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Red Hat CEO Talked Patents with MS

CowboyNeal posted more than 6 years ago | from the sleeping-with-the-enemy dept.

Red Hat Software 126

c3ph45 writes "Before the Novel-Microsoft deal, Red Hat was in talks with Microsoft over patents. Thankfully, the deal fell apart before Novel made their infamous partnership with Microsoft. As has been reported before, Red Hat doesn't plan to enter into any patent agreements with Microsoft, but it leaves open the question: What if both Red Hat and Novell had entered into such deals? One large vendor doing so has caused enough disruption. How would the community have coped with two of the largest vendors doing so?"

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126 comments

Mass hysteria (5, Insightful)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | more than 6 years ago | (#19687331)

We would have coped the same as always, we would rant and rave and generally work ourselves into a tizz, then get back onto our normal day jobs.

Re:Mass hysteria (5, Interesting)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 6 years ago | (#19687405)

Hah, I was going to post 'The same way: Ridicule and disgust.'

I think we are very quickly approaching the point where something has to break. Either the government steps up and admits that it doesn't give a shit, or people in general start to notice what is going on and there are major problems.

(I know patents and copyrights are not the same thing, but they are symptoms of the same problem. Bear with me here.)

The RIAA has started suing everyone and their grandmother (literally) and the general populace is starting to realize how unfair it is, and that the tactics the RIAA is using are -allowed- by the government.

Patents are starting to prevent cool devices from existing, and threatening the ones we already have. (Blackberry.) There have been quite a few reports lately about 'x device will have to be disconnected because someone else hass a patent' etc. Discomfort enough people with money, and something is going to happen.

Copyright is even starting to overstep its bounds and artists everywhere are finding themselves restricted instead of encouraged. Yes, they are still encouraged to innovate, but let's face it: Most art improves on other art, rather than being wholly original. Patents are starting to restrict them as well. Imagine if someone patented cel-shading or any other style. With our current system, that could be done.

Things keep getting worse instead of better, and someone -will- step up and do something about it soon.

"God forbid we should ever be twenty years without such a rebellion. The people cannot be all, and always, well informed. The part which is wrong will be discontented, in proportion to the importance of the facts they misconceive. If they remain quiet under such misconceptions, it is lethargy, the forerunner of death to the public liberty. ... What country before ever existed a century and half without a rebellion? And what country can preserve its liberties if their rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms. The remedy is to set them right as to facts, pardon and pacify them. What signify a few lives lost in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure." -- Thomas Jefferson, emphasis mine.

http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Thomas_Jefferson [wikiquote.org]

We've been a lot longer than 20 years without 'such a rebellion'.

Re:Mass hysteria (1)

BiggerIsBetter (682164) | more than 6 years ago | (#19687615)

We've been a lot longer than 20 years without 'such a rebellion'.

I would say that Gen-X has certainly felt one brewing. Fight Club, anyone?

Re:Mass hysteria (5, Insightful)

simm1701 (835424) | more than 6 years ago | (#19687681)

The problem with films like fight club is that people watch them, people agree with them, people think "wow, that's so true, I really should be more like that and challenge the system"

Then they go back to their lives, following the rules, working a job they hate to earn money they don't want to buy stuff they don't need.

Call me cynical but I can't see that changing any time soon.

Re:Mass hysteria (1)

gravos (912628) | more than 6 years ago | (#19688087)

It takes a lot of energy to buck trends and you don't get any reward for it. I don't think you can really blame anyone for taking the path of least resistance. Our society may be doomed to run itself into the ground but it's an emergent behavior of the system "society" and it's not really any individual's fault.

Re:Mass hysteria (0, Troll)

metamatic (202216) | more than 6 years ago | (#19688669)

And the problem with the NRA is that people say "Yeah! We should all have guns so that we can fight off tyranny!"

And then when innocent people are being sent to concentration camps, the president declares himself above the law, habeas corpus is suspended, free speech is corralled into "zones", and protestors are illegally rounded up, all these blowhard defenders of freedom sit around drinking beer and polishing their useless firearms.

Re:Mass hysteria (4, Insightful)

WilliamSChips (793741) | more than 6 years ago | (#19689881)

The problem with the NRA is that they say they need guns to fight off tyranny but essentially define tyranny as not having guns.

Re:Mass hysteria (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19690131)

funny, where are the concentration camps full of innocent people?
when has the president declared himself above the law any more than any other president has?
I seem to have missed this suspension of habeas corpus. Nobody I know, nor anyone that know, has been denied the right to a trial.
Free speech has been corralled into zones for a long time now, regardless of who was in office. Remind me why the current situation is worse.
Protesters have been rounded up for decades. Again, remind me why the current situation is worse.

all these blowhard defenders of freedom sit around drinking beer and polishing their useless firearms.

As opposed to wanking around on slashdot repeating what they saw at DailyKos?
Here's the thing... I'm one of those gun toting hicks that you seem to want to put down. There are a lot of different ideas of what freedom and tyranny are. You clearly believe the mountains of mole hills that you whine about are bad while I don't have much of a problem with them. I had problems under Clinton but none of them rose to my level of tyranny. If you think Clinton was any better than Bush, you're wrong. You're just seeing things through your own rose colored glasses.
Here's the solution... instead of expecting ME to stick up for YOUR ideals, why don't you go get your own arms so you can do it yourself? I know, I know... you're a chicken who is man enough to post on slashdot but not man enough to die fighting for your ideals (while simultaneously disparaging those who disagree with you and won't die for you). Or maybe you don't really think things are as bad as you're saying and you just wanted to take an opportunity to expose your BDS and attack another group you don't like at the same time.

