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Embracing and Extending Open Source from the Inside — Yes, Again

Posted in Corel, GNOME, GNU/Linux, GPL, Microsoft, Mono, Novell, Virtualisation, Xen at 3:31 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“We believe every Linux customer basically has an undisclosed balance-sheet liability.”

Steve Ballmer

Microsoft continues to show its total disregard for Free software. It only wants to exploit it.

Going against a hugely popular saying, Microsoft is firm in saying “never” to open source. Chief Executive Officer Steve Ballmer had a single answer to a question presented at the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference 2008 regarding the possibility that the company’s flagship products will veer away from its current proprietary business mode. “No!”

Dana Blankenhorn responds to this too. He politely asks Microsoft’s CEO to just STFU.

I hate to go all Bond villain on Mr. Ballmer, but the question of whether Microsoft talks to open source, about open source, or even engages open source is just not relevant any more.

We are past the point with Microsoft where open source needs to fear the Giant of Redmond. Despite Mr. Ballmer’s bluster, the company lacks the legal weaponry to destroy open source, with patents or anything else.

SourceForge Revisited

We have done some research on Microsoft’s relationship with (and attitude towards) Free software. Two days ago we focused on Microsoft's corporate role in SourceForge. We dealt with this before. Responding to the latest report, Groklaw raises an issue: “Question – Has Sourceforge lost its cotton pickin’ mind? Answer – Yes. Or else Microsoft is an inspiration. Who wouldn’t want to help Microsoft figure out who to sue?”

For those who are new to this, here is the gist:

  1. CodePlex and SourceForge overlap
  2. Microsoft funds them and gradually changes the meaning/perception of "Open Source"
  3. The CEO quit recently. He is to be replaced.

patent threat
Photo under the GNU Free Documentation license

Mono Revisited

Well, well. What have we here?

Banshee by default in Intrepid [Ubuntu 8.10]

Since F-Spot is installed by default Mono is now part of the base
install. So outside of all the debate around Mono, have we considered
installing Banshee as the default media player in Intrepid now that
Banshee 1.0 is released?

Banshee is of course Mono based. Novell seems happy about it because it gains control of the Free Desktop. Watch the bottom of the homepage: “The Banshee name is a registered trademark of Novell. This does not include Banshee source code, which is licensed under the MIT X11 license.

“Banshee is of course Mono based. Novell seems happy about it because it gains control of the Free Desktop.”Novell is the next Corel. Let’s say that again: Novell. Is. The next Corel. This is how Mono is likely to take over GNOME. First the applications, just as we predicted. It’s infecting other distributions too, including Fedora, which is perhaps only beginning to wake up and smell the coffee.

Here is how it goes: First you neglect or phase out applications that are written using other (non-.NET) P\Ls. The core of GNOME needn’t be rewritten — yet. It’s like a staged introduction which application maturity and priority might make inevitable.

Virtualisation Revisited

It’s another case of “embrace, redefine, and extend” technology. It’s a strategy that revolves around dependency and weakening of the GNU GPL. Hyper-V’s purpose, for example, is partly to ensure that Windows is always the host and Linux just a guest. That guest, moreover, must be the Microsoft-taxed SLES.

Virtualisation is hugely important to GNU/Linux, as today’s news reminds us. Microsoft wants to put an end to this using money, manipulation, and acquisitions.

With Microsoft’s virtual control of Xen (it’s owned by its Partner of the Year, which begs for similar questions about VMWare), one has to wonder about the effect on Sun too. Microsoft is stealing critical bits of the FOSS stack. Sun tries to play a similar game; so did Oracle a long time ago.

Citrix/Microsoft seem to have turned Xen rather sour of the subject of Free software. Now there’s a confrontation.

A war of words has erupted between two bitter opponents in the Xen open source-based hypervisor (define) market. Citrix, which owns XenSource and drives the Xen project, has insulted arch-rival Virtual Iron, saying, among other things, that it owns the hypervisor while Virtual Iron just consumes the product.

This fired up Virtual Iron’s chief strategy officer Tony Asaro, who slapped back by saying Citrix chief technology officer Simon Crosby is out of line because Virtual Iron has been a substantial contributor to the Xen project and Xen belongs to the open source community.

A fuming Asaro told InternetNews.com “the dangerous thing Simon said is that Citrix owns the hypervisor. That’s wrong; Citrix bought Xen and sells the Citrix commercial product and are the drivers or owners of the open source project, but it’s the community that works on open source.”

Crosby’s “irresponsible statement about the open source community is counter to the philosophy of open source which he’s the biggest proponent of,” Asaro added.

There are some announcements to come from Citrix/Xen and Microsoft, according to Crosby.

Microsoft is trying to steal Open Source.

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  1. anonymous said,

    July 15, 2008 at 2:17 pm


    Now I do understand the argument of a so-called potential “hidden threat” (in terms of DRM and so forth) when it comes to Mono, but I completely do fail to see the important point (?) in the following:

    “The Banshee name is a registered trademark of Novell. This does not include Banshee source code, which is licensed under the MIT X11 license.”

    Are you trying to say that MIT-type licenses are somehow wrong or unacceptable? If so, I am terrified and stop reading your site.

  2. Roy Schestowitz said,

    July 15, 2008 at 2:35 pm


    It’s the Novell copyrights that raise a brow. See:


  3. anonymous said,

    July 15, 2008 at 5:59 pm


    Just to get things straight. How is that different from, say,

    Copyright (C) 1991, 1992, 1997, 2008 Free Software Foundation, Inc.


    Does not the legal enforcement of GPL — just like MIT or any other common open source license — come directly (and only, one might add?) from the recognition and use of copyright laws?

    If I would license my code under, say, GPLv3, I am the sole holder for the copyright of that code with such privileges as possibility to change the license in the future. This is also why your or me can not sue anyone for license violations for works not licensed/copyrighted by us. In majority of cases in which a commercial company contributes to an open source project directly in the form of a complete application, the copyright holder is the company or individual representative(s) of it. There is nothing wrong in that — quite contrary.

    (And, you know, typically the copyright holder is FSF only in GNU projects, which, unfortunately or fortunately, constitute just a very small minority in the population of open source software. But this goes already towards my original question.)

  4. Roy Schestowitz said,

    July 15, 2008 at 11:26 pm


    I think that if/when Microsoft buys Novell this becomes a issue. Dependence on Novell isn’t ‘healthy’. The same goes for Mono and downstreaming (Silverlight codecs for example).

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