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Ballmer Says Linux "Infringes Our Intellectual Property" 820

Posted by Zonk
from the oh-it-is-so-on-now dept.
Stony Stevenson writes "In comments confirming the open-source community's suspicions, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer Thursday declared his belief that the Linux operating system infringes on Microsoft's intellectual property." From the ComputerWorld article: "In a question-and-answer session after his keynote speech at the Professional Association for SQL Server (PASS) conference in Seattle, Ballmer said Microsoft was motivated to sign a deal with SUSE Linux distributor Novell earlier this month because Linux 'uses our intellectual property' and Microsoft wanted to 'get the appropriate economic return for our shareholders from our innovation.'" His exact wording is available at the Seattle Intelligencer, which has a transcript of the interview. Groklaw had an article up Wednesday giving some perspective on the Novell/Microsoft deal. Guess we'll have something to talk about in 2007, huh?
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Ballmer Says Linux "Infringes Our Intellectual Property"

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  • Samba (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Ice Wewe (936718) on Friday November 17, 2006 @08:40AM (#16882784)
    This coming from the guy that's requiring SMB2 in Vista so that people using Samba on Linux server's can't use them for file storage.
  • by Lissajous (989738) on Friday November 17, 2006 @08:42AM (#16882818)
    Linus,
    Please find enclosed a pre-paid airline ticket to Redmond, WA, where I'd like you to give a talk to our employees on the benefits of open-source development.

    Seating will be provided.

    Respectfully yours,

    Steve Ballmer.
  • SCO did it! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by hackstraw (262471) * on Friday November 17, 2006 @08:47AM (#16882864)

    But seriously, when the first SCO thing came about, the Linux people said, "We don't want to infringe on anyone's IP, so tell us where it we are infringing, and we will rewrite the code."

    Same applies here. Open source takes a little of the fun out of these things, now doesn't it?

  • So what happens (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Epeeist (2682) on Friday November 17, 2006 @08:53AM (#16882928) Homepage
    When it is shown to be Mono that is infringing?
  • I'll bite (Score:4, Interesting)

    by smitty_one_each (243267) * on Friday November 17, 2006 @08:54AM (#16882938) Homepage Journal
    "Linux operating system"
    Ballmer's meat puppet McBride couldn't win in court on the specious SCO claims about foreign code polluting the Linux kernel.
    Not clear how, if Windows code had been magically grafted into the Linux kernel, that such Frankencode would a) work and b) go unnoticed. Linus himself is the ulitmate commiter to the kernel.org sources, no?
    As a society, we need to stigmatize people who say such wrongheaded things in public, and clueless publications that circulate such tripe.
  • Re:Okay... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by walt-sjc (145127) on Friday November 17, 2006 @08:57AM (#16882974)
    Oh, I believe that Linux (especially when you look at an entire distribution) DOES infringe on some MS patents. Wasn't it a year or so ago where 20 some odd MS patents were dug up by Linux proponents as a concern?

    I think a couple of things have been holding MS back however. IBM and THEIR patent war-chest, and the EU / DOJ with the anti-trust / abusive monopoly issue.

    MS wouldn't go after individuals in any case, they would go after businesses.

    We shall see!
  • by hedrick (701605) on Friday November 17, 2006 @09:00AM (#16883008)
    With this license agreement, Novell has a license to put MS patented technology into their Linux. Is it safe to permit Novell engineers to submit code to common Linux repositories? It seems to me that they would need to certify that none of their code contains any of the MS IP that they now have access to. Unless MS is willing to identify which portions of SuSE are covered by their patents, this could be difficult.
  • Re:Samba (Score:5, Interesting)

    by udderly (890305) * on Friday November 17, 2006 @09:00AM (#16883014)
    Is it just me or does it sound like MS is going to charge a per seat charge for some enhanced ability to connect from a Windows machine to Linux servers? Or is it just straight blackmail for exemption for future litigation? Or both? I can't tell.
  • by jackbird (721605) on Friday November 17, 2006 @09:03AM (#16883050)
    Bear in mind that Boies Schiller Flexner, SCO's law firm, is really, really good. They're the firm that defeated Microsoft in the antitrust trial. The fact that they've been able to drag this case out as long as they have with no evidence whatsoever is testament to that.

