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What Linspire Agreed To
Sunday, July 22 2007 @ 11:35 AM EDT

We can read the Linspire-Microsoft patent agreement now, or more precisely Microsoft's "Covenant to Customers", and I thought it would be worthwhile to give it a close, line-by-line reading. I'll explain it as best I can, but ask your lawyer if it matters to you in a real-world sense. For our purposes here, let's just have fun with the worst deal I've seen yet in this category.

It's worse than Novell's, actually. It's worse than Tivo, in my book. I know some say that Tivo doesn't interfere with you modifying, as long as you give up using the modified software on Tivo hardware. To me, that is a penalty not contemplated by GPLv2, because if you buy a Tivo, it's because you wanted to use the software with the Tivo hardware, but with Linspire's agreement, you have to give up pretty much all your GPL freedoms, as far as I can make out, and more. And what do you get in return for giving up everything? True Type fonts, Windows Media 10, DVD playback, patent coverage...

Here's what you can't do without losing Microsoft's promise not to sue you. You can't share the software with others, pass it on with the patent promise, modify your own copy, or even use it for an "unauthorized" purpose, whatever that means in a software context. You must pay Linspire for the software, but then the "covenant" says to use Linux, you must also pay Microsoft. That payment doesn't cover upgrades. Linspire said it was absorbing the initial fees, but I don't know about upgrades. New functionality means you lose your coverage or presumably must pay again.

It doesn't cover a lot of types of software, most especially not business applications. It covers Linspire Five-0. That's it. It doesn't cover anything running on a server. It doesn't cover clone or foundry products or "other excluded products", according to Microsoft's definitions, which I'll show you, even if you get them from Linspire, and of course it doesn't cover GPLv3 anything. Freespire isn't covered, nor are apps you get separately from CNR that you don't pay for. Microsoft can change the deal or even drop it any time they are good and ready, but Linspire can't. And of course, you are not consulted. Microsoft can interrogate you any time it thinks it necessary to make sure you really are covered. But there is no clear list. I see no arrangement for resolving disputes.

Here's what you can still do: just sit there and don't make any sudden moves. Pretend you are using Microsoft software instead of GPL'd software. Don't think. Don't modify. Don't share. Don't explore. Don't improve. Don't innovate. Don't distribute. Don't sublicense. Don't do "unauthorized" things. Don't do nuttin' or you might get sued.

What was Linspire thinking? You think I'm kidding, don't you? Let me show you.

By the way, in researching this article, I found that Linspire is a privately held company:

What is Linspire, Inc.'s stock symbol?

At this time, Linspire, Inc. is privately held and not publicly traded. Therefore, there is no stock symbol for the company....

Who owns Linspire, Inc.?

Linspire, Inc. is currently owned by the founders of the company.

Who is that? The page on the Linspire executives lists only one founder, Michael Robertson. Maybe there are others. Who knows with a privately-held company? For that matter, who knows where the Microsoft money goes with a private company. There is no public accountability. The "Inc." means it is a corporation, so it's still under certain requirements under the laws that govern that type of entity, but it's not like SCO Group, where we get to read where all the money goes. Well.

Here is the covenant, then, with some translation into plain English from legalese and some analysis by me interspersed.


Covenant to Customers

Published: July 5, 2007
Updated: July 5, 2007

Microsoft, on behalf of itself and its Subsidiaries, hereby covenants not to sue a Customer of Linspire for infringement under Microsoft’s Covered Patents on account of such Customer’s use of specific copies of a Covered Product as originally distributed by Linspire;

[So this is the part that tells you not to modify. Microsoft promises not to sue you over any covered patents of theirs if you've paid Linspire for software which is covered, a specific copy of a "covered product," but only if it is "as originally distributed by Linspire". So you can't even fix something, if what Linspire sent you isn't quite what you need. Why would a business want software they can't personalize? That is one of the principal advantages of using FOSS in business -- that you can make it do exactly what you want.]

provided, however, the foregoing covenant is limited to only those specific copies for which such Customer has purchased a Patent SKU or Patent SKU Plus.

[This is the Thou-Shalt-Pay-Microsoft part. Why end users are buying SKUs is a mystery to me. But pay you must.]

For the avoidance of doubt, a specific copy to which bug fixes and minor updates have been applied is considered the same copy and remains covered by the above covenant provided such bug fixes and minor updates do not add substantial new functionality; an upgrade (or a new version) of a specific copy is treated as two different copies.

[Heh heh. None of that "new functionality" for you! Just stick to what Linspire gave you and no one gets hurt. Bug fixes are OK. But any new functionality throws you off the reservation. If you want to get back in after an upgrade, you must pay again for patent promises. There is no free lunch.]

The above covenant is personal to any given Customer and is non-transferable.

[That means no eBay, no friends, no family, no first sale with the promise attached. Just keep it to yourself, if you know what's good for ya. Be buried with it.]

By necessity, the covenant is conditioned upon the Customer providing Microsoft, upon its request, with sufficient information to verify which copies of Client Offerings are Covered Products subject to the covenant.

[Ah! Pop quizzes as Microsoft deems it "a necessity". Are you really and truly covered? Inquiring minds want to know. And what if you and Microsoft don't agree? I see no arrangement for resolving any such disputes. You are covered if they say you are. They have vays of making you talk, you know. Go ahead. Sue them. They have lawyers to darken your skies. What? You were thinking of suing over this junk? Take it or leave it.

That's the thing about promises. Either the promise is kept or it isn't. And if it isn't, what can you do? I don't see anything in the agreement addressing that.

Well, if you can't trust *Microsoft*, I ask you, who *can* you trust?]

Microsoft reserves the right to update (including discontinue) the above covenant pursuant to the terms of the Patent Agreement between Linspire and Microsoft that was publicly announced on June 13, 2007; however, any covenant provided to specific copies of Covered Products before such update shall survive under its initial terms and conditions.

[This is the part where Microsoft gets to make a clean break or change the deal, although I see no escape clause for Linspire, but whatever was covered before Microsoft renegs runs remains covered, if it was already covered and you can prove it in any interrogation sessions. So Microsoft can update the deal or cancel it at any time, subject to the terms publicly announced on June 13, 2007, they say, whatever those terms were -- they don't bother repeating them here, I notice, nor do they provide a link -- but whatever was once covered stays that way, they vow. Unless you saved the June 13th terms, you don't really know what that is, do you, or if anything has changed? But something is covered. So long as you don't twitch, move, modify, upgrade, sublicense, or do unauthorized things. But if you assume that by buying Linspire, you are safe forever, forgeddaboud it.]

The foregoing covenant shall survive for such specific copies of Covered Products in perpetuity.

[Of course, your computer won't last forever, and neither will your software on it, not that "specific copy", so it's easy to promise forever, particularly when upgrades are not covered. What? You wanted to upgrade too?]

