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Novell May be Banned from Distributing Linux

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the when-penguins-get-to-meddling dept.

Novell 553

Hymer writes "Reuters is reporting that Novell may be banned from selling Linux. In the wake of the (much maligned) Novell/Microsoft deal, the Free Software Foundation is reviewing Novell's right to sell the operating system at all. The foundation controls the rights to key parts of the operating system, and council for the organization said that 'the community wants to interfere any way it can' with the Novell business arrangement. No decision has yet been reached, but one should be made in the next two weeks." Is this a measured response, or an over-reaction to the Novell/Microsoft arrangement?

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I'm confused (5, Insightful)

rm999 (775449) | more than 7 years ago | (#17871818)

"The two companies agreed to jointly sell their products and also develop technologies to make it easier for businesses to use Linux alongside Windows software."

Why is that so bad?

Re:I'm confused (1)

gronofer (838299) | more than 7 years ago | (#17871832)

It's OK up to "easier for businesses to use Linux", but goes bad after that.

Listen to this sound : I am NOT a Goggle SHILL !! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17871878)

Listen to this sound : I am NOT a Goggle SHILL !!

Re:I'm confused (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17871914)

Why is it bad? Because Novell ins't selling it's own products - it's trying to sell someone else's products apparantly in violation (or at least a creative interpretation) of the license agreement under which it was given rights to sell the software. I, and probably most people who contributed to the software that Novell is trying to exploit by playing funny games with legalese interpretation, don't appreciate that.

Re:I'm confused (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17871934)

It's not bad at all. If the FSF has this kind of control, then software under GPL isn't truly free as they like to claim. Free should mean free _for all_, not just free for the people who are deemed worthy.

This is one of the reasons I have always like the BSD style licenses more. A stunt like this would be laughed at and shrugged off.

Re:I'm confused (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17872032)

Look people, a moron.
Don't drag other BSD users down with your idiotic views. You just don't get it.

Re:I'm confused (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17872224)

I'm a moron because I hold my own opinion?

Anyhow, it sure is nice to know that you "get it", even if you are socially incapable of expressing what exactly it is that you "get".

Re:I'm confused (-1, Troll)

Teun (17872) | more than 7 years ago | (#17872350)

You are a moron because your opinion is flawed.

The BSD style licence has it's merits and so does the GPL.
Contributors are free to chose the licence that fits best with their views and desires.

It is a moron who tries to ridicule the free choice people make.

Re:I'm confused (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17871952)

It's bad because the GPL says (section 7):
If you cannot distribute so as to satisfy simultaneously your obligations under this License and any other pertinent obligations, then as a consequence you may not distribute the Program at all. For example, 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.
... and that allthough Novell hasn't itself (officially) payed any patent license to Microsoft, they have implicitly acknowledged that the users of the software they sell need a promise from Microsoft not to sue. If there's any reason to do that, then the Novell customers have not gotten the right to re-distribute. Section 2.b og the GPL:
You must cause any work that you distribute or publish, that in whole or in part contains or is derived from the Program or any part thereof, to be licensed as a whole at no charge to all third parties under the terms of this License.
.. and therefore Novell would properly fall under section 4 of the GPL (at least in spirit):
Any attempt otherwise to copy, modify, sublicense or distribute the Program is void, and will automatically terminate your rights under this License.

Re:I'm confused (4, Insightful)

mverwijs (815917) | more than 7 years ago | (#17871980)

It is not about the jointly selling of their products. It's about the way the products are developed.

Microsoft and Novell have agreed not to sue each other over patent violations. Therefor, Novell can now (continue to?) develop software that violates Microsoft's "Intellectual Property".

The catch is: Novell develops GPL software. It helps *existing* GPL'd projects, like Evolution, SAMBA,

Novell doesn't have to worry about patent violation anymore, so they can code whatever they want into those type of projects. The Community, however, does not have this luxury deal with Microsoft.

SAMBA could get sued. Debian could get sued for distributing SAMBA. All kinds of nastiness that may never happen, but scares the hell out of people. Scares them enough to stay away from all those 'nasty hacker' distributions, and go for Litigation Free Novell Linux.

*That* is why it is bad. That is why we should do everything and anything to stay away from Novell.



Re:I'm confused (5, Interesting)

MMC Monster (602931) | more than 7 years ago | (#17872156)

Fine. Novell can violate any microsoft IP with impunity.

My question is: Can they release that code under the GPL, knowing that it cannot be freely distributed?

Re:I'm confused (-1, Troll)

SerpentMage (13390) | more than 7 years ago | (#17872258)

As much as there is the *potential* for problems let's be very frank about this and realize that Microsoft has not been the company doing the suing. In fact it is Microsoft that is getting sued for this, that and the other thing. I am not trying to say Microsoft is the good guy here, but say if we are going to deal with the worst case let's look at the track record.

Novell buried the war ax and maybe the Open Source community should try the same. Again I agree Microsoft might not be the best company on the block but I think we need to move beyond "Microsoft is evil" emotion.

For example, what about companies like Google? If you look at their terms of service they have the ability to shutdown your webservice whenever they please. And recently with the shutting down of their search web service replaced with "market speak" REST UI many have had to deal with the problem without being given any real option. Imagine if Microsoft had the ability to shutdown any application at any time, we would cry bloody murder and demand the head of Bill Gates.

If people push Novell too hard I predict Novell will move to FreeBSD and that would be a shame...

Re:I'm confused (2, Interesting)

GoofyBoy (44399) | more than 7 years ago | (#17872292)

Isn't this covered before?

1. If patented code is in there, its being placed there knowingly/mistakenly by Novell, the project can deny it knew it was patented and further, can take steps to remove the offending code.
2. Is this any different from an employee (ex or current) adding patented code into a GPL project? There is no ban/special treatment of employees of companies with software patents.
3. Code still has to be accepted into a project. Why not let the individual project leaders decide if they trust Novell or not?

Re:I'm confused (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17871982)

As part of the deal, Novell stopped funding an open source program to compete with Microsoft's Outlook [] . So, the public face of this agreement compared to the actual back-room details leave much to be desired.

Put a little differently, would you be upset if your friend was helping you and the neighborhood bully showed up and paid your friend not to help you anymore? You might be upset at your friend if he accepted the neighborhood bully's money and stopped helping you.

