Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 28th Mar 2007 21:02 UTC, submitted by Ali Davoodifar
GNU, GPL, Open Source The FSF has released the third draft of the revised third version of the GNU General Public License. Some of the changes in the new draft, such as the increased clarification and legal language, or the housekeeping changes that reflect new aspects of the license are likely to be accepted. However, the license also includes a new approach to the controversial issue of lock-down technologies as well as more explicit language about patents, including language designed to prevent a re-occurrence of agreements such as the one that Novell entered into with Microsoft - all of which is apt to kindle heated debate as the revision process enters its final stages after fifteen months of intensive work.
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Oh dear...
by dylansmrjones on Wed 28th Mar 2007 21:53 UTC
Member since:

The sheer length of that license... oh dear oh dear. *sigh*

Reply Score: 4

RE: Oh dear...
by sbergman27 on Wed 28th Mar 2007 21:58 UTC in reply to "Oh dear..."
sbergman27 Member since:

Second system syndrome.

Reply Score: 4

RE: Oh dear...
by Almafeta on Wed 28th Mar 2007 22:39 UTC in reply to "Oh dear..."
Almafeta Member since:

Most people haven't actually read it anyways. I think the FSF is banking on that.

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: Oh dear...
by butters on Thu 29th Mar 2007 03:12 UTC in reply to "RE: Oh dear..."
butters Member since:

"Yes, Your Honor, but I didn't actually read the license" doesn't hold up in court. The GPLv3 is significantly shorter than many other software licenses, like the EULA for MS Windows Vista, for example. Vendors, developers, and CIOs will read it and/or consult their lawyers. Mom and Pop might not, but who's gunna sue them? The RIAA doesn't have any jurisdiction here.

Reply Score: 5

RE[3]: Oh dear...
by PRaabjerg on Thu 29th Mar 2007 06:05 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Oh dear..."
PRaabjerg Member since:

Also, if you know the basic rules/the philosophy of the GPL, it actually becomes very difficult for the layman to break it unintentionally. As opposed to a standard EULA.
Anyone who simply modifies and republishes code should still just remember that they need to publish the source along with it.

The execution may be a bit more legally explicit, but in the end, most people don't have to do any extra work to comply with the licence, compared to v2. As I understand it, i's even a lot more forgiving to accidental license breakers than v2 was. You get 30 days to comply, from the date you are made aware of it.
v2 just stopped functioning instantly, and you would have to ask the copyright holder for permission again.

Reply Score: 3

clarification and diff
by ciaran on Wed 28th Mar 2007 21:54 UTC
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There is a useful clarification from FSF about the "from March 28th onward" bit:

And readers might also find this side-by-side diff useful:

Reply Score: 4

by smitty on Wed 28th Mar 2007 22:06 UTC
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Linus seems to like this one a lot more than the previous drafts, even if he's still skeptical about it being better than v2.

Reply Score: 3

RE: Torvalds
by BrianH on Wed 28th Mar 2007 22:09 UTC in reply to "Torvalds"
BrianH Member since:

Could you provide a link to that Torvalds comment?

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Torvalds
by anda_skoa on Wed 28th Mar 2007 22:41 UTC in reply to "RE: Torvalds"
anda_skoa Member since:

Could you provide a link to that Torvalds comment?

Reply Score: 5

Let's see
by sigzero on Wed 28th Mar 2007 22:33 UTC
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- GPL3 goes final
- Linus keeps Linux kernel at GPL2
- Too many people against GPL3
- All GNU tools forked off the GPL2 version and development continues
- Everything keeps going skipping GPL3 altogether

The license sucks for the very fact that it has pretty much split the community and will continue to do so after its release.

Edited 2007-03-28 22:34

Reply Score: 5

RE: Let's see
by TechGeek on Wed 28th Mar 2007 22:43 UTC in reply to "Let's see"
TechGeek Member since:

The kernel is its own beast. Changes cant be made whether Linus wants to or not. As for the rest, you dont know how many people are going to be against this GPLv3 draft since it just came out. This one seems to be a lot more even handed than the last. Theyve taken out hardware restrictions and talk completely about the software. As for forking, that will depend on the major distributions. Few will adopt GPL3 on their software if it means they will automatically get forked (for the most part)

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: Let's see
by unavowed on Wed 28th Mar 2007 23:12 UTC in reply to "RE: Let's see"
unavowed Member since:

Actually I remember having read a comment by Alan Cox saying that Torvalds may have just removed the "(or any later version)" clause some time into the development process, which would invalidate such a change.

