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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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  • by CRiMSON ( 3495 ) <crimson AT unspeakable DOT org> 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.
  • Re:War is peace (Score:3, Insightful)

    by iPaul ( 559200 ) on Wednesday March 21, 2007 @02:43PM (#18432491) Homepage
    GPL =/= do whatever you like. The GPL is actually a restrictive licensing agreement. It governs how you use the product, how you can realease something based on that product, what you can incorporate that product into, and in some cases how you release what you create with that product. People confuse GPL == Free as in beer == Do as you will. GPL has built in protections to ensure that anything derived from the GPL is also encumbered the same way as the GPL. Note that *I like the restrictions* GPL puts on code, derivative works, and how it can be used. I'm not an expert, but if you want complete freedom, I think the BSD license is actually a more liberal license than GPL. If Novell is doing something that violates the GPLv3 license, they are welcome to switch to software licensed under different, less restrictive licenses. However, until then, if I release something under GPL I want it to stay under GPL in every sense of the word. That includes vendors falsley claiming customers need to buy a license in order to use my code or use something that uses my code.
  • by Cr0w T. Trollbot ( 848674 ) on Wednesday March 21, 2007 @02:49PM (#18432575)
    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

  • GPL 3 (Score:2, Insightful)

    by hansonc ( 127888 ) on Wednesday March 21, 2007 @02:49PM (#18432583) Homepage
    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:War is peace (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Intron ( 870560 ) on Wednesday March 21, 2007 @02:51PM (#18432599)
    and exactly what are "deals like this"? An agreement between two companies not to sue each other's customers -- at least that's what has been made public so far. Is the hidden "all your base" clause not revealed until you buy Suse? Since the deal, so far as I know, does not inhibit or put additional restrictions on Linux, I don't see how GPLv3 gets involved. Can anyone tell me?
  • by killjoe ( 766577 ) on Wednesday March 21, 2007 @03:04PM (#18432819)
    "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.
  • Re:War is peace (Score:2, Insightful)

    by _Sprocket_ ( 42527 ) on Wednesday March 21, 2007 @03:10PM (#18432921)

    The code is free as in beer, and free as in speech, but you can't do *that* with it, or *that*, or *that over there*.

    Even free speech involves responsibilities.
  • 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.

  • Re:War is peace (Score:3, Insightful)

    by bnenning ( 58349 ) on Wednesday March 21, 2007 @03:23PM (#18433135)
    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.

    Well said.

    It is simple as that. Without GPL, fair use aside, you cannot (legally) use, you cannot derive, you cannot distribute.

    Actually, you don't need a license to merely run software you've legally acquired. See 17 USC 117 []. That's why the copyright lobbies keep making the inane argument that when you walk into a store and exchange money for a product, you don't actually own anything.
  • Re:War is peace (Score:5, Insightful)

    by NickFortune ( 613926 ) on Wednesday March 21, 2007 @03:34PM (#18433323) Homepage Journal

    GPL doesn't restrict anything. Copyright laws do.

    A lot of people would disagree with that. Hell, the GPL [] disagrees with that:

    To protect your rights, we need to make restrictions that forbid anyone to deny you these rights or to ask you to surrender the rights. These restrictions translate to certain responsibilities for you if you distribute copies of the software, or if you modify it.

    See? "restrictions". Just because they are lesser restrictions than the default case of "no rights at all", that doesn't mean they ain't restrictive.

    I'm a big fan of the GPL myself, but let's try not to sacrifice accuracy to zealotry here.

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

    by vivaoporto ( 1064484 ) on Wednesday March 21, 2007 @04:19PM (#18433897)
    See? "restrictions". Just because they are lesser restrictions than the default case of "no rights at all", that doesn't mean they ain't restrictive.

    That's semantics. GPL doesn't restrict anything that you would be able to do with standard copyright law. Copyright law says you can't do A, B, C, D and E. GPL says you can now do A, B, C. How is that restricting?

