ploy by MS to try and subvert/control/destroy OSS, especially as it pertains to commercial enterprises. at the end of the day MS are always going to try and involve the courts, as it is the easiest and most cost-effective. why innovate when you can litigate? i wonder how this will affect the new patent review group (here [slashdot.org] ), as this news makes it look like a mexican standoff, with GE casting the deciding vote.

Don't forget Oracle (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16708657)

I just read the same story on three different sites and out of them there's one that makes sense, one that's a stretch and this one that is tin foil hat nuttiness at its finest. Keep in mind that Oracle announced there "new" enterprise Linux only days ago. Sure Microsoft has a history of trying to pound open source into the group, but the bigger threat here is Oracle by far. They may have to swallow a little pride and make things more operable with Novell, but it's to the end that people don't completely flock to Oracle's boat. I'm as suspicious of this as anyone else, but the landscape is shifting and Microsoft is aware of it. This doesn't mean that MS is going to sudden GPL Windows, but that doesn't mean this isn't forcing them to open up just enough to stay a player in this field. It won't be any more than completely necessary, but to say this is nothing more then an attempt to finish off Novell like they start a decade ago is pretty asinine. Who is Novell compared to Oracle?

This should be removed (1)

Oz0ne (13272) | more than 7 years ago | (#16708685)

1) The inquirer? Seriously?
2) The article isn't even coherent. None of what's said here make any logical sense, and even less legal sense.

I need a trash bin on the side of /. I can drag things to.

I don't get it either (3, Insightful)

acvh (120205) | more than 7 years ago | (#16708699)

not to mention that the linked article, and articles linked from that, are pretty much incomprehensible. Microsoft and Novell agree to work together to make Linux and Windows work together, Microsoft agrees to support SUSE for Novell customers, therefore Microsoft owns Linux? Sloppy reasoning, sloppy writing, sloppy discussion.

New market-rules. (1)

Tribbin (565963) | more than 7 years ago | (#16708715)

Ofcourse they can cooperate as they will and develop software under any license. I would not complain if they would do just that.

But why, do they have to threat with suing commercial opponents?

I guess Microsoft by now is only used to playing the monopolist and only wants to operate in the linux market with the rules they have become used to.

It's a ruse-- there is too much prior art (1)

postbigbang (761081) | more than 7 years ago | (#16708725)

The SCO case taught us the taxonomy of what's inside Linux, and it's protected. Add to this the GNU utilities, also hand-crafted by RMS. Any patents that Microsoft pulls out of its sleeve and sends torts about will be fodder for the EU community to go ballistic about, and worse, hurt Microsoft's chances to make friends with the OSS & F/OSS communities.

No, this is a case of the enemy of my enemy is my cross-licensed friend. This would never happen while Ray Noorda was alive, but alas, he's gone now. It's probably making Eric Schmidt, who once headed Novell, cringe.

It's all for chest thumping. Nothing to see here. Move along.

to clear it up a bit (2, Insightful)

FatherBash (632310) | more than 7 years ago | (#16708755)

I think the confusion is a result of using the terms "unlicensed linux" when that's not the case. They're referring specifically to the way a linux server or desktop would interact with Windows machines CIFS/SMB etc. Also, many of the Windows desktop features emulated in KDE/Gnome could be patented by Microsoft...like old Apple/MS lawsuits over the GUI in the first place.

Personally, I think Novell has the touch of death for everything it gets involved in. It's not enough for them anymore to issue grossly untested patches and releases of their own propietary Netware/Groupwise crap any longer (I'm referring to modern incarnations of Novell software, yes they used to be good a long time ago), overcharge and overprice for their software and lousy support; now they have to take a formerly good linux distro, send all the good developers and managers from it running and now create potential legal issues for the entire OSS world!

p.s. I hate Provo

Is the deal in conflict with GPL? (5, Informative)

feranick (858651) | more than 7 years ago | (#16708761)

"It's possible that Thursday's deal between Microsoft and Novell could conflict with a provision in the General Public License (GPL), according to Eben Moglen, the attorney for the Free Software Foundation that created and oversees the Linux license. "If you make an agreement which requires you to pay a royalty to anybody for the right to distribute GPL software, you may not distribute it under the GPL," Moglen told CNET News.com Thursday. Section 7 of the GPL "requires that you have, and pass along to everybody, the right to distribute software freely and without additional permission." Article from CNET: http://news.com.com/2061-10795_3-6132156.html [com.com]

You conveniently left out the line.... (1)

everphilski (877346) | more than 7 years ago | (#16709173)

... where he says "but I haven't read the terms of the agreement."

