Thursday, November 09, 2006

openSUSE and Microsoft

Last week Novell and Microsoft announced a cooperation. I'd like to write a bit about what the announcement means especially for openSUSE.

The announcement covers three areas:
  • A technical cooperation agreement were Novell and Microsoft will work together in the areas of virtualization, web services management and document format compatibility.
  • A patent cooperation.
  • A business cooperation between Novell and Microsoft
The business cooperation does not directly affect us at openSUSE at all.

The technical cooperation affects us in so far that the outcome of the work will end finally in the openSUSE distribution, e.g. the changes will go in the OpenOffice repository and then find its way into openSUSE. Far more important is that Microsoft and Novell do work together and will setup a research facility where experts from both companies will work together with customers and the community.

Under the technical cooperation Microsoft and Novell will work together to improve the interoperability of both Windows and Linux. Currently you can run Windows virtualized on Linux but the other way round is not working - now Microsoft and Novell will work together to support this. Additionally the virtualization support is going to be better optimized.

Most users have to exchange documents with people running Microsoft Windows. The collaboration on the filter for Office Open XML will ensure that this works smoothly for them. OpenOffice.org will continue to use Open Document Format by default and Novell will continue to invest in improving it.

I doubt that many of us will benefit from the Web services for managing physical and virtual servers. I find it interesting to see that Microsoft will develop tools to manage Linux systems.

For working together with each other and the community, there's one road block that Novell and Microsoft had to resolve - patents. The patent cooperation is controversial for many people. Note that I personally think that software patents in its current form are completely wrong and should all be invalid - but since they exist, we have to work with them somehow.

We have an internal intellectual property review process at openSUSE for quite some time already that checks all packages, this covers both contributions by internal and external developers. Due to this announcement, we will not change that process in any way at all. If our reviewers find packages that would infringe a patent they will take the necessary actions independent of who owns the patent. The normal way to handle a patent infringement is to find prior technology to invalidate the patents, rework the code to design around the infringement, or as last resort remove the functionality.

There's one exception where we do ship code that potentially infringes patents - and Red Hat seems to do the same thing in this example: If the patent is declared by a party to be completely open for any open
source software, like IBM gave a royalty free license for GPL software with some patents regarding register allocation in GCC and RCU in the Linux kernel, then we would consider allowing the code to go in.

We're also shipping code that we have contracted like the proprietary - closed source - RealPlayer where our contract with Real allows the distribution and RealPlayer contains as far as I'm aware licensed code.

We have basically two different groups that the patent cooperation addresses, customers and developers, so let's look separately at them:

A number of our potential customers had serious concerns that especially Microsoft would sue them if they use Linux code and Microsoft would claim patents are infringed by Linux code - as SCO sued Autozone and DaimlerChrysler as Linux users (not for patents but I think this is something that gave a bad example). With the new agreement, they can be sure that Microsoft will not sue them, even if Novell had shipped this code with their Linux distribution before.

Open source developers write code - and nobody can ever check all the patents that are out there. If they wrote code that infringed Microsoft's patents, then Microsoft could sue them, but due to the Novell/Microsoft agreement they are protected now. I still expect that the developers - once becoming aware of an infringement - change the code so that it can be freely distributed e.g. under the GPL.

The statement here is two-fold: Microsoft will not sue individuals - the patent pledge does not cover companies - that are either a) non-commercial developers, e.g. work in their spare time and not for
money or b) write code that ends in our SUSE Linux Enterprise distribution (this covers also individuals receiving money for their open source work). In the first case (non-commercial developer) this patent pledge is not revocable by Microsoft - unless the developer chooses to pursuse patent ligitation against Microsoft. This is a standard clause that can be found also in many open source licenses, one example is the "Open Software License".

Let me state clearly: We do not think that Novell's Linux distributions violate valid patents - but if they do, we do change the code to avoid or work around the patent. Meanwhile we have some means in place to protect customers and developers better. So, it's some kind of important insurance.

We did not expect that Microsoft would sue individuals. But who would have known a couple of years ago that the record industry is going after individuals downloading or copying music and driving them in bankruptcy. Therefore the agreements consider a promise not to sue.