    But IBM has some fantastic lawyers as well, and they are not going to take Microsoft intimidating and/or suing their customers lying down. The nightmare scenario is IBM, MS, and Novell collaborating on a plan to monetize Linux, but with Red Hat already having line in the sand, and Sun and most of the developers unlikely to play ball, that could end well, too.

  • by 14CharUsername (972311) on Friday November 17, 2006 @09:09AM (#16883140)
    This deal won't have any influence on the courts. Its all about PR and thats as far as it goes. And everyone in the know knows how this is complete bullshit. If Linux is infringing on MS patents, then why is MS paying Novell, a linux distributer? Shouldn't Novell be paying MS? What is MS paying for? FUD, thats what. But FUD doesn't work in courts. FUD is about muddying the waters and the law is all about very specific little details.
  • by MindStalker (22827) <mindstalker@gmail. c o m> on Friday November 17, 2006 @09:10AM (#16883158) Journal
    It seems they are referring to the interoperability features. Things like NTFS support and even Samba. Of course as we speak the EU is forcing MS to disclose these interoperability secrets and saying they don't belong to MS. A lot of this stuff was also covered in the initial trial here in the US. They got let off, but the political climate is changing. They might be figuring, hey we need to license this stuff quickly before the government forces us to give it away..
  • by msobkow (48369) on Friday November 17, 2006 @09:11AM (#16883160) Homepage Journal

    What is it about monopolists that they end up thinking no one else could possibly be as good as them and their team, that no one could possibly compete, that no one could come up with an idea on their own?

    Why do monopolists assume they own the world when their fragment is a paltry slice compared to the whole?

    Why would someone whose anti-trust investigation mysteriously evaporated shortly after the Bush election be flapping their gums when the Democrats are on the rise and looking into any and all events for influence, connections, and blame? Instead of worrying about Linux, Ballmer should be worrying about the spectre of renewed anti-trust investigations.

    The Linux code is up for public review. The straw-dog SCO attempt to tear it down is all but done. Let Microsoft publish their code and identify the purported IP conflicts. They don't and won't because they can't, and they know it.

  • by spellraiser (764337) on Friday November 17, 2006 @09:11AM (#16883168) Journal

    Also from Ballmer:

    We are willing to do the same deal with Red Hat and other Linux distributors, it's not an exclusive thing.

    My, how nice of you. So you're willing to include others in your protection racket? You're much too gracious.

    Seriously, this is f*cked up, in a disturbingly devious way. Basically, Ballmer's philosophy here seems to be: "Microsoft deserves money for every single computer out there, and we will get it one way or the other."

  • Re:Okay... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 17, 2006 @09:22AM (#16883294)
    Well said. It's likely that every non-trivial piece of software infringes on some patent somewhere. But there are two reasons nobody wants a patent war:
    • It would be carnage. The only certain outcome would be lawyers getting rich.
    • Software patents are still disallowed in Europe, but there is intense lobbying to get them introduced. A US software patent war would show what a disaster they are.
  • by kimvette (919543) on Friday November 17, 2006 @09:47AM (#16883658) Homepage Journal
    Didn't SCO already did that? Why can't Microsoft be original? What's next; are they going to try to erect a huge sunshade over Seattle? Steal the head off of a statue of George Washington? Come on now, Microsoft, you can do better than that! But then, I suppose this is so typical of your idea of "innovation."

    Seriously though, if they claim Linux infringes on its IP, it's 99.999% likely that every other *nix variant out there does as well, since Linux is merely a clone of Unix. So, go after the likes of Sun, IBM, SCO (Yeah, I know SCO and Microsoft are lovers, but bear with me here), the BSDs, HP (HP/UX and Dec Unix), and so forth. I don't think even Microsoft has the resources to prove to the courts that an OS architecture which predates theirs by over a decade infringes on their so-called "intellectual property."
  • by jimicus (737525) on Friday November 17, 2006 @09:49AM (#16883688)
    If Linux is infringing on MS patents, then why is MS paying Novell, a linux distributer?