A search on Google returned this LKML post (I don't remember if it's the same one, but it's still interesting):

Edited 2007-03-28 23:17

Reply Score: 3

RE[3]: Let's see
by elsewhere on Thu 29th Mar 2007 03:20 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Let's see"
elsewhere Member since:

Actually I remember having read a comment by Alan Cox saying that Torvalds may have just removed the "(or any later version)" clause some time into the development process, which would invalidate such a change.

A search on Google returned this LKML post (I don't remember if it's the same one, but it's still interesting): 2007-03-28 23:17

That debate was pretty much dismissed, but it's irrelevant. When "v2 or later" code is combined with "v2 only" code, the combined work is v2 only. That's the way the GPL works. The specific code snippets that were released as v2 or later could be extracted and used separately, but not the linked code.

The "or later" clause effectively creates a multiple license situation, not a single all-encompassing license. Once v3 is released, it will effectively mean you have the option of using the code under a v2 license *or* a v3 license. You effectively fork an "or later" project the moment you combined it with "only" code, but it won't work the other way.

A good example will be the GNU Hurd kernel project; once the FSF changes the license to v3 (which presumably they'll do), they'll have to eliminate some of the driver code they adapted from linux because that code cannot be converted to v3.

So even if Linus did initiate the kernel GPL license with the "or later" boilterplate (which he didn't), patches submitted and merged under "v2 only" would make the collective work v2 only. Linus' point that started some of this confusion was to clarify that the "or later" clause did not exist and the license was v2 only. There were license.txt's as part of the kernel source that included the straight text from the FSF which and included the blurb about recommending about the "or later" clause, which confused some people, but it didn't in fact apply to the kernel itself.

Edited 2007-03-29 03:22 UTC

Reply Score: 3

RE: Let's see
by sbergman27 on Wed 28th Mar 2007 22:45 UTC in reply to "Let's see"
sbergman27 Member since:

The license sucks for the very fact that it has pretty much split the community and will continue to do so after its release.

It hasn't even gotten started yet. The *real* damage starts after its release date, when the division of the community goes from being a concept, which can be repaired, to being a matter of law, which can't.

Edited 2007-03-28 22:46

Reply Score: 4

RE[2]: Let's see
by jessta on Thu 29th Mar 2007 00:32 UTC in reply to "RE: Let's see"
jessta Member since:

when you refer to 'division of the community' what are you talking about?

Are you refering to the fact that GPLv3 won't be compatiable with GPLv2?
- This hasn't been a problem in the past with many licences not being GPLv2 compatible.(eg. BSD)

This won't be a problem because developers who originally released their software under GPLv2 wanted to enforced continued freedom in the use of the code they write(otherwise they would have chosen something like BSD Licence). GPLv3 will continue this enforcement while pluging up some holes in GPLv2, so I can't see why many projects wouldn't relicense if they can.

For those to value freedom in there software I can't see the GPLv3 really changing much.

Reply Score: 5

RE[2]: Let's see
by dylansmrjones on Thu 29th Mar 2007 21:12 UTC in reply to "RE: Let's see"
dylansmrjones Member since:

What division? There is going to be no division here. It is for all matters just another license. GCC can go GPL3 and the Linux kernel can stay GPL2 and whatever package can stay as it is.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Let's see
by h times nue equals e on Thu 29th Mar 2007 07:59 UTC in reply to "Let's see"
h times nue equals e Member since:

As this is thrown up quite frequently, I decided to do a little investigation on the topic of

"Why, for the Flying Spaghetti Monster's sake, should anybody have to fork the GNU tools when GPLv3 arrives?"

As IANAL, you are of course very welcome to correct and/or augment my findings. Thanks in advance.

First of all, the glibc is covered by the LGPL and not the GPL[1], which pretty much ensures, that even non-compatible licensed code (yes, closed source, proprietary code too) can link against (or like they word it: use) it.

