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Jeremy Allison Resigns From Novell In Protest

kdawson posted more than 7 years ago | from the conscientious-action dept.

Novell 344

walterbyrd writes to alert us to word from groklaw.net that Jeremy Allison has turned in his resignation at Novell. "The legendary Jeremy Allison (of Samba fame) has resigned from Novell in protest over the Microsoft-Novell patent agreement, which he calls 'a mistake' that will be 'damaging to Novell's success in the future.' His main issue with the deal, though, is 'that even if it does not violate the letter of the license, it violates the intent of the GPL license the Samba code is released under, which is to treat all recipients of the code equally.' He leaves the company at the end of this month. He explained why in a message sent to several Novell email lists, and the message included his letter to management."

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344 comments

Excellent! (4, Insightful)

Scott Lockwood (218839) | more than 7 years ago | (#17326098)

Now if a few more people apply similar pressure. What I'd really like to see, is the Samba team officially pull support for Novell/SuSE, if not outright inform them they are in violation of the liscense, and their right to use the software is revoked.

Re:Excellent! (0, Troll)

dj961 (660026) | more than 7 years ago | (#17326116)

Uhg, people like you make me sad. Novell is not in violation of the GPL, sorry try again.

Re:Excellent! (1)

GodInHell (258915) | more than 7 years ago | (#17326152)

Novell is not in violation of the GPL, sorry try again.
Except many people (including Jeremy Allison) think they are.

Have any argument to back up your bald asertion?

-GiH

Re:Excellent! (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17326192)

Richard Stallman and Eben Moglen think they aren't. Since it's not going to end up in court... I win.

Re:Excellent! (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17326224)

No, you are wrong. J. A. clearly says they are not. RTFA!

Re:Excellent! (0, Troll)

m0rph3us0 (549631) | more than 7 years ago | (#17326236)

The assertion is that Novell is in violation of the GPL. You can't assert or rather, can't prove that something isn't. JAINAL or more importantly JAINAJ (Jeremy Allison is not a Judge). If Novell is in violation of the GPL perhaps someone should setup something for resolving disputes of copyright and bring their case there.

Re:Excellent! (4, Insightful)

GodInHell (258915) | more than 7 years ago | (#17326344)

The assertion is that Novell is in violation of the GPL. You can't assert or rather, can't prove that something isn't.
I didn't ask you to prove it, just to argue it. Arguments (as used in court) discuss questions of intent, meaning of text, possible conflicts, and proposed remedies.

To the above ACs who feel that delcaring that Novell is not technically breaching the letter of the contract means that the contract is not breached, do some reading up on contracts. The words are open to interpretation - with the goal of divining the intent of the parties. Knowingly misconstruing the meaning of a contract to evade its obvious intent is a breach of contract - according to Englo-American juris prudence.


-GiH

Not a lawyer, just a student.

Re:Excellent! (0, Troll)

m0rph3us0 (549631) | more than 7 years ago | (#17326528)

Thurgood Marshall just called, he'd wants to talk to you about the 14th Ammendment and the Southern Pacific Railroad.

Re:Excellent! (2)

Scott Lockwood (218839) | more than 7 years ago | (#17326168)

Knee jerk holier than thou reactions make the baby Jesus cry.

You don't KNOW they're not in violation of the license. Intent is important. Clearly, they are not distributing the software any longer in a manor that is palatable to the people who write the code. That's a no-no. Also, they're trying for an end run around GPLv2, which is bad.

Frankly, I'd like to see it go to court - I believe a case could be made that they are NOT fully compliant with the license. That, or I'd like to see Samba go GPLv3.

Re:Excellent! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17326260)

People like you make everyone cry. Seen any good martial arts movies lately to hone your skills? Which iteration of troll site are you on now? Which wife are you on? How many grease sandwiches did you have for lunch? Care to recommend any of your past business plans I can fail at too?

Re:Excellent! (5, Insightful)

Eggplant62 (120514) | more than 7 years ago | (#17326340)

Scott!!

Yeah, I'm with you, pal. When I consider Steve Ballmer's comments [nwsource.com] regarding this deal, it stinks to high heaven. There's no way Novell or Microsoft will ever square this deal in my eyes in light of those patent threats made by the CEO of Microsoft. Novell's proper reaction should have been to turn right around and drop the deal once they heard what that creep was spouting. "Undisclosed balance sheet liability" my arse.

No matter what Novell does, they still look to me to have been bullied into this agreement. Most likely MS came to Novell threatening legal action and this is how they settled it. We weren't inside, and we'll never know, but that's what this whole thing feels like to me.

Re:Excellent! (1)

10scjed (695280) | more than 7 years ago | (#17326394)

About Ballmer's statements, Novell has said, those balance sheet statements were "taken out of context" [boycottnovell.com]

Re:Excellent! (4, Interesting)

Eggplant62 (120514) | more than 7 years ago | (#17326490)

I don't care what Novell says. They're trying to smooth feathers is all. Go back and read the entire statement Ballmer made and tell me you didn't feel physically revolted by his words. I know I did.

Re:Excellent! (4, Insightful)

10scjed (695280) | more than 7 years ago | (#17326556)

exactly, Novell is Microsoft these days, sharing PR and sales offices, and spreading FUD about potential infringement since they are in the unique position to benefit from it.

