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Novell Proclaims 'We're Not SCO' and We Won't Sue 183

E5Rebel writes "Novell has promised not to sue anybody over the Unix copyrights that a US court last week ruled it owned. They said there was no Unix in Linux and now they are sticking by it. Perhaps they had no option, but Novell deserve praise for taking on the fight with SCO...."
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Novell Proclaims 'We're Not SCO' and We Won't Sue

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  • I believe them... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by chamont ( 25273 ) * <monty@fu l l> on Wednesday August 15, 2007 @11:08AM (#20236935) Homepage
    Ok, first let me say that I believe Novell when they say this. I think that they're so beaten up right now by the open source community, that they're going to be walking on eggshells for a long time. Plus they've learned their lesson...What's to gain? Not much, since there's not much of a case (if any) in the first place.

    A lot of people may not know that one of the reasons Caldera was started in the first place (SCO's parent) was that Ransom Love recuited a load of engineers to get Zen works to run on Linux. Internally, Novell rejected the idea after they saw a massively failed WordPerfect on Linux project, and thought they had better stay clear of alternative OS's for a while.

    Both companies being located in Utah county, there was heavy Novell influence in Caldera internally. In meetings (yes, I worked there for a couple of years), you would always here..."At Novell, we did it this way...". People would come in from or leave to Novell here and there. They were actually very passionate about open source. I even got a t-shirt shortly after the merger was announced, hinting that they'd be opening the source code to UnixWare (silly, huh).

    Anyway, once Caldera started all the layoffs after the dot-com boom and SCO merger, a good chunk of engineering ended up at Novell. They closed the German development office (Erlangen), and most of those fellows headed over to Suse.

    Then Novell bought Suse. Wow, funny how things come together. So yes, there are plenty of the same people working for Novell as were at SCO for a time, but as far as I can tell, it's mostly (or all) non-execs. Every guy I worked with was passionate about open source, and making the world a better place, etc.
  • by alexhmit01 ( 104757 ) on Wednesday August 15, 2007 @11:13AM (#20237019)
    Novell has shown themselves consistently to try to do the right thing 1) for their customers, 2) for open source in general, and 3) for their shareholders.

    They are constantly harassed by not being a "pure" open source company, but they have shown a tremendous dedication to working with the community on their Free Software. Their "deal" with Microsoft was an attempt to offer their customers something unique, the indemnification/license to protect them from Microsoft.

    They were attacked, because private citizens felt that nobody should offer that, that's silly. That was Novell working to offer a unique value proposition.

    When SCO turned on Linux, they COULD have hung other companies out to dry and claimed that as a unique advantage to Novell. They didn't. They defended the Free Software world against SCO.

    I think that Novell has been a remarkably good citizens in short order, and should be given more slack when they announce a program that is good for their customers but isn't hurting the general movement.

    If the Novell/MS deal gave Novell an edge than its because Linux IS infringing. If Linux isn't infringing, then their deal was nothing more than my promising not to sue you for using city roads, a meaningless offer. The attacks on them seemed unfair.
  • by Chandon Seldon ( 43083 ) on Wednesday August 15, 2007 @11:20AM (#20237109) Homepage

    Unix *is* open source. Between *BSD and Solaris, pretty much all the Unix code you might want is available. Seriously - what useful code is in some version of Unix that Novel may hold copyrights for that isn't in *BSD or Solaris?

  • by Spy der Mann ( 805235 ) <spydermann.slashdot@ g m> on Wednesday August 15, 2007 @11:22AM (#20237151) Homepage Journal
    Yes, but what license shall they choose? BSD? GPL?

    Let's assume they release it under GPL. What happens with the BSD-like OS's (including Mac OS X and beyond)? Will they have to adopt GPL, too? For this we would have to find out if they are indeed Unix derivative works and not just clean room implementations, and well, we really don't want to get into that, do we? So, I would choose to re-release Unix under the BSD license.
  • no option? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Lxy ( 80823 ) on Wednesday August 15, 2007 @11:30AM (#20237271) Journal
    Perhaps they had no option

    Novell has plenty of options here. They are in the same position as SCO right now. Novell holds the UNIX copyrights, and has a linux distro that is gaining market share. They could very easily start up the infringement train and force everyone to use SuSE linux as not to infringe on their IP. They could even sell indemnification licenses, at, oh, say $699 a pop.

    BUT THEY DIDN'T. Even though Novell is losing money left and right, and the target of much hostility in the community (for which I really don't understand), they have opted not to sue. They have the UNIX copyrights and have promised not to use them, in the best interest of the community. That's HUGE. Unlike the SCO case, Novell actually has the resources to put a stranglehold on the community. BUT THEY DIDN'T.

    Stop bashing Novell already. PLEASE.
  • Re:no option? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Chris Burke ( 6130 ) on Wednesday August 15, 2007 @11:42AM (#20237449) Homepage
    They could very easily start up the infringement train and force everyone to use SuSE linux as not to infringe on their IP. They could even sell indemnification licenses, at, oh, say $699 a pop.

    And... just like with SCO's retarded license, nobody with a brain would pay for it. And if they tried to enforce it against, say, IBM, then they would find themselves being beaten around by the Nazgul just like SCO was. And subject to many of the same counter-claims that SCO is.

    Unlike the SCO case, Novell actually has the resources to put a stranglehold on the community. BUT THEY DIDN'T.

    They DIDN'T because they CAN'T, because JUST like in the SCO case, there IS NO INFRINGING CODE IN LINUX. It's not about resources, as SCO had plenty thanks to MS. It's just that they DIDN'T HAVE A CASE. The ruling that SCO doesn't own UNIX copyrights has brought about a quicker end, but that doesn't change the fact that up to this point SCO hasn't produced a single piece of actual evidence of infringement, and Novell, were they to try, couldn't either because IT ISN'T THERE.

