A number of Groklaw members in Utah attended the Bruce Perens press conference yesterday across the street from Novell's Brainshare. Here are two reports, first one from Aaron, "Bruce Perens Rains on the Novell Brainshare Parade," and the second from Justin, with pictures and audio here.
With so much FUD in the air, I am glad we get our own reports like this, with audio, so we can reach our own conclusions. Aaron concludes:
The conclusion of the meeting? Nothing good is coming from this deal between Microsoft and Novell. If it were just a technical partnership, everything would be okay, but itís not. Bruce kept saying ďis this really a Novell exit strategy?Ē I canít help but wonder if it is.
Justin gave me permission to reproduce any part of his report. So let's take a look at some highlights.
Here are some highlights from his perspective:
The press conference was recorded aurally and photographically by Aaron, but here are some of the main points I found interesting. First he quoted a very lucid evaluative statement on the Novell, Microsoft deal by Richard Stallman about how the GPL in version 2 form was designed to eliminate all kinds of corporate behavior then known which violate the four essential freedoms the GPL seeks to grant creators and users of the software. One thing I found fascinating both from Bruce's conference and from talking to him beforehand is how subtle and masterfully clever Microsoft was in setting up and executing this deal. In Bruce's own words, or thereabouts: Microsoft made a deal with Novell whose effect was a serious undermining of the Free Software development paradigm. Microsoft put in place a very ponderous threat that quenches or at least gives Open Source practicing developers doubt about the very desire to participate in Free Software by making use of patent law. In the United States no nontrivial software is free from patent infringement and Microsoft can use this as a means to litigate RIAA-style against Free Software developers. Very cunning; very clever.
Microsoft always does things its own way, and they have been very clearly opposed to competition. They have dominated well in the proprietary ecosystem they largely helped create but Free Software flourishes almost Darwin-like, you could imagine, adapted to a hostile, proprietary environment by relinquishing the very traits Microsoft would think are crucial to the development of software, so in their cunning, they use Novell as a means of fatally polluting or permanently damaging the Open Source ecosystem in a way that they can no longer meaningfully threaten Microsoft's business model.
Unfortunately for Microsoft, and also for Novell as far as they are complicit, that Open Source community is very large and very diverse and hopefully anything malicious attempted will be an antigen further strengthening the community against destructive litigation....
After quoting Richard, Bruce qualifies his remarks with a preface that he cannot be an everyman representative for all Open Source developers but can protest as he sees requisite. Specifically his grievance rests upon the patent agreement. The technical partnership is commendable if it is a fair one, but the patent agreement has at least two ill effects: it sets up the possibility of an extortion racket using patent law and doctrine although clearly in bad faith with the GPL and with it Microsoft appears to believe they have purchased a new license on FUD. It may have cost them 333 Million but having carefully laid the plot this moves them into a position to bring suit against Open Source, the anomaly phenomenon it has not hitherto been effective in vanquishing.
The purpose of writing and participating in Free Software is to create and enrich a public body of great software. The GPL provides a legal framework for this style of software development, and the Microsoft-Novell agreement violates the spirit of the GPL in order to set up the spectre of patent suits against the Free Software commons.
Doesn't exactly match what you are reading in the mainstream media, does it? Thanks, Aaron and Justin, and thank you XMission for hosting the pictures and audio.