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Samba Team Urges Novell To Reconsider 472

Posted by Zonk
from the think-twice dept.
hde226868 writes "The team responsible for Samba has just asked Novell to reconsider its recent patent agreement with Microsoft, arguing that the agreement is a divisive agreement, effectively splitting the open source movement into groups with and without commercial status. Samba argues that with this move Novell is disregarding the will of the people who write the software sold by Novell and that Novell has 'no right to make self servicing deals on behalf of others which run contrary to the goals and ideals of the Free Software community'."
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Samba Team Urges Novell To Reconsider

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  • samba (Score:4, Interesting)

    by msh104 (620136) on Sunday November 12, 2006 @02:42PM (#16814988)
    just like the samba team, I don't think that this agreement with microsoft will bring good fruits. what I like about the open source movement is that it provides you with software that allow you to go to sleep at night without worry. the software that will result from this agreement will be everything except that.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by dvice_null (981029)
      Actually there is something we could get from this deal. We can now say that even Microsoft thinks that Linux is good, since it is spending a lot of money on it. We just need a huge marketing campaign and what evern evil plans Microsoft has, it will backfire them.
  • by Durrok (912509) <calltechsucks@gma[ ]com ['il.' in gap]> on Sunday November 12, 2006 @02:44PM (#16815002) Homepage Journal
    "Samba argues that with this move Novell is disregarding the will of the people who write the software sold by Novell and that Novell has 'no right to make self servicing deals on behalf of others which run contrary to the goals and ideals of the Free Software community'."

    In other news the sun is hot, water is wet, and... wait... yes, I taste spit in my mouth!

    Come on now, what part of Microsoft + Patent + Open Source is anywhere close to what "open" source should be?
  • by MarkByers (770551) on Sunday November 12, 2006 @02:44PM (#16815004) Homepage Journal
    'no right to make self servicing deals on behalf of others which run contrary to the goals and ideals of the Free Software community'

    Actually they have every right to do whatever they like as long as it is within the law. There is nothing specific in the GPL that says they cannot make a deal with Microsoft. The only thing that will stop companies from doing things like this, is if they lose customer support. If you don't like it, don't buy their products.
    • by peragrin (659227) on Sunday November 12, 2006 @02:50PM (#16815048)
      The thing is now every code that comes out of Novell is now suspect. if Novell contributes code to Samaba the deal provides MSFT a recourse to attack Samba and use the Novell deal as the scape goat. Even if the code in question wasn't what Novell donated.

      It's not about it being against the GPL, it's provide MSFT with an excuse, and an attack point with which to target open source developers.

      Novell donates, code to firefox, and now Microsoft can sue the mozilla foundation for patent infringements, because of that, unless of course the mozilla foundation coughs up some money of course.

      • FUD (Score:3, Insightful)

        "Novell donates, code to firefox, and now Microsoft can sue the mozilla foundation for patent infringements,"

        That's a totally illogical and ignorant statement. Whether or not someone is in violation of a patent has *nothing* to do with who wrote their code. Such an idea totally confuses patents and copyright.

        I can't believe the amount of bullshit that's been posted on slashdot since the novell microsoft deal. The deal is something that in no way shape or form puts microsoft in any position to threaten the o
    • by Freed (2178) on Sunday November 12, 2006 @03:07PM (#16815180)
      Uh, the idiomatic "right to ..." phrase typically means "moral justification to ...".
    • by Bruce Perens (3872) * <bruce@perens.com> on Sunday November 12, 2006 @03:13PM (#16815242) Homepage Journal
      The particular patent deal that they made is against section 7 of the GPL and also other parts of the license.

      Novell is attempting to create a loophole in the license with a legal fiction. By paying Microsoft to make a covenant to Novell's users directly, instead of to Novell, they are attempting to get us, and whatever judges eventually rule on this, to believe that no patents are being licensed even though the effect is the same as if they were being licensed.

