Source Guru

Novell + Microsoft – My POV

by on Nov.03, 2006, under Geeky, Linux, Personal, Rants, Rants

First of all, before I start writing, I need to state the following.

This blog is published on Novell affiliated website(s) This post does in no way represent the view of Novell/Microsoft or any of their employees, and is only my own personal opinion on this subject.

For those of you who haven’t already read, Novell and Microsoft have entered into 3 agreements of Collaboration between the companies. See here for more info

The way I see it is yes, this is a good thing in general for Linux. With Microsoft actively participating in the collaboration between open source and Windows, it can only be a good thing, finally, we will be able to integrate Windows and Linux clients seamlessly, they’ll work together, and everything will be groovy.

For SUSE Enterprise customers.

Yes, this will bring technical advances and help with the proliferation of Linux, undoubtedly, but – the way the Press Release and FAQ are written, it seems to me that Novell and Microsoft will be working hand in hand to exclude anyone outside their customer bases from using anything that will come from this collaboration.

Novell, up to this point to me have seemed to make huge steps into the Open Source Market, making a lot of contributions in lots of projects, but with this announcement, it now seems that they just want themselves to benefit, not the rest of the FLOSS community. Do we really want Novell to become the “Microsoft” of Linux? Monopolising on the things that are going to get the paying customers to use their Products? I remember a quote from an interview with Novell’s Greg Mancusi-Ungaro in LXF which was this

Well, if we ever woke up one day and said ‘Wow, Novell is the Microsoft of Linux’ or ‘Red Hat is the Microsoft of Linux’, then the Linux movement would be over.

I totally agree, but to me, it looks like this is a step in that direction for Novell.

By the way, feel free to flame me^W^Wcomment, I’d love to hear other people’s opinions on this


10 Comments for this entry

  • sysadmin1138

    Me? I’m still in a bit of shock. As a long time NetWare guy, Microsoft has been the Darkside for a very long time. Announcements like this take a guy from left field. Oof.

    That said, you do raise some good points. Also keep in mind that this agreement is for five years, and any protections now in place may expire at that time. Any ‘mutually infringing’ patent issues that arise during this period that aren’t subsequently licensed may end up in another flury of lawsuits. The patent protection clause(es) indemnify against any undiscovered/prosecuted existing infringements, but doesn’t specify the state of any future items.

    I have to expect that there will be some technical leakage out of Novell’s OSS guys into the broader Linux/Opensource community as a result of this. I saw specific mentions of Samba in the marketing materials so far, which is encouraging. I’m remembering a sign on one of the Samba sites that if you’ve signed a specific MS agreement, you can’t work on Samba dev. Perhaps they’ll recind that, and Samba will become more palatable to me. Won’t know until we get some years under our collective belts.

    The three items, Virtualization, eDir/AD compatibility, and document format compatibility, all have their places but Virtualization is the one that grabbed my attention. Longhorn is supposed to have virtualization built in, Novell has Xen. And VMWare is what passes for the 800lbs gorilla in this market (will we see them at BrainShare this year?), this competes directly with that. I expect one of the early gains will be Xen-packaged Windows installs that’ll work much better out of the box.

    All that being true, Red Hat has taken some real blows lately. How they respond to it, and most importantly how their userbase responds to it, will be the real teller.

  • Mez

    I have to expect that there will be some technical leakage out of Novell’s OSS guys into the broader Linux/Opensource community as a result of this. I saw specific mentions of Samba in the marketing materials so far, which is encouraging. I’m remembering a sign on one of the Samba sites that if you’ve signed a specific MS agreement, you can’t work on Samba dev. Perhaps they’ll recind that, and Samba will become more palatable to me. Won’t know until we get some years under our collective belts.

    But surely that technical leakage wont be covered by Novells agreement with Microsoft, and cause potential lawsuits against people like the OSDL (Microsoft only promised to not file against Individuals)

  • nixternal

    This dealt me a huge WTF when I got the Reuters Alert in my Inbox this morning. I have worked for the “evil empire” in the past, and I watched partnerships of theirs dissolve. When this happens, the partner either goes out of business, or Microsoft absorbs them. With the current status of Novell’s financial situations, I don’t see them standing much ground in any event that Microsoft can throw at them.

