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Sunday, November 19, 2006

An initial conclusion on the Novell-Microsoft deal

For a while now I have been thinking about where I am on the Novell - Microsoft deal. Just ran across this article titled "Why I'm sticking with Novell's Linux desktop". Since Stephen was saying it as well or better than I can here it is ...
"Opinion -- Someone just asked me whether, now that Novell's become buddies with Microsoft, I'll be turning away from Novell/SUSE as one of my favorite Linux distributions. My answer is no. I'm sticking with SUSE Linux on both my desktops and servers. Here's why.

First, like many of you, I do think that Novell's deal with Microsoft is a mistake. While in the short run, I think the deal will be good for Novell. It will, after all, get its Linuxes into shops that would otherwise turn up their noses at anything without Windows in the title. In the long run, I can't think of a single software company that has ever done well in an alliance with Microsoft. Can you?

The deal also enables Microsoft to wield the FUD (fear, uncertainty, doubt) of patent lawsuits against the other Linux companies. Like its client company SCO once tried to do with SCOsource, Microsoft is asking other companies for royalties to cover IP (intellectual property) that it may not actually own.

Remember though, that SCOsource fell flat on its face. Except for Microsoft and Sun -- funny those two, eh? -- no one ever paid SCO any significant amount for SCOsource IP. I doubt very much that Microsoft will do any better.

In any case, that's Microsoft's business -- not Novell's. Recall, if you will, that the original study that showed that Linux potentially violates 283 software patents was written by Dan Ravicher, an attorney, executive director of PUBPAT (Public Patent Foundation), and an open-source supporter.

At the time, many people took this as an attack on Linux. That fire quickly died down as it became clear what Ravicher was actually doing. I wonder if that will prove to be the case with Novell as well.

In other words, before throwing out the baby of a great Linux distribution with the bathwater of open-source political correctness, I want to see how Novell's role in all this plays out.

Let me remind you that, both SLES (SUSE Linux Enterprise Server) and SLED (SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop) are both superb commercial Linuxes. In addition, openSUSE is one heck of a strong community Linux distribution. While I can say good things about many Linux desktop distributions -- MEPIS and Freespire both spring to mind -- for me, you simply can't find a better business Linux desktop today than SLED.

I like the KDE 3.5.5 interface. I like -- now that's it's finally fixed -- the easy YAST update system. And, I like the combination of powerful and up-to-date software programs like Evolution,, GAIM, and Firefox.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again. What I like isn't proprietary or open-source software. What I like is software that works, and works well. And, by that pragmatic yardstick, SLED is still the desktop to beat, in my book."

-- Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols
Now will Novell get busy and push out Firefox 2 for SLES10 and SLED10!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Sun explains why it choose GPL for Java

and reading what Jonathan Schwartz says it seems that the Novell - Microsoft agreement did have something to do with their decision. From his blog:
"And in closing, I want to put one nagging item to rest.

By admitting that one of the strongest motivations to select the GPL was the announcement made last week by Novell and Microsoft, suggesting that free and open source software wasn't safe unless a royalty was being paid. As an executive from one of those companies said, "free has to have a price."

That's nonsense.

Free software can be free of royalties, and free of impediments to broadscale, global adoption and deployment. Witness what we've done with Solaris, and now, what we've done with Java. Developers are free to pick up the code, and create derivatives. Without royalty or obligation.

Those that say open source software can't be safe for customers - or that commercially indemnified software can't foster community - are merely advancing their own agenda. Without any basis in fact.

They're also fighting a rising tide."
As someone who has constantly criticized Sun I have to offer my congrats to them for doing the right thing. Now if they could put together an multi-processor opteron box at a sane price point I could reward them with some buisness.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Sun, a player in the Novell - Microsoft agreement?

A bit of interesting speculation about the implications of Sun's different options to Open Source Java and how their choice effects the Novell - Microsoft agreement:
Bradley Kuhn rips Microsoft’s patent pledge to shreds. But should we be surprised?
Will Sun blow up the Microsoft/Novell deal to Red Hat’s benefit?
Well, this is interesting.

