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Perens Rains on Novell's Parade 277

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the umbrella-sales-up-five-percent dept.
unum15 writes "This week is Novell's Brainshare conference. They are touting the Microsoft covenant not to sue as 'good for consumers'. However, Bruce Perens decided to take this opportunity to 'rain on Novell's parade'. Perens read a statement from RMS affirming the GPLv3 would not allow companies to enter deals like this and continue to offer GPLv3 software. Perens even goes as far as to suggest this move is an exit strategy by Novell. There are also audio and pictures of the event available."
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Perens Rains on Novell's Parade

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  • by AKAImBatman (238306) * <akaimbatman@gmai[ ]om ['l.c' in gap]> on Wednesday March 21, 2007 @02:10PM (#18431949) Homepage Journal
    I have a feeling that he'll be commenting here soon, so "Hi Bruce!" :-)

    What Novell did is not illegal but it is a matter of bad faith, Perens contended. The result could doom Novell to becoming a Microsoft subsidiary, he said, because Novell does not write its own software but gets it instead from those small independents.

    Hovsepian scoffed at that scenario. "Them [Microsoft] buying us? I think that's deep in the conspiracy theory bucket."

    Is it just me, or did Hovsepian intentionally misunderstand that statement? Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong, but I read your statement to mean that Novell would effectively become a subsidiary to Microsoft without actually being bought out. Much in the same way that Microsoft "Partners" tend to exist only so long as it amuses Microsoft. When Microsoft grows tired of them, they do something that completely undermines the trust and business model of those partners. (See: PlaysForSure, OS/2, Sybase, Spyglass, Citrix, etc.)

    It amazes me that companies still fall for that trick, but there you go. Embrace, Extend, Extinguish. Bye Novell, it was nice knowing you. :-/
    • by CRiMSON (3495) <crimson@unspBALD ... org minus author> on Wednesday March 21, 2007 @02:18PM (#18432095) Homepage
      What amazes me is the fact that this will be the second time Microsoft will have done it to Novell. You'd have thought they would of learned something.
      • by theshowmecanuck (703852) on Wednesday March 21, 2007 @02:28PM (#18432257) Journal
        It's typical modern American capitalism. Short term gains don't necessarily mean long term pains... at least not for the CEO involved. Take the million+ dollar bonus, cash out stock options, run/quit/get fired, and who cares if the company dies later.
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward
        You'd have thought they would of learned something.
        Would've or would have, but never would of. Jesus.
      • by sumdumass (711423)
        What amazes me is the fact that nothing in the current draft of the GPLv3 forbids novell-microsoft deal. This means they are intending to insert something that doesn't exist or are actualy trying to keep people on microsoft's products. I'm willing to bet that if pushed, this will be shown in court and the GPLv3 will end up destroying/fracturing yet another portion of the FOSS comunity.

        I guess to some, it doesn't matter as long as they get their 15 minutes of fame!
        • by Bruce Perens (3872) * <bruce@perens.com> on Thursday March 22, 2007 @12:06AM (#18439165) Homepage Journal
          The new GPL3 provision says that if you arrange to protect any party from patents regarding the software, that protection has to apply to everyone. We might have the final language to see on Saturday, for the FSF annual meeting, I've not been told but that's what I'd guess.

          Forget about GPL3 introducing major forks. There will be a few small spats. The license is in the interest of the Open Source developers who would use it, and that's all of the developers who want a share-and-share-alike form of licensing rather than an outright gift as in BSD. The folks who mainly would be opposed to it are those who want to benefit without sharing, and to say the community doesn't need them would be an understatement.

          If you believed that GPL3 would prohibit Linux from being used in a system with DRM, you can stop now. There are four places where you can put DRM in a system with a GPL3 kernel and have it work well and not have to give away your keys: in hardware as in a chip that mediates access to the display or audio output, in a coprocessor as with the separate chip that runs the GSM stack in cell phones, in a kernel under the kernel as with Microsoft's "nib", and in a user mode program. Those are also the best places to put the DRM from a technical standpoint. I am currently working on a paper on this, maybe I'll have it out tomorrow evening.

