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10.19.08

MicroFOSS and Other Oxymorons: How Can Anyone Be So Gullible?

Posted in Deception, Free/Libre Software, FSF, GNU/Linux, Intellectual Monopoly, Microsoft, Novell, Patents, Videos at 11:00 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“Open source is an intellectual-property destroyer [...] I can’t imagine something that could be worse than this for the software business and the intellectual-property business. I’m an American; I believe in the American way, I worry if the government encourages open source, and I don’t think we’ve done enough education of policymakers to understand the threat.”

Jim Allchin, President of Platforms & Services Division at Microsoft

Now that we understand how Microsoft may plan to embrace and extend (in hopes of extinguishing) Free software, it is pretty much established that ignorance about this issue must be addressed. It’s imperative to inform.

There are too many people and high-traffic Web sites [1, 2, 3, 4] that are willing to give Microsoft a second (or twentieth) chance, failing to recognise the serial offender-like behaviour of this company. They try to appease or discredit critics. They are passing these dangerous messages and carry the disinformation further, possibly in hope of lulling another generation of young developers.

Dana Blankenhorn, a Windows user, almost fails to see what is wrong with Microsoft luring in Free software developers. There are many comments on his blog post, which is arguably provocative (he admitted to getting more responses, for which he is paid, when he writes like this about Microsoft). Tim Patterson responds:

We have understood that Mono and moonlight and deals between Novell and MS as well as Xandros constitute a ‘Trojan horse’.

The ‘interoperability’ argument fails here. ‘open source’ is by definition accessible. MS can offer ‘interoperability’ at any time they so choose.

My computing environment is rich and very capable and includes NO Microsoft ‘technology’.

Matt Asay, who is equally deceived by Microsoft’s attempt to imprison Free software inside Windows, wrote some more Microsoft-sympathetic remarks in response to the news that Microsoft is threatening Red Hat again — something that even Groklaw has just alerted about. Here is what he wrote:

Coming from anyone other than Horacio, I might have second-guessed the intentions behind his comments. But Horacio is a straight-shooter and I think there’s a lot of truth to what he says. Microsoft is more active in open source. It’s by no means an open-source company, but it’s blurring the lines just as companies like Zimbra do. Ultimately, this is for the good of the industry.

Lots of other comments seem to have magically vanished from this post of a Microsoft mouthpiece [1, 2]. maybe it was posted in two places, but it’s still bizarre (update: yes, it was posted in two places separately, so critics were sort of ‘isolated’).

“Windows is an enemy to Free software because of its proprietor.”Anyway, why the sympathy? Who is behind the apathy at best and enthusiasm at worst? Do certain people fail to see that Microsoft is attempting to dissolve Free software in a tepid pool of lock-in, DRM, digital ‘manners’, predatory pricing, forced upgrades, data ransom, security menaces and other unwanted consequences?

If Free software developers want to maintain their freedom and have their projects survive (let alone flourish), they must not play with fire — a fire which comes from software patents preaching, remember?

Horacio Gutierrez in hell

Picture contributed by a reader

Windows is an enemy to Free software because of its proprietor. Developers would have no access to source code that they depend upon. Not only would they be subjected to risk from unnamed software patents Microsoft holds and might actually use shall a particular project become a threat to its crown jewels; But moreover, all developers would have is some belated and incomplete documentation which is vital.

“We will file the answer tomorrow. We feel very good and very confident on the completeness of the documentation.”

Horacio Gutierrez, Microsoft Imaginary Property Officer

That would be a “patent pill” which the Gartner Group warned about, and that’s not all. Remember what Microsoft refers to as a “rat holes.” It is against providing developers with open interfaces. This enables Microsoft to compete better using secret APIs and optimisations only Microsoft can understand (it has access to internals deep inside the system’s source code).

Matt Asay, much like others who occasionally commend Microsoft’s open source faking, may be biased. We explained this before, one context and crux of the argument being OSBC (ironically, Microsoft is partly behind it [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]). This will be discussed further in future posts.

Since our previous videos of Eben Moglen were received positively, here is another one from OSBC 2007. Matt Asay gives the podium to Professor Moglen.

Ogg Theora

Some more key issues are explained in the speech above. Those who wholeheartedly trust Microsoft must no longer trust their memory. It might — just might — be deficient, or maybe just too selective.

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108 Comments

  1. Needs Sunlight said,

    October 19, 2008 at 12:09 pm

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    It goes further than the false dichotomy of MS vs Free Software. It is the problem of MS vs all other software. Closed source is not magically protected, rather it appears even more vulnerable. Borland, anyone?

    Asay and others might just be gullible. Others, like Meeks, are trying to get poisoned bait into the system.

  2. Roy Schestowitz said,

    October 19, 2008 at 2:35 pm

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    I’d rather we talked about companies and not placed blame on individuals (or else Michael will send me more E-mails).

    I agree on the point of proprietary software companies being mistreated too. If you follow the link to the leaked E-mails, you’ll find evidence relating exactly to that. Windows is suitable for development only if you are a Microsoft engineer or obedient partner like Citrix.

  3. AlexH said,

    October 19, 2008 at 4:09 pm

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    Wait. Is this you “expanding” on your Apache FUD?

  4. Roy Schestowitz said,

    October 19, 2008 at 4:13 pm

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    No, it is an expansion of the Apache /analysis/.

  5. AlexH said,

    October 19, 2008 at 4:27 pm

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    No, if there are no facts, it stops being “analysis” or whatever you want to call it, and starts being FUD.

    We already knocked down the supposed “patent problem”, but you’ve not actually said what you’re complaining about now.

  6. Roy Schestowitz said,

    October 19, 2008 at 4:30 pm

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    We already knocked down the supposed “patent problem”,

    There is no “we”. You think you knocked something down, but I beg to differ. Disruptive comments don’t magically shoot down proper claims.

  7. AlexH said,

    October 19, 2008 at 4:32 pm

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    Clear patent licenses *do* knock down your claims and FUD about patents. You can beg to differ all you like; the facts don’t change.

  8. AlexH said,

    October 19, 2008 at 4:32 pm

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    And besides, you previously said agreed wasn’t about patents.

  9. Roy Schestowitz said,

    October 19, 2008 at 4:34 pm

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    Clear patent licenses *do* knock down your claims and FUD about patents.

    Which patent licences? The ones Novell bought from Microsoft?

  10. Roy Schestowitz said,

    October 19, 2008 at 4:35 pm

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    And besides, you previously said agreed wasn’t about patents.

    The patents part referred not to Apache, but to things higher up in the stack. See this comment.

  11. AlexH said,

    October 19, 2008 at 4:36 pm

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    @Roy: the patent licenses that Microsoft offers as part of its Apache contributions.

  12. Roy Schestowitz said,

    October 19, 2008 at 4:40 pm

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    We are not talking about patents as far as Apache is concerned. We never did.

  13. AlexH said,

    October 19, 2008 at 4:43 pm

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    Good grief; make your mind up. Either there is a patent problem or there isn’t; your previous article made strong insinuations that there was and cited another article which made direct allegations that there were.

    So are we clear? There is no patent problem?

  14. DOUGman said,

    October 19, 2008 at 4:44 pm

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    Those who cannot remember the past , are condemned to repeat it.

  15. Roy Schestowitz said,

    October 19, 2008 at 4:47 pm

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    Alex,

    In Mono, not in Apache.

  16. AlexH said,

    October 19, 2008 at 4:50 pm

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    So why all the fuss about Microsoft contributing to Hadoop? That has nothing to do with Mono, being a Java project.

  17. Roy Schestowitz said,

    October 19, 2008 at 4:57 pm

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    Read the post that leads to it again. You are clearly not following this. Apache/Hadoop involvement is about Windows, not patents. Mono and .NET are about IPR.

  18. AlexH said,

    October 19, 2008 at 5:03 pm

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    @Roy: I’ve read it a number of times, sadly, and it’s a poor article.

    You start talking about IIS vs. HTTPD market share, and then start talking about Hadoop, except you call both HTTPD and Hadoop “Apache” confusingly. Then you said Microsoft has obtained “partial control” of Hadoop.

    In your next piece you said it was Windows advantaging and patent encumbering. You quoted Glyn Moody proposing patent problems in “Apache”, and then tried to slag off PHP.

    A lot of noise, and a lot of nonsense (especially where the patent allegations are concerned). You seem to want free software that Microsoft cannot improve to run well on Windows. I have news for you Roy: that’s not free software.

  19. Roy Schestowitz said,

    October 19, 2008 at 5:06 pm

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    No, there is a difference. Microsoft has a campaign for moving FOSS over to Windows where it can be penalised in a variety of ways, even blocked.

  20. AlexH said,

    October 19, 2008 at 5:08 pm

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    Yeah, whatever. Keep knocking the free software, Roy.

  21. Roy Schestowitz said,

    October 19, 2008 at 5:13 pm

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    This is not knocking. Your attempts to instill guilt in one’s mind are unsuccessful because they are based on incorrect premises.

  22. AlexH said,

    October 19, 2008 at 5:21 pm

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    Incorrect premises?! You’re saying there’s something wrong with Apache because they allow Microsoft to contribute, because there’s some dirty plot to make the Java software Windows-only (as if the other project contributors would ever allow that).

