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Linspire joins the plot
Thursday, June 14 2007 @ 08:57 AM EDT

Linspire has now signed a patent deal with Microsoft, which I'm sure does not surprise you. They've been foreshadowing it for some time. Linspire says that Microsoft will now help them deliver a "better Linux". As you know, that has long been Microsoft's dream.

Perhaps we need to define our terms. And the time frame:

Here's what the deal entails:

Under the agreement, Linspire will license Microsoft code related to Voice over Internet Protocol, Windows Media files and TrueType fonts. With the addition of the Microsoft code to Linspire's operating system, users will be able to voice-chat with Windows Live Messenger buddies, watch Windows Media video and audio files on open-source media players, and view and create documents using familiar typefaces.

Linspire also agreed to set Microsoft's Web search engine as the default on PCs that run its operating system.

As in a recent deal between Microsoft and Xandros Inc., a distributor of Linux mainly for servers, Linspire will work with Microsoft on technology to translate between two different types of documents: Microsoft-developed OpenXML format and the Open Document Format.

The agreement also protects Linspire users against legal action by Microsoft, which claims open-source software violates more than 200 of its patents.

Say, you antitrust attorneys general might want to know about that search detail. Yoo hoo, Google. And as for the rest of us, it's certainly true -- I swear on the Bible and everything -- that the reason I switched from Microsoft to Linux was so I could use Microsoft-only applications. Kidding. How stupid is this going to get before it's over? Kevin Carmony says, "I believe we can learn a lot from history." Indeedy. Here's their joint press release. So, let me guess. Is Freespire not included, by any chance? Why no, silly me. It isn't. Why did I even ask? What are the restrictions on distribution, by the way?

It's so nice of Linspire to help Microsoft out with its EU problem. I know we've all been so worried Microsoft would be forced to provide the marketplace with the necessary specs so we could all be interoperable. Now Microsoft can tell the EU Commission Linspire prefers to have Microsoft decide who can and who can't interoperate based on who signs up for patent chains and pays Microsoft for the privilege. Who wouldn't prefer that?

I did try to tell you some time ago the direction I saw Linspire headed in. One clue was when Linspire invited Rob Enderle to be its keynote speaker. Duh. I trust all the folks who told me I was way off base will now come and beg my pardon. Hardy har. But I had it right on the money, didn't I? So to speak. Hmm. That reminds me of another piggy graphic, which I'll entitle in Linspire's honor "The Linspire 'Better Linux' Concept of Community":

P.S. The GPLv3 draft outlaws deals like this. Nah. Kidding. What it does is spread the patents involved freely to everyone. Just saying. Don't say nobody warned you.


Linspire joins the plot | 524 comments | Create New Account
Comments belong to whoever posts them. Please notify us of inappropriate comments.
Corrections here
Authored by: lordshipmayhem on Thursday, June 14 2007 @ 09:27 AM EDT
Please put the nature of the correction in the title of the message, thanks!!

[ Reply to This | # ]

Off-topic here, please
Authored by: overshoot on Thursday, June 14 2007 @ 09:28 AM EDT
Instructions in red for making links clicky.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Carmony says, "I believe we can learn a lot from history."
Authored by: lordshipmayhem on Thursday, June 14 2007 @ 09:30 AM EDT
Yes, Carmony, you can. Pity you didn't.

And another distro bites the dust. This one, however, wasn't that much of a

[ Reply to This | # ]

Linspire joins the plot
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, June 14 2007 @ 09:31 AM EDT
I read an account yesterday, that i am having trouble finding that claimed the
covenant does not cover linspire's free offerings.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Linspire joins the plot
Authored by: Latesigner on Thursday, June 14 2007 @ 09:35 AM EDT
"...the reason I switched from Microsoft to Linux was so I could use
Microsoft-only applications."

It's been a rough morning.
Not even 10:00 AM yet and I already need a new keyboard.

The only way to have an "ownership" society is to make slaves of the rest of us.

[ Reply to This | # ]

No surprise.....
Authored by: tiger99 on Thursday, June 14 2007 @ 09:45 AM EDT
I think the signs that Linspire were headed in the wrong direction have been very evident for quite some time now, which is one reason that I have never used their distro.

PJ, and a lot of people here, have been proved right, yet again. In fact, the collective wisdom of the Groklaw community is not very often wrong. That will also be proved, relatively soon (on the SCO timescale) in a courtroom in Utah, and in various other places too.

Some people should be worried......

[ Reply to This | # ]

More Snouts in the Trough
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, June 14 2007 @ 09:48 AM EDT
is only a prelude to a one way ticket to the Slaughterhouse...
(continuing PJ's piggy theme)

Perhaps we should start keeping records(where available) of the
increace/decrease of business these companies who sign up with Microsoft
Novell is a far bigger concern that either Lindows or Xandros and can possibly
survice a downturn in sales. The financial strength of these others (i'm
ignoring companies like LG etc who are not really in the FOSS business) might
not be able to keep going long enough to see any possible benefits from this

So, Who's Next? (OT great record by the WHO...) to succumb to M$'s advances?
Who "Won't get fooled again" (track on above album)
and resist their embrace?

Ubuntu? Not yet
Red Hat? Same as above
Mandriva? Not financially very strong so probably rather than possibly.
Debian ? Impossible without direct subversion of the project.
The others are relatively small players in the Linux Marketplace and probably
not worth the attention of Mictosoft.
Of the above, Red Hat is vunerable (IMHO) only by someone taking over the whole
business by buying the stock. If Microsoft were to to this overtly then there
might be some questions asked and probably a biddibg war would break out.If
Microsoft did win then overnight prettywell all RH staff resign and start
another business so what would they be left with? not a lot...
So, how long will the Ubuntu wagontrain keep off the attacks by the Microsoft
bandits? This is the great unknown. As a private company it might get to its
destination relatively unscathed.
These are sure interesting times in the world of FOSS.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Linspire joins the plot
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, June 14 2007 @ 09:48 AM EDT
after microsoft is done rounding up these deals look out for some kind of RIAA
type lawsuits against users of linux.

they already put their code out there in their "shared source
initiative" that will detect information about visitors to web sites.

so I guess their plan is to do an RIAA stunt and if you aren't running a blessed
os you are going to get sued. at least here in the states I see that happening.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, June 14 2007 @ 09:52 AM EDT
So, this puts a cloud over CNR, right? Does Microsoft get their grubby fingers
in that pie, too?

