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Novell the Biggest Loser in New Red Hat-Microsoft Virtual Agreement

Posted in Deals, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Novell, Red Hat, Servers, SLES/SLED, Virtualisation, Windows at 12:12 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

RED Hat has just made an announcement that is less important than reporters might be led to believe. Given some initial details, it’s clear that Red Hat wants nothing to do with Microsoft’s software patents.

As Glyn Moody pointed out, there is “Nothing Novell-ish here.” Matthew Aslett got that right as well.

There is no Linux-support coupon scheme, although that was exclusive to the Novell-Microsoft agreement anyway, and no patent or intellectual property agreement either.

Ultimately, this developments makes Novell’s SUSE a lot less necessary and therefore it provides an escape route from Microsoft’s patent coupons. In other words, Novell got screwed for paying for something that’s potentially free, owing to reciprocity. This isn’t the first such example where Novell looks like fool for these reasons. Bada boom!

Drums Novell

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  1. Jose_X said,

    February 16, 2009 at 1:32 pm


    Market pressures is apparently why Red Hat did it.

    I hate interop with Microsoft. It’s a lie. They can see all our code. We can’t see a bit of theirs. It’s wasteful to spend time on their hooks and crannies.

    The reason to control the OS was to avoid Microsoft entirely. So the weed now is doing VMs so they can get into our fertile land to choke everything else off.

    Weeds are untrustworthy. They bring no good. They have no self control.

    Avoid interoperating with weeds as much as possible (easier to do if you aren’t a public business needing to make quarterly numbers).

  2. anonymous said,

    February 16, 2009 at 1:40 pm


    I had all these questions on why you’re boycotting novell if you have no problems with other vendors doing ms agreements, but then I realized you’re just an idiot getting payed to do this (well I hope you’re at least getting payed, otherwise you’re a lunatic instead of a sellout), so asking you to be logical or consistent is probably beyond your capabilities (or at least pay grade).

  3. Roy Schestowitz said,

    February 16, 2009 at 1:47 pm


    In case you haven’t seen the news, the analysis is very consistent. Groklaw sort of endorsed this too.

    http://weblog.infoworld.com/openresource/archives/2009/02/red_hat_and_mic.html http://www.businessreviewonline.com/os/archives/2009/02/update_red_hat.html
    http://weblog.infoworld.com/openresource/archives/2009/02/red_hat_and_mic.html http://www.businessreviewonline.com/os/archives/2009/02/update_red_hat.html

    I’ll write about this later.

  4. Roy Bixler said,

    February 16, 2009 at 2:06 pm


    Most of this site’s raison d’être has to do with the patent portion of Novell’s deal with Microsoft, which at least implicitly concedes Microsoft’s rhetoric that Linux violates its IP and any customer of a Linux vendor somehow owes Microsoft money. There is also the concern that the patents deal violates the GPL, at least in spirit if not legally. To someone who supports FLOSS and wants to see it reach new heights, both of these points give many grounds for objection.

  5. Shane Coyle said,

    February 16, 2009 at 2:30 pm


    True interoperability requires no agreement, just adherence to open standards (or at least working documentation).

    That being said, it appears there were no IP or even monetary exchanges, just merely a marketing announcement that aids both companies, and their customers. Relatively benign, methinks.

  6. Roy Schestowitz said,

    February 16, 2009 at 6:00 pm


    I tried to represent the views of skeptics that I’ve also been seeing in some other sites, mostly in comments.

    This one is the latest that caught my eye:

    At first glance, this is a significant win for Red Hat and Microsoft’s mutual customers and partners. But The VAR Guy thinks Novell’s close relationship with Microsoft forced Red Hat to the negotiating table.

    He does have a point.

  7. Shane Coyle said,

    February 16, 2009 at 7:21 pm


    Many valid points are to be made all around, but, as in their differing approaches to FOSS, Red Hat’s move is in sharp contrast to Novell’s in both nature and effect.

    Somehow, despite Microsoft dismissing FOSS as communistic, or Novell claiming that end-to-end open source is not fully enterprise ready, Red Hat has consistently delivered quality solutions to their very loyal and expanding list of customers, while creating shareholder value and adhering to their FOSS philosophies all-the-while.

    There’s nothing better than good, clean, business… except maybe some monkey-business – (all apologies to Rodney Dangerfield). Yes, this will help both companies to make more money, and yes I believe that was their motivation. Hopefully, customers will benefit as well.

    I see it as not much more than a marketing announcement, but of course there is some significance in the nature of the announcement – has Microsoft ever done any deal (of any kind) with a GNU⁄Linux distributor and not garnered an IP deal to crow about?

    That speaks either to Red Hat’s strength, or Microsoft’s softening of their stance somewhat. The future will reveal which, I suppose.

