Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 3rd Apr 2007 17:13 UTC, submitted by davidiwharper
Novell and Ximian "The Free Software Foundation has published a third draft of the GPL3 license. The FSF had indicated leading up to this draft that it would be addressing some concerns it had with the Novell-Microsoft agreements in the draft. Here's Novell's position on the new draft."
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Now, I'll admit, I'm no fan of the copyleft movement. Nothing would make me happier than seeing Stallman and the FSF get taken up on anti-trust charges and its licenses (and all licenses like it) declared null and void by all the freedom-loving nations of the world.

But my bias aside...

Isn't attacking Novell and attempting to 'kick them out of the playground' not only juvenile, but actively dangerous to the Linux community?

Novell's already taking a risk in a very niche market, and it has put in a lot of money and research into Linux's development. (I'd dare say they're a leader.) However, as soon as Novell reaches a Linux-related agreement with Microsoft -- who they were doing business with anyway, making Windows products -- the community attacks them as if they had been "betrayed." Going so far as to change the license to try to prevent people from doing business with the foes Stallman identifies as "the enemy" (without asking if everyone agrees) is just one example of this.

Now, take a step back for a moment, and consider: isn't doing that incredibly dangerous? If you were Novell, and you had the choice of two major competitors, who would you rather deal with: Microsoft, who has been quiet and even-headed throughout all this, and who has gone out of their way to ensure Novell's products would stay stable over new versions of Windows over the years (despite the fact that their SUSE Linux is a competitor for Microsoft's lucrative server business); or the Linux community, whose leaders have been attacking Novell viciously and taking steps to prevent Novell from doing business with anyone but them. With these factors, if the community doesn't take a step back and look at what it's doing, Novell might just withdraw its Linux support altogether.

If worst comes to worst, Novell still owns their code. They could pull their code from the GPL (the GPL is many things, but as of v2.0 at least, it is neither pepetual nor exclusive) and continue to develop their SUSE, now without the Linux trademark, and possibly sue others who were still using SUSE code. Whether or not these lawsuits would work and prevent the distribution of their code is another discussion entirely, but you all have to agree that that sort of hostility would be completely contrary to the collaborative environment that existed before the open-source community let loose their collective rage.

I mean, it seems silly to me. Novell convinces the largest OS company on the planet to help develop and market Linux -- a possible step in Microsoft getting on the open-source bandwagon, which would be a enormous paradigm shift that would probably be welcomed by everyone but me -- and the community tries to prevent it. This should be looked upon as a coup for the Linux community, not a catastrophe.

Edited 2007-04-03 18:53 UTC

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