Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 9th Aug 2007 22:32 UTC
Novell and Ximian Novell CEO Ron Hovsepian explained rather than defended his company's deal with Microsoft in his keynote address at the annual LinuxWorld Conference here Aug. 8. "I know our deal with Microsoft is controversial, but it is necessary for our customers who have to deal with both Linux and Windows in their data centers. Virtualization is also going to have to deal with both of those operating systems," he told attendees.
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by flanque on Thu 9th Aug 2007 22:52 UTC
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This is an interesting read.

Of coarse, we here at OSNews all know better than the facts behind the closed doors. ;-)

Reply Score: 7

by Matt Giacomini on Thu 9th Aug 2007 23:09 UTC
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One of those is Sun Microsystems and its OpenSolaris distribution, he said. "Sun wants its software to be more like Linux, and its Project Indiana Web site highlights a number of things [intended] to make OpenSolaris more like Linux. So Linux is absolutely winning the technical battle, but we need to keep pushing to drive it to the next level," Hovsepian said.

I find this comment interesting on one hand he said that Linux is winning (which I agree it is), but at the same time I think the MS deal that he formed is one of the biggest threats to Linux, and in the long run may strength Solaris's position.

Reply Score: 1

RE: Irony
by Rahul on Thu 9th Aug 2007 23:43 UTC in reply to "Irony"
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Sun already had signed a similar deal before Novell did so if anyone is upset with these sort of things, I doubt they are going to flock to Solaris as opposed to other Linux distributions

Reply Score: 5

RE[2]: Irony
by l3v1 on Fri 10th Aug 2007 04:09 UTC in reply to "RE: Irony"
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Sun already had signed a similar deal before Novell did so if anyone is upset with these sort of things, I doubt they are going to flock to Solaris as opposed to other Linux distributions

Just some points here: Solaris is not a Linux distribution (as in "other Linux distributions"); Solaris never had the same philosphy and licences as Linux distros, and they were a company from the beginning, so the point that they have or not a licensing deal with another company is [not totally but] a different issue.

Reply Score: 3

RE[3]: Irony
by orestes on Fri 10th Aug 2007 12:09 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Irony"
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Are you forgetting the Sun JDS linux distro?

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: Irony
by Matt Giacomini on Fri 10th Aug 2007 16:02 UTC in reply to "RE: Irony"
Matt Giacomini Member since:

Yes they have signed deals with Microsoft before.

But if OpenSolaris goes GPL 3, then it would be impossible for them to have a deal, similar to Novell's with Microsoft, because Microsoft will not support such a deal under GPL 3.

If in the future we have OpenSolaris under GPL v3 (which means no Novell type Microsoft deal behind it), and a Linux GPL v2, with Microsoft deals behind it. Then I think that it will level the play field considerably.

Reply Score: 2

by moleskine on Thu 9th Aug 2007 23:47 UTC
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He makes some good points, imho. But the question is, what happens when Novell next finds that Linux sales have failed to offset the decline in Netware revenues, and a few more hundred million dollars are rather urgently needed. Go back to Microsoft for second helpings? Assistance might be on offer, but it could soon start to come at one heck of a price. Novell is very vulnerable to the python-like wiles of its main competitor.

Reply Score: 3

RE: Hmmn
by graigsmith on Fri 10th Aug 2007 06:45 UTC in reply to "Hmmn"
graigsmith Member since:

"and a few more hundred million dollars are rather urgently needed"

they will sell something else? or *gasp* not make as much money as they did last year? OH NO. the poor share holders might NOT make MORE money. now they might not be able to afford their own personal tropical island in Polynesia. But seriously. businesses have to deal with this all the time. no business is able to be on top forever. eventually the market for their offerings will run dry, or cease to be needed, or maybe they wont be able to supply it anymore. why ask what a company will do when this happens? obviously they will try to find a way to make money. you know, if money still matters by then.

Edited 2007-08-10 06:46

Reply Score: 1

Chewbacca defense
by butters on Fri 10th Aug 2007 00:11 UTC
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Now, I know that a lot of you have grave objections to the patent covenant with Microsoft. But on the bright side, there's also some interoperability stuff. Interoperability is good. Who doesn't like Oracle? Don't you have a soft spot for WebSphere? I know I do. The key is to have mixed source. Software is like a salad.