Re:I'm confused (4, Insightful)

squiggleslash (241428) | more than 7 years ago | (#17872030)

I can't believe the majority of the responses act as if that is what the FSF is objecting to. The FSF (together with most of the developers in the GNU/Linux community) is objecting to a part where Microsoft provides Novell customers with a patent indemnity, which does not apply to non Novell customers.

In other news: Tensions rise with Iran, which is a country that has 28 television stations.

Geez. Why the hell would you be concerned that Iran has 28 TV stations? What a stupid thing to threaten war over!

Re:I'm confused (5, Insightful)

elronxenu (117773) | more than 7 years ago | (#17872214)

It's bad because Novell is paying Microsoft for the use of Microsoft patents in Linux. Linux is free software. When we speak of free software, we are referring to freedom, not price. The fact that Novell has effectively admitted that Microsoft holds some Intellectual Property leverage over Linux, implies that Linux is non-free. And that's not acceptable to the community. Worse, it implies that Linux is non-free and beholden to Microsoft, a convicted monopolist, the owner of Linux's principal competitor, a company with no love for Linux and one which is well known for shafting its partners and enemies alike.

It appears likely that the patent covenant which Novell signed violates the GPL - either Version 2, or certainly Version 3. If so, Novell loses its right to distribute affected code under the GPL. No other license permits it to do that, so Novell must cease distributing.

Also, the possibility that Novell has insider access to Microsoft Intellectual Property creates a risk that Novell's contributions to Linux will leak some of that Intellectual Property into Linux. Thus, the scenario described in the first paragraph, while Linux may not presently be tainted by Microsoft's IP, in future it may become so. I think it is purely common sense for the community to reject patches supplied by Novell.

So, people don't hate Novell, but by their actions they are putting Linux at risk, in order to line their own pockets (presumably funded by patents which Novell owns and which may be used in Windows). Novell aren't playing fair with the community.

Re:I'm confused (4, Insightful)

EjectButton (618561) | more than 7 years ago | (#17872334)

"The two companies agreed to jointly sell their products and also develop technologies to make it easier for businesses to use Linux alongside Windows software." Why is that so bad?

What is bad is that it's a complete lie, it's the most plausible, positive-sounding story they could come up with to explain away what they are doing. Microsoft has described Linux and the open source movement using terms such as "a cancer", "communist", "viral", and more recently referred to open source developers as "pawns" engaged in a "one-night stand". Also immediately after the Novell-Microsoft deal was announced Balmer said publicly that he believed any non-Novell distribution was now a legitimate target for Microsoft legal attacks. They are doing everything they can to smear, stall, and frustrate open source developers while simultaneously trying to sell the "we cooperate and inter operate with everyone to make your life easier" image to the corporate types with these sort of cover stories.

What Microsoft is trying to get out of the deal is to turn Suse into the one-and-only Linux distro that is blessed by Microsoft as being "safe" from patent concerns via indemnification. Then when the indemnification period runs out Microsoft can choose to charge Novell an exorbitant amount of money for renewal, or simply pull the plug altogether. This would also have the bonus effect of making lawsuits against other Linux distros more plausible in the minds of corporate customers because the fact that one distro is seeking indemnification makes the notion that others are at risk without a similar deal seem logical. Allowing Microsoft to create yet more FUD around Linux without putting itself as much immediate risk. I personally doubt Microsoft will actually sue any distro directly because of the potential nuclear patent war that could be triggered if, for example any of the Open Invention Network members felt compelled to get involved (specifically IBM).

What Novell gets out of the deal is a big pile of quick money and potentially greater market share as a side effect of the afore mentioned FUD around competing distros. Unfortunately for Novell these are both short-term benefits that come with the cost of making them beholden to Microsoft, and alienating them from many in the developer community (see samba).

How Novell thought they could get away with this is beyond me, If I had to guess I would say either the upper management sees other Redhat taking the server support market, and Ubuntu taking the desktop Market, leaving Suse out in the cold so they decided to cash out, not caring what happens in the long term. Or their lawyers came up with their now famous gpl2 end run, thinking themselves clever for coming up with a deal that Microsoft was happy with and didn't violate the letter of the gpl, but having little understanding of what the repercussions would be from the developer community and the fsf. After reading some comments from Novell employees I suspect the latter.

In either case Novell made the decision to cut this deal, they acted with great disregard to the effect it would have on the community whose work sustains them. They have attempted to sneak through a legal loophole and if it closes around them it will be their comeuppance.

Wasn't it once... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17871822)

Free as in Beer?

Dumb Move (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17871830)

That would be dumb, it would hand Microsoft a victory, even discussing this casts doubt over distributors of Linux. Is the story even real or is it MS FUD?

Re:Dumb Move (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17872184)

Ah; so it's dumb when Microsoft goes after distributors of OEM copies of Windows because it casts doubt on other distributors?

Don't be stupid. If you have a legal agreement and you let one set of people flaunt it then you destroy it's credibility. If Novell had come to the FSF to discuss beforehand, it would be stupid. Since they showed no good will, showing any good will in return is stupid. At this point what is needed is contrition.

The FSF should, and does, show tolerance to the mistakes of its friends. This agreement was made secretly simply because Novell knew the FSF wouldn't like it. Their contempt for the rest of the kernel developers is even worse.

Re:Dumb Move (2, Insightful)

Tony Hoyle (11698) | more than 7 years ago | (#17872222)

Novell will just stop using GPL products and do something else. Closely followed by just about every other business, under fear of litigation from the FSF.

It could well be the turning point where linux itself gets killed. Which is what MS wanted all along, really. Way to play into their hands, stallman.

Re:Dumb Move (1)

gtoomey (528943) | more than 7 years ago | (#17872340)

You are very confused. If Novel cant distribute linux, then the $210 million purchase of SUSE is worthless.

How can they do this? (2, Interesting)

babbling (952366) | more than 7 years ago | (#17871854)

If the FSF has the power to do this, I wouldn't necessarily oppose them doing it, but do they have the power to do this with GPLv2? I'm aware that GPLv3 wouldn't allow Novell to enter into a patent swap deal with Microsoft.

Considering that the software is still all under the GPLv2 and not GPLv3, on what grounds could the FSF revoke Novell's right to distribute copyrighted FSF software?