  8. twitter said,

    February 17, 2009 at 11:01 am


    I have to agree with the dimmest view of this deal. “Interoperability” with non free software is a lie by definition and there is nothing more harmful to free software than M$’s “Marketing”. M$’s intentions and the fate of companies that make deals with them have been extensively examined here through coverage of Comes vs Microsoft and the Microsoft Novell patent deal. As Roy noted, Novell is the biggest loser in this deal and that is the usual end of cooperation with M$. The best thing to do with Windows is to dump it like the second rate and toxic sludge that it is. The more M$ tech you bring on board, the more pain you invite because of M$’s court proven record of technical sabotage. Anything that argues otherwise is a move in the wrong direction. The only good thing that can come from M$ is a full software patent surrender and liberation of their own code. Nothing short of this should be trusted, especially by one of the principle targets of M$’s long running software patent extortion.

    This deal needs to be studdied, not to know if it’s bad but how bad it really is. Here is Red Hat’s press release. Here is their earlier announcement. I look forward to more insightful commentary from Boycott Novell and add my preliminary analysis below.

    At face value, nothing has been gained for free software. M$’s customers may very well demand virtulization of Windows and GNU/Linux may be the best way of doing it. The whole point of virtualizing Windows is to put something more stable in charge of hardware and to get around the need for a dedicated machine for each set of incompatible non free “solutions” users have. If M$ had the customer’s best interest at heart, no “certification” or other permission would be required by users to solve these problems with free software. Because M$ does not have the customer’s best interest at heart, the deal can’t be trusted and everyone knows it.

    Endorsing a lie is always harmful. Red Hat has implicitly endorsed M$’s customer hostile behavior for their own benefit. Once again M$ has created a favored GNU/Linux distribution for a particular task in the name of “ineteroperability” Tactically, this is damaging because M$ can shift favorites and create costs for GNU/Linux users. More damaging than that is the idea that M$ can tell people how they can and can’t run software. M$’s EULAs specify which versions of Windoze can be run virtualized and which can’t – it’s a power grab that should never be endorsed. The zeroth software freedom is the right to run your software. The only “major hurdle to more widespread adoption of virtualization” is M$’s customer hostile business model.

  9. Roy Schestowitz said,

    February 17, 2009 at 11:20 am


    “Interoperability” is hostility towards standardsreal standards.

  10. Shane Coyle said,

    February 17, 2009 at 3:06 pm


    Let me say it this way, the Novell deal – sans the patent covenant – probably wouldn’t have spawned this site. Or, if it was Novell SUSE Enterprise BSD, I likely wouldn’t have cared about some silly marketing announcement with Microsoft.

    Yes, there are myriad other issues such as Antitrust and such, but without the betrayal of the GPL (in my opinion), I personally wouldn’t have been so offended. I took Novell’s actions as a betrayal of the GPL and the community, and I took it personally.

    At it’s core, that’s all I see this Red Hat announcement as – a marketing move that will hopefully garner both companies more business. From a technical standpoint, yawn, honestly. If it actually yields good results for customers, great.

    I have no problem with the existence of closed source/proprietary software, it takes all kinds – I prefer Freedom, and try to teach others that such options exist, but I don’t wish to push my beliefs on others. Like Novell, I don’t hate Microsoft, I just take issue with many of their actions.

    Someone had said that RedHat had caved in to pressure from customers – yep. They should, Red Hat is a business and they need customers – preferably happy ones – so long as they do not violate any explicit or implicit contracts with the community that provides their products, I say good luck – go get ‘em boys…

    At face value, nothing has been lost for Free Software, either. But, Red Hat – a Free Software distributor and friend of the community, certainly may have something to gain here. And, if Microsoft does too, okay.

    (As I understand the deal at this time, I always retain the right to start yelling if there are details that come to light…)

  11. twitter said,

    February 17, 2009 at 10:03 pm


    The thing lost for free software is the appearance that M$ cooperation is required to run M$ junk and the appearance of cooperation with M$ by Red Hat in this. You will see all sorts of FUD about it later. The continued use of Windows is a losing situation for everyone concerned but M$. People who work in the industry owe it to their customers to tell them this but they continue to cooperate, even as the money in it evaporates.

    I don’t mind that non free software exists either, even though most of it was stolen from the public domain in the first place. The problem is what society does to back the limitations non free software makers try to impose. The power granted to organizations like the BSA is completely out of proportion to the social good done by non free software. My hatred of M$ comes from seeing through the myth of a free market to the reality of extensive limits on my freedoms, privacy and ownership of my property. Non free software companies have aggressively pushed their wares and beliefs onto everyone. Everyone is poorer for it and the few laws in the public’s favor are woefully unenforced.

  12. Roy Schestowitz said,

    February 17, 2009 at 10:17 pm


    The theme will be: Microsoft is helping open source.

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