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Xandros Deal Isn't Identical to Novell's: Picking One's Way Around the GPL? - Updated 2Xs
Monday, June 04 2007 @ 06:35 PM EDT

Here's their press release and here's the paragraph about the patent sellout:
Intellectual property assurance. Through the agreement, Microsoft will make available patent covenants for Xandros customers. These covenants will provide customers with confidence that the Xandros technologies they use and deploy in their environments are compliant with Microsoft's intellectual property. By putting a framework in place to share intellectual property, Xandros and Microsoft can speed the development of interoperable solutions.

So it's not exactly what Novell agreed to, then, from the sound of it, not to me anyway. Patent covenants isn't the same wording as a patent peace agreement. So this must be an attempt to work around the GPLv3, I think.

And look at this phrase from the marketing deal:

As part of this effort, Microsoft will now endorse Xandros Server and Desktop as a preferred Linux distribution ...

Didn't Microsoft promise this to Novell? Live and learn, Novell. Live and learn. And the word is that it was Xandros that approached Microsoft back in November about doing this.

Xandros has agreed to help Microsoft kill off ODF, I gather:

Xandros will join Microsoft and other companies that are building open source translators fostering interoperability between documents stored in Open XML and Open Document Format. Xandros will ship the translators in upcoming releases of its Xandros Desktop offering...

So, do you get now what the GPLv3 has features to protect the community from treachery from inside and from outside the community? Anyway, as Eben Moglen said, GPLv3 is still in draft form and he can change the rules. As more details about this deal surface, it will become clearer exactly what the terms are, and if needed, the draft will no doubt be revised. The GPLv3 rules can just keep changing 'til the gate clangs shut and stays that way.

More details here from IT News:

Financial details of the partnership weren't disclosed. Typaldos said that Xandros will make royalty payments to Microsoft based on shipping products, but isn't compensating the company for the shared development work.

Talk about shooting yourself in the foot. Other differences: no coupons. Heh heh. Well, Microsoft is learning. And the agreement has no virtualization element, I gather. Microsoft says it isn't paying Xandros anything. It's just the other way around. Ah! Microsoft Heaven. Microsoft buys none of Xandros software and won't distribute. So I take this as Microsoft's answer to the recent GPLv3 chess move.

As IT News delicately phrases it, "It is unclear if the Xandros agreement will stand the test of time." I'll say. Not to mention Xandros.

Here's the proof quotation I was looking for, that the new patent troll game Microsoft is playing is based on perpetual infringement, Jason Matusow quoted in Internet News' Sean Michael Kerner's article, "Microsoft Wants to Build, Not Burn, IP Bridge":

The open source community has called on Microsoft to identify which patents are allegedly being infringed, but that's not something Microsoft is likely to do anytime soon.

"There are normal business processes to do patent cross-licensing," Matusow explained. "The way they negotiate, generally speaking, is you don't lay them on the table and say, 'Here you are why don't you go around them?' That's not how the negotiation process works."

I told you. It's just like SCO. Then note this other feature of patents noted in the article:

Then again a key part of the Novell-Microsoft deal is about patent protection. It's a protection that does not extend beyond Novell's Linux users. In that respect patents could well be a barrier to interoperability.

"Part of the idea of patents is that you have exclusive rights to an invention, and yes it could be used as a barrier," Matusow said.

Could be. How short-sighted do you have to be to agree to something like this?


This is quite interesting. The Xandros user forum that I put in News Picks has an interchange that you will find interesting, when the Xandros employee assigned to moderate the forum steps in to try to calm down the anger:

Anyways I can understand both sides and do understand that Linux is a religion and cause emotions to run high I just want everyone to take pause before posting and make sure that we keep the discussion going.

Kevin MacPherson
Xandros - Product Manager
Project Management
Official Forum Moderator


First, Linux is not a religion to me. I absolutely hate it when someone uses that to describe a persons preference in an operating system and software.

Nor is using a particular brand of soap a "religion" or buying a certain brand of milk a "religion". Using that kind of wording to describe ourselves is buying into the FUD Microsoft wants people to believe about us Linux users.

No we are not religious zealots for wanting to have a simple choice in operating systems and software no more than we are religious zealots for buying a certain brand of milk or a certain brand of soap. Please kill that term for Linux users forever. Its insulting and degrading.

So, if questions are to be asked and answered by Xandros management these are some of my first ones.

1. Exactly how much money will exchange hands and which hands got it as a result of this deal?

2. Did Microsoft agree to include ODF translators IN Microsoft Office as well as provide Xandros and Linux users the ability to seamlessly read ALL .doc and .xls files?

3. Did Xandros agree to NOT include CrossOver Office or any other Wine based variant in Xandros Networks either for sale or for free download?

4. Did Xandros agree to block access to Xandros Network users to any of the free Debian repositories?

5. Did Xandros agree to include Windows based DRM technologies in future Xandros versions?

6. Did Microsoft open up its closed source Outlook and Exchange protocols so that any email apps in Xandros can work seamlessly in a Microsoft environment?

7. Did Xandros agree to block the usage of any virtual management type of software in Xandros and or the Xandros Networks?

8. Will Microsoft be releasing any of the following apps for Linux?

A. Internet Explorer (latest versions)
B. Microsoft Word
C. Microsoft Excel
D. Outlook
E. PowerPoint
F. Windows Media Player
G. Any others?

Well theres a start. I'm sure after the surprise and disgust wears off I will think of others. Inquiring minds want to know.


I appolgize if you took it in a degrading manner as it was not meant to be. I'll try to answer these for tonight.

1. Not disclosed.

2. Don't know. But I don't think it was part of the scope.

3. No

4. No

5. No

6. Don't think it was part of the scope.

7. What do you mean by Virtual Management Software? VMWare and stuff? If so then no.

8. Not part of the scope.

The scope of the deal focuses on 4 things.