Note this was published before Sun choose to use GPL to Open Source Java. The authors of the articles argue that the ideas that underpin .Net lived in Java before Microsoft created .Net. If so the ultimate IP owners may be Sun not Microsoft. Also, by using the GPL to open source Java they create immediate and long term competition for both .Net and Mono. Now that Java is open sourced using the same model as the Linux kernel it will not take long to fully integrated Java into Linux and its development efforts.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Samba Team responds to the Novell - MS agreement

I've been waiting for feedback from the major players in Linux land to the Novell - Microsoft deal.

Looks like the Samba Team is first up to bat and their response can't be good news for Novell -

From the Samba Team in its entirety:
Samba Team Asks Novell to Reconsider

The Samba Team disapproves strongly of the actions taken by Novell on November 2nd.

One of the fundamental differences between the proprietary software world and the free software world is that the proprietary software world divides users by forcing them to agree to coercive licensing agreements which restrict their rights to share with each other, whereas the free software world encourages users to unite and share the benefits of the software.

The patent agreement struck between Novell and Microsoft is a divisive agreement. It deals with users and creators of free software differently depending on their "commercial" versus "non-commercial" status, and deals with them differently depending on whether they obtained their free software directly from Novell or from someone else.

The goals of the Free Software community and the GNU GPL allow for no such distinctions.

Furthermore, the GPL makes it clear that all distributors of GPL'd software must stand together in the fight against software patents. Only by standing together do we stand a chance of defending against the peril represented by software patents. With this agreement Novell is attempting to destroy that unified defense, exchanging the long term interests of the entire Free Software community for a short term advantage for Novell over their competitors.

For Novell to make this deal shows a profound disregard for the relationship that they have with the Free Software community. We are, in essence, their suppliers, and Novell should know that they have no right to make self serving deals on behalf of others which run contrary to the goals and ideals of the Free Software community.

Using patents as competitive tools in the free software world is not acceptable. Novell, as a participant in numerous debates, discussions and conferences on the topic knew this to be the case. We call upon Novell to work with the Software Freedom Law Center to undo the patent agreement and acknowledge its obligations as a beneficiary of the Free Software community.

This ain't good. I really don't think Novell expected this kind of response from the Open Source Community.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

No joy in mudville -

The Dems won just about everything in the state but it looks very, very bad for NM01. The hated Leather Heather looks like she has sneaked through. All her work of patting the heads of old folks has paid off yet again.

What about 08 - my guess is that she is off to try for the Senate but I could be wrong. Will Patsy run again - don't know but since we won't have the wind to our back this time it will be harder to win. Also, McCain's future is looking up. Allen, one of the largest wingnuts in the Republican party was trashed Tuesday so he's out of the race for Prez. That leaves McCain with one less opponent. That's good for him and if McCain makes it to the top of the ticket it will help Heather whatever she does.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Heather for Senate!

She's arrived alive, Saint Pete will retire in a year, and she will be running hard for the Senate in 2008! Watch for field trips to Northern and Southern New Mexico.

My guess is that she will win big in the South, break even in Albuquerque, and loose in the North. I'm sickened to say it but she can win!

NM-01 and a Senate seat will be open in 2008 - let the race begin!

You heard it here first!

UPDATE!: While spending 4 more hours at the Absentee Voter Wharehouse, this time as a Challenger, it was suggested to me that Steve Pearce was also interested in Pete's seat. Apparently a poll exists showing that Republican Party members would vote prefer him over Heather. So, at least the possibility exists of Pearce - Wilson primary race. Personally I don't think it will happen because the Republican Party won't allow it. Pearce isn't nearly as electable statewide as Heather. I can't see him doing well in NM01 and he will have to break even there so he can take the loss in el Norte.

Why Patsy lost - its the elderly and the jobs stupid!

First, to beat a sitting member of the House is almost an impossible task. Add to this the fact that many, many people in Albuquerque work at the Labs or make their living from Lab purchases. So, protecting the Lab's budget trumps all other concerns. Heather is great at reminding people of that fact - after all she learned it from Pete who an absolute master at this process. So when Pete comes to town telling folks to vote for Heather the threat is implicit and they listen.