    No idea who's paying who, but you've alluded to a very good point here.

    As I see it, there are two possible scenarios:

    1. Linux really does infringe on Microsoft's patents.

    Redhat have already announced that they have no intention of making a similar deal. If there really was infringement going on, Microsoft should have taken Redhat to court immediately - it would have just as much of a PR effect, if not greater, and would also establish some influence in the courts. I can't see Microsoft getting much sympathy if they demand millions in damages several years after they announce that Linux infringes.

    2. Linux does infringe, but Microsoft aren't taking anyone to court for tactical reasons.

    Such as: any infringement has a life expectancy measured in hours, if not minutes, as soon as it's disclosed. However large companies don't tend to roll out updates that quickly, so it would be more profitable to wait until Linux is firmly entrenched in a large company and it's impractical to make a major change to the install base. This brings us back to the first question: if the only reason Microsoft are holding off suing Redhat, Mandriva et al now is to make more money from suing them later, what will a judge say?

    3. This is all a load of cobblers intended to frighten jumpy IT directors who are considering letting their staff investigate that major Linux rollout they keep on suggesting.

    My money's on 3. Wouldn't be the first time a technology company has used FUD in this way.
  • by dilute (74234) on Friday November 17, 2006 @09:57AM (#16883830)
    This is a total bluff on Microsoft's part. Yes, you can sue end users for patent infringement, but it only makes sense to do that if you have no customers and no products (i.e., only a paper patent).

    It would be suicidal for Microsoft to sue true end users for patent infringement. It will never happen. IT managers have nothing to fear on that point. It's Microsoft that fears the collective power of the IT managers. It's just SO good when there is real competition. And that's what we have now, due to Linux, Oracle, Sun, etc. So Microsoft is forced to respond.

    Balmer addressed this at the end of his answer: "[our customers are saying '] don't come try to license this individually.' So customer push drove us to where we got"

    SCO was a much more credible threat, while it lasted, because you could see a company like that, which had nothing much to lose, actually going out and suing end users (at one point I believe they did).

    If Microsoft can find (another) way to do this through a proxy, maybe that will work (if people don't immediately see through it).

    But Microsoft has no practical ability to enforce its patents against end users without SERIOUSLY damaging their brand.

    Sure, they can go after distributors, but then what - sue ALL of them? Shut down all Linux distros? Can you imagine the antitrust backlash from that? Trying to extinguish the competition en masse based on vague patent claims? Forget about it.

    Then there is the question of what the patents are, whether they are valid, and whether they can be worked around.

    Conventional wisdom, which probably holds true here, is that for companies like Microsoft, patents largely have defensive value. Any attempt to go out and wield them offensively usually has unbearable associated risks and/or costs.

    Get a good laugh, because Microsoft is very far from accomplishing anything on these fronts, other than further validating Linux and open source.
  • Re:Okay... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ynohoo (234463) on Friday November 17, 2006 @09:57AM (#16883832) Homepage Journal
    instead of Linux distributors worrying about Ballmer suing them, surely Ballmer has just laid himself open to a liable and defamation suit?
  • by grandpa-geek (981017) on Friday November 17, 2006 @09:58AM (#16883848)
    The BSD license doesn't require much, but it does require that a copy be included in anything that uses the code. Has anyone seen a copy of the BSD license included in Microsoft products? I understand they make substantial use of BSD-licensed code. What is the penalty for that violation? How much of Microsoft's intellectual property is really Microsoft's. How many of Microsoft's patents are similar to their recent years' patenting of sudo (that had been in use for well over 17 years)? How many of Microsoft's patents are based on ideas in code they acquired having BSD licenses?