Interoperability of the Xandros and Windows Servers. Specifically Management and Monitoring.

Licensing of MS specific network protocols for use with the first objective.

Document formating and standards. We are working with other companies including MS on ODF and OpenXML and a formatter to convert documents. We will be working on a converter for our customer to use.

With this partnership MS agrres to use some of it's sales and marketting staff to promote Xandros.

Kevin MacPherson
Xandros - Product Manager
Project Management
Official Forum Moderator

In short, Xandrox management has no clue. Not a clue in the world.

Update 2: Some of you are asking, Does anyone use Xandros? Here's the answer:

The Linux server software segment is dominated by Red Hat Inc. and Novell Inc.; Xandros' share of that worldwide market is so small that research group IDC doesn't track it. Xandros captured less than 1 percent of the desktop Linux operating system market in 2006, according to IDC, far behind big players like Red Flag Software Co., based in China, and Turbolinux Inc. in Japan.

I'm starting to wonder if this is just face-saving PR, after getting zonked by the GPL. Why would Microsoft care about a company this insignificant otherwise?


Xandros Deal Isn't Identical to Novell's: Picking One's Way Around the GPL? - Updated 2Xs | 318 comments | Create New Account
Comments belong to whoever posts them. Please notify us of inappropriate comments.
Xandros Deal Isn't Identical to Novell's: Picking One's Way Around the GPL?
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, June 04 2007 @ 07:13 PM EDT
The simple way to avoid this is to not buy Xandros software. Period.


[ Reply to This | # ]

Will the GPLv3 ever be finished?
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, June 04 2007 @ 07:16 PM EDT
If things go on like this it will have to be constantly modified. No?

[ Reply to This | # ]

We all know what the GPL means.
Authored by: FrankH on Monday, June 04 2007 @ 07:18 PM EDT
Is it beyond the wit of man to put it into a legal document? Something along the
lines of "If you're looking for a way to circumvent the intent of the GPL
maybe you ought to find another licence."

Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose,
Nothing ain't worth nothing, but it's free" Kris Kristofferson

[ Reply to This | # ]

Corrections thread
Authored by: Aladdin Sane on Monday, June 04 2007 @ 07:32 PM EDT
This additional corrections is for all to see, rather than just some.

"While world domination is a nice fantasy, a Free computer is essential." 
  --artp, Groklaw, 2007-06

[ Reply to This | # ]

Off Topic Thread, inclusive
Authored by: Aladdin Sane on Monday, June 04 2007 @ 07:34 PM EDT
All can see this message.

Please post off-topic comments here.

"While world domination is a nice fantasy, a Free computer is essential." 
  --artp, Groklaw, 2007-06

[ Reply to This | # ]

A "little' distro
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, June 04 2007 @ 07:38 PM EDT
In the scheme of the things Xandros is a relatively small player. I hope that
they have planned to become smaller.

(We just took out another SuSE server out of service - to be replaced by Ubuntu
LTS. I have one more to go. The main reason is the ease of maintenance, but the
Novel deal had some bearing on it.)

[ Reply to This | # ]

Xandros Deal Isn't Identical to Novell's: Picking One's Way Around the GPL?
Authored by: stites on Monday, June 04 2007 @ 07:44 PM EDT

"Microsoft will make available patent covenants for Xandros customers."

You would think that the patent covenents should be published fairly quickly so that Xandros' potential customers know what is being offered. It will be interesting to check to see if the patent covenents are any different from the Microsoft-Novell patent covenents.

Steve Stites

[ Reply to This | # ]

Xandros Deal - ting!
Authored by: tangomike on Monday, June 04 2007 @ 07:52 PM EDT
"putting a framework in place to share intellectual property"

I think we've just seen one of M$'s reasons for doing these deals. M$ has long
wanted to use FOSS in it's products. BSD has been no problem. GPL has. Authors
can both license their software under GPL and give it away or sell it under
other licenses. So this looks to me like M$ legally getting to use software that
it otherwise wouldn't. If Xandros writes something from scratch, they can share
it with M$, and still license it under GPL, can't they?

Deja moo - I've heard that bull before.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Community reaction
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, June 04 2007 @ 07:54 PM EDT
Robert Thompson, a popular PC book author has regularly recommended Xandros for years. Today he posted on his blog that he cannot recommend them anymore because of their Microsoft agreement. Within the hour(!) he was contacted by Xandros PR asking to reconsider his decision, and the CEO of Xandros offered to call him personally (ironically, in about an hour because he first had to finish a call with Microsoft.) The Xandros forums are univerally negative, and a significant number of the core users (the stalwarts that support any community forum) have decided to leave Xandros en masse, today.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Did Xandros Cave In Under MS's Threats???
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, June 04 2007 @ 07:56 PM EDT
This looks like a one sided deal to me. Is Xandros paying protection money? Has
the Shakedown begun in earnest?

Inquiring minds want to know....

[ Reply to This | # ]

Xandros Deal Isn't Identical to Novell's: Picking One's Way Around the GPL?
Authored by: tknarr on Monday, June 04 2007 @ 08:03 PM EDT

I don't think the wording of the Xandros deal makes a difference. To quote from the current draft of the GPLv3:

For purposes of the following three paragraphs, a "patent license" is any express agreement or commitment, however denominated, not to enforce a patent, and to "grant" a patent license to a party means to make such an agreement or commitment not to enforce a patent against the party.

The relevant parts of GPLv3 would seem to apply to Xandros no matter what the deal calls it. A covenant not to sue is an agreement not to enforce a patent, and Xandros by inking this deal is conveying GPL'd code while relying on such an agreement. Microsoft can't get gotten at, but Xandros sure seems to be in trouble if recipients can't redistribute copies covered by the covenant.

[ Reply to This | # ]

The question of the Day... What value IP wise is a previous purchase of a MS Product?
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, June 04 2007 @ 08:07 PM EDT

A - Would the previous purchase of a Microsoft Product, and the IP (including
rights to use the patented IP) be applicable to my use of LINUX on the same box
that the licensed software is installed (dual boot).

