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openSUSE Hobbled By Microsoft Patents

CowboyNeal posted more than 7 years ago | from the or-at-least-disfigured dept.

Novell 266

kripkenstein writes "openSUSE 10.2 no longer enables ClearType (which would improve the appearance of fonts). The reason given on the openSUSE mailing list for not enabling it is, 'this feature is covered by several Microsoft patents and should not be activated in any default build of the library.' As reported on and discussed, this matter may be connected to the Microsoft-Novell deal. If so, Novell should have received a license for the Microsoft patents, assuming the deal covered all relevant patents. Does the license therefore extend only to SUSE, but not openSUSE?"

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266 comments

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First OpenSUSE trout! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18673305)

I am a FISH!

Schwwweeet Mother of Pearl Suse bitter COOL-AID (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18673795)

suse leaving a bad taste in ur mouth? dats not so schwwweeet!

Prior art (5, Informative)

Ph33r th3 g(O)at (592622) | more than 7 years ago | (#18673325)

Steve Gibson pointed out decades-old prior art [grc.com] that would invalidate the Cleartype patent (if our patent system weren't corrupt) several years ago.

Re:Prior art (4, Insightful)

gweihir (88907) | more than 7 years ago | (#18673351)

Steve Gibson pointed out decades-old prior art that would invalidate the Cleartype patent several years ago.

Indeed he did. Not that the idea itself merits a patent anyways. It is pretty obvious and shopuld not be patentable in the first place.

Re:Prior art (5, Interesting)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 7 years ago | (#18673947)

The funny thing is I just installed OpenSUSE 10.2 alpha 3 and the fonts look better than ever; if this is how they look without cleartype, who needs it?

Re:Prior art (3, Insightful)

kobaz (107760) | more than 7 years ago | (#18674073)

I couldn't agree more.

I've never found cleartype to be helpful either, I much rather not have cleartype as on every single display device I've enabled it on it looks like crap. I've tried it on high and low end crts and high and low end lcds, it all looks much better (and more readable) without cleartype.

Re:Prior art (5, Insightful)

tomz16 (992375) | more than 7 years ago | (#18674603)

Any time I've turned on cleartype on a fresh install of windows, my first impression has always been that it just made fonts look "blurrier", for lack of a better word.

However, after using it for a day or two, turning it off is absolutely painful. IMHO, it really DOES make text MUCH easier to read on an LCD.

-Tom

Re:Prior art (1)

dre80 (613210) | more than 7 years ago | (#18674357)

I entirely agree - OpenSUSE 10.2 (final) has the best-looking fonts I've seen in any distro, ever. Easily. I've yet to have the time to find out why, but it really is a beautiful thing.

Re:Prior art (2, Interesting)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 7 years ago | (#18673601)

Gibson is exactly right. When I first saw sub-pixel rendering (aka 'ClearType') explained, I remembered programming graphics on an Apple IIe, and you had a difference between even and odd pixels that forced you to draw lines in a way that is exactly the same as how ClearType works.

I could claim prior art if I could just get those damned 5.25" floppies to read in anything. Of course, this was common practice back in the day, so maybe some old Apple II programmers out there can come up with AppleSoft BASIC code or something.

Re:Prior art (4, Insightful)

0123456789 (467085) | more than 7 years ago | (#18673907)

There's a difference between being able to find prior art for something, and being able to afford to go to court to defend yourself against a patent infringement lawsuit. Sadly, the gulf between the two positions is pretty wide. Maybe there should be an appeal process for patent awards? If you can show that a patent affects you in some way, and shouldn't have been granted for some reason (eg prior art), you could appeal against the patent award and attempt to get it rescinded in a quicker and cheaper process than a full-on court case?

Re:Prior art (4, Informative)

pikine (771084) | more than 7 years ago | (#18673981)

I'm afraid the decades-old Apple II and IBM PC is not prior art. Pixels are either on or off for Apple II and IBM PC's CGA displays, so they apparently don't (and can't) care too much about color fringing. Sub-pixel font rendering on LCD screen deals with 256 shades for each sub-pixel, and the emphasis is on how to adjust sub-pixel brightness to reduce color fringing.

This is explained in Steve Gibson's Turning Theory into Practice [grc.com] . Sub-pixel font rendering is not the same as sub-pixels on CGA displays. The ideas are related, but the plumbing is different.

Perhaps I'm misleading in saying that CGA is not prior art of ClearType. I haven't actually read the patents of ClearType, so I obviously cannot tell; I'm basing my claim solely on Steve's webpage alone.

