Linked by David Adams on Thu 20th Nov 2008 04:26 UTC
Novell and Ximian Two years ago, Microsoft and Novell inked a landmark deal on patents and Linux-to-Windows interoperability. According to Microsoft and Novell, it's a deal that has shown dramatic momentum in its second year, with a triple digit percentage increase in customers for a total tally of more than 200 customers. "I was surprised at the number of over 200 customers, so I actually went back and double checked it just to make sure," Susan Heystee, General Manager for Global Strategic Alliances at Novell told "That represents over 250 percent growth in terms of the number of customers that are part of the partnership which is really great. A real positive surprise has been the great customer momentum."
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How many of these people have actually read the agreement?

Too few. Eben Moglen was one, having been given access under NDA prior to Novell releasing agreement specifics, and couldn't find anything that directly infringed the GPL, such as providing non-transferable patent licensing for GPL code.

Probably the most relevant part is section 3.4:
Nothing in this Agreement shall imply, or be construed as an admission or acknowledgement by a Party, that any Patents of the other Party are infringed, valid or enforceable.

So the agreement itself denies patent provisioning. Ballmer must have missed that part when he trumpeted the IP aspects.

At the end of the day, people seem to forget that Novell has a fairly sizable armada of patents related to networks, systems management and directory technologies, enough to keep Microsoft awake at night if they really want to dare start a patent war with linux, since Novell was in that game long before Microsoft was. Even OIN aside, Novell could deal a very powerful counterstrike to Microsoft if they ever tried to attack linux or other OSS technologies, one that would likely be far more crippling to MS. Novell has already committed to protecting linux (not just SLEx) against IP attacks, and there's a reason Novell hasn't actually licensed those patents to Microsoft at any price, and Microsoft would certainly pay.

So this vapid covenant aside (and it is vapid, it really offers nothing more substantive than warm and fuzzy feelings for compliance-concerned CIOs), Novell is still one of the most important defenses the linux community has in general. Of course, nobody wants to talk about that, it's not sexy enough.

I have no problem with the Novell deal, the same as I have no problem with Novell FORKING, yes i said fork, OpenOffice. Anyone that's used the Novell modded openoffice, knows its significantly better when working in a heterogeneous atmosphere where everyone else is using Office, scripts, vba, etc. The only onese holding back Openoffice is Sun, so they forked. Xorg anyone?

This is another one that amuses me. Many of the people that complained about Novell's "fork" are actually using the "forked" product without realizing it. Ubuntu and Fedora, among others, use the go-oo base, and not Sun's. Unless the package came from Sun directly, and not a distro repo, it likely has Novell's improvements.

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