Re:Mass hysteria (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19690393)

You're talking to the wrong audience here. Those clowns are nerds. They're cowards. They are mortally afraid of firearms because they are terribly scared of (SHOCK! HORROR!) being hurt by someone.

And yet, not a day passes that they don't imagine themselves as some gun-toting hero from some stupid FPS. But they know full well that they could never, ever, stomach to be in a REAL rebellion. They would shit their pants. They would cower. That's why they hate you. That's why they put down anyone with a practical mind. Because they remind them of their own inadequacy.

Ignore them. Life has beaten them up. Their faces still smell of shit.

Re:Mass hysteria (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19691565)

And you're posting on Slashdot, and claim not to be a nerd?

That's fucking hysterical.

Why don't you go move to Montana and write some anti-technology screeds, you useless tool.

Re:Mass hysteria (2, Insightful)

konquererz (915002) | more than 6 years ago | (#19690275)

I think that the problem does lie with complacency, just no in the same fashion that you speak. People make money and buy cool stuff. They get enthralled with whats on TV, knee deep in World of Warcraft, and basically enjoy their life. People do not stand up to "tyranny" or "challenge the system" as long as their every day existence is not interrupted. In other words, it doesn't truly effect them. While they watch fight club, there is no noticeable impact on their life by anything that the RIAA, or any other company does. My father rarely gets on a computer, he cares nothing for all this "illegal" downloading deal thats been going on for so long. As long as peoples way of life in general doesn't change, no one will care enough to get up and do something.

Re:Mass hysteria (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19690971)

I quit a job I hated back in '04. After jumping from job to job for awhile, I have found a job I love. I do not work full-time. I make $8 and hour. After the new minimum wage increase, I will still be making $8 an hour. I get by. I make enough each month to pay my bills and put food on my table. If I was working an $8 an hour full-time job, I would have a bit extra to maybe put into retirement or even a savings.

I am a single male at age 30. I pay for electric, gas, school loan, internet, cell-phone, and lot-rental.

I could go back to a full-time job paying $10 an hour or higher anytime I want, but I have no desire for it. If I ever end up needing to, I can, but I do not need to at the moment so I don't. I don't buy needless things and I do not watch television.

I watched the movie Fight Club. I enjoyed it. I agreed with it on many levels. Did I purposefully go out and change my life because of it? No. I had my own insightful moment when I realized the only thing I liked about my previous job was the paycheck. I did not like the work, the people, or the stress. Now I love my job, the people and there is no stress.

Re:Mass hysteria (1)

psykocrime (61037) | more than 6 years ago | (#19689127)

I would say that Gen-X has certainly felt one brewing. Fight Club, anyone?

This Gen-X'er certainly feels one brewing. And I *thought* a large chunk of my peers shared some of that... but I'm starting to doubt it. I dunno... as Gen-X'ers reach an age where they start getting elected to public office, etc., we'll see how many of us really believe in ideals like Freedom and Liberty.

I have to say, I'll be *very* disappointed if my "generation" isn't heavily involved in a pro-Liberty, pro-Freedom shift in thinking.

Re:Mass hysteria (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19690523)

Gen-X had its chance.

Re:Mass hysteria (1)

jmyers (208878) | more than 6 years ago | (#19687639)

"If they remain quiet under such misconceptions, it is lethargy, the forerunner of death to the public liberty"

This is the part you should have emphasized. It is sad, but it is where we are going more so than revolution. The vast majority of the people in this country do not see the problem. They see Paris Hilton all over every channel and other mind numbing static. All of the power mongers know this and are more and more able to control the population like puppets.

Re:Mass hysteria (1)

l0rd.47hl0n (1099499) | more than 6 years ago | (#19687825)

Kudos! I for one stand ready to be such a patriot when that time comes.

Re:Mass hysteria (1)

ozmanjusri (601766) | more than 6 years ago | (#19688167)

Kudos! I for one stand ready to be such a patriot when that time comes.

And I for one stand ready to be your new patriotic overlord.

Kodos.

Wow, how disgusting (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19687895)

Wow, how amazingly insulting: comparing people who use Lunix to people who died fighting to free their nation.

It would be hilarious were it not so amazingly insulting to the real patriots.

Re:Mass hysteria (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19687909)

Sorry, Mack. The General populace hasn't a clue.

Try this. Go take a walk, and ask 5 random people what they think of the RIAA and the MPAA. Bonus points if you don't have to explain what those organizations are.

It's a farm... (1)

ghostunit (868434) | more than 6 years ago | (#19688621)

and people are the livestock.
 
Keep doing your job, watching your entertainment and paying your taxes.

Re:Mass hysteria (1)

CaymanIslandCarpedie (868408) | more than 6 years ago | (#19687423)

Thats exactly what I was thinking ;-)

One large vendor doing so has caused enough disruption.

What disruption? The only "disruption" I suffered was all the time I spent reading a bunch of blogs going crazy about the Novell deal was the end of the world.... then I went back to work.

Re:Mass hysteria (1)

niceone (992278) | more than 6 years ago | (#19687573)

We would have coped the same as always, we would rant and rave and generally work ourselves into a tizz

The great thing about this story is that we get to do all that even though nothing happened!

Re:Mass hysteria (1)

theshowmecanuck (703852) | more than 6 years ago | (#19690475)

Fletcher: Nothing! Because if I take it to small claims court, it will just drain 8 hours out of my life and you probably won't show up and even if I got the judgment you'd just stiff me anyway; so what I am going to do is piss and moan like an impotent jerk, and then bend over and take it up the tailpipe!