Definitions of capitalized terms used above may be found in the Definitions section below.


“Client Offerings” means any software products of Linspire that include the Linux operating system, including Linspire Five-0 and successor offerings. However, Client Offerings do not include (i) any portions of products that comprise or include Foundry Products, Clone Products, GPLv3 Software or Other Excluded Products, (ii) Freespire and any other software offerings that include the Linux operating system for which Linspire receives no Revenue, (iii) any products running on a server, or (iv) any Linspire CNR applications distributed separately from the Linux operating system.

[Hmm. It doesn't cover much, does it? Only paid-for Linspire Linux is covered, except not foundry, clone, GPLv3, or other excluded products. So you can still get sued for software you get from Linspire. Oh, and nothing that is "running on a server" is covered. Catch that, businessfolk? No apps you got separately via CNR, either.

Here's what "foundry product" means:

“Foundry Product” means a product which is either (a) designed by a third party (or designed for a third party other than by Linspire) without substantial input from Linspire and made, reproduced, sold, licensed, or otherwise transferred by Linspire, on essentially an exclusive basis, (i) to that third party, or (ii) to that third party’s customers, or (iii) as directed by that third party; or (b) made, reproduced, sold, licensed or otherwise transferred through or by Linspire for the primary purpose of attempting to make such product subject to the covenants under the Covered Patents of Microsoft so that a third party’s customers can receive the benefit of such covenants.

Is that odd language saying that all the thousands of third-party applications that come with a normal Linux distro are not covered? I'm not sure. It's the kind of language lawyers come up with for a particular fact pattern that they understand but you may not. But if only Linspire-designed software is included, that isn't much. What are cloned products?

“Clone Product” means a product (or major component thereof) of Linspire that has the same or substantially the same features and functionality as a then-existing product (or major component thereof) of Microsoft (“Prior Product”) and that (a) has the same or substantially the same user interface, or (b) implements all or substantially all of the Application Programming Interfaces of the Prior Product. Except for Wine, OpenXchange, StarOffice, CrossOver Office and Mono, the Parties agree that the versions of Client Offerings sold, licensed, supplied, distributed or otherwise made available by Linspire before the Effective Date (“Existing Products”) will not be deemed to be Clone Products.

Wait. I thought the whole point of a patent agreement was so you *could* use comparable functionality. Well, nope. If Microsoft has something like it, you had best not do it too, except for any exclusions listed. OK, the promise is getting smaller and smaller. What are "other excluded products"?

“Other Excluded Products” means (a) any applications (e.g. office productivity applications, word processing, spreadsheets, presentation software) to the extent they are hosted by or running on a computer acting as a server for a connected client device, (b) any software embedded in, or otherwise running on, any servers or other devices (printers, cameras, game consoles, set-top boxes, phones, handheld devices, TVs, etc.) other than personal computers, laptops or workstation computers, and (c) new features and functions in the following categories of products: (i) video game consoles (e.g., Xbox video game consoles), console games, video game applications designed to run on a computer, and on-line video gaming services (e.g., Xbox live); (ii) business applications designed, marketed and used to meet the data processing requirements of particular business functions, such as but not limited to accounting, payroll, human resources, project management, personnel performance management, sales management, financial forecasting, financial reporting, customer relationship management, and supply chain management; and (iii) unified communications.

Woah. Run that last part past me one more time, please. If I am a businessman, and I'm thinking about getting a patent promise not to sue from Microsoft, because I think like that, wouldn't that last bit kill the deal? Business applications are not covered. So accounting, payroll, HR, project management, sales management, financial forecasting and reporting, supply chain management, "unified communications" -- none of that is covered. And no games. No online apps.

Wait. Isn't that a lot of excluded stuff? Why, yes. Yes, it is. So when you read that Linspire is thinking of offering various items via CNR to Freespire users, read the small print. You are not covered, as I read the terms. And if it were me, I'd insist on an explicit list of precisely what is and isn't covered, by application name, before I signed up for this. I might need it later in my interrogation sessions.]

“Covered Product” means a specific copy of a Client Offering for which a Customer has paid for a Patent SKU or Patent SKU Plus and MLGP has received the applicable Fee; provided, however, after MLGP receives such Fee then such Client Offering will be deemed a Covered Product as of the date such Customer paid for such Patent SKU or Patent SKU Plus.

[Your coverage starts when they get the money, not when you pay it. Once they get it, however, it's retroactive to the day you paid, which means your window of coverage is over that little bit sooner. So your check needs to not bounce, and while you wait to see if it's good, they can sue you during that window of time. But your coverage runs out dating from the date you handed over the check, not the date it cleared. Hey. Microsoft gets to set the terms. It's a monopoly. What do you want? Egg in your beer?]

“Covered Patents” means any Patents that may cover the Covered Products which Microsoft or any of its Subsidiaries now or hereafter (i) owns or controls, or (ii) has the ability or right to grant a covenant not to sue without requiring payment to any third parties.

[*May* cover. You get to guess. One can't actually know if the patents are infringed or not, then, can one? It's one of life's little mysteries. And you are free to gamble and not pay Microsoft if you are feeling lucky. Well? Are you, punk? Methinks this vagueness is tied to certain language in the GPLv3. Here is how Microsoft defines Patents that are covered:
“Patents” means any and all utility patents, utility models, patent registrations, and equivalent rights (including, without limitation, originals, divisionals, provisionals, results of reexamination, continuations, continuations-in-part, extensions or reissues), and utility patent applications for the foregoing, in all countries of the world, and any other procedure or formality with respect to the aforesaid that can result in an enforceable patent right anywhere worldwide. Patents do not include design patents, design registrations, copyrights or trade dress rights.

Just because they promise not to sue you over patents, that doesn't mean they can't sue you for copyright infringement or trade dress rights. And not all types of patents are included. Design patents are not covered. So the useful parts are covered, but the ornamental are not. Here's a definition of "utility patents". I gather, then, that if Microsoft has other types of patents, like business method patents, for example, they are not included in the promise. If you come up with a perpetual motion machine, there is no promise not to sue you, then, because that wouldn't be a utility patent, so if Microsoft developed one first, it's not part of the promise not to sue, I guess.]

“Customers” means an enterprise or individual that utilizes a specific copy of a Covered Product for its intended purpose as authorized by Linspire.

[OK. And how does one perceive Linspire's intent? This is the Don't think, Don't innovate, Don't modify clause.]

Enterprises or individuals are not Customers when they (1) resell, license, supply, distribute or otherwise make available to third parties such specific copy or additional copies of the Covered Product; or (2) resell, license, supply, or distribute the output of SDKs or developer kits they utilize as a Customer.

