Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 6th Nov 2006 18:26 UTC
Novell and Ximian "Someone just asked me whether, now that Novell's become buddies with Microsoft, I'll be turning away from Novell/SUSE as one of my favorite Linux distributions. My answer is no. I'm sticking with SUSE Linux on both my desktops and servers. Here's why."
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RE[4]: GPL
by elsewhere on Tue 7th Nov 2006 06:06 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: GPL"
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I don't see that anywhere.

What was said in this deal, as I understand it, is that Microsoft & Novell would work together to give SuSe Linux interoperability with Windows in terms of development platform (via Mono), networking & domain logon (via Samba) & OOXML (via OpenOffice).

This does not say that these areas currently infringe on any patents. It does say that after they have had the "Windows interoperability treatment", that Microsoft then feels SuSe then needs to license some Microsoft patents.

For myself, I think this is rubbish. It should not be possible for Microsoft to deliberately obscure interoperability protocols, then charge another platform for interoperating.

But regardless, I see nothing yet which amounts to an admission (let alone even a solid claim) that current Linux in any way violates any Microsoft patents.

Part of the agreement is that MS and Novell are providing patent coverage for each other's customers. That's an inference that there is concern about patent infringment, which while not a legal admission is fairly convincing.

The problem and reason for the FUD slinging is that nobody knows exactly what the hell Novell is paying those royalties for. Is it a blanket payment amounting to corporate extortion? Is it solely for the questionable patents involved in mono's windows stack? Is it for patents MS feels are infringed by GPL products or technologies Novell is shipping (which would constitute a GPL violation but is speculation without knowing that for sure) ? Nobody except Novell and MS know.

So rather than clearing anything up, they've basically created an ambiguous cloud now that creates a safety zone for Novell customers against real or imagined patent infringmenets.

The Windows-interoperability is smoke and mirrors. Novell would likely have ported OpenXML to OOo2 anyways, just as they developed the macro patches for SLED. The EU is already in the process of bitch slapping MS over protocol interoperability problems faced by projects like Samba or commercial competitors. That's all publicity, little more. If any of those mods for integration required patent licensing, they would violate the product licensing (Samba is GPL, OOo2 is LGPL with Sun owning copyright assignment for all code). So the payment has nothing to do with that.

Everything is still speculation until more details are made evident. But I can't help thinking that Novell has turned unsubstantiated FUD against the mono project into possibly substantiated FUD. Mono is hardly at an entrenchment point for it to be a decisive factor over Red Hat for the majority of organizations, and by effectively closing it off in favor of their own paid customers as a fully-fledged Windows-like development framework, Novell has shot themselves in the foot and neutered the project as far as other distributions will be concerned.

Be interesting to see more depending upon how much info each company has to provide for the SEC filings on this.

Personally, I'm quite happy with my mono-free openSuse and I'll stick with it for now. Heck, in Suse 10.2 they've eliminated the zmd-dependency for KDE users, giving them a much needed mono-free package management framework. Good stuff.

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