5. A program that contains no derivative of any portion of the Library, but is designed to work with the Library by being compiled or linked with it, is called a “work that uses the Library”. Such a work, in isolation, is not a derivative work of the Library, and therefore falls outside the scope of this License.

In related news, the FAQ of the GNU[2] project addresses the problem of developing code with incompatible licenses explicitly[3]:

Q: Can I use GPL-covered editors such as GNU Emacs to develop non-free programs? Can I use GPL-covered tools such as GCC to compile them?
A: Yes, because the copyright on the editors and tools does not cover the code you write. Using them does not place any restrictions, legally, on the license you use for your code.
(Q: and A: added by myself for the
sake of clarity)

If soon-to-be GPLv3 covered projects, like perhaps SUN's Java use a classpath linkage exception[4], they more or less emulate the behavior of the LGPL and won't cause any direct problems too (not that SUN's Java is a part of the GNU tools, but gjc is).

So, for me, the situation boils down to this:

- A GPLv3 covered GNU toolchain won't hinder the Linux devs from developing, testing and debugging their GPLv2 covered kernel, as long as they don't transfer code from the GNU tools directly to their kernel (and although I'm no big guru when it comes to kernel development, I doubt that significant parts of the kernel are for example derived from the C compiler). If I interpret the FAQ correctly, even MS could develop their Windows operating systems using gcc and g++ without fearing the anger of the mighty GNU :-).

- most FOSS software with a strict GPLv2 policy I'm aware of is very tightly bound to kernels (poster child example: BusyBox with their GPLv2 only[5], although they state on their homepage[6], that they are under GPLv2 or later, weird) and probably can't but in generally don't need not to fork for similar reasons either.

- Proprietary software, that needs to interface with the glibc (and analogously licensed works) can still do so by virtue of the LGPL.

- I don't see many projects who had no problems using the GNU userland tools under GPLv2 dropping it, because they would have had already alternatives available under less restrictive terms (BSD-fileutils, for example).

Basically, the GPLv3 should - in large - not affect people, companies and projects, that have already tried to comply with both letter and spirit of the GPLv2.

My personal opinion is, that entities, that generate an income from a dual-license model should have a pretty big motivation to go for GPLv3, as this increases the possibility to sell licenses for their products, that allow a direct proprietary usage. As of this, I personally would not read too much into actions like MySQL removing the "or later" clause from their product, as it is a different thing to feature such a clause, when the GPLv3 is a distant event on the horizon compared to a situation, where the release is nearing steadily and still large changes (compare this draft to the previous ones) are possible.

As of MySQL, Trolltech and their likes, they are typically the sole holders of the copyright for their projects and therefore in the position to maneuver very agile wrt license changes.

Neglecting the later-as-March-28-2007 addition for a moment, the only ones, that I see in need of forks of the GNU (and other, like SAMBA for example) tools are entities like Novell, who plan or do base their business model on exploiting a bug in the GPLv2.

As I said above, please feel free to correct / augment / contradict my findings, thanks for your attention.


EDIT: fixed some typos I spotted and clarify the Novell relevant part wrt 2007/03/28 clause.


Edited 2007-03-29 08:15

Reply Score: 5

GPL3 and multi-media
by Southern.Pride on Wed 28th Mar 2007 22:49 UTC
Member since:

I have evaluated the article and the DRM content has not been totally excluded as in difficultly in trying to play it in a give Linux distro. Having the codecs is one of the biggest problems if a vendor decides to lock everything down. I just finished a new install of FC6 and configuring the multi-media with all the codecs is time consuming however as long they are available and installable the problem is solvable. My concern in this new release how does this affect this area in the long term view?

Reply Score: 1

RE: GPL3 and multi-media
by butters on Thu 29th Mar 2007 04:23 UTC in reply to "GPL3 and multi-media"
butters Member since:

My concern in this new release how does this affect this area in the long term view?

It won't. The new draft doesn't say you can't use GPLv3 code in a work that purposefully restricts its usage. It merely says that GPLv3 code can't be used the implement functionality that prevents the user from building, installing, and running modifications. The only way to use GPLv3 (draft 3) code in a restrictive product without giving the community the means and right to eliminate the restrictions is to install the code in ROM. GPLv3 code that is distributed as an installable product must also include installation instructions that explain any special procedures that might be necessary to build, install, and run modified versions.