Re:How can they do this? (5, Interesting)

morleron (574428) | more than 7 years ago | (#17871962)

Bear in mind that IANAL, but I suspect that the FSF could make life very difficult for Novell if they change the license for all of the many utilities and applications that they control from GPLv2 to GPLv3. Novell would have a lot of work to do if they were suddenly put in a position in which they could no longer distribute the gcc package, GIMP, GNOME, etc. with SuSE or any other Novell-branded Linux distro. There are a lot of small pieces of the overall that use FSF-developed code and are essential to running a Linux system. We could find out how much truth there is to RMS' statement that the overall system should be called GNU/Linux if the FSF goes ahead with this move.

Personally, I would support the FSF if they decide to do this. The Novell/ MS deal is nothing, but a way to provide Novell with a marketing tool, the ability to say "use our Linux distro and be safe from MS patent claims", at the expense of the overall community. Novell is essentially saying that it's OK for MS to sue everyone, except Novell customers, for so-called IP infringements. It is a move by Novell to establish themselves as the Linux monopoly by making their product "safe" from MS lawyers. Novell is hoping that the business community will make wholesale migrations to their products in order to avoid the threat of MS litigation and is a, somewhat silent, partner in MS' efforts to spread FUD about the "use of MS proprietary technology in Linux". Make no mistake about it Novell is evil: to my mind it is more evil than MS in that it portrays itself as a friend of the Linux/FOSS community, while doing whatever it can to undermine the philosphical and legal basis for that community. MS at least makes no claim that Linux is OK - they just flat-out hate us and do everything that they can to prevent the spread of freedom within the community of computer users.

Look at other scenarios (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17871978)

Breach of the ToS: despite you being able to use it in the past, you no longer can use it.

Breach of EULA: despite you still owning the product, you no longer have license to use it.

GPL: despite you still having the code, you no longer have license to use it.

Doesn't seem to be a problem with the first two, so why the third?

Re:How can they do this? (2, Interesting)

NotZed (19455) | more than 7 years ago | (#17872024)

If you read the article closely, they are talking about GPL3. The article is poorly written.

i.e. they're saying that they'll change the license of code they own to be GPL3 once it has been finalised, and they may revoke Novell's right to distribute said code, since they will be in breach of this new license. That is why it will only affect 'future versions of linux'. By which the author probably actually meant 'GNU', not the Linux kernel - e.g. gcc for instance.

Which would force Novell to fork and continue to use old versions if they wanted to stay in the linux business (without altering the ms deal). But they don't have the resources for that, and there's little reason for any other company to join their fork.

But there's nothing 'underhanded' going on, it is only possibly because of the imminent completion of the GPL3.

Re:How can they do this? (4, Interesting)

MooUK (905450) | more than 7 years ago | (#17872192)

As said in an earlier post, Novell's continuing distribution of GPLd software may be against the GPLv2. They have patent indemnification licenses with MS. This suggests they believe that without those licenses they would be violating patents. Distributing GPL software that your customers cannot then distribute in turn without violating patents is expressly forbidden by the GPL, and if you violate one section of the GPL you have no right to distribute GPLd software at all. Hence they are violating the GPL and the copyright on the GPLd code.

For the best (3, Insightful)

phat_goat (836325) | more than 7 years ago | (#17871864)

I don't think that I ever really trusted this agreement, something about Microsoft wanting to "help" Linux, or free software for that matter, never really digested with me.

Re:For the best (2, Interesting)

heroofhyr (777687) | more than 7 years ago | (#17872346)

To me it always stank of some sort of submarine plan to get rid of Novell using their own greed as a blindfold. Sure, you can compete directly against them, attack them in marketing, etc., but that just raises their street cred in the eyes of others in the Linux community. Flashing millions of dollars in front of the CEOs eyes until they are incapable of making any decisions with foresight is a much easier way. The company loses its respect in the community, become isolated by their cooperation with "the enemy," their source contributions are tainted with patent concerns, etc. Meanwhile they have no expectation of that because they're busy dreaming up what to do with their windfall. I'm not one of those annoying people who calls Microsoft the Hitler of computing, they're just a corporation like any other. But this story does sort of remind me of one of those old stories about Satan making a deal that seemed too good to be true, and indeed it turns out to be and the guy gets fucked over in the end despite his newfound fortune. This only goes to show, if someone offers you a dumptruck full of cash and doesn't seem to want anything of equal value in return -- Run. Run like the wind.

Poor Article (4, Informative)

kripkenstein (913150) | more than 7 years ago | (#17871870)

The article is poorly written. For example, the GPL3 is referred to ("If the foundation decides to take action, the ban would apply to new versions of Linux covered under a licensing agreement due to take effect in March."), but the writer doesn't explain that 'Linux' won't be under this license - only parts of it.

However, the point is somewhat (perhaps) valid - if most of SUSE goes GPL3, and if the GPL3 is indeed in conflict with the Novell-Microsoft agreement, then there may be an issue (both qualifications seem likely, at present, but time will tell). The issue may be easily solvable, however, depending on the details of the Novell-Microsoft deal - which we do not know (Eben Moglen, however, supposedly does, or so we have been told).

Ah, that actually makes some sense (1)

Rob Simpson (533360) | more than 7 years ago | (#17871894)

Thanks for explaining it.

In any case, I switched from SUSE to Linux Mint [] a while ago... it's the only other distro I've found that supports my wireless card with WPA-PSK "out of the box". Being able to play DVDs and videos without finding and manually installing the packages is a bonus.

Re:Poor Article (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17871920)


> if most of SUSE goes GPL3

well, I do think that most of the gnu programs (gcc, make, ncurses, wget), etc. will actually be GPLv3 when it came out. Futhermore, I also don't think that Novell will take the effort to fork all of 'em).


Re:Poor Article (1)

kripkenstein (913150) | more than 7 years ago | (#17871948)

well, I do think that most of the gnu programs (gcc, make, ncurses, wget), etc. will actually be GPLv3 when it came out.

Yes. Also GNOME (which is the default on SUSE these days), and Samba.

But lots of other stuff won't. So a sizable part of SUSE will be moving to GPL3 (barring any surprises), but not the overwhelming majority (e.g. the kernel).

Re:Poor Article (1)

cheater512 (783349) | more than 7 years ago | (#17872268)

Whats a kernel without stuff like Bash, X, etc...?

Re:Poor Article (3, Informative)

xtracto (837672) | more than 7 years ago | (#17871932)

, but the writer doesn't explain that 'Linux' won't be under this license - only parts of it.
Well, from what I know, it would be really difficult to migrate the Linux Kernel from GPL2 to GPL3, even /if/ Linus liked to do so as each contribution is copyright of the contributor.

