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Ballmer Says Linux "Infringes Our Intellectual Property" 820

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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  • by aauu ( 46157 ) on Friday November 17, 2006 @10:47AM (#16883648) Homepage
    All this patent noise is hiding the real agenda. Microsoft is having Novell create a Linux compatibility layer for Windows to replace the aging/ailing Services For Unix/Services for Unix Applications. Services for Linux in Vista/Longhorn by SP2. Novell has the skills to hack Linux interface into Windows, since this is how Netware integrates. Remember FreeBSD has a Linux compatibilty layer so there is an existing shim already that can be adapted.
  • Re:So what happens (Score:3, Informative)

    by CRCulver ( 715279 ) <> on Friday November 17, 2006 @10:59AM (#16883862) Homepage

    I have doubts about that. As I understand it, Mono is an implementation of an ECMA standard.

    Submitting a technology as a standard does not mean giving up one's patents on it. Microsoft has patented many features of Mono.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 17, 2006 @11:15AM (#16884096)
    but it does require that a copy be included in anything that uses the code

    Umm, thats not how it works. You are required to include one small string of text. Microsoft does that, and you can find it in the binaries.

    Don't you think someone else would have found this over a decade ago if they were violating the license?
  • by mikael ( 484 ) on Friday November 17, 2006 @11:16AM (#16884116)
    A lot of that I'm sure is safe, but I can't imagine that somewhere in there and among Microsoft's untold zillions of software patents that there isn't a (legally) reasonable case that could be made against something OSS that people would care about.

    A good many GUI's existing before MS-Windows. Just as there are timelines which document how OS kernel's have evolved, there are also timelines which document how GUI's have evolved []. This site [] documents the evolution of each and every GUI, along with every icon that each GUI has used. This is particularly important for commercial application developers who wish to avoid any lawsuits caused by using someone elses "trademarked" icon.

    As an example, here is the components page [], which documents the evolution of the most commonly used icons.

    As long as the Linux community can prove that any feature in an application has prior art in earlier GUI's that haven't been patented or copyrighted by Microsoft, then it is pure Microsoft FUD. If MS want to sue Linux, then they will have to sue the other OS vendors as well.

  • Re:BSD too (Score:1, Informative)

    by ssj152 ( 803281 ) on Friday November 17, 2006 @11:35AM (#16884452) Journal
    The BSD stack isn't identical to the Microsoft stack; it is the other way around. Microsoft bought a license to the BSD TCP/IP stack and integrated it into their products. The difference in point of view matters a lot, at least to me.
  • Re:Alright, own up (Score:3, Informative)

    by profplump ( 309017 ) <> on Friday November 17, 2006 @12:10PM (#16885110)
    Well, if it's from BSD it probably uses the BSD license [] not the MIT license []. But other than the East coast vs. West coast mismatch you are correct.
  • Re:BSD too (Score:2, Informative)

    by ssj152 ( 803281 ) on Friday November 17, 2006 @12:14PM (#16885194) Journal
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 17, 2006 @12:16PM (#16885230)
    >> Windows itself is an extrapolation of other people's prior works at best.

    This got me thinking... You know, Microsoft can't even claim to have invented windows. Pretty amazing... I had forgotten how late they've come to this game.

    According to this link [] , it took M$ about 12 (twelve) f* years to finish (?) a product that would "revolutionize" IT.
  • Boycott Novell (Score:2, Informative)

    by 10scjed ( 695280 ) on Friday November 17, 2006 @12:19PM (#16885280) Homepage
    Let us all remember who it is that is complicit in this FUD campaign, Novell 's self-serving deal legitimizes Microsoft's assault on Linux. Regardless of the technical wording of the deal, and whether it can be established that Novell is violating the letter of the GPL 2, they are certainly violating its spirit, Novell must not be supported [].
  • Re:Alright, own up (Score:2, Informative)

    by Samedi ( 465091 ) on Friday November 17, 2006 @12:33PM (#16885516)
    You are terribly confused: multi-threading and pre-emptive multitasking aren't the same thing. Linux has had pre-emptive multitasking from the beginning - Linus wrote it to take advantage of the i386 hardware that had just come out.
  • Re:Samba (Score:4, Informative)

    by jschrod ( 172610 ) <.jschrod. .at.> on Friday November 17, 2006 @12:56PM (#16885922) Homepage
    According to Novell, you don't buy any MS license when you buy SUSE. They say that there is no reason to because SUSE does not infringe on any MS patents, to their knowledge. They also promise to throw our any infringing code immediately, it it gets known, so there won't be cause for you licensing it from MS in the future.

