Linux Advocates Wary Of Novell-Microsoft Tie
Novell investors may be cheering the Linux vendor's historic partnership with Microsoft, but Linux advocates had an entirely different reaction, expressing concerns that the deal may hint at future patent lawsuits and possibly even violate Linux's software license.
"Excuse me while I go throw up," wrote Pamela Jones, the editor of the Groklaw.net blog, which tracks legal issues in the free software community. "I gather Microsoft no longer thinks Linux is a cancer or communism. Now it just wants a patent royalty."
Microsoft and Novell agreed Thursday to work together on marketing and development of their respective products and pledged to make it easier for Windows and Novell's Suse Linux to co-exist in the data center.
But, included in that announcement is a patent cross-licensing agreement that is raising concerns. As part of the agreement, Microsoft has said that it will not sue noncommercial Linux developers and users of Suse Linux, but some worry that this move leaves the door open for the company to sue other Linux companies or even Linux users.
"This is actually really bad news," said Bruce Perens, a well-known Linux advocate. "It sets up Microsoft to assert its patents against all commercial open source users. The deal is going to be, 'You have to buy Microsoft-licensed Linux distribution from Novell or there is an implicit threat that Microsoft will assert their patents against you."