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07.22.07

The ‘Cost’ of GPLv3 is the Loss of All Threats to Free Software

Posted in Finance, FUD, GNU/Linux, GPL, Intellectual Monopoly, Linspire, Microsoft, Novell, Open XML, Patent Covenant, Patents, Xandros at 10:10 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

We continue to explore the Linspire/Microsoft affairs and we identify some highly discomforting facts. As we stated in the past, personal benefits were possibly (even probably) part of all those recent deals. Moreover, vile attacks which ensued could truly make you wonder who is on whose side. There are no answers, but there is a lot of evidence to gather and then weigh. Consider some of the latest:

The page on the Linspire executives lists only one founder, Michael Robertson. Maybe there are others. Who knows with a privately-held company? For that matter, who knows where the Microsoft money goes with a private company. There is no public accountability. The “Inc.” means it is a corporation, so it’s still under certain requirements under the laws that govern that type of entity, but it’s not like SCO Group, where we get to read where all the money goes. Well.

So what really happened there? Similar questions arose when the Xandros and Novell deals materialised. Executives are possibly being ‘rewarded’, but there is no strong and concrete evidence to support this. If that is the case, Microsoft may be buying its anti-Linux FUD in attempts to corrupt and muddy the marketplace. Seen differently, Microsoft buys the exit of Linux companies from the market. Until now, no compelling evidence was available; yet, the new disclosures that we know about leave a lot of room for speculation. Carry on reading.

Making Linux suicidal for some companies seems to have been one Microsoft strategy, among others such as ‘artificial’ promotion of Microsoft’s Office OpenXML. Innocent watchers cannot help giving some credit to Microsoft. It knows what it’s doing. Why can’t we? It is important that Linux companies finally understand what is happening. The media has an agenda, so it can be deceiving. It portrays the deals with Microsoft as friendly collaborations.

Call it a case of naive reporting or reporters with an agenda, but the matter of fact is that hope is not lost. More people wake up and realise that the loss of Linspire would actually be a gain. Watch the thread “So the backstabbing Has Begun”.

I’ve seen several business analysts (not Free/Open software people) who say that Microsoft has NEVER in it’s corporate history not betrayed anyone who signed an agreement with them. IBM, Digital Research, the list is long. The behavior is remarkably consistent over decades.
It was never a question of anything but time.
Novel, Xandros, Linspire. Now it looks like the betrayal has already started. Hope these folks have lots of band aids.

To which the reply was:

Given that these are the companies who flipped off the people whose software they use, I hope they have no first aid. I don’t aprove of Microsoft’s conduct, but these companies have it coming to them. Before anyone complains about the Linux community “eating its own young” or anything, let me point out that these companies decided on their own to become cancerous growths on free software. (Of course, Linspire was 70% there already.) I say the appropriate response is to cut off the cancer before it infects the rest of the body.

A couple more comments concur. One says that Linspire lives under a state of delusion while another calls for adoption of GPLv3 as a step that would put an end to Microsoft’s screenplay.

A few more comments are worth mentioning and we hope LinuxToday won’t mind us ‘borrowing’ them. Suddenly the tune changes and Lispire’s ‘mistake’ may seem like more of a deliberate strategy. One reader notes:

“That is $20 million each paid to Xandros and Linspire, and $240 million paid to Novell.”

The Xandros and Linspire figures are truly new to us. Can anybody corroborate with a reliable source? This is reminiscent of Microsoft’s secret investments in SCO, which fights Linux in court.

Another reader points out:

“And to make matters worse our DOJ is too stupid to see what’s happening.”

Finally, another reader sums it all up. To quote a fragment of a very large comment:

Just think about it:

1. Microsoft claims GNU/Linux infringes its IP.

2. Microsoft PAYS a large sum of money to Novell, Linspire, and Xandros.

3. Microsoft then agrees not to pursue legal action against Novell, Linspire, and Xandros, or their customers, for infringing Microsoft IP.

Now, if GNU/Linux actually violated Microsoft IP, the money in any deal between a GNU/Linux distribution and Microsoft would flow the other way. Novell, Linspire and Xandros would have had to pay Microsoft to indemnify GNU/Linux users.

Novell, Linspire and Xandros were hired to do a job.

The job they were hired to do was to assist Microsoft in destroying GNU/Linux as a “free as in speech and free as in beer” alternative to Windows on the desktop and Windows in the server room.