How will Ubuntu (and others who support CNR) react to this news?

[ Reply to This | # ]

  • Um, work around it? - Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, June 14 2007 @ 05:36 PM EDT
  • CNR - Authored by: Darigaaz on Saturday, June 16 2007 @ 12:45 AM EDT
Linspire Media codecs still "useless"?
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, June 14 2007 @ 09:55 AM EDT
While they sometimes work a bit better, last time I checked the Windows Media
codecs included in Linspire were useless except for some websites because they
were completely unoptimized, so even DVD-resolution was out of the question even
on new PCs (not to speak about HD stuff).
Does someone know how the state is nowadays? Because I always had the feeling
that even while paying Microsoft what they can deliver is still worse than what
you get by just using (a "non-patent-sanitized" version of) e.g.
MPlayer ( or any other Linux video player.

[ Reply to This | # ]

That "Black Poland-China"
Authored by: jog on Thursday, June 14 2007 @ 09:57 AM EDT
For you city folk: that Hog is a sittin[sic]
in his own feed trough.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Msft deal targets screwed-up companies
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, June 14 2007 @ 09:58 AM EDT
Quoting a poster on another board:

"Xandros are about to go BK (and this deal guarantees it), desperation
creates mistakes. EV1 was headed by a business incompetent. Novell had just had
Hovsepian parachute in with a desperate need to impose his authority despite a
shaky understanding of the business.

Seeing a pattern yet... only screwed up companies went for the deals. Knowing
that its real hard to take SCOX or MSFTs few success's totally seriously."

Come to think of it, scox was heading towards certain bankruptcy before msft got

[ Reply to This | # ]

Linspire joins the plot
Authored by: chaz_paw on Thursday, June 14 2007 @ 10:05 AM EDT
I do not recall any dates, but I do recall getting interested in the original
Lindows. I forget the founder's name- well-known, I think- but Lindows was
initially designed to be a Lonux OS that would natively run MSWindows
applications. I even subscribed to the newsletter for a while.

The company had a group of beta testers that paid for the privelege- Insiders I
think it was. The focus shifted away from running MSWindows apps to just being
Linux-like. Click-n-Run, or whatever it is called, was a big selling point
because of ease of use. But you had to pay, subscribe actually, so many dollars
per year.

Before final release, MS sued over the name Lindows saying it was confusing to
people, blah, blah, blah. MS sued in several countries, as I recall, and the
Netherlands, I think, but I am not entirely sure, ruled in Microsoft's favor.

Eventually, they settled; Lindows, now Linspire, got 25 mil. I saw it as a
cop-out, as did many others. But once again the 800 pound gorilla prevailed.

I posted here a few years back my experience with Linspire. It was actually my
first Linux distro to try. I got a free download coupon, and downloaded the iso
over dial-up. It took a very long time.

I was amazed and shocked that I absolutely hated Linspire/Lindows. It did not
stay on my pc long. SuSE followed and I stayed with it for a while until MS
struck another deal.

I have tried out many distros and live-cds, but I can't find the One OS that
Rules Them All. :-) Oh well, the fun is in the hunt.

All of the above are my own hazy, undocumented recollections.

As for the future, wiser ones than I aren't sure, but ISTM that Microsoft is
indeed trying to split the community. Or perhaps trying to kill off the
commercial Linux companies by the embrace, extinguish, extend method.

Lastly I think Richard Stallman's vision of what freedom is all about, will
benefit us all in the coming years. Seen by many as stubborn, his steadfastness
is now bearing fruition. I thik his vision will carry the Gnu/Linux community
through these trying times and for once, MS will not prevail.

My own 2 cents- YMMV.

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


[ Reply to This | # ]

Linspire joins the plot
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, June 14 2007 @ 10:13 AM EDT
Working with Microsoft is a double edged sword. Microsoft would dearly love to
divert Linux developers into working more with projects like Mono, which allows
the applications to be dependent on Microsoft proprietary elements in .NET. On
the other hand, many users NEED Microsoft compatibility layers. Projects like
Wine, Apache, and OpenOffice all illustrate the need of users to access programs
which are still unique to the Microsoft environment, or be capable with
interfacing with protocols or files which are generated by applications which
run on Microsoft systems.

Interoperability is a desirable thing, and it is dangerous to both Microsoft and
Linux. It is dangerous to Microsoft because it lowers the barrier which allows
people to transition from their locked down environment to Linux. Microsoft has
fought open standards for years because it weakens their monopoly. It is
dangerous to Linux when programmers loose touch with the reality that
dependencies can be created. Some people want to be able to simulate the
Microsoft environment and use that as a common platform between Microsoft and
Linux machines. Having worked for years with Microsoft tools, and watched the
evolving nature of the OS and the toolkits, I have seen far too often that
Microsoft builds software development tools, and puts features in the OS for the
sole purpose of locking people into their environment. And that is NOT a good
idea for Linux programmers.

When OpenOffice provides a tool to read Microsoft files, AND it encourages
people to use an open file format, this provides a way for people to transition
YEARS of documentation to a better format. It also allows people in business to
interoperate with businesses and users which are still using Microsoft tools.
The only problem with this is if OpenOffice is perceived as a cheap way to write
Microsoft files. If Wine or Mono is used to run unique programs, while most
applications are native Linux apps, it is serving a useful purpose. If the goal
is to provide an environment where the user is primarily running Microsoft type
applications on a Linux OS, there is a philosopy problem.