    Folks, we are getting into a massive prior art battle here. Microsoft couldn't create problems for Linux through SCO, so now they are trying to do so directly.
  • Re:Alright, own up (Score:5, Interesting)

    by concept10 (877921) on Friday November 17, 2006 @10:05AM (#16883952) Homepage
    Alright, enough joking. Enough of the Balmer, chair and DRM jokes. It's time for industry leaders such as IBM, Intel and other supporters of F/OSS to step up to the plate and take action against these claims. Also, I haven't heard nothing from the likes of Linus and RMS. Where are they hiding?
  • OSX question (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Overzeetop (214511) on Friday November 17, 2006 @10:17AM (#16884128) Journal
    So, if there is "infringing" IP in Linux, is there a liklihood that similar infringements have been made in Apple's code?

    Really, I'm not trolling. It sounds like Ballmer is saying that MS has so much of the system tied up in IP that effectively everybody who writes an OS which can interact with MS software is infringing. Does Apple have cross licensing?
  • Re:Alright, own up (Score:4, Interesting)

    by AceCaseOR (594637) <alexander@case.gmail@com> on Friday November 17, 2006 @10:24AM (#16884268) Homepage Journal
    IBM's probably holding off until it's finished decapitating SCO, putting holy wafer in its mouth, a stake in its heart, and then burying it at a crossroads. After all, Microsoft is an opponent you want to give your full attention. In the mean time I'm cuing up "Ride of The Valkyries" (as there isn't really a "Ride of the Nazgul" track on the soundtracks to any of the LotR soundtracks) to play once IBM decides to take the fight to Microsoft.
  • Re:Okay... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by walt-sjc (145127) on Friday November 17, 2006 @10:34AM (#16884442)
    First, MS does go after individuals.

    Well, for some things I'm sure they do, but I haven't heard of a case where they even went after an individual that pirated Windows for personal use. It may have happened, but I haven't heard about it because it's not widespread despite the fact that piracy of Windows is very widespread.

    The reason is very simple - it does cost a fair amount of time and effort to go after individuals, and the reward is small (ability to pay and all that...) Businesses are a whole different ball game.

    Sun's deal included cross licensing from what I recall, so I don't know if they would have any ability to do anything anyway. Apple is in a position where they too are potentially violating many MS patents, and MS may (probably does) have a larger patent war-chest than Apple. Certainly MS has enough dollars in the bank so that a long-term legal fight would drive Apple into the ground. Most likely, Apple would not join this fight.

    IBM is probably in the best position to step in and put a stop to it, and has a vested interest in doing so (since they have been pushing Linux hard to their customers.)

    Most likely, if MS DOES decide to fight Linux this way, they are going to pull an SCO and go after businesses that use Linux (like SCO went after Autozone) and not go directly after Redhat / Debian / IBM.
  • Re:OSX question (Score:3, Interesting)

    by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) on Friday November 17, 2006 @10:40AM (#16884544)

    So, if there is "infringing" IP in Linux, is there a liklihood that similar infringements have been made in Apple's code?

    Yes.

    It sounds like Ballmer is saying that MS has so much of the system tied up in IP that effectively everybody who writes an OS which can interact with MS software is infringing.

    Yup, but the same is true for Apple's IP, IBM's IP, Sun's IP, etc. Patent wars are sort of a mutually assured destruction option. Imagine if all of those companies were simultaneously stopped by the courts from distributing their OS's. Our patent system, especially with software patents, is an absurd mess.

    Does Apple have cross licensing?

    Apple does have some agreements with MS, including a license to the Windows API as of 2000, I believe. I don't think this is important. Companies that actually make things generally have patents and are infringing patents and know better than to actually sue, rather than just threaten. The real danger is from patent litigation companies who own patents, but make nothing. They can sue confident that they are not infringing other patents. MS would be moronic to actually sue, rather than just hint they might as a PR move.

    I'd like to see IBM counter with a publicized statement that says "Windows appears to be infringing 12,440 of our patents, (or whatever number they can pull together on short notice) and IBM is considering our litigation options. We're not saying we'll get an injunction to stop Vista from shipping, but we haven't ruled out that possibility. Oh, and the Xbox 360 is infringing 130 patents and we're going to court over them right now."

    IBM has more patents than god and the legal muscle to cause a big hurt on anyone. If they rattled their saber in response and maybe took a quick jab at a peripheral project of MS's, like the Xbox, MS would probably shut the hell up in short order.

