EditorsAbout the SiteComes vs. MicrosoftUsing This Web SiteSite ArchivesCredibility IndexOOXMLOpenDocumentPatentsNovellNews DigestSite NewsRSS

06.22.08

Novell, Microsoft… and IBM… Maybe Oracle Too (Part II)

Posted in GNU/Linux, GPL, IBM, Intellectual Monopoly, Microsoft, Novell, Oracle, Red Hat, SLES/SLED at 1:03 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

In Part 1, we wrote rather cautiously about Oracle’s relationship with Red Hat and then reiterated known facts about IBM. This is where it gets trickier because we now introduce what’s not sufficiently substantiated but nonetheless worthy of consideration. It seems to have received a nod from Novell.

Some Background Information

Who is Ron Hovsepian? According to Wikipedia, “Hovsepian held management and executive positions at IBM Corporation over a 17 year period, including worldwide general manager of IBM’s distribution industries, managing global hardware and software development, sales, marketing and services.”

Our sources are close enough to Ron Hovsepian himself and it’s interesting to note that he was appointed and made CEO between the time that IBM helped Novell acquire SUSE (Hovsepian Joined Novell in June 2003 and in November 2003 Novell bought SuSE) and just shortly before negotiations with Microsoft began, namely around May or June 2006. Hovsepian was appointed CEO in June 2006 when he replaced Jack Messman. Pay careful attention to the proximity of dates.

Linux as Power, Not Freedom

According to the Linux Foundation’s annual conference (the Summit), which last took place in Austin, representatives might insist that they only care for Linux solutions, not desktops. Novell says that too: “solutions”. In other words, the key element which is Free software, with the GNU GPL at its very core, is viewed as a nuisance, as though its kind of stands in their way. Proprietary or Free, to the big vendors it’s all about power, not freedom.

Richard Stallman’s philosophy and the accompanying licence are seen as discomforting to those who want to produce “solutions”, so ways of working around the licences seems desirable. While every company is acting selfishly for sure, some remember to respect their supplier (volunteer programmers) and recall what they came from. Mutual honour is definitely a prerequisite to the success of this relationship.

Over at IBM, with Irving‘s departure (he retired quite recently, having put the company’s focus on GNU/Linux and Free software), one can only hope that the leadership is still truly dedicated to the cause. Bob Sutor makes some solid migrations to GNU/Linux, but he still uses non-Free platforms sometimes. Being a decision-maker, he has impact.

Prelude to Assumption/Hypothesis

We finally turn our attention to the theory of a large-scale collusion — a gentle one nonetheless. At the heart of it we picture a battle played by executives and lawyers behind some people’s backs. Our source never really took the allegations of the OpenDocument Foundation working for Microsoft in disguise too seriously, but they did hurt the ODF cause a lot. Before that, Gary Edwards was leading a small but influent band of OpenOffice.org forkers and disruptors.

According to our source, a lot of what’s at play is related to Novell. Factors and forces that include Novell, Microsoft and ODF are part of it, and surely enough IBM feels bitter with Novell’s ambivalent yet receptive approach to OOXML. The same goes for Sun. We know this for a fact. Miguel’s OOXML affinity, for instance, is a big pain in the neck to them.

Novell informed several different ‘camps’ of FOSS developers about the agreement with Microsoft before it got signed. Mono and Samba developers, for instance, knew about it in advance and had time to voice their opinion. Jeremy Allison told us that he regretted not protesting more loudly.

Ron Hovsepian and other top executives tried to explain to leaders of several projects (primarily those impacted by the Microsoft deal) what that agreement all about. It was essential in order for friction to be reduced before the bomb is finally dropped. After all, Novell needed to make sure that, at least in the future, if possible, these projects will could continue working with Novell. It’s collaboration under Microsoft’s claws.

People who are associated with the FSF knew about this deal in advance as well (at least 2 of them). The legality questions — specially w.r.t. GPLv2 — was explained, but the wound was well understood by Hovsepian et al who disregarded it. There was too much at stake and the GPL wasn’t a priority high enough.