Besides this there is the simple fact that Heather has gotten the old folks to love her. She does that by high levels of constituent services. Her aids visit retirement homes to help residents deal with Medicare, Medicade, and Social Security issues and fawns over them on a daily basis. Doesn't matter that she usually votes against their interests - they think she is great. I opened voter envelopes Monday till my hands hurt and I saw the birth dates of the voters. The majority weren't born in the 60's, 70's, or 80's. They were born in the 30's, 40's, and 50's and that's why the absentee votes are so devistating for the Democrats running against Heather. These votes are mostly from folks that are 60+ years old and they split their ticket - they voted for Bingaman, Heather, and Bill Richardson. I can't tell you how many ballots I saw that were basically straight party Dem tickets with a crossover to Heather and occassionally another Republican candidate. These votes are Heather's secret wepon and she knows it!

Absentee Voter Warehouse

I spend the last 2 days organizing and counting votes in Bernalillo's Absentee Voter Warehouse.

Right now I'm exausted and probably the worst thing about it was counting all the Heather votes that were flowing in. It was clear to me Monday night that unless Patsy was ahead by a good margin when those votes were added in she was in trouble. Things weren't any better when I went to bed last night and heard that Patsy was only 800 votes ahead. Therefore I wasn't suprised to hear the lead had changed overnight and that Heather was now ahead by a thousand votes.

Did something weird happen in the dead of night at the Warehouse? I don't know. I have a fundamental problem with the fact that Heather's employee's were all over the place - handling ballots without much supervision. There were Democratic Watchers but Heather's people know the process and if any vunerabilities exist they would know how to exploit them.

Right now I'm tired and just a bit sick.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Heather Wilson's Greatest Hits, lie-detectors

I'm really suprised that no political candidate has ever taken Heather to task for being a big proponent of lie-detectors and her cynical use of them for political gain.

In an Oct 20, 2006 Albuquerque Journal article by Alan Zelicoff titled DOE Quietly Backs Away From Voodoo of Polygraphs we get some real insight into Heather's involvement into the whole polygraph mess that did so much damage to the National Labs. Here's the critical part of the article - after announcing the fact that the DOE had rescinded its stupid, destructive, pseudo-scientific lie-detector screening program Zelicoff goes on to discuss the winners and loosers created by the change of policy .....

"The losers include Rep. Heather Wilson, the then responsible lab managers, Richardson and agencies that continue to rely upon polygraphs.
Wilson, D-N.M., originated the DOE polygraph legislation in 2000 as a member of the House Intelligence Committee. She repeatedly touts her “science and engineering training at the Air Force Academy” as her guiding philosophy. Yet, Wilson ignored all of the scientific literature provided to her on the uselessness of polygraph screening.
Her judgment appears as self-serving rather than the stuff of principled leadership. Since her re-election in this election — perhaps the closest of her career, may be the ticket to a Senate seat, voters should examine her rhetoric and record."
Here's to her decisive defeat next Tuesday!

Heather - don't let the screen door hit you on your way out of NM!

Now even Joe is writing Heather off

I'll let Joe Monahan say it himself:
"Democratic Attorney General Patricia Madrid has a solid 49% to 45% lead over Wilson with 6% undecided. When the undecided are asked which way they are leaning, Madrid hits the magic 50% mark and Wilson moves to 46%. Pollsters do not expect the remaining 4% to vote. That would give us a universe of 96%, meaning Madrid may be positioned for a 52-48 win. A strong GOP turnout and historic patterns Election Day could trim that margin and keep the race tighter. However, at this point, the upset would be a Madrid loss, not a win."
This ain't over yet - sad to say I'm not nearly as confident as Joe is re: finally cleansing NM of Heather. My time from now till the polls close will either be getting folks to vote or watching over the absentee and early votes. Tuesday will be a long night.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Thankfully YouTube survives

Its weeks like this that I'm thankful YouTube survives.

Lets rename the County Clerk as the County CIO

Frankly I didn't expect to spend the last two days on Novell. Certainly I didn't expect to spend any time on Microsoft. But the fates take you where they will.

Polls open in about 58 hours and I'm still not sure what my job will be. I may be at the Absentee Warehouse, a place they stash all absentee ballots and early voting machine till they mess things up for real on election day, or work at one of the polling stations.