But from this:
The foundation controls intellectual property rights to key parts of the open-source Linux operating system.

I assume they are talking about the GNU toolchain (remember kids, its GNU/Linux, not just Linux). I guess the FSF *will* use the GPL 3 for the new GNU tools version, if they prevent Novell from *distributing* the GNU tools, then I guess things will get difficult for Novell.

Re:Poor Article (4, Insightful)

kripkenstein (913150) | more than 7 years ago | (#17872042)

Well, from what I know, it would be really difficult to migrate the Linux Kernel from GPL2 to GPL3, even /if/ Linus liked to do so as each contribution is copyright of the contributor.

Difficult yes, impossible - no. And Linus may get additional motivation soon. If OpenSolaris goes GPL3, then it can use any "GPL2 or above" code from the Linux kernel (which I have heard is the majority). The Linux kernel, on the other hand, won't be able to use anything from OpenSolaris. This 'one-way-street' of code certainly isn't in Linux's interest.

Re:Poor Article (1)

Tony Hoyle (11698) | more than 7 years ago | (#17872236)

The Linux kernel doesn't have the 'or above' clause (neither do a lot of opensource projects, incidentally).

So OpenSolaris can't use any of it.

Re:Poor Article (2, Informative)

kripkenstein (913150) | more than 7 years ago | (#17872314)

I may be wrong, but all I have read points in the other direction. Basically, various people contributed to the Linux kernel, and they wrote their own licensing texts. Some said "2 only", some "2", and some "2 or above". See Wikipedia [] for the following quote:

"[...]the terms of the GPL state that if no version is specified, then any version may be used, and Alan Cox pointed out that very few other Linux contributors [other than Linus] have specified a particular version of the GPL."

So OpenSolaris would be able to use most Linux code, it seems.

Re:Poor Article (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17872138)

No application will automatically "go GPL3". New versions of GNU software will undoubtably be distributed with the new license, but it won't apply to software that is already out there.

The problem Novell will have is that they won't be able to maintain a current distribution anymore, unless they fork or replace all of the significant GNU components. If they manage to pull that off, which would be difficult indeed, at least they will have solid ground to stand on when they refuse to say "GNU/Linux"... ;)

I think the danger here is that Redhat may soon become a GNU/Linux monopoly. I think Novell's bargain with Microsoft stinks, and they deserve what they get, but it will be sad to see a decent competitor get flushed.

penis? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17871880)


Stupid move... (2, Insightful)

EveryNickIsTaken (1054794) | more than 7 years ago | (#17871888)

"...council for the organization said that 'the community wants to interfere any way it can' with the Novell business arrangement."

Statements like that make lawyers see dollar signs. Nice move, idiots.

Re:Stupid move... (0, Flamebait)

HanzoSpam (713251) | more than 7 years ago | (#17871946)

For sure. Actually, this is a good reason to avoid implementing "free" software in a commercial environment, no matter how good the quality is. You never know when the cranks and kooks are going to crawl out of the woodwork and create a disruption. Who needs that?

Re:Stupid move... (2, Interesting)

morleron (574428) | more than 7 years ago | (#17872014)

Actually, that's not true. Proprietary software is much more dangerous to businesses for a number of reasons, including tying one's business to the fortunes of another company, not having the ability to use the software as one wants, etc. The move being contemplated is one that would be beneficial to the community as a whole in that it would throw a giant monkey-wrench into Novell's attempt to portray itself as a "safe" (in the sense that MS couldn't sue the end-users) Linux distro. The Novell/MS is evil and needs to be countered by legal moves such as this. Stop spreading FUD about the FOSS community, the real problem here is people who think like you.

Just my $.02,

Re:Stupid move... (2, Insightful)

EveryNickIsTaken (1054794) | more than 7 years ago | (#17872060)

I'm amazed that some people still cannot accept the fact that enterprises use and will continue to use MS Windows for office work. Why? Because it's EASY for people who cannot and will not learn other OS's. You can bitch and moan all you want about how awesome Linux is, but the fact remains that its CEOs that have the final say in companies, not CIOs.

Re:Stupid move... (3, Insightful)

HanzoSpam (713251) | more than 7 years ago | (#17872086)

Horseshit. I've been using products from the likes of IBM, HP, Sun, Novell and Microsoft in commercial environments for the last 30 years without having any of those kinds of problems. And as an I/T professional I could give a shit about what the "community" happens to take into it's head about what's good for it, from my perspective avoiding legal problems is a Good Thing. I've never had to contend with the threat of a lawsuit invalidating my license for implementing a solution on Solaris or Windows.

Re:Stupid move... (1)

squiggleslash (241428) | more than 7 years ago | (#17872074)

BitKeeper wasn't Free Software, and Larry McVoy proved in the Linux fiasco to be every bit cranky and kooky, so no, I don't think a company is going to avoid kookery/crankery by avoiding Free Software.

Re:Stupid move... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17872070)

Uhh, do you know who Eben Moglen is? Something tells me he doesnt need legal advice from some random ass on slashdot.

Hint: UANAL, HIAL (and not just any lawyer).

Re:Stupid move... (1)

Dilaudid (574715) | more than 7 years ago | (#17872206)

And the context is:

...council for the organization said that 'the community wants to interfere any way it can' with the Novell business arrangement. They have every reason to be deeply concerned that this is the beginning of a significant patent aggression by Microsoft'
Ballmer described patent problems in Linux as an "undisclosed balance sheet liability", in an interview on the deal. I am not a risk manager, but from what I know of Sarbannes-Oxeley it may make it very difficult for company officers (who can go to jail for 25 years for mis-stating liabilities) to adopt non-Novell linux.

I don't know if this is the best way to fight Microsoft, but bear in mind this is a battle against FUD, and if giving Novell/Microsoft a bit of FUD could kill this deal, maybe it would be a good thing.

Court Battle Ahead? (1)

gnugie (757363) | more than 7 years ago | (#17871890)

From the article:
If the foundation decides to take action, the ban would apply to new versions of Linux covered under a licensing agreement due to take effect in March.

Since the kernel isn't changing licenses any time soon, this appears to apply to portions of the distribution that may go GPLv3. However, nothing prevents Novell from forking the GPLv2 and keeping those around.