If the Linux community remains committed to open standards, for document formats
and communication, then interoperability is a good thing and weakens Microsoft's
monopoly. On the other hand, if we DEPEND on Microsoft proprietary
"standards", then we simply remain part of the collective.

[ Reply to This | # ]

An interesting quandary wrt GPLv3
Authored by: seekamp on Thursday, June 14 2007 @ 10:13 AM EDT
So just as a legislator must deal with bills that contain provisions he/she likes and others he/she doesn't like, it appears the same is true for Linus and others with respect to GPLv3. There are provisions that some don't like in GPLv3 such as the anti-Tivo clause and because of such provisions they are inclined not to move to GPLv3.

However, the possible ability of GPLv3 to scuttle these Novell/Xandros/Linspire deals adds another wrinkle. So even if one doesn't like the anti-Tivo and other provisions, which is more important, those or the ability to stop these deals?

If you read what Lewis Mettler at lamlaw says about the deal you will note that he states Linspire has supposedly expressed concern about GPLv3.

I suspect that as these deals proliferate, more and more people that don't necessarily buy into all of the RMS agenda will nonetheless be jumping on the GPLv3 bandwagon. Even if not all of Linux is (or can perhaps with so many authors) be put under GPLv3, enough packages will probably be put under it such that it will difficult for these distros inking deals with MS to continue with them, without GPLv3 being tested in court.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Linspire joins the plot
Authored by: kbwojo on Thursday, June 14 2007 @ 10:34 AM EDT
Now all we need for Linux is the blue screen of death and then we will be just
like Microsoft. What are these people thinking. I feel real sorry for the sales
people I mean after all what is your selling point.

Sales Person: All you have to do is remove Windows then buy and install our
product and because we use Microsoft's code it will work the same way so you
won't even have to learn anything new.

[ Reply to This | # ]

a very clever move
Authored by: emacsuser on Thursday, June 14 2007 @ 10:42 AM EDT
It's a very clever move all the same, MS gets to own Linux in exchange for

[ Reply to This | # ]

Trying to get enough momentum around GPLv2 only?
Authored by: DFJA on Thursday, June 14 2007 @ 10:44 AM EDT
I wonder if Microsoft's strategy here is to get enough companies to sign up with
GPLv2-only code, so that there is a critical mass of developers who will
maintain a GPLv2-only fork of the critical apps? This would give their
'partners' a fighting chance of survival, along with the licensing revenue it
brings them. It would also make these developers less likely to work on the main
GPLv3-licenced fork of these apps. A kind of 'divide and conquer' approach?

43 - for those who require slightly more than the answer to life, the universe
and everything

[ Reply to This | # ]

The usual MS techniques here..
Authored by: The_Rajah on Thursday, June 14 2007 @ 10:52 AM EDT
EEE and FUD. That's Embrace, Extend, Extinguish and Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt, for those new to the party.

My question to Kevin is - Exactly, and with specificity, which of its patents is MS saying that are being infringed on and where in Linux code is the infringement taking place? Without clear and specific answers to those questions, this whole charade is, well, just a charade.

I've played with Lindows, Linspire and Freespire as the various versions have come out over the years. At one time I thought they might have a place in the market, but I've just now crossed them off entirely. This is their death knell.

I'm hoping this will send more users to Ubuntu, which is the distro that seems to have the best traction at the moment and which I sincerely hope has the principles to avoid being contaminated by the "Dark Side". I'm using it on my shiny new Dell that came with it preinstalled. I didn't really need the computer as I was already using Ubuntu, but I voted with my wallet for a major supplier to make available linux for the home user.

In my opinion, Ubuntu needs to seriously reconsider any arrangement they contemplated with regard to interoperatility with Linspire's Click-N-Run application repository. See my sig line.

"Do the Right Thing. It will gratify some people and astound the rest." - Mark Twain

[ Reply to This | # ]

Common business practice
Authored by: reddsman on Thursday, June 14 2007 @ 10:56 AM EDT
We all know what Microsoft is doing is a common business practice. It takes a
while to get the ball rolling for Microsoft because there is no way a company
that large can take on nimble companies quickly. First Microsoft brings out the
FUD factor, now they start making "strategic alliances" with some of
these companies. Microsoft knows this will cause fragmentation in the community.
And the the easiest way to bring the community down is to start with little
cracks and watch the reaction.

It's Microsoft's way to marginalize Linux. Make the FSF enforce GPL3 and see
how far the FSF is willing to go. How far will the FSF go to take on Microsoft
and those that choose a different path. It's one thing to say things in front
of supporters, it's another to try and make the point to a very uninformed

[ Reply to This | # ]

So what?
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, June 14 2007 @ 10:59 AM EDT
I think people are missing the point a bit here.

Microshaft is pinning these companies to its technology. This software, if
distributed under GPL V3, will become publicly available. No court proceedings
possible. This is actually good news.

Even if they DID buy RH, they don't get to "own" their linux code,
since RH can't reverse the GPL'ed code they're already released. All that MIGHT
happen is that that company effectively disappears as a Linux community member.
Bad enough as it is, but not catastrophic.

It leaves a bad taste in my mouth thinking of how incredibly stupid these
companies are, but hey, there are stupid people all around us. Even inside some
of us ;)


[ Reply to This | # ]

Compatibility Issues
Authored by: allthingscode on Thursday, June 14 2007 @ 11:01 AM EDT
I do not think most people understand how little businesses care for rights
promised to individuals, either through the GPL or the US Constitution. Prior
to the Boston Tea Party, there were a number of quarrels between the colonies
and the British Empire that once they were resolved to the liking of the large
companies were no longer bothered with because the small merchants and
individuals that dreamed about freedom did not have the clout. The purpose of
the Boston Tea Party was to make the British so angry they would interfere with
the major companies.