The Theory

Some believe that he idea of the Novell/Microsoft agreement came from IBM and Oracle. They went to Novell with the following plan: Microsoft would be very much interested in two things with Novell: polluting/diluting the Linux brand and message (Microsoft could also have a dent in the Linux market). This is always overlooked,

“Microsoft is very much interested in Novell’s IP. Remember SCO?”Microsoft is very much interested in Novell’s IP. Remember SCO? Remember e-directory? Remember Netware, Groupwise, etc? Well, Novell has a very nice IP portfolio that many companies of similar yield cannot enjoy. In short, that agreement was a boon for Microsoft but we all know this.

From the other side, the whole plan was a poker game that would tie down the hands of Microsoft with Novell and in the end neutralising Microsoft’s IP while IBM and Oracle could attack.

“Perhaps”, says the source, “and I would tend to buy into that option, Novell was quickly overthrown by Microsoft’s dance of the dead. I don’t know.

“The ultimate plan was to strangle Microsoft’s IP and that it was all the idea of IBM and Oracle.”

Take this part with a grain of salt and decide for yourself if it makes sense to you. It sure seems to have struck a nerve with Novell’s CEO.

A Reader’s Take

One reader who was intrigued with the first part about possible secrets behind the Microsoft-Novell deal wrote:

“It sounds as if the whole point of that deal was the patent protection element that Microsoft supposedly slipped in at the last minute and to which Novell didn’t really agree and sloughs off as unimportant. I’ll have to wait and see.

“The comment I really wanted to make here is that I am not really surprised at all at IBM’s involvement here. First, in the days prior to Microsoft’s monopoly, IBM had a similar monopoly in the market for mainframe hardware. They employed similar tactics to Microsoft to fend off competition that wanted to make compatible hardware. See Amdahl. It was IBM who coined the tactic of Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt. Part of the reason Gates took such a hard-core stance in the anti-trust case was that he saw what happened to IBM after they complied with the anti-trust decision that went against them.

“I suppose it’s a bit unreasonable to think that a leopard could completely change its spots. While IBM has undeniably done some important things to promote Linux, one should never forget that their motivation isn’t out of any love for free software. They use Linux as a competitive tool against Microsoft. There is no love lost between these two companies. Consider what happened with OS/2, which was originally a joint project between IBM and Microsoft. Even more recently, consider the time when Microsoft announced their Palladium project, which is embodied in Vista. IBM came out and tried to assuage the fears of the Linux camp that they would be locked out by announcing support for “Trusted Computing.” In the current scenario, obviously without knowing any of the details, I suppose I would nonetheless be safe to say that the Novell-Microsoft deal is something that Novell gets credit for initiating – “coopetition.” That used to have such a nice ring to it, but not anymore.”

Novell pisses on GNU/Linux codebase since 2006

Share this post: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Reddit
  • co.mments
  • DZone
  • email
  • Google Bookmarks
  • LinkedIn
  • NewsVine
  • Print
  • Technorati
  • TwitThis
  • Facebook

If you liked this post, consider subscribing to the RSS feed or join us now at the IRC channels.

Pages that cross-reference this one

7 Comments

  1. casualvisitor said,

    June 22, 2008 at 1:45 pm

    Gravatar

    Tasteless illustration falls back on you.

  2. Roy Schestowitz said,

    June 22, 2008 at 1:53 pm

    Gravatar

    Is that you, eet, with a new nymshift? Your IP seems suspicious enough, never mind the bogus details you put in.

    The trolling sandbox is there —>>>

    Thank you.