Novell is a founding member of the Open Invention Network (OIN) which was formed to protect many commonly distributed open source and free software packages, including Linux, from legal attacks, no matter where an attack comes from. OIN provides coverage to the entire Linux industry by providing a form of retaliatory protection for Linux customers, developers and companies that might be targeted in patent litigation.

Novell is strongly committed to OIN and will continue in its support, we are one of the members that brought in a significant patent pool to protect Linux. The Novell/Microsoft agreement strengthens the protection of our customers.

I think that with this agreements between Novell and Microsoft the intellectual property situation is not worse than before - for some users and developers the status quo has not changed and for others it is improved.

Microsoft is historically the arch-enemy of Linux. So, is this "sleeping with the enemy", "Novell selling out" - or a 180 degree turn of Microsoft? I think all of us fear Microsoft and therefore are very cautious about every step they do. I'm interested whether this is a first step in a new direction and others will follow - or just a trap? Microsoft is still competition and both Novell and Microsoft state this. But they want to make Linux and Windows work together seamlessly so that the customer is not the looser in this competition (see the technical cooperation). Microsoft is facing for some time an image problem, investigation from the EU lawyers about monopolistic behaviour and faces competition from Oracle and Google - one can only guess what has brought this change in direction by Microsoft.

So, let us continue to work as before and build the finest distribution - and beat Microsoft Windows ;-)

38 comments:

Noniko said...

Hi! I appreciate this post of yours very much. I will let japanese users know about it as much as I can.
Because I am interested in Xen, using Windows in Linux is a matter of strong interest. My experience may show it's not a joke but a very procuctive matter.

pipitas said...

Andreas,

your statement "In the first case (non-commercial developer) this patent pledge is not revocable by Microsoft" didn't quite convince me.

Why?

Because I checked back with what Microsoft in fact did write in their reassurance document. This document is to be found on their website: http://www.microsoft.com/interop/msnovellcollab/community.mspx. This document has two separate sections:

---> "Microsoft’s Patent Pledge for Individual Contributors to openSUSE.org"
---> "Microsoft’s Patent Pledge for Non-Compensated Developers"

The first "pledge" (meant for "individual contributors to openSUSE.org", included paid contributors) does contain these sentences: "Microsoft reserves the right to terminate and revoke this pledge to You [...]" and "Microsoft further reserves the right to terminate this pledge and revoke this pledge to You [...]". In my book, this clearly can not be described as "not revocable" (as you do).

The second "pledge" (meant for "non-compensated developers") does contain this sentences: "Microsoft further reserves the right to prospectively update and revise the terms of this pledge [...]". Again, in my book, a pledge that can be "revised" clearly can not be described as "not revocable" (as you do).

It is beyond me how you could make such statements in public. I assume, this is what the Novell lawyers (or maybe even the Microsoft lawyers), or some internal briefing document from your employer explained to you, and you may have taken it on good trust. Please check and re-check again.

And while you are at it, please check the following additional contradiction:

---> Microsoft's version carries this headline: "An Open Letter to the Community from Novell"
---> Novell's version carries this headline: "Joint letter to the Open Source Community -- From Novell and Microsoft"

Why do the 2 companies (or their lawyers) disagree about what this important document really is? A common document, signed by both, or a Novell-only one??

Look, Andreas: I'm not a lawyer, not even a paralegal -- only a juridical layman. Why should I trust these highly paid lawyers, if they can't even get their act together in simple questions that I can check with my own brain and knowledge?

Cheers,
Kurt

Andreas Jaeger said...

Kurt,

I'm not a lawyer but looking at the pledge for "Non-Compensated Developers" I see (and I only meant that one in my text):

"Microsoft reserves the right to terminate and revoke this pledge to You, as of the date granted, if You or an entity that You control asserts a patent infringement claim against a Microsoft product, service or technology.".

And that's what I'm saying: "In the first case (non-commercial developer) this patent pledge is not revocable by Microsoft - unless the developer chooses to pursue patent ligitation against Microsoft.".