          Thanks

          Bruce

      • What amazes me is the fact that this will be the second time Microsoft will have done it to Novell. You'd have thought they would of learned something.

        Maybe Novell is looking for a $10-billion pay-day ten years down the line when they eventually sue Microsoft for breach of contract or anti-trust violations.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by iPaul (559200)
      Simple, if you don't want to answer the other person's point, simply concoct a straw-man argument to respond to. I'm sure he understood the comment quite clearly and probably accepted the situation in the back of his mind. I expect this is the role he's sized up for his company, to be Microsoft's "loyal opposition." I wonder, to what extent, Microsoft leaned on Novell by suggesting a list of possible infringing software and let Novell do the math?
      • There's almost nothing Microsoft has that Novell didn't have first other than media stuff. Microsoft's stuff of importance like file sharing, word processors, file servers.. is all pale imitation of stuff Novell was doing 10 years sooner. If Novell truly wanted to hurt Microsoft, they'd use their knowladge of Windows internals to build a free adapter for Microsoft computers to some new OSS variant of Novell's Groupwise products. That would wipe Microsoft out if we could stop having to share to the "lowest
    • by robyannetta (820243) on Wednesday March 21, 2007 @03:26PM (#18433169) Homepage
      Every day that goes by, I keep thinking that this Microsoft/Novell deal is nothing more than a prelude to Microsoft outright buying Novell who will then offer some cheap-ass Linux desktop solution.

      With Novell owning the original Unix IP, Microsoft may then eventually have the upper hand. That's a SCARY thing...
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by kripkenstein (913150)

        Every day that goes by, I keep thinking that this Microsoft/Novell deal is nothing more than a prelude to Microsoft outright buying Novell who will then offer some cheap-ass Linux desktop solution.

        With Novell owning the original Unix IP, Microsoft may then eventually have the upper hand. That's a SCARY thing...

        1. If Novell's Unix IP had much leverage against Linux, then Microsoft buying Novell would be almost certainly very problematic, antitrust-wise.

        2. But, the Unix IP in fact doesn't bear much up

    • by Bruce Perens (3872) * <bruce@perens.com> on Wednesday March 21, 2007 @11:55PM (#18439083) Homepage Journal
      Hi. What I meant was that Novell's Linux business is going to be hurt by what they've done, long term, because technical people won't be recommending them. And their Linux business has not reached the point of viability anyway, so I don't see how they plan to go forward rather than take as much money as possible before getting out of the business. Look at the customers they've listed of late (only four) and then ask them why they bought. The HSBC guy called the MS agreement FUD in the press, one of the others told me privately they'd rather be rid of Microsoft.

      Will MS buy them? MS tends to work through proxies these days. Is 330 Million a good starting investment? Sure.

      Bruce

  • I'm out (Score:3, Interesting)

    by truthsearch (249536) on Wednesday March 21, 2007 @02:27PM (#18432235) Homepage Journal
    I'm glad I sold my Novell stock soon after their parnership with Microsoft. Statements like Perens' nail the lid on the coffin for me. Novell had such potential with their government contracts, name recognition, and experience. But their management's been hurting the company for years. It's all downhill now.
    • I've heard about how linux, the kernel, won't be licensed under version 3, so it wouldn't matter. But I'm really skeptical.

      If the software owned by the FSF moves to GPLv3, will *any distributor of a complete OS be able to enter into a deal like the Novell/MS one? Does it really matter whether linuz remains v2 when so many critical components will be v3?
      • Right now Novell has a complete OS and it's licensed entirely under GPL v2 and other open licenses. That will continue to be true after the FSF finally finishes writing the holy scripture, err, GPL v3. The odds that Novell would be unable to keep up after a required fork are pretty high. Every major OSS app has been funded and managed, or written in it's entirety, by a private enterprise.
      • linux, the kernel, won't be licensed under version 3, so it wouldn't matter.