    And you knock Zend, for making PHP run better on Windows. Because obviously it’s better to have all the Windows programmers on ASP and unable to move to free software servers, or unlock other free software technologies.

    This is all based on your hypotheses and conspiracy theories. Except that they’re dressed up with vague allegations like “patent encumbering” (even when it’s clearly not a problem) to try to convince people.

    Find me a Hadoop project contributor who is unhappy that those MS sponsor developers are able to help the project, or show me how PHP on GNU/Linux is losing out to Windows. I’ll bet that you cannot do either.

  23. Roy Schestowitz said,

    October 19, 2008 at 5:36 pm

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    Incorrect premises?! You’re saying there’s something wrong with Apache because they allow Microsoft to contribute, because there’s some dirty plot to make the Java software Windows-only (as if the other project contributors would ever allow that).

    Not Windows only. You’re exaggerating to support your point again. I was referring to optimisation, integration and compatibility. These people are paid by Microsoft, so by definition, their patches will benefit Windows or the Microsoft stack. That’s the nature of business. It was done recently, so there’s precedence.

    And you knock Zend, for making PHP run better on Windows.

    I didn’t knock Zend. I made a factual statement.

    Because obviously it’s better to have all the Windows programmers on ASP and unable to move to free software servers, or unlock other free software technologies.

    No, it’s keeping some of them away from GNU/Linux exploration. Jose might have something to say about it.

    This is all based on your hypotheses and conspiracy theories.

    Ugly daemonising labels noted.

    Except that they’re dressed up with vague allegations like “patent encumbering” (even when it’s clearly not a problem) to try to convince people.

    Not related to Apache or PHP. You’re running to another separate discussion. Please don’t.

    Find me a Hadoop project contributor who is unhappy that those MS sponsor developers are able to help the project, or show me how PHP on GNU/Linux is losing out to Windows. I’ll bet that you cannot do either.

    Giving ‘homework’ ain’t going to be fruitful. I would emphasise again that projects like Apache care a lot less about operation platforms.

  24. Jose_X said,

    October 19, 2008 at 7:50 pm

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    There is a section labeled “Gifting Linux to Microsoft While Saving Microsoft Lots of Money” here http://boycottnovell.com/2008/10/11/mono-2-beyond-the-hype/#comment-27135 . The correct link in that section is supposed to be http://www.theregister.co.uk/1999/07/18/analysis_how_ms_used/ . The thrust of the focus is on mono but also on FOSS applications and the value they have to Microsoft under the right circumstances.

    Users of a platform care about the apps. Microsoft needs developers developing for its closed source platforms relative to other platforms as much as possible. Microsoft would be a much reduced business if it weren’t for its commanding mind share among developers. They give a little to preserve the unique and stand out apps as much as possible. Their expansion into related markets and price and negotiation leverage is dependent in all sorts of way on their controlled platform having reach. All their antics and moves can usually be traced to helping preserve or expand the platforms. With a monopoly here, it becomes a matter of time for them to expand and dominate over all of these vendors/developers that helped make their platforms so widespread.

  25. Bob said,

    October 19, 2008 at 7:51 pm

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    No, it’s keeping some of them away from GNU/Linux exploration.

    Did you know that those that fail to value freedom will eventually lose it? The people that are seduced into accepting proprietary software (it doesn’t matter if it is Microsoft or anybody else) are the sort of people that value convenience over freedom. There isn’t much hope to keep them on a GNU/Linux system if they fail to value freedom as they would switch to other software systems when it gets more convenient.

    If your efforts are about convincing these people that they should use GNU/Linux because Microsoft is evil, you will always “lose the battle”; Microsoft will always make their software convenient (in some ways). If you want to give people a real reason to switch to GNU/Linux, you should do it on the basis of ethical grounds of freedom, not because of the symptoms of user subjugation.

  26. Jose_X said,

    October 19, 2008 at 8:57 pm

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    http://www.theregister.co.uk/1999/07/18/analysis_how_ms_used/
    I want to recommend that people read that link all the way through to the end (unless the words dance on the page and make no sense.. but maybe on a later date they will).

    There are actually a lot of parallels with the current scenarios.

    >> You’re saying there’s something wrong with Apache because they allow Microsoft to contribute, because there’s some dirty plot to make the Java software Windows-only

    Ah, well Apache is not me. They can do what they want. I try to help out arguing the cases against Microsoft bonding in case some of them haven’t spent as much time as others thinking about the repercussions of various actions (eg, someone might not even know who “Microsoft” is).

    I really don’t think I would accept contributions, to any project that I would lead, for port or special code related to platforms that I believed would help companies in Microsoft’s position. To allow that would be to hurt the long term viability of that project as well as related valuable projects like the Linux kernel.

  27. Jose_X said,

    October 19, 2008 at 9:26 pm

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    Bob, I disagree strongly with your last comment. You are advocating keeping Linux limited to the few that have the willingness/discipline/capability today to accept difficulties in their computing platforms if necessary in order to follow principles.

    One major problem with that is that it assumes people can’t prefer to have and follow principles, yet have human frailties (like a need to feed your body without having to go through extra pain if possible and to share with their friends). The larger the Linux user community is, the more likely everyone will be able to have their principles and stick to them under the occasional challenging time. The smaller that community is, the more difficult things will get as Linux falls behind further and further (eg, with “FOSS” developers focusing on that unFOSS monopoly platform).

    You are advocating a position I think I would advocate were I a Microsoft devotee. It would suit Microsoft great if we would all just go play in our little sandbox and not bother anyone (and wait for the great Microsoft buzzard to stoop down and pick at us so make the little community tinier still). It would not however help the many that are unaware of Linux or find it challenging to cross over.

    In short, we all help ourselves by being as practical as we can be. The masses may not care one way or the other, but whose side they take matters to those in that side. Plus, and this is very important, you can’t value what you don’t really understand. Many people’s views of FOSS has grown in strength over time (even Stallman’s). Everyone needs a helping hand at some point. The quality of what we have is as strong as our numbers.

    Let’s not help Microsoft. They don’t need our help. I think you (Bob) would help more if you told Windows users how much they are missing an opportunity to have the cost of using their computing go down and their options and control go up by voting against Microsoft’s platforms. Focus on that message to Windows users and you will find many more of them be willing to make any particular sacrifice as may come up because they will understand the pay-off that will await them.

    Don’t abandon them, Bob.

    *****

    PS:

    Linux hasn’t been too difficult for me over the years (when it was less user friendly) because I am comfortable around computers and love open source (a heart of a dev). I also know that you have to work on making Linux stronger for it to be stronger still as more join in. I also take seriously, eg, my ability to boycott http://boycottnovell.com/about/ in order to help bring about focused change (even if it weren’t a 100% boycott).

    I can make “sacrifices” for computers but can’t or won’t for other things, yet I am glad some of these other issues have their strong and dedicated followers as that makes my life overall more pleasant in many areas despite me not participating vigurously everywhere.

    Teamwork: I find it valuable being part of the Linux team so that others may be lazy in say computing while they help me out in others.

  28. Jose_X said,

    October 19, 2008 at 9:38 pm

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    >> The quality of what we have is as strong as our numbers.

    We have low numbers of total users by many metrics. Fortunately, a large proportion of all users we do have really value the system. We also have a very high number of developers…

    AND we share and work together. We have a much higher degree of synergy than what you typically find across the Windows world.

    Now what we need is to get some more artists and others with a more diverse group of talents to join in the fun and see for themselves the magic Linux+FOSS: make contributions that multiply many times through by the time they get back to you; turn what you use into what you want it to be, with the help of others; and if you are so inclined, make money by becoming an expert leveraging what we all create.

  29. Roy Schestowitz said,

    October 19, 2008 at 9:40 pm

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    Numbers for the Free desktop’s development are not an issue. The bigger issue is third-party vendor support.

  30. Jose_X said,

    October 19, 2008 at 9:45 pm

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    The main weakness of Linux today vs Windows is: the lack of awareness on most users part (or the myths some might have); the inertia to adjust to something that will be a bit new at first; and the various roadblocks one might find depending on the situation and caused by proprietary lock-in mostly.

    It’s important for users to know that Linux is not an either/or proposition. Most people make a slow transition to Linux. They keep Windows around as necessary.

    Try it. It’s free.. for life.

  31. Jose_X said,

    October 19, 2008 at 9:58 pm

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    >> Numbers for the Free desktop’s development are not an issue. The bigger issue is third-party vendor support.

    Yes, I would agree we are doing quite well in the first department.

    As for the second, obviously that keeps being less of an issue over time, but third parties that wait too long will find their market gone. The opportunity for branding that they don’t establish early enough will be picked up by our new and improving FOSS apps (or by early bird third parties) until these third parties will have effectively yielded the market through absenteeism.

    [FWIW, I clarified that line about our "small" numbers because I saw a potential for it to be misinterpreted to mean incorrectly ..that since we have a relatively small user base by many metrics, we don't have the support to produce something that great. However, it's pretty clear to many that we *have* in fact produced something that has kept Ballmer and Gates awake many hours of many nights, something many people have found the time to experience and have decided to voluntarily adopt (a few percent of the market is still many many millions of people).]