Now, I know that a lot of you are peeved that we agreed to support any GPLv3 software we ship so that Microsoft doesn't get any blood on its hands. But we have a 20-year history of battling Microsoft, and it's been going well so far. We're making progress, and the deal is an example of this progress. If we don't let Microsoft walk all over us, they'll walk over someone else. That's never been the way we do business.

Now, I know that a lot of you are thinking about maybe going back to Solaris. But they're trying to be more like us. I'm flattered. When Solaris finishes getting all Linux-like, Linux will look that much better in comparison. Meanwhile, I've been caddying for Big Steve. Making him look good will pay off. Always has.

Camping chairs. Easier on the back. Steve taught me that. He's smarter than I am.

Reply Score: 4

RE: Chewbacca defense
by Hiev on Fri 10th Aug 2007 00:15 UTC in reply to "Chewbacca defense"
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We?, And since when OSNews is the home of all MS haters?, speak by your self only.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Chewbacca defense
by butters on Fri 10th Aug 2007 00:26 UTC in reply to "RE: Chewbacca defense"
butters Member since:

Um, the "we" means Novell and the "you" means the audience at LinuxWorld. FWIW, the "I" means Ron Hovsepian. Glad we cleared that up.

Oh, and I don't hate Microsoft really. I'm sort of in awe of their ability to keep on manipulating their competitors long after they would have lost the element of surprise. No, I don't hate. I'm just fascinated by anything irrational.

Reply Score: 5

RE: Chewbacca defense
by flanque on Fri 10th Aug 2007 02:58 UTC in reply to "Chewbacca defense"
flanque Member since:

I'm not so sure on this. Perhaps I don't understand what you mean by it.

I don't think Sun are trying to make Solaris "like" Linux or somehow copy it. I think they're just trying to be more open with their software and people have run with this notion of Solaris trying to "be like" Linux.

Sure, Linux certainly leads by example in the area of open systems, but Linux didn't "invent" it or the GPL.

If you mean on features then keep in mind Solaris is leading the way on a number of areas, namely ZFS, dtrace and zoning. Sure, they can port or implement aspects from Linux but I don't see this as any different to other operating systems (or indeed generalized products) implementing the competition's features to improve their's.

For example, "Linux" didn't create the start button style of navigation, as I am sure Microsoft truly didn't truly do so either. That doesn't mean Linux is be "like Windows", assuming it was Microsoft's idea. It's just one aspect.

Licensing is one aspect, yes, but the product has to work first and foremost. This is something which I think the Windows, Solaris and Linux camps are very much aware of.

Reply Score: 3

RE: Chewbacca defense
by l3v1 on Fri 10th Aug 2007 04:10 UTC in reply to "Chewbacca defense"
l3v1 Member since:

But we have a 20-year history of battling Microsoft, and it's been going well so far. We're making progress, and the deal is an example of this progress.

Uhmm. Ok. I just have different opinion on what progress should mean in a battle.

Reply Score: 2

Comment by ubit
by ubit on Fri 10th Aug 2007 05:31 UTC
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Hovsepian said Microsoft was simply making clear that it felt it was not a legal party to that contract.

GPL is not a contract. It's a license. It's called copyright, secondary, contributory, primary infringement. There's a HUGE difference between a copyright license and a contract.

Either Peter Galli (article writer) or even more scarily, Ron Hovespian, doesn't understand the GPL (aka General Public LICENSE).

He praised as necessary recent moves such as Oracle's decision to offer Linux support and the agreements Microsoft had penned with Linux vendors, including Xandros and Linspire.

Oh, what a visionary. Linspire's CEO quit or got fired a few days ago, though, Ron...seeing anything in your future?

"I know our deal with Microsoft is controversial, but it is necessary for our customers who have to deal with both Linux and Windows in their data centers. Virtualization is also going to have to deal with both of those operating systems,"
Doesn't justify the deal at all. I think I'll trust Eben Moglen's words about the DANGERS OF THIS DEAL -- whose clients are GPL licensees -- over a marketer who must sell his product no matter what. Also, this article shows very nicely the dangers of the words 'open source', which led to that stupid Novell phrase 'mixed source'. Let's just stick with 'free software', since then companies like Novell will have to call their products 'not free software'

Prof. Moglen's words:
Eben Moglen: Oh, I beg your pardon, certainly, I, the question was so obvious that it needed no repetition: “Could I explain the threat posed to GPL’d software’s freedom by the Microsoft/Novell agreement?”.