This attitude did not go away just because of the Constitution. The most
obvious one is slavery. Just the other day, Yahoo! shareholders voted down a
rule that would have required Yahoo! to be more concerned human rights and to
stop censoring for a government. To businesses, it is entirely about money.

What businesses do not want to understand is that Open Source Software is about
more than making a dollar. To them, and to their shareholders (which can
include their employees), no transaction makes sense unless it makes them money.
Break down Linspire's decision this way: Open Source Software is free, all we
have to do is package it, and ship it. Microsoft comes along and offers them
access to technology that Linux does not offer, such as the ability to play DVD
movies. They don't have to do anything for this, and, as long as Microsoft
does not use anything licensed under the GPL to develop this technology, they
can put whatever restrictions they want.

If we keep getting worked up into a fit every time someone licenses something
from Microsoft, eventually we'll start looking like whiners. We know what
Microsoft is doing, but just like the founders of the US, we have a lot of
people who don't care, and very powerful people who benefit from it working this
way. At the end of the day, the average user is only going to care that the DVD
player works.

So how do we do what we think is right in this environment? We cannot restrict
usage, because even other developers will just use a different license. One of
the things I think we need to do is explain and show people just what they are
not getting from Microsoft and other companies that do not give them the freedom
to do what they want on the computer. Ask someone why Microsoft gets to decide
that so many features are added to the operating system that you cannot run it
without a new computer. Ask them why Microsoft gets to decide when a version of
an OS is no longer supported and there is nothing they can do about it. Then
show them how it can be better.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Linspire joins the plot
Authored by: Scott_Lazar on Thursday, June 14 2007 @ 11:03 AM EDT an effort to maximize the richness of the user experience, we will be
incorporating ActiveX technology, to provide Linspire users the familiarity and
robustness of Microsoft's Internet Explorer and Outlook.......

....shakes himself awake....."What a terrible dream I just had"

LINUX - VISIBLY superior!

[ Reply to This | # ]

MSOffice to be available for 'Legal' Linux
Authored by: Filter on Thursday, June 14 2007 @ 11:24 AM EDT
MS Office to be available for 'Legally Licensed Linux' only.

This is my crystal ball, spidey senses, nose for news prediction. This has to be
the irresistible carrot that has these 'OSS Moguls' dropping to their knees.

Pretty sure.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Flying Pig
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, June 14 2007 @ 11:37 AM EDT
PJ thanks for the flying pig. It made me nostalgic for my home town Cincinnati.
Cincinnati has adopted flying pigs as sort of a mascot. Flying pig statues are
found throughout the city. The town was know as porkopolis for its pig economy
of meat packing, candle making and soap making.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Ok, one more down.
Authored by: mobrien_12 on Thursday, June 14 2007 @ 11:39 AM EDT
Linspire wants to add some proprietary software and fonts licenced from MS? Ok.

Linspire agrees to make MS the default search? Seems like MS trying to
leverage a monopoly to make a new one.

Linspire has to translate between MS garbage format and OpenDocument? My take
is that this is a PR deal because MS getting desperate about open formats and
governments realizing that lock in is bad.

Linspire agreeing that MS can sue users for patents? Unforgivable.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Linspire joins the plot
Authored by: boojumbunn on Thursday, June 14 2007 @ 11:43 AM EDT
You know, this is actually two stories, one of which actually has some
promise to it.

For years, Linux has taken the back seat on a LOT of applications and has
often had little or no support. Some companies have actively kept their
standards unavailable for use by the Linux community, such as the DVD encryption
group. In the first part of the story they say that a bunch of windows
protocols will be supported, in my mind this is a GOOD thing. This gives Linux
users a choice on some products that have nothing to do with the Windows
operating system. Windows Live Messenger is an example of this, as is Windows
Media files. This gives Linux users a chance to compare open source and
alternative business products a direct comparison to the actual code written by

Linux, in my opinion, has never been about restricting options for their
users, instead it's been about giving the user control over exactly what they
do.. and don't.. want to use. Thus, I feel that more product variety is a
GOOD thing for our community even if it is Microsoft producing it.

Of course, then there is the patent protection scheme. That seems to be a
second story and a grim one at that. It is an example of how secrecy can be a
form of deceptive competition. Any time someone says "Your breaking the
law." and won't tell you how your breaking it ought to have a harder time
in court proving damages. After all, if you WERE infringing, said infringement
could have been stopped except the company in question is refusing to ALLOW it
to stop. In my mind, that makes them complicit to the action.

Ah well...

Boojum the brown bunny

[ Reply to This | # ]

Linspire joins the plot
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, June 14 2007 @ 12:06 PM EDT
Why should anybody care what GPL3 says?

There isn't any code licensed under it.

If any GPL2 application with decent market traction is moved to GPL3, it will
either be forked or abandoned by those companies and individuals which are
unable or unwilling to use the GPL3.

I can see how this might suck for Novell, which fancies itself in the business
of distributing the latest open source applications. For everybody else, it
doesn't matter.

[ Reply to This | # ]

How does this affect CNR subscribers?
Authored by: raindog on Thursday, June 14 2007 @ 12:21 PM EDT
I certainly don't give Linspire money, and I haven't done so in years. Neither
have I downloaded their lousy distro since before it got the name
"Linspire". But at one time, Lindows seemed promising enough that I
bought a lifetime subscription to their CNR warehouse for my partner's laptop,
which came with Lindows preinstalled way back in 2002. I assume, since I still
get CNR mails about every week, that said subscription is still active.

Considering that some very sane and credible legal minds think that Microsoft
can be held to the terms of GPLv3 by giving away vouchers without an expiration
date (or, I think you could say, "lifetime vouchers") before the GPLv3
actually exists, I now wonder if my own legal status has changed by subscribing
to CNR years before Linspire became a collaborator.

1. Do I get the spurious patent protection that new purchasers of Linspire will
apparently get, whether I want it or not?

