Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 21st Dec 2006 22:29 UTC, submitted by John Mills
Novell and Ximian Jeremy Allison (of Samba fame) has resigned from Novell in protest over the Microsoft-Novell patent agreement, which he calls 'a mistake' which will be 'damaging to Novell's success in the future'. His main issue with the deal, though, is "that even if it does not violate the letter of the licence, it violates the intent of the GPL licence the Samba code is released under, which is to treat all recipients of the code equally." He leaves the company at the end of this month.
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RE: A deal with the devil?
by twenex on Fri 22nd Dec 2006 02:28 UTC in reply to "A deal with the devil?"
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I am absolutely not sure, what to think about this --- and, again again again, this MS/Novell thing in general. Is it really such a bad thing?

Yes. Read on.

I mean, okay, I am absolutely no fan of software patents. But this is not the main part of the deal. That's the idea. When was the last time you saw a get out clause that was not in small print? It's in small print for a reason.

The main part is about interoperability and paying money from him to him and so on.

1. Microsoft is getting paid for something they have no rights to, did not create, and are not involved in.

2. The interoperability problems have never been from the Linux side, since Linux code is open, but from the MS side, since their code isn't and their idea of "complying with" protocols is everyone else's idea of "changing" them.

And these kind of deals are what companies simply do. IBM, HP, google, ... do have software patents, too. And they have patent deals (maybe not with Microsoft), too. IBM is the manufactor of the MS XBOX, Sony Playstation, Nintendo microprocessors...

Software patents would make it impossible for free software products to exist. Also, the GPL prohibits companies from doing exclusive deals with a subset of parties who deal in GPL software.

So what is *so* evil about that? Is Microsoft the devil? Of course, they are no FLOSS company and, I guess, will never be. Of course, they do have a monopoly and abuse it. But a lot of the FLOSS companies (Red Hat, IBM, HP, google, Sun, ...) do earn money with proprietary software, too. How would you have reacted, if the deal was between Novell and, let's say, Apple?

Exactly the same, if the deal had been the same. The problem is not the company, it's the deal. The only reason it's giving MS/Novell such a bad name is that it's a typical Microsoft tactic.

Apple is widely accepted in the FLOSS community. From a "moral point of view", are they better than MS?

Yes, because they comply with the licence. Although, they do it by using BSD licenced stuff.

1.) Neither Novell nor MS, nor anybody else (except some lawyers introducing software patents) can do *anything* about the freedom of FLOSS-licensed software; simply because that is the idea behind FLOSS and therefore these licenses are constructed to guarantee this (especially copylefted licenses like the GPL when it comes to derative works). So what counts, is the license and the quality of the software.

No, what counts is what company has the better lawyers.

2.) Although I like FLOSS and GNU/Linux, I am aware that Microsoft, Apple, ... are very important and they won't disappear too soon. So, if we want FLOSS and Linux to be successful, why do we need this "either you are a FLOSS or a Microsoft guy" decision?

We don't. Microsoft have forced us into it, since the year dot and now, for the reasons I've explained.

There are so many people out there wanting a good interoperability between Windows and Linux --- so why can't we accept that it is given to them?

As if MS are really going to help with "interoperability between Windows and Linux". They never have so far, and since the deal - where are the specs?

Edited 2006-12-22 02:29

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