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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Interesting question posed on groklaw
by hal2k1 on Wed 8th Nov 2006 09:28 UTC
hal2k1
Member since:
2005-11-11

Does MS Need Novell to Get Interoperability?

Microsoft doesn't need to work with Novell on Linux/Windows interoperability. The code is right out there for anyone to see, on the Linux side, and has been for a decade and a half. Microsoft has its own developers that I'm sure are capable of looking at assembly code and C and APIs and figuring out how to interoperate with them. There's the WINE project that has made great strides in getting Windows apps to run on Linux, and SAMBA that has tried hard to make heterogeneous Linux/Windows networks a reality. So, If Microsoft doesn't *need* to work with Novell and enter into a patent covenant, one is left to wonder...what exactly are they *really* trying to do.

Reply Score: 3

Marcellus Member since:
2005-08-26

While MS engineers and developers are most certainly capable of looking at asm and C code, there may be legal implications in doing that.

API's have a tendency to leave things unclear at times (yes, even in Windows), so only using API's to determine what needs to be done is not that good an option either.

At least economically it makes more sense to work together with the "other side" so that both sides can agree on what things mean.

If Novell customers have been worried that MS may go after them regarding eventual patents that may cover some part of Linux or other software that is included with their Linux distribution, the patent covenant makes it clear that MS will not go after them if any such patents are found. The same goes for MS customers that are worried about Novell.

Reply Parent Score: 1

hal2k1 Member since:
2005-11-11

//While MS engineers and developers are most certainly capable of looking at asm and C code, there may be legal implications in doing that. //

No.

GPL code is copyrighted code. Under copyright law, anyone may look at the code (just as anyone may read a copyrighted book), but one is restricted as to what one can do when it comes to copying the code.

In the case of the GPL, it gives anyone a license to copy and modify the code, provided that the code and any modifications remains visible to everyone ... ie. provided that the code remains licensed under the GPL.

There is most decidedly no restriction on looking at the code & studying it.

"Legal implications" pertaining to restrictions about looking at and studying code apply to code which is patented or trade secret. Neither of those apply to Linux and/or any other GPL code.

//At least economically it makes more sense to work together with the "other side" so that both sides can agree on what things mean. //

Literally many thousands upon thousands of programmers worldwide contribute meaningfully to GPL code repositories. They do this collaboration over the Internet, mostly via mailing lists and discussion forums. Why should it be the case that only Microsoft programmers need to "work together" in a different way?

Edited 2006-11-08 10:21

Reply Parent Score: 2