And it doesn't say anything at all related to patented codecs. The GPLv3 can prohibit upstream distributors from suing downstream distributors, but it can't magically remove the patent restrictions that keep many of us (in certain jurisdictions) from legally using free software implementations of patented codecs.

Reply Score: 5

GPL3 focuses on user freedom
by npang on Wed 28th Mar 2007 22:55 UTC
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> "More than any other part of the GPLv3 discussion, this point highlighted the differences between the open source community, with its focus on code freedom and the free software community, with its emphasis on freedom for users."

Right on. Time and time again, we've been stating that free software is about the user's freedom; the user's right to maintain complete control of our own systems and the right to share software with anybody. This is the goal of RMS's actions. He advocates for the user's rights.

GPLv3 was designed to have the same spirit (which is to ensure the user's freedom) as what GPLv2 intended. IMHO, the current GPLv3 draft does a fine job at maintaining this spirit and does what it can to counter threats that would otherwise deprive users of their rights with GPLv2 licensed software.

here is the link to the third discussion draft of the GNU General Public Licence version 3.

Reply Score: 5

RE: GPL3 focuses on user freedom
by wombat_prime on Thu 29th Mar 2007 00:14 UTC in reply to "GPL3 focuses on user freedom"
wombat_prime Member since:

I completely agree. This latest draft version has done a great job incorporating changes from the community while providing the protections needed in response to new technologies and business models.

Reply Score: 2

Want some information not random comments.
by cyclops on Wed 28th Mar 2007 23:07 UTC
Member since:

"It hasn't even gotten started yet. The *real* damage starts after its release date, when the division of the community goes from being a concept, which can be repaired, to being a matter of law, which can't."

There is something about these GPL3 thread that, everyone has an opinion, but nobody provides real substance. I could have included *any* post in this thread.

What *damage* show me the damage point to the projects. What *division* of the community(sic). I love forked projects simply becuase it makes for a better product, and if people *really* believe what Linus has been saying "The best technology will win"; The argument has some merit. Unfortunately we have already seen FSF insist on owning copyright for this reason so all their projects will go GPL2. Linus is staying GPL2 only, and its under consensus whether he could actually change it if he wanted to. Large project like MySQL etc are actively choosing a license, or having a license change at all. Linux the community if a community at all is a collection of communities, each choosing their preferred License for their project. This is without pointing out the obvious, each linux distribution's doesn't just have one but 20 different licenses with sometimes a License wrote specially for the application.

I don't understand this point, but then I don't understand most as most posts and emotional; devoid of *any* content.

Reply Score: 5

Does it prevent novell agreement?
by lsls on Wed 28th Mar 2007 23:22 UTC
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If GPLv3 specifically prevents patent protection agreements such as the Novell-MS deal, won't it also have some effect on other patent protection programs (through indemnification) that Red Hat, Sun and others have?

I know they are two different kinds of patent protection, but at the end they have the same result: protecting users which pay against patents.

And if GPLv3 doesn't prevent patent protection through indemnification, can't Novell just reword the agreement and present it as an indemnification program?

Reply Score: 1

sbergman27 Member since:

In the end, it will likely not prevent entities doing things of which RMS does not approve.

These static clauses that are added as reactions to specific events are doomed to failure.

One would not write code like that. Much better to point to a table which can be dynamically updated.

He really might as well be honest and include a clause that indicates that "This license grants you these rights until such time as your company name appears on the list at".

It would save a lot of unnecessary "debate".

Reply Score: 5

ubit Member since:

It'd be nice if all that was needed is to list the four freedoms.

But the Tivo/DRM and Novell patent deal (in which companies like Red Hat and IBM are attacked by Novell's patent deal that only applies to it and MS's customers, making software unfree) are also attacks against the license AND those freedoms, so of course it addresses those concepts.

Edited 2007-03-29 01:01

Reply Score: 4

stestagg Member since:

It also is impracical, unrealiable and not legally enforcable.

Also, the GPL 'feature' that Novell/Microsoft exploited is being classed as a bug in the GPLv2.
This new clause (11?) in the GPLv3 can be seen as a bugfix.