Novell isn't using their patents/IP to FUD against open source, they are using their partner Microsoft's patents/IP to FUD against open source. A technicality perhaps, but still wholly unacceptable.

Re:Excellent! (1)

arth1 (260657) | more than 7 years ago | (#17326626)

No matter what Novell does, they still look to me to have been bullied into this agreement. Most likely MS came to Novell threatening legal action and this is how they settled it. We weren't inside, and we'll never know, but that's what this whole thing feels like to me.


Hanlon's Razor[*] tells me that the Novell executives had no idea what they were doing.

[*]: Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity.

Re:Excellent! (3, Interesting)

Attrition_cp (888039) | more than 7 years ago | (#17326142)

I wonder if developers jumping ship was part of Microsoft's reason for wanting the deal. more disenfranchisement means less open source competition (you could say they'll move to greener pastures but some could just leave). I realize even if that was true it would be a huge monetary waste for Microsoft, but tin foil hats are cheap. No, not trolling. It's a boring workday and I can cook up any plots I like!

Re:Excellent! (1, Insightful)

bogaboga (793279) | more than 7 years ago | (#17326312)

I wonder if developers jumping ship was part of Microsoft's reason for wanting the deal.

It seems it was part of the strategy and so far, it appears to be working. Good for Microsoft.

On the other hand, I wonder what Novell will ever to right with Open Source Software.

Re:Excellent! (5, Insightful)

eno2001 (527078) | more than 7 years ago | (#17326654)

This is what I predicted from the beginning. The goal here was fragmentation of the Linux development community. It looks like they could succeed. It's basic "divide and conquer" because there will be some developers who don't see much wrong with the deal and will support the Novell Microsoft deal and there will be others who will not. The ones who don't MAY start new forks/projects and join other distros, or... they may just move on to other things entirely. This ensures a two-tiered Linux world with crappy underdeveloped software in non-blessed distros (Gentoo, Debian, etc...) and second-rate (compared to Microsoft Windows solutions) software in the intentionally stunted Novell Suse Linux and anyone else who decides to sign on. Microsoft very likely wants Novell Linux to be as successful as Apple's Mac OS was pre-OS X. That is to say, "enough to stay alive and prove that there is competition but not alive enough to compete on Microsoft's turf in the profitable business markets".

Microsoft couldn't care less if Apple Macs were all the rage in schools early on because that wasn't one of their markets. Schools aren't as comparatively profitable as businesses. Once Microsoft had conquered the business world, they then started paying attention to schools and libraries and took those markets away from Apple. If the Apple platform actually started to make major inroads in server rooms, office suites, groupware and provided a killer alternative to Exchange, MS would be actively trying to take them down a few pegs again. Many Linux distros are doing exactly that and that's why taking Linux down a few pegs is a necessity to MS. MS doesn't want Linux dead. They just want it to smell funny. Probably something like pee. (I keep doing that)

Re:Excellent! (4, Insightful)

Iphtashu Fitz (263795) | more than 7 years ago | (#17326148)

Can the Samba team do that? Samba is released under the GPL, and even though Novell may be violating the intent of the GPL it's not violating the actual license agreement itself. I don't think the Samba team can unilaterally tell Novell they no longer have the right to use Samba. I suppose they could release new versions under a modified GPL license that specifically excludes Novell, but Novell could still use the current version and modify it on their own. It'd just end up in a split of the Samba project - the full GPL'd version and the bastardized Novell/Microsoft hybrid.

Re:Excellent! (2, Insightful)

AceJohnny (253840) | more than 7 years ago | (#17326300)

It'd just end up in a split of the Samba project - the full GPL'd version and the bastardized Novell/Microsoft hybrid.


The worst part is that the bastardized Novell/Microsoft hybrid would probably the best-working version. (Hey, who better than microsoft to know the backward-compatibility quirks of Samba/CIFS?)

Re:Excellent! (5, Insightful)

lawpoop (604919) | more than 7 years ago | (#17326658)

Now witness the genius of the GPL. If you distribute software you have derived from GPL'ed code, you must provide that source code to the public under the terms of the GPL.

If MS/Novell create a better samba derived from the samba team's GPL code, they *must* provide access to the source code. Any improvements MS/Novell make to samba are guaranteed to become available to us, and they can never take it away.

Re:Excellent! (2, Insightful)

garcia (6573) | more than 7 years ago | (#17326836)

If MS/Novell create a better samba derived from the samba team's GPL code, they *must* provide access to the source code. Any improvements MS/Novell make to samba are guaranteed to become available to us, and they can never take it away.

Then they'll just link to an external library that hides all the new functionality.

Re:Excellent! (1, Insightful)

0xABADC0DA (867955) | more than 7 years ago | (#17326680)

Sometimes in software like Samba the best code is written when developers don't know the exact specifications. If you say "make it share files and handle these special cases in Win2k, these ones in WinXP, these ones in Vista" then you are likely to get a solution that can only handle those bugs. But if you say "make it share files and oh yeah there are some special cases here's an example of some" then developers make the system with more flexibility.

Programmers don't want to get stuck on some obscure file locking issue for instance and realize they have to rewrite 50k of code just to handle it. So the less they know about the gotchas the more error checking, hooks, and gestalt they put in. This gets really ugly though when there isn't a well-defined goal (ie 'filesharing with windows') because coders go crazy making it overly generic and flexible.