  3. Woods said,

    June 22, 2008 at 11:54 pm

    Gravatar

    Where is IBM+Oracle’s game headed? Are they trying to take back the server-space from MS?
    (Watching from the sidelines, it *seems* like in the last, say, 10 years, MS Servers + SQL Server have really been grabbing their share of the server/db-space)

    So they would have RedHat play the patsy, be *the* server-solution for PCs (while IBM still have their mainframes) with Oracle-DBs of course (DB2 again on the mainframes) and ODF/Lotus Symphony down everyone’s throat and who cares of the desktop since the real money is in the server-space?
    (insert usual disclaimer for pure speculation here…)

  4. Roy Schestowitz said,

    June 23, 2008 at 12:50 am

    Gravatar

    I thought about it some more.

    Hovsepian began working with Microsoft as he was appointed CEO. Some people remember only ‘interop’ as his excuse, but what he said is that some clients had ‘IP’ issue on the table and wanted them resolved. Some people, like Asay, believe it’s nonsense and nobody ever had such issues (many still buy Red Hat, no?), so the question is whether IBM, his former employer, was among those pushing for these ‘IP’ issues to be resolved. Bear in mind that IBM uses a lot of SUSE in HPC and the mainframe (especially the latter).

    There are more questions to be answered here.

  5. Woods said,

    June 23, 2008 at 1:18 am

    Gravatar

    Well that would be a neat answer. Now IBM doesn’t have to worry about MS coming after them with licensing issues.
    Which begs the question: how much of MS’s IP-posturing about Linux/FOSS has been directed at FOSS-community and how much at other companies benefiting from that work (a’la IBM)?

  6. Roy Schestowitz said,

    June 23, 2008 at 1:41 am

    Gravatar

    You probably know this by now, but let’s repeat some older stories.

    “Microsoft currently collects royalties from some companies that use Linux in their computing environments, Gutierrez said. However, he declined to indicate the number, the dollar amount Microsoft receives from those payments, or identify any of the companies by name.” (Source)

    Also see this:

    LinuxWorld: One of the persistent rumors that’s going around is that certain large IT customers have already been paying Microsoft for patent licensing to cover their use of Linux, Samba and other free software projects. And the Novell deal — isn’t it just taking that and doing the same kind of thing wholesale?

    Allison: Yes, that’s true, actually. I mean I have had people come up to me and essentially off the record admit that they had been threatened by Microsoft and had got patent cross license and had essentially taken out a license for Microsoft patents on the free software that they were using, which they then cannot redistribute. I think that would be the restriction. I would have to look quite carefully. So, essentially that’s not allowed. But they’re not telling anyone about it. They’re completely doing it off the record.

    The problem with the Novell deal is — Novell gave Microsoft what Microsoft dearly wanted, which is a public admission that they think that Linux violates the Microsoft patent. So, that’s the difference between this and the sort of off-the-record quiet deals. This one is public. This one is Novell admitting, “yes, we think that Linux violates Microsoft patents.” Now, of course, Novell has come out and said, “no, that’s not what we said at all. We don’t think that.” To which, of course, Microsoft publicly humiliated them and said, “oh, yes, that’s really what you were saying.” It’s kind of funny. They couldn’t even wait until the press conference was over to start threatening users with a Linux system.

    IBM, Novell and other big vendors are quite hopeless for one to work with and trust; they are, by design self-serving. At the end of the day, the FSF et al are the only ones whose word we can trust.

    Moreover, the US and the UK are far behind it terms of FOSS adoption. They would be the last to embrace Free software and it’s quite important to ensure software patents never have other countries ruined. With the ACTA [PDF] being pushed through ‘underground chamber’ meetings, it’s clear that monopoly holders play very aggressively.

  7. Woods said,

    June 23, 2008 at 1:50 am

    Gravatar

    Well both articles were news to me, hadn’t considered the issue before.
    As for FSF et al being only trustworthy ones, amen.

    As for FOSS adoption, from where I’m sitting (the sidelines) the situation round here doesn’t seem much better. The job-market is pretty much dominated by Windows/.NET (well, half Java)/MOSS and such public-sector systems that *really* should be running FOSS, let alone using ODF, are not.