The second part that you cite from "Reservation of Rights" does AFAIU allows changes but not a complete revocation. Hope the lawyers agree with this interpretation. The open letter that you mention also says: "Novell has secured an irrevocable promise from Microsoft to allow individual and non-commercial contributors", so I do not cite any internal information but what's written up there.

I agree with you completely that the wording on the Microsoft side is not as good as it should be and the title of the open letter is different, I'll bring this to the attention of my colleagues.

Andreas

Jeff said...

Hello Andreas.

I'm somewhat unfamiliar with Novell, so please can you clarify in what capacity you are qualified to speak for the company?

As a corollary, can you make a commitment that the code contributions from MS and/or Novell are going to be as extensively audited by openSUSE as code from any other source including yourselves?

I also have a couple of questions related to MS's conduct and the "covenant not to sue".

You raise the point that the RIAA (and as it happens, its British equivalent) have been suing customers for illegal downloads of music products, and that in view of that, Novell ensured that MS would not sue Novell customers who use SUSE Linux products that violate patents.

But surely these are quite separate issues; if, for example, I download music illegally, I can be prosecuted; but if artist X steals a melody, song, sample or other copyrighted work of artist Y, I as a customer am not liable to a lawsuit for owning that work of artist X's.

Thirdly, by what legal mechanism compatible with the GPL can MS promise not to sue (a) Novell's customers and (b) Linux developers NOT paid by organizations other than Novell for use of code involved in patent violations, but leave open the possibility of suing customers and paid developers of other Linux companies? There is mucho confusion over whether this means Novell can be sued as well.

Thanks,

Jeff.

G said...

Let us take a closer look at Novell's FAQ...

"Novell makes no admission that its Linux and open source offerings infringe on any other parties' patents."


Now a closer look at Microsoft's General Counsel Brad Smith...

"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 which Brad Smith is talking here is Novell's payment to M$ so that M$ will not sue any SUSE customers because of some patent infringements.

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 infringements Novell says do not exist?

I see 2 answers to this...

1) There is no M$ patent infringement in SUSE and/or Linux. Novell is just spreading FUD here.

2) There *are* some patent infringements in Novell's SUSE product and Novell is refusing to admit it in its FAQ

Lets us see what Section 7 of the GPL has to say about that

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.


Or, in other words just like Eben Moglen, attorney of the FSF explains it

"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."


Obviously, the GPL is the reason why Novell must go on record with the assertion that neither Linux nor its other open source offerings infringe upon any Microsoft patents. To say otherwise would be to admit Novell is violating the GPL.

However, if its assertions were true, there would be no reason to pay Microsoft royalties on the sales of Linux and open source products in order to protect its customers from patent infringement lawsuits. Here, Novell's actions speak much louder than its empty words. No, Brad Smith's words speak even louder, because his statement is pretty clear that Novell is paying royalties to Microsoft in order to prevent Microsoft from suing its customers. Once again, we must conclude that one of the two explanations above must be true. Only in this case, either Novell is paying Microsoft FUD money, or Novell is violating the GPL.

For five full years, Microsoft says it will promote SUSE. For five years, Novell will guarantee its customers immunity to patent lawsuits by Microsoft.

What happens after the five years pass? 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. 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.

Microsoft has once again suckered a company. It dangled pretty, shiny short-term gains in front of Novell/SUSE while, at worst, planning their long-term extinction, at best, planning to use the success of Novell/SUSE to bleed its customer base. If Novell/SUSE becomes the king of Linux in five years, you can bet Microsoft will send its thugs over to Novell and raise its "no-sue covenant" protection payments through the roof. I see no reason to think Microsoft has morphed into a kinder gentler thug.

Bye, bye SUSE, it was a nice ride with you but from now on it's all going down. Thank God I have Fedora Core here

Jeff said...

Whoops, forgot something! Sorry.

It would be nice if MS would fully endorse the totality of the... I'm trying to find a less .../suggestive/ word than "claims"... Novell is making in its FAQ. As I understand it they aren't singing from the same songbook. This is a bit worrying.