Probably Not (2, Funny)

codepunk (167897) | more than 7 years ago | (#17326388)

However, nobody is saying samba has got to be easy to compile, run or maintain on Novell's distro.

Re:Excellent! (5, Insightful)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 7 years ago | (#17326450)

Can the Samba team do that? Samba is released under the GPL, and even though Novell may be violating the intent of the GPL it's not violating the actual license agreement itself.


I'm not sure that's the case; certainly, Allison's position sounds as if it is that the deal violates at least the spirit and possibly the letter of the license. Certainly, a high profile group of suppliers of GPL software included in Novell's Linux offerings raising the specter of litigation and license violations over the deal would undermine the primary purpose and destroy the value of the deal, which was, after all, to help Novell sell its commercial Linux products by removing uncertainty associated with them stemming from the specter of litigation over the IP violations.

If there is a cloud of GPL-related potential litigation seen surrounding Novell, all its done is traded one potential source of litigation for many potential sources of litigation.

Of course they can (3, Interesting)

bonefry (979930) | more than 7 years ago | (#17326548)

A software's author that licensed the project under the GPL or any other license STILL RETAINS THE COPYRIGHTS of that project. Thus ... the author of a software project can specifically forbid a certain individual or company from distributing that software. If the Samba team holds the copyrights of Samba ... go figure, they can.

Re:Of course they can (1, Informative)

rhombic (140326) | more than 7 years ago | (#17326660)

Except that if the team wants to continue to use the GPL, the FSF doesn't allow modification of the wording of the GPL license, which is what they'd have to do. Inserting a clause like, "All of the above doesn't apply to MS or Novell, they are teh sux and they can't use it" would put the team in violation of the FSF's copyright on the license itself.

Oh yeah, and MS/Novell could just fork off of a version that's already out there. The Samba team controls the copyright, but they've already released versions under the GPL. They can't pull that back in, it's already out and specifically says MS/Novell along w/ everyone else can use and abuse it, as long as they comply w/ the license. One of the "problems" w/ the GPL, that's "fixed" in v3.

Re:Of course they can (1, Informative)

bonefry (979930) | more than 7 years ago | (#17326734)

No, you don't get it ... its not about the GPL license ... its about the right to do whatever you want with your copyrights. A copyright holder can prevent an individual or a company from having access to the GPL license. If Novell doesn't have the right to use the GPL license of Samba, Novell cannot redistribute it.

Re:Of course they can (1)

bentcd (690786) | more than 7 years ago | (#17326796)

The thing is that the samba team has at one time said "yeah, sure you can use this, no problem" (I paraphrase). For them to then, a couple of years later, say "ah, no sorry, what we said earlier doesn't apply now, you can't use that anymore" is a particularly nasty variant of bait and switch that I doubt will go down well with the courts.
I expect that, in a nutshell, once licensed you stay licensed.

Re:Of course they can (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17326682)

This would only be for only future versions. Novell can take anything currently released and use that as long as they don't violate the license. That's how the GPL works. Once you release a version that version is bound to the terms of that license. You can't stop someone from using the software just because you don't like them or whatever. That again is the whole point of the GPL. Anyone is free to use the code as long as they stick to the terms of the license.

If there is no license violation there is nothing they can do other than make all new releases exclude Novell. They can't keep Novell from using the already released versions because those are under the GPL free and clear as long as Novell doesn't violate the GPL.

Re:Of course they can (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#17326720)

Nope. The GPL says you have the right to distribute if you get it. If you instituted a license which said that certain people wouldn't be able to distribute it would conflict with the GPL. If your other license conflicts with the GPL the GPL version cannot be distributed. If you cannot distribute the software under the GPL then your sole remedy is to stop distributing the software. Thus a clause like that would cause you to be unable to distribute the software - unless you substantially rewrote the license, to the point at which it would not be GPL - and thus it would be incompatible with OSI-approved licenses. Also you would need permission from any contributors, or to rewrite their portions of the program...

Re:Excellent! (1)

omeg (907329) | more than 7 years ago | (#17326176)

They aren't violating the license. That's one of the key points of Allison's post; he says that even though Novell is not violating the GPL, under which Samba is released, it still is not upholding the true intent of the license. Whether or not you agree with that is up to you (I personally do), but nothing is really going to stop Novell from using it.

Re:Excellent! (3, Insightful)

Amazing Quantum Man (458715) | more than 7 years ago | (#17326798)

he says that even though Novell is not violating the GPL, under which Samba is released, it still is not upholding the true intent of the license.

No, that's not what he's saying. You're close, though. What he's saying is that even if Novell is not violating the GPL, under which Samba is released, it still is not upholding the true intent of the license.

There's a difference. The actual statement is a hypothetical. Your version is an assertion.

well no they won't (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17326204)

because they treat all people equally. That is important to them. Novell don't stop being "all people" just by being a bunch of <insert whatever you feel fit here> Just like there was talk of SAMBA 'revoking' SCO's license for being a bunch of <same deal>. They didn't.

Re:Excellent! (1)

Billosaur (927319) | more than 7 years ago | (#17326208)

Well, they took a first step with this [samba.org] , but how much further will they be willing to go? What does SAMBA stand to lose if they lock out Novell?