2. Am I therefore a danger to free software projects I contribute to, for
example Gambas, because if I unknowingly infringe some unnamed Microsoft patent
in my code, I'm not liable but the project itself may be?

3. If, as I hope, projects such as Gambas eventually adopt GPLv3, am I in legal
trouble from both directions because I can't pass on this dumb patent license
Microsoft has allegedly given me?

4. Do I have new legal liabilities as a MS-CNR subscriber that will make it more
difficult to participate in free software development, beyond the patent thing?
Remember, CNR has "agreements" that can change without notice, like
many online services. If I log in to see if they have changed, assuming I could
remember my password, I would likely then be bound to the most current
agreement. It's like Schroedinger's contract. And as we know from the SCO
case, desperate companies tend to go after their own customers first.

I don't really want to be part of this whole Microsoft thing but it seems that I
may be included due to my actions years in the past. That makes my skin crawl.

Apologies if I included any Groklaw-naughty words above. I can't find any, but
I talk like a sailor in real life so maybe I missed a synonym for donkey or a
condemnation to eternal punishment or something silly like that.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Dark days but the battle is really beginning now
Authored by: TiddlyPom on Thursday, June 14 2007 @ 12:21 PM EDT
Now we are starting to see everybody's true colors.

Personally, I have never liked Linspire or Freespire as they run as root for normal use which completely negates many of the security advantages of Linux over Windows. Like Novell and Xandros, the Lindows people 'didn't get it' in terms of what open source software is about - who controls your PC.

Pure and simple, Microsoft want to 'own' *every* PC out there (and pretty much does at the moment) and control what everybody runs on them (i.e. Microsoft software). They also want to ensure that *everybody* pays money to them to ensure that they can continue to use their PCs (hence the need for a continuous upgrade path).

If Joe Average realises that he can get not only an operating system for free (and legally) but also thousands of applications as well then the worst case scenario happens to Microsoft. They become irrelevent.

That is not to say that I want Microsoft to go away.

Far from it.

They have produced some very good products (and some very bad ones as well) and some great technical innovations but at the moment they do not have to compete on merit. With people locked into using Microsoft proprietry data formats and software, they do not even need to innovate at all - just rake in the cash.

Personally I thing things started going wrong when Bill left the helm and appointed Steve Bullmer - and at that point the rot set in and <My Opinion>Microsoft started to become the self-serving monopoly that it is today</My Opinion>.

If Linux really takes off then not only do they have to produce good competing software that can interoperate but also it has to be very good indeed to compete with something that is *pretty good* and *free*.

If you look at Distrowatch then there are literally hundreds of distributions - many if not the majority based outside the USA. Most of these are not going to cave in to Microsoft.

Linspire and Xandros are only minor players anyway and not available unless you cough up money (which I don't mind doing for support but not the software itself).

Microsoft has hurt the Linux community (my included) by compromising Novell (and hurting many of their own employees in the process).

IMHO the distributions have the greatest influence (and hence really *matter*) at the moment are:

  • Redhat Linux and the other spin-offs such as Fedora and CentOS etc
  • Ubuntu, their parent Debian and spin-offs such as MEPIS
  • openSUSE since it could always be forked and continued by others (I really lament Novell's actions as I have always liked the professional slickness of openSUSE but freedom matters more)
  • PCLinuxOS which was always better than Mandriva/Mandrake IMHO
  • Mandriva which has always been innovative although buggy
  • Slackware which is great of low specified machines
  • Gentoo which is the most customizable Linux there is
  • Yellow Dog Linux that runs on older Macs and the PS/3
  • MonteVista Linux on embedded systems and phones (there are many others).

    None of these will capitulate to Microsoft I think (with the possible exception of Mandriva IMHO who haven't always listened to their users) as they have too much to lose.

    This is war guys and Microsoft has started the Blitzkreig in earnest trying for a quick win.

    We won't let them and they will lose in the end but we have to stand firm now.

    P.S. Many many thanks to PJ for continuing with Groklaw despite horrible personal attacks and worse. We know they are scared now.

    "There is no spoon?"
    "Then you will see that it is not the spoon that bends, it is only yourself."

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  • Some Welcomed Good News....
    Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, June 14 2007 @ 12:54 PM EDT
    ... Quickbooks to be ported to Linux. I use QB, and it will be nice to not have to boot into the Windows partition for that.

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    To be fair, Linspire *may* be the only one out of the bunch where this does make sense
    Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, June 14 2007 @ 01:25 PM EDT
    The difference between Linspire and the other lemmings, sorry technology
    partners, is that Linspire has always been big on running Windows apps on their
    distro - nowdays through Win4Lin.

    Which of course is where their original (pre-litigation) name Lindows came

    Most of the other distros don't get into this directly, leaving it to Wine and
    its ilk as a separate package.

    Note that this is about running individual apps within the Linux desktop - as
    opposed to running the whole Windows OS inside a separate virtual machine.

    Given that this is the business differentiator they've chosen (for better or
    worse) they may, and I stress *may*, actually be able to get something useful
    out of having patent-free access to M$ code.

    So at least they've got some excuse, unlike Novell and the rest.

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    A blow to the midriff
    Authored by: ansak on Thursday, June 14 2007 @ 01:28 PM EDT
    That's what it felt like when I read the message about Linspire on slashdot earlier this morning. Honestly, PJ, I wish I could feel as optimistic as it sounds like you do.
    I wish I could just trust that GPLv3 will actually prevent the Bully (Billy) from gathering such a big gang around behind him that anyone who dares stand up to them will just get snowed under with legal briefs and deprive most of us of all four freedoms.

    This, as a downstream from the Novell deal, just makes me so annoyed with Novell. This is the kind of result SCO was dreaming about. They showed Microsoft how not to achieve it and now Microsoft is going another way.