Novell is the Judas Goat. (5, Informative)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | more than 7 years ago | (#18673343)

I think Novell has become an wholly owned subsidiary of MSFT and is being used for the express purpose of setting up precedents and creating more and more FUD. I have seen a version of anti-aliasing and sub-pixel addressing [grc.com] way back when in, of all places, grc.com.

Re:Novell is the Judas Goat. (2, Funny)

Woy (606550) | more than 7 years ago | (#18673467)

Novel became the Mr. Hands of the Linux world.

Re:Novell is the Judas Goat. (2, Insightful)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 7 years ago | (#18673509)

Judas was a goat?

Anyway. They are very helpfully pointing out the patents which Microsoft says apply to Linux...

 

Re:Novell is the Judas Goat. (5, Informative)

duncanmhor (746319) | more than 7 years ago | (#18673541)

Judas Goat - used at an abbatoir to lull animals into a false sense of security.

Re:Novell is the Judas Goat. (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 7 years ago | (#18673893)

See, I'm always telling people I learn something new every day on /.

Re:Novell is the Judas Goat. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18674305)

see Terry Pratchett - Feet of Clay

Re:Novell is the Judas Goat. (1)

arivanov (12034) | more than 7 years ago | (#18673945)

The apple version is forced by the sillies of their videoram technical implementation. It is also not the earliest prior art.

There is a much older prior art, more specifically the sub-pixel version of bresenheim algorithm described in "Fundamentals of Interactive Computer Graphics" which is general, with full mathematical description to accompany it and predates Apple 2. IIRC (I do not have the book in my new house) the book explicitly mentions it as related to fonts and describes subpixel font rendering.

Prior art? (3, Informative)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | more than 7 years ago | (#18673357)

I have not been to GRC.com for a long time, I quickly grabbed the URL and posted it here in another thread. Looks like that site cites a long list of prior art. [grc.com] Makes the OpenSUSE's decision even more suspect.

Re:Prior art? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18673401)

Not only that, linux/X.org subpixel rendering works in a somewhat different, rather more general way to ClearType. Any geometric object can be subpixel rendered and antialiased, whereas microsoft's method implements separately for each graphics/font object kind. EVEN IF microsoft patents were to hold up in court, there'd be a good case wouldn't cover the technique used in linux/X.org. I think this is indeed an attempt to sow misleading precedent by microsoft - Novell AND openSuse should be considered corrupt and abandoned.

Well, that's it then. (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18673363)

No more Suse Linux on my servers. I know that subpixel rendering has no impact on server applications, but I now consider that distribution rogue.

Re:Well, that's it then. (3, Interesting)

Delkster (820935) | more than 7 years ago | (#18673523)

Out of curiousity, do other major distributions enable this either? In other words, is this news at all?

A page on the FreeType project site [freetype.org] says:

Finally, many Linux distributions seem to distribute a patched version of FreeType 2 with the bytecode interpreter activated, unlike to the sources we distribute.

However, I've previously been under the impression that most distributions would ship at least without some features covered by patents. On the other hand, it's not only MS who owns patents that concern subpixel rendering, and I don't know who owns what, so that's why I'm left wondering if someone else actually knows.

Ditto. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18674295)

SUSE has been my favorite distribution for many years, and this patent deal really hadn't affected my opinion of it until now. Because until now, the patent deal had not adversely affected the quality of the software. Consider yourself written off, my dear SUSE. Perhaps I will find greener pastures in Ubuntu territory.

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Now it is clear (4, Insightful)

javilon (99157) | more than 7 years ago | (#18673373)

Novell is the new SCO

anti-aliasing makes me need glasses (4, Informative)

stokessd (89903) | more than 7 years ago | (#18673377)

That might be a good thing(tm). In many cases I prefer non anti-aliased fonts. I have a nice LCD with a DVI connection for a clear picture, then I'm supposed to fuzzy it up? Anti-aliasing lakes me think I need glasses in many cases.

Sheldon

Re:anti-aliasing makes me need glasses (1)

daeg (828071) | more than 7 years ago | (#18673417)

That's why you can turn it on and off. :-) I know a friend that has sensitive vision can't stand it, either, he says all the letters have a blue halo.

Re:anti-aliasing makes me need glasses (2, Informative)

xoyoyo (949672) | more than 7 years ago | (#18673611)

Depends on the quality of the implementation and the quality/density of the screen. Ironically, the inventor's implementation is poor.

On a 72dpi LCD attached to a PC running Windows the effect is obvious (and hideous) all the glyphs have red and blue fringes. Turning ClearType off is the first thing I do on a Windows box after disabling the Windows XP theme.