It's also unclear exactly how the new license will prevent this sort of activity. If it's not crystal clear and the FSF tries to use it to remove Novell's right to distribute immediately, we may see an immediate legal challenge to GPLv3.

lets hope not (2, Insightful)

rucs_hack (784150) | more than 7 years ago | (#17872072)

A license holder has the right to revoke anothers right to use that license. I don't think it matters if it's GPL2 or 3. They are copyright holders of the technology in question, and can simply refuse to let Novell distribute their stuff any more.

However, this could kill SUSE, thus hurting a lot of blameless businesses that use it, no doubt pissing them off considerably, and costing a lot of money. Microsoft would love that, they can charge to the rescue amid the confusion, offer cheap license deals with great support packages. Kind of like they did in the 1980s in the Unix wars.

It's a dumb move, and contrary to the very essense of Open Source. Good stuff survives, bad stuff dies, no direct intervention is required. This is no more than politicking of the very kind that got Stallman excluded from the conference where they decided on the new name Open Source (to differentiate from free software). They run the risk of marginalising themselves if they do this. It's in no-ones interest to intervene and damage *any* linux distro.

I could go on for hours, but in defference to the fact thast this is /. I'll shut up now...

Re:lets hope not (1)

bigtomrodney (993427) | more than 7 years ago | (#17872180)

They are copyright holders of the technology in question, and can simply refuse to let Novell distribute their stuff any more.
But let's remember, just because something is licensed under the GPL does not mean it belongs to the FSF. It will be up to the individual authors what licence changes happen.

This is retarded (2, Insightful)

dnaumov (453672) | more than 7 years ago | (#17871898)

If the FSF can actually do this and if they go through with it, this is going to be very BAD for busines adoption Linux (and therefor, Linux development). And what's worse is not that FSF doesn't know this, they do, it's just that they don't care about anything but their distorted definition of "freedom". As Stallman once said: "We are not here to give users what they want, we are here to spread freedom".

Yep, this could really screw Linux adoption (1)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 7 years ago | (#17872144)

Why? Because it's just the thing PHBs need to justify fears about it. One of the points that people like to sell Linux on is that because of it's license you can't be screwed over like you potentially could with a commercial OS. They can't just take it away from you. Well, regardless of the actual details, any ban against Novell would be interpreted as precisely that. The Evil Linux Overloards(tm) screwing over a company.

A big part of selling Linux's freedom is letting people do things that you may not like, or that aren't in the best interests of Linux overall. People need to see that it really is freedom, the only restriction is that if you distribute binaries, source has to come with. Other than that, go wild. If you start saying "You are free to do whatever you want with Linux so long as you support our ideals, but if you play nice with MS or other companies we don't like we'll take it away form you," well hell, you end up looking more restrictive than MS.

Re:Yep, this could really screw Linux adoption (1)

Rich0 (548339) | more than 7 years ago | (#17872252)

If you start saying "You are free to do whatever you want with Linux so long as you support our ideals, but if you play nice with MS or other companies we don't like we'll take it away form you," well hell, you end up looking more restrictive than MS.

Uh, the GPL pretty much states that plain and clear. The intent of the GPL is for users to be able to:

1. Redistribute their software freely.
2. Obtain the source to their software.

If you distribute GPL software and you want to interfere with either of these goals you're going to be sued by the FSF if they hold copyright on your software.

If Novell/MS grant a free and redistributable license to any patented technologies in the GPL software they distribute then I'm sure the FSF will be perfectly happy to let them go on selling linux. What they object to is that user's and developer's rights to use, modify, and redistribute their software is being put in jeopardy by a software-patent loophole. The GPL v3 is being designed to explicitly close this loophole.

In any case, if you don't like the FSF's goals, then don't use their software. It is just like ANY other piece of software out there - if you want to go distributing it all over the earth you need a license from the copyright holder.

And last time I checked MS doesn't allow you to redistribute their software AT ALL. So, this is hardly being more restrictive than MS. The FSF isn't trying to stop Novell from USING linux - just redistributing it. If all of Novell's customers downloaded the GNU toolchain from there would be no issues. If MS were taking issue with some company pressing Vista install CDs without authorization I doubt it would make this big of a splash...

Re:This is retarded (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17872182)

It's quite possible that the FSF will obsolete themselves if they start acting like this. The projects can be forked en-masse from the latest pre-GPLv3 versions and unless everyone agrees to not contribute to them they may well become the preferred versions (eg. a version of GCC that doesn't require you to go through the copyright assignment rigamarole).

Re:This is retarded (1)

tdvaughan (582870) | more than 7 years ago | (#17872190)

RMS's definition of freedom has repeatedly been shown to be thoroughly pragmatic (see Bitkeeper fiasco) as well as idealistic. In this case, I suspect, the pragmatism will be along the lines of "supporting MS's FUD about their IP being in Linux is a bad idea". Business adoption of Linux will proceed with or without Novell and their attempt to abuse the GPL.

Re:This is retarded (1)

Tony Hoyle (11698) | more than 7 years ago | (#17872290)

No it won't.

Kill SuSE and you've killed the most popular business oriented linux distribution in Europe.

You think that businesses will go back to Linux after that fiasco? Nope. Hell, I'd think twice myself! I can't afford to fight legal battles. It used to be that you comply with the license then you're OK. Now if you comply with the license and the FSF take a dislike to your distribution - or worse, you - you're stuffed.

So you get either one of two outcomes:

1. Migration to BSD (OpenSolaris is GPL so not an option due to the same risk).
2. Windows.

It's not hard to guess where most will go.

Re:This is retarded (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17872230)

not to mention bad for opensource too.

What's stopping the FSF from "banning" a developer from making a certain program because what he makes isnt part of their grand vision.

Stallman got it right with the gplv2, then he got lost somewhere along the way and now has the same definition of freedom Bush has.

It's all about control nowadays. the gplv3 is a thinly veiled attempt to control developers and adopters of opensource, to do no better than what proprietary software does to its users. if they can get away with controlling who does what, that spells doom for the whole movement.

I still prefer Linus' stance. Which is making free software to make it and make sure it works. none of this political dogma bullshit. Because unlike the other it actually makes sense.

I've never truly cared much for stallman and his stance. the initial idea was great, but like I said, it's nothing more than a bid for control and power, with him at the top forcing his ideals on everyone, and telling them what they can and cannot make as long as it's given out for free.