And I’m going to speak in slightly more general terms than that, beginning with: Imagine a party which wants to eliminate Free Software’s freedom or at least hobble its developers in serious ways, so as to inhibit their ability to compete. Imagine that such a party has patents of uncertain validity but in large numbers, which it could conceivably use to scare developers and users. Imagine that such a party then begins to make periodic threats in the form, “Gee, we have a lot of patents. Never mind how many. Never mind what they are. Never mind how good they are. We have a lot of patents, and someday something terrible will happen. Don’t use that software.”

Imagine that that’s a strategy that the party adverse to freedom engages in because it’s better than suing. Suing is expensive. Suing is irreversible. And suing might actually cause you to have to explain which patents they are and why they’re any good. [Laughter] So threatening is better than suing, OK? Imagine a party who engages in recurrent threats every summer time, for years on end, on a sort of annual “be very afraid” tour, okay? [Laughter]

I know, it sounds absurd.

Imagine now that what happens is that the annual “Be very afraid” tour starts creating terrible pushback, because people call up who are the CEOs of major banks and financial institutions, and they say, “Those people you’re threatening are us. We’re the largest, richest, most powerful people in capitalism, and we determine the value of your stock. We think you should be quiet now.” OK?

That happens if you do this thing of saying “be very afraid” to people who have lots and lots of money and lots and lots of power and who control the value of your stock. They will push back. The business model of threatening to sue people works if the people are 12-year-olds. It does not work real well if they are the pillars of finance capitalism. So as a party engaged in annual “be very afraid” tours, you’re going to start to get pushback by enterprise customers who say, “That’s *us* you’re threatening.”

Now what if you could reduce their sense of being the people who are made afraid? What if you could find a way to give them quiet and peace -- and make a little money on the side -- so that the only people who are left quaking when you did your annual “Be Very Afraid” tour were the developers themselves? Now you would have given yourself a major ecological boost in swinging your patents around and threatening to hurt people.

Deals for patent safety create the possibility of that risk to my clients, the development community. If enterprise thinks that it can go and buy the software my clients make from some party who gives them peace from the adversary in return for purchasing a license from them, then enterprises may think they have made a separate peace, and if they open the business section one morning and it says “Adversary Makes Trouble for Free Software”, they can think, “Not my problem. I bought the such-and-such distribution, and I’m OK.”

This process of attempting to segregate the enterprise customers, whose insistence on their rights will stop the threatening, from the developers, who are at the end the real object of the threat, is what is wrong with the deals.

So what you ought to do is to say to parties, Please don’t make separate peace at the community’s expense. Please don’t try to make your customers safe, if that’s going to result in the destruction of the upstream rain forest where your goods come from. We’re an ecological system. If you undermine community defenses, you’re undermining the whole ecology. And doing that for the benefit of your customers at the expense of your suppliers is not a good way to stay in business.

So that’s the fundamental discussion about the problem created by such deals.

Edited 2007-08-10 05:36 UTC

Reply Score: 6

by ssa2204 on Fri 10th Aug 2007 05:35 UTC
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I for one was in favor of this Novell-Microsoft deal in regards to interoperability. Our business is a mix of Microsoft 2003 Servers and Linux. Anything we can do to get these machines working better is a plus, no matter how small it is. We could care less about anything else, the patent issue is a non-issue as far as we are concerned. If Novell can get Suse Enterprise to communicate better with AD, if Suse can host Windows in virtual, or if Windows can host Suse better, then we win. Where we lose is if both sides have an all out war. I know that many, especially here, would love to live by pure idealism..but sadly this does not pay the bills. And in no way possible is Windows going to disappear overnight where we all install Linux.