On my 100dpi+ MacBook Pro I had to use the zoom function to confirm that it was using sub-pixel anti-aliasing. Even on my second monitor it's acceptable, and that's a cheap low density screen.

Apple have spent some time getting font anti-aliasing right: the initial AA in OS X looked like someone had just applied gaussian blur to the whole screen. Now it actually does what it's supposed to do, which is reduce eye fatigue.

On the other hand, once we get our long promised 300dpi screens monitor resolution will be the same as paper and we can dump kludgy hacks like ClearType.

Re:anti-aliasing makes me need glasses (2, Insightful)

jimstapleton (999106) | more than 7 years ago | (#18673731)

I think a lot of it is monitor quality too..

My old Hitachi was a nice LCD in regards to image quality, and it looked great with clear type.
However the backlight died (and the response time was a bit low), and now I have a cheap Samsung - The letters have halos on them with clear type.

So, monitor quality is a big part of it, not just the rendering technology, though both are important.

Re:anti-aliasing makes me need glasses (3, Interesting)

mattr (78516) | more than 7 years ago | (#18674179)

IIRC different displays may have different order of R,G,B component pixels which may require a reversed antialiasing pattern (as if the screen was flipped upside-down). Though the effect is subtle it also shows a red and/or blue fringe. Though that may not be what you are talking about.

Re:anti-aliasing makes me need glasses (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18674287)

Perhaps if people bothered to tune it for their specific display, it might not look so dodgy? Microsoft provide a tool [microsoft.com] to do so...

Re:anti-aliasing makes me need glasses (2, Interesting)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | more than 7 years ago | (#18673425)

I find that cleartype is easy on my eyes while browsing websites etc with lots of text meant to be read by humans. Code, OTOH, looks horrible in cleartype. When I have to tell, single quote from double, where braces are very important, where I have to tell zero from o, two from zee, ell from one, bah... ClearType makes a mess.

Re:anti-aliasing makes me need glasses (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18673437)

It's zed, not zee, in English.

Re:anti-aliasing makes me need glasses (1)

ericrost (1049312) | more than 7 years ago | (#18673589)

only if you're from Canada, eh.

Re:anti-aliasing makes me need glasses (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18673631)

I know Americans are bad at geography, but there are more English speaking countries than just Canada and the United States of Where's-That?

Re:anti-aliasing makes me need glasses (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 7 years ago | (#18673783)

More like, unless you live in the United States.

Re:anti-aliasing makes me need glasses (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18673613)

may be it is a zed in English, but it is zee in American.

Re:anti-aliasing makes me need glasses (3, Funny)

mashade (912744) | more than 7 years ago | (#18674585)

Who's Zed?

Zed's dead, baby. Zed's dead.

[long live zee]

Re:anti-aliasing makes me need glasses (1)

KiloByte (825081) | more than 7 years ago | (#18673629)

Depends on the font. With the older MS fonts, ClearType looks outright ugly and unreadable. But if you use their newest set, ClearType is pretty much a must -- and it kicks ass. On LCD, that is. The regular gray-scale AA done by Microsoft doesn't work right -- but with TrueType, the new MS fonts look great both on LCD (sub-pixel AA) and on CRT (gray-scale AA).

I admit to them: Consolas really pwns Bitstream/DejaVu Mono. Just don't try it without working antialiasing. With MS Courier/MS Lucida, forget about AA.

Re:anti-aliasing makes me need glasses (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18673831)

If you haven't realized the legibility improvement that anti-aliasing provides by now, then yes, you do need glasses.

Re:anti-aliasing makes me need glasses (1)

RalphTheWonderLlama (927434) | more than 7 years ago | (#18674395)

Yeah, I HATE clear type. I want my text to be razor sharp, not fuzzy. The damn thing keeps turning back on by itself too!

It's FreeType for a start! (4, Insightful)

DrMindWarp (663427) | more than 7 years ago | (#18673385)

This is complete nonsense written by someone that is clearly clueless and forwarded by an editor that is equally clueless. This is a FreeType library setting for compiling programs (not ClearType!). It is the same for every Linux distribution as it is the default setting for the development library. It has never been enabled by default.

Exactly (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18673423)

Cleartype is just sub-pixel AA which existed long before MS ever used it for font rendering. Bytecode type hinting is patented by (IIRC) Apple, it is usually disabled in Freetype and and an alternative (auto-hinting) method used instead.

Apples and oranges, the bug reporter is confused or trolling.

Re:Exactly (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18673525)

First of all, nobody said it's ClearType, except for the moron who inserted into the FreeType2 code the following comment: "Uncomment the line below if you want to activate sub-pixel rendering (a.k.a. LCD rendering, or ClearType) in this build of the library. Note that this feature is covered by several Microsoft patents and should not be activated in any default build of the library."