  32. Jose_X said,

    October 19, 2008 at 10:06 pm

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    The more people use their wallets to vote against Microsoft’s abuses and ask for Linux, the faster the Linux community of users will take computing clearly up to the next level as only a full community of users leveraging each other’s contributions could do.

    Microsoft wants their cut, and they will use their control to get what they want. The way to beat them is to bypass them is to jump off their ship and onto Linux. Why waste further investments for Microsoft’s sake?

    OK OK.. I’m done with the commercials for tonight.

  33. Roy Schestowitz said,

    October 20, 2008 at 3:30 am

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    I saw a potential for it to be misinterpreted to mean incorrectly ..that since we have a relatively small user base by many metrics

    There are a lot of bogus statistics out there, so it’s important to refute the lies.

    These lies are intended to give prospective users the impression that almost nobody uses GNU/Linux (Microsoft lies about server share too). It’s also intended to discourage ISV from ported software — even as proprietary — to GNU/Linux.

  34. Xanadu said,

    October 20, 2008 at 10:04 am

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    Is anyone actually shocked AlexH actively defends MS’ attempt to embrace and extend Apache for windows?

  35. AlexH said,

    October 20, 2008 at 10:19 am

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    @Xanadu: what I’m defending is the Hadoop project accepting their code, because free software is free software.

    People jump up and down about “embrace and extend”, but the fact in this case is that MS don’t have the control to do that. In fact, I can’t think of a single example of a free software project that MS have “embraced and extended”.

  36. Roy Schestowitz said,

    October 20, 2008 at 10:25 am

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    Think harder. ;-)

  37. AlexH said,

    October 20, 2008 at 10:42 am

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    @Roy: casting aspersions isn’t evidence, no matter how much you’ve written about it in the past.

  38. Roy Schestowitz said,

    October 20, 2008 at 10:44 am

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    There is actual evidence there and I encourage you to read about it. There are external articles.

  39. AlexH said,

    October 20, 2008 at 10:57 am

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    I suspect we have very different standards of what constitutes “evidence”.

    The fact that Microsoft have a Ruby which works on .net, and that Ruby.net and IronRuby were effectively merged, don’t count as evidence of “embrace and extend” by any rational definition I know of that term.

    It seems to be considered a synonym for “has Microsoft contributions” here, though. That doesn’t matter. It’s either free software or it’s not. Any other judgement is incorrect.

  40. Roy Schestowitz said,

    October 20, 2008 at 11:23 am

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    Watch what happened to the software licence.

  41. AlexH said,

    October 20, 2008 at 11:33 am

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    It went from BSD to MS-PL.

    So, all the same freedoms for copyright, but the added bonus of a clear patent license from all contributors including Microsoft.

  42. Roy Schestowitz said,

    October 20, 2008 at 11:35 am

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    Who again is the proprietor of the licence? (hint)

  43. AlexH said,

    October 20, 2008 at 11:37 am

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    What are you suggesting? That it’s not a free software license?

  44. Roy Schestowitz said,

    October 20, 2008 at 11:39 am

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    That an enemy of Free software (with proven history) is in control, not just of the licence but also of the project.

  45. AlexH said,

    October 20, 2008 at 11:40 am

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    Doesn’t matter. It’s a free software license. Free to use, free to modify, free to distribute.

  46. Roy Schestowitz said,

    October 20, 2008 at 11:44 am

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    Will it run better/only on Windows, i.e. rendering it “hybrid” and therefore only free ‘is isolation’? It would be worse than TiVoization.

    Why did Microsoft not just embrace the GNU GPL? Licence proliferation was already a known ailment.

  47. AlexH said,

    October 20, 2008 at 11:49 am

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    This is a free software license [snip understandable bits about proliferation] However; there is no reason to avoid using software released under this license.

    gnu.org

    Yes, it would have been better if they had used the Apache license (which is basically equivalent, but also GPL-compatible), but it’s still free software.

    Why they didn’t use the GPL, only Microsoft can answer.

    Does it run better/only on Windows? Obviously the license doesn’t dictate that. But since it’s free software, if it doesn’t run well it can be made to run better. Lots of free software runs well on GNU and poorly/doesn’t compile on BSD. It’s a deficiency, but one that can be fixed.

  48. Roy Schestowitz said,

    October 20, 2008 at 12:01 pm

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    And as we all know, Microsoft wants to help Free software, the GPL, and GNU/Linux in particular.

    /sarcasm

  49. AlexH said,

    October 20, 2008 at 12:05 pm

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    The free software community has written licenses so that you don’t need to rely on good faith / handshakes / winks / honour; it’s set out in legal text.

    If you have the four freedoms, it’s fine, no matter who wrote the code.

  50. Roy Schestowitz said,

    October 20, 2008 at 12:14 pm

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    You still ignore patents, direction (control), and evolution of licences.

  51. AlexH said,

    October 20, 2008 at 12:19 pm

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    Er, what?

    So, when I said the MS-PL has “the added bonus of a clear patent license” I was ignoring patents?

    I’m not ignoring direction of “evolution of licenses” either. If you have a point to make, make it.

  52. Roy Schestowitz said,

    October 20, 2008 at 12:38 pm

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    Microsoft ‘owns’ these licences in the sense that their future direction depends on the company that loathes Free software. Moreover, projects that choose these licences are often headed by Microsoft followers or employees. Don’t expect them to understand freedom or truly favour GNU/Linux. Some might, many won’t.

  53. AlexH said,

    October 20, 2008 at 1:00 pm

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    But that’s the beauty of free software, as I said earlier. It doesn’t require trust. It doesn’t require good faith.

    With the four freedoms, you always have the freedom to fork.

    Microsoft can change the license to whatever draconian EULA they choose. That doesn’t alter the MS-PL. They can decide to stop developing it. I can still use it and develop it. It doesn’t require their assistance at all.

  54. Roy Schestowitz said,

    October 20, 2008 at 1:25 pm

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    Your views on this are too simplified. It takes a lot of resources to fork. You worked on Bongo, so you should know.

  55. AlexH said,

    October 20, 2008 at 2:03 pm

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    Exactly, I know very well.

    Ok, so if the four freedoms are not enough, what am I missing? What is the “fifth freedom”?

  56. Roy Schestowitz said,

    October 20, 2008 at 2:15 pm

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    Good question. I tend to think of LGPLv3 as GPLv3- and AGPLv3 as GPLv3+.

    One freedom that’s being sort of added (not explicitly because RMS has preached about FOUR freedoms for about two decades) is the ‘extended’ (or shielded) freedom to modify code on someone else’s computer, provided that you use it. In fact, all the freedoms must be preserved by users no matter what servers they ‘speak’ to (RMS wgets Web pages).

    Given human nature, there are always opportunities to exploit Free software and pull out the freedoms (e.g. put it on TiVo/Vista only in the current form, with all the restrictions included). People’s nature includes a desire to control others. It’s an innate thing that comes from animals, as a biology professor once told me. It’s an endless struggle. Perfect licences need to evolve so I don’t trust ms-* licences. Their business model is still based on lock-in at one level or another.

  57. AlexH said,

    October 20, 2008 at 2:21 pm

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    Well, the AGPL “web loophole” thing is relatively controversial. It’s not clear Debian, for example, consider it to be free software.

    But you seem to be assuming that copyleft is a necessary provision of a free software license. In this instance, though, copyleft wouldn’t apply to Microsoft even if they went and stuck the GPLv3 on IronRuby, so it really makes no difference at all.

  58. Jose_X said,

    October 20, 2008 at 3:29 pm

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    >> If you have the four freedoms, it’s fine, no matter who wrote the code.

    >> Ok, so if the four freedoms are not enough, what am I missing? What is the “fifth freedom”?

    Alex, do you really think there is no difference between the BSD and GPL effectively?

    Please. The four freedoms are useful for you to fork and perhaps even license the new material in a specific way like say through the GPL (to pick one I think is among the best for the community).

    If you don’t fork, then clearly your contributions help the company leading the project and taking in most of the copyrights or special license (if that is the case, directly or indirectly). That company has the straight road into closed software land. The question people should ask is do they trust that company not to deal with Microsoft in any significant way so that Microsoft’s extensive monopolies are aided to the detriment of virtually everyone.

    I am not surprised you defend Novell at all and ignore all the relevant issues in your postings surrounding the benefits accrued to Microsoft under scenarios X or Y. Your advocacy of all things that benefit Microsoft within the FOSS world makes it clear as daylight day after day post after post that you drape yourself in the “free software” flag effectively to help Microsoft EEE the community. You are one confused boy or hypocrite to insult Roy as being against free software.

    I’ll give Roy credit for being as patient as he is with all the work he has on his hands. He makes mistakes like anyone else, but he isn’t trying to fool anyone.

  59. Roy Schestowitz said,

    October 20, 2008 at 3:42 pm

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    Thanks, Jose. This is true.

  60. AlexH said,

    October 20, 2008 at 3:49 pm

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    @Jose: you seem to make a number of leaps.

    With regards the BSD vs. GPL; from a freedom point of view it makes no difference. Some people have a preference for one, others have a preference for the other. Copyleft isn’t a requirement for freedom.

    You seem to then confuse that with the issue of copyright holding. The copyright holder(s) get to decide the license, but that’s the only link between the two. It’s otherwise a totally different issue.