It sums it all up rather nicely. Luckily, there is something we can do. The FSF foresaw this.

Developers should not be discouraged by Linspire and they ought to consider an upgrade to GPLv3. Luis Villa continues to debunk some GPL myths.

Most users won’t see any change from the shift from v2 to v3- they’ll be able to keep trucking, since users have all the same rights they used to have, plus a few new ones. There are new requirements for contributors and distributors, but they should be threatening only to the small minority of companies who want to benefit from the GPL while competing on a basis other than quality and service.

We previously mentioned the video where Dr. Stallman announces the GPLv3 and makes it seem less intimidating than people were led to believe. For those who favour embedded Flash (OGG here), here it is (new addition to YouTube, which RMS evidently dislikes):

As it stands, Linspire apparently attacks Free software. GPLv3 ‘punishes’ Linspire. Developers should not let this become a discouraging factor or a deterrent. The sooner the FUD is eradicated, the better. Linspire is no longer on our side, which is also why we registered boycottlinspire.com. Those who were hired (read: paid) to attack Linux need be alienated…

not because we are nasty, but because Free software must defend its existence.

The last thing we need to endorse is another SCO with 3 battle fronts.

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11 Comments

  1. akf said,

    July 23, 2007 at 3:10 am

    Gravatar

    Hello,

    nice article, but there is one error:
    “Linspire is no longer on our side”

    correct:
    “Linspire has never been on our side, which they proved once more with this”

    Linspire has always been a fan of LWindows.

  2. Roy Schestowitz said,

    July 23, 2007 at 3:20 am

    Gravatar

    @ akf: I was getting mixed signals when they released CNR, which according to Kevin Carmony, may have actually coincided with his negotiations with Microsoft (months ago).

    Other sights that spring to mind are sidlings with Rob Enderle.

    Maybe it was a case of wishful thinking.

  3. Winter said,

    July 23, 2007 at 10:01 am

    Gravatar

    I think that the target of all these deals is not directly Linux, but ODF, or better, ISO aproval for and EU anti-trust actions against OOXML. My take is that MS paid those companies to produce OOXML “implementations”. That is the current $12B question to MS.

    MS used these “implementations” to prove that OOXML was implemented and used by competitors. They did that, eg, in the BIS Wordprocessing Markup language workgroup in India (a runup to the India ISO vote).

    Except that companies that are PAID to implement OOXML based on a patent licensing agreement are not independend competitors.

    Winter

  4. Drummer said,

    July 23, 2007 at 4:01 pm

    Gravatar

    Dr. Stallman is probably a brilliant man. (I don’t know, as I’ve never met him.) But, unfortunately, for the business world, he looks far too much like an aging hippie from the 60′s. And that is something that most “corporate” people wouldn’t trust. A bit of a haircut and a beard trim, and he’d probably be a reasonably handsome guy – “good Mom-factor”, or the sort of guy you could bring home to show off to Mom.

    I think he’d get a lot further with the larger (business) community. Whether they might initially agree with the GPL3 or not.

  5. Roy Schestowitz said,

    July 23, 2007 at 6:21 pm

    Gravatar

    Drummer, think of RMS as a thinker. Not all those whom he represents are a shadow/reflection of his own image. I’d still agree with your assessment.

  6. chaosUnplugged said,

    July 23, 2007 at 7:00 pm

    Gravatar

    Can you comment on Linus ‘Linux’(r) Torvald’s take viz-a-viz:

    ‘…Linux creator Linus Torvalds called advocates of the Free Software Foundation’s GPLv3 license “hypocrites.” A few readers complained I had not provided a complete picture of Torvald’s feelings. They were right. He also thinks FSF leaders are “controlling,” “condescending,” and full of “hot air.” And he’s got more choice words for GPLv3 itself.

    In a series of postings on the Linux kernel mailing list under the thread ‘Dual-Licensing Linux Kernel with GPL V2 and GPL V3′, Torvalds makes clear his distaste for the third version of the General Public License and its creators–a group led by the Free Software Foundation’s eccentric president Richard Stallman:

    “The FSF crowd is vocal and opinionated, but it’s largely made up of people who talk more than they actually code. Hot air doesn’t make the world go round. Real code does,” Torvalds writes in one post in the thread.

