Novell has this survey, where they basically ask you what your feelings are on their new partnership with Microsoft. As answer to “6. What do you think about this announcement?” I wrote quite an extensive message, which I have also emailed to Novell’s Novell Open Audio podcast by Ted Haeger and Erin Quill. I’ve decided to make it public, because I think it’s important for people to know how stupid this thing really is!
A wise man once said:
“He who would trade liberty for some temporary security, deserves neither liberty nor security”
I think this agreement is the stupidest thing Novell could have ever done as Linux company,. What in the world are you thinking?
This will have “A lot” of influence on my buying decisions in the future. As an everyday user of SUSE Linux, I will not purchase more SUSE Linux retail boxes, because I don’t want my money being reinvested into making threats, spreading FUD, and suing people writing open source software. Why do I believe this would be the case? Well the agreement Novell has made with Microsoft says that Novell will pay Microsoft a royalty, in the case of something in SUSE Linux infringing on their patents. What do you think that money, that are being given to Microsoft, will be used for? It’s gonna be used for their “Get the Facts”-campaign (Which I prefer to call “Get the FUD”), for lawyer bills for potential lawsuits against makers and users of open source software, and telling the classic lie “Windows is so much cheaper and better than Linux or FreeBSD” that everyone will believe because “Microsoft is saying it, so it must be true”.
Also, have you completely forgotten about the GNU General Public License? You know, that license you accept by distributing the Linux kernel and hundreds of of other programs that are under the GPL. While watching the webcast of the announcement, I clearly heard Steve Ballmer of Microsoft say, that it’s only SUSE Linux that will have this “patent protection”, this is a clear violation of the GPL.
Section 7 of the GPL says:
“If, as a consequence of a court judgment or allegation of patent infringement or for any other reason (not limited to patent issues), conditions are imposed on you (whether by court order, agreement or otherwise) that contradict the conditions of this License, they do not excuse you from the conditions of this License. If you cannot distribute so as to satisfy simultaneously your obligations under this License and any other pertinent obligations, then as a consequence you may not distribute the Program at all. For example, if a patent license would not permit royalty-free redistribution of the Program by all those who receive copies directly or indirectly through you, then the only way you could satisfy both it and this License would be to refrain entirely from distribution of the Program.
If any portion of this section is held invalid or unenforceable under any particular circumstance, the balance of the section is intended to apply and the section as a whole is intended to apply in other circumstances.
It is not the purpose of this section to induce you to infringe any patents or other property right claims or to contest validity of any such claims; this section has the sole purpose of protecting the integrity of the free software distribution system, which is implemented by public license practices. Many people have made generous contributions to the wide range of software distributed through that system in reliance on consistent application of that system; it is up to the author/donor to decide if he or she is willing to distribute software through any other system and a licensee cannot impose that choice.
This section is intended to make thoroughly clear what is believed to be a consequence of the rest of this License.”
Because of this, say Red Hat is to take OpenOffice.org from SUSE Linux, and put it into their upcoming Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5, if their customers are not protected from patent lawsuits like Novell’s customers are because of Novell’s agreement with Microsoft, then you violate the GPL. And since I heard Steve Ballmer say that the “patent protection” only applies to SUSE Linux, then this is a clear violation of the GPL.
I think Red Hat’s response to this, is very good: “Unthinkable”.
Please note that I do not currently use Red Hat or Fedora Core at all, I just happen to agree with them on this.
If you wanna give Novell your opinion on this issue, here’s the link for the survey: www.surveymonkey.com/s.asp?u=754462825527