    Lastly, you seem confused about the arguments I put forward. When someone here attacks a free software project in the guise of attacking Microsoft, I defend the free software project. The common retort is then “oh, you must be defending Microsoft then!”, and it’s nonsense, frankly.

  61. Roy Schestowitz said,

    October 20, 2008 at 3:56 pm

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    I feel obliged to clarify: No projects are attacked by me. They are potentially abused or exploited by Microsoft and I just point it out in hope of preventing this.

  62. AlexH said,

    October 20, 2008 at 4:02 pm

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    That’s really in the eye of the beholder, Roy.

    With free software, MS can contribute to any project – it’s up to them. Are you going to be “warning” us about jQuery next??

    The real danger here is people who are unfamiliar with the free software community coming here and reading about all this “information” about Apache, PHP, Mono, IronPython, OpenOffice.org (to name just a few from the few days/week). I can’t imagine Microsoft could pay for such advertising….

  63. Jose_X said,

    October 20, 2008 at 4:04 pm

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    Quote where I confused something. I confused nothing. I recognize the two differences. In fact, I brought up the issue of copyrights and not all free software being the same while you conveniently ignore this point time and time again. By raising “free software” to the holiest of holy level as you do time and time again, you are the one that shows you do not understand copyright law or are trying to deceive readers by overlooking the very important issues involved.

    The problem is that potentially an infinite amount of free software helps Microsoft hurt the wider community. You love that type of free software as one judges by your posts after posts.

    You can’t hide behind “free software”. Free software is a very general term. It’s power comes from the ability to fork it when the custodian misbehaves. So you spend all of this time quoting four freedoms, yet have no intent to do anything but follow along, in your case, helping Microsoft.

    Like I said, I am surprised Roy is as patient as he is with you in particular because of how frequently you ignore the really important issues to effectively nitpick.

    To give an analogy of what you are effectively doing on these boards whether intentionally or not: it’s like when a tsunami is lurking over the horizon about to hit and you stop and criticize the news reporter for not conjugating his conditional tenses properly.

  64. AlexH said,

    October 20, 2008 at 4:14 pm

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    @Jose: easy, virtually the first paragraph:

    If you don’t fork, then clearly your contributions help the company leading the project and taking in most of the copyrights

    When you contribute to a free software project, you’re not giving a company code. You’re making it available for all to use.

  65. Roy Schestowitz said,

    October 20, 2008 at 4:19 pm

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    That’s not the key issue. You sidestep the ideas that matter more such as direction.

  66. AlexH said,

    October 20, 2008 at 4:26 pm

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    No, I don’t side-step it – I’ll say flat-out that it’s not more important.

    For example, going back to the topic of software under the MS-PL, “there is no reason to avoid using software released under this license”.

    If you have a problem with it, that’s your opinion and that’s fine, but I think that you should make it clear that you’re judging projects on some other basis.

  67. Roy Schestowitz said,

    October 20, 2008 at 4:31 pm

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    Microsoft uses these surrogate (almost duplicate) licences to deceive and exploit. No proof yet? Wrong.

    http://yro.slashdot.org/yro/07/09/21/1738253.shtml

    The OSI has identified two significant flaws in the Microsoft Permissive License, and is unlikely to approve it as an OSI license in its current state. Specifically, the OSI is worried about the way the MS-PL is incompatible with so many other OSI-approved licenses and how misleading that makes the term ‘permissive’ in the license’s name.

    Need I remind you, Alex, of more incidents where Microsoft got slammed for making a mockery of the OSI? The above is peanuts,

  68. Jose_X said,

    October 20, 2008 at 4:53 pm

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    >> When you contribute to a free software project, you’re not giving a company code.

    Are you suggesting that statement I made was inaccurate by saying the opposite more or less? My statement is very accurate in practice (one can just about always find degenerate cases).

    Meanwhile, yours is a lie in most cases since contributions are actually made “available for all to use” almost always through aggregation within the centralized parent project.

    Do you keep ALL your contributions as a patchset on your own server or do you cough it up to the project maintainers? I’m curious, but regardless of what you do, most people do contribute to the main project at least if their contributions are decently useful and made “available for all to use” [Note, I'm not saying that people don't keep personal forks. Key word was "ALL" in your comment.]

    So who told you that you are not giving a company code? Someone is feeding you misinformation, and you come here and spread it or use it as a fundamental fact.

    As is typical of you when you apparently don’t have a better reply to the majority of a posting (mine in this case), you more or less end you comment there on some minor point, in this case, that you didn’t even get right.

    Now, to finish with the last itty bit.
    >>You’re making it available for all to use.

    No stit sherlock. That is effectively what happens when you release under a license with the four freedoms. Now what does that have to do with copyrights or you avoiding the very important question that who owns copyrights and leads a project is very important? Nothing. I forgot. You are ignoring the comment I made almost in its entirety. The comment that accused you of being confused as heck or else of knowing better and deceptively taking on airs that you don’t help Microsoft.

    Of course, Microsoft has a ton — A TON — of code that they don’t make “available for all to use”. And you obviously by your answers on this forum are more than willing to give them more code they can incorporate into their stash or give to someone that you feel is likely to deal closely with Microsoft or advocate that others do this.. because “it’s all free software”. Yeah, someone sure doesn’t understand copyrights and monopolies or else insists on arguing less important points while ignoring the implications of the important ones.

    But wait, it gets better. Then you go on about how Roy, who is completely against Microsoft the Monopolist abuser and exploiter, is against “free software”.

    Roy, just admit it. You are against free software that would give Microsoft more control and leverage than they already have.

    I confess as well. I am against free software that would give Microsoft more control and leverage than they already have.

    Meanwhile AlexH is confused, dumb, or deceptive as he claims over and over that defending “free software” projects that benefit Microsoft means he is not defending Microsoft.

    >> When someone here attacks a free software project in the guise of attacking Microsoft, I defend the free software project. The common retort is then “oh, you must be defending Microsoft then!”, and it’s nonsense, frankly.

    Almost all attacks I have seen from Roy are such that Microsoft would otherwise stand to benefit in lopsided fashion as they have the major levers at their disposal to leverage many things beyond what you or I or any other company is capable of doing under most circumstances.

    The AlexH hand that giveth while the other taketh. Give a bit to the world, but take more away that would have happened otherwise after Microsoft levers are applied.

    AlexH, ask the FSF or any company really why they want to be custodians. Ask the FSF if all free software licenses are one as good as the other and people should contribute to hurtful projects. Ask them if they’d hand over copyrights to Microsoft of all their software. It’s free software isn’t it. .. Yeah, you don’t understand copyrights and monopolies or their implications or you are working to deceive people by ignoring the really important issues with implications X only to nitpick for what would amount to implying opposite of X.

    People who do this are among the worst around. You work hard to communicate ideas that hurt people but do so stating you are a defender of them essentially.

    Again, Roy, you have a lot of patience. Mine has worn thin and I have only read maybe not even 100 of AlexH’s postings (he’s probably posted a few thousands over the years, but I am only guessing).

  69. Jose_X said,

    October 20, 2008 at 5:17 pm

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    >> If you have a problem with it, that’s your opinion and that’s fine, but I think that you should make it clear that you’re judging projects on some other basis.

    Of course we are judging projects and contributions on some other basis! You don’t see the Joomla people contributing to Mambo nowadays, do you?

    You don’t see the FSF giving up their software to Microsoft do you?

    AlexH, I though you were a serious individual when I started entertaining you. The deception or ignorance reeks from miles away. I don’t care about ignorance, but at some point one has to stop believing it is ignorance. You certainly know how to answer many related questions.

    >> For example, going back to the topic of software under the MS-PL, “there is no reason to avoid using software released under this license”.

    Of course there is. It’s free marketing for Microsoft. It helps give the impression that Microsoft can be a good FOSS player while remaining faithful to its shareholders under it’s current closed source monopoly supported business plans.

    Most importantly perhaps, it sets people up for confusion. In the future, a totally different license (hypothetical example), MS-PL v. 4.00b will be accepted by users of earlier licenses in many cases expecting no relevant differences when in fact there will be crucial differences to help Microsoft out. Microsoft only can do this because they own the copyrights to the current MS-PL.

    AlexH, how convenient of you not to have foreseen that Microsoft can turn a free license into a closed one at the flick of a pen by simply renaming the license with a small version change after making a few tiny changes throughout. I know you understand that better than most, yet you ignore it and dare say on these boards that “there is no reason to avoid using software released under this license”. This is not an FSF faq about license compatibilities, this is a forum on ways that Microsoft (and Novell) work to subvert the wider FOSS community.

    Again, AlexH doesn’t understand copyrights or monopolies and their implications or else AlexH is being deceptive. In either case, he is helping Microsoft and hurting the wider FOSS community.

    I have gotten to the point where I refuse to give him any more of the benefit of the doubt. He knows too many details yet amazingly never connects the dots of the really important issues or addresses comments directly when those dots are partially connected for him.

    For the record, here is what the FSF page says:
    >> Please do not use this license for anything you write; there are already well-known free software licenses that serve the same purpose, such as the Apache License version 2.0, and we must all stand together to combat license proliferation. However, there is no reason to avoid using software released under this license.

    Did you get that AlexH? “Do not use this license for anything you write.”

    The reason given here is about license proliferation. I have other reasons as I just explained, but it goes on:

    “there is no reason to avoid using software released under this license.”