From the film Liar Liar

Slow news day? (2, Insightful)

StringBlade (557322) | more than 6 years ago | (#19687341)

Slashdot has now become the place to post hypothetical questions just for discussion on the main page?

"I'm a little verklempt. Talk amongst yourselves....I'll give you a topic: What if RedHat and Novell had both made MS deals? Discuss."

Re:Slow news day? (1)

skoaldipper (752281) | more than 6 years ago | (#19687395)

"Since then" or "what if". You're either bleeding edge or yesterday's news. I'm a "what if" type of guy myself.

Re:Slow news day? (4, Funny)

eclectro (227083) | more than 6 years ago | (#19687429)

Slashdot has now become the place to post hypothetical questions just for discussion on the main page?
It's Microsoft's fault, not slashdot's. They're the ones with the hypothetical patents.

What ifs?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19687777)

I have dated 2 girls, with both of whom I have discussed the prospect of marriage. However, one walked out on me before I could propose.

This leaves open the question: what if both girlfriends broke up with me? The one girlfriend has caused enough navel-gazing on my part. How would I have coped with two broken relationships?

(Yeah, I know the answer, it starts with a W and rhymes with Banker.)

Re:Slow news day? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19688675)

But Slashdot discussions in the past have been so significant! Who can forget "What if Lincoln had lived a very long life and invented the Commodore 64?", "What if the South had won the Civil War and Silicon Valley was in Atlanta?", and "What if Japan had won World War II and become an electronics behemoth?"

distros contributions (2, Interesting)

raffe (28595) | more than 6 years ago | (#19687359)

I don't know the exact text of the agreement but I am bit worried about the contributions from the distros that have signed the deal.
The code that for example novell puts in the kernel is covered by the GPL 2, but how will that work out with the patent deal they made? Will a switch (if)to GPL 3 of the kernel change this? GPL 3 speaks more of patents than GPL 2.

Nothing to worry about there (2, Insightful)

ttnb (1121411) | more than 6 years ago | (#19688283)

I don't know the exact text of the agreement but I am bit worried about the contributions from the distros that have signed the deal.

Novell etc are hurting their human-to-human relationships with the community and (to the extent that the deals they do violate GPLv2 and GPLv3) they hurt their ability to continue to legally distribute GNU/Linux, but the contributions they've made are irrevocably made under whatever license they distributed their contributions under - these contributions don't become invalid if they violate the license on parts of GNU/Linux that were contributed by others.

Re:distros contributions (1)

init100 (915886) | more than 6 years ago | (#19690213)

The code that for example novell puts in the kernel is covered by the GPL 2, but how will that work out with the patent deal they made? Will a switch (if)to GPL 3 of the kernel change this?

The switch can't happen unless all contributors accept it, since they usually hold the copyright to their contributions. Novell can simply say "no, we won't permit that", and the kernel either stays GPLv2, or the Novell contributions must be ripped out.

All this proves is that (1, Flamebait)

Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) | more than 6 years ago | (#19687367)

despite Linux' vendors' holier-than-thou attitude with regard to F/OSS vs. proprietary and software patents, business takes precedence. In other words, RH, Novell and Mandriva and all the other companies trying to make a buck selling Linux would happily go to bed with the devil if it earned them more money, and that their self-professed interest in the happiness of the community is just a facade to avoid alienating their source of income. RH probably rejected any deal with Microsoft because they didn't want to ruin their image, not because MS' deal was necessarily bad for them.

Re:All this proves is that (1)

arun_s (877518) | more than 6 years ago | (#19687413)

*sigh* You're probably right. When the Novell deal came up, RedHat was quick to put a really nice article [redhat.com] on their site assuring that they'd never do such a thing to their customers.
Funny how times change.
(Well, I just read that link again, and it still gives me some hope; it really does look like a well thought out plan, and not the usual PR fluff you'd expect.)

Re:All this proves is that (3, Insightful)

Dr. Smoove (1099425) | more than 6 years ago | (#19687533)

Guys Szulik basically gave no comment which has been interpreted as an affirmation. If he did 'talk' patents, he probably talked about how Microsoft's vaporpatents don't scare him. RH isn't going to make a deal like Novell did, period. You're way overreacting.

Re:All this proves is that (1)

Frosty Piss (770223) | more than 6 years ago | (#19689519)

Guys Szulik basically gave no comment which has been interpreted as an affirmation. If he did 'talk' patents, he probably talked about how Microsoft's vaporpatents don't scare him. RH isn't going to make a deal like Novell did, period. You're way overreacting.

Red Hat is a publicly traded company whose primary stockholders and customers are corporate enterprise groups. They don't sell to "hobbyists". Based on their customer profile, who do you think they care most about?

Re:All this proves is that (1)

WilliamSChips (793741) | more than 6 years ago | (#19689921)

Their developers, most of whom are probably hobbyists.

Re:All this proves is that (1)

Frosty Piss (770223) | more than 6 years ago | (#19690347)

Their developers, most of whom are probably hobbyists.
Most of their developers are employees. And, guess what? Red Hat employees are responsible for *HUGE* amounts for contributions to both the kernal *and* many well used applications.

Re:All this proves is that (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19690405)

RH didn't change. They are always in talk with Microsoft and others. What they don't accept is the TOS of such deals. They didn't say the deal was bad, Novell gets big bucks, linux-windows software interface better, etc, are very good things, RH would want that too. The big problem is therms they had to accept to get the deal, practically endorsing MS claims of patent violations by linux and bulling of users to move to there protected distros to be safe from "future possible" microsoft patent law suits.

MS itself has said, they wouldn't sue developers that add the claimed "patented code" or distros that distribute it, they would could sue, possibly, in the future, users that use software that they say infringe their patents.

