More Updates on the Novell and Microsoft Deal

Eben Moglen, a lawyer for the Free Software Foundation, remarks that the new deal may violate Section 7 of the GPL! So now you see that the stakes in the GPLv3 talks are very high! The GPLv2 may indeed be our saviour against Microsoft’s tyranies, but more on that momentarily! Mr. Moglen specifically comments:

“If you make an agreement which requires you to pay a royalty to anybody for the right to distribute GPL software, you may not distribute it under the GPL,” Moglen told CNET Thursday. Section 7 of the GPL “requires that you have, and pass along to everybody, the right to distribute software freely and without additional permission.”

And, it seems that Microsoft wants to play the role of the mafia, asking for money to protect other Linux distros against being sued by MS for violating patents. “You might want to buy our ‘insurance policy’, it’s a dangerous town,” he would say in a gangster movie. In reality he said:

“If a customer says, ‘Look, do we have liability for the use of your patented work?’ Essentially, If you’re using non-SUSE Linux, then I’d say the answer is yes,”


Competing Linux vendors “are certainly welcome to get involved to quickly provide these covenants not to sue,”

Both quotes courtesy of this eWeek article.

On Open Sources, Matt Assay points out:

  • Microsoft wasn’t going to sue Novell, anyway.
    A little remarked, but still true fact is that Novell has long held patents that go to the heart of Microsoft’s Office business. Whatever saber rattling Microsoft might do about Linux, it knows that Novell has a great “counter argument.” This announcement was little more than public acknowledgment of an uneasy truce. And it’s a truce that helps Red Hat as much as it does Novell..

  • The patent protection applies to Red Hat, whatever Ballmer might say. Specifically, he said:

    “Novell is acting as a proxy for its customers, and only its customers. If they (businesses) want patent peace and interoperability, then they’ll have to look to Suse Linux.”

    Given that most of the code in SUSE Linux is (gasp!) exactly the same as in Red Hat Enterprise Linux, it’s hard to see what lawsuit Microsoft could launch against Red Hat (or Ubuntu, or Debian, or….) that wouldn’t land on Novell’s SUSE Linux, as well. So they won’t. It’s a clever gimmick, but only that.

Finally, in this article, Red Hat expresses frustration and anger over Novell selling their soul.

So, this should tell you a few very important things!

1) Licenses are a PITA, but they are necessary! Without the GPL, we’d be sunk! The choice of the license matters too, as a BSD license would not have offered this level of protection.

2)Microsoft’s racketeering should prove, once and for all, that Microsoft is pure evil – just like a mafia! Gates, with his foundation, may be a nice guy, but the company he co-founded is seriously lacking in any kind of ethics or morals. They truly disgust me. Of course, they funded the SCO case, so what could you expect?

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2 responses to “More Updates on the Novell and Microsoft Deal”

  1. I see you’re reeling in shock, too. While as long as the rest of us are careful, this won’t swamp Linux’s boat, I think Novell’s days are numbered. The majority of the FOSS community is collectively calling for tar and feathers.

    I’m still too spaced out to say anything intelligent about this. It’s been a long week of having a cold, Halloween, elections, and having a killer deadline on a writing project, with this MS-Novell bombshell dropped in the middle of it. Is it all a dream? Auntie Emm, is that you?

  2. I just hope that, at best, nothing bad happens and, at worst, Novell dies. I don’t want to see this take down the whole thing. (Which it won’t) Or set things too far back like what happened when ReactOS was accused of having reverse engineered code.