Thanks again,

Jeff.

pipitas said...

Andreas,

thanks for responding (at good last, someone is responding.... *sigh*). I am really glad about it and appreciate it.

"[....] allows changes but not a complete revocation. Hope the lawyers agree with this interpretation."

If, one time, the sh*te should ever hit the fan, it's more important that the *judges* in charge, not the lawyers, do agree with that...

In any case, that thingie is far more ambiguous than it should be. (And even if it is very clear in law-speak, it is still very unclear to the typical developer, who does not want to waste too much time with such papers .... and that is what counts on the "market", isn't it? This is the reason why there now is so much widespread mistrust against Novell, and the published documents do not help much to counter that....)

OK, let's just assume that the pledge made to "individual contributors of openSUSE" indeed is irrevocable. I, as a juridical layman do still find lots of obvious loopholes in the wording (written by the world's best lawyers money could buy for Microsoft -- which means these holes are there on purpose!)

To me it looks like Microsoft's "peace of mind" pledge is utterly worthless for Free and Open Source Software contributions that go outside of openSUSE. Why do I think so? Because lawyers, if they are ever sent against me, will of course look out for loopholes they can use against me. Looking with a juridical layman's knowledge to that ominous "pledge", I can quickly and easily identify a few traps and loopholes. Look yourself:

Microsoft can, according to the letter of that document, still sue me for infringing one of their supposed software patents, if....

....if I submit my code not as an individual contributor, but have worked as part of a team (Extreme Programming, anyone?), of a corporation, of a partnership or of another legal entity;
....if I distribute my code to RedHat, Fedora, Gentoo, Debian, Ubuntu, Samba, Apache, Gnome, KDE..., (just about anyone else but openSUSE.org!);
....if I submit my code not directly to openSUSE.org (but rather indirectly);
....if I submit my code to openSUSE.org, but Novell never includes it in either SUSE Linux, SUSE Linux Enterprise Server or SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop (these 3 products, and no other, are explicitely named);
....if I submit my code to openSUSE.org, but Novell has not yet included it in SL, SLES or SLED;
....if I submit my code to openSUSE.org, but Novell includes it in a product different from SL, SLES or SLED;
....if I submit my code to openSUSE.org, but Novell decides to rename their SL, SLES or SLED products;
....if someone else has contributed to my code and I miss to build my version directly on top of a SL, SLES or SLED version (which I supposedly need to buy???);
....if I submit my contribution to openSUSE.org, and it is not program source code (but f.e. artwork, documentation, whatever...);
....if MS lawyers come up with an updated text of their Patent Pledge designed to open even more rabbit holes;
....if MS or Novell terminate their partnership.

Isn't this pledge a highly suspicious one with all these loopholes, and the time limit until January 1st, 2012?

[BTW, this whole pledge is completely "anti-community" in its desperate attempt to define open source software development as "hobbyist" and driven by "individual contributors". We all know that the idea of community, sharing etc. is par and parcel of FOSS development...]

Cheers & thanks again for responding & also for taking these contradictionary document headings up,
Kurt

pipitas said...

Andreas,

my last comments regarding the Microsoft "Patent Pledges" were written from the perspective of a contributor to FOSS software.

Let me add a few more. This time from the perspective of a [potential or existing] Novell customer.

Let’s look at my own employer’s future wellbeing. What will happen to my boss (and my employer company), if I convince him to “bet the farm” on Novell/SUSE? Let’s assume, he trusts my suggestions, and goes along with a shared+mixed Microsoft/Novell software strategy. Let’s assume all goes really well for the next five years.

Then comes 2012. Microsoft decides to not continue today’s hyped partnership with Novell, and it terminates all agreements. Consider, just for a short moment, the ramifications for my employer, if your current partnership is divorced after 5 years.

Meanwhile...

....our company has built its IT infrastructure around SUSE and Novell Enterprise servers, containing Microsoft “Intellectual Property” (software-patented!, officially acknowledged in writing and "paid for" by our SUSE Linux OS vendor!);
....our company has built its office process workflow around OpenOffice.org, using Ecma Office Open XML as its core file format;
....our company has built all its “in-house use only”, as well as its GPL-released+gratis, as well as publically sold software products around Mono.