    I have to give Linspire at least this much credit: they actually got something (if only for the moment) for their Protection Payment: access to TrueType fonts. Good for them on that point.
    Bad job, though, that they caved.

    But it'll be so ironic if Eben is proved right on the patent results of Microsoft's coupon storm. Let it be, let it be, let it be, let it be... (less than one minute's worth, so I think that qualifies as Fair Use) ;)


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    grandfaher clause
    Authored by: stites on Thursday, June 14 2007 @ 01:33 PM EDT

    "The GPLv3 draft outlaws deals like this. Nah. Kidding. What it does is spread the patents involved freely to everyone. Just saying. Don't say nobody warned you."

    The third draft of GPL3 does in fact outlaw all deals like the LInspire deal except the Microsoft-Novell agreement. The grandfather clause that Richard Stallman added to the latest draft of GPL3 allows Novell to distribute GPL3 code but disallows any similar deal after the Microsoft-Novell deal from distributing GPL3 code.

    The grandfather clause acts as a flip-flop. Any developer who wants to allow their GPL3 code to be distributed by Novell under the Microsoft-Novell agreement will use GPL3 with the grandfather clause included. Any developer who does not want their code distributed by Novell under the Microsoft-Novell agreement will have to remove the grandfather clause (paragraphs 6 and 7 of section 11) from their version of the GPL3.

    The rationale for the grandfather clause is that the coupons being distributed by Microsoft under the Microsoft-Novell agreement could be used in a court case to argue that Microsoft has extended its patent coverage to everybody. But in order for that to be effective then Microsoft must sue somebody. Since Microsoft is not going to sue anybody the coupon defense will never be used. Thus the grandfather clause gives Novell a free pass to distribute GPL3 code under the Microsoft-Novell agreement. Also Microsoft FUD will point to the grandfather clause as validating the Microsoft-Novell agreement.

    I suppose if the FSF wants to release gcc, etc. under the grandfather clause and wait for the court case which never comes to prove their elegent legal theory that is OK. But it puts them in the weak position of validating the Microsoft-Novell agreement. I suggest that they remove the grandfather clause from GPL3 while leaving in the coupon defense. The coupon defense would still be usable in the unlikely case that Novell distributes GPL3 code in violation of GPL3 and that Microsoft is stupid enough to sue some open source user over a software patent.

    For any developer who does not want to validate the Microsoft-Novell agreement I recommend that they release their code under a variant of GPL3 which does not contain the grandfather clause.

    Steve Stites

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    Good news - Open Sound System (OSS)
    Authored by: gbl on Thursday, June 14 2007 @ 01:47 PM EDT
    CULVER CITY, CA, June 14, 2007: 4Front Technologies is proud to announce the release of the source code to Open Sound System (OSS) v4.0. The software currently runs on Linux, SolarisTM, SCO UnixWareTM and FreeBSD platforms.

    OSS is a cross platform API that provides drivers for most consumer and professional audio devices for UNIX® and POSIX based operating systems, including Linux. Owing to its open architecture, applications developed on one supporting operating system platform can be easily recompiled on any other platform.

    This is good news as their sound drivers have been life savers for many of us with poorly supported hardware.

    If you love some code, set it free.

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    The Sun Rises In The East, The Pope Is Catholic, And Carmony Sells Out
    Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, June 14 2007 @ 02:05 PM EDT
    Hey, everybody!

    A quick analogue--I don't like Johnny Depp. I can't tell you why, there's just
    something about the guy that bugs me. However, it was easier for me to hate him
    when he was making lousy movies. When he makes movies that are actually good
    (Pirates, for example), I conflicted by how much I'm enjoying the flick and the
    thought of, "But couldn't they have put someone else in the role?"

    Roughly the same principal applies here. For years, I've forced myself to give
    Carmony the benefit of the doubt. Trust me, PJ, you were not the only one who
    suspected his motives. Carmony seemed like what I view as the modern
    mentality--if you're clever enough to come up with a dodge, you should be
    allowed to get away with it, criticism and derision are not allowed. If you
    can't celebrate finding a way to get that money, then apathy is the only
    acceptable response. Your a hero for doing things "the Chicago
    way"--get yours and take his.

    However, I couldn't really admit my dislike and distrust of the guy because it
    seemed like I was just griping. Now, though, I no longer have to hide my
    irritation with him. I'm free to slam him as much as I want. So there's a
    little liberation here that I appreciate, cloud and silver lining and all that.

    Here's what it all comes down to--Carmony has shown repeatedly that he isn't
    guided by his principals and reason to his conclusions, it's the other way
    around. He knows what he wants, and part of that is to be in charge. He
    absorbed Freespire, using the very arguments he dismissed when M$ used them
    against him. Linspire is his toy, and as long as that toy enables him to act
    out his fantasies ("Hey, I'm a player in the tech world! I'm noticed!
    Companies like M$ want to DEAL WITH ME!!!"), he has it. He doesn't care
    what happens to it. If it stops letting him live his fantasies, he'll abandon
    it and find another.

    I sort of understand Carmony's defenders. No one likes to say they are backing
    the wrong pony. And this is something that just can't be ignored, turning all
    these people into patsies.

    I know you'll enjoy the money, Carmony. It's pretty much all you wanted. Just
    quit acting hurt that no one trusts you. You have proven exactly why we viewed
    you the way we do.

    Dobre utka,
    The Blue Sky Ranger

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    Linspire joins the plot
    Authored by: thombone on Thursday, June 14 2007 @ 02:06 PM EDT
    I'm just beside myself!

    I cannot believe that these distros and companies are actually going for this.
    Haven't they learned ANYTHING about anything??

    Not only is doing any deal with Microsoft always in the favor of Microsoft (in
    other words, the kiss of death)... what really frustrates me is the utter
    contempt these companies have for OSS by trying to, so it seems, sell it out in
    this way.