  • by caudron (466327) on Friday November 17, 2006 @10:44AM (#16884628) Homepage
    What effect will the Patent Commons project [patent-commons.org] have on a patent assault by Microsoft? Also, will the newly formed Open Inventions Network [openinventionnetwork.com] also affect the way Microsoft approaches this issue?

    I mean, both of those organizations essentially grant rights to their patents royalty free only to companies that don't sue F/OSS projects. If MS starts a suit, wouldn't they have to contend with both of these patent holding portfolios as well as the enormous portfolio of companies like IBM who have a vested interest in seeing Linux succeed?

    I get the feeling (though I could be dead wrong) that MS gets far more benefit from the current ambiguity and the occasional stirring, scary statement than from actually pursuing a legal remedy.

    Tom Caudron
    http://tom.digitalelite.com/ [digitalelite.com]
  • Re:So what happens (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Enselic (933809) on Friday November 17, 2006 @10:47AM (#16884712) Homepage

    You can read about this at this Mono page [mono-project.com]

    Summary:

    The Mono/C# implementation itself is safe.

    The core of the .NET Framework, and what has been patented by Microsoft falls under the ECMA/ISO submission. Jim Miller at Microsoft has made a statement on the patents covering ISO/ECMA, (he is one of the inventors listed in the patent). [...] Basically a grant is given to anyone who want to implement those components for free and for any purpose.

    The risky part is the implementations of ASP.NET, ADO.NET and Windows.Forms.

    For people who need full compatibility with the Windows platform, Mono's strategy for dealing with any potential issues that might arise with ASP.NET, ADO.NET or Windows.Forms is: (1) work around the patent by using a different implementation technique that retains the API, but changes the mechanism; if that is not possible, we would (2) remove the pieces of code that were covered by those patents, and also (3) find prior art that would render the patent useless.

    As long as we use for example Gtk# instead of Windows.Forms, there should be no problems.

  • by bdonalds (989355) on Friday November 17, 2006 @11:03AM (#16885000) Homepage
    You are right that I shouldn't have made that post...just a troll, and I apologize.

    But this statement is ridiculous:

    Unless you can prove any of the accounts of the Bible false, then I will consider them facts.


    Using that method, you can "prove" damn near anything to be true! So unless you can prove that the Flying Spaghetti Monster (or the Invisible Pink Unicorn etc.) is not our Lord and Creator, I will consider them to be so!

    Ok...I'm done on this subject here, since it's off topic and this will just turn into a flamewar.

    So let's just agree to disagree on the bible thing, and agree to agree that in Soviet Russia, dieties prove the existance of YOU!! :)
  • by 1mck (861167) on Friday November 17, 2006 @11:12AM (#16885150)
    Ooooh, I see IBM, and M$ going at it, and hey didn't M$ screw IBM with the Operating System...Yeah, that's right they did!LOL This is going to freakin' great!!! Oh yeah, M$ is very frightened of Linux, and Open Source because look at the deal they made with Corel, so that they wouldn't develop Corel Linux anymore.
  • Re:Okay... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Friday November 17, 2006 @11:17AM (#16885252)
    Except that the Linux community would be damaged also. A patent war would mean LAWSUITS, and that would mean that kernel.org would start received cease-and-desist letters (and possibly being forced to temporarily follow them while cases are resolved), and the hundreds of other mirrors would probably face the same thing. The onslaught of hundreds of patent cases would be like the legal version of a DOS attack, crippling the ability of Linux developers to develop, potentially wrecking the thousands of small projects out there (just by scaring developers away during the chaos)...it's mutually assured destruction. And the aftermath wouldn't be much better -- software would be gutted left and right, left half-functional because the other half was already patented by somebody else. It would be like GIF on a global scale.


    I know, this is where everybody says, "No, GNU is protected, at best there are a dozen patent issues to be resolved..."

  • Re:Alright, own up (Score:5, Interesting)

    by gfxguy (98788) on Friday November 17, 2006 @11:25AM (#16885390)
    Are you seriously suggesting that Linux is the originator of all these technologies?