[See what I mean about giving up your GPL freedoms? Microsoft makes no promises not to sue you if you do the things many folks normally do with GPL software. In this Brave New Brand-X-Linux World Linspire got you into, Microsoft has no actual competition, merely partners who behave themselves and non-partners, who can get sued.]

For avoidance of doubt, an enterprise or individual cannot qualify both as a Customer and Distributor for use of the same copy of a Covered Product.

[We got it. Trust me, we get the picture. Microsoft doesn't want anyone distributing Linux.]

“Patent SKU” means patent coverage from Microsoft purchased for a copy of a Client Offering under the terms set forth in the Covenant to Customers.

“Patent SKU Plus” means patent coverage from Microsoft purchased for a copy of a Client Offering under the terms set forth in the Covenant to Customers, plus the rights to distribute certain other Microsoft technology under the terms set forth in the Agreement.

[To get the promise, then, you must purchase a "Patent SKU or Patent SKU Plus" whatever that is. Let's see. It says that you get the Plus version if you wish to distribute, but not Linux software. No, no, no. That seems to be out, period. You get the Plus version if you wish to distribute certain *Microsoft* stuff. Lordy, lord. Talk about upside down and backwards at the same time! You can distribute Microsoft tech, if you pay for the right, but there is no way you can take GPL software and distribute it. You have paid not only money for this Microsoft promise not to sue. You've paid with your GPL rights. Poof. FOSS is dead. The GPL-based development model is over for you. And what do Linspire customers get in return? Fonts. A media player. Voice over IM. What a deal. Who wouldn't give up freedom for some fonts and some MP3s?]

“Subsidiary” means any entity (a) more than fifty percent (50%) of whose outstanding shares or securities representing the right to vote for the election of directors or other managing authority are, now or hereafter, owned or controlled, directly or indirectly, by a party, but such entity shall be considered a Subsidiary only when such ownership or control exists; or (b) which does not have outstanding shares or securities, as may be the case in a partnership, joint venture or unincorporated association, but more than fifty percent (50%) of whose ownership interest representing the right to make the decisions for such entity is, now or hereafter, owned or controlled, directly or indirectly, by a party, but such entity shall be considered a Subsidiary only when such ownership or control exists.

[This matters because it's telling you precisely who can't sue you for patent infringement, namely Microsoft or its subsidiaries as precisely defined here. All others can. Now how safe do you feel?]

“Term” means the period beginning on the Effective Date and, unless extended pursuant to Section 9.1, ending on the earlier of (i) three (3) years from the Effective Date, or (ii) the date of termination of this Agreement.

[Yes, it only lasts three years. If Microsoft doesn't back out of the agreement first, then the promise is for three years. You'll recall Novell got five. So the deals are getting less juicy. That's a happy trend. If they keep this up, pretty soon Microsoft won't be able to find any more eager sellouts. Folks, just how dumb do you have to be to want to sign up for something like this?]


P.S. By the way, for those of you aware of the Canonical-Linspire deal earlier and who may wish to avoid all things Linspire, here is a diagram that will help you understand how CNR works.

For myself, I think it's time to think really seriously about who should be allowed to use the name Linux, before the trademark loses all its traditional meaning.


What Linspire Agreed To | 517 comments | Create New Account
Comments belong to whoever posts them. Please notify us of inappropriate comments.
Corrections Here
Authored by: feldegast on Sunday, July 22 2007 @ 11:41 AM EDT
So they can be fixed

My posts are ©2004-2007 and released under the Creative Commons License
Attribution-Noncommercial 2.0
P.J. has permission for commercial use.

[ Reply to This | # ]

ot here
Authored by: sumzero on Sunday, July 22 2007 @ 11:52 AM EDT
make the links cliackable. please and thanks...

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 | # ]

Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, July 22 2007 @ 11:53 AM EDT
I just read a book on the Scilian Maffia and their counterpart in the US and how
RICO really hurted them. If I read the extortion by the Mafia it is about the
same as MS is doing here. Any change the next president will go after MS again?

[ Reply to This | # ]

Discussions about newspicks items here please
Authored by: tiger99 on Sunday, July 22 2007 @ 12:00 PM EDT
And try to accompany your posts with clickies, where relevant, if you can,

[ Reply to This | # ]

i'm confused...
Authored by: sumzero on Sunday, July 22 2007 @ 12:03 PM EDT
this seems like a clear gpl violation by linspire. they are placing additional
restrictions on distribution and use of gpl software are they not?

also, robertson had exactly one good idea: it was an excellent site for
distributing your own mp3s and cds. it provided exposure and income to many
independent musicians, including a number of friends of mine. robertson got
greedy though and expanded the service past it's core strength and morphed it
into an online mp3 storage facility. this brought the riaa et al running with
shouts of copyright infringement and provided them with the tools to eliminate a
seerious competitor to their distribution model. robertson promptly bailed out
with a nicely-sized parachute paid for by vivendi who then turned around and
threatened to nuke the entire archive. fun times. the ghost of is still
around. it's a cnet site now i think.

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 | # ]

What Linspire Agreed To
Authored by: brian on Sunday, July 22 2007 @ 12:07 PM EDT
"By necessity, the covenant is conditioned upon the
Customer providing Microsoft, upon its request, with
sufficient information to verify which copies of Client
Offerings are Covered Products subject to the covenant."

I read this differently (not by much) than PJ above.

I read it as:
"You are not covered unless you prove to Microsoft that
you are running the product ONLY on one machine".

It is little more than the one CPU, one license deal they
have going on now. It also allows Microsoft to send in the
BSA goons to verify "at their request" that you aren't
violating something....

In short, I see it as trying to impose a WGA type scheme
onto Linux.


#ifndef IANAL
#define IANAL

[ Reply to This | # ]

When Could Something Like This Be Fraud?
Authored by: sproggit on Sunday, July 22 2007 @ 12:14 PM EDT
OK, I think the scenario I am about to describe is *very* unlikely to transpire
in the real world... but who knows.

Each of the deals that Microsoft has so far signed with companies in the FOSS
community appear to be more than a straight covenant-not-to-sue. In each case
there has been a transfer of funds in one direction, and rights or product in
the other. So for example Linspire got to use media codecs, for example.

However, if I ran a Linux distribution and went to Microsoft and said,
"Hey, I don't want or need any of your other stuff, I just need a covenant
not to sue. I don't have any IP of mine that I'm willing to share with you, and
I don't want or need anything else that you offer. Let's deal." then I
suspect life would get very interesting.

You see, if that were the case, I would be paying Microsoft for nothing more
than patent protection. Let's leave the RICO piece to one side for a moment. In
return for my paying a per-seat license charge to Microsoft, would they not have
to get specific and admit that they were charging me for *something*??? Well,
one would hope so. But at that point they have no wriggle room. The payments
could never be for anything *other* than patent indemnity.