Luckily for everyone, software gets patched when bugs are found. The alternative that you are suggesting is some form on online-vtable lookup. This may work for SAAS and online applications. But for most software, performance and common-sense win.

Reply Score: 1

butters Member since:

I see your point about reacting to unforeseen loopholes. It sucks that it has to be this way, but it does. The law is about enforcing behavior in a consistent manner. When new behaviors emerge, new laws have to be created.

Once upon a time, the federal income tax in the U.S. was a fairly simple system. But people kept finding ways to outsmart the system, and the tax code expanded to the point of absurdity. But a flat tax isn't the answer, and neither is sending a tax agent door to door to individually assess tax rates based on what kind of car you drive, how big your TV is, or where you go for vacation.

The world is getting more and more complex because the inner workings of the Machine are getting more and more accessible to the public. Everyone wants to be "on the inside," and so thinking up new ways to keep the miscreants out is a full-time job for the insiders. Think of the FSF as free software insiders. They see their world becoming more and more accessible, and expensive IP lawyers are starting to think about how one could legally exploit free software. What was ingenious 15 years ago is now woefully unprepared.

People seem to think that all of these amazing technological and social advances will make our lives simpler and easier. My grandparents might have had to walk to work in the snow, uphills both ways, but we have to navigate a world where if you do what's right, you get screwed by people who do what's legal.

I'm a very independent person. I like to figure things out for myself. But I know when I'm outmatched. One of the first things I did when I started my first real job was make appointments with a few financial planners and a few lawyers. Unless you live and breathe the loopholes and implications of the law, you're gunna get screwed. If you want to actually do something productive and earn a living, then you'll lose to the people that sit around and think about how to steal the shirt off your back and then sue you for wearing it in the first place.

Yes, we live in a ridiculously complicated world. If that doesn't make you think, "good, that makes it easier to exploit people," then you need to find help.

One would not write code like that.

If you had my job, you would chuckle at this statement. Every so often there's another inconceivable corner case that doesn't even seem obvious in hindsight. All you can do is sigh, curse the complexity, and drop the fix. "If the following seemingly impossible condition exists..."

Reply Score: 5

Buffalo Soldier Member since:

one of the best comment I've read in here. modded u up.

Reply Score: 1

Jojotdfb Member since:

I wholeheartedly agree.

Reply Score: 1

jackson Member since:

If GPLv3 specifically prevents patent protection agreements such as the Novell-MS deal, won't it also have some effect on other patent protection programs (through indemnification) that Red Hat, Sun and others have?

I don't know about the Sun agreement, but the Red Hat "patent protection program" is fundamentally different. Red Hat has stated to its customers that it will indemnify them for any losses caused in the event a customer is sued for patent infringement due to their use of Red Hat products. There is no other company or entity involved. It's just Red Hat saying, essentially, to its own customers: "Don't worry, we'll reimburse you if you get sued."

Conversely, the Novell agreement is a cross agreement with another company, Microsoft. Novell's customers get the benefit of _Microsoft's_ agreement not to sue based on _Novell's_ contemporaneous agreement not to sue Microsoft's customers. It's this kind of mutual release that is problematic.

Reply Score: 2

butters Member since:

Exactly! The Novell deal has been hyped by the IT media outlets as a competitive advantage in luring corporate customers. Finally conservative corporations don't have to worry about being sued for using Linux, they conclude.

What? First, the Novell deal only prevents Novell's commercial Linux customers from being sued by Microsoft. A patent suit against free software would be difficult and expensive at best. We've seen how long and unsuccessful SCO's copyright suit has been, and copyright is child's play compared to litigating on patent claims. Only a really desperate corporation (like SCO) would do such a thing, and the last I checked, Microsoft was doing fairly well.

Further, as the parent notes, Red Hat already offers its commercial customers IP indemnification covering any software they distribute and anyone who might try to sue. They do this by simply standing by their products. They guarantee that they have the legal right to distribute their software. No implicit admissions of guilt, in fact quite the opposite, and no partial coverage.

So why is the IT media so dazzled by the Novell deal? And why hasn't Red Hat been more vocal about how their indemnification offer is more appealing to both corporates and the community?