    Did you get that? There is no reason to “use”. As far as contributing under that license, the FSF already said “Please do not use this license for anything you write.”

    Understand AlexH?

    Of course, there are reasons to avoid using certain types of Microsoft code (regardless of the license), reasons that have nothing to do with copyright issues (and hence not mentioned on that FSF license faq page). They deal with embrace, extend, and extinguish, or otherwise enabling this or helping out Microsoft. They are also patent issues as explained already here http://boycottnovell.com/2008/10/16/mono-coming-from-which-devs/#comment-28295 .

  70. Roy Schestowitz said,

    October 20, 2008 at 5:28 pm

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    Yes, I alluded to the evolution (i.e. future versions) of the licence earlier. I suggest that Alex (or anyone else who reads this) also looks at the following news from earlier this month:

    Here Come the Anti-GNU/Linux (Yet ‘Open’) Software Licences from Microsoft
    http://boycottnovell.com/2008/10/03/anti-gnulinux-sw-license/

    More accumulated under:

    Fool Us Once, Shame on Microsoft, Fool Us Twice…
    http://boycottnovell.com/2008/10/06/oss-scam-shame-on-microsoft/

  71. Dan O'Brian said,

    October 20, 2008 at 6:29 pm

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    Roy: the slashdot article you linked to is over a year old. You might find it interesting that those issues were resolved and the OSI accepted the MS-PL as an OSI-Approved license as can be seen here:

    http://www.opensource.org/licenses/alphabetical

    Are you really this out of touch with current events?

  72. Roy Schestowitz said,

    October 20, 2008 at 6:35 pm

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    Yes, Charlotte, I was aware of the age of the article. The point was to show how Microsoft had been bending the rules. It’s still doing this all the time, exhibiting total disregard for a system it’s just trying to exploit, mock and rob of its ever-declining reputation (partly because of Microsoft).

  73. Dan O'Brian said,

    October 20, 2008 at 6:50 pm

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    Jose: The only time you “give” the code to the company behind the project is if you assign copyright, otherwise you hold the copyright of the code you contribute.

    In your earliest posts, it seemed to me (and apparently Alex) that you didn’t understand that. Clearly your latest 2 posts where you rant on and on about something that no one was even remotely suggesting, I suspect that you do understand that copyright assignment would be needed before it could be considered “given” to Microsoft.

    However, you fail to see that Alex wasn’t suggesting that anyone do that or suggesting that “all licenses were created equal” (again, something you are coming out of left field with).

    Microsoft is contributing code to FLOSS projects, they are not demanding that you contribute to their projects. If you are only interested in running the software on Linux, you likely don’t even need their code, so what are you stressing out about?

    If you are interested in running this software on Windows, you aren’t forced to use their code, nevermind contribute to it.

    If you for some reason decide to contribute to the project, I don’t see anything that states that you must assign copyright to Microsoft. That’s just the license they are contributing their code under. Since it’s compatible with the Apache2 license, it can be used in the project.

    You are free to contribute your own patches under the Apache2 license.

  74. Jose_X said,

    October 20, 2008 at 6:55 pm

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    Roy, http://fussnotes.typepad.com/plexnex/2007/08/the-marketing-c.html was at top of the page of the first link you just gave (of 2 links), together with some “Halloween” links.

    If we go to that Sam Hiser posting and click on the link he provides at the top to a piece by Glyn Moody, we get this http://www.linuxjournal.com/comment/reply/1000260 . The problem is that there is no story, only one line. Am I doing something wrong here, did Sam mess up, has linuxjournal stowed the article away elsewhere…?

  75. Dan O'Brian said,

    October 20, 2008 at 6:56 pm

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    Well, the FSFE has praised Microsoft’s MS-PL (even before it was accepted at OSI).

    See here: http://www.itworld.com/051020fsf

    The FSF also has it listed on their site as a Free Software license:

  76. Roy Schestowitz said,

    October 20, 2008 at 7:00 pm

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    Jose,

    They moved between CMSs in LJ. This is not the first article that wasn’t migrated properly. I’ll let Glyn know. Meanwhile, see:

    Is Microsoft Hijacking Open Source?
    http://www.linuxjournal.com/node/1003745

  77. Jose_X said,

    October 20, 2008 at 8:19 pm

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    Dan, I had a long reply to you, but I don’t want to repeat myself unnecessarily so I abandoned it for this much shorter one. The prior comments were for AlexH. He is best in a position to answer without me having to write pages more of context.

    I have some questions you could answer if you’d like. This way I have a better idea of where you stand. Feel free to answer any or all of them as best you can if you won’t get too inconvenienced.

    What do you think about spreading technologies through the FOSS world that Microsoft is primed to leverage above everyone else, eg, mono, moonlight, etc?

    What do you think about defending any attack on any free software even when such software, when spread, help Microsoft neutralize (EEE) open platforms like Linux? For example, Alex has stated that he simply defends free software. No other aspect of a source code project is material.

    Do you agree with Alex that patents are a non-issue in practice when considering designing and spreading mono vs. say libfoo? He has stated as his last response, I think, that he finds no real difference in terms of patent risks between any two pieces of free software.

    What do you think about that fact that only Microsoft can easily change their licenses (version “upgrades”) without the changes being noticeable to anyone except a tiny few that pay careful attention so that the license terms change dramatically in favor of Microsoft? Do you see the potential for them to exploit “MS-PL version X or greater” in order to get old code under new licenses of their choosing? Who is more likely to abuse that power to subvert FOSS through these or other means, Microsoft or the FSF, for example? Microsoft has a history of pulling bait and switch on their customers between products and their corresponding certifications or other product properties. And like all good corps, they have no qualms about changing terms on you that are difficult for non lawyers to track and understand. If they own the licenses involved, it is much easier for their EULAs to pull the effect of license version upgrades.

    Do you agree with me that contributing code copyrights to Microsoft is almost surely a bad idea if you are a FOSS advocate because of Microsoft’s position in the market place and how those contributions can be leveraged to preserve their monopolies and exclude open platforms?

    Do you agree with me that ports to Windows hurt all other platforms (who already have an uphill battle)? Why would a FOSS advocate want to further help the monopolist keep open platforms marginalized?

    I’d be very interested to get your opinion on some of the items mentioned here or the included links http://boycottnovell.com/2008/10/19/microfoss-and-oxymoron/#comment-28806

    BTW, I said nothing about MS’s contributions to Apache in recent prior replies, but this last link in the prior paragraph serves as a general reply if you want to know.

  78. Jose_X said,

    October 20, 2008 at 9:03 pm

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    Some fixes and clarifications:

    >> He has stated as his last response, I think, that he finds no real difference in terms of patent risks between any two pieces of free software.

    Turn it into:

    As far as I am aware, his latest views on the subject are that he finds no real differe….

    >> Did you get that? There is no reason to “use”.

    Turn it into:

    Did you get that? There is no reason to avoid *using*.

    ********

    I’ll get back to this thread, but I really want to cut down on BN at least for a while to get more of some other work done.

    Don’t mean to imply these couple are the only mistakes in the earlier comments.

    I’ll probably regret tomorrow having blown a fuse. No, I won’t. I’m tired of the attacks on BN by posters that later followed up with suggestions which are Microsoft friendly.

  79. Roy Schestowitz said,

    October 21, 2008 at 2:24 am

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    I’m tired of the attacks on BN by posters that later followed up with suggestions which are Microsoft friendly.

    I think that sums it up perfectly. What also arouses my suspicion are similar folks in the IRC channel, one of whom is a Microsoft consultant (i.e. paid through Microsoft).

    At risk of repeating the title of this post: How Can Anyone Be So Gullible?

  80. AlexH said,

    October 21, 2008 at 2:31 am

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    @Jose: it’s extremely difficult to come to a coherent and concise response to those many points. I’m not trying to ignore the issues you raise, but it’s basically impossible to respond to all of that in this format. I’m going to pick out the stuff I think is most salient.

    I think a number of the points you raise are entirely hypothetical. E.g,

    What do you think about that fact that only Microsoft can easily change their licenses (version “upgrades”)

    I think it doesn’t change the existing license so I really don’t care. They can turn it into a EULA; it doesn’t make my copy of their software go non-free.

    Do you see the potential for them to exploit “MS-PL version X or greater” [..]

    No, I don’t, because they don’t version the license and thus can’t do that.

    If they own the licenses involved, it is much easier for their EULAs to pull the effect of license version upgrades.

    No, they can’t do that. It wouldn’t be a free software license if that was the case.

    Do you agree with me that contributing code copyrights to Microsoft is almost surely a bad idea if you are a FOSS advocate

    In general, no. If I take your premise that contributing code to Microsoft is undesirable, then the copyright situation is only a small part of it: as we all know, code under permissive licenses like BSD, MIT, Apache, etc., can also all be used. Microsoft don’t have the copyright, but that doesn’t really make any practical difference.

    Do I advocate assigning copyright to them? No. I don’t advocate assigning copyright to any corporate body full stop, although I don’t think it should stop anyone from contributing to a project.

    But if you don’t want Microsoft to “benefit” from your free software, then you have to a. use a copyleft license, and b. hope that Microsoft are unwilling to accept the license (which isn’t always true, as they have distributed & sold GPL’d software in the past).