    Look, most of us know that Microsoft doesn’t get into partnerships for the good of the community, it is always for the good of Microsoft. That is why Oracle gave them the finger and decided to pursue open source solutions years ago. I don’t think Microsoft looks at the Open Source community as a competitor, but more or less an enemy.

    I am not a total law buff, but my understanding that GPL licensing that is in effect as of the partnership is fine and out of the scope/grasp of Microsoft, but what about future applications? How strong is the GPL when it comes to the attorneys at Microsoft? I mean, what are my chances of saving face if I create and application, make it GPL, and Microsoft grabs it because of some fluke agreement between them and Novell? Am I screwed, or do I have a leg to stand on?

    Plus, everything they have committed to this partnership, could have been done without the partnership. That is why I don’t trust it. The whole office standard stuff has been an issue forever, however before this partnership, all of the XML stuff was already being worked on. As for the virtualization, and this whole thing of Linux running on Microsoft and Microsoft running on Linux is confusing as well. Microsoft talks about this virtualization, but recently let it be known that it will be illegal to run Vista virtually.

    Very skeptical on this entire thing. It just doesn’t feel right to me. Plus Steve Ballmer can’t pronounce Ubuntu correctly on TV either, so that makes me furious :) haha j/k! sysadmin1138 is right, we probably won’t know for a few years anyways. And what does happen come 5 years from today? Just a very strange day, for Microsoft to finally step up to Open Source so late in the ballgame. They recognized it for more than 10 years, and just now they are doing something. Argh I hate this sick feeling in my gut ;)

  • Nathan D.B.B.

    They will bribe them one buy one to turn on you, first it was SCO — Et tu, Novell?

  • Christian

    Well from what I have read so far, I’ve only seen marketing fluff. I don’t expect Micosoft, after how hard they fought odf, and how much effort was put into reverse engineering doc to suddenly open of specs and let the gpl’ed openoffice work any better than it already does. I also don’t expect Microsoft to suddenly throw engineers into samba development, when they can’t even be bothered to show up to the international cifs conference. I guess I don’t really understand what it means to allow their software to interoperate when we are talking about two different operating systems. Plus most of what SuSE ships is gpl’ed anyway. Thus any effort put into any of their products would be absorbed by the rest of the opensource community. As of now I can only call schanagins, and wait to see what actually transpires.

  • sysadmin1138

    I’m not active in any Open Source projects, and in cases like this it really shows. My key learnings are all in closed source operating systems and I’m slowly picking up how to do linux in the enterprise (at home is another story, 12 years there so far and counting). I don’t know how OSS projects function on the inside.

    When I said that there would be some technical leakage, I meant that. It may not be legal, and it may not be above-board. But it’ll happen. Maybe a forked Samba that can’t be used by a company worried about lawsuits, but actually works better than ‘official’ Samba. Again, won’t know until we see how these two behave in the next five years.

    But surely that technical leakage wont be covered by Novells agreement with Microsoft, and cause potential lawsuits against people like the OSDL (Microsoft only promised to not file against Individuals)

    That depends on what leaks, and how it is handled inside the various projects (closed and open). I see that Samba can do NTLMv2 these days, which I rather like. It took them a l-o-n-g time to get that support in there, presumably because MS has encumbered all documentation about the protocol so it had to be reverse engineered. This suggests to me that the protocol itself isn’t encumbered by patent protections, but the documentation about it is. If that is the case, and I’m not sure about that, then such technical leakage I described could carve potentially years off of the dev cycle. On the other hand, if the technology being developed is encumbered en toto then Samba developing the feature at all will get them sued; regardless of how the knowledge was aquired to build the feature in the first place.

    Novell has a history of arrogant strong-arming. It’s one of the reasons they missed the ball with Windows NT as much as they did. On the other hand, such reflexes are what you might call endemic in capitalist culture so it isn’t terribly surprising. The current Novell CEO was put in place as a result of a shareholder revolt, and as we’ve learned this idea to talk with Microsoft came from the CEO. The fact that this deal strikes a lot of people as low-brow, ‘protect the bottom line,’ stuff doesn’t surprise me at all in light of that fact.

    I just hope that Novell has an institutional memory for what happened LAST time they tried to get cheecky with their installed base. I also hope that the Linux community is limber enough to throw off the closed-source shackles that have arrived in the past month, potential or otherwise.

    Like I said above, how Red Hat handles all of this will be the real teller.

