p2pnet.net News:- News of a Microsoft / Novell patent cross licensing and technical deal has generated a lot of excitement, but Nicholas Petreley doesn’t think it’s so great.
In fact, “Novell is jeopardizing the future of Linux for its own short-term rewards,” he declares in the Linux Journal.
“If you want to see Linux flourish, let alone survive after Novell’s five year deal with Microsoft expires, I suggest we make an alternative five year deal with Microsoft. In this case, our part of the deal is to spend the next five minutes, months, or years migrating away from every shred of Novell/SUSE software in our home, office, or enterprise.
Petreley says the Microsoft / Novell agreement, “stinks to high heaven” and by way of example, cites two contradictory statements:
Quote from the Novell FAQ on the agreement - “Novell makes no admission that its Linux and open source offerings infringe on any other parties’ patents.”
But how does that jibe with a quote from Microsoft general counsel Brad Smith, to wit?
“We addressed the proprietary issues through the net up-front payment. The open-source we addressed through the percentage of revenue.”
The percentage of revenue to Smith refers, “is Novell’s payment to Microsoft so Microsoft won’t sue SUSE customers for patent infringement,” says Petreley, going on:
“Wait. Didn’t we just read that no such infringements exist? If Novell is paying Microsoft a percentage of its revenue from sales of SUSE Linux as part of a covenant from Microsoft not to sue SUSE customers for patent infringement in open source code, then is this not a tacit admission that Novell’s Linux and open source offerings infringe on other parties’ patents, particularly Microsoft’s patents? How can one interpret this any other way? Why would Novell pay Microsoft not to sue its customers over patent infrigements Novell says do not exist?”
And, “if Novell is obliged to pay Microsoft a percentage of its revenue from Linux in order to prevent Microsoft from suing its customers based on patent infringements, how does this fail to break section 7 of the GPL?”
Furthermore, Petreley says, if Novell is guaranteeing customers a five-year immunity to patent lawsuits by Microsoft, what happens from year six onwards?
“I seem to recall Microsoft made five year (or similar length) deals with Sybase, Symantec, Corel, Borland, Citrix, and other companies that thrived before the deals only to be reduced to insignificant gnats afterward,” he declares.
“All of these deals involved giving the company a bundle of money and promising them they’d prosper. All of these companys were promptly discarded as partners once Microsoft gained what it needed to eliminate them as serious competition.”
But Petreley offers his own five year plan between Linux users and Microsoft as an alternative.
Novell/SUSE users and customers should wipe Novell/SUSE off their disks and install virtually any non-Novell/SUSE alternative in its place. Dump all MONO development for any of the many excellent alternatives, and abandon your investment in all Novell-based open or closed source tools. Ditch Evolution for one of the many great alternatives. Deep-six anything that has the smell of Novell/SUSE on it.
The Free Software Foundation lawyers should stop wasting its time trying to eradicate DRM through licenses that won’t get adopted or work, and spend their time enforcing the license that is already in widespread use. Take Novell to court over its violation of section 7 of the GPL. Force Novell to explain why it is paying Microsoft royalties to guarantee that Microsoft won’t sue its customers over patent infringements that do not exist.
Indeed, if, as the company claims, Novell/SUSE Linux and its Open Source software does not infringe on any Microsoft patents, then Microsoft should be brought up on charges of racketeering for asking Novell to pay money to prevent Microsoft from suing its customers.
By the end of this day, “SUSE Linux will no longer soil my hard drive,” says Petreley.
“I’m taking a stand. How about you?”
Linux Journal - A five year deal with Microsoft to dump Novell/SUSE, November 8, 2006