Desktop Linux has quite a few issues to work out on their own, and with that said a certain segment of the community needs to concern themselves less with Microsoft and more with improving Linux. But our concern has nothing to do with desktop Linux, Gnome, KDE, or any of that. To use Linux's greatest strength lies in it's extreme reliability in the server market (VOIP, Web & file server, etc.) Alongside that there is certain requirements where Microsoft Windows server does fulfill better than Linux. And as we face these realities, anything to get these two operating systems to mesh is the most ideal solution.

Finally, I might add a personal observation. While many of the "I hate Microsoft so I use Linux" crowd despised this deal, there was a whole other aspect that needs to be considered. Novell, along with Microsoft, does have a reputation in the business world, where as in many circles Linux still maintains the geek image. One aspect of this deal was that it did in a sense bring Linux into the corporate world, which already with Novell's usage helped lead. In the past 6 months we have much more positive interest with clients to using Linux, whereas 3-4 years ago it was 0% chance they would be interested. Put simply, Novell and Microsoft have helped to legitimize Linux. Whereas you may argue that Linux was already good enough...the reality though is this has helped.

Reply Score: 4

by ubit on Fri 10th Aug 2007 05:38 UTC in reply to "IMO"
ubit Member since:

Reality check:
Microsoft does not help Linux. Ask yourself, from where does it receive monopoly profits that let it finance other (usually failing, no other company could do that) ventures?

Office and Windows. MS *cannot* help Linux, that would be stupid for them and for their shareholders.

Also, read my post above for why, in fact, the patent issue matters.

Reply Score: 6

RE[2]: IMO
by Almafeta on Fri 10th Aug 2007 11:53 UTC in reply to "RE: IMO"
Almafeta Member since:

To amend your reality check:

Microsoft's internal studies have shown that people are using open-source software, and not to the exclusion of closed-source software. Despite the volume of partisans for one system or another (who they can't convert anyway), the majority of people get software because it does something they want or need to do, not for any license that is or isn't attached to it.

At least in a financial sense, it makes sense for Microsoft to work with open-source.

EDIT: Also, because I can't stand this withered old chestnut every time it gets trotted out:

from where does it receive monopoly profits

If Office and Windows have monopolies, then how come all their competitors are so rich?

Edited 2007-08-10 11:55 UTC

Reply Score: 4

daft statement
by REMF on Fri 10th Aug 2007 06:59 UTC
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of course it is important that shareholders make money, because if they don't they take their money away and put it somewhere more profitable......... leaving the underperforming company with no cash with which to continue in business.

Reply Score: 1

and the connection is magic
by hyperdaz on Fri 10th Aug 2007 10:39 UTC
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"In the past 6 months we have much more positive interest with clients to using Linux"

The above statement might be true for you...

"whereas 3-4 years ago it was 0% chance they would be interested."

Again this statement may be 100% correct for you and where you sit within the markets....

The point is how on earth does this have anything to do with Microsoft giving Novell money...

I don't follow your logic... I would of said IBM originally did more by advertising Linux on TV and investing that $1billion all them years ago (into companies like Red Hat and Novell...

Reply Score: 2

Re: Irony
by MadRat on Fri 10th Aug 2007 13:01 UTC
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How can anyone do anything but forget JDS in general? It is pretty in some ways but so forgettable overall. Novell's OpenSuSE is so much nicer in comparison.

And why did ubit bring up Linspire? Linspire has no parrallel's with Open SuSE other than signing a deal with SCO early on and Microsoft this past year. The ceo quit to pursue a new venue. Its common with corporate officer types.

Reply Score: 1

RE: Re: Irony
by ubit on Sat 11th Aug 2007 06:10 UTC in reply to "Re: Irony"
ubit Member since:

I brought up Linspire because CEO Ron Hovespian apparently "praised" the patent deal that Xandros, Linspire, and Novell have signed, over other people's and company's code. It's very strange, actually, to see the shuffle of CEOs in these companies. Linspire's executives apparently have all departed at this point- which is much worse than what I knew before about only Kevin Carmony leaving (see )- and Novell's last CEO Jack Messman also left. It's when Hovespian joined Novell that MS-Novell started to make this deal, one of his brilliant ideas I guess.

MS does know how to play the game I'll give them that, but it's too bad they always hurt customers along the way.

Edited 2007-08-11 06:11

Reply Score: 2