    The “I don’t want Microsoft to benefit” argument is something I have very little time for, to be honest, and it’s nothing to do with Microsoft: it’s effectively a non-free request. You can’t pick and choose who benefits from your software.

  81. Jose_X said,

    October 21, 2008 at 7:01 am

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    First, let me point out that there wasn’t very much I mentioned yesterday that I hadn’t mentioned before. Maybe someday you’ll decide you have found the forum and time to address some of it and will.

    OK. Let’s work with what you did answer.

    Contributions and “benefits” do not have to involve copyright assignment. I gave particular focus to that example because in numerous cases that is requested or effectively happens and gives significant leverage to the company obtaining that.

    Many very valuable contributions involve bug fixes and these frequently can be comprised of very little code. In effect copyrights are assigned in these cases since the changes can usually be recoded differently or simply accepted by the project without third party copyright ownership being an obstacle in the first place.

    >> But if you don’t want Microsoft to “benefit” from your free software…

    Contributions of feature code, porting code, design, discussion, documentation, bug finding, bug fixing, audits of all sorts, advocacy of all sorts, creating tutorials, creating websites, helping to spread the software, and many more things are ways to contribute.

    If you partake in these, you help certain organizations gain advantages over others.

    >> then you have to a. use a copyleft license, and b. hope that Microsoft are unwilling to accept the license

    ..so clearly you only mentioned one small aspect of contributing, but let me address it.

    Microsoft can gain (as you later stated) from GPL software in many ways. They can gain more, disproportionately to other players (because of their position in various market and because of their closed source assets), from liberal non-copyleft free software licensed code for software they can use to build up their closed source platforms or app lineup, but they can gain from many types of GPL software (eg, mono), as well, directly and indirectly, immediately and through improvements in their strategic positions.

    >> The “I don’t want Microsoft to benefit” argument is something I have very little time for, to be honest, and it’s nothing to do with Microsoft: it’s effectively a non-free request. You can’t pick and choose who benefits from your software.

    This reply is completely short-sighted and inaccurate though I must say convenient. I already touched lightly within this reply on many ways one can contribute to Microsoft. If you’d bother to comment on some of the other links, I might then find out how you feel about some of this.

    With this comment you just finished, you suggest that that any and all free software (with the possible exception of copyleft licenses) are equally useful to Microsoft and that what would not be useful to Microsoft would be limited to non-free licenses of various sorts.

    That angle could not be further from the truth, but I must say at least you are consistent in your consistency and avoidance of dealing with issues I have asked you about already.

    [I also would appreciate if you could answer the same list of questions I presented to Dan recently.]

    The license type is not the over-riding concern any more than the license type is the over-riding concern when buying a house or a car or just about anything. It’s the product itself, in this case the particular source code, that makes all the difference.

    Microsoft has much more to gain from certain types of code contributions than others, clearly.

    You position continues to be then that you defend any type of free software equally, both the types that hardly help Microsoft and the types that help Microsoft significantly.

    It also helps you live out your fantasy if you can say that all FOSS are equally (and only very lightly) problematic in terms of patent issues, anything Microsoft (or anyone else) says or writes notwithstanding because it would only (at most) resolve a drop in the bucket in terms of risk probabilities. Actually, I mentioned in that other conversation the distinction between risks to a developer and to a business. I think this perspective of yours I just tried to summarize refers to developer risks but ignores the business side.

    Well, although I still look forward to your comments to some of the issues I have raised multiple times in the past and to which you have not yet stated an opinion directly, eg, http://boycottnovell.com/2008/10/19/microfoss-and-oxymoron/#comment-28806 at least I feel some things have become a little more clear.

    I also look forward perhaps to seeing you declare a change of heart about the sorts of patent risks associated from the spread of mono as suggest by this post and some that followed: http://boycottnovell.com/2008/10/16/mono-coming-from-which-devs/#comment-28295

    *******

    Roy, perhaps it would save time to fetch and keep handy these points about AlexH’s position. This adds context to when he criticizes you (or anyone else) next time.

    In short, Alex has no qualms about providing significant and particular help to Microsoft so long as any code contributions are “free software” (you know, like BSD and MIT licensed code, for example).

    He also thinks no FOSS is any more or less at risk to patent problems, though I think he is limiting his analysis to developers and not to businesses or users with time and other constraints (such as having limited funds to deal with attorneys or having nervous clients that will go elsewhere). I mostly agree with the developer part of it since developers can blaze their own trail over time, but completely disagree with the costs and risks to other types of users.

  82. Jose_X said,

    October 21, 2008 at 7:42 am

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    [Alex]>> I think it doesn’t change the existing license so I really don’t care. They can turn it into a EULA; it doesn’t make my copy of their software go non-free.

    This was a reply to the example of Microsoft fudging around with future versions of their licenses. Alex did point out that MS’s licenses are not “versioned”, meaning that the exact phrase “MS-PL or later version” *may* not have meaning; however, here is what Alex’s response conveniently ignores. I have no clue if he is correct about the versioning phrase not being able to work automatically (I have no reason to doubt him), but it’s not as if some particular exact phrase or other would be necessary since EULA’s can take their time in legalese to present the many ways that you are agreeing to let Microsoft screw around with your intentions through their future unilateral actions.

    Another issue I want to point out is that precise licenses can be tested in court and different outcomes can result form other “similar” licenses. In particular, Microsoft may mean something a bit different than from what you and I may have in mind. The difference might be subtle, but perhaps backed by the language in the EULA or elsewhere. The subtle difference may be enough to lead to a result you did not intend. The judge may side with Microsoft. Remember, “like the GPL”, does not mean “the GPL”. There is a reason the FSF has faqs and other clarifications on their website. There is a reason UNIX customers long ago sought clarification from ATT. The legal language should hold, but if disputes were clear cut and unquestionable (witness SCOX), lawyers would have much less business on their hands and the legal process would be much simplified.

    The MS-PL can thus be used as a red herring. It can be used as a base from which a small “diff” can be applied. You can also simply have the EULA go much further, less subtly perhaps, to help disguise certain things or generate sufficient doubt and ambiguity, useful to Microsoft. ***Ie, the community reviews to death the MS-PL (like reviewing to death OOXML docs, some source that Novell may get to see, or the part of the Novell-MS deal that was made public), but the fun happens in where you aren’t allowed to look. One hand giveth…***

    Microsoft is deception incarnate if nothing else.

    The short answer to Microsoft is for us to avoid doing any business with them, at least if we can help it and if we value FOSS, as that is the greatest threat to their many billions USD in profits.

    People like Alex and others will come here and want to point out some things while avoiding others in order to get you to trust Microsoft and deal with them as partners.

    ISO was once OK. It has rules and procedures that worked for normal, mostly cooperative individuals, even though we weren’t always cooperative, but you always have loopholes and weaknesses. Microsoft makes it their job to discover and exploit to the maximum any oversight that may give them maximal advantage over everyone else. Holy ISO was no match for them. Neither were the various stock options rules designed to help small tech companies. Neither are the various certification obstacles (POSIX, ODF, E??? NSA security, …). Neither are antitrust authorities, courts, decrees, or agreements. Neither is public perception and or history? Neither will be Linux and FOSS?

    It’s simple, avoid mono and Microsoft and OOXML and as much as you can that is closely associated with Microsoft. To do otherwise is to put your mettle against theirs, your conscience against their lack of ethics, and your resources and sources of funds against theirs. Good Luck, but just don’t gamble with what is dear to me if you expect my support.

    [Dan]>> Well, the FSFE has praised Microsoft’s MS-PL (even before it was accepted at OSI).
    >> See here: http://www.itworld.com/051020fsf
    >> The FSF also has it listed on their site as a Free Software license:

    Keep in mind that “free software” is not at all what distinguishes the FSF and FSFE from “open source” groups.

    And if you read that article, it mentions that the FSFE had given only a cursory look at the time.

    Most importantly, the issue is more than the license. It is the context around which the license will be used. The actual source code at stake matters. The various EULA matter. The potential tricks and confusions matter. All of these things matter more than the “license”; however, under plain vanilla circumstances, I would probably take the FSF’s current advice if I found code or a utility that I thought was useful and was licensed as free software. .. or maybe not.

    Will the FSF’s interpretation (eg, based on best effort understanding of various terms) be what Microsoft has in mind and written into their contracts and EULAs and websites?

    [Alex]>> Does it run better/only on Windows? Obviously the license doesn’t dictate that. But since it’s free software, if it doesn’t run well it can be made to run better. Lots of free software runs well on GNU and poorly/doesn’t compile on BSD. It’s a deficiency, but one that can be fixed.

    Just a passing note, but I am not surprised that he would consider it a “deficiency” to have software that runs well on “GNU” (RMS would be proud (play music)) but poorly or not at all on BSD.

  83. Jose_X said,

    October 21, 2008 at 7:52 am

    Gravatar

    Let me add that there has been noise for a while on the Internet about how there are other interpretations of the GPL. Courts will settle some of this, but not every point by a long shot will be settled since these may not be brought up for a long time if ever.

    If you use the MS-PL, you are vulnerable to Microsoft’s interpretations. Microsoft is not the FSF. They do not see things at all similarly. [Remember Gates' issues with integration/separability of Internet E; somehow I don't expect Gates and RMS to share too many perspectives.. and remember also Novell with their blah blah this and blah blah that.]