Novell's just keeping Vista open to NDS/Netware (3, Insightful)

HighOrbit (631451) | more than 7 years ago | (#16708783)

I don't see anything necessarily nefarious in this. As I commented in the earlier article, most likely, Novell is may making sure that Microsoft continues to support NDS/NetWare (which is now the Linux-based Open Enterprise Server) by having the client software supported on Vista. Microsoft wants to make sure that .Net has a foothold in the linux/unix backend market. They both get something out of the deal. Novell gets Windows desktops to provide a market for their server products. MS gets Novell supported Mono/.Net-based servers to provide a market for the desktop and application products. Anything that grows the NDS/Netware line is good for Novell. Anything that grows .Net is good for MS. They both win.

Re:Is MS a Good Partner? (1)

mpapet (761907) | more than 7 years ago | (#16709097)

Anything that grows the NDS/Netware line is good for Novell. Anything that grows .Net is good for MS.

1. So, suddenly after years of competing directly with Novell, they are "giving an inch" to Novell in the battle for corporate customers?

2. I'm all for win-win situations, but how many deals does microsoft make where they don't eat the other party alive?

Please, show me some examples.

Looks great but (1)

BeoCluster (995566) | more than 7 years ago | (#16708811)

Can I make a Beowulf Cluster of Microsoft/Novell's deals ?

Common Thread here... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16708847)

Why is it always zonk that posts these types of articles?

who died and left MS in charge? (1)

teh_chrizzle (963897) | more than 7 years ago | (#16708857)

so MS has the final say in what businesses can do with open source software? funny, i don't remember electing them. i use and recommend the use of OSS on win32 for all sorts of things. and just HTF does MS get to "license linux"?

Manipulation by MS - Watch the video (1)

nostriluu (138310) | more than 7 years ago | (#16708885)


And read people's analysis - just not the mainstream press, who spun this sensationally as "MS validates Linux." It becomes clear quickly that this is a very cold move to:

1. make it clear that Novell has the only authorized Linux, and anyone else is open to lawsuits. This is an attack on one of Microsoft's main challenges, Linux, as well as open source in general. They also make it clear that anyone but Novell who is funding open source development is subject to lawsuits.

2. make it clear .net (and mono) are legitimate options, if you work with MS or Novell. This is an attack on one of Microsoft's main challenges, the cross platform Java.

3. Establish that a normal way of doing business is to exchange patent suites. This is an attack on individuals and small business.

Watching the video, Novell's CEO slips in that he reached out to Microsoft. Missing that, during Q&A, someone asks who reached out to whom. He again has to state he reached out to MS, but with more visible squirming and coverup.

Also during Q&A, someone asks Ballmer if they would work with other vendors such as Red Hat on a similar deal. Ballmer talks for an extended period and does not address the question.

The press release video has been reorganized so I can't find it here, but the text is here: http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/exec/steve/2006 /11-02NovellInterop.mspx [microsoft.com]

That this is spun as news is incredible, when you consider what they are really claiming here - that they are ready to sue any Novell/Open Source company that is not Novell.

Welcome to the new world.

Bad read (2, Informative)

sys49152 (100346) | more than 7 years ago | (#16708895)

So MS has said that it won't sue Novell's customers, and Novell said it won't Sue MS's customers, (sad, BTW, that this is what it comes to) but how does this protect the corporate Linux adopter from everyone else with a lawyer? If corporate CIOs and legal departments are truly holding off on Linux and open source (and apparently they are) because of potential litigation over IP issues, then I don't see how this is much of a help. If I now go out and install Suse, what's to keep Oracle, or TIBCO, or Cisco from suing me. Do RH and Novell have to secure covenants from every copyright/patent holder in the industry?

Besides, hasn't the SCO thing proven that suing your customers is not a good idea (despite what the music industry is up to). If MS sues Citigroup for using Red Hat, then I'd put my money on Citigroup.

And to quote direct from Steve Balmer's mouth... (3, Informative)

advocate_one (662832) | more than 7 years ago | (#16708911)

The distributors of other versions of Linux cannot assure their customers that Microsoft won't sue for patent infringement. "If a customer says, 'Look, do we have liability for the use of your patented work?' Essentially, If you're using non-SUSE Linux, then I'd say the answer is yes," Ballmer said.

"I suspect that [customers] will take that issue up with their distributor," Ballmer said. Or if customers are considering doing a direct download of a non-SUSE Linux version, "they'll think twice about that," he said.
the link to the article is here [eweek.com]

I'll let you draw your own conclusions... but he is definitely banging the old "Linux infringes our patents" FUD drum...

-RedHat -NoVell (1)

Nikademus (631739) | more than 7 years ago | (#16708939)

Microsoft blesses Novell. This is a hard beat at RedHat... Oracle beats on Redhat too, it make some more pain to RH. Now RH falls bankrupt... Now, there is no RH... Novell thinks they won.. Then MS drops Novell support (along with Oracle?)... then Novell goes bankrupt... Then commercial linux is dead....