    I hope, I pray that somehow this stuff can be either invalidated, or that these
    companies get pummeled by the market, or whatnot.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    There's no problem here - let the suckers get on with it
    Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, June 14 2007 @ 04:21 PM EDT
    IANAL but I'm fairly sure I've got the law right here. Correct me if I'm wrong.

    As PJ and others pointed out recently, now isn't the right time but ...

    If these deals, regardless of GPL3, ever become a serious threat to Linux and
    associated free software then the following is likely to happen:

    Based on M$'s well-publicized statements, the FSF, Linus, et al, have standing
    to bring a pre-emptive suit for a Declaration of Non-Infringement.

    M$ are forced to put up or shut up about their alleged patents and place them on
    the table.

    Linus and the community code round the patents or apply to have them
    invalidated. Probably both.

    M$ can't hope to get any significant damages because they've done nothing to try
    to mitigate any alleged harm done to them. (I believe this would require M$ to
    inform the alleged infringers of the precise alleged infringement and ask them
    to stop infringing first.]

    Likewise injunctions, with public and *governmental* interest at the forefront
    of the court's mind.

    The problem for the community goes away and the problems for the directors who
    signed these agreements just start as ...

    Their shareholders ask exactly why they paid millions of dollars for a worthless
    piece of paper!

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    GPLv3 does not protect against Xandros and Linspire deals
    Authored by: devil's advocate on Thursday, June 14 2007 @ 04:31 PM EDT
    P.S. The GPLv3 draft outlaws deals like this. Nah. Kidding. What it does is spread the patents involved freely to everyone. Just saying. Don't say nobody warned you.

    Oh really? In what way does it prevent Microsoft-licensed software being distributed along with GPLv3 code? If that code is included under different license terms and sold as a bundle for money the "patent protection" on the Microsoft code does not extend to the GPLv3 code. Microsoft knows this. They plan to get right around the GPLv3 by poisoning Linux distributions with their own undisputed technology. They can charge money for it, making Linux just another proprietary software offering. Once people have become seduced by the cool interoperability of their Linux distributions with Microsoft Windows they will be able to control them any way they please. Good one, Microsoft!

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    What is happening?
    Authored by: Alan(UK) on Thursday, June 14 2007 @ 06:22 PM EDT
    We seem to be living in a time when the world is going mad.

    But what is really happening? I have a theory that major business decisions are
    made for one of two reasons: the first is to be seen to be jumping on the
    bandwagon of the latest 'next big thing'; the second is to be seen to be doing
    something. The latter particularly applies when things are going badly -
    restructure, downsize, announce new products, change this, change that - the
    idea is to muddy the normal accountancy waters in the hope that something turns
    up before you are found out.

    Microsoft is too fat to jump on any bandwagon - it would prefer to just buy it
    outright. Its core business is Windows and Office. These products really went
    nowhere after Win2K/Office2K came out. They were probably at their peak at that
    time, XP and Office2003 stretched the product lives into 2007. But then what?
    The need to be seen to be doing something kicks in. The result was Vista and
    Office2007 - complete with yet another file format. Microsoft not only misjudged
    technically - they also misjudged the market. The last thing that the market
    wanted was yet another file format - the whole point of using MS Office is
    because the boring old file format can be read by anyone else.

    So we have an old company that has not made any significant improvement in its
    core products in 7 years. Think - they lost the plot 7 years ago! Basically
    their new core products are being less than enthusiastically received.

    So we get another round of trying 'to be seen doing something'. Being typically
    two-faced, they are trying to be seen embracing Linux, while internally they are
    trying to be seen destroying it.

    Meanwhile, those characters who live on the fringes of the Linux community are
    also trying to be seen doing something and, for good measure, trying to be seen
    to be jumping on the bandwagon of 'the next big thing' - interoperability.

    It is all rather pathetic, Microsoft acting like an old, sick, dictator that
    sees his influnce declining with his physical and mental faculties, and the
    other parties behaving like children who do not realise that the adults are
    watching everything that they do.

    Microsoft is nailing up its own coffin from the inside.

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    Weird idea, but
    Authored by: lunarship on Thursday, June 14 2007 @ 07:51 PM EDT
    are M$ doing these deals to get into Linux early?

    Sounds odd, but listen to the idea that I just had.

    M$'s best profit areas are Office, SQL Server and Windows. Nowadays, if not in
    that order but going that way.

    Are they currently thinking that the best way forward might be to produce profit
    areas 1 and 2 for Linux and OS X while deprecating the increasingly troublesome
    number 3?

    It would, of course, save them millions in legal fees, tons of egg on face,

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Business Opportunity!
    Authored by: FoxyLad on Thursday, June 14 2007 @ 07:52 PM EDT
    Dear Mr. Ballmer,

    I have just started a GNU/Linux distro called MoneyTrux, which is proving very
    popular. Users get a safe, efficient operating system for free, plus an
    increasing share of future revenue for all the friends they convert to
    MoneyTrux, just like Amway! With this added financial incentive, I anticipate
    that MoneyTrux will soon dwarf all other Linux distributions.

    Now, about that future revenue. I'd like to start negotiations as soon as
    possible to buy patent protection for MoneyTrux. You know, "buy" in
    the sense that you give us lots of dosh to accept the patent protection, just
    like Novell, Xandros and Linspire.

    Given how big MoneyTrux is going to be, patent protection should be worth
    billions, but I'm prepared to offer you a early-adopter deal of only $5,000,000
    if you respond in the next 24 hours.

    Best regards,


    P.S. Act soon - here's a quote from delighted customer D. McB. of Utah:
    "After MoneyTrux explained this new concept of "buying" patent
    protection, we've been able to double our prices and IP licences are flying out
    the door!"

    All generalisations are dangerous... including this one.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, June 14 2007 @ 08:38 PM EDT

    You have a Linux distro brand?
    Market place not taking you serious?
    Revenue not living up to expectations?
    Microsoft wants to talk to you.

    Sign up for our honey-pot program now and we'll throw in a foot-gun for free!