        Yes it will. As pieces outside of the kernel migrate to GPLv3 Novell will hit a roadblock having to rely on GPLv2 branches. Someone might still maintain those, but maybe not, making that much more work for Novell. Novell will still have to share its code with the community, but the community won't have to share their code with Novell. Which makes me happy a little.

        • Linus has very clearly stated that the kernel is licensed under GPLv2 (not 'GPLv2 or later,' as many programs are), and that he has no intentions of moving the kernel to GPLv3.
          • so? (Score:3, Informative)

            by alizard (107678)
            A kernel is about 30 megs or so out of the several hundred megs to several gigs you'll find in any Linux distro. If the collection of core utilities *nix depends on is GPLv3, the options Novell have are writing reverse-engineered versions of those utilities or stop selling products based on them.

            • Orange Crush was replying to the following comment (emphasis added):

              linux, the kernel, won't be licensed under version 3, so it wouldn't matter.

              I was correcting that, and only that.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Only a handful of reporters attended Perens' briefing, whereas nearly 6,000 people from 83 countries packed a Salt Palace ballroom to hear Novell President Ron Hovsepian and other executives describe the company's newest technological offerings. [from the linked Salt Lake Tribune article]

    Sounds to me that Perens showed up at the parade under bright, sunny skies and attempted to use a half-broken toy squirt gun. "No, really, its rain, trust me!"
  • by vivaoporto (1064484) on Wednesday March 21, 2007 @02:38PM (#18432417)
    People hold high expectations on Novell, and I really don't know why. Of course they "bought" Suse [slashdot.org] in 2003, the Mono project, and some other free software projects. but Novell was, is and will always be a proprietary software company. They don't care about Free Software, they are not into it for the ideals. Back them they saw an opportunity to make money off free software, so they invested, made some money but, in the end, they would dump everything in a heartbeat and partner with Microsoft if it is more profitable for them.

    And that's the beauty of Free Software. They can dump Linux and Free Software all they want, if they do, as fast as it takes, a fork for all projects that they are personally involved (Suse, Gnome, Mono, from the top of my head) will pop up and continue almost as nothing has happened.

    And I really wish that happens. I don't like the way they are handling Gnome, ignoring completely the community in order to satisfy Novell's aims and goals (mostly, appease to Windows "converted" users. The recent created Gnome Control Panel is a copy of Windows Control Panel, except that it is slow and cluttered like Win 3.11 Program Manager). That, and things like bundling Mono, pfff. But that's another subject, that doesn't belong here.

    Just a heads up. Novell has done nothing to deserve your trust. Don't look surprised when they finally misbehave.
    • by khasim (1285) <brandioch.conner@gmail.com> on Wednesday March 21, 2007 @02:45PM (#18432523)
      They did not understand Free / Open Source software.

      They paid $210 million for SuSE. Why?

      The more intelligent approach would be to hire developers who would submit patches that you wanted to the various projects that you're interested in.

      Then you Open the protocols that you control that you want to see more widely adopted. And pay developers to incorporate those protocols.

      Novell had the idea that it can acquire Linux by buying Linux distributions and projects. When this didn't pay out, Novell decided to "partner" with Microsoft in search of some more money.
      • Here [newsforge.com] is a possible answer, in an article from 2003, the time of the announcement of the buyout:

        Investors seem to think Novell (NOVL) was wise to buy SuSE. Novell stock spiked to $8.80 soon after the purchase announcement hit the wires, and closed the day at $7.33, up 21.16% from the previous day's $6.05 close.

        Not that different than when AOL and Time Warner merged. Company makes a risky move, investors like, shares go up, someone sells and profits, company sinks, board changes, company makes a risky
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by killjoe (766577)
        "They paid $210 million for SuSE. Why?"

        If you look at it's history it has a spectacularly bad record of buying software and technologies for no apparent reason and then selling them at a loss when they don't know what to do with them.