    No, he's suggesting that if Linux had these before Windows, then Linux can't be violating any MS IP (at least W.R.T. the things he mentioned).
  • Cry havoc. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by quag7 (462196) <deepspace@dataswamp.net> on Friday November 17, 2006 @11:32AM (#16885494) Homepage
    In a way we should be thanking Ballmer. A lot of people run Linux now and the thrill of simply putting it on one's machine is long gone.

    Ballmer's comments, and the presumable legal action which will follow them in the future, lets us feel like outlaws, non-conformists, and rebels again. SCO was never really a thrilling nemesis

    SCO is...well...SCO is...pathetic.

    I never really had that thrill of running something as unlikely as Linux; by the time I got it installed (2001), it was pretty popular, installers had made it simple, and it wasn't a big deal. But now, not only will my 5 years of Linux usage be a functional and utilitarian experience (which is the sum total of what it has been thus far)-- but also one of spite and defiance going forward.

    I enjoy spite and defiance. Don't you? I'd rather be dragging down kings and military regimes, but this will do as a small snack in my comfortable suburban kitchen.

    A small thrill, but it feels good, nonetheless.

    I can't be the only one who felt *good* to be a Linux user when I read this.

    The chances of me downgrading to something like Vista were null to begin with, but now, well...

    The only thing I have to say about Windows is, well, bitch if I need to, I'll run your OS in a *window*.
  • Re:OT: Lunch money (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Locutus (9039) on Friday November 17, 2006 @11:42AM (#16885684)
    Microsoft has gone after "lunch money" before. When they were attempting to get as many school systems on Microsofts License 6 scheme, they used the BSA to trigger clauses in the Microsoft Windows EULA to force expensive audits on various school systems across the US. Many caved in and paid for MS License 6 instead of the 10's to 100's of thousands it would cost for th audit only to have a handful of illegal copies still cost them millions. But, a few fought back and dumped MS Windows for GNU/Linux and then started telling other school systems about it and how it was much cheaper than MS License 6 or the audit.

    Google for Oregon school Linux Microsoft BSA or similar terms and you should get some hits on the topic.

    Microsoft just might be forcing an 'event' in the market they really don't want to occur. The fact that they are even using the "L" word and signing/paying off a "L" word company is amazing enough and shows they are having a 'problem' with GNU/Linux and probably FOSS too. IMO.

    LoB
  • Re:Alright, own up (Score:4, Interesting)

    by LordNimon (85072) on Friday November 17, 2006 @11:46AM (#16885762)
    Yeah, but it wasn't kernel-level threading until a couple years ago. OS/2 had kernel-level threading back in 1987.
  • by Zantetsuken (935350) on Friday November 17, 2006 @11:50AM (#16885806) Homepage
    Mod parent insightful - for those of you that don't know, yes politicians and lawyers do do this, in Congress for example. Congressman are allowed to take the floor and talk about wookies just to kill time and bore the other side to death so they give up on passing a bill and go home. It's not quite the same as what the parent posted, but it's another example of lawyers and politically minded officials stalling for time as a lame way to defeat the opposing party versus making an actual arguement...
  • whaaaa? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by f1055man (951955) on Friday November 17, 2006 @12:04PM (#16886086)
    I think this is the first time there's a fud tag but no "notfud".
  • Re:Alright, own up (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 17, 2006 @12:21PM (#16886342)
    That's actually a good point although maybe in another way; Novell removed itself for 5-6 years from participating/contributing to a counterstrike of suits against MS. See, in many ways, with their pseudo-olive branch, MS is trying to reduce their liability. They figure they can take out the major players, then the remainder cannot consolidate their finances to defend against MS.

    Even ignoring IBM and Red Hat and the like, we could take it to MS instead. Target their IP and take them to court, destruct their patent portfolio little by little.

    If you have millions of Linux users who donate $10-100 each because they are pissed off, that's a decent sized war chest (larger than SCO took up with IBM, even though SCO lost, they caused a lot of FUD) and a LOT of litigation to contend with.