The reason this strikes me as being interesting is that all the other deals MS
have been trumpeting have included some other transaction on the side.

In other words, if Microsoft were theoretically put on a witness stand and
asked, "What, specific patents are you indemnifying this Linux business
for?" I suspect their answer would be "Well, nothing that remotely
relates to Linux".

We've long speculated that Linux does not infringe any of Microsoft's patents.
We've also seen that all the "deals" struck thus far seem to include
some other piece to the transaction that could otherwise explain away the
balance of payments being made.

I have no evidence for this, but the more I look at it, the more convinced I am
that this is snake oil and smoke+mirrors. If we could see the small print, I'd
bet we would find that every deal inked to date is 100% vague on what Microsoft
are promising to indemnify over...

And if anyone would like to purchase a license for the air that they breathe...
just sign here please...

[ Reply to This | # ]

What Linspire Agreed To
Authored by: Latesigner on Sunday, July 22 2007 @ 12:21 PM EDT
Well, that's cleared up.
Linspire (formerly Lindows) is a Microsoft subsidiary until such time as the
Redmond guys decide to dispense with them.
I hope it pays well, but not with my money.
I'm really going to like Ubuntu.

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

[ Reply to This | # ]

Okay, PJ -- You told us before...
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, July 22 2007 @ 12:44 PM EDT
You tried to us about Linspire before and I would not listen.

You talked about the slippery slope of binary drivers and I did not listen.

But how can I rationalize this as acceptable? I cannot. Mea culpa.

Just to put another perspective on all of this. There are only three ways to
make money with computers: sell hardware, sell service, or sell software. IBM
does a great job of integrating all three with Linux.

Microsoft, on the other hand, makes about $36 B a year in profits selling just
software, that about $700 million a week. And since their whole empire is based
on software, they are lobbying in Washington, in the state legislatures, in the
European Union, in the ISO committees, and in the trade press to keep their
software machine running. Now come the patent agreements. And the cost of these
activities do not even impact their bottom line.

So what do 10,000 of us Groklawians sitting on the sidelines do? Just watch this
Microsoft circus in amazement I guess...

[ Reply to This | # ]

What Linspire Agreed To
Authored by: BsAtHome on Sunday, July 22 2007 @ 12:47 PM EDT
It smells like MS tries to impose conditions on GPL software, for which they not
own the copyright. Is this not abuse?

SCOop of the day

[ Reply to This | # ]

Not worth the "paper" it's written on...
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, July 22 2007 @ 12:53 PM EDT
it's absolutely useless... there's so many get outs in Microsoft's favour...

Anyone who takes this up is a fool, and Linspire should be ashamed of themselves
for having signed up with Microsoft for this.

They need to be sent to Coventry... refuse any patches from them, ignore them,
shun them... turn your backs on these charlatans...

ps. I'm a little hacked off, I'm in Gloucester, UK, desperately trying to get
Sunday dinner cooked before the power fails... the water's already failed... the
river has started coming over the defences in the center of Gloucester...

My daughter's trapped in her village, I can't get to her, our boats have sunk on
their moorings in Tewkesbury which is also disappearing beneath the water...

well we're alive... that's one way to look at it. But things are going to get
grim for a few days until things recover.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Agreement nullifies Linux since every box is a server...
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, July 22 2007 @ 12:59 PM EDT
Client Offerings do not include ... (iii) any products running on a server...
Linux is built on a client server model. Daemons sit in the background waiting for network events, The X Window system itself is a network based client server design even if the box is not physically connected to a network. Ipso facto, this agreement does not apply to Linux.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Is this valid even on GPLv2??
Authored by: dyfet on Sunday, July 22 2007 @ 01:01 PM EDT
I recall how Eben said the Novell agreement could just barely sneak around the GPLv2 "by a millimeter". If so, this seems well over even that edge. Should existing GPLv2 authors consider sending cease and desist distribution letters to Linspire?

[ Reply to This | # ]

Linux kernel is a foundry product
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, July 22 2007 @ 01:11 PM EDT

Using the given definition of a foundry product, I can only conclude that the
Linux kernel is also a foundry product and therefore not covered by the MS
promise not to sue.

If I need summarize the whole agreement:
MS promises not to sue the customer over its patents in the Linspire developed
product for which Linspire has already a patent license with MS.

[ Reply to This | # ]

But... but...
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, July 22 2007 @ 01:25 PM EDT
Linspire now has a nice true type fonts...
and... and DVD playback...
and... and Media Player 10...
and... and...

Thanks to the Linspire-Microsoft deal, Linspire users now are like puppies.

Sit Bubu Sit – Good dog!

[ Reply to This | # ]

What Linspire Agreed To
Authored by: ThrPilgrim on Sunday, July 22 2007 @ 01:31 PM EDT

I think Microsoft may have just opened the door to a whole lot of pain.

Please pick holes in my argument.

  1. You can't place your own restrictions on GPL Software that you distribute.
  2. If you do place further restrictions on the GPL software you distribute then you are in breach of the GPL and loose your right to distribute
  3. With out agreeing to be bound by the GPL any distribution by you is an infraction of copyright law
  4. This agreement from Microsoft places further restrictions on GPL software
  5. Linspire is in breach of the GPL, see point 2
  6. Therefor Linspire is in breach of copyright law
  7. However you can be guilty of an offense under copyright law if you encourage or help to facilitate someone else to break copyright law
  8. Without this agreement Linspire would still be in complience with the GPL and would not of breached copyright law
  9. This agreement has therefor encouraged and facilitated Linspires breach of copy right law. Infact it is the sole reason for Linspire to be in breach of the GPL and hence to have breached copyright law.
  10. Therefor Microsoft are guilty of helping and encouraging Linspire to break copyright law

Any one see any problems with this

IANAL or a US citizen

[ Reply to This | # ]

Ok, a bunch of irresponsible idiots
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, July 22 2007 @ 01:34 PM EDT
did something incredibly stupid. Who cares.
Anybody ever seen such a "Linsprire" thing?
Anybody ever took these crooks serios who started
off calling their thing "Lindows"?

Isn't this kind of a troll company, like the
"Linux Insider" e-zine apparantly mostly is a
used for distraction and anti-Linux propaganda?


[ Reply to This | # ]

Holy Moly
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, July 22 2007 @ 02:12 PM EDT

Very, very, very nice article, PJ

After reading your piece, even the Linspire folks might get a clue.

Or maybe not

[ Reply to This | # ]

What Linspire Agreed To - bottom line
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, July 22 2007 @ 02:28 PM EDT
In otherwords, you can't use Linux software on the Linspire machine without
paying Microsoft for upgrades.

It was my understanding that if there was any charge for software rolled into a
package that was first released under the GPL, you lost your rights to
distribute that package.

Long and the short of it, Linspire is in violation of the GPL.