That's so evil it scares me.

Re:All this proves is that (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19687421)

They also don't want to alienate their developers

Re:All this proves is that (1)

Geoffreyerffoeg (729040) | more than 6 years ago | (#19687809)

despite Linux' vendors' holier-than-thou attitude with regard to F/OSS vs. proprietary and software patents, business takes precedence.

So?

If you want to be Richard Stallman about it, this is exactly the difference between "free software" -- an ethical prerogative -- and "open source" -- a business convenience. We knew all along that Red Hat et al. were from the open-source faction.

In practical terms, Red Hat makes money off its software, and uses that money to pay many prolific Linux developers. Same with many other OSS-friendly commercial companies. Same with even Apple - for example, they caused the largest KHTML deployment ever, in the form of Safari, and thereby fixed several bugs and other issues and sent the patches upstream.

so wtf? (FTFA) (4, Interesting)

bl8n8r (649187) | more than 6 years ago | (#19687387)

In an interview with Reuters, Szulik declined to say whether
his company is now in negotiations with Microsoft over signing
such a patent agreement.

"I can't answer the question," he said.

Re:so wtf? (FTFA) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19687505)

Well, it's either 'Novel' or 'Novell', right?
I vote for 'Novell'.

Re:so wtf? (FTFA) (1)

Skrynesaver (994435) | more than 6 years ago | (#19687517)

This has me puzzled also, Redhat have explicitly stated that they won't go down the whole cross patent deal path, so what's there to deny?

unless a response of "You must be fskin' joking" was interpreted as a refusal to answer the question.

Re:so wtf? (FTFA) (3, Insightful)

Tet (2721) | more than 6 years ago | (#19687829)

Redhat have explicitly stated that they won't go down the whole cross patent deal path, so what's there to deny?

Red Hat's management would be negligent if they didn't discuss potential patent infringments with the competition. That doesn't mean they're talking about a Novell-style deal, though. I suspect MS appreoached them and said "we think you're infinging our patents, what are you going to do about it". RH probably replied with "...and you're infringing these patents held by OIN". That leads to a discussion between the two parties. Discussion != agreement. Why he can't just come out and say that, I don't know.

Re:so wtf? (FTFA) (3, Insightful)

dpilot (134227) | more than 6 years ago | (#19687995)

Perhaps because every comment made in public may come back to haunt you someday in court. The prudent manager or attorney is very circumspect about public statements. I suspect that in the end game, SCO will learn just a little bit about this area of conduct.

Re:so wtf? (FTFA) (4, Interesting)

kripkenstein (913150) | more than 6 years ago | (#19688581)

Not only did Red Hat's Szulik say "I can't answer that question" about whether he was in negotiations with Microsoft, but Microsoft "couldn't be reached for a comment" according to TFA. So, it is a safe bet there are discussions.

But that shouldn't be surprising. Red Hat said, after all, that

"We continue to believe that open source and the innovation it represents should not be subject to an unsubstantiated tax that lacks transparency."
- they never said "no deals with Microsoft about patents." And rightly so - the problem with the Novell-Microsoft deal is exactly that it is a vague 'innovation tax', mentions no actual patents, and is therefore completely nontransparent. Other deals regarding patents could be different.

A patent deal in which, say, Red Hat license specific WMA-related patents in order to ship WMA-playing software legally is 'reasonable' - at least assuming that that particular software is not GPL (or, if it is, if the patent license applies to all users of the software, not just Red Hat customers). I say 'reasonable' using scare quotes because this is reasonable only under the current highly-problematic US patent system. But, given that system, if Red Hat want to ship certain products, they must reach agreements concerning their patent holders. A sad fact of life.

(Note: I have no idea if WMA is patented, or not. This is just an example for illustration purposes.)

Re:so wtf? (FTFA) (2, Insightful)

masinick (130975) | more than 6 years ago | (#19690799)

I would say that Red Hat and other companies are probably in talks with Microsoft all the time. If they are not, they probably should be. Both companies have customers that use both sets of products, so it is in everyone's interest to communicate and to improve interoperability between distinct, independent products.

I do not see Red Hat caving in and signing any kind of patent agreement, but I could easily see Red Hat working with Microsoft if the work was in their mutual interest and in the interest of customers.

Red Hat is probably very reluctant to make those kind of deals because we have seen the kind of press Microsoft has given so far - stuff like "We will not sue this partner", yet in another breath that same day, "We think that Linux infringes on..." ad nauseum.

I do not think anyone's software should rightly infringe on anything else, because ninety percent of functions are common functions that should not be possible to patent, protect, or license, but there could be open collaborations to share the cost and benefits of implementing new features and improving the interoperability of existing features.

What we have today is a bunch of baloney. I hope all of it comes to an end soon and we usher in a new generation of collaborative software. Before that happens, there is likely to be quite a bit more nonsense, but perhaps we will get there sooner rather than later after all.

Good thing (3, Interesting)

CarpetShark (865376) | more than 6 years ago | (#19687397)

More people would get the distinction between cooperative communities and commercial companies, and move to Debian.

Re:Good thing (1)

sybesis (1095871) | more than 6 years ago | (#19687451)

I still don't understand why would microsoft help linux to work better with windows and windows to work better with linux. It's nonsense. Microsoft should just respect some standard and it would greatly help. And i still don't see why would microsoft help linux to kill it. It's like a self suicide

Re:Good thing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19687983)

The deals allow MS to nicely talk to Linux servers to facilitate a move away from the Linux servers. The Linux servers must also be subservient to any MS servers on the network when it comes to domain controllers.