B - Would the same be true of the purchase of MS IP... where I had it in a
retail box that I did not install on a computer. BUT I have the box and paid for
the use of the Patented IP due to a past purchase of the MS product?

Remember, we are not talking copyrights we are talking about the purchase of a
MS product and making use the the methods and concepts use that we paid for on 1
computer per license purchased?

Anyone... ?

[ Reply to This | # ]

Xandros Deal Isn't Identical to Novell's: Picking One's Way Around the GPL?
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, June 04 2007 @ 08:14 PM EDT

So it's quite obvious by now that Microsoft's idea of "bridges" is one way -- to impose traditional proprietary licensing terms on free software, including per-seat licensing with royalties and all that. I wonder what rights Xandros's customers will be granted to redistribute anything; whether there will be attempts to finagle around the GPL that way (e. g. Microsoft makes it clear to Xandros users that if they redistribute the software, Microsoft will sue their downstream customers, or the like)?

I still think it's a mistake to try to go after Microsoft with GPL3. The tactical risk that I perceive is that if it does go to court Microsoft will try to make the case hinge on narrow definitions of distribution. I suspect that that would be much easier for them to win than an outright copyright violation case (the GPL seems to be quite airtight as a license), but if they win a narrow decision they'll trumpet it as a defeat for the GPL. We might see through that, but a lot of other people won't.

I think it's really the Linux vendors that need to be told firmly that this kind of thing won't fly: force them to either go with the GPL or go with semi-proprietary licensing, and no middle ground. Then they have a clear choice, to stick with GPL2 software and fall behind the curve, or move forward to GPL3 and be upstanding members of the community. Microsoft's only getting any traction here because some of the Linux vendors are playing ball with them.

Maybe giving Novell one freebie was the right thing to do -- I'm certainly not close to the situation -- but it needs to be made crystal clear that the grandfather clause does not set a precedent, that it was a one shot deal. Wasn't it Darl McBride himself who said that you use licenses and contracts against your own customers :-?

-Robert Krawitz

[ Reply to This | # ]

Xandros Deal Isn't Identical to Novell's: Picking One's Way Around the GPL?
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, June 04 2007 @ 08:45 PM EDT
I am a long time Xandros user and also resell Xandros. I am NOT happy with this
deal at all and will likely not continue with the distribution.
Funny how things work out but just as I was starting to get past my surprise at
them pulling such a stupid move I get an email from one of my customers that I
sold a couple Xandros systems to quit a while back It seems they will be adding
another employee soon and would like another Linux system. I won't be selling
them Xandros for this system even though I have it in stock and would love to
recoup my expenses on the product.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Xandros Deal Isn't Identical to Novell's: Picking One's Way Around the GPL?
Authored by: Stumbles on Monday, June 04 2007 @ 08:46 PM EDT
Ok, now we have a second reason (like you needed any to
start with) why companies including those who purport to
be "open source" cannot be trusted.

You can tuna piano but you can't tune a fish.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Xandros Deal Isn't Identical to Novell's: Picking One's Way Around the GPL?
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, June 04 2007 @ 08:58 PM EDT
And Matusow speaks for the community of developers how?

Frankly, if I was coding something I would sure as hell want to know if I
infringed any patent. I don't care for extortion.

[ Reply to This | # ]

GPL3x: A One Line Patent Statment....
Authored by: tce on Monday, June 04 2007 @ 09:03 PM EDT
One line statement in the license that stops it all.

GPL3x attempts:

Distribution shall not be encumbered with any patent agreement.

Distribution encumbered with any patent agreement shall not be allowed.

The only allowed patent related treatment available with GLP3 software or a
software distribution including or requiring GPL3 code is blanket imdenification
to all, customers and non-customers, alike.

...lets get about 100 shots on goal..something might ring true....

[ Reply to This | # ]

Land Of Confusion
Authored by: TheBlueSkyRanger on Monday, June 04 2007 @ 09:18 PM EDT
Hey, PJ!

Sort of tying into my OT post from the last article.

You're right, of course. There are plenty of companies still standing up.
Ubuntu, Mandriva, Red Hat, and more. If anything, their support is more
important since they are commercial distros like what M$ is targeting. My
grousing paints them in a negative light as powerless to do anything, which is
more dangerous than the patent FUD.

It's just an impulse I have. I want to march into the offices of Xandros and
scream, "Do you even care about what you're doing?!?" I know some
people who purport to support the FOSS community really don't (the "long
haired smellies" descriptor from SCO, for example). It's just when they do
it so blatantly (and with complete disregard for what came previously, they did
get the distro from Corel, after all).

Of course, there is some entertainment value to be had in looking at Novell and
going, "ha ha." Wasn't November when Novell said they also approached
M$ and started hatching their deal? I wonder if they thought they would truly
be the only ones and gambled that Red Hat et al. would never agree, so they
would have this all to themselves.

Then again, I wondered why Novell was trying to make nice with the community. I
did question the timing. Word of the Xandros deal had to be circulating,
especially for eWeek to have an article all ready to go a day before the deal
was announced. Is this why Novell is trying to rebuild those bridges with the
Linux crowd? Because they heard what was coming with Xandros and realized M$
wasn't their hope anymore?

Dobre utka,
The Blue Sky Ranger
who is getting his breath back and is almost ready to get back to business....

[ Reply to This | # ]

Shouldn't GPL3 still apply?
Authored by: pcrooker on Monday, June 04 2007 @ 09:23 PM EDT
To my simple mind the current GPL3 provisions should still protect against this
agreement. Any patent protection conferred by Xandros would be passed on
automatically when a Xandros customer distributed that sofware to someone else.
As the actual GPL'd code is identical, you could argue that all code is thus
under the agreement, as long as Xandros keeps current and their customers keep

Or is there some significance to the word "covenant" other than the
simple meaning?

