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Friendly ‘Boycott Novell’ Supportes Robbed of Voice

Posted in Asia, Boycott Novell, Free/Libre Software, Novell at 10:47 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

[was: "Novell Does Not Like Being Criticised," but corrected later]

Achtung Polizei

Protest in India

WHY WOULD Novell and/or its affiliates organisers of a Free sofwtare conference suppress friendly opposition to Novell? A group of Free software supporters spread material that explains why Novell is harmful to freedom, but they needed to confront policemen just to voice their views.

What ever happened this world we’re living in? Arky has some photos and a concise explanation.

Here is blow by blow account of trouble that brewed up on the second
day of National Conference on Free Software 2008 in Cochin university.
The activists put up posters against the Novell Corp (the main sponsor
of this event) at the Free Software exhibition complex.

The organisers called up Kochi police and man handled the Anivar
Aravind a former student of the Cochin University and a well known
free software activist.

Here are some comments that add to the overall message.

In theory anyone should be free to promote free software; in practice what’s happening is quite alarming. What’s free software without free speech and free thought and its own brand of dissent and how can this conference’s organizers miss that?

I’m glad Anivar and others stood up. Conference organizers’ discomfort with them is understandable, but they clearly don’t “get” free software, which is clearly a grassroots movement that has nothing to do with police state. They don’t get it at all when they send police to handle known faces in the community.


I’m willing to be corrected of all this “prejudice”, but what just happened has only substantiated my worries. I’m glad you were there to report this incidence, let’s now look forward to the organizer’s version of The Truth (TM).

With censorship and control, it is easier to tell one's twisted version of the 'truth'.

The following addendum also adds rather disturbing information:

I updated the blog and posted few more photos from the main venue of the event and preparations for the protest.

Most of the mobile phones were taken and pictures deleted, I was lucky enough to get out in time.

“Quickly. Quickly. Got to destroy the evidence.”

Fortunately, the word is spreading pretty fast.

Free Software Activist Anivar Aravind is mishandled by police at National Conference on Free Software 2008 organized in Cochin university. The Free Software activists where protesting against the biggest enemies of Free Software, Novell who is the sponsor of the event !!!!

This is also discussed in local mailing lists. Here are some early messages.

On Sun, Nov 16, 2008 at 2:04 PM, Praveen A <pravi.a@gmail.com> wrote:
> >
> > ---------- Forwarded message ----------
> > From: Rakesh 'arky' Ambati <rakesh_ambati@yahoo.com>
> > Date: 2008/11/15
> > Subject: [FSUG-Bangalore] Boycott Novell Protesters Man-handled at
> > National Conference on Free Software 2008
> > To: fsf-friends@mm.gnu.org.in, fsug-bangalore@mm.gnu.org.in

"Novell offers enterprise infrastructure software and services that
help customers leverage proprietary and open source solutions. These
solutions lower cost ..." www.novell.com

It is evident that the services from Novell Corp do not respect nor
appreciate "freedom", as conceived and promoted by Free Software

Whose agenda are being protected, when Free Software activists' are
refused to register their disagreement through non-violent means of
protest ?

What is wrong in voicing objections to concerns about hijacking the
services of Free Software communities where the ends and means do not
justify any of the principles of Free Software ?

CK Raju,
IIT Kharagpur

There is more from Delhi.

From: Linux Lingam <linuxlingam@gmail.com>
Date: 2008/11/16
Subject: Re: [ilugd] Fwd: [FSUG-Bangalore] Boycott Novell Protesters
Man-handled at National Conference on Free Software 2008
To: The Linux-Delhi mailing list <ilugd@lists.linux-delhi.org>,
rahul@efyindia.com, pkr@cybermedia.co.in

that is the *first* instance of an MNC taking a visibly hostile and
tangible stance against foss and foss-supporters in india. does not
bode too well if that MNC also happens to be a partner of microsoft.

novell owes an apology to the indian foss community.
meanwhile, i don't know about you,
but i haven't touched openSUSE or any novell product since their
controversial tie-in with microsoft.


Thanks to all those who organised this awareness campaign. We were not informed about this until after the act.