What Else is New


  1. Links 29/9/2016: Russia Moving to FOSS, New Nmap and PostgreSQL Releases

    Links for the day



  2. Team UPC is Interjecting Itself Into the Media Ahead of Tomorrow's Lobbying Push Against the European Council and Against European Interests

    A quick look at the growing bulk of UPC lobbying (by the legal firms which stand to benefit from it) ahead of tomorrow's European Council meeting which is expected to discuss a unitary patent system



  3. IP Kat is Lobbying Heavily for the UPC, Courtesy of Team UPC

    When does an IP (or patent) blog become little more than an aggregation of interest groups and self-serving patent law firms, whose agenda overlaps that of Team Battistelli?



  4. Leaked: Conclusions of the Secretive EPO Board 28 Meeting (8th of September 2016)

    The agenda and outcome of the secretive meeting of the Board of the Administrative Council of the EPO



  5. Letter From the Dutch Institute of Patent Attorneys (Nederlandse Orde van Octrooigemachtigden) to the Administrative Council of the EPO

    The Netherlands Institute of Patent Attorneys, a group representing a large number of Dutch patent practitioners, is against Benoît Battistelli and his horrible behaviour at the European Patent Office (EPO)



  6. EPO's Board 28 Notes Battistelli's “Three Current Investigations/Disciplinary Proceedings Involving SUEPO Members in The Hague."

    The attack on SUEPO (EPO staff representatives) at The Hague appears to have been silently expanded to a third person, showing an obvious increase in Battistelli's attacks on truth-tellers



  7. Links 28/9/2016: Alpine Linux 3.4.4, Endless OS 3.0

    Links for the day



  8. Cementing Autocracy: The European Patent Office Against Democracy, Against Media, and Against the Rule of Law

    The European Patent Office (EPO) actively undermines democracy in Europe, it undermines the freedom of the press (by paying it for puff pieces), and it undermines the rule of law by giving one single tyrant total power in Eponia and immunity from outside Eponia (even when he breaks his own rules)



  9. Links 28/9/2016: New Red Hat Offices, Fedora 25 'Frozen'

    Links for the day



  10. Team Battistelli Intensifies the Attack on the Boards of Appeal Again

    The lawless state of the EPO, where the rule of law is basically reducible to Battistelli's ego and insecurities, is again demonstrated with an escalation and perhaps another fake 'trial' in the making (after guilt repeatedly fails to be established)



  11. After the EPO Paid the Financial Times to Produce Propaganda the Newspaper Continues to Produce UPC Puff Pieces, Just Ahead of EU Council Meeting

    How the media, including the Financial Times, has been used (and even paid!) by the EPO in exchange for self-serving (to the EPO) messages and articles



  12. Beware the Patent Law Firms Insinuating That Software Patents Are Back Because of McRO

    By repeatedly claiming (and then generalising) that CAFC accepted a software patent the patent microcosm (meta-industry) hopes to convince us that we should continue to pursue software patents in the US, i.e. pay them a lot more money for something of little/no value



  13. The US Supreme Court Might Soon Tighten Patent Scope in the United States Even Further, the USPTO Produces Patent Maximalism Propaganda

    A struggle brewing between the patent 'industry' (profiting from irrational saturation) and the highest US court, as well as the Government Accountability Office (GAO)



  14. Patent Trolling a Growing Problem in East Asia (Software Patents Also), Whereas in the US the Problem Goes Away Along With Software Patents

    A look at two contrasting stories, one in Asia where patent litigation and hype are on the rise (same in Europe due to the EPO) and another in the US where a lot of patents face growing uncertainty and a high invalidation rate



  15. The EPO's Continued Push for Software Patents, Marginalisation of Appeals (Reassessment), and Deviation From the EPC

    A roundup of new developments at the EPO, where things further exacerbate and patent quality continues its downward spiral



  16. The Battistelli Effect: “We Will be Gradually Forced to File Our Patent Applications Outside the EPO in the Interests of Our Clients”