[ Reply to This | # ]

greed or desperation
Authored by: sumzero on Monday, June 04 2007 @ 09:31 PM EDT
xandros wanted to partake of some of ms' vendor lockin koolade. after all, a
very high percentage of ms' corporate users also run linux. ms said sure thing,
but first xandross had to agree to pay a per seat fee on their continued linux
distribution for ms' unspecified ip. ouch, but hey xandross should make up for
that loss with all the sales to ms' customers right? except they didn't
actuallly get anything solid down in writing re: sales because of the gpl.
probably a big mistake by xandross.

i don't expect ms will do much of anything to drive sales now that the ink is
dry and xandross will still have to deal with the negative repurcussions. are
their financials that bad [ie desperation] or is this just plain old greed?

48. The best book on programming for the layman is "alice in wonderland"; but
that's because it's the best book on anything for the layman.

alan j perlis

[ Reply to This | # ]

The long game
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, June 04 2007 @ 09:56 PM EDT
It strikes me that MS is playing the long game. Make a deal w/ a large
distribution, then pressure the small players. Later still, pressure the other
large players.


[ Reply to This | # ]

Xandros Deal Isn't Identical to Novell's: Picking One's Way Around the GPL?
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, June 04 2007 @ 10:06 PM EDT
We, the free software community, have now been, unfortunately, dragged into a
state of declared and open warfare.

Make no mistake this is a war. M$ knows this and fully understands this. More
importantly M$ has the *will* to carry on with this war for as long as it takes
(SCO v. IBM for example).

The free software community needs to understand that we are in fact at war. We
did not start it nor did we want a war but we have been dragged into it.

In war there is no second place winner, period. If we desire to win -- if we
desire to remain *free*, then we must actively seek out, engage and destroy our

M$ would understand. For that is exactly what they are trying to do to us.


[ Reply to This | # ]

Xandros Deal Isn't Identical to Novell's: Picking One's Way Around the GPL?
Authored by: UncleVom on Monday, June 04 2007 @ 10:14 PM EDT
In the paragraph "Intellectual Property Insurance" what catches my eye
is this sentence "These covenants will provide customers with confidence
that the Xandros technologies they use and deploy in their environments are
compliant with Microsoft's intellectual property."

What are "Xandros technologies"?
Is this the key? What they are creating a covenant for is not Linux tech or GPL

Maybe it only covers Xandros made stuff which is not GPL or perhaps
multi-licensed and therefore is spreading a cloud without doing battle directly
with the GPL.

Anti-Linux FUD, no real protection for Xandros or their customers beyond the
Xandros components.

Slick, cheap atmospheric poison.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Xandros is second-rate distro anyway
Authored by: 0gwalfs on Monday, June 04 2007 @ 10:16 PM EDT
Bought a $200 PC at Wal*Mart, with Xandros pre-installed. Was not impressed in
the least. It served the purpose well, however, to download and install

[ Reply to This | # ]

One thing that keeps bothering me
Authored by: Samari711 on Monday, June 04 2007 @ 10:57 PM EDT
According to the GPLv2 you're not supposed to distribute the software if you are
aware of any encumberment that means you can't give all of the rights to any 3rd
party, you can't distribute it period. So with Novell and now Xandros I guess,
they can't propagate the protection from Microsoft beyond their customers, so
shouldn't the be in violation of the GPL for distributing at all?

IAASEWTHKS (I Am A Systems Engineer Who Thinks He Knows Something)

[ Reply to This | # ]

Xandros Deal Isn't Identical to Novell's: Picking One's Way Around the GPL?
Authored by: belzecue on Monday, June 04 2007 @ 11:09 PM EDT
Microsoft is thinking "Divide and conquer."

I'm thinking, Microsoft is separating, isolating, and killing off the weak and
selfish in the FOSS herd. In the end, that may be a good thing. Any FOSS member
who refuses to work in the best interests of the FOSS community deserves to find
their way into Microsoft's warm embrace (and realise too late that the warmth
isn't the 'warm and fuzzy' kind; it's the warmth of MS's breath as its jaws
clamp down tightly on your throat.)

[ Reply to This | # ]

Perhaps this is for EU
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, June 04 2007 @ 11:38 PM EDT
Remember that complaint from EU that Microsoft did not provide protocols and such as licenses to "their competitors" on reasonable basis? Well now they get to say "See, someone has bought a license, so it's not unreasonable, if small company could afford it so can Red Hat and company". Two birds, one stone, covered in poisonous slime, fire!

[ Reply to This | # ]

Xandros Alternatives
Authored by: bbaston on Monday, June 04 2007 @ 11:42 PM EDT
Enter yours here!

for those 200 or 300 poor folks who need to change NOW!

My recommendation is here and here and here.

imaybewrong, iamnotalawyertoo, inmyhumbleopinion, iamveryold

[ Reply to This | # ]

Just wondering
Authored by: skuggi on Tuesday, June 05 2007 @ 12:14 AM EDT
Is Microsoft and will it only "attack" US based linux companies and
So far it is Novell and Xandros both in US.


[ Reply to This | # ]

Authored by: pdp on Tuesday, June 05 2007 @ 12:16 AM EDT
MS is playing the domino-game:
first Novell : reaction:
Novell gets outed and maybe Suse sales will dwinle into insignificance.
2nd: Xandros : reaction:
Xandros gets outed and even maybe go bust in the process.
Who will be next ?


(defvar MyComputer '((OS ."GNU/Emacs") (IPL . "GNU/Linux")))
I am not a number, I am an individual with a unique number

[ Reply to This | # ]

Xandros Deal Isn't Identical to Novell's: Picking One's Way Around the GPL? - Updated
Authored by: chaz_paw on Tuesday, June 05 2007 @ 01:02 AM EDT
From the News Picks Patent creators say Microsoft lied to get better deal on DVR patents How could any company in their right mind make almost any kind of deal with Microsoft?