    So yes, let's all congratulate Novell for not going on a retarded suicide mission of a pointless lawsuit. Having an actual business that makes money, this would be stupid, and Novell isn't that stupid. I commend them for being in touch with reality.

    I mean, I don't really have anything bad to say about Novell. But when they say "Oh, we're not going to sue Linux users for infringing UNIX because we're nice guys" you need to look through the transparent PR and translate that as "because we would lose horribly".
  • by sumdumass ( 711423 ) on Wednesday August 15, 2007 @12:08PM (#20237751) Journal

    First, MSFT's mumblings about patents will likely go splat if a single MSFT voucher purchases a single copy of SuSE with GPLv3 code on it - at least for any patents covering those bits of code (I can imagine Samba w/ it's impending GPLv3 conversion wiping out plenty, if there are any).
    I think MS would proclaim that the voucher doesn't cover GPLv3 code since it wasn't a license when they sold them. But that isn't what is worrying me. MS can effectively silence Samba to nothing now that it is going into GPLv3. All they would have to do is wait until it is accepted, create a mini novel out of everyone who buys their software by placing a covenant not to sue that only goes to MS customers and their immediate customers and then offer a product sans the license or covenant for 10 times the cost. The GPL's anti Novell clause would kick in and basically stop anyone who purchased MS software after that happened from participating in any GPLv3 covered efforts. It would also create some fud where MS could say if you are going to use linux with MS software you need to buy X version of the software which costs 10 times as much (10x$700=$7990 for OEM 2003 servers now?) because of feature in the regular version that would place you in violation of the GPLv3 that linux er Samba is under.

    I hate to say it, But I think they have samba taken care of. And if the community decides for some reason that they won't enforce that part of the GPL, them all ms has to do is shoehorn some code into it and launch the complaints and lawsuits themselves. Maybe buyout someone who has contributed to the project in the past and have them lay claims to some copyright on code buried deep into it. Either way, it could damage both samba and the GPL.

    Besides - as long as it doesn't compromise FOSS and the GPL any? Why not at least attempt to embrace the Beast, extend the Beast, then extinguish the Beast? It'd be one Hell of an ironic way to shove MSFT into obscurity.
    I'm not sure that the community would destroy itself in the process. Look at how divided it is over Novell making a deal with MS in the first place. Now the GPLv3 is out and there is rifts there too. I think there are a lot of people associated with FOSS who are afraid of success too. It seems like every time there is a chance to go big they shoot themselves in the foot or something. It is almost like they want to be the underdog and need people workign against them in order to feel important or something.
  • by sumdumass ( 711423 ) on Wednesday August 15, 2007 @12:37PM (#20238119) Journal
    You have to watch moving something to GPLv3. Your taking on a whole lot of liability when doing so. Not only can you get busted for a patent that someone else owns, you have and extremely large amount of culpability in inferring that others had a right to use it.

    Not only could you get popped from a patent troll, they probably could increase the claimed damages because you represented it to others as yours as well as anyone else caught on it could likely come back to you for their losses. OR at least try anyways. With something like Unix under the GPLv3, I'm not sure how long and how many patents would need to be checked out first. It could possibly take decades looking for everything and making sure they had the rights to them.
  • Re:heh. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Kismet ( 13199 ) <> on Wednesday August 15, 2007 @06:38PM (#20242499) Homepage
    In spite of Groklaw's "diversification," SCO was and is PJ's bread and butter.

    SCO is the steaming turd-covered ax that killed Santa Claus. Other companies might sow more evil in this world than SCO has, but SCO is second to none at blackening its own reputation through sheer malicious, arrogant fraud. Nothing beats disparaging and ultimately claiming the work of others, especially when those others are admired volunteers whose work is considered world-class and is given away free-of-charge. SCO's was a classic betrayal, a spectacular public back-stabbing of sorts. Other companies do this, but not to a transparent community consisting of multiple millions of enthusiasts and volunteers who have a deep sense of ownership and pride. At least normal evil companies stick to plausible-sounding and white-washed evil; SCO picked the outrageous variety of twisted evil that doesn't fool anyone.

    So there is a huge attraction to the SCO case. People have a lot of interest in this legal spectacle, watching SCO languish. There is real emotion associated with SCO, and Groklaw feeds off of this.

    When SCO goes away, only PJ's core disciples will remain stalwart. Groklaw will continue, but the readership will decline. Few geeks really care about the details of these other cases, no matter how important they may prove to be (or how well PJ postures them). There just isn't the same level of emotion associated with other litigation.

  • Re:I believe them... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Wednesday August 15, 2007 @06:48PM (#20242609) Journal
    The original poster was claiming that Novell survives more on acquisitions than new products. You refuted this by claiming that they release:

    1. YaST
    ...which they bought when they bought SuSE.

    2. XGL/Compiz
    I believe this is a Novell-original. On the other hand it's little more than a neat proof-of-concept. Now has AIGLX support there is little need for XGL. Compiz is more of a demo than a useful application. Sun released a slightly more useful eye-candy-rich X server a few years back, but I don't think I've ever seen anyone use it.

    3. Ximian
    Ximian is a company that Novell bought. I hardly think it counts as a product they developed in-house...

    4. Mono
    Mono began as a Ximian product.

    5. Beagle 6. Bandit 7. iFolder
    Of these, I've heard of Beagle, and wouldn't admit to having written it if I had.

    These are some very bad examples. How about mentioning the fact that they are the second-largest contributor to after Sun, and are responsible for much of the MS Office compatibility work, for a start?

Marvelous! The super-user's going to boot me! What a finely tuned response to the situation!