You have to un-link all that MS stuff, and offer it as an optional add on,
before you can distribute!!!!!!

It must be two separate packages.

Heck, even a Dell computer is a better deal. It's a pity that Linspire to
sucked into this trap.

[ Reply to This | # ]

I don't see it....
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, July 22 2007 @ 02:36 PM EDT
Hmmm. Perhaps I'm missing something, but I don't see any restrictions on
redistribution of the actual software whatsoever. I only see restrictions on
transferability and coverage of the patent covenant itself.

[ Reply to This | # ]

What Linspire Agreed To
Authored by: gbl on Sunday, July 22 2007 @ 02:40 PM EDT
Linspire has decided that they no longer need the support of the thousands of developers who have created the software that the company depends on. I hope they have a long and fruitful relationship with their new friend; a friend who is known for turning on and eating the companies it has relationships with

Goodbye Lindows, Goodbye Linspire.

But what on earth is Microsoft doing? Apple just sold a million iPhones in the US market in just two weeks. That is an income of over $500 million on a brand new product in a new market place. By the new year, the iPhone will be introduced into the European and Asian markets and will easily sell another million units in each. That's before Apple start releasing games and online services for the iPhone. What's Microsoft doing? Vista isn't moving off the shelves. XBox just cost Microsoft a billion dollars; on hardware that is already heavily subsidised. Where is the Wow??

Microsoft has turned into the old, arthritic company it used to accuse IBM of being. Microsoft cashcows are being protected in the same manner as IBM crippled the PC so it wouldn't eat into minicomputer sales. They will fail for exactly the same reason.

Microsoft will never bring out a Linux based product that will run Microsoft apps because it would hurt sales of Windows. But they must ensure that nobody else does either.

I think that what we are seeing is a company that is hunting around for a lever which can be used to split the Linux community. We will start to see agreements where programmers who work with companies like Novell and Linspire are forbidden to work on parts of Linux that compete with Windows products. The intent will be to force the programmers out of these companies in the hope that it will deprive Linux of talent.

If you love some code, set it free.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Ownership structure of Linspire
Authored by: stats_for_all on Sunday, July 22 2007 @ 02:53 PM EDT
Lindows applied for IPO in 2004, and this details the then existing ownership of the corportation.

Link to SEC Filing

In summary, the corporation is closely held by its founder Michael Robertson who owned 81% of outstanding shares. CEO Carmony had 5.2%, and the executives have probably expanded their ownership since that time with option compensation.

Carmony has a 2006 interview with Stephen J Vaughan-Nichols where he explains they have turned down venture capital, because they expect near-term profitability.

The tin-hatted will notice that virtually the entire executive structure and the IPO listed board membership has passed through McBride's old stomping ground: Franklin Covey in Utah. However the Linspire executives and board were employeed by Franklin Covey in the mid 90's and McBride didn't get their until July 2000. But still, what is it about the water in Provo that leads to such bizarre behavoirs.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Selling Click-N-Run
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, July 22 2007 @ 03:32 PM EDT
i saw awhile back where linspire was planing on selling subscriptions to
download packages other than linspire. Ubuntu was mentioned. I wonder what the
Ubuntu people have to say about that.

[ Reply to This | # ]

How long does it take to create a court case?
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, July 22 2007 @ 03:35 PM EDT
Three years as a sitting duck.

Having signed a contract demonstrating you think you need Microsoft's permission
to use their technology how safe are you with such a short time frame?

What does a court case take to get ready everything considered? Six Months? You
know you are on Microsoft's radar because of your deal. I guess six months from
the end of your term you either look to renegotiate or stop your business.

"Here is the protections they no longer have - notice they paid us for
"Mr. Linspire did you require these protections? How are you doing business
now that they have lapsed?"

Any optimistic views to the contrary are welcome to correct me

[ Reply to This | # ]

Great gig
Authored by: kozmcrae on Sunday, July 22 2007 @ 03:36 PM EDT
If Linux abuses a bunch of Microsoft's patents, then presumably so does OS X.
Let's see, are there any other major players in the OS market place besides
Microsoft? Nope. I guess Microsoft can lay back now and collect money for
other peoples' hard work. It's a great gig if you can get it. Money for
nothin' for as long as people need an operating system.

Coming soon: Signature 2.0

[ Reply to This | # ]

What Linspire Agreed To
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, July 22 2007 @ 04:59 PM EDT
Me, I couldn't care less.

The covenant basically is only about the software that Linspire controls, and
this software is not GPL'd. GPL'd software distributed by Linspire appears not
to be covered - see the loooong exclusion list. As someone else stated,
according to the definition the Linux kernel itself is foundry software, as is
everything else from the glibc to the bash.

IMHO this covenant doesn't even breach the GPLv3. On the other hand, since very
little stuff is actually covered, the paper is worth null, nothing, nada. Just
sand in somebody's eyes.

Similar to as Microsoft put it, I am not affected by this covenant anyway,
because I never bought, and never will buy Linspire's software.

[ Reply to This | # ]

What was Linspire Thinking?
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, July 22 2007 @ 05:14 PM EDT
And what do you get in return for giving up everything?

The deal is about cold hard cash - not patents used in Linux or OpenOffice. Microsoft patent deals were not about Novell, Xandros, and Linspire licensing Microsoft patents infringed by Linux and OpenOffice, but about Microsoft paying Novell, Xandros, and Linspire lots of money to implement substandard versions of Microsoft's patented lock-in standards (OOXML, .NET, Silverlight, PDF alternative) into their products, so Microsoft can claim to the EU and DOJ that their lock-in standards ate not single vendor standards which cannot be implemented by other vendors. This is why Microsoft paid Novell, Xandros, and Linspire and not the other way around, and this is what Microsoft means by enhancing Linux interoperability - there aren't any standards other than Microsoft ones, so interoperability involves adopting Microsoft lock-in standards (cut down of course for everyone other than Microsoft or Microsoft licensees).

[ Reply to This | # ]

Michael Robertson doesn't "get it"
Authored by: whoever57 on Sunday, July 22 2007 @ 05:16 PM EDT
Some time ago, I bought a couple of VOIP phones (supporting SIP) that were
supposed to work with the VOIP network they had created ( I was
assured that they worked with most firewalls. Well, guess what: they did not
work with a Linux netfilter based firewall. OK, you could use their network with
Spipphone's proxy, but the proxies were highly unreliable and always changing.

Clearly, they had not tested the system using clients behind Linux firewalls.

Let's also not forget that Linspire is the company that used to be called
Lindows. They already had $20M of MS's money. Who knows what verbal agreements
that came with?

