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Ending the Exploitation of Developers by Novell, Microsoft and Others

Posted in GNU/Linux, GPL, Law, Microsoft, Novell, OpenSUSE, SLES/SLED at 11:40 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GPLv3 battles misuse of ‘free labour’

The GNU GPLv3 is a topic which is close to our hearts for a reason. It enables programmers to escape imprisonment of their code and it also sabotages Microsoft’s plan to subvert and eliminate Linux as we know it.

GPLv3 is on the right track. Yesterday we provided an example in the form of one project that has already adopted the new Affero GPLv3. The 451 Group has just blogged about the adoption and the role of GPLv3.

While GPLv3 originally set out to tackle the issue of software patents, another loophole emerged with the Microsoft-Novell partnership a year ago, adding some urgency and significance to the issue. To avoid passing its promise not to pursue patent-based legal action onto all Linux users, Microsoft gave its promise directly to SUSE Linux customers. GPLv3 grandfathered the clever deal, but again, the license would prevent a similar arrangement today.

SUSE Forums on the Ubuntu ‘Cookie Cutter’

Steve Ballmer rides SUSESome days ago we mentioned the impact of the Microsoft-Novell deal on OpenSUSE developers and volunteers. It wasn’t nice. There is plenty for them to lose and it’s hardly a surprise when you find signs of Ubuntu envy. I was sent the following bit last night. Let’s just call it what it is: jealousy.

Some interesting bits from the thread:

“Ubuntu is pretty, I’ll give it that, but it still strikes me as a fancy looking house with a still-framed interior. They tackled the easy parts and are ignoring the tricky parts, the ones that involve detail and low-level, uninteresting and unsexy effort”

“System configuration that is handled by a disparate collection of single purpose apps combined with necessary command line editing, for instance, versus a single unfied interface”

“And getting back to openSUSE, when you look at some of the tricky things in Yast… those are the luxury touches that define a home of distinction versus a cookie cutter home”

Interpretation of the above is not mine, but it was worth a quick mention nonetheless. The deal’s implications for OpenSUSE developers (a pledge) are worth exploring further.

Exploiting Free Software Programmers

There is a nice parallel here between programmers and artists. Consider large media companies that are explotiing writers, retaliating against artists, and unsurprisingly driving them away at the end. That’s just what Novell might have to face in the near future, especially when developers wake up and read the legal documents.

Such exploitation for profit has deep roots in Redmond, Washington. Here is a good old story:

Robert X. Cringely reveals the true reason why Paul Allen of Microsoft fame left the Redmond company, even though it was on track to become an extremely valuable stock. Considering Microsoft’s track record and behavior over the years, this should not be surprising, but if true it is beyond pall!


During one of those last long nights working to deliver DOS 2.0 in early 1983, I am told that Paul Allen heard Gates and Ballmer discussing his health and talking about how to get his Microsoft shares back if Allen were to die.

Maybe that’s just the sort of fiduciary discussion board members have to have, but it didn’t go over well with Paul Allen, who never returned to Microsoft, and over the next eight years, made huge efforts to secure his wealth from the fate of Microsoft.

Last week we wrote about the infectious selfishness and vanity that thrives at Microsoft and has apparently hit Novell. The story above makes a nice addition to this.

Related and older articles:

It appears that the standard operating procedure for Microsoft will be to send open sourced partners into the GPLv3 car park.

If Novell’s Linux business continues to grow, and it does this without the crutch of Microsoft, people will forgive and forget…slowly. In the meantime, Novell can’t pretend that it’s loved by the open-source community. The Microsoft deal did far too much damage to its credibility to expect that.

My recent Novell post got some private push-back from a Novell spokesman who insisted that I was being harsh.


I suspect many marketers, public relations experts and even executives entering open source for the first time don’t understand this point. They want to be judged on what they say today, and only today.

Sorry, folks. New rule. Open source doesn’t forget.

We never forgot.

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A Single Comment

  1. eet said,

    November 22, 2007 at 4:01 am


    Again trying to stirr-up an inter-distro war within the community, are you Roy? We won’t fall for your tricks, you know.

    It’s amazing how so much text (your posts) can contain so little content. Most of it is cut-and-paste of quotes that you say strengthen your POV but actually don’t. The rest is linking back to your own posts from the past which you claim prove your point of view. But they actually don’t. It’s all just a facade. This whole blog is one big facade built around a big ego and a large hole where the actual substance of your allegations should be.

    Note: comment has been flagged for arriving from an abusive Internet troll

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