During Election Protection training today it became clear the fate of absentee ballots isn't necessarily a pretty one. Ballots can be tossed for any number of reasons during the entire process and you as a voter will never know it happened. As I listened to the things that happen to a ballot during processing it became clear that we have a real IT problem here. I fear the Clerk's office is misnamed and the title incorrect - I'm starting to see that we need a Bernalillo County CIO instead of a Clerk. The days of a Clerk are long gone.

What has Novell done? A partial bibliography

Its impossible for this to be complete but I felt some listing of articles/comments would be helpful -

For the latest community reaction see:
Linux Today
Planet Suse

Nov. 1, 2006 and before:

Nov. 2, 2006:
Might Microsoft and Novell make a deal?
The Microsoft and Novell Partnership
Novell-Microsoft: How many times can you sell your soul?
The meat of the Microsoft-Novell deal is in the patents
Reality check: Microsoft isn't waving the white flag
Novell Sells Out
Moglen: Microsoft-Novell raises GPL questions
Novell to make 'running royalty payments' to Microsoft
Novell-Microsoft: What They Aren't Telling You
Microsoft and Novell Link up over Linux
Novell/Microsoft deal: good for Novell, good for Linux?

Nov. 3, 2006:
Perspective: Microsoft and Novell's concession to tech reality
The Microsoft/Novell Deal: Sorting Through The FUD
The Novell-Microsoft agreement and .NET
It’s a win-win deal for Microsoft and Novell
The Morning After - Reactions to Novell-MS - Updated 2xs

MS FUDs like SCO, Red Hat Responds. and MS/Novell Transcript Available
Strategic partnerhip or unholy alliance?
Microsoft patent peace--or patent war?
Red Hat adds new Linux legal protection
Industry is lukewarm to angry about Novell/Microsoft
Microsoft-Novell: Commentators Speak Out
Greeks bearing gifts (UPDATED)

Nov. 4, 2006:
What's covered by the Microsoft/Novell patent deal
Novell + Microsoft = SECURE PRODUCTIVITY

Nov. 5, 2006:

Nov. 6, 2006:
Microsoft Makes Peace With Novell--And Waves The Patent Hammer Over All Others
Is your software free, open or litigated?
Novell-Microsoft partnership faces GPL hurdle

Please bear with me on this - even partially capturing this event will take some time.

What has Novell done? Its the patents stupid!

I'm a day older and a bit calmer.

I've read what I can about the deal and TODAY I'm thinking that there is both more and less here than meets the eye.

Some clear facts that are easy to document:
- Microsoft has been searching for a Linux "partner" for years and Novell was the first to bite.
- There is a customer push for more "interoperability" between Linux and Windows.
- The Linux market place is competative and everybody is looking for a leg up.
- Linux and Open Source are Microsoft's #1 competitor and #1 threat.

Equally true but not often said:
- Novell has an old history, owns & sells Suse - my favorite distro and simply an excellent product. However, for whatever reason Novell still finds itself in a #2 position with no easy way to move to #1
- Microsoft needs to give lip service to Linux and interoperability to placate its large customers

The sad fact for Novell and Linux is that this is about patents. As with all Microsoft deals it ends up being to Microsoft's exclusive benifit. They are like the Borg, everything they touch is assimilated. Even if the deal starts out simple enough Microsoft's own internal dynamics end up forcing the consumption and distruction of their partners. Usually this process takes a couple of years - this time it seems to have happend during negotiations.

So far the only party that doesn't appreciate what has happened is Novell. From Microsoft's perspective this is all about patents, patents, and more patents. For the rest of the World this is also about patents - unfortunately its the unspecified ones that Microsoft implies Linux breaks on a daily basis. They just haven't bothered to publish a list of them yet or to sue someone like Red Hat, IBM or Novell. Certainly Microsoft needs to suggest that Linux has patent problems. Its a critical part of the plan to deal with the Linux challenge. This is why Microsoft supported SCO in their suit against IBM. Problem is that suit is just about dead now and they need another means to keep the question alive. That's why they went shopping for a helper - someone in the Linux camp that would at least implicitly agree with them. That's what Microsoft wanted and has gotten out of the deal.