        It's really one of the most badly managed companies around.
    • by iPaul (559200)
      I agree completely. Their first interst is making money. However, they've built their brand in recent years as being friendly to open-source developers. I would like to see their reputation as an "open-source friendly" company evaporate as a result of this deal. I would like to see projects notify Novell to stop shipping their code in the Novell distro - because they're violating GPLv3. I don't want to other vendors to cave to Microsoft. Part of it is ignorance and people confuse GPL with "giving it
    • by bigredradio (631970) on Wednesday March 21, 2007 @03:12PM (#18432947) Homepage Journal

      I have to disagree with ya there. Sure, they are a commercial company and their goal is to make money. Big Surprise! However, in this effort, they have contributed a substantial amount of code to the kernel, gnome, and numerous other projects. I'm as uneasy about a deal with MS as anyone, but to start bashing them because they are a commercial company and they contribute to Linux is a bit short sighted.

      I don't like the way they are handling Gnome

      If you do not like, what they have done with gnome, then you can contribute or use KDE, XFCE, twm, etc.

      appease to Windows "converted" users

      Are you kidding me? Softening the transition (which is an option btw, you can change this), would be a smart move for all linux developers. If we create a completely foreign system, then it is that much harder to get people to use, promote and contribute to linux. Otherwise we are left with a select few and linux stays in the basement.

      bundling Mono, pfff

      I hate to break it to you, but there are a lot of users that are locked in because they rely on .NET apps. If you supply mono, then there is a better opportunity they can transition their current custom apps and use linux.

      Novell may not be my favorite Linux company, but you can't discount the contribution because of unfounded "fears" about "some day they will ruin linux". If they walked away today, I would at least say "Thank you for all that you had contributed". Without companies like, IBM, Novell, RedHat, Canonical and others, linux would still be where it was at 5-6 years ago. Today it is a viable alternative to MS Windows for the desktop, and is replacing Solaris, AIX and HP-UX in record numbers.

      • Are you kidding me? Softening the transition (which is an option btw, you can change this), would be a smart move for all linux developers. If we create a completely foreign system, then it is that much harder to get people to use, promote and contribute to linux. Otherwise we are left with a select few and linux stays in the basement.

        One of my pet peeves, regardless of distro, application, whatever, is when a decision is made to ease the transition of "foreign" users in detriment of the already faithfu
      • by Bri3D (584578)
        Mono, believe it or not, is actually being used (especially at Novell) to create applications in C# *designed to run on Linux* (see Beagle, which I'm fairly certain is now included in Novell's Linux distributions).

        While I think .NET and Mono are annoying (I hate all memory-managed languages, though, so that's not saying much), I see nothing to "pff" at including a dependancy for increasingly-common applications.

    • by mosel-saar-ruwer (732341) on Wednesday March 21, 2007 @04:02PM (#18433713)

      People hold high expectations on Novell, and I really don't know why. Of course they "bought" Suse in 2003, the Mono project, and some other free software projects. but Novell was, is and will always be a proprietary software company.

      It's all about Mono.

      While C# certainly doesn't have nearly the installed code base that Java has, ".NET" is pulling even with [and might even have surpassed] "J2EE":

      J2EE, 8244 jobs [dice.com]

      .NET, 9384 jobs [dice.com]

      As much as everybody loves to hate the guy, Ballmer was 100% correct when he said that it's all about "developers, developers, developers", and if you think ".NET" isn't the hottest thing in the programming market right now, then, well, you've been asleep at the wheel for the last five years.

      Mono is the ace up Novell's sleeve; with the Microsoft agreement, they are assured that they've got something that Red Hat doesn't have, that Oracle won't have [with the upcoming "Oracle" Linux], and that even IBM or Sun wouldn't have, if they were to roll their own Linuxes, which is to say: An ironclad guarantee that their flavor of Linux will play nice with .NET.