Re:Excellent! (2, Insightful)

fudgefactor7 (581449) | more than 7 years ago | (#17326368)

Novell now no longer needs Samba, with MS being their shiny new sugar-daddy. They'll just come out with something *like* Samba, but different, and proprietary (50% MS, 50% Novell), and it would probably work better than Samba does now...thus killing an otherwise excellent OSS program...and locking in more to MS's solutions...which is what MS wants. The only people that lose in this scenario is Samba and the OSS/GPL movement in general.

Re:Excellent! (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17326430)

What I'd really like to see, is the Samba team officially pull support for Novell/SuSE, if not outright inform them they are in violation of the liscense, and their right to use the software is revoked.

Er, so basically, you want the Samba team to treat Novell differently to other recipients of the code... because Novell don't treat recipients of the code equally?

Re:Excellent! (1)

Scott Lockwood (218839) | more than 7 years ago | (#17326906)

Fair is fair, after all. More importantly, I want to see them enforce the spirit of the agreement - treat them the SAME as you would anyone who violates the GPL.

Won't revoke rights; Samba team too good for that (4, Insightful)

KWTm (808824) | more than 7 years ago | (#17326704)

Because Samba is distributed under the GPL, they won't be able to revoke the rights to Novell as long as Novell stays within the (letter of) the agreement.

Besides, in the past, the Samba team has demonstrated a professionalism that has put their detractors to shame, and I hope they can continue to uphold their standards. Witness what they said to SCO when SCO accused the evil Samba team of spreading the deadly plague of Open Source (all the while distributing Samba with their SCO Linux). Here's the letter from Samba to SCO:
Samba is developed and distributed under the GPL, in exactly the same manner as the Linux kernel code that SCO has been criticising for its lack of care in ownership attribution.
Because of this, we believe that Samba must remain true to our principles and be freely available to use even in ways we personally disapprove of.
Even when used by rank hypocrites like SCO.

Translation: "Up yours, SCO." But they say it in such a way that it will carry weight in business circles. In the same way, Allison's resignation makes a clear statement.

It would be a mistake to do otherwise; if the Samba team says, "Well, then I *un*-give you the code! Nyaah nyaah!", it would epitomise in the minds of executive decision-makers that Open Source is run by a bunch of immature J.Random Hackers From China who will revoke your license at the slightest provocation.

One only hopes that Novell will show some more understanding of how much turd they have now placed their foot in, and make some public gesture to show the IT world that OSS is alive and well. Sort of like what EV1 did. Novell's done a lot of good for OSS. I hope they continue.

Whiners like this.... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17326874)

don't deserve their jobs any way. He acted like a 10 year old "quiting out of protest". Aww, he got his wittle fweelins hurt.

I applaud him! (1)

10scjed (695280) | more than 7 years ago | (#17326124)

Hopefully, Novell will keep Stafford Masie's promise [boycottnovell.com] to be GPL v3 compliant, fix the deal, and then maybe they can hire him back, with a raise and promotion of course. Best of luck to Jeremy.

Re:I applaud him! (1)

arth1 (260657) | more than 7 years ago | (#17326258)

I'm not to sure how to interpret this rapture from Stafford Masie:

Now, as GPL version 3 matures, and Stallman has said we're not in violation of GPL version 2 at the moment, now we're not with the current agreement, but he believes in GPL3 he will put verbiage in there to ensure that we are.


Stallman will put verbiage in GPL3 to ensure that Novell is in violation? That's what he said, but obviously not what he meant. So what did he mean? That Stallman will kowtow and ensure that the GPL is amended to ensure that Novell isn't violating it? That sounds even less likely - RMS is an upright guy, no matter what else you think of him (and he also isn't the only person in charge of creating the new GPL).

So what, exactly, did Maisie mean, if anything?

Regards,
--
*Art

Intent doesn't matter (1)

Dynedain (141758) | more than 7 years ago | (#17326156)

You don't think that MS and Novell have had teams of lawyers going over everything for this deal, including the GPL. When it comes down to it, it's the letter of the contract that matters, not the intent that was in the minds of the writers.

If I write a contract to deliver a dozen roses, but for some reason I think that carnation is called a rose and instead deliver a dozen carnations, I will be held in breach of contract. It doesn't matter what my intent was if I framed the contract improperly to ensure my intent.

Re:Intent doesn't matter (2, Insightful)

eln (21727) | more than 7 years ago | (#17326222)

It sounds to me like he released Samba under the GPL with the idea that the GPL somehow reflects some sort of utopian ideal where everyone is equal, and the GPL just doesn't say that. I wonder if he decided to use the GPL because it was the best-known Open Source license, without actually reading it (or better yet, having his lawyer read it), and is now caught off guard when he sees that the license he chose is not as reflective of his idea of the "Open Source Ideal" as he thought.

He chose to release his software under a license that permitted this sort of behavior, and now he's complaining when people actually engage in this sort of behavior.

Re:Intent doesn't matter (1)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | more than 7 years ago | (#17326242)

Yes. And Microsoft's record in following consent decrees and contracts with others (Sun) is inviolate.

Re:Intent doesn't matter (1)

radarsat1 (786772) | more than 7 years ago | (#17326316)

When it comes down to it, it's the letter of the contract that matters, not the intent that was in the minds of the writers.


Well, it matters when everyone gets pissed off at you, you begin losing market share, and you start losing your best developers...

Fortunately we still live in a world where people can make choices, and people are affected by intent. (People... as opposed to Lawyers, I guess. swish!.. heheh.) So yes, it matters.