One might suspect the Mr. Robertson is really just a smart opportunist, he has
no loyalty to Linux and open source.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Lousy customer service
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, July 22 2007 @ 06:01 PM EDT
This is really just another instance of a company with lousy customer service.
If Linspire had good customer service, they would have sued Microsoft for
declaratory judgement that Linspire (the product) does not infringe on
Microsoft's patents. Microsoft would then be stuck with an ugly (to them)
dilemma: either reveal the specifics of the infringement, have Linspire declared
non-infringing, or strike a major deal with Linspire to make the suit go away
(which sets up a troubling precedent).

I know what good customer service looks like; why would I ever choose to
_purchase_ a distribution from a company with poor customer service? If a
company does not do a good job of balancing the needs of their customers with
the dollar signs in the eyes of their investors I want nothing to do with them
or their product.

[ Reply to This | # ]

What Linspire Agreed To
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, July 22 2007 @ 06:43 PM EDT
I believe none of this covenent stuff s about DRM or even
Linux, its about a codec, that Microsoft have successfully
introduced into the Movie and Music studios. Media player,
and all.

The DRM, Patent infringement and Loss of CD Sales is just
a scare tactic to get everybody to agree to use their
codec. MS has put a lot of money behind getting this codec
everywhere. Why else pay someone a lot of money to "use"
your IP, if not to make sure it's everywhere. It will be
in DVD players (the new set-top box) and every other
device that can deliver media content, they even have it
in their phones. Now they want in in every computer.

They've spend years and millions on this. They, MS will be
licensing our own content to us. We will have to use the
codec to make personal DVD & music CDs. And every time you
buy a device that can play or show media, we will be
paying them a license fee, or usage fee, to use their
codec. An we are already robed of the choice or soon will
be. The latest efforts with OOXML, silverligh, .net sharps
and XPDF are all an attempt to lock the media into their
formats, including paper print production, which they can
control. And it's so simple and the work involved to
maintain this little beasty (Extended Standards) is almost
insignificant. And to enforce it, copyright and patent
applications. With these last formats they will be able to
extend "plugin" their codec and control not only movie &
music, but also paper publishing. silverlight is the last
replacement needed to replace flash which is used for DVD
menus or at least in the design there of. Also note that
they will only guarantee the fist driver, why? So they can
claim critical mass, and then, the DVD will be published
in their codec, biggest audience.

Am I paranoid, may be, you tel me if you can or can not
see what I'm seeing.I hope I'm wrong, I so want to believe
I'm wrong.


[ Reply to This | # ]

What Linspire Agreed To
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, July 22 2007 @ 06:54 PM EDT
This matters because it's telling you precisely who can't sue you for patent infringement, namely Microsoft or its subsidiaries as precisely defined here. All others can. Now how safe do you feel?
Unless you are a large organization running a staggering number of machines you should feel perfectly safe without one these things. There are no criminal penalties and no statutory damages for patent infringement: the most Microsoft could claim would be actual damages. What do you think a Federal judge would say to Microsoft were they to sue you for $1.47? The purpose of these deals is to spread FUD among the PHBs. Microsoft's salesmen are already telling them that they might be sued if they use Linux. "If there is no danger why are Linux distributors signing these covenants?" Not to mention the fact that it is unlikely that any enforceable patents are being infringed and that if they are estoppel probably applies...

[ Reply to This | # ]

Dear Mr. Robertson,
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, July 22 2007 @ 07:01 PM EDT
I don't watch DVDs on my computers. I don't collect or watch Windows Media files
(needless to say, Flash video offerings such as YouTube have cut deeply into
that area). I can live without Microsoft fonts, and I can give up MP3 if I have
to. I guess you imagine I am giving up a lot of "functionality." So
far, with my new computer running Ubuntu, I'm doing fine.

This agreement offers me nothing but a feeling of sorrow. I liked Linspire
Five-O and after hearing you would be teaming with Ubuntu, I was thrilled at the
prospect. Five-O worked pretty well, and Linux has come so far since then,
hasn't it? I would gladly have purchased the next Linspire (and more to the
point, recommended it to friends), if it reflected Ubuntu's progress.

Your motives I won't second-guess. You are right to try to offer a USA-legal
way to play DVDs. I respect that and don't have any problem with paying money
for that. I think your heart is in the right place.

Why, though, should I send money to you to be sent to Microsoft for a
limited-time license on a vague and unnamed set of patents? What exactly am I
buying? Didn't you already license this stuff before?

This deal smells. Attaching it to your Linux just means I need to avoid the
uncertainty of using YOUR product. This is exactly the opposite of your
intention but that is how it's got to be. When I need Microsoft software or
media compatibility or fonts, I'll buy Windows, not rely on some half-baked
3-year license that disrespects (and perhaps contradicts) the license under
which you already distribute most of the code.

The words in this license make perfect sense - Microsoft claims ownership of
this and that and they will not threaten me for a given time over my use of
them. Next time give me a specific list of the "this and that" won't
you? Thanks.

[ Reply to This | # ]

WGA for Linux?
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, July 22 2007 @ 08:28 PM EDT
With all these agreements, I wonder if they will start packaging up some sort of
tool to make sure users are in compliance?

Makes you wonder does it not?

[ Reply to This | # ]

Legal Creep
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, July 22 2007 @ 08:51 PM EDT
The difference between Novel and Linspire licenses are interesting. It looks
like Microsoft may be trying to evolve the restrictions of the GPL out of
existence. If you keep pushing the boundaries of legal interpretation you can
get the law to creep to such an extent you can get almost the exact opposite
interpretation. Push Push Push - hey presto!

"software as such is not patentable"
---> "software ... is .. patentable"

"you can't impose extra conditions on GPL software"
---> "you can .. impose extra conditions on GPL software"

[ Reply to This | # ]

What Linspire Agreed To
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, July 22 2007 @ 09:29 PM EDT
funny thing is when I was trying linspire a while back I could not get it
installed on ANY of my computers.

they are all pretty standard build and I built them myself making sure all my
hardware was linux compatible before I bought it but linspire failed on all of

this was the only distro that I ran into that had this problem.

I think karmony really has a true to life windows OS.

[ Reply to This | # ]

"Covenant not to sue"
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, July 22 2007 @ 10:51 PM EDT
Ok, so this is a covenant not to sue.

So if an end-user breaches the covenant, Microsoft no longer agrees that they
won't sue you. They don't promise that they WILL sue you, they just no longer
see the covenant as a reason not to.

Which is precisely the situation you're in if you never entered the covenant in
the first place. Like, almost 100% of FOSS users are in that boat.

So I'm wondering why it matters? It seems to me that Linspire are offering to
remove money from dumb people in exchange for a warm fuzzy feeling about

If I want to modify my GPL software obtained from Linspire, I'm no better or
worse off than I'd be if I'd modified any other GPL software. So what's the
issue? If the only remedy MS can utilize in the case of a breach is to treat
you in exactly the same way that they treat everyone else, where's the problem?

