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More Twists for Microsoft-Novell Linux Deal

If we're to believe a somewhat cryptic, anonymously sourced story that appeared this week, Novell "won't be punished" by the Free Software Foundation for making its contentious (to say the very least) SuSE Linux deal with Microsoft. We'd like to take that to mean that the FSF won't use the forthcoming version GPLv3, the license that governs Linux use, to stop Microsoft from distributing SuSE Linux -- something it currently has the power to do.

But before we take this as a sign that the open source folks are giving in, consider that the latest draft of GPLv3 would strip Microsoft of the patent rights that it claims it has over open source software if Microsoft continues to distribute SuSE Linux. (Hm, and all this time we thought that the FSF folks didn't believe that Microsoft had legitimate patent claims at all. Why bother with eliminating them, then, FSF?) So, evidently, the standoff will continue.

Almost lost in all this is the fact that Microsoft and Novell, after a very successful run in the first fiscal quarter of their deal, saw the fruits of their partnership decline considerably in its second quarter. And Novell, while doing better than Wall Street analysts expected, is still losing money. Are potential problems with patents and licenses keeping people away from SuSE Linux? If so, that's a loss for Microsoft, Novell and the open source movement, as well as more critically for partners and users. As we've said here before, in this kind of battle, nobody wins.

Posted by Lee Pender on 06/01/2007 at 1:20 PM


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