This means it makes it trivial to replace the Linux servers at a later date, no doubt when an MS rep or two offers sweeteners like cheaper licensing for the current products. I.e. like a drug dealer, the first one is free and then your hooked.

Re:Good thing (1)

janrinok (846318) | more than 6 years ago | (#19688325)

It's like a self suicide
Not sure what you think that this phrase means? If you "suicide" someone else, I think its usually called murder.

Re:Good thing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19690607)

except for terminally ill patients who asked for help to end their suffering... er thats still murder. Nevermind.

Re:Good thing (1)

cerberusss (660701) | more than 6 years ago | (#19687961)

Debian? You mean the Linux distribution that recently came out with a graphical installer?

*ducks* *runs*

Re:Good thing (1)

penp (1072374) | more than 6 years ago | (#19689537)

No one can deny that, but even the text based installer that was being used before that was extremely user friendly. Just because you can use a mouse and click on buttons doesn't necessarily mean something is useful.

Talking Patents !='evil' (1)

sjwest (948274) | more than 6 years ago | (#19687415)

Competitive Intelligence ? - while the siren call of 'software patent' will make some confess there sins, I see nothing wrong in a discussion about 'software patents' with Chair_Thrower().

Re:Talking Patents !='evil' (2, Funny)

iAlta (1098077) | more than 6 years ago | (#19687441)

Yes it is. Software patents are EVIL! I almost had a heart-attack just reading the headline!

Fairy Tale (1)

Joebert (946227) | more than 6 years ago | (#19687437)

This sounds like one of thoose stories where pieces of somthing that could destroy the universe have been scattered around earth, & should never be put together less the universe should end.
More specificly, the part where one of the heros accidently drops one of the pieces & the evil supervillan almost gets it right before the cool guy that everyone thinks is next to useless swoops in out of nowhere & saves the day.

Since when does /. do "What if"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19687513)

Must be really slow news - since when do we care on "what if"?

Short answer: RH would be in deep sh*t. Next news bit please.

Can't Cope, Clown'll Eat Me (4, Funny)

CheeseburgerBrown (553703) | more than 6 years ago | (#19687553)

"How would the community have coped with two of the largest vendors doing so?"

This isn't a particularly well-angled question, in my opinion. The answers are too obvious. The community would cope by...

* Printing up obscure if arguably quasi-witty T-shirts with phrases on them like "PATENTS == MURDER" or "LESSIG SIGNED MY TITS" or "THE BORG HAVE THE RED BOX!"

* Posting foaming diatribes to hot-spots of cultural influence like the ass-end of a deeply nested thread on Slashdot or, worse, on a crappy, template-raped personal weblog and then spammed via Digg.

* Ruining a potentially good date by trying to lecture the poor girl about the GPL.

* Catharsis through extra masturbation.

* News: Red Hat and Microsoft strike a deal. Not-news: Some geek writes a snarky headline about it on Fark. Take THAT, Redmond!

* Lego re-enactments of famous scenes from movies re-written to reflect the patent deal situation, uploaded to YouTube. "Luke, I am your patent holder." "Noo-o-o-o-o-ooo-oo!"

* LOL i haz ur intellec2al properdy portpholeo!!11!!11

Oh yeah, baby -- it'd be like the Million Man March all over again.

attack of the strawman .troll .. (1)

rs232 (849320) | more than 6 years ago | (#19687833)

"The answers are too obvious. The community would cope by..."

Totally ignore the main points of the article and address totally bogus strawman [fallacyfiles.org] fallacy.

was: Re:Can't Cope, Clown'll Eat Me

Attack of the Non-Entertaining Troll (1)

CheeseburgerBrown (553703) | more than 6 years ago | (#19687847)

[Bangs on side of computer] "Be more funny!"

Microsoft wants to build a Linux Licensing busines (4, Interesting)

pieterh (196118) | more than 6 years ago | (#19687577)

This has been clear for ages. See my article on Digital Majority [digitalmajority.org] .

Linux (and all the free software it supports) is a compelling technology that underpins huge new markets. Microsoft wants to tax these markets. It has been accumulating patents, and lobbying for software patents in Europe, and investing in Intellectual Ventures, to create the necessary tools. It has decided the time is right to move. Its strategy is to divide and conquer the Linux community, by making deals with the commercial vendors. The deals don't need to be patent deals, they just need to allow Microsoft to pump some money into the companies in question, so they become slaved to Microsoft's policies. This is a standard operating procedure for MSFT.

The real targets are the large Linux users - big business. These firms will be asked politely but with force to pay a MS tax on Linux, in the name of "interoperability" and "intellectual property". The carrot will be interoperability with Microsoft's stacks, the stick will be that wallet of "infringements".

Above all, Microsoft wants to make life hard for IBM: its fear and loathing of IBM underpins its strategy in the Linux space.

There are two big problems with Microsoft's strategy:

One, it has moved too soon and too aggressively, probably scared by the GPLv3, and has created serious anger with those large firms it's supposed to be gaining as "Linux customers".

Second, it is playing games with an industry - the patent industry - that is more evil even than Microsoft. By feeding the trolls, it's sowing the seeds of its own departure from the software business.

Three, it is forcing IBM to move to action against Microsoft. The Open Invention Network (OIN) can be seen as a direct counter to Intellectual Ventures, which although highly secretive about its investors, most likely runs on MSFT cash.

Red Hat will, IMO, eventually make a deal with Microsoft, as will Canonical. The deal won't mention patents at all, but it will come to the same: cash flowing from Microsoft to Linux vendors, in sufficient quantities that they will be forced to play nice with Microsoft's plans.