Re:Intent doesn't matter (1)

Schue (1036230) | more than 7 years ago | (#17326332)

That isn't entirely true. Honoring the "spirit of the agreement" has played an increasing role in courts as an effort to reduce the complexity of litigation and suppress frivolous suits. After all, if you purposefully convince someone to execute an agreement that legalistically conceals its true meaning and you misrepresent your intent then what you are doing is rooted in deceit and, therefore, fraud.

Re:Intent doesn't matter (4, Funny)

arth1 (260657) | more than 7 years ago | (#17326346)

You don't think that MS and Novell have had teams of lawyers going over everything for this deal, including the GPL. When it comes down to it, it's the letter of the contract that matters, not the intent that was in the minds of the writers.

If I write a contract to deliver a dozen roses, but for some reason I think that carnation is called a rose and instead deliver a dozen carnations, I will be held in breach of contract. It doesn't matter what my intent was if I framed the contract improperly to ensure my intent.


Fortunately, YANAL, and you're dead wrong. Using your example, if you deliver Kevin Rose and 9 members of his family, you've fulfilled the letter of the contract, but will still be held in breach of it because you violented the intent of it.

Re:Intent doesn't matter (1)

10scjed (695280) | more than 7 years ago | (#17326362)

especially since you're still 2 'rose's short, but mint example.

Re:Intent doesn't matter (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17326578)

Actually, when you deliver humans, it's called a "cannibal's dozen". Historically speaking, you eat two on the way. So, there's only 10.

Re:Intent doesn't matter (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17326676)

The two qualifying grandparents wilted...

Re:Intent doesn't matter (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17326678)

IANAL, but I believe that contracts are case sensitive: "Rose" != "rose". Do you have a better example? IMO, contracts are supposed to describe the intent and nothing else. I've read the GPL and always assumed that its intent was what was written. If the intent is something else, is there any document online that explains it? If so, why haven't they used that document as the license?

Doesn't it? (1)

sammy baby (14909) | more than 7 years ago | (#17326484)

Warning: IANAL.

You're wrong.

There are many instances in the law where intent does matter very much, especially in regard to contracts. If it can be shown that Novell and Microsoft colluded to violate the terms of the GPL, you can bet it would be worse for them than if they had been found to be "accidentally" in violation. Plausible deniability is nice to have.

Related to intent is understanding - the concept of the "meeting of the minds," which is central to contract law. This excerpt is taken from a site about health care [healthdecisions.org] , but it's still applicable. Emphasis mine:

The parties to a contract must reach a meeting of the minds--that is, both parties must have the same understanding of the agreement and of their respective obligations and rights under the contract.

This concept has a number of implications. Meeting of the minds requires that both parties have good faith. Good faith on the part of a party means that the party does not have the intention of deceiving or taking unfair advantage of the other party. Without good faith, the parties do not truly have the same understanding of the agreement and so a meeting of the minds has not been reached. Therefore, if it can be shown that either party was not acting in good faith, the contract can be declared invalid and rescinded (cancelled).

Sometimes there is no meeting of the minds because important information is missing or incorrect, meaning that through no fault of his own one of the parties does not have an accurate understanding of the terms of the agreement...


And of course, in criminal law, the intent to commit a crime is hugely important. Google "mens rea" sometime... or, wait, I'll do it for you [google.com] . Of course, any case coming out of this would likely be civil rather than criminal, but you get the picture.

Re:Doesn't it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17326616)

Related to intent is understanding - the concept of the "meeting of the minds," which is central to contract law. This excerpt is taken from a site about health care, but it's still applicable.

The GPL is a license, not a contract.

You clearly know nothing about contract law (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17326622)

Intent is a vitally important part of contracts. Essentially, whenever there's any dispute over a contract, unless a term is specifically and excruciatingly spelled out, the intent of the parties making the contract is what the judge will use to make a decision.

What really happened (3, Funny)

autophile (640621) | more than 7 years ago | (#17326218)

Executive #1: Hey, I just got an Internet!
Executive #2: Who from?
Executive #1: Some guy named Jeremy. Isn't this caviar good?
Executive #2: Sure is. Who's Jeremy?
Executive #1: I think he's some greasy coder.
Executive #2: Ha ha, they are *so* *guh-ross!*
Executive #1: You said it! Here, have a small, autonomous Micronesian island, complete with 143 nubile slaves and an offshore account.

Ha ha only serious?

--Rob

good riddance (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17326230)

good riddance...

I don't understand this... (0, Troll)

PenguinBoyDave (806137) | more than 7 years ago | (#17326238)

Let's see here...

* Novell gets a BIG chunk of money for this deal
* Microsoft says it will not file any lawsuits against developers over any patent issues
* Companies can use SUSE Linux and Windows and know that total interoperability is the goal of both Microsoft and Novell
* HP, Goldman Sachs, IBM and others have called this a very positive thing for IT, Linux and Open Source
* The only people who are complaining are those who are true *idealists* when it comes to Linux and Open Source

I don't know why this guy is leaving. This is a good thing all the way around for the Linux community. I have large customers (people who spend money on software AND use Open Source) who run Windows and Linux side by side. Their NUMBER ONE complaint has been lack of interoperability. They say that they will definitely continue to run Linux in their environment and will probably switch to SUSE Linux because of this agreement.