Now, in 2012, all of a sudden,...

....we are told our protection from Microsoft patent claims has just gone poof; all future SL, SLED or SLES upgrades are in a legal limbo; creating or modifying our business documents in the Office Open XML format is similarly standing on shaking ground;
....likewise, our Microsoft patent protection governing our future use of Samba and Mono has imploded (like the 3 WTC Towers [buildings 1,2 and 7] on 9/11);
....and at once, we realize we can only continue to receive our Microsoft patent protection by switching immediately to MS Windows, MS Office, and MS .NET,
....having started in 2007 to build our IT infrastructure around SuSE, Novell OOo, Novell Mono, and Novell Samba has made us a victim of Microsoft vendor lock-in tactics.

Can you understand these worries? How should I respond to them?

Cheers,
Kurt

Andreas Jaeger said...

Jeff, this is a private blog. I'm working for Novell as project lead for the openSUSE distribution.

My comparison with the record industry was on the effect that a big company goes after a single individual and forces her/him into bankruptcy. The legal charges are different but the effect on the individual would be the same.

From my personal understanding of the GPL and of the deal: If code infringes valid patents and therefore the code cannot be distributed, then *nobody* can distribute it. But on the other hand Microsoft cannot sue the individual or the user. This is what I meant with "I still expect that the developers - once becoming aware of an infringement - change the code so that it can be freely distributed e.g. under the GPL.".

Andreas Jaeger said...

g, there's a third possibility as well: Microsoft could be infringing Novell's patents.

I doubt that Microsoft has suckered Novell - but I agree, let's see what comes out of it.

Enjoy Fedora - and let us fight together to make Linux excellent!

Andreas Jaeger said...

Kurt, I'm not the only one responding. There have been quite lively discussions on the opensuse-project and the opensuse mailing lists (see http://lists.opensuse.org). We even had last week a Q and A session about this as part of our bi-weekly IRC meeting and had Nat Friedman and Kurt Garloff attending and answering. We're planning to repeat this session so that more people can attend and raise their questions and comments.

If the deal ends, you're not worth than you have been ten days before. If you buy a product like SLES10 until 31st December 2011, then you're save even if you use it afterwards, Microsoft cannot sue you as customer for those (see "For specific copies of Covered Products distributed by Novel for Revenue before the end of the Term, the foregoing covenant shall apply as to all Covered Patents, including Captured Patents."). If we release, say SLES42, on 2nd January 2012, then it would not be covered under the patent pledge.

Besides, Novell is part of the OIN and will continue to invest there.

Yes, the pledge has loopholes and needs lots of improvements. It nevertheless might make in a few cases the situation better. Note that I did never say that you should infringe valid patents, my statement is that such code needs to be reworked. We will at openSUSE not accept knowingly code that covers valid patents.

Kurt, I understand your worries completely, I'm long enough part of the open source community. I just think that all of what you fear could happen in 2012 could have happened already in 2006...

pipitas said...

Andreas,

thanks for addressing part of my concerns. I take it now, that basically my list of potential loopholes in the "patent pledge for individual contributors to openSUSE.org" is valid.

My other posting had addressed the topic of "guarantees for potential or real customers who buy and use Novell products [like SLES, SLED, Novell Mono, Novell Ooo, Samba....]."

However, my naming of SLES/SLED products was in the context of *upgrades* after Jan 1, 2012. I take it then that this MS pledge is not really very compelling to base a change of IT strategy on with its 5 year expiration. I still run some risk in relying on it when building new IT infrastructures around Novell Linux. [And I personally think, that risk is not considerably lower and my "peace of mind" is not more solid than if I used Debian, Ubuntu, Redhat or whatever...]

So what's left? What *could* make Novell's offering more attractive than other Linux vendor's (assuming one would not be overly concerned about the GPL/community issues we already discussed)? It is "merely" the potential technical advantages that may lay in SUSE, the technological superiority for mixed environments that could come from the Novell:Microsoft cooperation. What goodies will indeed be delivered in this field, however, remains to be seen over the next few months...