Re:Microsoft wants to build a Linux Licensing busi (1)

smcdow (114828) | more than 6 years ago | (#19688773)

The carrot will be interoperability with Microsoft's stacks ...

Is this really all that much of an incentive? I'm putting together a very-big-assed RHEL thingy that has no requirement to interoperate with any MS stacks (other than http, and that's hardly proprietary).

Re:Microsoft wants to build a Linux Licensing busi (1)

MrKaos (858439) | more than 6 years ago | (#19689809)

You have some very good points. Gates is commercially adept and I think he sees what the Micro$oft board sees as they slip down the end of the marketing bell curve into revenue oblivion. It will be interesting (ok, nail biting) to see if GPL3 can adequatley counter the M$ standard policy of embrace and extend.

The bottom line is if it's hard for business to run on M$'s "64bit" platform, what's the point of persisting, it's already difficult to support. Business dosen't want to spend so much money on keeping something as simple as spreadsheets wordprocessors and email clients going, and it's M$'s own doing through the BSA. Had software asset management not become such a big deal through the threat of litigation, contract compliance and snap infrastructure audits, the underbelly of M$'s infrastructure cost model would not have come under scrutiny by the management of so many businesses.

Questions like why so much money is spent on virus software and the economic's of how PC's are retired long before analogous computing infrastructure has reached the end of it's useful life would not be scutinised by company accountants.

The carrot will be interoperability with Microsoft's stacks, the stick will be that wallet of "infringements".
Micro$oft improved WINE, without the hassles that windows presents when deployed in enterprise environments, I can see the ad's now "Microsoft extends business application lifespan, and brings value to your business's Linux investment - ask us how". I'm sure there will be a whole lot of small IT shops that have captured some vertical market leaned on by microsoft to play thier way as they migrate windows based application to linux. M$ won't guarantee all those 16bit legacy applications will work anymore under vista, suddenly Linux looks viable to those markets.

Above all, Microsoft wants to make life hard for IBM: its fear and loathing of IBM underpins its strategy in the Linux space.
Because M$ knows that IBM knows that the M$ infrastructure model costs too much. IBM can't stand M$ because they HAVE to purchase so many Windows licences, anti virus licences, office licences for their own operations and the clients they service. IBM know they can't derive the revenue streams with PC's that they can with other computing infrastructure and that profitability end's up as another companies revenue, mainly M$. Meanwhile IBM quietly develop's their own Linux desktop.

One, it has moved too soon and too aggressively, probably scared by the GPLv3, and has created serious anger with those large firms it's supposed to be gaining as "Linux customers".

Second, it is playing games with an industry - the patent industry - that is more evil even than Microsoft. By feeding the trolls, it's sowing the seeds of its own departure from the software business.

And good riddance, they're like Novell before TCP/IP, but so much more belligerant with their client base. They have been squeezing business for soooo long, and for what, a platform that play's video games, I mean, we have been talking about a Personal Computer all this time.

Three, it is forcing IBM to move to action against Microsoft
They have been shadow boxing for years, but IBM won't engage them no matter how many bloody noses they get from M$ unless M$ becomes openly confrontational. IBM has alot of business strategists that want to shake that M$ revenue tree, they know deploying linux into business will be a MASSIVE source of growth, linux is a perfect fit for the IBM service model. While Micro$oft fight IBM, IBM fight's it's own bureaucracy.

Red Hat will, IMO, eventually make a deal with Microsoft, as will Canonical.
Not willingly, kicking and screaming maybe. I think they both recognise the potential for service revenue is far greater without M$ involvement than with it and next to impossible without IBM lending them validity in the marketplace. If the push comes from anywhere it will be from Red Hat's investors.

Cheers, I'll be reading over your article after I get some sleep, ttfn.

Re:Microsoft wants to build a Linux Licensing busi (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19691043)

why do you think redhat needs ms patent agreement? they've publicly called it an innovation tax. of all the companies that microsoft has to fear, redhat probably tops the list. I want to know if redhat will flock to the gpl3 along with the kernel developers.

Debian is power (4, Insightful)

wikinerd (809585) | more than 6 years ago | (#19687641)

We have Debian [debian.org] . The community existed before commercial interests took notice of us and we do not need any commercial vendor. SUSE, RedHat, and any other commercial vendor could file for bankruptcy without affecting the GNU/Linux community at all. Our power lies in cooperation, volunteerism, and our love for free software. We don't need money to keep our community alive, because it is based on ideology and love for technology. I moved all of my SUSE-based servers and machines to Debian after the Novell patent deal.

Re:Debian is power (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19687991)

The problem with Debian is that you had a bunch of geek elitists coupled with delay after delay on releases that scared people away. Ubuntu is really the future. Not only because they are consistent with what that can deliver release wise, but there is a much more "friendlier" community than Debian.

Re:Debian is power (2, Insightful)

an.echte.trilingue (1063180) | more than 6 years ago | (#19688601)

Ubuntu, for all the good work that they have done to promote Linux to the world, remains little more than Debian sid with bug fixes and a consistent theme, respun every 6 months. Those elitist geeks you so lightly dismiss built Ubuntu. Cannonical markets it. This relationship continues to this day, and this is why Debian will probably outlive Ubuntu.

If irregular releases really distressed people, Microsoft would have regular releases. I would argue that most people prefer the rock solid stability of Debian to a regular release cycle. That is why Mandrake, the Ubuntu of 5 years ago, did not become the wave of today: too buggy. Again, just as RedHat outlived Mandrake, Debian will outlive Ubuntu. (and yes, Ubuntu is buggy compared to Debian)

Oh, and I should also mention that if you take the time to ask questions on debian mailing lists (not the dev lists, of course) and you are polite, you will find that those "elitist geeks" take the time to help even the "lowly noobs".