Another MS strategy?

Christ enough demonizing of Microsoft already!!!! (0)

CPE1704TKS (995414) | more than 7 years ago | (#16708975)

I'm no Microsoftie, but fuck, enough with making these made-up scenarios where Microsoft will try to kill OSS. Come on! It's really a small percentage of people who come up with these crackpot ideas where they think Microsoft will go around and kill Linux, but IT'S SIMPLY NOT TRUE.

In the past couple of years Microsoft has done what it can do embrace Linux, not kill it. Don't they even install Linux on their VMs to make sure that it works? They have softened some of their license restrictions, they have made more and more of their source code open source... yet every day, there is another article talking about some great conspiracy that Microsoft will entail to take over the world.

How much more do they need to do???

Let's be real, they will never convert to Linux or fully open and free source, but why should they? But given everything that I've seen, Microsoft is filled with pro-Linux types and ethical programmers who would never, ever let the company get away with killing off something like free programming, open source, etc.

When have they EVER, EVER exerted their powers to kill open source? I'll tell you: NEVER. They have only worked to try to co-exist with it in the last couple of years, so please, stop being paranoid, and slashdot please stop posting all this ridiculous nonsense that propagates this stupid attitude.

I for one welcome our new... (1)

Seraphnote (655201) | more than 7 years ago | (#16708997)

I for one welcome our new operating system overlords... oh, wait! ..... That's right they already are overlords!

It could simply be that this guarantees Microsoft some revenue from Linux via Novell, and gives Novell some lift up to the acceptance level Red Hat already has.

On the other hand, for those of us trying to get away from Microsoft, this hurts Novell, since now I am definitely NOT going to use Suse in the enterprise...
(...unless of course they have the only Linux version of a solution to something.)

If Novell really wanted to help their marketshare, they should deeply discount the use of Suse as a replacement for all the old Novell OS licenses that are out in the world. I would have used Suse had they done that. I've got a whole stack of useless old Novell licenses in the closet!

But until then, Red Hat's the OS for my enterprise servers.

moD up (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16709015)

feel an obligation maggot, vomit, shit Members' creative users', BigAAz, notorious OpenBSD Members' creative

I think the article quoted him badly... (2, Insightful)

jammer170 (895458) | more than 7 years ago | (#16709057)

I have a suspicion that what Wickline mean was Microsoft would only support software on Suse Linux that was Microsoft approved. What this could do is creat an imbalance in relation to commercial acceptance of open source software. Microsoft will say "We support package X, but not package Y or Z." So commercial companies who need the functionality provided by X, Y, or Z will choose X because it's supported, not necessarily because it's better. As an example, for customers using Suse Linux, Microsoft may say we only support Cedega, not Wine. More people will start using Cedega over Wine, and more money filters into Cedega over Wine. Taken to extreme, the Wine project may run out of money and have to shut down (it's not likely, but possible). Now, in Wine and Cedega's case, they are both open source, but Wickline may be worried that Microsoft will only support close sourced, commercial software running on Suse Linux, creating a shift of corporate funds away from the open source projects they may currently be supporting. Considering it's the Inquirer, I suspect they edited what Wickline said, but didn't fully understand it and screwed it up.

how long until.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16709083)

we see the Windows splash screen say "Microsoft Windows Vista 2009 Edition powered by Linux"

Re:how long until.. (1)

Seraphnote (655201) | more than 7 years ago | (#16709229)

Or will it be "Suse Enterprise 11, with Windows Server compatibility" ??

Relax (1)

Zymurgeek (153270) | more than 7 years ago | (#16709149)

There's verifiable proof that there's no Microsoft-owned code in Linux: It doesn't crash!

Patent Agreement (2, Insightful)

NullProg (70833) | more than 7 years ago | (#16709155)

I was all for this at first until I read the patent agreement for OpenOffice, Samba and .Net.

  • If Microsoft wanted to interoperate with OpenOffice, all they had to do was support ODF.

  • According to Miguel de Icaza. there are no patent concerns with Mono because Microsoft has granted RAND+Royalty Free licenses to any patents they might own that are required to implement the ECMA 334/335 standards.

  • Didn't the EU just recently decide the SMB/CIFS implementation was legal?


I personally think Microsoft is trying to plant a patent FUD turd inside the head of any CIO thinking of deploying Linux.

Hey Miguel de Icaza, what are your thoughts on this?

Enjoy,

While we indulge in paranoiaspeak... (1)

ettlz (639203) | more than 7 years ago | (#16709207)

Why just Linux? Could not one or more of the BSDs be "threatened" like this also?
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