Secondly, BCI is something not enabled by default. The sub-pixel hinting is (was) always available by default in all the distros, you could use it from the KDE Control Center, from the GNOME Control Center or using font.conf settings.

Someone is so hasty to comment on Slashdot, that he didn't bother to read it carefully.

Well, democracy à la Slashdot is usually the power of the mob.

Re:Exactly (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18673635)

So nobody said it was sub pixel rendering except that is exactly what is alleged in the bug report that was linked to from the article?

Plus I said that BCI was disabled by default in freetype and that auto-hinting was used instead.

Someone is so hasty to comment on Slashdot, that he didn't bother to read it carefully.

So was this an attempt to berate this humble AC or an admission of guilt?

Re:Exactly (1)

WhiteWolf666 (145211) | more than 7 years ago | (#18673799)

Please read the bug report.

"KDE ignored the setting for sub-pixel anti-aliasing, it seems to be permanently off".

This isn't about the BCI. This is about sub-pixel font anti-aliasing.

Frankly, this hobbles Linux compared to Windows/OS X.

Re:It's FreeType for a start! (2, Informative)

segedunum (883035) | more than 7 years ago | (#18673503)

That doesn't answer why it was OK to have this enabled before, and has then somehow become a big no-no.

Re:It's FreeType for a start! (2, Informative)

Movi (1005625) | more than 7 years ago | (#18673995)

Yes, indeed Cleartype sucks, and ive not even known you can have it under linux. For an ever better font setup you can enable BCI in freetype and have freetype display font quality on par with Mac OS X (which nobody can dispute displays the best quality). For example ubuntu people can download debs with prepatched freetype here http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=343670&hi ghlight=feisty+fonts [ubuntuforums.org] .
The standalone patches are here http://david.freetype.org/lcd/ [freetype.org]

Of Course it isn't covered... (1)

Darundal (891860) | more than 7 years ago | (#18673393)

...which looks worse? The free OS not having the feature enabled by default due to an admission that it is Microsoft patented tech, or having it covered in the agreement so that nobody sees that there "is" Microsoft patented tech in linux. Guess which one 'ol Bally just loves.

Suse vs Open Suse (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18673407)

I put a store-bought version of Suse on my daughter's machine and everything was good. We upgraded her mobo and downloaded the 64 bit version of Open Suse. There are a myriad of niggling little details that don't quite work the same. The commercial version of Suse was a joy. The other one isn't. We're switching to Ubuntu.

Re:Suse vs Open Suse (1)

PrescriptionWarning (932687) | more than 7 years ago | (#18674005)

I'm heading in the same direction towards Ubuntu, away from openSuse.

I've installed openSuse 10.2 on no fewer than 3 machines I use, and although for the most part they each work fine for my day to day activities, each one of them can no longer open yast2 unless accessed via command prompt as root, the auto-update is broken on each, and since I use Gnome, the VNC server for each is completely fubar. I'm now just waiting for the next version of Ubuntu to be completed here in the next couple of weeks.

Re:Suse vs Open Suse (2, Informative)

MollyB (162595) | more than 7 years ago | (#18674125)

I just last week switched from SuSE 9.1 to Ubuntu 6.06 (Dapper Drake) on my laptop. The old OS always crashed or froze, and was a tempermental beast that chronically corrupted the Reiser FS. The Ubuntu install was less than 20 minutes (although downloading of package upgrades took an hour on DSL) and has been running superbly 24/7 since boottime. I hope you are happy making the change; I most certainly am!

BTW, if you are a Windows person who is looking for a friendly Linux distro, this is for you. You can run Ubuntu from the CD to try it out before installing, and it is the very epitome of "user-friendly." You don't even have to edit config files, if that seems daunting. Take the plunge--you won't regret it.

Ubuntu failed on my laptop, OpenSuSE worked. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18674653)

I bought a new Toshiba Satellite M105 series laptop in December 2006 and repartitioned the hard drive so I could dual-boot XP Home and Linux. I've been a longtime Slackware user and decided to give Ubuntu (6.10 "EdgyEft") a try since there's so much hubbub about it these days. The boot-and-run-from-CD was certainly impressive so I decided to install to my hard drive. The installation never would complete. It would always get some percentage done (different amount every time) and then hang. Even with a full T1 (1.5Mbps) Internet connection, Ubuntu never would successfully install to this machine. It did not just "Simply Works" at all. :-(

So I then downloaded a boot iso for OpenSuSE 10.2 and did an over-the-net install, and the install went flawlessly. Everything works perfectly on this laptop, including the ethernet, WiFi, dvd burner, sound, touchpad, usb and firewire interfaces.... literally all hardware devices worked perfect the first time. I was stunned, because with my past experiences installing Slack on a laptop, getting Linux to work 100% on a laptop has always been a bitch. In my case, OpenSuSE 10.2 just "Simply Works" where Ubuntu wouldn't even install. Maybe when FeistyFawn gets released, I may give it another try.