Re:Debian is power (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19688089)

We have Debian [debian.org] . The community existed before commercial interests took notice of us and we do not need any commercial vendor.

Um, yes, you do. Debian was dying before Ubuntu [ubuntu.com] came along and without Ubuntu it would have been deader than dead by now.

One word (1, Flamebait)

javilon (99157) | more than 6 years ago | (#19687645)

How would the community have coped with two of the largest vendors doing so?

One word,

Ubuntu

Foregone Conclusion (1)

weinrich (414267) | more than 6 years ago | (#19687931)

How would the community have coped with two of the largest vendors doing so?"
It would have not impacted anyone who posts here, right? The /. account application clearly stated that your PC had to be homemade, and your OS had to be free. No one here actually paid RedHat for their copy of Linux, did they? Hey... wait a minute... you are running Linux, aren't you??

Re:Foregone Conclusion (1)

WilliamSChips (793741) | more than 6 years ago | (#19690009)

Well, actually I have a dualboot, but the copy of Windows 2000 is from a corporate license, so technically it's free to me...

a modest proposal .. (2, Interesting)

rs232 (849320) | more than 6 years ago | (#19687951)

Why don't RedHat start sending threatening letters to MS customers telling them that they are in violation of RH patents.

Now I get it (1)

LarryfromMalvern (1121603) | more than 6 years ago | (#19687977)

I expect a deal. A good one in fact to get RedHat to sign. I also believe Microsoft has just revealed their motive for these cross licensing agreements. Go after Ubuntu.

Novel is not totally evil yet (4, Insightful)

roemcke (612429) | more than 6 years ago | (#19688035)

The way I see it, only entering a patent deal is not necessary bad. (except for giving MS money and FUD ammo.) The problems only starts the moment you include patented stuff into GPL'd software.

Without the patent deal, if you by mistake include patented stuff, you will anger the authors of free software AND risk being sued to death by Microsoft. With the deal, MS can't touch you. You only have to find a way to please the authors of any GPL'd code you may have distributed. History has shown that if it only was an honest mistake, they tend to have small demands. Just remove the offending code and everyone will most likely be happy.

One good thing out of this patent shenanigans... (2, Interesting)

csoto (220540) | more than 6 years ago | (#19688065)

is that it highlights the FOSS community's basic inability to come together over topics. Not that this is a bad thing, but it has to be accepted that some members of the community (yes, RH and Novell are extremely valuable members) will do things others wouldn't. Learn to live with it. Don't quit your day jobs...

(PS- I call shenanigans!)

If major do a Microsoft Patent deal. . . (0, Flamebait)

TheUndertaker (191054) | more than 6 years ago | (#19688133)

In a heartbeat, I'll switch to FreeBSD.

This type of crap, Linux vendors making deals with the devil, Microsoft, goes against the whole core philosophy of the OSS movement. It is a shabby excuse for Novell, Xandros and Linspire to ink these type of deals knowing full well that the @$$h0le$ in Redmond, WA will spin saying, "You see, they're signing these deals because Linux does infringe on our patents! Now be prepared to be assimilated."

Red Hat, in its infinite wisdom, negotiated with the devil themselves but yet didn't sign any deals because frankly, it would have most likely required some kind of statement Red Hat to say, "hey, look what we did. . .we're respecting patents!" And than our Borg friends at Redmond would have spun it to say, "we are your friends, and we mean no harm, now give us your money."

These type of deals do no justice to any vendor and simply give legitimacy to the public relations garbage of that Borg alien race software vendor named Microsoft. Simply put, a new distribution ought to be created and with the understanding that no patents deals may be associated with it but hey, IANAL, so I'm not sure how enforceable that really is. . . .

GPLv3 can save the day. Do your part! (1)

ttnb (1121411) | more than 6 years ago | (#19688135)

How would the community have coped with two of the largest vendors doing so?

The community would have survived, but much time would have been wasted on dealing with FUD and other unproductive arguments. As long as none of the leading business-supported distributions (currently Redhat and Unbuntu) is affected, the damage is much more limited.

Therefore, it's important to react now, as long as it's essentially just Novell, and support the GPL version upgrade from version 2 to version 3 [fsf.org] .

You know (2, Interesting)

nrgy (835451) | more than 6 years ago | (#19688345)

this stuff is starting to scare me more and more each time I read it. Sure you can talk about "We will just do without them" but the fact is the corporate world does contribute to linux. How much do they and where would linux be without it I really can't say. But to act like what they do contribute is insignificant is bs if you ask me.

I like linux, I've been using it for the past 5 years as my only os, but that doesn't mean I run around with blinders on thinking all is fine and dandy. Would linux continue on if as a community we said screw you guys I'm going home, I'm sure linux would go on but how much would it slow its ability to keep up with the likes of Windows, OSX, and the other os's available? I never here anyone mention this factor when talking about picking up our toys and going home. My thoughts on this go much deeper and there are many more factors that I haven't mentioned but my main point is I'm a little worried with all thats been going on lately. Call me a worry wort if you want but I like my linux and if worrying about all the bs that has been tossed around as of late is wrong then so be it.

Talking is his job (2, Insightful)

flyingfsck (986395) | more than 6 years ago | (#19688491)

He would have been negligent if he didn't talk to MS. In the end, he probably made the correct decision.