    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Here's an even whackier idea
    Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, June 14 2007 @ 08:42 PM EDT

    Why couldn't MS produce it's own distribution of Linux, complete with all the MS interoperability add-ons that tie it to Windows? I know this has been a joke suggestion for some time but now it suddenly makes sense. They charge for all the add-in technology quite legally while privately snubbing the GPL. Everyone thinks that very sporting of MS for seeing the light at last and buy the distro to use in their mixed computing environments. Other distros of Linux fall by the wayside, under relentless MS advertising pressure. And whamo! MS controls Linux.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    A troubling thought experiment
    Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, June 14 2007 @ 10:16 PM EDT
    I've been giving some thought to how this whole GPL3/Microsoft thing would play out, and I think it doesn't come out well for the Free camp.

    Here's my reasoning, and you legal types please tell me where I've gone astray.

    Let's say we have two Linux developers, Ann and Bob. Ann creates AnnsProgram and Bob creates BobsProgram, and they both release the programs under the GPL3.

    Now, let's say EvilSoft enters into a convenant with Linux distributor LinEvil to not sue receivers of all software from LinEvil covered by their software patent EvilPatent.

    LinEvil distributes AnnsProgram and BobsProgram, and complies with all of the rest of the terms of the GPL3 regarding source code, etc.

    Now suppose AnnsProgram does not violate EvilPatent, however, BobsProgram does.

    Ann cannot sue LinEvil for copyright infringement, because since her program does not violate EvilPatent, LinEvil is not, in fact, adding any restrictions prohibited by the GPL3 - the convenant with EvilSoft only applies to programs that infringe EvilPatent.

    Bob, on the other hand, does have standing to sue for copyright infringement - however, in order to prevail, he must prove that the convenant not to sue adds an additional restriction on the redistribution of BobsProgram in violation of the GPL3. This means that he must prove that BobsProgram violates EvilSoft's software patent EvilPatent.

    Now, color me stupid, but it seems this really isn't in Bob's interest - he must definitively prove his own patent violation in order to prove LinEvil's copyright violation - and in doing so, has handed himself and all of his users to EvilSoft on a platter for patent violation. It seems to me that Bob could immediately expect a suit from EvilSoft, for which he's provided all of the plaintiff's proof.

    Anyone see a problem with this reasoning?

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Good bye Kevin Carmony
    Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, June 14 2007 @ 11:09 PM EDT
    I have used Linspire and Freespire along with A couple of other Distros.

    I get the regular newsletter, it used to be micheals minutes, but now Kevin
    writes it.... WELL NO MORE! I, along with many other people have parted company
    with this corrupted distro.

    It is facinating to see every weak/sick distro falling for MS, desperatly hoping
    against hope that the cash infusion or new tech is going to save them. IT IS
    NOT! (it would have been smarter to wait while all the other weak players made
    deals, then you would have fewer competitors)

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    I need to make my own distro and get a deal
    Authored by: mlwmohawk on Thursday, June 14 2007 @ 11:23 PM EDT
    I should download CentOS, spin my own version, and maybe MS will offer me a few
    $mill to sign a paper. I absolutely would! Absolutely. I'd probably stop
    producing my marginal (at best) distro, but I'd have some bucks to make me feel

    Seriously, is there a successful distro entering in these deals?

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Linspire joins the plot
    Authored by: Pogue Mahone on Friday, June 15 2007 @ 01:55 AM EDT
    I'd just like to make a few obervations here:
    • There's nothing in GPL2 or AFAICT in GPL3 that prevents people from delivering closed-source applications pre-compiled to run on Linux
    • There's nothing in the GPL that prevents people from shipping closed source programs on the same installation medium as GPL programs. IIRC RMS once stated explicitly that this was acceptable.

    So as long as Linspire restrict themselves to stand-alone programs there doesn't appear to be a violation. So a Lindows Media Player or a LinType font manager wouldn't appear to cause any problems as long as those programs don't link to any GPL code themselves

    However, that would mean that Linspire would have to recode the bits of glib etc. that they use - or comply with at least the LGPL. I haven't seen any discussion about the implications of LGPL3, so I can't comment on that, but LGPL2 requires that the relocatable objects be made available so that updated libraries can be relinked without having to beg the vendor for permission.

    " This is the silliest stuff that ever I heard." Wm. Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night's Dream

    I'm not afraid of receiving e-mail from strangers - see bio

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Who's next ?.
    Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, June 15 2007 @ 04:26 AM EDT
    novell, xerox, xandros, linspire.....

    may be canonical / ubuntu ?.
    I'm afraid that finally redhat (or even worst than that, all comercial distro)
    will be forced to surrender.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    GPL v2 DRM and Silverlight
    Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, June 15 2007 @ 09:25 AM EDT
    Silverlight is actually pretty cool technology with some advantages over Flash
    because of XAML. Whether its enough competitive advantage remains to be seen but
    it does have the potential to be a significant player in a field that is today
    Flash dominated.

    If MS can fork distros to be GPL v2 vs GPL v3 and figure some way to
    "validate" "GPL v2 only" based Linuxes (via DRM) then the
    Silverlight plugin could be built to ONLY run on those distros.

    For a corporate Linux the ability to run MS based Silverlight based applications
    (for things like timesheets and other business apps) is a significant competitve
    advantage. One that RH would be hard pressed to ignore given that MS is making
    Silverlight available on Windows and MacOS. That might be enough to make it
    worth maintaining a V2 only Linux. The apps can go V3 without much issue.

    I can certainly see IT departments that are MS centric saying "If you want
    to run linux is must be one of these linuxes because they have out of box Active
    Directory integration and can run our Silverlight based business

    Red Hat and Canonical can't ignore that for very long if MS' strategy is
    successful. And simply wishing Silverlight to fail is iffy. It might fail on
    its own but being able to use any .Net language makes it compelling for the
    legions of VB coders out there.


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