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Perens Rains on Novell's Parade 277

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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  • Re:War is peace (Score:5, Informative)

    by vivaoporto ( 1064484 ) on Wednesday March 21, 2007 @02:54PM (#18432649)
    GPL doesn't restrict anything. Copyright laws do. GPL, as the L in the initials says, is a license that exempt you from the no-distribution no-derivative-work limitations that is the core of the copyright concept, as long as you agree with the GPL conditions. How can people distort that simple reality and say GPL restricts freedom is a mystery to me.

    It is simple as that. Without GPL, fair use aside, you cannot (legally) use, you cannot derive, you cannot distribute. With GPL, as long as you grant the same rights when you distribute, you can. Now tell me again, how GPL restricts any freedom? How can a license to restrict a freedom that you didn't have in the first place?
  • 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:War is peace (Score:4, Informative)

    by B2382F29 ( 742174 ) on Wednesday March 21, 2007 @03:14PM (#18432981)

    Then you are distributing the binary inside the router. That is distribution. You can modify it without releasing the sources as long as you only use it in-house. Microsoft could run Linksys Routers with a heavily modified Linux firmware and would not be required to release the source as long as they don't sell/distribute it.

  • Re:War is peace (Score:2, Informative)

    by unum15 ( 695402 ) on Wednesday March 21, 2007 @03:18PM (#18433059) Homepage
    In his speech Peren compares the deal to a protection racket. Novell has hired MS(yes I know the money goes the other way around) to be their goon. MS is going around telling people, "pay Novell or something bad may happen to you".

  • by 91degrees ( 207121 ) on Wednesday March 21, 2007 @03:21PM (#18433089) Journal
    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 Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 21, 2007 @03:27PM (#18433197)
    You'd have thought they would of learned something.
    Would've or would have, but never would of. Jesus.
  • by schwaang ( 667808 ) on Wednesday March 21, 2007 @03:44PM (#18433477)
    Finally this thread is getting somewhere.

    Copyright law is the mechanism by which GPL works, but SOFTWARE PATENTS are the real issue here, as Bruce explains very well in his talk.

    The "protection racket" is about the patents that MS implies Linux infringes on. And as Bruce points out, pretty much any non-trivial software probably infringes on someone else's software patents.

    That's because software patents in the USA have been doled out too easily. They are absurd.

    What's worse, Bruce explains, there is actually a _penalty_ for trying to figure out if your own software infringes. Because if you can be shown to have infringed on a patent you actually know about, the damages are tripled.

    Small companies and individual software developers are at the biggest risk. Because big companies have portfolios of patents that they routinely cross-license, thereby protecting themselves from each other. The small guys are locked out. And of course, little guys don't have the money to maintain a legal defense even when they are totally in the right, forcing them to settle.

    Software patents in the US are the problem.
  • 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 kripkenstein ( 913150 ) on Wednesday March 21, 2007 @05:10PM (#18434695) 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...
    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 upon Linux, as the SCO case has shown. Even Unix code donated under the GPL to Linux (if any such actually exists) would not be a problem.

    3. However, that said, I have a suspicion you may be right. Novell is actually the perfect "Linux branch" of Microsoft. They produce Mono which complements .Net perfectly. They develop code for OpenOffice.org that improves MS Office compatibility. They used to - before many of them left following the Microsoft-Novell deal - develop Samba, which allows interoperability with MS Exchange. In that sense, if Microsoft was going to enter the Linux market, buying Novell would be the perfect move.
  • so? (Score:3, Informative)

    by alizard ( 107678 ) <alizard@NOspAM.ecis.com> on Wednesday March 21, 2007 @06:33PM (#18435893) Homepage
    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.

  • by cswiger ( 63672 ) <chuck@codefab.com> on Wednesday March 21, 2007 @08:10PM (#18436971) Homepage
    There's always pcc, the original "portable C compiler", which shipped with the various BSDs through 4.3:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Portable_C_Compiler [wikipedia.org]

    It doesn't seem to do C++. Some people probably consider this a feature...
  • by fatphil ( 181876 ) on Wednesday March 21, 2007 @09:51PM (#18437989) Homepage
    "J2EE, 8244 jobs"

    Java, 16395 jobs

    You're a worm.
  • by Bruce Perens ( 3872 ) * <bruce@perens.com> on Thursday March 22, 2007 @06:51PM (#18451261) Homepage Journal

    Question: is it not possible to put a clause in the GPL v3 to make tis quite clear? Something along the lines of "Any funny tricks to circumvent the SPIRIT of the GPL will make it automatically void and the offending entity will be sued for copyright infringement"

    Of course. Here's the legal language you're asking for: "Do what I mean, not what I say." :-)

    So, this illustrates the fundamental problem in law. Law does not require ethical behavior. This is because there is no canonical definition of ethical behavior in all of its details that we could get everyone to agree on, and thus instead law defines particular kinds of behavior in specific terms and prohbits them, setting fines and penalties.

    So, we can point out what seems to us to be unethical. We can convince lots of you, possibly even a fair majority, of our argument. We can ask you to take action to retaliate, like not recommending Novell again. But we can't get them in court, this time. We'll be ready next time.

    I don't see a short-term solution for this. Perhaps further human evolution is necessary.



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