    These people are untrustworthy and so is any of the tools that emanate from them.

  84. Roy Schestowitz said,

    October 21, 2008 at 7:53 am

    Gravatar

    Dan,

    in the article that you cited I see a sensationalist headline (I also don’t trust the author, whose name I recognise). Looking deeper I find:

    The FSFE has reservations about the Ms-RL, Ms-LPL and MS-LCL, which it said are “clearly proprietary.” “We still have to warn people to be careful about the ‘Shared Source’ label and look at the specific licenses,” stated Greve.

    “The FSFE said it would have preferred Microsoft to use the GPL or LGPL for Shared Source instead of inventing new licenses. “In the course of time we would prefer to see Microsoft join the large global community of commercial GNU (L)GPL vendors,” Greve stated.”

    To Microsoft, this is part of a marketing campaign, part of EEE, and a weapon against regulators. See:

    Is Microsoft Hijacking Open Source?
    http://www.linuxjournal.com/node/1003745

  85. AlexH said,

    October 21, 2008 at 7:55 am

    Gravatar

    @Jose: my point about being concise was simply that you raise a lot of issues, and there’s no way I can individually respond to each of them in a post. A better way, in my opinion, is to try to address one topic in each posting – that gives other people a chance to respond, and that’s what I try to do. What you’ve written stretches over four pages on my screen.

    I will respond to what seems important though:

    In short, Alex has no qualms about providing significant and particular help to Microsoft

    That’s not true. The point I made was that you cannot contribute to free software and prevent Microsoft from making use of those contributions.

    Perhaps you’re talking about projects that MS directly lead; but I think it’s more relevant to the more common case of projects where Microsoft “make use of” and/or “contribute to” – I gave the example of jQuery, Drupal would be another example. I don’t see any reason to avoid those projects just because of MS involvement.

    I’m not going to comment on the MS-PL, except to say that a. everyone considers it to be a free software license, and b. how Microsoft change it in the future is irrelevant. If it becomes non-free, that does not affect software under that license.

    So, when you say:

    The actual source code at stake matters. The various EULA matter. The potential tricks and confusions matter.

    Actually, I argue that it doesn’t matter. The license is what governs your use of the software. It’s either free or not. I don’t see what possible tricks you think are in there.

  86. Roy Schestowitz said,

    October 21, 2008 at 8:09 am

    Gravatar

    The point I made was that you cannot contribute to free software and prevent Microsoft from making use of those contributions.

    That’s a distraction and a totally separate issue. You do this when you are presented with hard questions that you’d rather sidestep.

  87. AlexH said,

    October 21, 2008 at 8:17 am

    Gravatar

    @Roy: you don’t have to throw an ad hominem in there.

    Separate issue from what?

  88. Roy Schestowitz said,

    October 21, 2008 at 8:21 am

    Gravatar

    You refuse to acknowledge that Microsoft wants to destroy Free software, or perhaps you tend to escape questions about it.

  89. AlexH said,

    October 21, 2008 at 8:23 am

    Gravatar

    Microsoft wants to destroy all its competitors. What’s to acknowledge?

  90. Roy Schestowitz said,

    October 21, 2008 at 8:26 am

    Gravatar

    That it would be tactless if not altogether foolish to give it control, especially given history’s many lessons on EEE.

  91. AlexH said,

    October 21, 2008 at 8:29 am

    Gravatar

    But you’re the one positing that Microsoft has “control” over free software it releases. I disagree with that point of view, because with the four freedoms Microsoft cannot dictate to me how I use its software, or who I share it with.

  92. Roy Schestowitz said,

    October 21, 2008 at 8:31 am

    Gravatar

    Please explain how Microsoft’s licence changes, for instance, are not a problem.

  93. AlexH said,

    October 21, 2008 at 8:35 am

    Gravatar

    Because they are perpetual (modulo patent defence clauses). Once it’s released as free software, that genie can’t go back in the bottle.

  94. Roy Schestowitz said,

    October 21, 2008 at 8:39 am

    Gravatar

    Should we not be concerned given what Microsoft did just weeks ago?

    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/10/03/codeplex_licenses/

    Microsoft is posting code to its much-trumpeted CodePlex open-source projects site using licenses and conditions that go against the principles of open source.

    The company has been posting projects under Microsoft licenses that stop you from running CodePlex projects on non-Windows platforms or restrict access to code.

    Do you trust this company?

  95. AlexH said,

    October 21, 2008 at 8:43 am

    Gravatar

    As I keep saying, no, I don’t trust them. But with a clear free software license I don’t need to.

    What was the problem at CodePlex? They were using non-free licenses. That software was therefore non-free.

    That situation says nothing about the software released under a free software license.

    Let me put this to you in a different way: if they released the software under the GPLv3 instead of the MS-PL, would you then be happy? If not why not, and if so – what difference do you think it has made?

  96. stevetheFLY said,

    October 21, 2008 at 9:21 am

    Gravatar

    You don’t need to trust them, the license is very clear…

    Note: comment has been flagged for arriving from an incarnation of a known (eet), pseudonymous, forever-nymshifting, abusive Internet troll that posts from open proxies and relays around the world.

  97. Jose_X said,

    October 21, 2008 at 9:32 am

    Gravatar

    >> my point about being concise was simply that you raise a lot of issues, and there’s no way I can individually respond to each of them in a post. A better way, in my opinion, is to try to address one topic in each posting – that gives other people a chance to respond, and that’s what I try to do

    And my point is that these “questions” have been presented many times before in various threats to which you were an active participant at the time of posting.

    >> The point I made was that you cannot contribute to free software and prevent Microsoft from making use of those contributions.

    That’s a great point. Now, why don’t you address what I keep bringing up since I think your point has been beat to death already and no one has shown disagreements.

    I’m not going to repeat myself. To keep things focused on code contributions, please read this and respond in as many parts as necessary at your earliest convenience: http://boycottnovell.com/2008/10/19/microfoss-and-oxymoron/#comment-28806

    >> > In short, Alex has no qualms about providing significant and particular help to Microsoft

    >> That’s not true.

    Can you clarify this because the original quote sure does look very true to me. Do you mean how “that’s not true” because you actually have a few qualms of reservations as oppose to “no qualms”. Please elaborate. It may help to first discuss your views on the link just recently mentioned above since we’re going to have to dig in there I suspect over and over.

    >> I don’t see any reason to avoid those projects just because of MS involvement.

    Do you see how Linux+FOSS would benefit if Microsoft’s port code contributions were not accepted, where not hosted at the central site?

    >> Perhaps you’re talking about projects that MS directly lead; but I think it’s more relevant to the more common case of projects where Microsoft “make use of” and/or “contribute to”

    Not sure what you are referring to here. Clearly all three of these cases have been discussed. There are ways where Microsoft benefits to greater or lesser degrees depending on the context and on which of these three we are talking about. I’ve spoken about all three. In particular, consider finally reading and commenting on this link: http://boycottnovell.com/2008/10/19/microfoss-and-oxymoron/#comment-28806

    >> I’m not going to comment on the MS-PL, except to say that a. everyone considers it to be a free software license, and b. how Microsoft change it in the future is irrelevant. If it becomes non-free, that does not affect software under that license.

    So you are deciding not to direct an answer to most of what I said on the topic. OK. Well, you did quote something. Let’s see.

    >> > The actual source code at stake matters. The various EULA matter. The potential tricks and confusions matter.
    >> Actually, I argue that it doesn’t matter. The license is what governs your use of the software. It’s either free or not.

    Clearly the code does matter, no matter the circumstance. The license is a license to code, so the code does matter.

    If you will read the link repeated several times above, we might come to discussing mono and various bits of code in how they help Microsoft or not or to what extent.

    The EULA and “tricks and confusion”:

    I’ll handle this below.

    >> I don’t see what possible tricks you think are in there.

    Maybe you should read the comments I have been writing. Text/legalese is subject to interpretations by humans. These interpretations are not absolute or else court procedures would be much simplified and a neutral observer would know the result with absolute precision ahead of the official judgment pronouncement. [Additionally, see next part.]

    >> Microsoft wants to destroy all its competitors. What’s to acknowledge?

    Glad we agree. Can we also then agree that it thus becomes valuable not to support the use of MS-PL and other MS licenses, of CodePlex, and of MS projects [let's just look at these three for now] because it gives Microsoft particular leverage going into the future. How? OK, let’s discuss the tricks and EULAs now.

    The EULA and “tricks and confusion” (continuation):

    I’ll pick this theme up in a new upcoming reply, and cover some related items.

  98. Jose_X said,

    October 21, 2008 at 9:39 am

    Gravatar

    Some fixes:

    >> in various threats to which you

    threat –> thread.

    I wondered if this was a Freudian slip, but I think it’s because “threat” is on my mind.. many threats here there etc.

    >> have a few qualms of reservations

    I think you get the point though I imagine this is grammatically incorrect and may sound very odd.

    >> > I’m not going to comment on the MS-PL, except to say that a. everyone considers it to be a free software license, and b. how Microsoft change it in the future is irrelevant. If it becomes non-free, that does not affect software under that license.
    >> So you are deciding not to direct an answer to most of what I said on the topic. OK. Well, you did quote something. Let’s see.

