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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Comment by ubit
by ubit on Fri 10th Aug 2007 05:31 UTC
ubit
Member since:
2006-09-08

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: http://www.groklaw.net/article.php?story=20070517083516872
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

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