This agreement gives them the support they need to run their businesses...period. It does nothing more than that. I'm sorry to see him leave Novell, but this project will go on without him, and Linux, Open Source, and the IT community will be better off for this agreement. Hopefully he'll find a god place that can use his talents.

Re:I don't understand this... (3, Insightful)

mccalli (323026) | more than 7 years ago | (#17326364)

* The only people who are complaining are those who are true *idealists* when it comes to Linux and Open Source

....or in this case, the people that actually produce the software being used.

I have large customers (people who spend money on software AND use Open Source) who run Windows and Linux side by side. Their NUMBER ONE complaint has been lack of interoperability.

Precisely. Users will think this is great, but it's not users who are writing the software being abused. Large users in particular (I work for a very large corporate user of Linux) will think this is great, because they're already paying for their support contracts and are basically seeing Linux as a commercial OS anyway - that's true in their case, because they're paying for support and restricting themselves to supported configs etc.. But it's the people writing the code that are objecting to their labour being used in this way, not the end users.

Cheers,
Ian

Re:I don't understand this... (2, Interesting)

Enderandrew (866215) | more than 7 years ago | (#17326372)

Part of this agreement involves Novell paying Microsoft not to sue them.

It makes the Linux world look guilty of stealing from Microsoft.

And the second Novell gave Microsoft money, Novell ceased development on products that would compete with Microsoft.

Do you think that Novell isn't forever compromised by this deal?

Re:I don't understand this... (2, Insightful)

MysticOne (142751) | more than 7 years ago | (#17326398)

From what I understand, it doesn't protect any developers unless they work for Novell. Aside from that, it only protects Novell's customers from patent lawsuits. If you're using a different Linux distribution, you're not going to be covered.

The problem here is that it does violate the spirit of the GPL. Rather than granting all users freedom, they're granting users freedom only if they've purchased a specific distribution. The GPLv3 will more than likely fix this, but for now we're stuck with the GPLv2 allowing actions such as this.

Oh, and just how is Microsoft going to be fostering interoperability? I haven't seen yet where they've adopted any of our open protocols or open formats. I don't see them working with developers of free software products to help them inter-operate with Microsoft software. All I've seen so far is that Novell is going to be making an OpenXML plug-in for OpenOffice, and OpenXML is a standard in name only, also completely avoiding the intent of what it means to be a standard.

Re:I don't understand this... (1)

PenguinBoyDave (806137) | more than 7 years ago | (#17326540)

"Oh, and just how is Microsoft going to be fostering interoperability?"

Go visit http://port25.technet.com/ [technet.com]

Take some time and actually read what they are doing over there. Note that Microsoft and Firefox folks have been working together...

It isn't all bad folks.

Re:I don't understand this... (1)

MysticOne (142751) | more than 7 years ago | (#17326586)

I know they've done a few things that are at least somewhat "open", but I don't see this as being a significant part of Microsoft's strategy. It's probably more something to garner "good will" in the community, so we're more complacent. With all that said, they can *still* exert control over their patents if an open solution they've developed is used or extended by somebody else.

I just don't see them doing anything that's going to weaken their stranglehold on the PC community.

Re:I don't understand this... (2, Interesting)

PenguinBoyDave (806137) | more than 7 years ago | (#17326754)

I might be dead-wrong here. I might be so wrong that I'll lament ever supporting this. But I look at this as Microsoft finally admitting that Linux and Open Source are here to stay, and since they can't and won't beat it, why not see how to best work with it. The formation of the Port25 website and the Open Source lab is a good step in the right direction.

Re:I don't understand this... (2, Insightful)

ctid (449118) | more than 7 years ago | (#17326442)

* Microsoft says it will not file any lawsuits against developers over any patent issues

MS said they won't file suit against hobbyist developers. They didn't say anything about developers who are paid to work on Linux by companies other than SUSE.
* Companies can use SUSE Linux and Windows and know that total interoperability is the goal of both Microsoft and Novell

Jeremy Allison has been quoted many times about some of the problems of making SAMBA work with Microsoft's SMB. Many of these problems have been because Microsoft do not (perhaps that should be "did not") want operability between Windows and Linux. As the founder of the SAMBA project, he's in an invidious position for precisely the reason you state when you talk about customers who complained about interoperability and who now want to switch to SUSE.

Pretty simple actually (2, Insightful)

codepunk (167897) | more than 7 years ago | (#17326492)

He did not like how his employer was circumventing the spirit of the license by which his code is developed. You see it does not matter what you, Novell, MS, HP etc thinks this is about developers. In a FOSS development model those commercial entities mean absolutely nothing at all, the developer who licensed the code steers the ship, not the other way around.

Good on him, it is his code!

Not like he has to work very hard at finding a new job anyhow.

Re:I don't understand this... (5, Insightful)

mrsbrisby (60242) | more than 7 years ago | (#17326496)

* Microsoft says it will not file any lawsuits against developers over any patent issues
Maybe this is where you're confused.

Microsoft says it will sue users of Samba, but not if they give Microsoft money by being a customer of Novell (because a portion of the SUSE warantee agreement goes to Microsoft directly).

By doing this, Novell is violating my copyright and the copyright of every contributor to free software by redistributing my software to people who do not have the ability to redistribute my software (with all rights they received therein). The GPL expressly forbids this, both in intent and in letter.

