Friday, December 22, 2006

Jeremy Allison leaves Novell

I don't know the guy.

I did hear about him a bit, and listened to him a few times on different podcasts. I guess I got a good enough idea about who he is that when I heard about the Novell/Microsoft deal, one of my first thoughts was "I wonder if Jeremy Allison will quit over this"...

He has. And I quote:

"Whilst the Microsoft patent agreement is in place there is nothing we can do to fix community relations."

It's interesting to me to see what's happening here. Novell has made a move that, although maybe historic, is not particularly controversial in the proprietary software world. It's a simple business decision that, regardless of the risks, is directly related to a corporation's basic raison d'etre: the bottom line.

I can't imagine they didn't expect a community backlash from this, though. Question is, did they really not understand how much using a legal loophole to sidestep the license most of the Open Source community uses as the very BASE foundation upon which to work would offend some people? the very people their business depends on?

The GPL is much more than a license to the Open Source world; it's an expression of the philosophy and spirit of the community. To sidestep it is, at its very simplest, to show that one doesn't agree with this philosophy and spirit.

One thing I had been noticing is how silent the voice of dissent is from Novell employees. A lot of these people are heavily involved in the community, people like Miguel De Icaza and Ted Haeger. Noone had yet, as far as I have seen, stepped up and said "You know, I work for Novell, and I don't agree with this decision." And now the only Novell employee I've heard express a dissenting opinion does so in the context of quitting.


As an aside, one of the things I like about Canonical's involvement with the community is that Canonical employees can disagree publically. Mark Shuttleworth can say he believes that Ubuntu should move in one direction, and Jono Bacon can articulately and clearly disagree with Mark. I find that refreshing.

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