I note that you avoided my more specific questions and refrained from temptations to try + give me any assurances about f.e. "betting the farm on Mono as a development platform" for our software. (This is not meant as a criticism of you; I appreciate your honesty here; I guess it's just not possible to be more specific without endangering one's future reputation).

All the best,
Kurt

Andreas Jaeger said...

G, one further comment:
We don't pay for Microsoft's patents, but our payments are for killing the FUD that has been such a bad effect on some potential customers.

And if you look at the payments: Microsoft pays us more than we do pay them.

Andreas Jaeger said...

Kurt, I did not check all the loopholes you mentioned but looked only at the general line. I do hope that the Microsoft pledges are clarified and updated - and would expect some FAQ explaining them. Let's then double check whether you're right or not.

Our deal has three parts: Business, Technology and Patents. The technology part is the far more interesting one since interoperability is really important and the deal will help with corporations in a few critical areas. I expect that this part of the deal will help everybody - not only Novell customers.

I do think that the patent pledge is a step forward - but each company has to decide on its own whether that is an extra selling point or not. I know that some customers do like to have this. And I hope that for customers switching from Windows to Linux, they consider this - and other recent developments like the endorsement by Oracle - an important step forward to consider switching to Linux.

Coming back to your comment on Mono: A few years ago people might have feared a lockin of Java but do not fear this anymore. Mono is really interesting if you switch from Windows.

But if you start developing from scratch, then Mono is one alternative besides others. I was quite surprised when my colleague told me a couple of days ago that he just managed to get the KDE4 Solitaire version building and running under Windows.

collegue_of_p said...

andreas jaeger says:

"We don't pay for Microsoft's patents, but our payments are for killing the FUD that has been such a bad effect on some potential customers."

"And if you look at the payments: Microsoft pays us more than we do pay them."


----------

That last fact is sort of funny, isn't it? Especially in the context you put it into :-)

Let's see once more:

1. Novell pays to Microsoft (the master FUD-er par excellence!) some petty cash to kill the FUD that damaged Novell's business. And Microsoft accepts that payment, and even pledges to help stop the FUD, at least this specific type of FUD...

2. And in turn, Microsoft pays to Novell some grand cash for.... for.... for.... for what?? Also for stopping FUD? Its own FUD, hitting poor Microsoft all the time??

Muahaha-Hahaha.... tell me the next one now. Your employer and you're pretty good at it. :-)


-----------
Disclaimer: I do not envy Novell at all for getting lots of $$$$ out of Microsoft. On the contrary, I commend them for this renewed coup. After all, Novell is the company that has a success history of wrenching serious payments from Microsoft for quite some time. I'm just not buying their story as to what the real reasons behind this latest deal are.

pipitas said...

colleague_of_p,

you're expressing my own thoughts as well :-)

In fact, I even mentioned similar ideas last night in my own blog ("If Novell and Microsoft were in the car production and sales business....").


Andreas,

that info about the KDE4 Solitaire ("kpat", right?) now being working on Windows is extremely interesting. I hope it is available for download sometime soon...

But you are not saying that Microsoft will ship that little KDE gem now in Vista, are you? :-)

Cheers,
Kurt

G said...

Enjoy Fedora - and let us fight together to make Linux excellent!

Andreas, I'm not abandoning SUSE Linux at the moment, it is still my favorite distro. I just installed Fedora (with KDE!) because I'm curious. And I don't think that SUSE should fight with Fedora (SUSE will always win, that's for sure) but, if it's possible, they should work closely together. Since when did Linux start to fight against Linux? I know they are competitors, but they should work together and I can tell you that Fedora needs a lot of work on the KDE side compared to the excellent support in SUSE

G said...

oh, maybe I interpreted your comment the wrong way, hehehe

segedunum said...

Currently you can run Windows virtualized on Linux but the other way round is not working - now Microsoft and Novell will work together to support this.

So being able to do exactly this thing under VMware, that people have been doing for years, is a myth?

G said...

