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

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

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

And look at this phrase from the marketing deal:

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

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

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

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

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

More details here from IT News:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Kevin MacPherson
Xandros - Product Manager
Project Management
Official Forum Moderator


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

1. Not disclosed.

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

3. No

4. No

5. No

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

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

8. Not part of the scope.

The scope of the deal focuses on 4 things.

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

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

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

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

Kevin MacPherson
Xandros - Product Manager
Project Management
Official Forum Moderator

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

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

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

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

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