      There is also the matter of the spirit of the license. By violating that, they are making a clear "screw you" gesture to everyone whose code they are running. There are now a lot of angry people who will now go out of their way to get business to go elsewhere than Novell. Have you noticed that SCO's business went completely down the tubes? Novell's going to have a hard time avoding that.

      Bruce

      • by coaxial (28297)
        The particular patent deal that they made is against section 7 of the GPL and also other parts of the license.
        Novell is attempting to create a loophole in the license with a legal fiction. By paying Microsoft to make a covenant to Novell's users directly, instead of to Novell, they are attempting to get us, and whatever judges eventually rule on this, to believe that no patents are being licensed even though the effect is the same as if they were being licensed.


        I don't think that's what they're doing. They
    • by slashnik (181800)
      If you don't like it, don't buy their products.

      and that's just how Iill play it.
      I used to purchae Redhat but then when they went all comercial I moved to SuSE
      I have since purchased a number of the SuSE box sets from 6.1 on.
      I always recommend SuSE to friends and colleagues.
      I won't be using or recommending them any more.
      Time to give Centos a try I think
       
    • The only thing that will stop companies from doing things like this, is if they lose customer support. If you don't like it, don't buy their products.

      The only thing? Far from it, there is a lot we can do. For example, many free software projects are in a position to carry on further development under a modified license that clearly and directly prohibits the anti-community behaviour in which Novell has indulged (as compared to the GPL language that prohibits it but leaves enough room for a sufficiently de
    • by Shane (3950)
      "Actually they have every right to do whatever they like as long as it is within the law"

      You _MAY_ be correct and it is later found they do have a legal right as the result of a technicality. It is unfortunate the Samba announcement used the words "no right to", that phrase (like the GPL it seems) leaves wiggle room for semantic debate.

      The real issue before us is quite simple. It is undetermined whether or not Novell broke the legal agreement of the GPL, however it appears the majority of GPL software dev
    • by node 3 (115640) on Sunday November 12, 2006 @05:31PM (#16816390)
      Actually they have every right to do whatever they like as long as it is within the law.
      That's a tautology. In other words, "they have the right to do what they have the right to do." It doesn't really mean anything. Regardless of whether Novell has the legal right or not, or the moral right or not, your sentence means the exact same thing. Which is to say, it has absolutely no bearing on what the SAMBA team wrote.

      I suspect they weren't talking about legal rights, but right in the sense of "moral or proper". Such as, "you have every right to be mad at me for what I did".

      And no, Novell has *NO RIGHT* to do what it appears they are doing, even if they have every legal right to do it. The sentence is not contradictory because the word "right" is being used in two different ways. If you are still having a hard time with that, imagine I wrote, "it's wrong of Novell to do what they appear to be doing, even if it's entirely within the law". The two sentences mean the same thing.
  • Bags of money or making nice which geeks who aren't even on their payroll....

    Yeah, sure. I see 'em doing what the samba teams says. Yep. Sure thing. Uh-huh.
    • by mikesd81 (518581)
      I think samba's actually a pretty big player in the field. And I think maybe Samba may be one of the things Microsoft is after. Even though Novell has the not-so-free e-directory, Samba is a big player for network interoperability.

      On a unrelated note, I'd like to hear Linus's take on this agreement. He's been kind of quiet.
  • What's the problem? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by October_30th (531777)
    I don't see what the big problem is. If you've written software, you've probably released it under a license. Neither Novell or Microsoft can legally break that deal.


    So, what's the problem?

  • by zotz (3951) on Sunday November 12, 2006 @02:55PM (#16815084) Homepage Journal
    This is just Microsoft trying to get Linus to reconsider and try and move the kernel to the GPLv3.

    Move along.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by laffer1 (701823)
      Not just linus. This could force a lot of people to go to GPLv3 and possible get some last minute revisions in it to try to prevent some things Microsoft may try. The result would be problematic for many open source projects. Software will need to be rewritten in cases where people won't consent to "upgrading" their license. Non GPLv3 projects might not be able to include applications with GPLv3 licensing because of the attempts to stop them from running on drm'd hardware.