    Notice, I'm not denying GPL has more conditions than BSD or Public Domain. All I'm saying is that has one goal, to make sure any software and all its derivatives under that license will be able to be freely run, studied, derived and distributed. They never hid that goal, it is the GNU manifesto, for god sake. If they could simply say that, in a clear and unambiguously way, such confusions would never exist in the first place. But because of the likes of Tivo, Novell and others, that will try to find a loophole and release derivative works without granting those rights, FSF has to created this tangled network of legalese, to close as many holes as they can.
  • Re:War is peace (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Chris Burke ( 6130 ) on Wednesday March 21, 2007 @04:22PM (#18433943) Homepage
    "Restrictive" is not the opposite of "free" though, which is what the GGP was implying.

    I am not free to own slaves. Am I restricted, or is everyone else more free? The answer is everyone is more free because nobody can own slaves.

    Similarly, the GPL only restricts your ability to restrict others. This means the fewest restrictions for all. Isn't that the most freedom possible? Free to do anything but take freedom from others.

    The GPL's restrictions are only anti-free to those who think only of themselves. The GPL is not for them.

  • by Anti-Trend ( 857000 ) on Wednesday March 21, 2007 @04:39PM (#18434223) Homepage Journal

    Even free speech involves responsibilities.

    Why is the parent modded flamebait? This seems pretty reasonable to me. When the constructors of the US Constitution drafted the first amendment, I'm sure that yelling "fire!" maliciously in a crowded public building wasn't what they had in mind. Instead, it's a specific type of freedom which has a few limitations. However, these limitations are important to preserve the function and spirit of said rights. The same goes for the GPL.

    By releasing code under the GPL, I'm saying effectively, "you can have my code for free, and even change whatever you want, provided you don't restrict anyone else from doing the same." The BSD license allows the author to say, "use whatever you like, and you can close up my source code and not share with anybody if you want to." If that license is more attractive to you, than by all means, release your code under the BSD license instead of GPL. But like me, many people want the guarantee of the continuing freedom of the code they release. For those of us who feel that way, the GPL is exactly the right license.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 21, 2007 @06:03PM (#18435493)
    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.
  • by patiodragon ( 920102 ) on Wednesday March 21, 2007 @06:06PM (#18435559) Homepage
    You might be able to imagine it a little better.
  • by petrus4 ( 213815 ) on Wednesday March 21, 2007 @08:09PM (#18436955) Homepage Journal
    Third, WHATVER MIGHT happen in the future between Microsoft and the OSS movement, the odds of Microsoft being able to seriously damage the spread of Linux, let alone OSS in general, is virtually nil.

    Precisely correct. Anyone with a brain knows that Microsoft are not going to exist for more than another 15 years, tops. Why?

    1. No concrete long-term strategy after Windows NT 4, and no substantially new products since then. Windows 2000, XP, and Server 2003 are all incremental upgrades to NT 4. Vista is Microsoft's last release, and everyone knows it. After this, all they've got left is consumer inertia based on their *existing* software. They've hit a technological brick wall. Gates has said that Microsoft could run for years without making a single sale...but not many years. We may just get to see that claim verified.

    2. Rabid (even fanatical in some places) consumer hatred of the company. You don't have people hating you the way people hate Microsoft and survive with it for long, especially when that is coupled with the above. Microsoft doing an IBM and surviving while becoming less important is not going to happen, simply because of the number of people who feel a passionate need to completely destroy the company. Machiavelli wrote about it...once you're hated as widely and with the degree of intensity that Steve Ballmer is, the show is over. People will band together and do whatever they have to in order to get rid of you...they will move heaven and earth to do it. If the first problem was all Microsoft had to worry about, it wouldn't be insurmountable...they could do what Apple did with OSX and probably survive. But when you've got this much ill will *on top of* needing to completely re-invent yourself, forget it.