Proud Linux user since 07/26/04
Registered Linux user #422376


[ Reply to This | # ]

Xandros is no great loss
Authored by: sailorxyz on Tuesday, June 05 2007 @ 01:31 AM EDT
Hi Guys,

Xandros is no great loss, they are/were just parasites. they used FOSS but never
gave back.

Before this deal, at least they were winning some converts but but once they did
what they have done, all I can say is the sooner the better.

Yes, I have tried them, there stuff was mostly out dated, slow to update and not
particularly attractive,

Now days, I use Debian on my servers and Ubuntu on the desktops and LTSP




[ Reply to This | # ]

rush to confusion in Redmond!
Authored by: grouch on Tuesday, June 05 2007 @ 01:55 AM EDT
PJ said:
I'm starting to wonder if this is just face-saving PR, after getting zonked by the GPL. Why would Microsoft care about a company this insignificant otherwise?

It was a mistake. See, there must have been this high-level confab among the movers and shakers at One Microsoft Way:

SB: Alright, those pesky guh-nooers have scuttled our novel Novell fifth columnist deal. Who can we toss a net over next?

Flunky: Well, that Corel thing we throttled years ago is still limping along as Xandrosia or something. Run by a Kevin MacP.

SB: BWAHAHA! Go forth and FUD, Flunky! Spin, spin, spin the net 'round our old pal!

[Flunky beats a hasty, bowing retreat from the Master's presence]

SB, [rubbing hands in glee]: Ah, 'tis a fitting web we weave, to take in our old novel whipping post over and over, our FUD tester of multiple names, the instigator of the litigator's favored, perfect word processor and finally the baby brother's intended Xanadu.

Fearless Flunky: Um, O Great One, that was "MacP" as in MacPherson, not "McB" as in McBride.

SB, [flinging chairs]: ARRRRGHHH! Curses, foiled again!

-- grouch

"People aren't as dumb as Microsoft needs them to be."
--PJ, May 2007

[ Reply to This | # ]

Xandros is an "Open Source" Vendor, not a "Free Software" Distributor.
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, June 05 2007 @ 02:02 AM EDT
My understanding of the structure of the company is as follows. The head office for Xandros is in New York. Development is done in Ottawa. The Ottawa team is the remnant of Corel Linux.

What this means is the commercial (sales, marketing, finance) side of things are done in New York. The technical work is done in Ottawa. The commercial people happen to see themselves as selling a proprietary OS that just happens to be largely based on open source software. They include proprietary software which takes the place of some of the standard packages for things like installation, management, and some of the "user experience" (e.g. file manager). They also include third party proprietary products (Crossover Office) and "paid for" MP3 codecs. They charge for per seat licensing with activation as a result (they even have a EULA).

My understanding is that the Ottawa team more or less operates at arm's length from the commercial side. I doubt they have any involvement in things like the Microsoft deal. Rumour also has it that the Ottawa team was contracted to do the original development work for Linspire (Lindows), and that the money from that deal is in part responsible for Xandros still being afloat at this time.

Xandros have been around for quite some time. What they were originally known for was that their proprietary installer was "user friendly" back in the days when installing many Linux distros was a challenge. Now days of course most Linux distros are very easy to install and configure, so that advantage has completely disappeared. I had a look at Xandros when I first decided to start using Linux, but I decided against it as it was a non-standard semi-proprietary product. Instead I picked Mandrake Linux (8.1), which I found more than easy enough to deal with without deviating from the Linux mainstream.

Xandros is privately held, so I don't know what their finances are. However, I am rather surprised that they are still around. They don't really offer anything that you couldn't get from another more popular distro for a lot less money (or for free). I would be very surprised if they are making money.

However, it would not surprise me at all if Microsoft managed to find an investor to put some money into Xandros (like the Baystar deal). Xandros could probably use the money, and a few million dollars would be very cheap PR to someone like Microsoft.

When people talk about "open source" versus "free software", Xandros is a good example of "open source".

[ Reply to This | # ]

EU: Pay attention to the protocols
Authored by: Superbowl H5N1 on Tuesday, June 05 2007 @ 02:04 AM EDT

It seems that much of the deal focuses on MS server protocols. You know, the ones the courts have said must be published. So this appears to be just more MS jerking around the EC and working hard to avoid complying with the courts.

Along the same lines, it looks like the agreement is a step in a slow preparation against Samba in particular.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Picking for Truth with the Smell of Novell
Authored by: webster on Tuesday, June 05 2007 @ 02:21 AM EDT

Monopoly-Xandros press release. One can't trust the Monopoly. What they
say is propaganda --they are trying to make it true. It's a lie --a half truth
best. You can not trust the Monopoly or their spokesmen. This jumps
out in the first paragraph:

************"These commitments provide customers with enhanced
interoperability, more effective systems management solutions, and
intellectual property assurances, all of which extend a bridge between open
source and commercial software and deliver customers real value in mixed
systems environments."**********

What? If their are "mixed systems environments" they already have
interoperability, and effective "systems management solutions." They
obviously weren't worried about mixing either. It looks like the Monopoly
wants to rattle the "intellectual property assurances" cage again.
Monopoly acts like it is terrified to just compete fairly with products and
marketing. Without their IP terrorism they must feel that their captive
customers would switch to Linux. They threaten everyone with the heaviest
weapon known to man --the American lawsuit. One must deal with the
Monopoly lawyers AND one's own lawyers. At those odds one will not survive
a victory.

The press release goes on. For the Monopoly "the agreement is the latest
in a
series of collaborations with Linux platform and open source software
providers...Novell Inc., JBoss, XenSource Inc., Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd.,
Zend Technologies Inc. and others." They are bullied dupes, no less, but
got their price. For the Open Source vendors, it may have provided their
biggest payday or chance thereof. One presumes they understand open
source. It will survive no matter what they do. Meantime, let them use the
money. They tried to make it with open source and in a way they have. The
Monopoly will do some selling for them, but no more than the Monopoly
wants. It should be enough for their bonanza.