The actions taken against innocent dissemination of information speak volume about suppressors of Freedom. It makes them look intolerant and desperate for control of minds.

Boycott Novell in India

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Pages that cross-reference this one


  1. Arun said,

    November 16, 2008 at 2:22 pm


    Dont put all the blame on Novell. It was organisers of the event who kept
    silent on the fact that Novell is a sponsor for this event. And then disallowed peaceful protest.

  2. bobinson said,

    November 16, 2008 at 3:30 pm


    “Novell Does Not Like Being Criticised”

    As Arun mentioned above, there is a correction required here. It wasn’t Novell who called police. It was the ignorance of the organizers of the conference which caused the issue. The politics of the state and agenda playes the major role here. Even if you look at my blog post, I am not blaming Novell for the incident, but I was pointing out the ignorance of the organizers about Free software. As a fellow blogger commented, they made the event “National “non-free” Software Conference” (http://njaan.wordpress.com/2008/11/16/free-software-conference-at-cusat/)

    PS: it will be great to have OpenID enabled here.

  3. Roy Schestowitz said,

    November 16, 2008 at 4:03 pm


    Thanks. I misread it. I’ll correct the text.

  4. bobinson said,

    November 16, 2008 at 4:11 pm


    @Roy Schestowitz

    thats really great :)

    In short, the whole thing was like an anti tobacco conference sponsored by a cigarette brand.

  5. Roy Schestowitz said,

    November 16, 2008 at 4:26 pm


    They don’t sell much tobacco though. They just give the pipes.

  6. suresh said,

    November 16, 2008 at 9:31 pm


    Novell had threatened that they won’t give the sponsorship money when they saw the anti-Novell posters in the stall.So the blame on Novell is not totally out of place.

  7. Roy Schestowitz said,

    November 16, 2008 at 10:00 pm


    Yes, I saw Arky writing this and I will elaborate in a later post. It sounds like older stories.


    All hell broke lose when novell guys saw the ‘Bycott Novell’ handouts pasted right across their booth and said they won’t pay up any sponsers money they owe to the event organisers. They took their ire by kicking out the activists and tearing up the posters.

    The event website has all the information about the people behind the event.


  8. Tom said,

    November 16, 2008 at 11:46 pm


    Since these kinds of events are private events, “free speech” rules don’t apply: the organizers are fully within their rights to have you removed from the premises.

    Should they? I don’t see why not. If they have secured sponsorship from Novell, obviously, they disagree with you; from their point of view, your posters are slander. Why should they allow you to slander the corporate sponsor of the event?

    Personally, I do disagree with your views and characterization of Novell. If you showed up at some event I’m running, I’d probably ask you to leave. And if you don’t leave when asked to (for whatever reason), the matter becomes a matter of security.

  9. Joe said,

    November 17, 2008 at 12:39 am


    Looks like the protesters got MUCH more publicity than they had hoped for!

  10. Patrick McGoldrick said,

    November 17, 2008 at 12:42 am


    “your posters are slander.”

    You misunderstand slander.

    Slander is an untruthful oral (spoken) statement about a person that harms the person’s reputation or standing in the community.

    No-one has implied that what they were saying about Novell was untrue.

  11. Needs Sunlight said,

    November 17, 2008 at 4:30 am


    @Tom: Cool. So by your reasoning, then M$ can go around “sponsoring” all sorts of conferences and workshops just to be able to tell competitors to get out. Doing that directly would violate the sneaky tactics outlined years ago by their planners, so don’t expect to see M$ execs getting their hands dirty throwing groups out, that’s for M$ partners like Novell or for M$ fascades like BSA and FAST.

  12. Roy Schestowitz said,

    November 17, 2008 at 4:49 am


    Needs Sunlight,

    They have already pretty much done that.

  13. Kieran said,

    November 17, 2008 at 4:51 am


    This ‘Needs Sunlight’ guy sounds suspiciously like Slashdot’s very own troll twitter, who is already whipping up a shillstorm over there:


    Bad, bad sockpuppets, bad.

  14. Roy Schestowitz said,

    November 17, 2008 at 4:55 am


    Will silly ad hominem attacks please end?

