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

//For closed-source software companies, particularly one with as big a bullseye painted on them as Microsoft, there is a legitimate concern in that paid developers may inadvertently copy the code they are studying, tainting the product and opening them up to claims. OSS projects often employ a clean-room technique when reverse engineering or working on interoperability to eliminate possible claims of stolen or copied code. Even large linux developers like HP or IBM will seperate their OSS and proprietary developers, you can't mix and match without running the risk of code taint.

For Microsoft's sake it's safer and easier to let the OSS guys provide the information rather than try to dissect it themselves. That's about the only single part of this ridiculous agreement that makes sense.//

"Tainting" is only a problem if it is Microsoft's purpose to look at the open source code with a view to modifying Microsoft code.

That was not the context under which this conversation arose.

This thread is about the Microsoft/Novell deal. As a part of that deal, Microsoft stated that their desire in making the deal was "to improve interoperability between Microsoft & Linux".

My point was, Microsoft could have done that for next-to-zero cost at any time simply by submitting a few code changes to Linux or to Samba or to OpenOffice or to Mono.

In this scenario, "there is a legitimate concern in that paid developers may inadvertently copy the code they are studying, tainting the product and opening them up to claims" does not apply, since the developers in question are not tasked to modify Microsoft code, but instead they are tasked to modify the open source code.

As long as the aim is "to get interoperability", and the flow of code is from Microsoft engineers --> Open source applications, then there is no "tainting".

So no, in the final analysis, even this "single part of this ridiculous agreement" makes no sense.

Slight correction ... it only makes sense in the light of "Microsoft trying to establish a revenue stream from Linux without having done any of the work to make Linux". Viewed in that context, where Microsoft gets to deliberately obscure interoperability protocols, then gets to charge everyone for keeping them obscured by labelling that obscuration as "IP" ... then it all makes sense.

Edited 2006-11-08 22:34

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