[TriLUG] LG Joins Microsoft's Open Source Protection Club
linuxr at gmail.com
Wed Jun 20 11:20:04 EDT 2007
Steve, replies are inserted below. -MM
Stallman advocates *free software*. However, there is still much
confusion over the distinction between "free software" and
"open source software", so if you have misspoke, you are forgiven.
----point taken, thanks for the refreshing flame-free correction.
>2. This team must, with the aid of the greater linux community,
>basically prevent the opponent from 'defining' us, and our software.
I whole-heartedly agree, but must note that the whole point of
Microsoft's patent attack is to do just that.
-----we're in total agreement on this. be proactive not just reactive
Microsoft, as the predominant desktop provider, would love to
have Linux agree to play on their home turf. So they have effectively
re-defined Free Software as a debate over whether it's better to
use Vista or whatever brand of 'other operating system' happens
to be running on the x86-based IA32-architecture grey box on
a persons desk.
It's not about patents they would like us to believe *Linux*
infringes, but instead about the desktop metaphor, email clients,
office applications, etc. which run on Linux.
----Well, *we* (the OSS community) are of course not the ones who are
the 'target audience'. It's naiive and spineless middle
managers/CTO's etc. who are paranoid about compliance issues and
willing to cave (I call them 'cavemen').
Similarly, when they sign deals, it's with companies selling
desktop computing implementations using free software and
selling primarily to businesses--their home turf.
----It'll be interesting to see how this plays out with other big
players, OEMs, etc. I'd love to see a few big distributors decide to
pull the plug and only carry Mac's and linux boxes. That'd be really
Possibly, Microsoft is suffering from a blindness they don't
comprehend, and cannot see the world of computing beyond the
desktop. Alternately, they can see it but realize they haven't
even got a patent foothold in those other areas; it's all they
can do to defend their own desktop monopoly.
----Maybe. Although I tend to think they comprehend quite a bit given
the fact that they have hired a lot of linux people in recent years.
They sold the world 'windows' as some kind of ubiquitous universal
wrench that can be run supposedly anywhere. That paradigm worked for
awhile - they fooled some of the people some of the time. Linux is
much closer to being that than windoze ever will be, and they will
never fool all of us all of the time.
As a community, then, it is important to remind people that
Linux is about much more than just the desktop. And that
Free Software extends beyond just Linux.
---most definetely. Although Linux is undoubtedly the poster child
for OSS and what happens with Linux will likely greatly affect the
rest of OSS and vice versa, unless clauses and/or GPL licensing
specifically applies in a differrent way. Licensing is such a PITA
for everyone these days.
>3. Magnus has some great points too, I agree that this is not limited
>to just a tech conversation but points to bigger issues for the US as
>a corporatocracy. For the sake of sanity I am only focused on the
>tech and specifically Linux aspect.
Which, IMHO, is correct. We (both as members of the FLOSS community
and as citizens of a democracy) cannot afford to spend any more
time locked into the 'computers are only good for running MSOffice"
To this end, if we can highlight the areas where Linux rocks
and Windows is pretty-much unthinkable (DVR's, PDA's, server room,
cell phones, embedded applications, lab instruments, medical
appliances, etc) we de-value Microsoft's desktop monopoly, as
well as force them to spread themselves thinner.
The world moves-on without them. We need to move with the world
rather than sticking around to fight over that played-out turf.
----I just finished a contract at a major corporation which ran almost
everything as windows in the data center. If you need SMTP forwarding
or a MAILTO:, they go and buy a full blown MS Exchange license. If
you need to buy anything it had better be windows-oriented,
windows-friendly, etc. I was in a position to save them hundreds of
thousands of dollars with tools like Ubuntu or even using RHEL
products if they had to have a license. The developers wanted linux,
but it was the data center manager who was afraid of it. If they had
to have a *nix box he kept buying HPUX although the key person using
that server also wanted a RH box.
The point is that there are a LOT of people out there, who have *NOT*
moved on. The 'boot camps' are churning out point-and-click monkeys
every week, who think they are hot stuff. The old school managers
think in terms of 'NT' or 'UNIX'. You and I have moved on. Surely
many goverments and countries around the world have moved on, but this
particular environment taught me that there are still plenty of
backwards-thinking people out there.
Which is why I have to disagree, somewhat, with your first assertion:
>1. LEADERSHIP must emerge from SOMEWHERE - kernel.org, Red Hat inc,
>the Debian folks, the Ubuntu/Shuttleworth people, IBM etc. -- and
>probably some of all of the above.
That's just leadership for the battle in the desktop skirmish.
---and the desktop is, a HUGE market. Sure if you throw every other
type of computing device market into the mix, it looks small. I
assert that strategically speaking, the desktop is (at least in
redmond's eyes) the main battleground since it is the area that makes
inroads into other areas - media players, messaging, *collaboration*
(insert eye rolling here), and lots of peripherals that billy bob
wants to stick his nose in (or already has it in). Look at the
whole battle over IE being built into the OS, again shoving their
interests down the consumers' throats.
1. We don't need to win, we just need to hold and delay.
2. Even if we were to lose (Microsoft gets an injunction preventing
distribution of some version of Desktop linux) it would be
a desktop loss, not a total loss for Free Software.
