Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 7th Nov 2006 22:56 UTC
Novell and Ximian "Often cast as the peacemaker in free software disputes, Bruce Perens is on the warpath. When we caught up with him, he wasn't in a mood to be charitable to Novell. On Friday the Utah company, which markets the SuSE Linux distribution, revealed that it was entering into a partnership with Microsoft. Redmond would pay Novell an undisclosed sum in return for Novell recognizing Microsoft's intellectual property claims. Novell received a 'Covenant' promising that it wouldn't be sued by Microsoft."It's a case of 'Damn the people who write the software'", he told us. "Novell is in a desperate position - it has a smaller share of the market than Debian,"" he told The Register. Update: Novell responds to community's questions: here, here and here. Update 2: Havoc Pennington's take.
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I'd hate to be a Novell customer
by danieldk on Tue 7th Nov 2006 23:46 UTC
danieldk
Member since:
2005-11-18

Ethics aside (I pretty much agree with most reactions from the community), it must be uncomfortable to be a customer of their enterprise Linux products. While the patent convenant buys a little temporal protection (for only five years at the moment, and with possibilities for Microsoft to bail out), it is dangerous license-wise with two possible turns this could take:

- If Novell did not "work around" section 7 of the GPL correctly, they may lose their right to distribute a lot of GPL-ed software.
- Even if this does not happen, developers may relicense software under a license with stricter rules when it comes to patenting. And there are some major organisations that do copyright-assignment, that can apply a new license to their software for new versions.

If the second scenario happens, Novell may lose permission to distribute some essential software. As a result it will not be able to distribute their enterprise distributions with newer software, or provide customers with updates that use newer versions[1].

IANAL, but my estimation is that customers have less protection and more uncertainty since the deal.

[1] I haven't looked well enough at GPLv3 yet, but if it's anti-patent clauses are stronger than GPLv2, they may possibly be out of the league when it comes to GNU software that is relicensed.

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