Novell is now saying that when I said anyone they distribute my software to must be given the same rights to redistribute that Novell has, and be told as such, that I really didn't mean it. While the GPL says this means Novell no longer has the right to redistribute my software, I strongly suspect they think it doesn't say that either.

Re:I don't understand this... (2, Insightful)

neaorin (982388) | more than 7 years ago | (#17326762)

How is Novell violating your copyright because of something another company said?

If there were no deal and MS said 'we'll sue everyone, but not Novell 'cause we like their funky green lizard', would Novell still violate the GPL by redistributing?

Now if MS comes out and points out copyright violations in GPL code, Novell can't legally distribute it regardless of the deal...

I've RTFA and I think the guy is saying he feels marginalized by the community because the company he worked for 'made a deal with the devil'.

"We can pledge patents all we wish, we can talk to the press and "community leaders", we can do all the right things w.r.t. all our other interactions, but we will still be known as GPL violators and that's the end of it."

Re:I don't understand this... (1)

Rob T Firefly (844560) | more than 7 years ago | (#17326516)

I don't know why this guy is leaving.
Read his post, the one that starts off "I have decided to leave Novell. [...] As many of you will guess, this is due to..." Whether or not you personally agree with his reasoning, that's why this guy is leaving.

Re:I don't understand this... (1)

pscottdv (676889) | more than 7 years ago | (#17326688)

The only people who are complaining are those who are true *idealists* when it comes to Linux and Open Source

Like it or not, many of those "true idealists" are also the people writing the code. So maybe their opinion matters.

Re:I don't understand this... (1)

PenguinBoyDave (806137) | more than 7 years ago | (#17326732)

Their opinion absolutely matters. And while I applaud Allison for standing up for his convictions, I think they are poorly placed with this particular move.

Look...he can do what he wants, as can any other coder. They is his, and your right. However, it is my prediction that in two years, this agreement will be seen as the best thing to happen to Linux in the Enterprise. If I'm wrong, I'll gladly come back here to Slashdot and publicly state that I was foolish with my assessment.

Re:I don't understand this... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17326852)

Those *idealists* are the ones who wrote the code in the first place (or atleast some of them, there's always a band of trolls following everything - that can't be avoided). I think they have a right to voice their oppinion about the matter.

Also, have you read all the complaints about how impossible it is to understand the OpenXML specification and implement it right? I bet that Novell has run over their budget received from Microsoft quadruple times before they have an OpenXML implementation for OOo that is anywhere near usable for MS Word compability. //fatal

Re:I don't understand this... (1)

tokul (682258) | more than 7 years ago | (#17326894)

There is nothing about interoperability in that agreement [microsoft.com] .

Microsoft, on behalf of itself and its Subsidiaries (collectively "Microsoft"), hereby covenants not to sue Novell's Customers and Novell's Subsidiaries' Customers for infringement under Covered Patents of Microsoft on account of a such Customers' use of specific copies of a Covered Product as distributed by Novell or its Subsidiaries (collectively "Novell") for which Novell has received Revenue (directly or indirectly) for such specific copies; provided the foregoing covenant is limited to use by a Customer of Novell (i) of such specific copies that are authorized by Novell in consideration for such Revenue, and (ii) within the scope authorized by Novell in consideration for such Revenue.

Red Hat Opportunity? (1)

Erwos (553607) | more than 7 years ago | (#17326244)

Well, here's a nice hiring opportunity for Red Hat - let's see if they take advantage of it.

If developers want to do it, sure (1)

saikou (211301) | more than 7 years ago | (#17326282)

I think his decision is what was expected. People can argue all they want about "technical compliance" and "spirit" of the license. In this case decision seem to be based on a simple fact: employer did something, that goes against employee's beliefs. Employee decided not to "live with it" and quit, as changing of employer's mind seems to be impossible.
I hope he will find another job soon. I also hope that other people that may be unhappy about the situation will find courage and chance to do something about it.

Putting your money where your mouth is (5, Interesting)

astrashe (7452) | more than 7 years ago | (#17326286)

Whatever you think about what Allison has done, you have to repsect him for living up to his convictions. This sort of thing can't be good for your career, or for your bank account.

I really admire people who choose to live by their principles, even when it's hard or costly to do so.

Re:Putting your money where your mouth is (1, Redundant)

epiphani (254981) | more than 7 years ago | (#17326462)

Agreed.

Now, lets make sure that he gets picked up quickly by someone else. If we can start saying without question that leaving Novell in protest of the patent deal will get you a few job offers off the bat will be quite good.

Keep these people employed!

Re:Putting your money where your mouth is (0, Redundant)

Daemonstar (84116) | more than 7 years ago | (#17326856)

I agree. Money is important, but being happy with your job is also important. Besides, I doubt he will have much trouble finding work.

I used to work for the local city government, but quit because of the way my co-workers (especially supervisors) did their job, the way they treated others around them, and because they gave little to no flexability in scheduling. By voicing my opinion and leaving, I later found out that it had inspired someone else there to leave for the same reasons. She found a better job and is much happer. Me, it took a while, but I finally found work. I really liked the position I had, but when you can't stand the way things are run, you have to do what you feel is right.

If it's a matter of principle.. (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17326322)

..why didn't he resign immediately?

It's easy to be courageous with another job waiting.

