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A 5-Year Deal With Microsoft To Dump Novell/SUSE 174

Nicholas Petreley writes, "Wake up little SUSE, wake up. No, that's not good enough. Wake up SUSE customers, wake up. Novell is jeopardizing the future of Linux for its own short-term rewards. If you want to see Linux flourish, let alone survive, after Novell's five year deal with Microsoft expires, I suggest we make an alternative five-year deal with Microsoft. In this case, our part of the deal is to spend the next five minutes, months, or years migrating away from every shred of Novell/SUSE software in our home, office, or enterprise."
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A 5-Year Deal With Microsoft To Dump Novell/SUSE

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  • Awesome plan! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Magic5Ball ( 188725 ) on Thursday November 09, 2006 @11:20AM (#16785605)
    "Microsoft is attempting ... eradicate Linux, sabotage it..."

    So the best option is react with:

    "Novell/SUSE users and customers should wipe Novell/SUSE off their disks and install virtually any non-Novell/SUSE alternative in its place."


    "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."

    It's the same plan that they used to kill Apple. Oh, wait...
  • by rindeee ( 530084 ) on Thursday November 09, 2006 @11:28AM (#16785773)
    Perhaps it was an unfair prejudgement on my part, but when Novell picked up SuSE, I went on. Having ridden the "Big Red" bus in the past, I wanted no part of Novell's nonsensical business decisions. SuSE was/is a fine distro, but there are so so many others out there that are better and truly free (CentOS anyone). What is their consumer base these days? Have they really grown since Novell bought them? They used to be huge in Europe, are they still? Perhaps it's ignorance talking, but SuSE just doesn't seem to be anywhere near the distro player that they used to be. Will they really be missed?
  • by paladinwannabe2 ( 889776 ) on Thursday November 09, 2006 @11:44AM (#16786037)
    Microsoft appears to be making a strategic alliance with Novell. So what. It's unlikely MS will use this to try to crush competing Linux distros- there is no way they would succeed, and we would all boycott MS AND Novell if they tried something stupid and evil like that. See the SCO vs. IBM case for what happened last time MS tried to destroy Linux- we'd all ignore MS's fud, and they would lose a lot of money in court.

    Also, Novell's code is under the GPL. This means that anything Microsoft lets Novell do can be used by anyone else. Thus, MS can't use this to make a 'MS only' version of Linux. In fact, thanks to the GPL, anything Microsoft does to help Novell can help the community as a whole.

    Microsoft is not the Devil. Everything they touch is not automatically unclean and corrupted. The worst MS could do is help Novell create a Linux distro that is the standard by which other distros are judged. I know many /.ers are afraid of that- but believe me, there are bigger things to worry about. You should use the OS that best suits your needs- be it Ubuntu, Debian, SuSe, Windows, or OSX.
  • cool down (Score:5, Interesting)

    by oohshiny ( 998054 ) on Thursday November 09, 2006 @11:46AM (#16786057)
    As I have written previously [], the whole thing is primarily a publicity stunt on the part of Microsoft. By being able to point at deals like this, they can attempt to claim that there is something to their claims that they have intellectual property that Linux may infringe on. In addition, the reason the whole thing started is, I believe, a bunch of patents Novell asserted against Microsoft, not the other way around.

    But in the end, the deal is legally meaningless because Novell cannot protect just its own customers from lawsuits over (L)GPL software; yes, Novell can agree to cover their customers' legal costs, but should Microsoft ever assert any patents against anybody on a piece of (L)GPL'ed software, Novell's customers have to stop using the software in question (well, technically, they'd just not get any updates, but that amounts to the same thing) just like everybody else, since the (L)GPL does not permit redistribution of software that's patent encumbered.

    Potentially, this deal could be used by Microsoft to establish that their patents are "valuable", but I think courts aren't that stupid either. Furthermore, we have had several "worst-case scenarios" involving patents, open source software, and litigious companies, and their long term effect has been nil: open source seems to be able to work around intellectual property issues quite effectively.

    In the end, Microsoft has given several hundred million dollars to an open source company for a legally meaningless move and the ability to spread a bunch of FUD. It probably would have looked better for Novell to turn them down, but I don't see it as a really big problem that they didn't, and it's a big chunk of change that will probably fund more open source development.