    According to Novell, what you get is indemnification against potential lawsuits from MS, just like you do when you buy Linux from HP or other sources. (HP also indemnifies their own customers and not others. RH doesn't indemnify, it has a limited legal defense fund.)

    The main difference here is that it was publicized how Novell realized that indemnification, by a contract and payments to MS, and that way doesn't resonate well with many free software proponents.

    NOTE: I'm not connected to Novell, but I informed myself by reading the available publicized material.

  • by Knuckles ( 8964 ) <> on Friday November 17, 2006 @01:10PM (#16886148)
    Also, get Automatix to install codecs and apps that aren't included in the Ubuntu base distribution.

    No, no, no, no! Please stop promoting this Automatix crap. It is still poorly implemented and is singlehandedly responsible for what is probably the majority of failed upgrades to new Ubuntu versions. If you recommend Automatix please also subscribe to the ubuntu-users mailing list and help the people that show up there with failed upgrades.

    Better to follow the instructions [] for legally restricted formats or at least use EasyUbuntu which at least is saner than Automatix.

    In addition, the GP explicitly said he wanted to use this machine as a web development machine, I don't know why he would need the restricted formats there anyway.
  • by Guy Harris ( 3803 ) <> on Friday November 17, 2006 @02:35PM (#16887846)
    SMB was based on (really copied from) an old DEC protocol. This is what jump-started the Samba project; one of the lead developers had access to DEC's specs for this protocol.

    No. DEC had an implementation of SMB called PATHWORKS, which included a DOS client and a server for VMS and, I think, Ultrix, but they didn't invent the protocol. (They might have had some add-on protocols with PATHWORKS, but the core protocol was the SMB that IBM, 3Com, Intel, and Microsoft were involved with developing. See this message from Steven French []. I think Steve's the main developer of the cifsfs in-kernel SMB client for Linux).

    One of the lead developers (some guy named "Andrew Tridgell" :-)) reverse-engineered SMB based on traffic between the PATHWORKS client and server; he later discovered that this was SMB, which did have some published specs. See Tridgell's description of the history of Samba [].

  • Re:Microsoft IP (Score:3, Informative)

    by Guy Harris ( 3803 ) <> on Friday November 17, 2006 @04:20PM (#16889476)
    IF MS doesn't allow Samba and interoperability then they aren't opening their APIs.

    What if they allow it, but only if you pay a licensing fee? The EU decision [] requires only "reasonable and non-discriminatory terms", and explicitly speaks of "any remuneration that Microsoft might charge for supply"; perhaps I'm missing something, but I don't see anything there that requires Microsoft to allow you to give away SMB server software for free. (See section "6.1.1 Remedy concerning refusal to supply", and its two subsections " Order to disclose interoperability information for the development of interoperable products" and " Reasonable and non-discriminatory terms, timeliness of the disclosures".)

    Perhaps Microsoft's strategy can be summed up here as "Don't forget to pay your $32 to $760 licensing fee [] you cock-smoking teabaggers." :-)

  • I thought I'd do a quick Google search and see if good ol' Microsoft has ever "appropriated" any code themselves. In just a few minutes, I found eight instances where Microsoft lost court battles over the code they stole. Here you go:

    As a response to Digital Research's DR-DOS 6.0, which bundled SuperStor disk compression, Microsoft opened negotiations with Stac Electronics, vendor of the most popular DOS disk compression tool, Stacker. Stac was unwilling to meet Microsoft's terms for licensing Stacker and withdrew from the negotiations. In the due diligence process, Stac engineers had shown Microsoft some Stacker source code. However, Microsoft chose to license Vertisoft's DoubleDisk instead of Stacker.[2]