What are you smoking? (1)

Scott Lockwood (218839) | more than 7 years ago | (#17326482)

Ok, I'll bite. You DO realize that the chances of J A going without a job are about the same as the likelyhood of being killed by falling airplane parts, in a submerged submarine, right?

Novell, ODF and Castles in the Sand (-1, Offtopic)

giafly (926567) | more than 7 years ago | (#17326512)

"I can't look at the Novell announcement as being anything other than further good news for ODF [the Open Source document format]. If there are aspects that have negatives (as I realize there are), I see them as temporary holding actions that are not likely to represent permanently defensible positions. The run of the tide is clear, and sand castles never win." - impartial background information from the ConsortiumInfo Standards Blog [consortiuminfo.org] .

Also Jeremy can be a bit of a firebrand. [infoworld.com]

In short (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17326530)

In short they didn't approve his raise and bonus.

Winnowing The Herd (2, Insightful)

mpapet (761907) | more than 7 years ago | (#17326542)

I think someone at Microsoft understands that most paid OSS developers choose their salaries over the many principals violated with the deal. I'm not discrediting the developers who make this choice. I've sacrificed my principals in exchange for feeding my family many times and I'm not alone.

As has been said before, Microsoft is trying to narrow its Linux competition to one or two then eliminate them later. The influx of corporate politics and big money/power stands to poison the whole notion of bazaar-style development. Big-Money has a way of doing that. Look at Debian and dunc-tank. That's hardly big money and it's already affected volunteerism at that project.

As is often the case, there are just a couple of people who carry such a strong sense of principals, that they choose a more uncertain path over a more predictable one that is the result of having more flexible principals.

I for one admire his sense of conviction.

The GPL is no longer sufficient for many coders (5, Insightful)

pscottdv (676889) | more than 7 years ago | (#17326612)

From TFA

"Do you think that if we'd have found what we legally considered a clever way around the Microsoft EULA so we didn't have to pay for Microsoft licenses and had decided to ship, oh let's say, "Exchange Server" under this "legal hack" that Microsoft would be silent about it - or we should act aggrieved when they change the EULA to stop us doing this?"

I think this sums up both the reason why the GPL community is mad at Novell even if they didn't technically violate GPLv2 and why there is a need for GPLv3.

Some are saying that the community has no right be mad at Novell because they aren't technically in violation of the GPL. Fine for them. But many of those that contribute code to GPL projects do so because they believe in the intent of the GPL, which is that all who receive the code are to be on the same legal footing as all others regardless of how they receive it. If the GPLv2 is no longer sufficient to provide this guarantee, then changes are needed. And it is perfectly valid for Eben Moglen to craft the changes to plug specific legal-loophole, zero-day exploits in the GPLv2 such as this Microsoft-Novell deal.

Novell keeps trying to make this deal smell rosy by talking up the interoperability part of the agreement. Are they really so stupid that they do not see that the interoperability part of the deal is not what has GPL supporters upset? They could have made any number of deals with Microsoft to work on interoperability without trying to destroy the foundation of the GPL.

This makes me a sad Panda (3, Interesting)

rudeboy1 (516023) | more than 7 years ago | (#17326630)

SUSE 10.2 is my preferred flavor of Linux, and with all that is currently going on, I feel guilty for liking it as much as I do. I see it as a potential windows alternative down the line, once XP is sufficiently outdated, if 10.x keeps improving, cause I'm sure as hell not pissing money away on Vista. Now I feel like I'm being sucked back to the Microsoft teet even as I make plans to break away.

Re:This makes me a sad Panda (2, Insightful)

rkhalloran (136467) | more than 7 years ago | (#17326816)

I've run SUSE for a few years now, through 10.1, but with the Novell deal I've reimaged with Kubuntu 6.10 and I don't plan to look back.

Ballmer promptly started spewing once this deal was signed that customers of other Linux distros were at risk [somebody shut him up shortly afterwards]. This provides MS a wonderful FUD opportunity now that the SCOX farce is winding down. This implies that Linux actually infringes on Microsoft patents somehow without openly admitting it, and that Novell paid them off to stay legit. All of which is anathema to the FOSS movement that created this code to start with.

If Stevie B actually thinks there's patent violations in Linux, let him bring them forward. If not, he should STFU and try competing on the merits of his company's products. Oh wait...

Probably a good thing ... (1)

cjjjer (530715) | more than 7 years ago | (#17326664)

The only thing that holds a company / product back are the people who manage the company or who make the product not the competitors around it. In this day and age if a product or service is as good as people rave about it sells it's self.

ZO)MIGOSH (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17326690)

Zealots should think outside the box...
Unless the box had a MS product in it and we're all gonna die because of that... /sarcasm

Question. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17326698)

Will this new respect for 'intent' extend to respecting the intent of all future anti reverse engineering laws?

is he tainted now? (1)

wardk (3037) | more than 7 years ago | (#17326752)

having been on the payroll at the time of the contract signing with MS....does this mean he's got any sort of restrictions now dangling on his neck, at least from the point of view of microsoft?

Re:is he tainted now? (3, Insightful)

rkhalloran (136467) | more than 7 years ago | (#17326896)

EXACTLY the sort of consideration this deal generates, all to MS' gain.

And why the developer community is so seriously dead-set against it. Any code contribution by Novell at this point has to be considered suspect against MS claims of infringement that Novell/its customers are supposedly safe from, but the rest of us are wide-open to.

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