    While the EPO dusts off old files and grants in haste without quality control (won't be sustainable for more than a couple more years) the applicants are moving away as trust in the EPO erodes rapidly and profoundly



  17. Links 27/9/2016: Lenovo Layoffs, OPNFV Third Software Release

    Links for the day



  18. The Moral Depravity of the European Patent Office Under Battistelli

    The European Patent Office (EPO) comes under heavy criticism from its very own employees, who also seem to recognise that lobbying for the UPC is a very bad idea which discredits the European Patent Organisation



  19. Links 26/9/2016: Linux 4.8 RC8, SuperTux 0.5

    Links for the day



  20. What Insiders Are Saying About the Sad State of the European Patent Office (EPO)

    Anonymous claims made by people who are intimately familiar with the European Patent Office (from the inside) shed light on how bad things have become



  21. The EPO Does Not Want Skilled (and 'Expensive') Staff, Layoffs a Growing Concern

    A somewhat pessimistic look (albeit increasingly realistic look) at the European Patent Office, where unions are under fire for raising legitimate concerns about the direction taken by the management since a largely French team was put in charge



  22. Patents Roundup: Accenture Software Patents, Patent Troll Against Apple, Willful Infringements, and Apple Against a Software Patent

    A quick look at various new articles of interest (about software patents) and what can be deduced from them, especially now that software patents are the primary barrier to Free/Libre Open Source software adoption



  23. Software Patents Propped Up by Patent Law Firms That Are Lying, Further Assisted by Rogue Elements Like David Kappos and Randall Rader (Revolving Doors)

    The sheer dishonesty of the patent microcosm (seeking to bring back software patents by misleading the public) and those who are helping this microcosm change the system from the inside, owing to intimate connections from their dubious days inside government



  24. Links 25/9/2016: Linux 4.7.5, 4.4.22; LXQt 0.11

    Links for the day



  25. Patent Quality and Patent Scope the Unspeakable Taboo at the EPO, as Both Are Guillotined by Benoît Battistelli for the Sake of Money

    The gradual destruction of the European Patent Office (EPO), which was once unanimously regarded as the world's best, by a neo-liberal autocrat from France, Benoît Battistelli



  26. Bristows LLP's Hatred/Disdain of UK/EU Democracy Demonstrated; Says “Not Only Will the Pressure for UK Ratification of the UPC Agreement Continue, But a Decision is Wanted Within Weeks.”

    Without even consulting the British public or the European public (both of whom would be severely harmed by the UPC), the flag bearers of the UPC continue to bamboozle and then pressure politicians, public servants and nontechnical representatives



  27. Released Late on a Friday, EPO Social 'Study' (Battistelli-Commissioned Propaganda) Attempts to Blame Staff for Everything

    The longstanding propaganda campaign (framing staff as happy or framing unhappy staff as a disgruntled minority) is out and the timing of the release is suspicious to say the least



  28. Links 23/9/2016: Latest Microsoft and Lenovo Spin (Now in ‘Damage Control’ Mode)

    Links for the day



  29. White Male-Dominated EPO Management Sinks to New Lows, Again

    Benoît Battistelli continues to make the EPO look like Europe's biggest laughing stock by attempting to tackle issues with corny photo ops rather than real change (like SUEPO recognition, diverse hiring, improved patent quality, and cessation of sheer abuses)



  30. Journalism 102: Do Not Become Like 'Managing IP' or IAM 'Magazine' (the Megaphones of the EPO’s Management)

    Another look at convergence between media and the EPO, which is spending virtually millions of Euros literally buying the media and ensuring that the EPO's abuses are scarcely covered (if ever mentioned at all)


CoPilotCo

RSS 64x64RSS Feed: subscribe to the RSS feed for regular updates

Home iconSite Wiki: You can improve this site by helping the extension of the site's content

Home iconSite Home: Background about the site and some key features in the front page

Chat iconIRC Channel: Come and chat with us in real time

CoPilotCo

Recent Posts