3. We *do* need to make them spend time/money to defend their
----I disagree with #1. We can delay, but they can silently make
deals until it is done. Remember OJ? What good do the facts do if
there is no appreciation for them? I have seen literature and
business press that tries to paint FOSS as 'freeware'.
I like the argument that I heard somewhere (maybe on this list) about
the sw patents being illegal, because software is itself just a
mathmatical algorithm, and therefore can't be patented. That is
probably true, *HOWEVER* microsoft will not have that written in its
licenses and EULAs that way anyway. Read your xp eula, it
characterizes your internet connection as 'software'. They are
pulling a 'Johnnie Cochran' on their customers. (If the jury fits you
must aquit, right? Or whatever the saying was...)
-----I agree with #3 the strongest. make 'em pay!
The one thing to keep in mind: Business that deploy desktop
computers never make use of the 'free software/open source' nature
of the software even if it does happen to be free and open source.
---Huh? some do, some don't. I have seen both. Even as stupid as
the datacenter was that I left, they did have some ubuntu stuff there.
Few business which deploy a Novell Linux desktop make their own
in-house modifications to it; rather they deploy it exactly as
delivered from Novell, patches are provided by Novell and Novell
provides the support. Same for RHEL, etc.
The ones which *do* make in-house modifications wouldn't be
deploying such an operating system for the purpose of gaining
patent protection from Microsoft, because there's no guarantee
any modifications they make wouldn't trigger a lawsuit anyway.
---RIIIGHT. Makes sense. If you pay the mob to go away, they may
still come back next week for additional shakedowns. EXCELLENT point.
Smart people don't pay them at all. Dumb people pay them and think
it is great that they are left alone for a week. This opens the
floodgates for them to come back again and again ---and they will,
probably in new and different ways.
Effectively, people who use Open Source software, but agree
to a license which prevents them from making use of the Free
Software nature have meerly deployed another y-a-proprietary
software solution. They are still locked into a single source.
---Well now it is getting so convoluded that I need a law degree to
dissect the finer points here. If every different company, user,
customer, vendor, repo, etc. defines the term 'software' differently,
then it is a problem. I need to review some license agreements and
try to grasp what they really mean. I have never worked for a company
that was completely compliant with licensing. Many managers know this
and it scares them, and MS is playing on their fears.
These types of free software users may be of interest to the
Open Source community, but they are of little interest to
Free Software developers.
So the desktop battle becomes one for Businesses to fight on
behalf of Free software, but less a one that Free Software
developers need to care about. Microsoft will not be selling-
to or engaging with individual developers, nor suing them, nor
does it appear their threats are getting much more than chuckles
---Sure, makes sense.
Business, however, need to keep the Free Software developers
on-board in order to keep getting community updates.
---How are you gonna keep FOSS developers on board if your network and
entire computing environment has been classified as 'unsafe', or 'non
compliant'? Remember the gestapo tactics a few years back with the
'business software alliance'? ANY disgruntled ex-employee could call
MS and get their goons to go onsite, with almost police level
protection and authority, and 'force' compliance. Mention the C word
and a lot of people get very scared.
The Free Software community, on the other hand, is not going to
waste time developing modifications which encumbered Business are
prohibited from using. No point.
---I think we all realize that real Open source projects will always
gallop along, regardless of all of this. To a certain segment of the
market, unfortunately, it doesn't matter if say Apache is perfect, if
the whole world has been sold that IIS v.x is the greatest thing (and
oh by the way its the only web server that isn't 'risky'). When you
remove the facts from the equation, the whole thing ceases to matter.
It might mean that business which sign-on for patent protection
find themselves embargoed through such a natural mechanism.
Maybe that's Microsoft's hope; stagnate desktop linux down to
a speed they can keep up with.
---The market is begging for a major linux distro to come along and
make solid inroads onto the desktop. I was thrilled to see Dell
carrying ubuntu a few weeks ago.
And while I agree most Business wouldn't want to choose Stallman
as the 'leader' of the /their/ Open Source movement, they also
don't want to alienate the Free Software developers they are
--Fair enough. Although many businesses would rather buy 'legit'
products from a company like Red Hat than find something that works
just as well which is actually for free. Because there is a manager
somewhere whose job is riding upon it. From my experience a lot of
managers really don't care that there is someone out there working on
the kernel, or apache, or whatever else they are running. They do
care that there is a 'linux company' in Raliegh that they can blame if
they have a 'linux problem'.
So maybe it will mean that companies like Novell have to hire
more free software developers to ensure the fixes to open source
software are the same ones their customers are demanding. Which
could work to Microsoft's disadvantage: they've found a way to
make Business pay for software developers which the free software
community couldn't come up with themselves.
>If we continue to let Redmond define the battle, the terms, and who we
>are and what our software is, we are finished. The 'good guys' team
>needs to do things like proactively sue for hypothetical lost sales
>projections based on damages from the Redmond '235' threat.
Which is why I greeted Microsoft's latest "Mission Accomplished"
announcement with a sense of 'is /that/ all you've got?'.
----Their strategy has always been to announce major victory over a
crappy product release, then when the complaints start rolling in,
promise to fix the bugs in the next few patch releases. It actually
is false advertising to see a feature like '3d desktop' as a lure to
buy a product, then not be able to implement it at the time you buy
it, which is what has happened with some people. Again, the people
who lose are the ones who let others define them.
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