    The only reason why Stallman still thinks Microsoft are a genuine threat to anybody but themselves is because he has started to believe his own fearmongering.

    Fourth, if Stallman and crew take the GNU utilities out of action because of GPLv3, the OSS community will simply reinvent them - or better ones - which is long overdue in many cases.

    In the case of virtually all other elements of the POSIX toolchain, we have substitutes ready and waiting []. The one area however where Stallman still has us over a barrel however just happens to also be the most important one:- GCC. When I pointed this out a week or so ago, someone gave me a link to something in progress, but what was linked to still uses GCC in part. Of the very few other remaining possibilities, neither TenDRA [] or ACK [] are technologically current, (with the latter's obsolescence being measured in *decades*) and the Intel C Compiler is not open source.

    We *need* an alternative to GCC. If I had one, barring translation problems, I could put together a completely non-GNU/FSF toolchain in probably a week and a half or so, as could many other people. *All* of the other pieces are there. The problem is, we don't have an alternative to GCC, and it's far too complex a piece of software for most of us to apparently even know where to begin to write one.

    If there is anyone reading this who *does* have even a vague idea of how to begin this, please seriously consider it...because you could provide exactly the kind of miracle that right now, a lot of us need.
  • by petrus4 ( 213815 ) on Wednesday March 21, 2007 @08:18PM (#18437065) Homepage Journal
    Hey, the "Big Mike" analogy is funny and everything, buts it's sad to see someone of Bruce's caliber and stature stooping to antics

    Er, no. Bruce's fecal matter smells just as bad as the next human being's; of this I am entirely certain. Take him down off that huge marble pedestal in your mind. Once you start perceiving him as just another pathologically flawed human being like the rest of us, you then cease to be so amazed when he behaves accordingly.
  • by sumdumass ( 711423 ) on Thursday March 22, 2007 @10:41AM (#18443097) Journal

    No, it wouldn't work this way. In a compliant system, you'd be able to change the kernel as you liked, the system would still boot, but the DRM would still decrypt and play media correctly without offering access to the unencrypted data stream. The key is that the GPL3 DRM terms mean that the DRM must not lock down the GPL program, and the DRM functionality of playing the media must keep working if you change the GPL program. GPL3 does not say that you have to be able to break the DRM, it only restricts what the DRM can break.
    Well, this is so much more clear then the way the GPLv3 presents it and probably the most clear way of explaining it that I have ever seen.

    This isn't going to keep users away from the program. Users don't generally care about licensing as long as they have a clear right to run the program, and they do. Look at the nasty EULAs they sign from MS, much worse than ours. It may keep certain developers away, but historically the GPL share-and-share-alike terms have helped, rather than hurt, to build a large developer community.
    The FUD surrounding it could be enough to Keep users away. As I said, I believe the entire FUD and Misconception ordeal is more or less a Microsoft "stick with Vista" marketing campaign.

    The issues surrounding keeping user away will be two fold. First, it may cause existing users to look for a new license. Next it might causes companies including resellers to not take up the burden of complying with it. And at this point, there will be a big burden. Somehow, you have developed an understanding of the GPL past what normal people can by simply reading it.

    I'm not exactly as my "nick" implies, a dumbass. However, I am about average intelligence so I would say that something does needs to be done so us "dumasses" can understand the intent and purpose by reading the license itself instead of having to goto an attorney or complain about it enough that you finally get a understandable answer from a Committee A Member. Of course reading statements about provisions not yet included in the public version of the GPL draft adds to this confusion. I read the article that was linked in this story submission and saw no mention to you actually saying " the GPLv3 would not allow companies to enter deals like this and continue to offer GPLv3 software." Yet the slashdot story submision says this exactly. Also, nowhere except from you personally have I seen anything regarding or suggesting the purposed change that is going to make the difference. This only adds to the confusion.

A committee takes root and grows, it flowers, wilts and dies, scattering the seed from which other committees will bloom. -- Parkinson