      Then again it could just be a l
  • I think an agreement like this and Red Hat's recent problems indicate that the business model that has been touted for open source isn't sustainable. Ultimately people won't pay you money for something that they get for free elsewhere. If, in fact, Linux becomes more mainstream, all distros will be easier to use and greater customer experience will greatly reduce the need for the kind of hand-holding that Red Hat provides.
  • by Salvance (1014001) * on Sunday November 12, 2006 @03:02PM (#16815142) Homepage Journal
    At a philosophical level, Novell probably didn't want to sign the agreement with Microsoft either ... heck, Microsoft basically destroyed them as a leading software provider. But they're in an unenviable position of trying to turn a profit. That's the double edged sword of large companies getting in the open source game. On one side, they offer massive resources that can champion and push forward technologies that groups working in their spare time cannot. On the other, they must find a way to recoup some of those expenses, which sometimes lead them down the path that we've all worked hard to stay off (namely, software patents, commercialization, and closed sourcing parts of their product).

    Unfortunately I think we'll just have to deal with some closed source Linux programs and some software patents for technologies that required massive investment. The key is to pick our battles - e.g. to ensure that the entire Linux kernel, and all "typical" programs are open source and protected under the GPL (or other similar license).
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by segedunum (883035)

      At a philosophical level, Novell probably didn't want to sign the agreement with Microsoft either ... heck, Microsoft basically destroyed them as a leading software provider. But they're in an unenviable position of trying to turn a profit.

      True, and I think you're closer to the truth than maybe you realise there. If you look at the details and Novell's circumstances, Hovsepian has been looking and working on this Microsoft deal since he took over from Messman. The guy has about as much idea as Messman abo

    • by khasim (1285) <brandioch.conner@gmail.com> on Sunday November 12, 2006 @04:44PM (#16816014)
      At a philosophical level, Novell probably didn't want to sign the agreement with Microsoft either ... heck, Microsoft basically destroyed them as a leading software provider.

      Novell destroyed themselves.

      The only thing that Microsoft did was release WinNT without the license broadcast that NetWare boxes did. I could use one license and setup 1,000 WinNT boxes on a network. If I used the same license on 2 NetWare boxes on a network, they'd broadcast their license codes, see that they were duplicates and shut both boxes down. "Piracy" gave Microsoft the edge.

      After that, it's been 100% Novell fuck ups.

      Why buy SuSE when for a LOT less money you can just hire Linux developers to write the code/apps you want? You spent $210 MILLION.

      Okay, you own SuSE now, why is it easier to run GroupWise on Windows than on Debian? Microsoft is a bigger threat to your existence than Debian.

      Why haven't you ported the look and feel of you NetWare apps (inetcfg, nwconfig, etc) over to SuSE?

      Service Pack 6 for NetWare 6.5 is over 800MB. Compressed.

      But they're in an unenviable position of trying to turn a profit.

      As is every other company out there. McDonald's manages it, yet their costs have got to be higher than cooking healthier food, yourself, at home.

      On one side, they offer massive resources that can champion and push forward technologies that groups working in their spare time cannot. On the other, they must find a way to recoup some of those expenses, which sometimes lead them down the path that we've all worked hard to stay off (namely, software patents, commercialization, and closed sourcing parts of their product).

      No. The problem is when closed source companies don't bother to understand the Open Source environment and believe they can treat it the same as their closed source products.

      Which is exactly what Novell is trying to do.

      Instead, Novell should have spent a one tenth of the money they spent on SuSE and paid lots of programmers to port Novell's money-making products (GroupWise, eDirectory, ZENworks, etc) to Linux. Go ahead. Try to get eDirectory running on Ubuntu. It's pretty easy on SuSE, but damn hard on Ubuntu.

      Unfortunately I think we'll just have to deal with some closed source Linux programs and some software patents for technologies that required massive investment.

      Oh really? You mean like Oracle? Their stuff is still closed. Yet they seem pretty happy with running it on Linux.