Basically what I'm trying to say is, they want to make it free to use, but not free to design or write.

for fuck's sake this is the same man who sees himself as a damn saint.

Of course this is bad for Linux (4, Insightful)

haakondahl (893488) | more than 7 years ago | (#17871922)

If it were good for Linux, Novell would have paid Microsoft instead of the other way around.

This will be another example of Microsoft's very successful "take and break" strategy. Once SuSE is up to speed and working well with Windows abominations such as Active Directory, other distributions will be the ones which are somehow not compatible with the "SuSE Linux Standard". Once Microsoft has killed off the other major distributions, they will quietly break compatibility even with SuSE, in a flood of tiny little things that just have to be that way, because of the structure of the WIndows kernel (or some damned thing).

The only reason we are not all using Java desktops with a common intermediate layer is the Microsoft "take and break" implementation of the JVM.

and in other news... (1)

SpaceballsTheUserNam (941138) | more than 7 years ago | (#17871924)

Microsoft has found the FSF to be in violation of over 9,000 patents.

SCO? (1)

pionzypher (886253) | more than 7 years ago | (#17871928)

But.. Novel is going for SCOs throat at the moment. Isn't there a phrase that goes something like 'If my friend's enemy becomes his friend, and my friend is killing my enemy, I should avoid killing my friend until he's finished killing'?

Something like that....

  Gah. Stupid principles. ;)

Re:SCO? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17872132)

the enemy of my enemy is my friend

i think.

Disproportionate (2, Insightful)

OpenSourced (323149) | more than 7 years ago | (#17871940)

If they haven't banned SCO from selling Linux, I don't know how they can consider banning Novell.

Re:Disproportionate (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17872062)

Rome taught me patience and assiduous application to detail. Virtues which temper the boldness of great, general views.

Rome. Hasn't taught you. Virtues which temper the lameness of sentence fragments.

Novell gives money to projects (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17871956)

From the millions of the deal with MS, Novell hires people to work on the kernel/gcc/

That is certainly good. But the kernel/gcc are already projects that cannot be beaten. So they can take as much money as possible from Novell until they bankrupt.

Rights (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17871958)

>Is this a measured response, or an over-reaction to the Novell/Microsoft arrangement?

It's simply exercising what rights they have to code under their copyright. MS/Novell would do exactly the same if it suited their purposes. Make no mistake, the war is truly about to being..


Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17871960)

In 1945, a young girl named katu lata kulu came over to America in a grey boat from Africa. A mysterious man killed her by cutting the word "LATUALATUKA" into her back. now that you have read this message, she will come to your house on a full moon and steal your soul unless you follow these directions:

1. Retype this message as a comment for 3 other stories.


Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17872068)

umm.. does copy-paste count?

Um, That's a Good Idea... (3, Insightful)

ndykman (659315) | more than 7 years ago | (#17871976)

If the FSF actually tried to do this, it'd be great for Microsoft. It would basically allow Microsoft to say that Linux can't be taken seriously by any business, because the FSF will basically revoke your "right to use" Linux if they don't like how you do business (do you have software patents? No Linux for you).

It wouldn't matter if it was technically correct or not, the perception would be enough. And frankly, the fact if the FSF is really even considering this casts a bit of a shadow on Linux and Enterprise Support in general: Is it FSF sanctioned businesses only?

Besides, why just Novell? IBM has patent agreements with Microsoft. IBM sells Windows Servers. This seems like nothing more that "We don't like the MS/Novell deal, so let's punish them!"

Re:Um, That's a Good Idea... (1, Insightful)

DarkOx (621550) | more than 7 years ago | (#17872212)

That's right IBM has patent deals with Microsoft. Novell made a deal on behalf of other parties their customers supposedly. The did this without consultation of those customers. Which is even if legally possible is still from a view of actual justice highly questionable, especially when it puts other parties of unknow relationship to the Novell customers in grave danger.

Suppose I am and ISV that produces SuperWonderfulMagicPony for Linux. I run SUSE in house for my operational systems. The deal is great Microsoft won'y be sueing me. Wait they start sueing everyone else useing linux. I make a Linux product, I want as much Linux out there as possible regardless of distro because it means a bigger market for my wares. Suddenly I am not so happy with Novell. As there customer if they'd bothered to ask me if I wanted to have them stike this deal with M$ I would have declined.

IBM has made deal on behalf of IBM with M$. IBM worries about protecting or not protecting IBM's customers. Novell sold out and is letting M$ worry about their customers and possibly screw everyone else if they feel like it. Its not the same thing at all.

Stallman is off his gourd (0)

dgun (1056422) | more than 7 years ago | (#17871990)

Linux has a great potential to balance out the power in the OS market (eventually), but not if this lunatic attacks every big enterprise that attempts to promote it and scares away big name investors. Novell has the right to enter into any arrangement it likes with the devil (Microsoft), as long as it does not violate the GPL.

so quipamenducacious... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17871996)

how can the "free" community be so narrow-minded?
Is this free? Is this fair?
this is unnecessarily opening sores! ... and that too when microsoft has finally seen the light.
why make a mountain out of a M$hill? :-)

They call this "free" software? (0, Troll)

lseltzer (311306) | more than 7 years ago | (#17872004)

Watta buncha hypocrites.

Re:They call this "free" software? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17872094)

In Nazi America, the Zentral büro von Linux Anwendung controls you!

Not exactly news... (1)

Lavene (1025400) | more than 7 years ago | (#17872010)

It's been clear for a long time that FSF intend to tailor GPLv3 to harm Novell as much as possible. Both Mogeln and RMS has said that numerous times and there is very little doubt that they will make sure Novell gets stuck with GPLv2 apps. TFA is just something cooked up by a journalist having to fill his quota or something.

What a stupid idea (1)

Registered Coward v2 (447531) | more than 7 years ago | (#17872018)

Novel is still free to distribute gplV2 software; the article states that they haven't decided what to do and the ban would only apply to V3 licensed versions:

"f the foundation decides to take action, the ban would apply to new versions of Linux covered under a licensing agreement due to take effect in March."

Which means Novell would be free to fork v2 and keep anything they do under v2 as well as prevent it from being incorporated in any v3 licensed version; since they could limit it to v2 and earlier licenses.

In addition, the ban would only apply to FSF's copyrighted code; since they can't release other's v2 code only under v3 without violating v2's license provision.