The Xandrosians talk of four things in their press release. One has to pick
over these things carefully without the original agreements and the smell of
Novell in the air. The first thing they talk about is interoperable server
management tools. This does not sound necessarily GPL-ish. If they make a
separate program that administers both Xandros and Monopoly servers, and
provide it separate from any GPL stuff, they will not foul themselves with the

Next they mention server interoperability between their server and Monopoly
servers, no doubt manageable by the dreams referenced in the previous
paragraphs. This seems possible without again getting fouled by the GPL. It
could be a proprietary add-on.

The fourth thing they mention is the IP assurance. This is the usual Monopoly
FUD and lies. The Monopoly has made them eat this. They deliver it with
what must now be described as a xandrosian smile that exudes a bad breath
–with a novellian smell. They can not possibly be surprised by any
groundswell against them from the open source crowd. They have seen the
reaction to the Monopoly-Novell deal. They are not home free any more than
the Prince and Camilla. There are moral perspectives even to commercial

The third item is the oxymoronic “Intellectual Property Assurance” from the
Monopoly as if such things could truly be associated with them. This
assurance is a repeat of their usual threat and bluff. The Monopoly biblical
promise not to sue those who deal with their Novell-Xandros minions inspires
rants but is no longer so formidable in an era when the Supremes refer to the
“Silly-Ass Software Patents.”

In short the Xandrosians felt it was worth the risk to take this novellian step
for the final reason presented in their press release --Monopoly Sales and
Marketing support. If a Monopoly salesman can’t threaten, discount,
charitize a totally Monopoly ticket, he can then suggest Novell, and then
Xandros as a last resort. They may be Monopoly crumbs, but they represent
a potential xandrosian feast. A pittance of billions may garner for these
pioneer geeks a few less years of struggle. It’s hard to buy new cars after
developing code you have to give away! Free code developers have needs
too. Better to be a tick on an elephant's groin than in a rodent's ear.

It is essential to wait and see if or how this plays under the GPL. PJ tells us

though, that Xandros has also permitted itself to be the latest tool against
that dratted ODF. They will participate in this latest fraud of
--i.e. keeping Monop-a-doc as the world default but convertible by
Monopoly sweat-shoppers only, and as a last resort.

One would think that after the Novell treachery Xandros would be cognizant
of how the Monopoly would spin the deal in the press release and how their
open source friends would take this news. With no money on the table, no
public guarantees, somehow the Monopoly persuaders worked their magic.
Did the xandrosians think for a second that interoperability was more
important to their bartering partner than the threat of patent litigation to
their Linusian brethren? How successful do the xandrosians think the
Monopoly will let them be? If they start taking sales from the Monopoly, ……
that won’t happen.


[ Reply to This | # ]

What makes you so sure this is a LINUX patent agreement
Authored by: devil's advocate on Tuesday, June 05 2007 @ 02:31 AM EDT

All I see in the press release and in Mr MacPherson's replies is that Microsoft warranties Xandros customers against patent violations in Xandros software. The talk is all about interoperability, Microsoft protocols, etc. None of that is actually Linux. I read it more as a Microsoft assault on ODF, not really conncted with Novell. The patent protection is just standard boilerplate.

[ Reply to This | # ]

  • Vague agreements - Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, June 05 2007 @ 05:54 AM EDT
Influencing Linus' & co's point of view?
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, June 05 2007 @ 02:42 AM EDT
Methinks some more food for thought for Linus&Co on whether or not to
like/accept the GPL 3 wording.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Who wiil fight with me
Authored by: kozmcrae on Tuesday, June 05 2007 @ 03:01 AM EDT
First they poisoned SuSe. The SuSe community protested loudly but their numbers
were too small. I didn't join their protest for I was a PCLos user.

Then they compromised Ubuntu. The Ubuntu users felt betrayed but they were
divided as to what to do. I didn't join in their discussions because I was a
Fedora user.

Next it was Xandros' turn. Their Distribution was completely eviscerated.
Their users demanded an explanation but all they got was an "upbeat"
memo from a marketing VP. I paid no attention to their plight because I was a
Mepis user.

Then they made a "deal" with my distribution. I posted fierce
comments on our forum. I sent emails to company Representatives. Finally I
pleaded for help from the Linux community but my pleas echoed on empty message
boards. There was nobody left.


Coming soon: Signature 2.0

[ Reply to This | # ]

Xandros or Windows
Authored by: Sesostris III on Tuesday, June 05 2007 @ 03:12 AM EDT
A query; if a PHB corporate type came to me and said what would I recomment from
a shortlist of Windows or Xandros for a corporate server environment, what
should I recommend?

Given that this is a PHB, assume that there is no other choice available!

The point - could such deals be for easily-panicked PHBs, and not for
knowledgeable members of the F[L]OSS community?

Sesostris III

[ Reply to This | # ]

Good question
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, June 05 2007 @ 03:22 AM EDT
One has to wonder.

Broadly, it seems to me if you were somehow using "MS IP" (for other
purposes) on a PC which already DOES HAVE a legal Windows install on it how
exactly it is that the folks in Redmond would somehow be hurt or
"damaged" by any of this.

What...are they somehow damaged because they can't so easily follow my surfing
with "Windows Genuine Advantage?"

It's a principle of law (and even of US law which is so easily maligned by those
in the EU), that "damages" must be actual. Real. Real--and
substantive--damages. Not just theoretical--paper--damages.