      This message posted with 100% Ubuntu Edgy Eft.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Espectr0 (577637)
        This message posted with 100% Ubuntu Edgy Eft.

        Better switch to something else, as you are using Novell-made apps (Mono, f-spot,tomboy and such come with gnome 2.16 which is shipped in Edgy)

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 12, 2006 @03:02PM (#16815144)
    Where's Linus durring al of this? I mean he's vocal as all hell when the GPL3 drafts start floating around, but on this he's silent?!
  • I know you are asking yourself, self, how could this happen?

    Novell executives were asking themselves, "How can a million dollars worth of bad publicity with a small advertising budget?" "That's it! We'll show a profound disregard for the Free Software community."

    These must be the same guys who bought WordPerfect.

    --
    Summary of Bush administration corruption [futurepower.org].
  • A little confusion (Score:2, Insightful)

    by selex (551564)
    I am still trying to figure out why I should give a damn what Novell does? So Novell has this nice new agreement with Microsoft. Since I don't use Suse, Netware or anything Novell makes that I signed a legally binding agreement for I am not bound by anything Novell does. Novell's agreement can't trickle back the Linux programmers, because the programmers agreeed to the GPL, not the Novell agreement. If you do use something Novell has, then remove it, and keep your project moving without it. If Novell a
    • by lawaetf1 (613291) on Sunday November 12, 2006 @03:52PM (#16815582)
      You are completely missing the point. It's not that the agreement between Novell and MSFT has resulted in any immediate damages to end users, it is that the agreement raises the specter of litigation to all non-Novell Linux distributors and their clients. FUD. Microsoft is trying to drive a great big wedge in the open source community by appointing Novell, the distributor with the least market share, as the "approved" Linux distributor. Balmer himself said that everyone else is open to legal action as they're not covered by this bogus cross patent licensing. Just because you Joe-six-pack might not wind up in court doesn't mean that enormous damage hasn't been done to the community as a whole.

      Boycott Novell. If you have servers on SuSe, move them to another distro.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        Boycott Novell. If you have servers on SuSe, move them to another distro.

        We've been using SuSE for a few versions now, and honestly, I think SELS 9 is a great server distro and SLED 10 is an absolutely fantastic desktop distro. But no, we won't be buying any more licenses from Novell. We got burned by Redhat by the licensing/pricing change circa RH9 too, so It'll be 100% - non-commercial - from here on out. Vendors, making money is easy - produce what people need, provide an agreed service for an agreed pri
  • Divide your enemies (Score:5, Interesting)

    by greg_barton (5551) * <.moc.oohay. .ta. .notrab_gerg.> on Sunday November 12, 2006 @03:42PM (#16815488) Homepage Journal
    Microsoft is just now getting around to "art of war" type tactics: divide your enemies. "He will win whose army is animated by the same spirit throughout all its ranks." They're trying to divide the open source movement's spirit.

    Everything up to this point has been driven by hubris on their part. Now, they're finally serious about fighting open source.

    This is gonna be fun. :)

  • Actually, they do have a right.

    But we have a right to stop using their products.

    Personally, I'll wait a little bit to see what the consensus opinion of this deal is. If, after some thought and discussion, the community decides that Novell's actions are harming Linux, then I will take this into account in my career (as a software developer).
  • Is there any chance do you think that this could lead to Microsoft launching a series of micro-SCO type initiatives now that their investment in SCO didn't work out? What I mean is that I'm curious about just what that money is going toward. Did M$ threaten Novell with any specific patents or vice versa? Sure Microsoft has a few good engineers maybe, but as far as I can tell most of their efforts over the years have been exremely nasty. I find it hard to believe that anything good will come of this, rather
  • This had to happen (Score:3, Insightful)

    by cyberjessy (444290) on Sunday November 12, 2006 @04:00PM (#16815650) Homepage
    I feel its so much better that it happened now, Fail-Fast is always better. Good to have answers early on.