  • mathew

    Everyone who gets into bed with Microsoft gets fucked. It’s as simple as that.

    Ask VIVO. Ask Real. Ask Stacker. Ask Symantec and McAfee. Ask Kodak. Ask the guy who invented the scroll mouse. Ask L H.

    So I’m with Admiral Ackbar on this one. Specifically, I think they want to get patented technology into Mono, wait for Novell Linux to become completely dependent on Mono, then either charge massive fees or blow it out of the water with a patent violation lawsuit.

    In fact, I’m seriously considering switching from Ubuntu to Kubuntu specifically because of the fact that ubuntu-desktop now requires Mono.

  • Meneer R

    If the linux community was based on trust, it would use the BSD license.

    It isn’t based on trust. It is based on a good-behavior enforcing license, the GPL. You don’t get to choose wether you give back to the community.

    I would take patches and open-source stuff from the devil himself.

    Secondly, the target of Novell, the corporate world, has little to do with our commitment to freedom. I couldn’t care less if they get a lousy deal. I don’t see how these effects the groups of people we do care about: the nerds, the tweakers, the poor and the idealists.

    Secondly Microsoft isn’t evil. It’s is just playing by the rules. Don’t like the rules? Blame the game, not the winner. You can expect people to have moral standards. But companies are not people.

    Most evil on this world takes place by spreading the responsibility. I’m just the lawyer I allow defend their rights in court. I’m just the programmer, I just make quality software. Guns don’t kill people, people kill people. If I wouldn’t do this job, somebody else will.

    It are all lame excuses off course, but doing the right thing requires a form of welfare not all of us have. What are the sacrifices we, ‘the good people’ really make?

    We need to change the game. Not blame the players. Novell and Microsoft teaming up, makes sense. I can’t really tell wether or not this turns out to be good or bad thing for us, or their customers. But I do know It’s gonna be a good thing for them. So them taking that route makes sense.

    Change the game.

  • Meneer R

    On a side note:

    Microsoft wants linux to be strong. They need some real competition to get the angry cats and dogs of their antitrust case.

    If they can choose between: -being split, -having a real closed source competitor or -having linux as their competition. They are gonna pick linux. Because there will always be markets linux can’t serve (and visa versa).

    On the other hand they need to be very intelligent about what they are gonna do. If it means Novell is open-sourcing technology that is not free, because it violates MS patents, they they will see a lot of linux players separating themselves from it. They will be nothing more than another outside player.

    Although this would mean Novell can be the bridge between the free world and the MS-slavery world. First a company switches to Novell. Ten years later all MS products are gone, they can switch to Ubuntu.

  • bj

    Don’t Use any Novell solutions.

    The problem here is when they contribute code to the
    community. It’s hard to audit this stuff. And, this
    result to the ineffectiveness of Novell to work with
    the community. therefore, it is but right that the
    community bans Novell from further using FOSS codes.

    Remember, that one great advantage of Linux is the
    freedom against “vendor lock-in”. With Novell
    GNU/Linux flavors you are dealing with patented
    technology. Worse, I don’t think Microsoft would want
    Novell’s technology to become close at their
    offerings; the innovation of Novell will become
    controlled by Microsoft. The bottom line is to let
    people stick with Microsoft — that is the clear ball
    game.

    Another important thing to worry is the possibility of
    Novell polluting the code of OpenOffice, as well as,
    Samba. This could be a disaster to all Linux
    distributions out there. With this Deadly pact we
    will soon hear a Pirated Linux.

    This will be deadly against the rest of Linux Distributions out there. Also, I hope Ubuntu will not become too dependent on Mono. Come on guys…. we can do better than Mono.

    OpenSuse = a not so open Linux.
    Suse = a vendor lock-in Linux experience.
    Novell = the vendor that’ll lock us in.

1 Trackback or Pingback for this entry

  • neuro.me.uk » Blog Archive » Microsoft and Novell == MAN Love?

    [...] After Microsoft and Novell’s announcement that they are to start collaboration on tighter integration between Windows and (admittedly SuSE) Linux, there has been a lot of bollocks kicking around from people squealing “this will be bad“, “this will be really bad“, “oh no, it’s the end of the world as we know it“, and so on. $deity forbid two old-school rivals want to bury the hatchet and do something that’s in the best interests of both their customers. [...]

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