Re:Suse vs Open Suse (2, Interesting)

beef623 (998368) | more than 7 years ago | (#18674429)

Heh, I went the other way not too long ago. I started with Ubuntu, but the more familiar I got with linux, the more I hated Ubuntu. I finally switched to openSuse a few months ago(mainly because it was the only distro I could get running on my laptop at the time) and fell in love with it. I finally completely shed myself of Ubuntu when the box I had at home wouldn't let me even log in anymore. I haven't really looked back.

I will say that I don't like a lot of the defaults in 10.2, especially the main menu it has by default. Hadn't really noticed the font thing though.

Get it were M$ got it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18673427)

As far as I know Microsoft licensed Acorn Risc Os technology for several font description and rendering features from Acorn when that company still existed. Acorn's Risc Os including the font technology is now owned by Pace Ltd and/or Risc Os Ltd. If the disputed technology is related to those licenses then there's a way to overcome this issue.

The Acorn Risc Os technology developed by Sophie Wilson was building on a Swiss university project on font rendering: scaffolds, hinting, sub pixel anti-aliasing etc, 1983 or so. Acorn already had done work on font rendering before Risc Os appeared.

Ernst

Patent or Copyright? (-1)

camperdave (969942) | more than 7 years ago | (#18673433)

A font is not an invention, but a work of art, ink on a page. It should not be patentable at all. If any intellectual property law would apply, it would be copyright law, not patent law.

Re:Patent or Copyright? (1)

smallfries (601545) | more than 7 years ago | (#18673627)

Nobody is claiming to have invented, or patented, a font. At least read the summary if you're not going to read the article.

Patent. (1)

KingSkippus (799657) | more than 7 years ago | (#18673657)

It's not the fonts that are in question, it's the method by which they're rendered on a screen.

It's only the filtering (5, Informative)

oergiR (992541) | more than 7 years ago | (#18673441)

AFAICT, subpixel rendering is not disabled, only the 5-tap filter that's supposed to reduce colour fringes. See http://www.grc.com/cttech.htm [grc.com] . Apparently this is one of the things Microsoft has patented, and I haven't seen any "prior art" for this specific technique. In my humble opinion disabling the filter is not much of a loss as it just makes fonts look fuzzier.

Re:It's only the filtering (5, Funny)

b0z0n3 (1086487) | more than 7 years ago | (#18673483)

So, Microsoft has patented blurring text?

I don't want to pay M$ everytime I have a couple of beers....

Re:It's only the filtering (1)

strredwolf (532) | more than 7 years ago | (#18673781)

No, that dates back to the 1800's, so there's prior art there.

Blurred text dates back to Babylon (1)

argent (18001) | more than 7 years ago | (#18673869)

The Code of Hammurabi already had sections regulating brewers and taverns. Anyone got an earlier precedent than blurred cuneiform?

Hidden warning (2, Interesting)

b1ufox (987621) | more than 7 years ago | (#18673451)

This as it seems, is yet another legal puns MS has up its sleeves.MS struck a deal with Novell months back, which obviously created a fury among free software zealots.Now this seems to be a Red signal for Linux users, who uses OpenSuse or any other free Linux distribution, as it implies IMO _you_ being a non SUSE(and means even OpenSUSE i guess) users are infringing on MS's so called intellectual property.

Is this the start of the hide and seek of infringement legalities?

Lets hope SUSE understand this can be just the beginning. Novell people should put in some thinking into not getting pawned once again by MS.

Whatever i am better off without them on my Edgy Ubuntu machine. :)

~psr

Freetype library is GPL (3, Informative)

mysidia (191772) | more than 7 years ago | (#18673453)

As a result, if you hold a license for a patent that is required to redistribute/sell Freetype (or any piece of software covered by the GPL), then, to comply with the GPL you have two options you must EITHER: (1) not distribute the software, OR (2) the patent license must permit anyone's free use

The relevant GPL section is the preamble To prevent this, we have made it clear that any patent must be licensed for everyone's free use or not licensed at all. , and under Section 7 of the GNU General Public License: 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.

This means for instance, that Novell would not be free to provide users of SuSE the benefit of a patent license to use a certain feature of a GPL'ed library or software program, and deny that feature to openSuSE users.