    Worse for MS, it wouldn't have to be centralized; you could simply fund other patent holders individually and go after MS. An 800lb. gorilla can be taken down by swarms upon swarms of wasps, or at least made paranoid enough to freak out whenever it hears a buzzing sound.
  • Re:Alright, own up (Score:4, Interesting)

    by indifferent children (842621) on Friday November 17, 2006 @01:00PM (#16887142)
    if its good, then it must be slow

    In the "Good, Fast, Cheap: Pick any two." quote, the 'Good' refers to the software (including its speed), the 'Fast' and 'Cheap' refer to the development process. You can have it fast by hiring lots and lots of really good developers (not cheap). You can have it pretty cheap by hiring one or two really good developers and giving them a many-year deadline (not fast). Or you can have a piece of crap software by January for a pretty cheap development price (Vista).

    Linux is good, but the development process wasn't very cheap (thousands of developers, hundreds of thousands of man-hours), or very fast (it took what, seven years (1998) before Linux was ready for heavy use as a business-class server OS).

  • by Grishnakh (216268) on Friday November 17, 2006 @01:12PM (#16887378)
    So why was God so interested in the world back then when Angels came down and kicked ass, turned cities to salt, dropped plagues - and now God doesn't seem to give a shit about what's going on? Is God dead? Doesn't care anymore? Trying to cut back on the old long distance plan? Or perhaps some of that stuff in the bible was overstated or didn't happen? We'll never know because that's what faith is for.

    I'll tell you where a lot of it comes from. Much of it is true. For instance, read the Book of Ezekiel, about "Ezekiel's Wheel". It tells of Ezekiel seeing Jehovah come down from the heavens. Realize that at that time, they had no technology at all, and wouldn't understand advanced technology, and you'll see that he's really describing a space ship of some type.

    Hindu mythology has similar passages. One of their books describes a massive war where a "celestial weapon" was used, causing people's hair to fall out and other symptoms that sound very much to knowledgable people today like radiation sickness. Basically, it very accurately describes an atomic weapon.

    Many, if not most, of the "gods" of ancient myth, could very well be real. But they weren't gods, they were aliens visiting earth for some reason. For some other reason, they're no longer here getting involved in our business.
  • Re:Alright, own up (Score:3, Interesting)

    by killjoe (766577) on Friday November 17, 2006 @01:19PM (#16887522)
    The FSF has come out and said that they will tweak the GPL3 to make sure it covers stuff like this. Linus has been silent. He doesn't care about these things and he is openly hostile to the FSF and the GPL3. If he does ever speak on the issue I suspect he won't have any problems with it.
  • Re:Alright, own up (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ultranova (717540) on Friday November 17, 2006 @01:48PM (#16888024)

    Not on this I'm not and I specifically noted that there was a difference between preemption and multi-threading. You should so some research on these subjects and here is one link to help you learn when Linux got preemption:

    The post you referred to said that the kernel got pre-emption; that is, the patch it discusses allows a process to be pre-empted (task switched) in the middle of a system call. This is not the same as pre-emptive multitasking (which Linux has had from the beginning), which means that programs are task-switched by the kernel without them having to do anything to help (as opposed to cooperative multitasking, where a program is responsible to returning control to the kernel every now and then).

    As a side note, when under load even a Linux kernel with in-kernel pre-emption disabled feels more responsive than Windows XP.

  • by TheNinjaroach (878876) on Friday November 17, 2006 @02:16PM (#16888442)
    I really didn't, I thought that Novell would do better than sell out the last of their dedicated fans. I love administrating our Novell network. I loved SUSE Linux before Novell bought them, even more afterwards! And now Steve Ballmer has ME ready to throw some chairs over his statements.

