[sf-lug] Novell-Microsoft deal slammed by Samba

Tony vze2jy85 at yahoo.com
Fri Nov 17 12:42:14 PST 2006

I have used Samba and I think it is a nifty tool. The
developers behind Samba have slammed the deal between
Microsoft and Novell, not surprising. 


Samba slams 'unacceptable' Novell-Microsoft deal

By Matthew Broersma, TechWorld, 11/13/06

Samba developers have slammed the Microsoft-Novell
deal reached earlier this month, calling it
"unacceptable" and warning that it may cause
significant damage to the open source community. 
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In the deal, Microsoft agreed to offer support for
Novell's SuSE Linux, and agreed not to assert rights
over patents to any software technology that might be
incorporated into the distribution. 

Under the patent cooperation agreement, both companies
are paying each other upfront in exchange for a
release of patent liability. Novell will also make
running royalty payments to Microsoft based on a
percentage of revenue from open-source products. As
such the agreement ensures that Novell SuSE customers
are protected against patent litigation from

The deal has attracted criticism from open-source
advocates, and Samba's open letter to Novell argues
that the agreement goes against the goals of open
source, or free software, and shows contempt for open
source developers. 

"For Novell to make this deal shows a profound
disregard for the relationship that they have with the
Free Software community," Samba developers wrote.
Proprietary software, unlike open source, forces users
to sign coercive licensing agreements, dividing the
world between those who have licenses and those who
don't, the developers wrote. The deal between
Microsoft and Novell, they said, will have a similar

"It deals with users and creators of free software
differently depending on their 'commercial' versus
'non-commercial' status, and deals with them
differently depending on whether they obtained their
free software directly from Novell or from someone
else," the letter stated. "The goals of the Free
Software community and the GNU GPL allow for no such
distinctions." The Linux kernel and components such as
Samba are distributed under the GNU General Public
License.   Continued 

The deal also weakens the open source community's
defenses against software patent litigation, Samba
developers wrote. "Only by standing together do we
stand a chance of defending against the peril
represented by software patents. With this agreement
Novell is attempting to destroy that unified defense,
exchanging the long term interests of the entire Free
Software community for a short-term advantage for
Novell over their competitors." The letter called on
Novell to work with the Software Freedom Law Center to
undo the agreement. 

Novell has said the deal complies with the GPL. To
help answer the flood of questions around the
agreement the company published a question-and-answer
page on its Web site.

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