Re:Freetype library is GPL (1)

mwvdlee (775178) | more than 7 years ago | (#18673617)

According to the Microsoft point-of-view (which Novell is following), the specific code contains patents and the person who released this code with a GPL license had no right to do so. This person would not have been allowed by the patent holder to release his code in GPL.

Entertaining the possibility that Microsoft's patent is indeed valid and without prior art, the code should no longer be considered GPL licensed and thus only those entities with a valid license would be allowed to distribute it.

So from Microsoft/Novell's point of view, which assumes the patent claim is correct, it makes sense.

Re:Freetype library is GPL (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18674051)

Entertaining the possibility that Microsoft's patent is indeed valid and without prior art, the code should no longer be considered GPL licensed and thus only those entities with a valid license would be allowed to distribute it.
If the code should no longer be considered GPL licensed, how can SuSE distribute it at all? Only acceptance of the GPL allows redistribution.

Re:Freetype library is GPL (1)

ThePilgrim (456341) | more than 7 years ago | (#18674091)

What happens if I add this code in the UK, where s/w patents are invalid?

Does that mean I can't distribut my code under the GPL, or do I have to put in geographical if statments.

Why does this remind me of the 32/128 bit encription fieasco all those years ago?

Re:Freetype library is GPL (1)

NullProg (70833) | more than 7 years ago | (#18674095)


Entertaining the possibility that Microsoft's patent is indeed valid and without prior art, the code should no longer be considered GPL licensed and thus only those entities with a valid license would be allowed to distribute it.


IANAL but view this article: http://www.cnn.com/TECH/computing/9812/08/cleartyp e.idg/ [cnn.com]

SuSE Linux has never distributed Cleartype fonts, its always been a separate download.

Enjoy,

Typical 'Bend Over' Novell (2, Interesting)

segedunum (883035) | more than 7 years ago | (#18673461)

There's obviously quite a bit of prior art to Cleartype, but Novell as an open source company does not want to stand up and defend itself and its software from it (as well as Red Hat actually). I rather suspect both Red Hat and especially Novell are using the non-issue of patents to try and give their so called enterprise distributions an actual selling point.

The question really is, why was it deemed OK to enable it before, and suddenly it has become a big deal where it is disabled?

Additionally, there seems to be some confusion of the Microsoft/Novell deal. The patent agreement would not be legal with the terms of the GPL, rather Microsoft gave a covenant not to sue to Novell's customers and promised to be nice to OpenSuse's users. Whether that would cover this, I don't know.

Same with fedora (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18673465)

Fedora disables the truetype bytecode interpreter and subpixel hinting features of the freetype library. There is an "autohinting" system used instead, but in my experience it looks much worse, compared to recompiling freetype with the patented features enabled.

Can we now use the GPL? (3, Interesting)

marcosdumay (620877) | more than 7 years ago | (#18673481)

The GPL is very clear on one point: if you know your software infringes on some patent, you can't distribute it, even if you have a deal with the patent holder enabling you to do that*. Can Novell now be prosecuted? Is that code GPLed (it seems to be KDE, so it probably is)?

* Unless that deal is extended to everybody that touches the code.

Re:Can we now use the GPL? (1)

Kjella (173770) | more than 7 years ago | (#18674591)

The GPL is very clear on one point: if you know your software infringes on some patent, you can't distribute it (...) * Unless that deal is extended to everybody that touches the code.

Sorry, but it just doesn't. It says that if you have a patent or patent license, you can't distribute it unless that deal is extended to everybody that touches the code. That's exactly what the GPLv3 and MS/Novell deal is about, a "patent indemnification" which acts, talks and walks like a patent license but in legal terms isn't. In any case, better to let the courts handle it than self-censorship. With all the fuzzy and invalid patents around almost nobddy would get anything distributed.

Cloak... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18673501)

and daggar. Do we really expect anything less of Microsoft?

never so (5, Insightful)

Deternal (239896) | more than 7 years ago | (#18673519)

As far as I can read, it has never been enabled. It needs to be enabled at compile time, which the ansvar to the linked bug report clearly states by c&p of the relevant info from the FreeType lib.

This is a complete non-issue and has been known for a while. It predates the Novell/MS agreement.

Re:never so (5, Informative)

oergiR (992541) | more than 7 years ago | (#18673743)

Mod parent up.

The main developer of FreeType decided to disable the filter [mail-archive.com] in September. The Novell deal was later and had nothing to do with this.

Re:never so (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18674049)

That makes no sense. FreeType developers are good, whereas Novell/SUSE are bad. How could this decision be made by FreeType developers then? There must be another explanation.