Andreas,

I have one more question. I've been browsing the various SUSE forums out there and discussing with others this deal between Novell & M$. I see that there are some people out there that are calling to fork SUSE if something bad happens.
Is this a possibility and is this even doable?

Thanks

o2se3tak said...

Shouldn't we abandon SUSE?

After the recent fiasco generated by Novell getting into an agreement with Microsoft and the whole Open Source Community planning to fight Novell both in and outside the court, will it be sensible to shift over to another Linux distribution? There are other distributions that are as good or better that SUSE so which will be best one to migrate to?

Andreas Jaeger said...

Let me answer to a couple of comments that have been made:

kpat is indeed the package name of the KDE4 Solitaire and I expect all
changes needed to make it work to got ot the KDE subversion. I'm not
saying that Microsoft will ship it, I'm just pointing out that there
are a couple of cross-platform development solutions.

G, there's always competition between distributions and I think that is fruitfulll for all of us. I agree fighting against Fedora is wrong but I meant fighting with Fedora - as in standing besides each other - together against Microsoft.

Segedunum, you can do a lot more with para-virtualized installations than you can do with VMware.

G, doing a fork of the openSUSE distribution is possible. You can grab all the packages, rip of the branding and start your own distribution. Once our build service is up, we might even help you with doing your private distribution. I don't like to see such a fork happen but legally there should be no real problem doing it.

o2se3tak, I'm against abanding SUSE but you have the choice to do so. There are a couple of interesting and good distributions besides openSUSE but which one is the best for you is a personal choice that I cannot make for you.

Andreas

Neil said...

Microsoft have no regard for the end user with the quality & integrity of software they produce.

The majority of PC buyers whether it be because of ignorance or laziness have been led like sheep to accept a second rate, vulnerable & weak OS

Do you seriously believe anything they say ?

This is a bad move for Novell and openSUSE should regain it's independance from Novell if it persists with this nonsense.

richard(kc9foh) said...

Well I being a lowly user of opensuse. I am going to give these two companies a chance before running my mouth too far. Granted Microsoft doesn't have too good of track record. The market has changed they are not the only ones with products that companies use. They tried to fight it didn't work. I think they are trying harder in their own way to work closer with Linux and Open source community. At the same time of trying to protect themselves. If all would look at this deal closer, This is a defensive move. This could mean many things. One it could mean they infringed on the GPL and they got caught by Novell. Nobody has looked at that one have they. So Novell forced Microsoft's hand. Second, Customers saying hey MS give us a solution to a mixed environment or were going with Linux only. Third, They are scarred no matter what MS does Linux keeps coming(unlike others in the past that just gave up). These three could be many of the reasons that nobody has even considered. Thank you.

Andreas Jaeger said...

Pipitas, regarding the different titles of the letter, please read:

http://blogs.msdn.com/jasonmatusow/archive/2006/11/07/joint-or-separate-the-content-matters.aspx
.

pipitas said...

Andreas,

thanks. Jason Matusow emailed me a on Saturday to point me to his blog.

Also the difference in the headline has gone now. I noticed, that meanwhile the MS website has changed its title to the same one as the Novell website. Now it reads "Joint Letter to the Open Source Community -- From Microsoft and Novell" on both.

Rafael said...

As a supporter of Linux in General and OpenSUSE in particular I'm dismayed at this news.

I can not in any way continue to support Novell and this end run around the GPL. I've removed openSUSE from my laptop and over the next two weeks will be removing it from our production servers.

Steve said...

Suse, and now opensuse has been my favorite distro since 9.0 was released. I was greatly anticipating 10.2 in December. However, since hearing the news of the ms, novell deal, I have been forced to remove suse from my personal desktop and 2 production servers.

I have no stomach for those who want to "wait and see" if ms will continue to behave the same way they have for the last 20 + years.

How many examples do we need ?? When has ms ever acted ethically ?? when have they ever helped anyone but themselves ??

No, I cannot support in any way the attempted subversion of the OSS community for a few golden coins. judas would be proud. Novell should be ashamed.

GN said...