  • by giafly (926567) on Wednesday March 21, 2007 @02:47PM (#18432547)

    With so much FUD in the air, I am glad we get our own reports like this, with audio, so we can reach our own conclusions [... Anonymous:] The biggest mistake SCOG has made, and MS is continuing to make from the very begining of targeting Open Source: It's a community the likes of which has never formed before. It's a community without Country borders. A community that chooses to communicate and protect itself the world-wide.
    Groklaw [groklaw.net]
    • The biggest mistake SCOG has made, and MS is continuing to make from the very begining of targeting Open Source: It's a community the likes of which has never formed before. It's a community without Country borders. A community that chooses to communicate and protect itself the world-wide.
      Coders Sans Frontieres!
  • Yeah, Microsoft is evil, Novell stupid, etc. etc., yadda yadda, but is anything Novell offers actually released under GPL3? Linus has stated he intends to keep the Linux under GPL2. If Novell isn't offering anything released under GPL3, why should they care?

    - Crow T. trollbot

    • by Alioth (221270) <no@spam> on Wednesday March 21, 2007 @02:58PM (#18432725) Journal
      Because all the GNU tools that Linux depends upon (most significantly the entire toolchain they rely on to build the software) _will_ be GPL3 when GPL3 comes out. This means they either have to spend money to maintain the old GPL2 tools themselves or find alternates. No alternative currently exists for gcc which is free software.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Doctor Memory (6336)

        No alternative currently exists for gcc which is free software.

        I find it hard to believe there are no other OSS/free C/C++ compilers. Yes, I know GCC does more than C/C++, but what more would you need to build the kernel and userland? If the hammer came down, I'm sure it wouldn't be too much trouble to pick up some other compiler and put the work into it to get it to fit in the spot GCC left behind. I mean, GCC's an impressive piece of software, sure, but it's not like you couldn't get another compiler if you had to.

        Actually, now that I think about it, why even wor

        • by ville (29367)
          C++ is likely to get quite a few things in 2009:
          http://www.open-std.org/jtc1/sc22/wg21/docs/papers / [open-std.org] // ville
      • by dbIII (701233)
        Not necessarily - RMS does not run gcc anymore and has clashed with the developers before by attempting counterproductive political instead of technical moves. The new licence is still a draft anyway, and I find the sugestion to move to it before it is finalised because some great American Hero in his own mind says so to be disgusting. Finish the licence, and then convince developers to move to it on merit. I also suggest direct lobbying against silly use IP laws is a better action other than making it i
    • by pembo13 (770295)
      You say that as if Novel is offering much at all. Others are, Novel is mostly packaging them.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      If Linus stays with GPLv2, and Sun goes with GPLv3 on Solaris, I'm dropping Linux like a hot potato.

      I've worked with GPL'd code since the early 90's, have made contributions to the kernel (and other projects). My problem is that I'm currently in an area where Software Patents (and patent trolls) are a serious concern.

      I know I'm not the only one either.

      Sun could make serious inroads in a lot of places if they went the GPLv3 route with Solaris. And I'd be delighted to help get them there ASAP.
  • GPL 3 (Score:2, Insightful)

    by hansonc (127888)
    Why am I starting to get the feeling that outside of the FSF no one is going to adopt v3?

    So what? Novell just goes ahead and forks all the FSF stuff now and leaves the licensing as GPL 2 they're well within their rights not to accept a more restrictive (to them) license.
    • Re:GPL 3 (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Alioth (221270) <no@spam> on Wednesday March 21, 2007 @03:02PM (#18432785) Journal
      That will put them at a significant competitive disadvantage to the likes of RedHat. They will be saddled with maintaining old versions of very complex software (like the entire gcc toolchain, plus binutils and the like) - whereas companies who are not pariahs will just continue using the latest GPLv3 versions of this software. Novell's costs will therefore be significantly higher since they can no longer benefit from the work of the actual package maintainers themselves.
      • by sumdumass (711423)
        Why is it that people think Novel will be the only ones maintianing a fork? It sounds reasonable to belive that other companies like Tivo and such would be just as interested.

        So, lets say we have a GPLv2 comercial fork. Is that bad? I mean competition is good right?

