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Jeremy Allison Has Resigned from Novell to Protest MS Patent Deal
Thursday, December 21 2006 @ 08:35 AM EST

The legendary Jeremy Allison (of Samba fame) has resigned from Novell in protest over the Microsoft-Novell patent agreement, which he calls "a mistake" which will be "damaging to Novell's success in the future."

His main issue with the deal, though, is "that even if it does not violate the letter of the licence, it violates the intent of the GPL licence the Samba code is released under, which is to treat all recipients of the code equally." He leaves the company at the end of this month. He explained why in a message sent to several Novell email lists, and the message included his letter to management:

"Whilst the Microsoft patent agreement is in place there is *nothing* we can do to fix community relations. And I really mean nothing," Allison wrote. "Until the patent provision is revoked, we are pariahs....Unfortunately the time I am willing to wait for this agreement to be changed ...has passed, and so I must say goodbye."

Here is his statement in full.

Update, 6:05 PM Eastern: ZDNET's Mary Jo Foley reports he has been snapped up by Google.

*********************

I have decided to leave Novell.

This has been a very difficult decision, but one I feel I have no choice but to make.

As many of you will guess, this is due to the Microsoft/Novell patent agreement, which I believe is a mistake and will be damaging to Novell's success in the future. But my main issue with this deal is I believe that even if it does not violate the letter of the licence it violates the intent of the GPL licence the Samba code is released under, which is to treat all recipients of the code equally.

In case anyone might think I gave up too easily, here is a copy of a letter I recently sent to management on this matter.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I know you don't want to hear this, I know *nobody* wants to hear this but I'll not be able to live with this if I don't say it publicly at least once.

Whilst the Microsoft patent agreement is in place there is *nothing* we can do to fix community relations. And I really mean nothing.

We can pledge patents all we wish, we can talk to the press and "community leaders", we can do all the right things w.r.t. all our other interactions, but we will still be known as GPL violators and that's the end of it.

For people who will point out to me we don't "technically" violate the GPLv2 here's an argument I recently made on the mailing lists.

"Do you think that if we'd have found what we legally considered a clever way around the Microsoft EULA so we didn't have to pay for Microsoft licenses and had decided to ship, oh let's say, "Exchange Server" under this "legal hack" that Microsoft would be silent about it - or we should act aggr[i]eved when they change the EULA to stop us doing this?"

The Microsoft patent agreement has put us outside the community, and there is no positive aspect to that fact, and no way to make it so. Until the patent provision is revoked, we are pariahs.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Unfortunately the time I am willing to wait for this agreement to be changed to remedy the GPL violation has passed, and so I must say goodbye.

SuSE Linux is technically one of the most advanced Linux distributions, and I am proud to have been a small part of the Team that helped create it. Working at Novell has been a great deal of fun for me, and I will miss many of the great people I have worked with here.

Jeremy Allison.


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