Novell blinded by its desire to gain market share was lured into the trap. What does Novell get - well Microsoft has agreed to sell 75,000 Suse licenses or cupons for them. Since the amount of money involved is change for Microsoft they can give them away and not really care. No doubt they will be papering the bathroom walls in Redmont, Washington with Suse cupons. Certainly they won't want them deployed - better to pay for 'em and then flush 'em away. Its a small price to play for keeping the patent FUD alive about Linux. Novell also thinks it will get lots of other stuff out of Microsoft - well if wishes were granted beggars would all be millionares. Track records are important here - Microsoft never lives up to the spirit of their agreements - just talk to the EU and anybody else that's dealt with them and still lives.

While a bit harsh I think this comment puts it best:
Hovespian Fell Into the Trap
Mary Jo is correct. It's all about the patent agreement.

After the Q&A segment it was clear that the patent agreement was a defacto acknowledgement by Novell that Linux violates MS patents. Ballmer made it clear that the patent agreement protects ONLY users of SuSE Linux. When questioned about wether the patent agreement covered technology which will be developed or if it covers MS patents already existing in Linux the attorney made it clear that the agreement protects existing Linux in the form of SuSE.

So MS has found the big Linux vendor foolish enough to "legitimize" a patent claim on Linux by Microsoft. This makes it easier for MS to claim that Linux infringes their "IP" and claim that Novell recognized this "fact" and struck a deal.

Now it's only a matter of asserting claims against all distributors except Novell thereby thinning the herd and finally, deal with Novell SuSE last.

Nice going you Novell morons.

After using SuSE for years it looks like it's time for a change.

It looks to the Linux/Open Source Community at large that Novell has thrown them to the wolves. Certainly Novell's implicit agreement with Microsoft that Linux breaks Microsoft patents will alienate the Linux Community. The contempt for Novell will grow since they have now agreed to make "running royalty payments based on a percentage of its (their) revenues from open source products" to Microsoft. Since they have not clearly delineated what they are paying tribute for we are left to speculate. One article suggests the $'s are "for Mono, Samba, and OpenOffice, as well as .NET". This info is from Microsoft, Novell has yet to say what they are paying for - we just know they are paying Micosoft for something.

I'm sad for the folks at Do they really want to work to aid Microsoft's bottom line? It adds a whole new slant to the concept of a MicroSerf. Calls are already comming in for developers to abandon OpenSuse and move to Fedora. Others are suggesting that OpenSuse get more independence from Novell.

I really don't think Novell understands what it has done. I won't be suprised to see some high profile defections from Novell over the next few weeks. The social pressure on them to leave will be immense.

I fear Novell has forgotten some good advice from Thoreau - don't forget your old friends when you discover new ones.

One thing that hasn't changed since yesterday - I still think that Novell may have made a huge mistake. Only time will tell if it has and if so how tragic it was.

Friday, November 03, 2006

What has Novell done?

Right now I'm sick to my stomach.

What the hell was Novell thinking - are things really that desparate at Novell that they had to sell out Linux and the entire open source community to get some temporary market advantage? Are they really stupid enough to think that they will get anything of value out of Microsoft?

This is so bad in so many ways I can't even begin to describe them. What they have done is cast a cloud over Linux and the open source community to get a blessing from Microsoft.

My initial responses has been to:

1) I posted this message to John Dragoon's blog. John is the Chief Marketing Officer at Novell.

I have been a huge supporter of Novell and Suse.

In many ways I have gone out on a limb to support Suse and now you do this deal with Microsoft.

- Please tell us what Microsoft gets out of this deal?
- Besides suggesting that Linux has patent problems and forever being subserviant to Microsoft please tell us what Novell gets out of this deal?
- Besides impuning and insulting it - how does this help the open source community?

All I can see is that Novell has helped spread FUD about Linux and patent issues, stupidy hurt or possibly destroyed Suse, and damaged Linux.

I have always remember something I heard from a spokesman Novell long ago - In the long term no one has ever prospered by partnering with Microsoft.

Novell has done itself a disservice, insulted the open source community, and hurt Linux by this act.

Frankly I doubt it will ever makes it past the "moderation" process but we will see.

2) I have copied the same message to both Slashdot and Linux Today. We will see if it gets traction there.

Novell also has other blogs that merit consideration. Certainly Jeff Jaffe, Novell's Chief Technology Officer, has a blog that deserves our special attention.

I pray I'm wrong here - but we will see!

UPDATE: I have to give them credit - my comment was posted to Dragoon's blog, you can see it here.