Re:never so (1)

MMC Monster (602931) | more than 7 years ago | (#18673769)

The question is, with the Novell/MSFT deal, can SuSE (not openSuSE) now enable it at compile time?

Re:never so (1)

SillyNickName4me (760022) | more than 7 years ago | (#18674349)

The question is, with the Novell/MSFT deal, can SuSE (not openSuSE) now enable it at compile time?

Short answer, no.

Long answer:

When they do enable it at compile-time and distribute the result, then they are still bound by the GPL which means that anyone receiving those binaries has the right of getting the source code and distributing both binaries and source (including the patented technology in compiled form). While I am not familiar with all the details of this deal, I do believe that this is not the case. Since that would mean additional restrictions on top of the GPL, this would not be legal for Novell to do.

Re:never so (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18674555)

No, it has been enabled by default for many years in the freetype library, and in fact there wasn't even a compile-time option to disable it.

However, about six months ago, a compile-time option was added to control whether sub-pixel rendering is included, and it was set to be disabled by default. It isn't so much a matter of this distribution specifically disabling it, but other distributions either explicitly enabling it or still using older versions of the library.

I have a question... (0, Redundant)

purpleraison (1042004) | more than 7 years ago | (#18673539)

I am not familiar with the history of the clear type patents etc., but I do know that no version of Windows has ever had font-smoothing until Vista rolled around. Whereas Linux and Macintosh has used smoothed pixels for as long as I can remember.

Is this clear type, and if so -- What has changed?

Correction. AA support in Windows. (2, Informative)

burnttoy (754394) | more than 7 years ago | (#18673641)

Windows has had AA text in the following formats.

  Right Click (or Right Menu Key) -> Properties -> Settings Tab -> Tick "Smooth Edges of Screen Fonts".

WinXP - ClearType fonts supported (at least on Pro) - get a control panel applet from msdn/microsoft.com to change settings. HW support via alpha blending.

WinXP Tablet Edition - Support of 90 degree rotation e.g. aliasing in Y instead of X (screens mounted portrait)... I think I'm right on this.

Vista - more of the same I guess!

YMMV - It's been a while since I mucked with Windows GDI Drivers.

Slashdot ate my comment! (2, Insightful)

burnttoy (754394) | more than 7 years ago | (#18673667)

Windows has had AA text in the following formats.

Win95,3.1, probably 98 etc - none at all! Just 1bpp

98SE,ME - these have support for 2 bit per pixel transparency masks as part of the GDI device driver. I can't remember how to turn on this feature but the Win2K method is shown below.

NT4 - no support - just 1bpp text.

Win2K - Same as 98/ME, 2 bits per pixel transparency. Try Desktop (Win+D), Right Click (or Right Menu Key), Properties, Settings Tab, Tick "Smooth Edges of Screen Fonts".

WinXP - ClearType fonts supported (at least on Pro) - get a control panel applet from msdn/microsoft.com to change settings. HW support via alpha blending.

WinXP Tablet Edition - Support of 90 degree rotation e.g. aliasing in Y instead of X (screens mounted portrait)... I think I'm right on this.

Vista - more of the same I guess!

YMMV - It's been a while since I mucked with Windows GDI Drivers.

Re:I have a question... (1)

mwvdlee (775178) | more than 7 years ago | (#18673643)

Subpixel font smoothing has been in WinXP since the start.

Nothing New for OpenSuse (2)

Prototerm (762512) | more than 7 years ago | (#18673545)

I gave up on Open Suse when the 10.0 version came out, and they started removing stuff from the standard release. They first took out support for the nVidia drivers, then some of the wireless drivers, forcing me to find and install them both manually. So, whenever they get a little antsy about something, they remove it. As much as I really like Suse, I prefer something that just works out of the box, and doesn't make me jump through hoops just to use my own computer.

If I wanted to do *that*, I'd install Vista!

Re:Nothing New for OpenSuse (1)

lmb (32460) | more than 7 years ago | (#18673579)

Are you in fact complaining that openSUSE complies with the license of the Linux kernel? That is rather amazing.

This is completely clean - (5, Insightful)

lmb (32460) | more than 7 years ago | (#18673549)

openSUSE does not ship code which is known to infringe patents or IP, so the patents either get invalidated (lengthy and expensive) or the code disabled / removed. This policy is not affected by the NOVL/MSFT deal at all; quite the contrary, it has always been Novell/SUSE's policy to not ship such code.

Just like openSUSE doesn't ship infringing Linux drivers, or Debian not shipping certain licenses.

What the heck is the fuzz about?