    “Now look at the people who try to sell the GPLv3 as the best thing since sliced bread. How many of those are people who actually get things done? I haven’t really seen a single one. Last I did the statistics, I asked the top 25-30 kernel developers about their opinion. NOT A SINGLE ONE preferred the GPLv3,” Torvalds states in another.

    “The GPLv3 seems to attract people who make the wrong technical decisions,” Torvalds says in the thread…’

    source: July 16 2007 InformationWeek http://www.informationweek.com/blog/main/archives/2007/07/the_linus_files.html

    Thank you very much.

    Sincerely and respectfully,

    /s/chaosUnplugged

  7. Roy Schestowitz said,

    July 23, 2007 at 7:07 pm

    Gravatar

    chaosUnplugged,

    Are you aware of the fact that the original article was criticized for being flamebait, exaggeration, and a comment taken out of context? See:

    http://boycottnovell.com/2007/07/15/dinformationweek-rebuttal/

    Perhaps we ought to prefer to not to pay attention to InformationWeek anymore. They seem to have had an agenda for the past few months. It’s not just a personal observation. Other sites see this as well.

  8. J said,

    July 23, 2007 at 10:19 pm

    Gravatar

    “Can you comment on Linus ‘Linux’(r) Torvald’s take viz-a-viz:”

    I am wondering if Microsoft has some throw-away money to fund some student research that blends most of the Linux kernel with the Windows GUI and various other components exposing only Windows interfaces. I’ll call this Windows Z (TM).

    Add Windows Z to the XBox-NG. There are some areas of the Linux kernel that need to be removed (eg, the scheduler). What the team does is to incorporate all of this Windows code that is not part of the Linux kernel into hardware. Only some XBox-NG specialty chips know about the Windows enhancement code. The special chip circuitry modifies the regular flow of instructions whenever certain addresses are required (firmware taylored for the specific kernel.org version and for the Windows enhancing code version). There are a few issues but most of the process manages to work fairly transparently since the most important Windows Z kernel core code runs from the Windows enhancement code on hardware and not from the Linux kernel.org code in main memory. A special mode even allows Linux apps to run on this system virtually natively off the unmodified Linux kernel.org code installed. The XBox-NG is capable of presenting a virtual machine that allows the unmodified kernel.org code to run as if it were running on a native x86 architechture.

    Initially, this integration work is difficult, but ultimately the savings come in when Windows code has been reworked to fit in and use growth and advances on kernel.org kernels. We get a solid trusted computing environment that obsoletes x86 machines in many cases while providing the top quality XBox-NG media platform. Many savings in hardware costs would be had by the consumer.

    An attractive project to many schools, I’d wager. A great way to put the great work of kernel.org to use on top hardware to manage the home. Linus might even be able to recommend someone to oversee some of these projects (the more successful ones, of course).

    *********
    I confess. I don’t like this idea, but the kernel is ripe for exploitation.

  9. Roy Schestowitz said,

    July 23, 2007 at 10:55 pm

    Gravatar

    We’ve written some posts where we validate the suspicion that Microsoft ha[s|d] ambitions to use a BSD/Linux kernel. They have a research project called Singularity, but it appears to have reached a dead end (last report from April).

  10. J said,

    July 24, 2007 at 1:26 am

    Gravatar

    I was just pointing out that you can take any GPLv2 software and modify it, but rather than modify the source (the GPL stuff), you compile/build it and then hack away at that binary encoding, realizing the “modifications” in hardware. It’s effectively not modifying the code but modifying the hardware machine that reads the code to read something else wherever a modification is sought.

    I think the GPLv3 does a better job of preventing this because it requires the machine to behave normally when you run your own modified version of the software (however the final GPLv3 toned this down to apply to only some devices). I can eventually see how without fighting against this, all GPLv? software will me taken and used however the manufacturer wants without revealing any of their modifications. DRM can be installed on all of what tomorrow may pass for PCs/general purpose computers.

    Maybe others have an opinion on this.

  11. Alex said,

    July 24, 2007 at 2:54 am

    Gravatar

    Drummer makes me laugh. It’s like wearing ties, why the hell should a person have to wear one to get on? And to concede his freedom by dressing how others might prefer him to look seems more of a betrayal than if it were discovered that he used Office (with Emacs key bindings obviously!).

    And I think you underestimate the large businesses, led by financial institutions, who know a good price. Trouble really is that for business price matters more than anything else.

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