    This is not the intended response on my part. I’ll redo this later.

  99. Roy Schestowitz said,

    October 21, 2008 at 9:54 am

    Gravatar

    As a word of warning about Microsoft licences and CodePlex, I ought to add something that wasn’t discussed here before: the Sandcastle incident. Also covered or mentioned in:
    http://boycottnovell.com/2008/07/04/lies-and-hijacking-oss/
    http://boycottnovell.com/2008/06/13/open-source-marketing-ploy/

  100. AlexH said,

    October 21, 2008 at 10:16 am

    Gravatar

    Microsoft removed Sandcastle and then re-published it properly.

    [my other post seems to be in moderation / eaten]

  101. Roy Schestowitz said,

    October 21, 2008 at 10:18 am

    Gravatar

    Fixing mistakes is like probation. It doesn’t change the fact that Microsoft is the scorpion that keeps stinging the tortoise.

    I’ll check the moderation queue to see if the comment is there.

  102. Jose_X said,

    October 21, 2008 at 10:27 am

    Gravatar

    >> I’m not going to comment on the MS-PL, except to say that a. everyone considers it to be a free software license, …

    I doubt (a) will satisfy a judge if it turns out “everyone” was not exactly correct. If there are disagreements, Microsoft has more leverage in defining the nuances of what was meant in the terms.

    I trust the FSF more with what I have in mind when I use the GPL than I do Microsoft were I to use one of their licenses. At this point in time, I also trust virtually every group (at least of the main existing licenses) more than I trust Microsoft.

    Court procedures would be much simplified if there weren’t disagreements over the meaning of terms of contracts/licenses among rational beings.

    The FSF cannot speak for Microsoft. The FSF does not track the multitude of conversations Microsoft has with their customers (“customers” includes developers and even of “freebies”).

    >> …and b. how Microsoft change it in the future is irrelevant. If it becomes non-free, that does not affect software under that license.
    >> The EULA and “tricks and confusion”:

    It’s definitely relevant.

    Microsoft has used bait and switch many times in the past. Microsoft has a huge “captured” audience. Our end users are unsophisticated in terms of knowledge and access to the law in many/most cases. We all know that most people do not keep perfect track of licenses, of what applies at any given point in time. This is a human condition “engineers” must factor into their decisions*. FOSS developers have it on their shoulders to release using a license, a brand, that users will be able to trust. If we don’t do this, “tricks and confusion” of all sorts (eg, the EULA and version examples given in earlier replies) can be leveraged by Microsoft towards all of these users much more easily.

    Again, Microsoft has successfully used bait and switch to get around certifications and more with the code they have had shipped/installed for customers. Their advantage grows (with synergies) when they control all the components that could take part in any particular business scheme of theirs. I only gave a few examples, but these guys being paid to sit and think can surely amass a more creative arsenal over time.

    Let me quote the FSF:
    >> …It is incompatible with version 2 of the GNU GPL…
    >> Please do not use this license for anything you write; there are already well-known free software licenses that serve the same purpose, such as the Apache License version 2.0

    [* Once English has been tamed to be completely unambiguous (yeah, right) and license management tools have been perfected, we might have to re-evaluate the scenario.]

  103. Jose_X said,

    October 21, 2008 at 10:36 am

    Gravatar

    Alex, I hope your post pops up. I want to read everything, but I’ll mention again that I need to focus on some other work in particular this week. I’ll be getting back to this thread periodically but not always quickly. Some of my replies may take a while for that reason. If I reply quickly, it probably means I am not doing what I should be doing.

  104. Roy Schestowitz said,

    October 21, 2008 at 10:35 am

    Gravatar

    Here is what the FSFE said:
    http://mail.fsfeurope.org/pipermail/press-release/2005q4/000120.html

  105. Roy Schestowitz said,

    October 21, 2008 at 10:39 am

    Gravatar

    That comments has just popped up. Maybe the filters didn’t like the word “ms-pl”, so it entered moderation. ;-)

  106. TK said,

    October 21, 2008 at 11:12 am

    Gravatar

    “Ultimately, this is for the good of the industry.”

    Does this sound like Soylent Green to anyone else?

    Honestly, if you recognize the stench, you don’t have to see a carcass to know there’s a dead animal around. Microsoft’s “foray” into FOSS has all the historical markings of the same story, second verse – Embrace, Extend, Extinguish. MS apologists aside, there are far too many parallels in the moving and shaking MS is doing right now with previous similar encounters with other software companies (yes, FOSS is not a company, I know).

    Another old cliche: a leopard cannot change its spots. It was just a couple of short years ago MS claimed FOSS was a virus, a cancer, something to be eradicated. Do you seriously believe they aren’t trying their best to do so? Don’t let a few MS-written open licenses fool you, they are still on the warpath against FOSS. Another cliche: can’t see the forest for the trees.

    Think about this: they don’t mind if developers continue writing FOSS as long as they write it for the Windows platform (don’t have that link offhand, sorry). Umm, that isn’t TRUE FOSS, then, at least not in the spirit of FOSS. If software is going to be limited to a particular operating system to PURPOSELY decrease competition, that flies directly into the face of FOSS in spirit. You can roll out the MS “open” licenses all you want, the bigger picture isn’t all green. Do the major MS applications run on Linux? Nope. Do the major FOSS applications run on Windows and Linux and Mac? Yep. Hmm, which one is more interoperable again? ;)

  107. Jose_X said,

    October 21, 2008 at 12:43 pm

    Gravatar

    >> Let me put this to you in a different way: if they released the software under the GPLv3 instead of the MS-PL, would you then be happy? If not why not, and if so – what difference do you think it has made?

    Since the time you submitted this (but before it posted on BN publicly), I wrote two comments that (in part) address this, but let me reply directly here with further and more specific thoughts.

    As mentioned all over the place, the actual software matters. As long as Microsoft has the leverages that they do and the vast amount of closed source investments in “dotnet”, “OOXML”, etc, I do not want to help advance code that relates to technologies where they dominate. It doesn’t matter who leads/maintains the project or owns the code. It doesn’t matter if I got the code from an ice cream truck or from the President.

    See http://boycottnovell.com/2008/10/19/microfoss-and-oxymoron/#comment-28806 .

    Regardless of the type of software, if Microsoft owns it, I doubt very much I would want to help that software grow in quality or in pervasiveness. If the software was simple and helpful on Linux (eg, if it did not bring over a lot of baggage that could help establish mental, code,… lock-in), I would accept it but *after a fork* (ie, if I wanted to help fix it or grow it, I would want it forked). Otherwise, I don’t think I would want it. [If the landscape changes drastically, I'd have to reconsider and maybe have to choose the lesser of two poisons.]

    The actual license actually matters very much, especially within the context of copyleft. This license for the code would have to be compatible with other things I might want to use (GPLv2 GPLv3 and others if possible). Of course, everything I said here http://boycottnovell.com/2008/10/19/microfoss-and-oxymoron/#comment-29260 against the MS-PL and other MS licenses applies.

    So I don’t want their license (lack trust/ and there are brand issues/traps as well.. see prior link); I don’t want their technology (see link at top; nomono); I don’t want their open source software (I would be participating in growing or improving their assets; see top link); I don’t want their binary products (duh).

    In short: I don’t do business with Microsoft. I don’t trust them. I won’t help them; I won’t sell the wider community short by trying to help myself by helping them. There are other and better ways to help yourself.

  108. Roy Schestowitz said,

    October 21, 2008 at 2:39 pm

    Gravatar

    Microsoft still relies on a young generation forgetting what they have done. Sadly, as Perens put it, they use moles disguised as “FOSS people” to confuse people:

    “I think mostly they’d like to dilute “Open Source” to mean any code with source code. This is important to them because it’s the rights connected to Open Source that scare Microsoft (and others). If you can call it Open Source when there isn’t even the right to compile the code, or to use the information you get from reading it, customers don’t have a reason to ask for it any longer.”

    “Their publicity agencies are here on Slashdot pumping that angle every day.”

    Bruce Perens

    Be careful whatever you read out there.

    I’ve also just found out about Microsoft bribing Mac bloggers ($15,000) to sell out Apple:

    Microsoft to Mac enterprise bloggers: How much to sell out Apple?

    One of our customers has asked us write up a technical marketing case for
    Windows Vista over Mac OSX in the enterprise. I’m contacting you to see if
    you know anyone who would be interested and capable of writing this based on background materials we have.

    The candidate should have a good understanding of client systems in the enterprise and the technologies behind issues that are important in the enterprise (deployment, manageability, work group and policy management, security, suitability of developer platforms for line of business applications, tech support, licensing, TCO).

    We have some background materials that include a 75 page technical document called “Apple in the Enterprise” and other summaries of technical points, but it all needs to be put together to make the case.

    It’s not too hard to figure out who the customer is here. The price to sell out the Mac in the enterprise is $15,000. But my guess is that this fee may be negotiable upwards depending on the brand of the author in question.

    Can it be that the Mac and the iPhone are gaining enough traction in the enterprise to start ringing alarm bells in Redmond? It appears so.

    http://blogs.zdnet.com/Apple/?p=2415

    Still the same corrupt Microsoft that buys shills then…. ho hum

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