Note to Ron Hovsepian (1, Funny)

bl8n8r (649187) | more than 7 years ago | (#18673551)

Ron, If you want to know how similar arrangements have panned out, you may be interested in viewing the graphic video: Boa Constrictor Eats Bird Alive [youtube.com]

This is what I like about Linux (3, Insightful)

GFree (853379) | more than 7 years ago | (#18673567)

I think this makes for a pretty good example of one of the strengths of something like Linux. If you find your distro moving into directions you don't like, you can leave pretty easily and try another distro. They're all Linux, just wrapped up differently, and so if a distro decides to pull some shit like this, they'll only be hurting themselves because there's no real lock-in to any one distribution.

Microsoft are trying to cripple Linux using traditional methods, but all they can really cripple is openSUSE due to the Novell partnership. It's not like MS can take over EVERY SINGLE DISTRO, particularly the homegrown stuff. A good example of the power of choice I think.

Re:This is what I like about Linux (4, Insightful)

Aequo (923926) | more than 7 years ago | (#18674043)

Do you have any examples of how openSUSE has been crippled by Microsoft? It has already been pointed out further up that this article was _clearly_ either written by someone trying to spread FUD or by someone who just isn't very knowledgable (subpixel hinting is a freetype setting that the freetype developers themselves suggest disabling for distros). It is quite funny to see so many people jumping on the bandwagon, attempting to find 'omgz evil' in Novell because they made a business deal with Microsoft; obviously a deal that turns out to have done them more bad than good in the eyes of the community.

Clear-Type replacement (4, Informative)

Kim0 (106623) | more than 7 years ago | (#18673605)

They could just use this replacement, which is not patented:
http://oyhus.no/SubLCD.html [oyhus.no]

the openSUSE team did the right thing (5, Insightful)

w_albright (27497) | more than 7 years ago | (#18673621)

IMHO, they did the right thing. One of openSUSE's goals is to be completely open source software (hence the 'open' in 'openSUSE'). Even if they may have the right to use them due to the MS/Novell patent deal, they do not want the distro encumbered with non-OSS software in the default install. Fedora 7 also disables this feature.

If you want a distro protected (encumbered) by MS patents, buy SUSE Enterprise.

Aren't there any 'Open Sauce' law students...? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18673647)

Who are doing patent and IP law courses?

Aren't there any professors looking for a practical law project?

I thought there were people falling over themselves to get a decent CV to present to practices when they graduate. What could be better than 'worked on the "university of X vs Microsoft" case?

Of course, you would actually set up a small company to do the sueing to limit your exposure. The Uni would fund that as part of the course expenses. It would be several classes worth of cheap training, win or lose.

Well, who didn't see this coming? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18673651)

As if I had any other reasons to boycott Novell's products (-including- openSUSE).

Slam Debian all you want (despite the 4.0 release being great), one thing they'll never do is get tied up in shit like this.

Novell - Just brilliant (4, Insightful)

HangingChad (677530) | more than 7 years ago | (#18673729)

It really doesn't matter if this is related to the patent deal with Microsoft or not. The damage is done by the mere perception that Novell is aligned with Redmond.

This whole deal is to IT was Iraq is to foreign policy: A bad idea implemented without a clear exit strategy.

Unless the goal was to drive users to Ubuntu. In that case it's a brilliant plan.

Re:Novell - Just brilliant (4, Insightful)

bwalling (195998) | more than 7 years ago | (#18674085)

The damage is done by the mere perception that Novell is aligned with Redmond.

I won't disagree with that statement, but that's no excuse for this ridiculous story posted to Slashdot. For all of the griping around here about other companies' FUD, this is basically pure FUD itself. Alas, it's not an isolated case. It's too bad so many people read this site - it's a very poor source of information if you just scan the front page.

FUD - /. has No clue (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18673811)

Of course if slashcrap had a clue someone might give them more credence. Novell never licensed any patents from MS as part of the Novell-MS agreement. The freetype2 package is not maintained by Novell or SUSE. Freetype2 has no patent issues...unless anti-aliasing is turned on.

Cleartype (1)

Frozen Void (831218) | more than 7 years ago | (#18673969)

I have win98 and i see not difference between font smoothing on/off.
I bet it all depends on the font,and only serif fonts like Times New Roman could be enjoying this feature.

I for one... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18673999)

welcome our old poorly rendered overlords.

Um, didn't Linux already fix this? (3, Interesting)

JetScootr (319545) | more than 7 years ago | (#18674075)

I seem to recall about 10 years ago font copyrights, etc, and the ClearType issue came up regarding Linux. The question then was whether it was OK to do *something* like this, or include fonts, etc, in OSS files and/or SW. Anyone remember the details?
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