[ Reply to This | # ]

So, why does MS like the GPL 3 so much?
Authored by: aja on Monday, July 23 2007 @ 12:09 AM EDT
What I find interesting in the light of events like the MS-Novell and
MS-Linspire agreements is that Microsoft seems to be bound and determined to
provoke widescale adoption of GPL 3.

We were all aware of elements of the community who were less than convinced that
re-licensing from GPL2 to GPL3 was necessary (hint: Starts with an L, ends with
a rant on Tivo was about the only clear problem child, and some of
us didn't really care too much about that case.

Then, almost simultaneously with the finalization of GPL 3, Microsoft
effectively emits a "You don't understand why GPL 3 is necessary? Well,

It's like MS is suddenly the "Demonstrate Stallman's worst case scenario,
as clearly as possible" dream team.


[ Reply to This | # ]

What Linspire Agreed To
Authored by: kberrien on Monday, July 23 2007 @ 12:24 AM EDT
Granted, MS PR/FUD is PR. Its serves a purpose there...

But does anyone actually use Linspire anyways? I've always considered the
Linspire (or Lindows) concept pretty useless. This is somewhat like the tree
falling in the woods with noone to hear it.

[ Reply to This | # ]

What Linspire Got
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, July 23 2007 @ 12:33 AM EDT
Some fonts, big deal, but I am wondering how may of those fonts are included in "Microsoft's TrueType core fonts for the Web" Which as some of you may know allowed Anyone to download and install these fonts for their own use and reproduction and distribution of an unlimited number of copies with certain provisions. I would hardly call these fonts a necessity. While not available from MS anymore they're easily found on the web.

The next version of the Linux RealPlayer will support Windows Media files.

DVD playback...With all the failed lawsuits a few years ago around DeCSS and the rise of Blu-Ray and HD DVD, I doubt that you're going to see much more out of this.

So I hope someone at Linspire at least got a pile of money for the trouble.

[ Reply to This | # ]

  • What Linspire Got - Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, July 23 2007 @ 06:05 PM EDT
    • The link - Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, July 23 2007 @ 06:11 PM EDT
I'm Starting New Award(s)
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, July 23 2007 @ 12:39 AM EDT
This is war!?! The War On Dubious Unadulterated Chutzpah!!

"The Annual dUh! Awards". (d.U.h. - Dubious Unadulterated Chutzpah)

The award itself will be a 50 pound "unclippable" paper clip!(Designer
Needed Immediately for award)

New word for dictionaries(?): "unclippable"

Meaning - dubious unadulterated chutzpah.

The short list for dUh awards 2007 include, so far: SCO, Linspire, Microsoft

[ Reply to This | # ]

"on essentially an exclusive basis"
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, July 23 2007 @ 12:53 AM EDT
This definition of "foundry products" seems to exclude Linux and
GNU components. "Foundry products" would then most naturally
mean products developed by third parties FOR Linspire or
exclusively supplied to them for resale.

[ Reply to This | # ]

This is who Robertson is
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, July 23 2007 @ 01:03 AM EDT

Robertson was the founder of the original Despite the amazing financial
success of (the day of the stock IPO (ticker:MPPP), the stock rose from
$28 to peak at $103[1]), Robertson quickly led his company into a firestorm of
lawsuits generated by the major record labels and music publishing concerns.

Seems he went from shady music to shady operating systems.

[ Reply to This | # ]

The really sad thing ...
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, July 23 2007 @ 03:20 AM EDT

Who wouldn't give up freedom for some fonts and some MP3s?

The sad fact is that there are many people who would.

Everybody says they value "freedom", but many people - maybe most people - don't really want it. They want to be told what to do. It saves them the pain of having to think.

[ Reply to This | # ]

The Linspire agreement looks like a Microsoft PR scam.
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, July 23 2007 @ 05:15 AM EDT
Basically, it doesn't provide any patent protection by Microsoft for Linux (if
Microsoft does indeed have any relevant patents). It only covers Linspire
written code which is virtually nil, since Linspire is not a developer. The deal
appears to be a straightforward licensing of True Type fonts, Windows Media 10,
and DVD playback from Microsoft dressed up to look like something more, for PR

This makes me wonder:
1) Is this and the Xandros agreement merely a PR stunt by Microsoft to cover up
the fact that GPL3 has killed off Microsoft's grand plans to go more Novell
style deals with other Linux companies?
2) Microsoft hasn't offered the same GPL2 deal it offered Novell. Is Microsoft
wary of offering other Novell type deals covering GPL2 because Microsoft's
lawyers have realised that Microsoft has violated GPL2 or is guilty of
conspiring to breach GPL2 licensing terms by distributing coupons for Novell
SuSE Linux?

[ Reply to This | # ]

Natural Selection
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, July 23 2007 @ 05:55 AM EDT

In a Darwinian sense, Microsoft is doing us a favour.

It's is like the predator weeding out the weak and sickly, leaving more room for
the healthy distributions, with talented developers refocusing on those few and
customers adopting them.

[ Reply to This | # ]

How to prove to the world that you are a moron.....
Authored by: Stevieboy on Monday, July 23 2007 @ 07:23 AM EDT
Up there with climbing Everest with no clothes on and no air and going up to Mr.
T and saying "My mate says you're a pouf who wears ladies' underwear under
your fatigues and so what are you going to do about it?", buying Linspire
joins that elite list of things to do to prove to the world you are a complete
and utter moron.

None of the advantages of buying Linux and receiving insult on top of the injury
by paying M$ for the privilege.

Linspire must have been going bust - perhaps M$ actually owns them now.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Have I missed something?
Authored by: Alan(UK) on Monday, July 23 2007 @ 07:56 AM EDT
To get the 'benefits' of this deal between Linspire and Microsoft, you need to
purchase (buy, rent?) a 'patent SKU' (whatever a SKU is) from someone.

The payment for the 'patent SKU' goes to MLGP (Microsoft Licensing General
Partnership - thanks stephen_pollei for the information), a company that seems
to lack a web-site. Microsoft does not tell you what it costs or how to buy it;
Linspire does not tell you what it costs or how to buy it. Sounds like the
SCOundrels licence to me.

Can you take this seriously (in the sense that Linspire and/or Microsoft are
making a serious offer)?

No doubt the writing of this ridiculous document fell to some unfortunate
underling who was told what he must not give away. The result was the best he
could with what was left. I suspect it was then passed from the brain-dead to
the brain-dead all the way up.


Microsoft is nailing up its own coffin from the inside.

[ Reply to This | # ]

I'm curious....
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, July 23 2007 @ 11:38 AM EDT
Does anyone reading this have a life?

Didn't think so. Maybe you should look into getting one?

