Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Novell and Microsoft, Part 3

I'm still confused as to the actual specifics.

Microsoft claims that a covenant not to sue (based on the idea that anyone who uses Linux is infringing on Microsofts patents) was a big part of the agreement, but Novell claims that this is in no way a part of their agreement. In the webcast, though, they seem to stress the importance of this patent issue.

The distributors of other versions of Linux cannot assure their customers that Microsoft won't sue for patent infringement. "If a customer says, 'Look, do we have liability for the use of your patented work?' Essentially, If you're using non-SUSE Linux, then I'd say the answer is yes," Ballmer said. [http://www.eweek.com/article2/0,1895,2050848,00.asp]

Right...

Does Linux infringe on Microsoft Intellectual Property Rights? Microsoft: <shout>YES!!!</shout>. Novell: <whisper>...no...</whisper>.

Novell, why don't you voice your opinion on this HALF as loudly as your new partners??? Why are you allowing them to say it in such a way as to imply your belief of it?

The only thing that's clear to me is that Microsoft, no longer able to ignore Linux's steady creep onto the Desktop, is now trying to figure out how to profit from it through Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt. By saying they won't sue anyone using SuSE, they're creating the mirage that they can sue you for using Linux, and that the only legaly safe Linux brand now is Novell.

Does this matter to people who are already using Linux? Not really as far as I can tell, except it seems to be pushing people like us away from Novell and SuSE, overall.

Is this going to matter to people who aren't yet using Linux? Of course, fear is a proven effective way of influencing markets. Novell and Microsoft both benefit from the illusion.

Where is the money? You got it, with the millions of Microsoft customers who have yet to pick a version of Linux to use. Microsoft sees that Linux is reaching the point where anyone can switch to Linux pretty easily, so instead of fighting it they're picking one distro, making sure they get paid for it, and marketing it exclusively (not to mention spreading Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt about anything else). As far as that goes, this will help both Microsoft and Novell.

Will it work? I don't know, but there's a LOT of money behind it, not to mention a monopoly's resources. We'll have to see. The fact is, this couldn't work in a world where Microsoft had already lost their monopoly so they had to jump on this strategy now, before it became completely moot.

Will it help the Linux community? I can't honestly say I see this helping anyone in Linux besides Novell (assuming it can survive a partnership with Microsoft, an unprecedented assumption). All of the work Microsoft will be doing as far as "Linux" inter-operability is actually "Novell" interoperability, as far as I can see. It's obviously in Novell's favor to say this will help us all, but I just really don't see it.

Who cares that Microsoft has made a covenant not to sue SuSE customers or developers working code into SuSE? Microsoft and Novell do, they're the ones making money both off the sales of SuSE, and off the idea that SuSE is the only safe Linux. So does everyone they can dupe into believing their illusion.

Who cares that Microsoft has made a covenant not to sue non-commercial developers? No one, this is more worthless FUD as far as I can tell.

Is it time to ditch Novell? I don't know. We'll have to see if they really ditched us. I'm moved to give them the benefit of the doubt because they HAVE done so much work for the Linux world so far. However, they've yet to clearly communicate with us what this means to the community, so I'm certainly wary.

Doesn't Novell know that a lot of its customers are using them on principle to avoid giving money to Microsoft? How betrayed would you feel? I'm glad I'm not invested in using Novell the way a lot of their disgusted customers are.

A comment I left on Ted Haeger's blog post about the Microsoft/Novell deal. Leaving Ted a comment is likely the best way to get your question addressed by Novell from a community standpoint:

Hi Ted!

You may remember chatting with me at the Ohio LinuxFest After-Party, I’m the guy involved in Indiana ACCESS that uses Ubuntu.

I just want to say that until proven otherwise, I’ll still respect Novell.

Innocent ’til proven Guilty.

Regardless of the big, flashy explosion of this news (that we’re all understandably wary of), Novell has contributed a lot to the Free Software community and we shouldn’t forget that.

In fact, you’ve sent several people to the Ubuntu Developer’s Summit happening now at the Googleplex, which I applaud.

Now, Microsoft is using this as a way of propagating their FUD, but that’s to be expected of ANY move Microsoft makes.

What we need to know is your story.

I’m patient to hear from you what Novell thinks it’s doing, and what all implications this will have for our community before making any judgements.

I put more stock in your word than any FAQ or press release.

Also, I would consider it a huge faux pas for Novell not to release the full text of all involved documents. We as a community have plenty of our own legal geeks to interpret it, and we would trust them more than any Novell legal geek interpretation on this one.

If you’re really a part of the Open Source community, then there is nothing to hide, right?

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3 Comments:

Blogger Rev said...

Simón:
Hey, thanks for the message on my blog. At this point, I am personally hoping that more people will assume a similar attitude of monitoring Novell careful skepticism . We deserve to be scrutinized closely on this deal. Unfortunately, some people have jumped straight to the "give Novell a shoeing" stage. So, thanks for taking a respectable position on this issue. I hope to start uncovering what this is all really about.
--Ted

4:21:00 PM  
Blogger o2se3tak said...

Shouldn't we abandon SUSE?

After the recent fiasco generated by Novell getting into an agreement with Microsoft and the whole Open Source Community planning to fight Novell both in and outside the court, will it be sensible to shift over to another Linux distribution? There are other distributions that are as good or better that SUSE so which will be best one to migrate to?

4:00:00 AM  
Blogger Simón A. Ruiz said...

I don't know, and I don't think anyone yet really knows, what all the motives or repercussions of this deal are.

So far I've yet to see how the motives are anything but purely financial, even though Novell claims this will help the community.

Most people, especially corporations, will not migrate from Novell because this deal actually helps Novell customers, in terms of convenience, who also use Windows.

So, pragmatically speaking, most people who use SuSE will stay with SuSE, especially if they eat the FUD about getting sued if they don't.

If you are upset about the Microsoft deal, though, and find it worth protesting, then naturally you would want to migrate away from SuSE.

"To what?" depends on who you talk you; I'd tell you Ubuntu.

11:44:00 AM  

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