    I don't feel we as a community have taken ANYTHING away from those pretentious bastards, things are quite the opposite. I would be forever hurt to watch something as stupid and ineffective as government crush the open source movement over something as silly and wrong as the claims MS is making.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 17, 2006 @02:18PM (#16888466)
    Does anyone remember the patents MS bought from SGI about three years ago? There is speculation that patents covering OpenGL were bought. They probably found out about them in the Fahrenheit days.
  • Re:Alright, own up (Score:3, Interesting)

    by SEE (7681) on Friday November 17, 2006 @02:42PM (#16888890) Homepage
    Though Windows programs were cooperatively multitasked from Windows 1.0 until '95, starting with Windows/386 2.1, Windows did pre-emptively multitask DOS applications in 386 Enhanced Mode, exploiting the virtual 8086 mode of 386-class processors.
  • Re:Samba (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Jason Earl (1894) on Friday November 17, 2006 @03:13PM (#16889360) Homepage Journal

    Microsoft isn't going to go after hosting companies. It is hard enough to find inexpensive Windows hosting. The last thing that Microsoft wants to do is to make non-Microsoft hosting technologies more attractive.

    Let's imagine that Microsoft did pick one of the many hosting companies as a potential patent suit target. The first thing that they would have to do is to put their cards out on the table and specify what patents they believed that the hosting company was using illegally. This would cause a mad scramble while the rest of the hosting companies changed their software so as not to infringe on the patent. After the dust cleared you would then begin to see these same hosting companies move away from what little Windows technologies they supported. Windows boxes would be decommissioned, things like front page extensions would get turned off, and Microsoft's loyal customers would find themselves without support or a place to host. Not to mention the huge PR backlash that such a move would create. To a certain extent every software developer on the planet is in competition with Microsoft on one level or another. If Microsoft started using patent litigation as a weapon then utilizing Microsoft's technology stack would become a much more dangerous proposition.

    Even worse Microsoft could very well trigger the patent equivalent of global thermonuclear war. Lots of companies (including long time Microsoft foes like Oracle, Sun, and IBM) have patents that Microsoft is currently using.

    Microsoft's position is nothing but pure bluster. It isn't going to sue anyone, and the fact is that patents are far more dangerous to its business model than it is to the Free Software model. Microsoft is currently defending itself in over 30 major patent lawsuits, some of which have already lead to large judgements against Microsoft (like Eolas). Microsoft has a big pile of money, and it writes a lot of software. This makes Microsoft the ideal target for patent trolls. An entire industry is popping up around the idea of patenting software practices without actually writing code and then suing the folks that actually write the software. Theoretically a company like Red Hat could have problems, but the fact that it "gives" the software away and charges for support changes the dynamics of the game considerably.

  • Re:Listen closely (Score:3, Interesting)

    by fwarren (579763) on Friday November 17, 2006 @05:24PM (#16891056) Homepage
    Back in the day, when I did clerical, secretarial and data entry work, I would use that as a selling point.

    "Hey, I notice you have 10 ladies working here, want to change the dynamic of your clerical staff? Add a man to it. After all when someone gets catty with me, and I ignore it, they will just think I am a man and missed it"

    It has gotten me a job several times.
  • Re:Alright, own up (Score:4, Interesting)

    by repvik (96666) on Friday November 17, 2006 @05:37PM (#16891188)
    Ah, the beauty of reverse engineering. Or the "french cafe" technique: http://www.samba.org/ftp/tridge/misc/french_cafe.t xt [samba.org]
  • Re:So what happens (Score:3, Interesting)

    by rcs1000 (462363) * <{moc.liamg} {ta} {0001scr}> on Friday November 17, 2006 @06:07PM (#16891532)
    It's worth noting that Microsoft's IronPython project is *explicitly* for .NET and Mono. (Technically IronPython is "A fast Python implementation for .NET and Mono".)

    Any decent attorney would ask why - if Mono was in clear and obvious breach of Microsoft's patents - then they were explicitly developing software for it.
  • Re:Alright, own up (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Monsuco (998964) on Friday November 17, 2006 @09:36PM (#16893178) Homepage
    Also, I haven't heard nothing from the likes of Linus and RMS. Where are they hiding?
    Linus is famous for his passive approch to linux's competitors (remember how he said he saw no reason to trash MS for the halloween docs?)

    As for IBM, Intel, HP, AMD, Apple, and the others, they hate the high cost XP forces them to charge, but they dont want to risk loosing deals.

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