    So, should you still use SuSE? I don't particularly like the company; I think they have always been excessively fond of software whose licenses I consider questionable (including Java and Qt). But I don't see them as a big threat either, and they are contributing to the community. In the end, the whole thing is a tempest in a teapot, except that an open source company is several hundred million dollars richer, which can't be all that bad.
  • by rucs_hack ( 784150 ) on Thursday November 09, 2006 @11:50AM (#16786137)
    Microsoft are trying to bring linux into its own incarnation of the computing world, as every other major competitor to them in this field has faded into insignificance, or gone entirely. Basically they could beat linux if it was competing in the same way they work.

    However it isn't, and I think microsoft just haven't grasped that. Open source (which seems to be a phrase under constant re-interpretation), has one interesting attribute, only the fittest survive, not the 'richest'. Money has never equalled success in the FOSS world. Although it can help a truly good product get better, it can't save a bad one. This is entirely different to the closed source world, where money can indeed prop up crap software (IE anyone?).

    SUSE has never been the best distro, and its not very populer among the hobbyist userbase. All it has going for it is that microsoft and Novell have an established history of working together, something microsoft don't have with any other linux distributor.

    Microsoft had no choice but to pick SUSE, so they have to get what they can from this deal by way of leverage on the linux install base.

    They have already proved themselves capable of throwing billions into enterprises that make no money, so the idea that they could push 'microsoft aproved' linux at a loss to corporations and reap benefits by being perceived as an aproved software portal for the corporate world in this new era is entirely plausible.
    That would equal control, and that further means they can 'phase out' linux, because they control it, as it 'just isn't good enough'.

    Alas, this is a house of cards, and it just won't work. The plain fact is that open source has never really been something one entity controls, so this deal with Novell will harm SUSE, but not gnu/linux as a whole. Microsofts real target is Red Hat, being as they are the major player in the corporate linux world, and Novell is as close as they can get to the Red Hat camp, close enough (they think) to harm its install base.

    Yup, SUSE will be harmed, Red Hat may get pinched a bit, but FOSS is controlled by hundreds of thousands of developers, and will barely notice this event. Politics don't generally hurt hackers or prevent them from coding into the night, that's what mailing lists are for. You can't kill FOSS by finding bit of it and jumping up and down on it, and the open source world will always have a nasty habit of pulling a new unexpected innivation out that will deal a serious blow to any advance microsoft have made.

    I won't be having anything to do with any novell products now, not that I did much already, I'd decided a long time back that SUSE didn't do linux the way I liked it.
  • by H4x0r Jim Duggan ( 757476 ) on Thursday November 09, 2006 @11:51AM (#16786161) Homepage Journal

    While companies can work out their own deals, and they might be able to do naughty things while still complying with GPLv2, we should be looking at our big deal. The GPL is the closest thing the free software community has to a social contract. We should be looking into how to prevent such harm for v3 of the GPL [].

  • Rant rant (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mikesd81 ( 518581 ) <> on Thursday November 09, 2006 @12:04PM (#16786375) Homepage
    Sometimes Mister Petreley's rants are informed in the Linux Journal /var/opinion. Sometimes not. He quotes in the first part of his rant from the Novell Agreement FAQ []:
    Novell makes no admission that its Linux and open source offerings infringe on any other parties' patents.

    Then he goes on to say near the end:
    Take Novell to court over its violation of section 7 of the GPL.

    However question #1 in the FAQ is: How is this agreement compatible with Novell's obligations under Section 7 of the GPL? and the reply is:
    Our agreement with Microsoft is focused on our customers, and does not include a patent license or covenant not to sue from Microsoft to Novell (or, for that matter, from Novell to Microsoft). Novell's customers receive a covenant not to sue directly from Microsoft. We have not agreed with Microsoft to any condition that would contradict the conditions of the GPL and we are in full compliance.

    Novell's end user customers receive a covenant not to sue directly from Microsoft for their use of Novell products and services, but these activities are outside the scope of the GPL.

    It also goes on to say that there was no threat of a law suit. so if he's going to call for lawyers to go after Novell for breaching the section 7 of the GPL.........maybe he should get some proof that they did?

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