[ Reply to This | # ]

Microsoft Wins!
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, July 23 2007 @ 12:09 PM EDT
Well, there's no point watching the SCO nonsense any more, MS has found a way to win what they wanted anyway. Since they now have recruited all the Linux suppliers, they are once again in complete control of the PC market. Very soon the incremental price they have always added to PCs with the Windows tax will simply be a Linux tax, and their future profits are assured. The overall strategy worked, and what happens with SCO et al is, frankly, irrelevant now. Linux is commercial, controlled by MS, and that ends it.


[ Reply to This | # ]

Lindows Returns!!!
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, July 23 2007 @ 12:48 PM EDT
M$ finally has what it wants - it's very own Linux distro. Novell / open SuSE
was never a good fit because the distro depends too much on outside developers
who would be too hard to control. Plus, the SuSE name has a foreign
pronunciation, and the theme is green. And I hear Mr. Balmer is not interested
in green things unless it's in the form of money. Xandros? Eh, sounds too
Spanish. But at least now M$ doesn't have to sue them for violating their patent
on the letter "X". Plus, M$ now has unfettered access to Corel Linux
code, paving the way for their real goal all along; the official MS branded
Linux Distro. Linspire is almost perfect. It has more users than Xandros (8),
Linspire and Microsft's legal teams know each other, and once the name is
reverted back to Lindows (with the permission of M$ of coarse, the product will
sound like it came from the brilliant "Redmond Skunkworks Dept." all
along. With just a little tweaking under the hood - changing the base from
Ubuntu to Corel OS - Linspire devolves to become the official MS Linus distro.

[ Reply to This | # ]

What Linspire Agreed To
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, July 23 2007 @ 01:00 PM EDT
OK, let me get this straight. I have at least a half dozen each of licensed COA
copies of every M$ and Windows version, from 3.0, Dos 5.0, NT Server to Server
2003, to Windows Vista, none of which are currently on any working systems.
Now M$ is saying it can sue me for using Linux from a vendor they have no
agreement with, for using patented code that can be found in the same software I
legally bought from M$ and am not using.

Am I the only person who sees an ironic conflict there?


[ Reply to This | # ]

What Linspire Agreed To
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, July 23 2007 @ 01:17 PM EDT
Wouldn't this agreement prevent Linspire from distributing any OS because of
even the GPLv2?

[ Reply to This | # ]

  • not any OS... - Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, July 23 2007 @ 01:37 PM EDT
  • Exactly! - Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, July 23 2007 @ 07:57 PM EDT
Some Very Peculiar Excluded Products
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, July 23 2007 @ 08:12 PM EDT
Microsoft has excluded certain specific products by name from this agreement under the "clone products" category. Note that they say that anything in Linspire except for these products are not "clone" (and therefore those particular products are in fact "clones", and not covered).
“Clone Product” means a product (or major component thereof) of Linspire that has the same or substantially the same features and functionality as a then-existing product (or major component thereof) of Microsoft (“Prior Product”) and that (a) has the same or substantially the same user interface, or (b) implements all or substantially all of the Application Programming Interfaces of the Prior Product. Except for Wine, OpenXchange, StarOffice, CrossOver Office and Mono, the Parties agree that the versions of Client Offerings sold, licensed, supplied, distributed or otherwise made available by Linspire before the Effective Date (“Existing Products”) will not be deemed to be Clone Products.
Wine and CrossOver Office are excluded (that is, considered to be "clones"), but that shouldn't be too surprising.

StarOffice is excluded, no doubt as it is considered to be a "clone" of (competitor to) MS Office. However, note that the agreement states that everything else already in Linspire which was not specifically excluded is not a "clone". What about OpenOffice? The Linspire web site states (Linspire Features):

Linspire's comes pre-installed with a complete office productivity software suite (Open Office 2.0) which includes Microsoft file-compatible word processing, spreadsheet and presentation software,
So, if you use Linspire, you are OK if you use OpenOffice, but not OK if you use StarOffice. This is rather an odd point of view considering that they are just two versions of the same thing and are built from the same code base. According to Microsoft though, StarOffice is a "clone" but OpenOffice isn't. Or is Microsoft just very confused about the relationship between StarOffice and OpenOffice?

Mono is considered to be a "clone" product, and is not covered under the agreement. This isn't a very friendly position considering that Mono is one of the flagship products of their star "partner" Novel. I can't find any indication that Mono (or any Mono applications) are distributed as part of the standard Linspire release, but they are available through CNR (Click N Run).

The most peculiar thing about the whole deal though is just what Linspire expects to get out of the deal. Here is how Linspire describes the deal:

Microsoft IP Protection.
We provide you the confidence of knowing that Linspire actively secures proper intellectual property licenses and assurances (...) including our arrangement with Microsoft to provide Linspire customers with Microsoft patent covenants.
Yet the Microsoft agreement explicitely excludes any applications acquired through CNR (Click N Run, Linspire's package management system). That is, all that is covered is what comes on the Linspire CD (or download ISO). On the same page where they advertise their agreement with Microsoft, they also trumpet CNR as their number 1 feature (the Microsoft deal is last, down at the bottom of the page).

Starting with the best that open source has to offer Linspire adds CNR,
It is difficult to come to any conclusion other than that Linspire feels the Microsoft IP deal is completely worthless other than for whatever PR value they think they can milk it for. It is really rather cynical to advertise as their biggest and best feature something that immediately invalidates the "IP" coverage which is also advertised as a feature.

If you think about it though, these types of Microsoft IP deals are inherently unworkable. A Linux distro without a large and easy to use package repository is hopelessly uncompetitive. It is simply not realistic to provide both a package repository and software to access it and then expect it to not be used. I suspect that Novel, Xandros, and Linspire all consider these agreements to be not worth the paper they're written on.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Sergeant Joe Friday
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, July 23 2007 @ 08:40 PM EDT
Just the facts Ma'am

As I see it M$ hasn't produced anything exciting in a long time, lots of
attempts that lead nowhere.
Now they buy Linux companies, recognition isn't all that bad.

Open source has it's shareholders to, like IBM, RHT, LNUX. Getting excited over
improved technologies and experiencing the American dream is quickly squashed by
unfair tactics of greed, corporate influence and power.

It will eventually end up in the Supreme Court, the high court will decide
Americas fate, they will either flush our society away by siding with corruption
& greed.
The High Court will correct the downhill slide this country has been on for 6

It's not just the software industry, it's housing, oil, healthcare, banking,
Wall Street and on & on.

Dividing the open source community is the goal, no negative comment here.

Congratulations to all the Linux distros that have signed deals,you are mighty
brave souls undertaking the impossible, but all that cash will ease the pain.

[ Reply to This | # ]

What Linspire Agreed To
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, July 27 2007 @ 02:02 PM EDT
Why would anyone want to use Linspire? I can't think of a reason.

[ Reply to This | # ]

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