[ Reply to This | # ]

  • Good question - Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, June 05 2007 @ 05:47 AM EDT
    • Good answer... - Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, June 05 2007 @ 08:34 AM EDT
Microsoft's patent strategy.
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, June 05 2007 @ 05:37 AM EDT
I believe Microsoft's patent strategy is a combination of a grand long term
scheme line SCO had to "license" use of Linux/Open Source, as well as
a short term strategy to try to circumvent the order by the EU anti-trust
authorities to try to justify not giving out the secret protocols and formats
required for others to interoperate with Microsoft products.

I believe GPL3 will put an end to Microsoft's long term SCO type licencing

Microsoft's short term strategy to deal with the EU anti-trust order to make
public information on the protocols required for interoperability by
competitors, has been to try to require competitors to license the specification
under patent protection - thereby asking the EU anti-trust authorities to
enforce a Microsoft monopoly on licensing on on the EU market for Microsoft
interoperable products (in a similar way to what the politically influenced US
DOJ did in the US).

I believe the Xandros deal is as attempt to try to secure as many licensees as
possible for Microsoft's patented non-standands as possible so that they can
make the claim to the EU that people actually want to license their patented
interoperability specifications. I suspect the bit about using Microsoft
interoperability patents is forced into the agreements for this reason, and
these Micrsodft will try to push through these sorts of deals for this reason.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Wow, this is really too bad.
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, June 05 2007 @ 06:39 AM EDT
After Novell went to the Dark side, I was thinking of switching to Xandros.

Now it looks like this is off limits too.

[ Reply to This | # ]

GPLv3 and then what?
Authored by: coolmos on Tuesday, June 05 2007 @ 07:07 AM EDT
Suppose GPLv3 covers this patent stuff, and Novell and Xandros lose a right to
use new Linux parts.

If they continue to use it, will they be sued? Because i can imagine Microsoft
laughing harder then ever if that happens. The Linux community divided, up in
arms against each other.

Therefore i urge all users of Novell or Xandros to leave. You can not knowingly
and willingly help to sink Linux.

"Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase temporary safety
deserve neither liberty nor safety"

[ Reply to This | # ]

Xandros Deal Isn't Identical to Novell's: Picking One's Way Around the GPL? - Updated 2Xs
Authored by: Steve Martin on Tuesday, June 05 2007 @ 07:10 AM EDT

I'm starting to wonder if this is just face-saving PR, after getting zonked by the GPL. Why would Microsoft care about a company this insignificant otherwise?

One possible answer that springs to my mind is that this gives Microsoft yet another foot in the door when claiming infringement, one which was probably very easy to sign up. I expect some sort of FUD soon on the level of "Xandros, yet another Linux distributor, has agreed that they must license our intellectual property that appears in their Linux offerings." With Novell in their pocket and Xandros recently signed, it only helps build the FUD, even though (or perhaps especially since) we cannot read the agreements at issue.

"When I say something, I put my name next to it." -- Isaac Jaffee, "Sports Night"

[ Reply to This | # ]

Where did the $11 million come from?
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, June 05 2007 @ 07:13 AM EDT
The News Pick article discussing the recent layoffs at Xandros mentions an $11
million cash infusion, and "investors", but there is no mention of who
was doing the investing. This sounded fishy to me, so I checked out Xandros' web
site to see if there might be anything in a SEC filing, but there is no
statement of anything stockholder related, so I assume that they must be
privately held. Please coorrect me if I am wrong on this. If this is true, that
they are privatley held, then they won't have to make any of this information
public, so we may never know who the mysterious invstors are.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Happy no more
Authored by: Brad R on Tuesday, June 05 2007 @ 07:27 AM EDT
I've been a satisfied Xandros user since version 1, and have upgraded every
release (now running version 4.1). I didn't mind paying for a
"commercial" distribution if this would help the success of
open-source software.

No more, though. I will not pay one thin dime to Microsoft. So if Xandros is
now paying royalties to MS, I'll buy no more upgrades. Time to look for another

[ Reply to This | # ]

patent threats?
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, June 05 2007 @ 08:36 AM EDT
Does make me wonder...

Novell/SuSe distributes Mono
Xandros distributes Crossover Office

Just a coincidence, or did some threats get spoken?

[ Reply to This | # ]

Who uses Xandros?
Authored by: kitterma on Tuesday, June 05 2007 @ 08:51 AM EDT
It was a very good distro to start out on Linux with. It was the first Desktop
distro I used. I'm not sure now where to find the easiest transition from
Windows. I've been happy with Kubuntu for some time.

[ Reply to This | # ]

If no money changed hands ...
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, June 05 2007 @ 09:50 AM EDT
Old timers may recall how M$ trademarked the word ``windows''. They simply
strongarmed few of those numerous nameless companies dependent on them, and took
that contract to the US PTO (or whatever office which deals with copyrights).

If it is true that no money changed hands FROM microsoft TO Xandros, this
agreement is simply a replay of the old trick M$ used to trick the USPTO into
obtaining a copyright over a generic word. In other words, this agreeemnt means
just this -- M$ wants to show that it working towards interoperability to the EU
anti-trust authority. M$ will take this ``interoperability'' agreement to the
EU, and tell them ``see, we are really working towards interoperating linux and

Since M$ did NOT give Xandros anything, and M$ did NOT require any license to
find out how linux works, there is absolutely no other reason why the parties
have entered into this agreement.

Of course, patent threats, if any, are an added bonus.

[ Reply to This | # ]

How about this for a conspiracy theory?
Authored by: sgsax on Tuesday, June 05 2007 @ 10:14 AM EDT
It just struck me this morning that perhaps MS has another long-range strategy. It has always been a frustration to them that with Linux, there's no-one they can "buy out". Usually, if a company annoys them, they buy them. But there is no single company that "owns" Linux or various other F/OSS. Perhaps they have discovered that while Linux users are fanatically supportive of their favorite distros, they will just as easily jump ship when the distro goes sour.