        This doesn't even goto mention that the GPLv3 doesn't ocme close as it is currently writen to doing this. Novell has nothing to worry about useing the GPLv3 software. Likewise the FSF and anyone who uses the GPLv3 have more to worry about the GPL
        • by Simon (815)
          So, lets say we have a GPLv2 comercial fork. Is that bad?

          I'm pretty sure that FSF's software is distributed under the "GPL v2 or later". Which means that any commercial fork would have to keep using "GPL v2 or later". FSF would then be free to take any changes to the commercial fork, apply them to the FSF version and then release it under the GPL v3.

          I mean competition is good right?

          Especially when your competition can take your changes and incorporate them into their version, but not the other way aro

          • Except that the GNU programmers will release the updates to the GNU toolchain in GPL v3 or later. They can then take updates from anyone writing software in "v2 or later" with impunity.
    • by Znork (31774)
      "Why am I starting to get the feeling"

      Because you're not looking close enough?

      Samba seems like they'll be moving and even Sun has sounded positive. Most anyone who's made an informed decision to use the GPLv2 is likely to move as v3 is merely a continuation of the exact same policy, updated to handle new issues.

      The linux kernel is an exception; not particularly surprising as Linus has never been particularly aligned with the FSF ideas (witness the former choice of a non-free versioning system...).

      Novell is
    • Why am I starting to get the feeling that outside of the FSF no one is going to adopt v3?

      It's far more than FSF, it is everyone who has seriously considered the GPL and found that it is appropriate for their needs. For me, I chose GPL because I want to retain the option to get paid for closed-source forks of my work. (No takers yet. :) )

      All it takes is ONE GPL "V3 or later" userland program to be essential and the whole house of cards falls down. C++ is gaining new language features soon. Samba will nee
  • nothing good? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by nanosquid (1074949)
    The conclusion of the meeting? Nothing good is coming from this deal between Microsoft and Novell.

    My understanding is that, as part of the deal, Microsoft is actually distributing SuSE Linux.

    Doesn't this mean that they themselves are distributing the software they might be claiming patents on? And doesn't that mean that, for practical purposes, have given up their right to assert the patents against any GPL'ed software that is part of SuSE Linux?

    I'm sure this wasn't Microsoft's intention, but it looks to m
    • by rongage (237813)

      No - you don't "give up the right to assert a patent" through inaction. You are thinking of trademark where if you don't vigorously defend your trademark, you can and often will loose it.

      A patent can only become unenforceable by either reexamination from the USPTO, federal court decision, or definitive action from the patent holder itself (like a covenant not to enforce or a donation to a third party, etc).

      You can hold a patent and do nothing with it for years, then all of a sudden decide to enforce it.

      • by ArsonSmith (13997)
        But by distributing a patent implementation under the GPL then allows for further distribution under the same terms of the GPL.
  • As far as I understand, Novell hasn't licenced or acknowledged any Microsoft patent regarding Linux. It was just an agreement not to sue. Novell still doesn't have any explicit right to distribute infringing code. Strictly speaking, if Novell were aware of a patent, they wouldn't be legally permitted to distribute under the patent terms. However, Microsoft would be powerless to stop them through legal means.

    The current GPL3 draft doesn't seem to prevent this type of agreement.
    • by sumdumass (711423)
      lol.. Thank you for a voice of reason. For some reason, i can't help but feel a sigh of relief when reading someone's post who has actualy read the GPL draft and understand what is says.
  • by lordmage (124376) on Wednesday March 21, 2007 @04:07PM (#18433769) Homepage
    Going to do a reverse and say they did give all licensing to SCO?

    Microsoft lackey Novell Exec "My bad, Here is the papers that say we did give them all UNIX licenses"

    • by killjoe (766577) on Wednesday March 21, 2007 @05:14PM (#18434773)
      It doesn't matter. They already reversed themselves on their most important pledge and that is to leverage their patents against anybody who sues an open source project for patent violation.

      They will no longer come to the defense of open source projects if MS sues them and that's what MS was after all along. MS has already gotten the same kind of deal from Sun. If they can get IBM they will be done.

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