Reply Score: 3

Soulbender Member since:

"First, the Novell deal only prevents Novell's commercial Linux customers from being sued by Microsoft."

It's all hogwash. End-users can't be sued for the patent infringements of vendors. Well, maybe in sue-happy U.S.A but lets not noncern ourselves with that craziness.
It's as absurd as if Onkyo would sue anyone who owned a Sony amp for patent infringement if Sony infringed on an Onkyo patent.
There's a good reason for this not happening, it's not reasonable to expect end-users to understand the complete design of the products they purchase.

Edited 2007-03-29 07:38

Reply Score: 2

borker Member since:

Indemnification and patent protection agreements are two different things.

Indemnifications are agreements made by an entity to assume the legal risk for their customers created by a third party holding a patent that might be infringed by a product being used by the customers.

Patent protection schemes are made by entities that do hold patents that could possibly be infringed upon by a second entity's product and states that the patent holder won't sue (in the Novell/MS case at least) the second entity's users.

In essence, patent protection schemes amount to almost the same thing as a patent license but with a wording that sidesteps the language of GPL2. GPL3 seeks to create language that can't be circumvented using this 'hack'

Edited 2007-03-29 18:13 UTC

Reply Score: 2

v Novell
by twenex on Thu 29th Mar 2007 00:15 UTC
Patent objections
by npang on Thu 29th Mar 2007 00:21 UTC
Member since:

After spending some time reading the new draft, it is my unlearned opinion that it still does not satisfy HP's objection to the patent provisions of the second draft of GPLv3. I believe that people still won't be allowed to assert their patent rights under patent law if the distributor conveys a copy of a GPLv3 licensed software. I believe that this would discourage companies to choosing GPLv3 as a license. If my interpretation of the patent section of this new draft is incorrect, I encourage you to enlighten me.

Reply Score: 3

RE: Patent objections
by butters on Thu 29th Mar 2007 06:57 UTC in reply to "Patent objections"
butters Member since:

I believe they addressed HP's concerns in the second draft. The first draft basically said that a distributor couldn't assert their patent claims on distributors of downstream modifications. The second and third drafts say that they cannot assert their patent claims on the code that they distributed in downstream modifications.

So, if HP distributes "AC", Debian distributes "ABC", and Ubuntu distributes "AB", then HP can sue both Debian and Ubuntu if B infringes their IP. But they have waived their right to make patent claims on A or C. If IP in A shows up in Sun's original work Z, then they can sue Sun. Basically, if you distribute it under the GPLv3, then any IP in that code is fair game in that code. But the use of that IP in other code is actionable, and so is the addition of any IP in modifications.

At least that was my interpretation. IANAL, and I am frequently proven wrong.

Reply Score: 5

RE: Oh dear...
by npang on Thu 29th Mar 2007 00:29 UTC
Member since:

Is that a bad thing? For users that redistribute other people's work (if the distributor doesn't have any related patents) the only parts that would apply to them is to make the source code available and to allow the recipients to modify the software.

Reply Score: 2

by danq on Thu 29th Mar 2007 13:17 UTC
Member since:

Total selling out by the "anti-IP" FSF.

Everything I've made is coming down as soon as this goes into effect.


Reply Score: 1

RE: Disappointed
by trenchsol on Thu 29th Mar 2007 15:06 UTC in reply to "Disappointed"
trenchsol Member since:

Open source developers must do something to make living. Even FSF has corporate donors and needs money to go on. If so much hated corporations are prevented from having enough profit from Linux, they are not going to invest a single coin in it.

That would take Linux back into 80's when it started.

Reply Score: 1

by maceto on Thu 29th Mar 2007 21:50 UTC
Member since:

Where does it leave Novell if this will be the final version, yes that part was "modded" down from the last version, nevertheless this remains: If GPL3 is agreed on, Novell have to choices: to fork or go with it, which really puts them into a situation re their agreement with MS:

Not seen the agreement, but as "loyered" up as both orgs are, there must be something in there to say Novell can not extend the terms to Linux in general when it comes to IP protection. So... They have to cut the deal, if possible.. or red numbers anyone?

I guess I leave people to work out the rest.

So it's really up to Microsoft are they serious when it comes to OSS, then they'll let Novell go...

It does make one think.

Reply Score: 1