So my CTOTD (Conspiracy Theory of the Day) is this: perhaps MS is trying to "consolidate" the Linux distro space. By making these deals with big and small players (eg Novell and now Xandros), the users of those distros are abandoning them for others. The big ones will stay OK for a while, but the smaller ones are more likely to dry up and blow away. If they make enough deals, the smaller distros will slowly disappear, leaving only a few of the larger ones. And MS already knows how to deal with companies like that. They just buy them.

The only way to fight this behavior is for the companies that sponsor distros to get some 'nads and not make these deals. Keep the playing field big. Make MS play our game, not the other way around. They don't know how to play our game, and they're too dang good at theirs for us to play it and survive.

Alright, time to put on the tinfoil hat and get back to work...

The beatings will continue until morale has improved.

[ Reply to This | # ]

My hypothesis
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, June 05 2007 @ 12:27 PM EDT
I think MS is trying to neuter Linux one distro at a time. This is my
hypothesis. Both GPL 2 and GPL 3 have provisions against patent agreements
(implicit and/or explicit)that state that if the distro is aware of patent
issues they cannot distribute at all. I think MS strategy is to shut down Linux
by shutting down distros that have already in an indirect way
"admitted" patent issues. MS might try to use the GPL terms against
Linux distribution. I think it is important to have the Linux kernel
maintainers/developers to move to GPL3 so that Novell's now famous coupons
without expiration date can be turned in the moment Novell distributes GPL3

[ Reply to This | # ]

The dead and dying
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, June 05 2007 @ 12:47 PM EDT
As information was introduced about the recent firings, it seems that Xandros
has taken some money only to remain in existence a little longer than would be
possible than without it. All in all, they are a dying company and now it seems
that they have hired more senior to feed off the money until it dries up.

In the end, Microsoft might just be bring back the dead to make their claims
look good. The problem is however, that Xandros might not produce much of
anything except an annoyance to the community that gave them life in the first
place. Most everyone also knows what eventually happens to the vast majority of
Microsoft "partners".

The most interesting thing is that as already suggested, many of the bigger
players in the market are not beholding to Microsoft and can grow markets
without any support from them. The other part is that the majority of the most
lucrative markets in the world are unlikely to go in Microsoft's direction and
so Linux will continue flourish no matter what Microsoft does.

Lastly what is popular today might not be tomorrow and with so many
distributions out there, it would be almost impossible to cut off all the bark
so the tree would end up dying. The new growth keeps on coming and the old
scars soon become unnoticeable as new branches sprout forth and the roots
even deeper.

So if Microsoft is able to slow down the adoption of Linux, it might be only in
the US as the rest of the world is much less affected by their business
practices. The only problem is that the US might end up being left behind
technologically by a company that is mostly incapable of innovation. A company
who has to use ideas originally created by others to protect their position in
the market.

Maybe a class action lawsuit by the community might just roll over those
frivolous patents and get some changes made in the patent laws that threaten to
stifle the industry. After all it is an effort of thousands whose technical
expertise far outweighs anything that even a company with billions can begin to
match. The one thing that comes to mind is that too much reliance on a single
vendor can and will pose a threat to national security. There is no shortage of
security experts who would agree.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Xandros Deal Isn't Identical to Novell's: Picking One's Way Around the GPL? - Updated 2Xs
Authored by: boylinux on Tuesday, June 05 2007 @ 01:33 PM EDT
Although being quoted on such a page is a bit of a honour for me I would not
call myself as "Management".
I've I have stated the fourms I'm not privy the the details od the negotiations
or the final deal.
I stated several times in the fourms that this was the case and the it was

If you need a quote from Xandros then please be sure to contact our media
relations department who will put you in contact with people you are privy to
this information.

In the mean time I would appreciate you removing my posting from your article or
at least restate it into it's proper context.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Xandros Deal Isn't Identical to Novell's: Picking One's Way Around the GPL? - Updated 2Xs
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, June 05 2007 @ 02:58 PM EDT
I've used the Xandros desktop since the Corel days.
It has always worked great, did stuff seamlessly compared to Suse and Red Hat.
The Cross Over worked well with a number of Windows apps.

In all it is very good.

Ken King

[ Reply to This | # ]

Xandros Deal Isn't Identical to Novell's: Picking One's Way Around the GPL? - Updated 2Xs
Authored by: Rudisaurus on Tuesday, June 05 2007 @ 03:14 PM EDT
I'm starting to wonder if this is just face-saving PR, after getting zonked by the GPL. Why would Microsoft care about a company this insignificant otherwise?
It's the thin edge of the wedge, PJ. They just never seem to stop trying. But it's the same thing, over and over again -- like a robotic vacuum stuck in a corner with only one strategy for getting out. Is there anyone out there anymore who reads anything Microsoft issues to the press and goes, "Huh! Now isn't that interesting? Who'd-a thunk it?"

NOT that I'm advocating complacency or anything, but the ennui is starting to get to me.

[ Reply to This | # ]

are covenants a precedence?
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, June 05 2007 @ 04:54 PM EDT
Its clear that MS is trying to avoid granting a license on their IP here,
because that would carry over via the GPL v3 to all distributed source. But:

1) Isn't a covenant not to prosecute and official blessing to use their IP, in
return for royalties on sales, essentially a license.

2) This covenant certifies that Xandros is "compliant with Microsoft's
intellectual property". So if Xandros distributes code using MS's IP,
doesn't that set a precedence that says that MS has certified that the
codelicenseetc all satisfy all MS's IP requirements?

Since MS is aware of the GPL and its IP nature, this basically means if MS IP
exists: A) MS is trying to promote free distribution of code that violates its
IP so it can later prosecute(which is probably illegal). B) MS is purposely
giving away its rights to this IP by showing a history of non-enforcement on the
IP licensing.

[ Reply to This | # ]

I always hated the Xandros distro
Authored by: thombone on Tuesday, June 05 2007 @ 06:35 PM EDT
Always had a bad feeling about it. Now I know why. Maybe I am psychic ;)

[ Reply to This | # ]

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