Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 2nd Nov 2006 22:05 UTC, submitted by anonymous
Novell and Ximian At a press conference in San Francisco, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer is expected to announce a new partnership between Microsoft and Novell. The unprecedented deal will have Microsoft offering a degree of sales support for Novell's SUSE Linux while both companies work towards better interoperability between their respective operating systems. As part of the agreement, Microsoft also promises not to wield its patent portfolio against SUSE Linux. More here. You can follow the live webcast announcement, by Steve Ballmer, here. Update: Novell has put up a detailed FAQ about this deal.
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is
by deanlinkous on Fri 3rd Nov 2006 02:47 UTC
deanlinkous
Member since:
2006-06-19

Is this a good arguement for GPLv3 acceptance?

Reply Score: 1

RE: is
by twickline on Fri 3rd Nov 2006 02:56 in reply to "is"
twickline Member since:
2005-12-31

YES.

Reply Parent Score: 1

RE: is
by butters on Fri 3rd Nov 2006 14:56 in reply to "is"
butters Member since:
2005-07-08

No, this is not a good case for the GPLv3. The GPLv2 expressly prohibits distribution of code covered by license agreements that cannot be transferred to the recipient. Since Novell has not obtained Microsoft's permission to similarly indemnify their users from Microsoft with regard to SUSE Linux code, Novell may not distribute the GPL portions of SUSE Linux (including the kernel) under these terms.

The text of the GPLv2 (section 7) is pretty clear on this, and the preamble is even clearer:

Finally, any free program is threatened constantly by software patents. We wish to avoid the danger that redistributors of a free program will individually obtain patent licenses, in effect making the program proprietary. To prevent this, we have made it clear that any patent must be licensed for everyone's free use or not licensed at all.

I don't know how this provision could have been stated any better, and it directly speaks to exactly this sort of licensing agreement. There is no question about it: Novell, as a distributor of GPL software, is not allowed to buy IP licenses covering GPL software unless they are given the right to grant these licenses (royalty-free) to all recipients of derivative works. Only end-users can license non-transferrable rights covering GPL software.

I'm simply shocked that none of Novell's IP lawyers picked up on this obvious GPL violation. This is one of the situations that the GPL was intended to prevent. It's right there in the preamble! The subtleties of the section 3c source distribution requirements that tripped up MEPIS are understandable. I even sympathize with the LiveCD distros that thought they could distribute binary kernel modules with the Linux kernel. Both had legitimate reasons to believe they were acting in the best interests of the Linux community.

But something about this deal obviously smells, and it's not just the old pizza boxes collecting in the basements where free software zealots brew their conspiracy theories. How could this deal seem to completely sell out the Linux community and still be sanctioned by our trusty free software license? It can't, and that's why the FSF will be all over this one. Expect a strongly-worded response in the near future.

Reply Parent Score: 3

RE[2]: is
by drdoug on Fri 3rd Nov 2006 15:22 in reply to "RE: is"
drdoug Member since:
2006-04-30

Finally, any free program is threatened constantly by software patents. We wish to avoid the danger that redistributors of a free program will individually obtain patent licenses, in effect making the program proprietary. To prevent this, we have made it clear that any patent must be licensed for everyone's free use or not licensed at all.


This clause certainly raises questions whether GPL v2 is actually legal. If a GPL code is distributed and breaks a patent than it has to either be replaced with code that breaks the patent, or then it is up to the patent holder rather than the GPL distributor (and license) who and how they license the patent to. If Microsoft want to license their patents to each distributor, than they can.

Whether you like it or not if Microsoft has a patent which parts of Linux breaks, then all the cards are in Microsofts hands. Luckily Novell has more then enough patents to trade to Microsoft. Redhat may not be so lucky in this area, and may have to finally pay up.

Reply Parent Score: 1

RE[2]: is
by deanlinkous on Fri 3rd Nov 2006 16:07 in reply to "RE: is"
deanlinkous Member since:
2006-06-19

Oh it smells all right. But I still think GPLv3 wouldof provided protection from this a lot better than v2.

As they said they thought about this a lot, a LOT! They know exactly what they are doing. They will create a mixed source distro. The IP is not disclosed so nobody can point it out. It isn't quite a "license" it is more of a agreement not to sue. Then they share the revenue from it.

This has been a long time in the works and it is well planned I would bet. SCO didn't work so here we go with planB.

Nicely skirting the GPLv2

Reply Parent Score: 1