    Soon, MS-DOS 6.0 was released, including the Microsoft DoubleSpace disk compression utility program. Stac successfully sued Microsoft for patent infringement regarding the compression algorithm used in DoubleSpace. This resulted in the release of MS-DOS 6.21, which had disk-compression removed. Shortly afterwards came version 6.22, with a new version of the disk compression system, DriveSpace, rewritten to avoid the infringing code. []

    A new patent battle is brewing -- this time over Microsoft's (Quote) claim over Caller ID for E-Mail.

    F. Scott Deaver, owner of Failsafe Designs, says Microsoft is guilty of the "outright theft" of his product name and intellectual property (IP), and will seek legal and financial redress from the Redmond, Wash., software giant and anyone else that uses his technology that verifies e-mail is coming from the domain it claims. 393891 []

    Alacritech® Inc., the innovator of Dynamic TCP Offload(TM) data acceleration solutions that enable the highest performance and efficiency in networked systems, today announced a U.S. District Court granted Alacritech's motion for preliminary injunction to prevent Microsoft Corporation (Nasdaq: MSFT) from making, using, offering for sale, selling, importing or inducing others to use Microsoft's "Chimney" TCP offload architecture slated to be available in both the "Longhorn" version of the Windows® operating system and in the Scalable Networking Pack for Windows Server(TM) 2003.

    Alacritech sued Microsoft in Federal District Court on August 11, 2004, alleging that Microsoft's existing and future operating systems containing the "Chimney" TCP offload architecture uses Alacritech's proprietary SLIC Technology® architecture. The suit is based on two of Alacritech's fundamental patents relating to scalable networking, U.S. Patent No. 6,427,171 and U.S. Patent No. 6,987,868, both entitled "Protocol Processing Stack for use with Intelligent Network Interface Device." anted_PI.shtml []

    In April 2001, Intertrust initiated a lawsuit against Microsoft. The lawsuit ultimately accused Microsoft of infringing 11 of Intertrust's patents and almost 130 of the company's patent claims.

    The lawsuit centered on accused products based on the following technologies:

    DRM and product activation technologies .NET and related security technologies
    Trusted and reliable operating system technologies
    In bringing the patent infringement lawsuit, Intertrust believed that Microsoft's forward-going technology infrastructure significantly relied on Intertrust's inventions for DRM and trusted computing. []

    (Redwood Shores, CA, December 15, 2005) - Visto Corporation has filed a legal action against Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) for misappropriating Visto's intellectual property. The complaint ass
  • Re:Alright, own up (Score:2, Informative)

    by Locutus ( 9039 ) on Friday November 17, 2006 @06:19PM (#16890996)
    Did I not say "Linux was really late to the game with regards to the pre-emptive kernel."? I see now that the original poster was probably talking about process based preemptive multi-tasking as you mentioned. And I guess that might be something to be proud of compared to DOS and DOS/Windows but when Linux hit the net, OS/2 and NT were on the market and they both had preemptive kernel based multitasking and THAT was/is pretty cool. UNIX and any 'real' OS has had pre-emptive process based multi-tasking for decades and any good OS Design book would teach it. Saying Microsoft copied that from UNIX or Linux is kinda pushing it IMO.

    And I know Windows multi-tasking still sucks. GNU/Linux is better and OS/2 and BeOS are/were better still. And anything less than kernel based preemptive multi-tasking and process multi-threading is sooo 1990s IMO.


  • by zecg ( 521666 ) on Saturday November 18, 2006 @05:00AM (#16894714)
    Or if you've got time, Linux from Scratch. Just don't confuse the latter with Gentoo, which is a cookbook.

    Gentoo a cookbook? I've used the same Gentoo installation for two years now with a lot of "unstable" packages and it seems to me to be a really nice distro with a brilliant package manager which offers more control and flexibility than any other distro which also attempts to automatize the installation process.

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