While MS probably doesn't want to take on the FSF for PR reasons, they could bury them with lawsuits if they wanted to - so even if the FSF wins in the end they could very well be litigated out of existence. More likely; MS could help Novell fork the code significantly and develop programs (such as office for Linux) that would only run on the forked code; since the changes would be under a V2 they could preclude them from being incorporated in any v3 licensed versions, marginalizing v3.

While I understand the FSF wants to avoid such a scenario, picking a fight with MS/Novell is probably not the way to do it.

Re:What a stupid idea (1)

Tony Hoyle (11698) | more than 7 years ago | (#17872320)

If Novel fork v2 it'll cause a massive split. Novell are big enough and have enough developers to make it stick.. so you'll end up with 2xgcc, 2xsed, 2xgrep, etc. etc.

It's inevitable that forks will happen - a lot of people don't like the way gplv3 is headed - but a major player doing it is a big issue.

Good Going. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17872038)

In a way this is a very bad reaction, a very immature knee-jerk reaction from the fsf. Chances are, Microsoft wants this kind of reaction and were expecting it. Basically the FSF is about to get trolled by microsoft. I guess they hired some GNAA goons to strategize against opensource.

In all seriousness, This kind of reaction is what can and will kill opensource if this keeps up. I know this is to protect free software developers from getting taken advantage of, but now it seems more or less a bid for power. If the FSF can do this, what's stopping them from pulling a decease and desist on a programmer who makes a project that isnt 100% kosher to what the FSF deems acceptable?

This is why people like Linus Torvalds see the gplv3 as a threat to free software. It's going to give the FSF more say and control over anyone who accepts the license.

I dont know about the bulk of OSS advocates, but I want all this political crap out of free software because it's going to destroy it.

Answer... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17872056)

Is this a measured response, or an over-reaction to the Novell/Microsoft arrangement?

No, it's a wannabe-journalist asking suggestive questions.

to (almost) quote... (0, Troll)

joe 155 (937621) | more than 7 years ago | (#17872078)

...But software which Linux uses and redistributes must be free to all (be they people or companies), for any purpose they wish to use it, including modification, use, peeing on, or even integration into baby mulching machines or atomic bombs to be dropped on Australia.

What are the FSF doing? it must be free for all, doing anything which limits the complete freedom of anyone to use the software harms the community. It is one thing to take some steps to stop them from screwing us over (which there isn't really that much proof of them doing anyway), but this goes against the fundamental beliefs of a large section of the FREE software movement.

Bad move (1)

gilesjuk (604902) | more than 7 years ago | (#17872108)

While the deal between Microsoft and Novell isn't good, Novell has plenty of patents and Unix rights which could make the life of the Linux community rather hard.

They could become another SCO.

Re:Bad move (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17872270)

Novell has made an explicit pledge to use those patents to defend the community. Their room for action may be quite strongly limited.

time for GPL to proof it's straingth's (1)

esiminch (899049) | more than 7 years ago | (#17872122)

if there is all proper with the GPL and the community behind it, this could be the best proof, then the deal should not harm anyone other that brakes the license (doesn't mean sit back and wait)
i hope for all OSS users and contributors this will only proof GPL is able to protect the exploit of OSS even if such big players are involved

there might be all right with the deal, but I'd rather check twice before I believe in that. MS tactics are rather too good known

Linux is Linux's best competition (1)

Tomis (972713) | more than 7 years ago | (#17872134)

And Linux-heads wonder why Linux will never be a main-stream OS. They're quite silly!

This article is poo. (3, Insightful)

bmo (77928) | more than 7 years ago | (#17872140)

First off, unless GPL 3 gets off the ground that specifically bans the actions that Novell and Microsoft have done, nobody can "ban" Novell from distributing Linux, as they have not violated the GPL as it stands (I think, see below).

Secondly, John Dragoon doesn't get it. He honestly thought that this was a Good Idea and we parted ways agreeing to disagree. He's a PHB sales-type. He's not "one of us."

I have ranted here and vehemently castigated Novell (see sig) for the stupid move, but I'm not sure that they should be "kicked out of linux" yet. They should be given the chance to redeem themselves or at least clear the air on what they really signed. But I have yet to hear anyone from Novell explain exactly what was in that contract. I've waited and waited for a clear explanation, and it has not been forthcoming from what I can see. So all I've had to base my opinion on is a smattering of articles and analysis on Groklaw of generalities taken from press releases. For all I can tell, it's a lot of hot air.

I am more of the opinion that we don't need a "Novell Clause." Instead I think that Linux market forces will relegate Novell's brands of Linux to the dustbin if they don't get their act together and get right with the community.


"I have never come upon a post which makes its point so excellently, and also contains so many F-words." - Bruce Perens

They haven't thought this through (1)

QuickFox (311231) | more than 7 years ago | (#17872142)

They should extend the ban. Novell isn't the only company that has dealings with Microsoft, lots of companies do. To complicate the matter further, there are also lots of individuals who have dealings with Microsoft or support Microsoft by buying their products.

Every company and every person should be banned from using Linux.

Very funny (1)

itz2000 (1027660) | more than 7 years ago | (#17872148)

That's about it : #!/bin/bash for i in $(cat Distribution_List); do if [ $i -eq "Novell" ]; then echo "Invalid Distribution"; exit 1; else continue; fi I treat Novell like M$ at the moment... may god save their soul :] lol.

mod 04 (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17872162)

another cunting JOIN THE GNNA!!

we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17872170)

The MS - Novell deal is about that Novell has decided to suck Microsoft cocks. Novell has surrendered part of the Free Software integrity to Microsoft, in the name of the community. But Novell does not speak for the community. They have betrayed the community, sold out to the enemy. For that they need to suffer and need to pay the price.

In the words of a great man:

We shall go on to the end, we shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our Island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender ...
-- Winston Churchill

Now you know what FSF calls freedom ! (0, Troll)

wtarreau (324106) | more than 7 years ago | (#17872172)

Now you know that freedom according to FSF is just a matter of dictatorship. They just want to enforce their view of the world on others. Think twice before following those mad activists too closely... :-/


I labeled this fud and i will tell you why... (1)

Pecisk (688001) | more than 7 years ago | (#17872194)

Novell recently stroke a deal with , so I think this is total and utter FUD, spelled out by some Microsoft funded journalist, who also is in Reuters (which wouldn't surprise me at all).