Same way it did with Novell (0, Troll)

metamatic (202216) | more than 6 years ago | (#19688803)

It's important to understand that "the community" by and large doesn't run Red Hat Enterprise Linux or SuSE Linux Enterprise (Server|Desktop), so Novell and RedHat license agreements simply don't affect them. Perhaps a RedHat agreement with Microsoft would have caused yet more ill will and sped up the decline of Fedora, but that's about it.

Now, what would really impact the community would be if Ubuntu signed a Microsoft deal. But fortunately, that's not gonna happen. And even if it did, we'd still have Debian.

FreeBSD (1)

jimpop (27817) | more than 6 years ago | (#19689081)

How would the community have coped with two of the largest vendors doing so?

FreeBSD.

Re:FreeBSD (1)

masinick (130975) | more than 6 years ago | (#19690925)

There are all kinds of options. FreeBSD is but one of many.

The Debian project is all about freedom. Many probably do not realize it, but the Linux kernel is not the only kernel to be embraced or to be used with the Debian environment. I know the GNU Hurd project had worked with Debian at one point, so did FreeBSD, NetBSD, and OpenBSD. Those are only the ones I know about.

There are many free and open OS efforts out there and there are many free and open applications out there. The only way to slow down the movement would be to close off the networks. Even then, this movement had started before the prevalence of Broadband networks. Today's networks only accelerate collaboration and innovation. Those who are not innovating (you can figure out who they are) are gasping and grasping, hoping not to drown under a torrent of rapidly moving current.

red hat's official statement (4, Insightful)

spevack (210449) | more than 6 years ago | (#19689497)

Disclosure: I work on the Fedora Project. I am employed by Red Hat, but I am not in corporate communications. However, here is the official statement that was issued by that group:

"Red Hat has only recently been able to see some of the terms of the original Microsoft/Novell deal, due to the belated and redacted SEC filings that were made. Based on what we have seen, the deal is not interesting to us. Red Hat continues to believe that open source and the innovation it represents should not be subject to an unsubstantiated tax that lacks transparency."

My own thoughts, that are not necessarily those of my employer:

CEOs have to be very careful about what they say in public, especially in this day and age in the US business world. Sometimes a "no comment" is the only safe answer. Personally, I do not believe Red Hat would ever make a Novell-style deal. I can't even begin to express how angry and disappointed I would be with Red Hat, and Mr. Szulik, if such a deal were to ever happen. But I don't stay up at night worrying about it, because I trust Red Hat's CEO and top management to do the right thing.

Re:red hat's official statement (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19691433)

If RedHat were to make such a deal, would you and your co-workers quit in protest, fork RedHat and start a new company?

Think of the message it would send if the entire staff, not a few people as in the Novell deal, were to quit. Something to think about.

Re:red hat's official statement (1)

HRbnjR (12398) | more than 6 years ago | (#19691677)

I like the Free Software community - how we all create software together, out in the open, and anyone can jump right in and contribute. I like the Fedora community, how transparent Fedora has become, and how I can basically use the Fedora tools to roll my own personal distro.

What I don't like is fancy high-paid high-level executives flying around in jets and having closed door "we can't talk about it" board room meetings regarding the status and future of what our communities create. If there are issues surrounding community software, the discussion should take place with the community who created it, not in some private meeting. A Free Software contributor shouldn't have to wait for some SEC filing from some company to find some glimpse about possible patent problems in their software. Nobody has the right to represent and decide these issues for all the Free Software contributors out there.

I want to read the *entirety* of the patent discussion with MS on the fedora or debian legal email lists. If MS won't have the discussion publically with the people who created the software, then I would rather see vendors have no discussion at all.

Disruption? (1)

Fujisawa Sensei (207127) | more than 6 years ago | (#19690085)

One large vendor doing so has caused enough disruption.

What is this disruption you refer to? Its it something new from the FUD that has been circulation for years, fodder for /. or idiotic articles in Computerworld?

As the beancounters say, "Cash is King" (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19690613)

Note that each of these MS "agreements" are cash-positive to the open source side. Also note that neither MS nor the open source company gets anything of tremendous value. The MS patents are unspecified, of dubious enforceability, and the "protection" is limited. The only real threat from open source is to give away functionality that matches or exceeds what MS is selling. Even with the agreements, the threats to both sides remain pretty much the same.

The end game is for MS to try and sell the concept that open source uses something that MS must be paid for. None of this would pass the giggle test, so MS pays the open source companies to suppress their laughter. The real test comes when MS tries to use the precedent of these agreements to impose a tax on open source, via a new round of "agreements" in which the cash flows the other way.

This is MS' attempt to buy the open source industry. Until recently, it was considered impossible -- the community is too large and too diverse to be bought. Evidently, MS thinks there are some common choke points that would hinder open source development. We all know that cash is a very effective tool to influence corporate behavior. This is either very clever or very desperate -- I'm not sure which.

Are patents still useful? (1)

masinick (130975) | more than 6 years ago | (#19690629)

At one time, the idea of patents was created to encourage investment in innovation and protect new ideas, rewarding the founder and investor in new ideas for a set period of time. This is fine for completely new technologies, but I seriously question the usefulness of patents for well established ideas, especially when someone attempts to place a patent on an idea that really is well established and wants to own every nuance. That kind of patent ought to be abolished completely.

I can understand patents for brand new ideas, and I can tolerate them for that, though my first preference would be to get rid of patents altogether. Perhaps their time of usefulness has passed. Instead, let's collaborate more on innovations, change laws to encourage open collaboration, and only protect against closed collaborative efforts of giants who seek to squash any potential newcomers into their markets.

What I advocate is protecting freedom and protecting choice. Politically I see freedom and choice getting reduced. I wonder how much longer we will be able to speak freely like this?
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