[CS-FSLUG] My View on the MS/Novell Deal

Ritchie, Josiah S. jritchie at bible.edu
Thu Nov 9 08:45:06 CST 2006

I posted this message in response to a Linux Journal article. If one of
our journalists sees fit to make use of it, I don't require attribution
or any such thing, but I would like to see the message sent out more
broadly to at least insight discussion in a more positive direction. I
welcome your feedback.





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It's about the freedom of information; there is nothing more at risk in
this deal.


Will the fact that Novell has new information in its hands previously
locked up mean that information is more free? Novell certainly seems to
be arguing that information will be more free because they will share
what they can with the community as a whole.


Meanwhile, the FUD force of MS marketing will flood the market with Pro
Novell advertising that will muddy the view of true freedom. Their
support for Novell may derail the conversation about free software
(information) that currently surrounds the Open Source movement. Will
this mean that open source software will be used by more people who
don't appreciate its freedom than ever before? Certainly.


What, in my opinion, remains to be seen is if the open source movement
will damage this relationship or use it as an opportunity to educate new
members about freedom.


Perhaps this is an opportunity to extend the open source ideals to a new
demographic on the tails of MS marketing rather than a viral infection
of the GPL. If we withdraw ourselves from Novell, we loose the chance of
sharing the great ideals that hold the open source movement together
with a whole new group of people, and one that is bound to be
significant and represent a potentially significant force in open source


Also, if we withdraw from Novell, we loose a lot of great friends of the
community such as Aaron Bockover and Nat Friedman who are doing great
work on the Banshee and Beagle respectively.


Finally, we all know that the threat and process of a lawsuit can be
damage enough, whether there is grounds for the suit or not. Simply
consider the protection money the SCO folks drummed up in the far
fetched case they tried on us. It isn't an admission, it is a protection
to its customers from baseless threats much like Novell provided from
SCO in the past. Too bad they couldn't do it for the whole FOSS
community or Linux in general, but that would have been a bit much to


We have a unique opportunity to educate MS users who will be encouraged
to switch by MS themselves to Novell and will then have the skill set to
go to any distro they like. There is a better way to make the deal
backfire while advancing FOSS ideals.


Let FOSS do the embracing this time and beat MS at its own game.

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