So, Microsoft sees that Novell gets it's deal (20 000 workstations and 5000 servers, come on, if it is not serious, then what is), goes in panic mode and starts to create FUD. FSF could be overreacting on all stuff what happens around Novell and Microsoft deal, but there is no WAY they could stop Novell to distribute GPL code so easily - they don't have SUCH power. Only with release of GPLv3, it COULD be possible, and then only with very big shred of doubt.

So, it is FUD. It always have been. But for now, Microsoft uses it against us. So those who opposed this deal - take this into your little minds - Microsoft plays evil games and tries to destroy us by seperate us. Yes, Novell did wrong thing, but it doesn't matter when bigger things are at stake. What I would like to see is keep our tone down about Novell, and keep pushing our agendas about software patents and Microsoft monopoly abuse. THESE are things we should really talk about.

p.s. this post of mine is only mine speculation and opinion.

End is Inevitable? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17872204)

There will soon be a time when the enemies of Microsoft have gained enough market share to force the empire to adapt to their concerns. At what point will they be satisfied with those changes and consider the empire no longer a concern? When will there be compromise and a handshake between MS and the community? It sounds unthinkable, but we've just witnessed the rough beginning. Vista mimics MacOSX UI and deals with Novell.. Can this ever be settled if Windows is not open source? Can anyone imagine the next version of Windows being built upon a linux distribution? What prevents that from happening? Could that bridge the gap? Will that be the inevitable end of Windows?

Article is FUD. (4, Informative)

Aim Here (765712) | more than 7 years ago | (#17872226)

An eweek article [] clarifies the situation. Eben Moglen was quoted out of context; he was talking about writing GPLv3

"According to a recent Reuters report, the FSF's (Free Software Foundation) board was going to be looking into Novell Inc.'s rights to continue selling its version of the Linux operating system. That's not actually what's will be happening.

Eben Moglen, the Software Freedom Law Center executive director and FSF board member, explained: "This is a story being hyped by the Reuters guy who wrote it."

The Reuters quote was: "The community of people wants to do anything they can to interfere with this deal and all deals like it. They have every reason to be deeply concerned that this is the beginning of a significant patent aggression by Microsoft."

"What he actually asked me," said Moglen in an e-mail interview, "was 'Is it true that some members of the community want GPLv3 to keep Novell from distributing future versions of GPL'd software?' I said, 'Yes, the Free Software Foundation is opposed to the deal, and is thinking about what to do; there will be a new draft soon [of the GPLv3 (Gnu General Public License Version 3).]"

See Special Report: Novell's Linux Facelift

Therefore, "The actual quote he prints is entirely accurate, but his lede destroys the context and is making unnecessary waves."

The FSF, which governs the GPL (GNU General Public License), has long been concerned about Novell recent patent deal with Microsoft Corp. The Samba Group has stated that it wants Novell to abandon the deal. Open-source figure Bruce Perens started a petition that accused Novell of betraying the free software community. And, one group of free software supporters launched a Web site with a self-explanatory name, Boycott Novell. "

FSF to ban distributing Linux? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17872228)

As far as I know, the FSF doesn't have any Linux code. Therefore the FSF doesn't have any right to ban Novell from distributing Linux. Now if Finkle was referring to the FSF's right to the GNU part of the GNU/Linux distribution, then this would be a more acceptable statement.

I believe this misunderstanding is further vindication of Stallman's issue about the GNU/Linux name. Linux is not an operating system and GNU does not yet have a fully functional kernel.

Also, when considering the term 'operating system', remember that 'operating system software' is not necessarily the same as 'user software'. Both these terms are subsets under the set of 'computer system software'. I consider some parts of X to fall under the term 'operating system software'. Not all of it does so I won't call it operating system software. Also, not all of GNU software falls under the term 'operating system software'. I consider tools like mv, and dd and init to be 'user software' and not part of the operating system.

Linux "belongs" to Linus Torvalds, not to FSF (1)

El Nigromante (1059332) | more than 7 years ago | (#17872246)

Actually, "Linux" just refers to the GNU/Linux system's kernel.

As far as I know, Linux is a registered trademark by Linus Torvalds. And I suppose he is still the owner of much of the kernel's code.

The fact that a piece of software is distributed under a certain license (GPL in this case), does not mean that its author cannot change the license for future versions of that software. In addition to this, changing the license terms would affect to software licensed under that new license version, not to software already distributed (at least it is this way in my country).

I say all this because I've read some time ago (and I think it was also related to the new GPL version) Torvalds is not much in favour of limiting the distribution of Linux.

Anyway, I think the essential nature of open software is not being limited (while users respect some reasonable terms).

Re:Linux "belongs" to Linus Torvalds, not to FSF (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 7 years ago | (#17872304)

Yes but the GNU toolchain belongs to the FSF. You could replace shell utils, etc with a set from (say) netbsd but that doesn't give you a compiler. In fact, I am not aware of anything free which can replace GCC.

Handing MS a huge victory on a platter (3, Interesting)

QuickFox (311231) | more than 7 years ago | (#17872294)

The FSF is shooting itself in the foot big time. They're handing Microsoft a huge victory on a platter.

Consider how this ban will affect those customers of Novell who use Linux. And consider the kind of reputation that this will give the open-source community.

One reason companies pay for expensive proprietary software is that the companies that write proprietary software are considered reliable. They won't suddenly throw a tantrum and refuse to deliver.

If the open-source community is seen as throwing a tantrum and refusing to deliver, then good-bye credibility. Companies just won't dare use open-source software.

very funny... (0)

itz2000 (1027660) | more than 7 years ago | (#17872312)

That's about it :

for i in $(cat Distribution_List); do
if [ $i -eq "Novell" ]; then
echo "Invalid Distribution";
exit 1;

I treat Novell like M$ at the moment... may god save their soul :]


The FSF should get over themselves (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 7 years ago | (#17872342)

Linux is pretty unconcerned about the whole patent thing. Novell can continue to use the kenrel. This is all most people care about.

Virtually all the FSF owned stuff has an alternative. Either commercial, or under a different licence (or possibly simply forked from their current version, if this is a GPL2/3 difference). Novell can use that instead. They also have the resources to develop alternatives. Most of the rest of the distributers really aren't as fanatical about this issue as the FSF. They have other concerns. What if they see it as more convenient to use the same version as Novell? It would make the FSF pretty much redundant. And I suggest that the distributors prefer GPL2. It offers more freedom for them.

They might be able to do this, but it would be something of an own goal.
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