Andreas,

Could you please explain why you don't want to see the openSUSE distro forked?

Thanks

Arcom said...

This deal is a great partnership for not only Microsoft and Novell, but also the consumer, and should bring together the benefits of proprietary and open source software once and for all. The consumer wins and I think it’s a fresh outlook to a age old problem.

Andreas Jaeger said...

gn, I would prefer to have one openSUSE distribution instead of an openSUSE one and a fork - or only a fork.

I don't see what a fork would bring besides politics.

Darren said...

Andreas,
Regardless of Novell's actions being good or bad, I see no reason to stop supporting openSuSE.

I, like you, would not wish to see SuSE get forked, this would only lead to dilution and harm SuSE.

As for the comments made about immediately removing openSuSE from their computers, I find this behaviour a little childish. Nothing has actually transpired yet, and what good will it do attacking openSuSE? Surely the "correct" response (for the want of a better word) would be to not purchase any further Novell products, not harm the community side of the distribution.

IMHO SuSE is the best of breed within the Linux camp, and I for one will continue supporting it regardless of this deal.

Regards,
Darren

dwmoar said...

It appears as if this agreement that Microsoft has is full of more holes than there is on a golf course. I am sorry, but I wouldn't trust MicroSoft at anything, especially their word. One only has to look at their past actions to see their future actions. It is really hard to trust any company that speaks with a forked tongue. With one hand they shake yours and with their other hand they wield a knife to stab you in the back. Be weary, be very weary.

HW_Hack said...

Let me first say that I had 16yrs at Intel as a senior HW developer. And even a large and aggressive company like Intel was always very - very careful in any dealings with M$. This is because M$ always has an agenda and their methods can be summed up as ADC (Aquire - Dominate - Crush).

In fact right now Steve Ballmer is using the Novell deal as a wedge and driving it into the Open Source Community - indemnify - indemnify - indemnify. You are at legal risk if you don't "sign" a "deal" with
M$. Basically using Novell as a hammer to drive the wedge of legal fear into businesses or governments considering moving to linux.

I don't mean this post to be a flame-job -- just a summary of M$ past actions and their current activities.

After trying several linux distros I was blown away by SUSE 10.1 - it was great. You guys do great work -- but until all this shakes out SUSE goes to the bottom of my list on distros I use or reccomend to clients.

My advice ... go into your backups and take a version of SUSE prior to the Novell deal and create new fork of "truly free" SUSE and start developing that on the side .... you may want that in the future.

g said...

Andreas,

To your last answer on my "fork question". I don't think it's only about politics here. MS saw for the past 5 years or so that it's losing market share to Linux in the enterprise market (and it will continue to lose). Now that they have a deal with one of the major companies that are involved in Enterprise Linux, they can use it to split the FOSS community in two. On one side you'll have the commercial FOSS developers who will be "protected" by this agreement between Novell & MS. On the other side you'll have the non-commercial guy who is contributing to the FOSS community but is not "protected" by MS in any way.

That is what MS is looking for. Once they split the FOSS community in two, which they are trying to do that right now using their contract with Novell to spread FUD that they can sue you if you don't use SUSE products, it will be much easier for them to control the commercial side of Linux trough Novell's SLES/SLED products. When they accomplish this, they can stab Novell by breaking the contract thus making it very easy to enforce their patents if Novell decides to insert some MS code into their products during the contracts period.

I just fail to see how this deal could be good for Novell or the FOSS community in general

Greets from Belgium

David said...

ok first of all, I don't want opensuse to become like windows and second world of war craft has nothing to do with this topic

andros said...

novel and openSuSE should be banned from the community. it would be adequate and teach people not to try break the community.

Keith said...

Ok I am new to Linux and recently installed openSUSE 11.4 KDE--glady thought I was totally free from M$.

Then I found this forum. I see it dates back as far as 2006.

Someone stated "Isn't this pledge a highly suspicious one with all these loopholes, and the time limit until January 1st, 2012?"

So what has happened up until now between M$ and Novell?

Is there a review online of what has taken place?

Should I stay with openSUSE or go with something else, say Pardus?

Thanks