    If we don't want such things to happen, why don't we move to more restrictive licenses? Should we actually expect people (or even worse, corporations) to always act in good faith, even when there is no obligation to do so? Why not put it all down in paper then. IM(H)O, Open Source still has not found a balancing act between pragmatism and staying true to the cause. Which is why we have issue with GPL v2 and v3. The deal (according to Eben Moglin) violates GPL v3, but v2-v3 debate is now more like a 50-50 split.

    Lets all go GPL v3, or shut up.

    Anyway, it is not that I found something terribly wrong with the deal. Mainly because it changes _nothing_ for existing users. It is just that Novell customers get an additional benefit. Meanwhile the Open Innovation Network still protects Open Source patents,
    the Mono team still maintains that the have not violated any patents, good news for getting Open-Office to open Word 2007 XML files (and more compatibility) and some other. But on the other hand, it does create a division and give Novell somewhat an unfair advantage.
  • by Myria (562655) on Sunday November 12, 2006 @04:31PM (#16815916)
    Under American patent law, if you use a product made by a company that did not have a license to a necessary patent, you can be sued, not just the company.

    An implication of the Microsoft-Novell agreement is that Microsoft could sue any Linux (or Samba?) user who did not buy it through Novell. It major lawsuits start happening and Microsoft wins the lawsuits, Linux will disappear from corporations in America, or they'll all go through Novell. If Linux isn't open, there's no point in using it.

    Melissa
  • by kimvette (919543) on Sunday November 12, 2006 @04:48PM (#16816058) Homepage Journal
    Can't they just inform Novell that they no longer have the right to distribute Samba under the GPL, but instead must either fork it or work out commercial licenses with the Samba code contributors (good luck with working out a deal with each copyright holder)? Other project teams could do the same, and Novell will have a hard choice to make:

      1. Fork each project where distribution rights have been and choose to fork, becoming incompatible in the near-to-mid future

      2. Reconsider the deal, pull out, and work with Redhat, Canonical, IBM, et al, ensuring compatibility, and create a strong front against Microsoft's monopoly. They could also form clean room reverse engineering teams where binaries are decompiled and notes are taken on the architecture, then hand those notes (but NO decompiled code examples) to the open source developers. This way. legal, clean-room implementations of Samba, wine, etc. can be created WITHOUT tainting of GPL and BSD code by Microsoft.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Can't they just inform Novell that they no longer have the right to distribute Samba under the GPL

      You can't retract the terms of a license. All you can do is issue future versions under a new license.

  • by unity100 (970058) on Sunday November 12, 2006 @05:02PM (#16816178) Homepage Journal
    and avoid them like hell. Anything done under such debatable license, and anything done in conjunction with microsoft, i would avoid like hell.

    Microsoft is not trustable in my opinion, in regard to freedom of anything. This is no 'j00B micro$oft eviLLaZ' type of thought - it is based on practical reasons : microsoft have never been a trustable ally in matters related to openness, freedom, and it is fat chance that they will - with all those shareholders.

    So, i would avoid them like hell, and advise all my colleagues to do so always.
  • it doesn't matter (Score:3, Insightful)

    by oohshiny (998054) on Sunday November 12, 2006 @06:33PM (#16817056)
    I don't see why people get so upset about this. The agreement is pretty meaningless as far as open source is concerned. Microsoft probably made it in order (1) to spread FUD, (2) maybe actually get involved a little with Linux, and (3) to get cross licenses for Novell's patents. It's not like it's a huge amount of money for them, but it does help Novell, and Novell has actually contributed positively for the time being.
  • by Statecraftsman (718862) * on Sunday November 12, 2006 @07:17PM (#16817414) Homepage
    I don't think Microsoft has intentions of being the next SCO. They just want a way to control some foothold of open source deployment. In process Novell is happy to get some solid sales going from their SUSE investment even if they piss off the open source world.

    I don't see this as a dividing tactic but just a money making one. It's not as if half of the open source community is going to jump to proprietary software just because of one deal.

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