  15. Headmonkey said,

    November 17, 2008 at 5:02 am


    Lets analyse this situation, from the real worlds viewpoint, and not that of a religious software freedom baby zealot.

    Novell and/or the conference organizers, undoubtedly, rented the space to hold the conference. Its their space, to speak their voice, for however long they rented it. To blame Novell and/or the conference attendees for having the zealots thrown out, or claiming they don’t have the right to have the zealots thrown out, is like saying, I can come to your rented apartment, and call your wife a whore, and your kid a dumb ass, and assert my right to free speech while doing so, without you being able to call the police and have me removed from your rented apartment.

    I really wish the free software community, which I am a part of, and whos products I use and enjoy, would stop portraying themselves as lunatics in public, and spend their time improveing the quality of their code. If they feel the need to comment on source code, for gods sakes, start commenting your source code.

    Free software cannot promote itself, by unleashing an armanent of negativity towards for fee or closed source companies and their products. The free software community should be minding its own business, and promoting and developing its own products, and advertiseing the virtues of its adoption and use.

  16. Kenney said,

    November 17, 2008 at 5:05 am


    What Arun said is the truth. The communists and their feeder organisations are to blame. Novell paid the money and got screwed. But now it looks like every one is afraid to even speak about the organisers and their attempts to brand the event a communist thing.

  17. bobinson said,

    November 17, 2008 at 5:15 am


    Kenney, I agree with you.

  18. JJMacey said,

    November 17, 2008 at 5:55 am


    Hi All,

    Wow, I’m surprised to see such activism regarding a meeting. I’m sure that you know that Slashdot has picked this up.

  19. Roy Schestowitz said,

    November 17, 2008 at 6:00 am


    Yes, this took me by surprise and I was asleep at the time. I’m surprised the site did not go down (unless it did at one stage). The response to the event of Kerala was also a surprise. We were not responsible for any of this.

    The person responsible sent me this some hours ago:

    Posters available from below link

    Statement from Swathanthra Malayalam computing

  20. stephanruby said,

    November 17, 2008 at 6:07 am


    Please post some more pictures/videos.

    Recovering those deleted pictures from your mobile shouldn’t be a problem with something like:

    - stephanruby (on slashdot.org)

  21. Zenwalker said,

    November 17, 2008 at 7:01 am


    Great to see the link i referenced to you getting published here soon.

    Thanks Roy.

  22. Roy Schestowitz said,

    November 17, 2008 at 7:04 am


    I’m preparing a followup post that’s more comprehensive. This was just a quick one.

  23. Ragsagar said,

    November 17, 2008 at 7:36 am



    nice job buddy!

  24. Billy said,

    November 17, 2008 at 10:21 am


    Putting pressure on Novell is totally fair. They should be distancing themselves from the likes of these people.

  25. Kenney said,

    November 17, 2008 at 7:43 pm


    I have a few questions about the incident


  26. Dr Known said,

    November 18, 2008 at 2:01 am


    Closed source software businesses promote Collusion in the industry.
    Open source software businesses promote Competition in the industry.

  27. devidas said,

    November 20, 2008 at 10:33 pm


    @ Kenney,

    The fault ain’t with Communist Government ruling the state. The fault was, as far as my knowledge about the event is concerned, with the organizers who failed to see the Microsoft-Novell tie-ups, and made them the sponsors.

  28. Shankar Anand said,

    November 21, 2008 at 4:01 am


    I completely agree with HeadMonkey. It was a conference that Novell had sponsored. These protesters did not have any business entering Novell’s stall and pasting anti-Novell posters in Novell’s stall or on Novell’s name/log on the conference advertisement boards.

    If they wanted to protest, they should have done it outside the premises.

    As HeadMonkey said, this “is like saying, I can come to your rented apartment, and call your wife a whore, and your kid a dumb ass, and assert my right to free speech while doing so, without you being able to call the police and have me removed from your rented apartment.”

  29. Roy Schestowitz said,

    November 21, 2008 at 4:34 am


    You seem to be missing the point that it was not a Novell event, it was carried under the FOSS banner, and it was not disclosed that a proprietary software company (Novell) would have it sort of hijacked to deceive. See this later post.

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