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Re: Time for some license prioritization

From: Aragorn
Subject: Re: Time for some license prioritization
Date: Thu, 23 Nov 2006 06:39:22 GMT
User-agent: KNode/0.7.6

On Thursday 23 November 2006 05:28, Geico Caveman stood up and addressed the
masses in /comp.os.linux.misc/ as follows...:

> Linux Torvalds and many other respected people in the community are hung
Linus... ;-รพ

> up over the DRM provisions of GPL v3 draft. The rest is fine with them. In
> the meantime, Moglen and others are trying to add some even more cast iron
> features to the license that make the clear violation in spirit, and
> probable violation in letter of GPL v2 like the Novell deal impossible.

And they should!  I do like your eloquent wording of this, by the way:
"[...] the clear violation in spirit and the probably violation in letter

These are words that should definitely stick to the minds of all those who
care about the Free & Open Source Software movement.

> I think that these additional features are definitely more important in
> their immediacy than the DRM issue - where there are some good arguments
> for Linus' stance.

>From the strictly technological point of view - and this is mainly Linus's
vantage - Linus is correct in his objections against DRM.  I myself however
am more partial to the renouncing of DRM as per Richard Stallman's views.

Various reverses have been used to word DRM in plain English, but for me -
regardless of what the original meaning is - it stands for "Digital
Restrictions Management" - and to effect, this *is* what DRM imposes - and
I consider that to be an impediment of Freedom.  

The concept of "intellectual property" as coined /ad/ /nauseum/ by the likes
of Microsoft is a pure sham, intended to make the richer even richer and
the poorer even poorer, just as Microsoft's whole philosophy is not about
delivering software to the masses but about controlling the masses through
a monopoly.  

DRM, how ever evil it may already be, is only the tip of a much larger and
(luckily) as yet still unexplored method of restricting Freedom and the
free access to information and technology to the masses.  

Knowledge belongs to the people, period.  That is the only way - and not the
making of several billion dollars a year or starting wars by invading
sovereign nations - that the human race will ever evolve technically and
ultimately save its own buttocks from extinction.

The above all for the record, of course. ;-)  They are my personal
convictions, but I believe them to be sufficiently backed up by the Free
Software Foundation and the Open Source Initiative to be acccounted for as
valid objections.

> I think that Stallman and Moglen should be persuaded to delay the DRM
> related stuff to GPL v4 and instead add the traitor killer stuff to GPL
> v3, get the community united on it and get it out of the door.

At the onsight of the current events - just goes to show that Murphy's Law
does apply in all circumstances, even if only as a consequence of Occam's
Razor ;-) - I think that given the current atmosphere of debacle between
Linus Torvalds (and OSI) and Richard Stallman (and FSF) regarding DRM, they
should indeed postpone this debate until a later time, when imminent
threats such as this Microsoft-Novell collaboration - I am now using the
word "collaboration" in the exact same meaning as when it was used to
describe the voluntary cooperation of the people here in Belgium and other
invaded countries with the Nazis in World War II - are resolved.

First and foremost, Novell's betrayal should be examined for its legal and
community implications, and both Linus and RMS should join forces at
combatting this moral and most likely legal abuse.

> I have no doubt that a fair trial will expose Novell's position on their
> deal's alleged non-violation of GPL v2 to be a lie, but these legal
> proceedings can take years, years that will allow Novell to survive as a
> Linux vendor and steal code from developers.

Indeed.  With the SCO lawsuit against IBM freshly in mind, I think it's
pretty safe to say that given enough incentive, corporate lawyers can beat
around the bush for a very long time and allow or cause all sorts of mayhem
to happen in the meantime.

In addition, Microsoft is certainly not unexperienced at stonewalling, since
they were first of all convicted by the EU after a very long procedure -
have they in the meantime already paid up?  Does anybody know? - and
secondly they were also one of SCO's most important financial benefactors
during the time that SCO had already begun suing IBM with their ridiculous
claim of allegedly stolen proprietary SCO UNIX code in Linux kernel 2.7, a
kernel that doesn't even exist yet and probably for a long while still
won't see first light.

> I think Novell should be struck totally and immediately.

It has already been coined in another newsgroup - in a debate in which I was
involved myself as well - that Novell might be the next Caldera.  I cannot
for the life of me believe that Novell fell into this trap unwillingly -
not a company like Novell, with years of experience in the IT field and
with loads of cash to hire or buy the best legal advice around - and so I
really do see no other logical option than that they deliberately screwed
over the FOSS community here.

This whole deal is of course shrouded in FUD - as per Microsoft's
longstanding tradition - but a company like Novell surely needn't have had
any fear of Microsoft enough to make them buy the FUD.  

Therefore it must be deliberate, and then I sincerely wish - with my deepest
regrets and condolences towards the community of SuSE users and towards its
developers [1] - that Novell goes the way Caldera OpenLinux went. 

Caldera's revised license of their GNU/Linux offerings lead them to become
scorned, and although they are to my knowledge - under the name The SCO
Group, of course! - still offering a GNU/Linux distribution under this
illegal license, the whole of the GNU/Linux and FOSS community has left
them for what they were and went shopping elsewhere.  

If their distribution is still actually being used today, then it is
probably only by corporate entities who are no more intelligent than those
corporate entities who currently use Microsoft Windows as their server

[1] Unfortunately - and as I have mentioned in the thread on this subject in
the other newsgroup I spoke of earlier - many of the official kernel
maintainers and maintainers to userspace tools for GNU/Linux are currently
employed by SuSE.

To name but a few, Greg Kroah-Hartmann is the developer of /udev/ and is
also responsible for the intermediairy /patch/ releases to the official
stable Linux kernel tree - e.g. the current kernel - and Andi
Kleen is one of the most prominent developers of the /x86-64/ branch of the
Linux kernel tree.

Should it come to a breach between Novell/SuSE and Linus Torvalds, then it
still remains to be seen what these two very important people - and there
are many other equally important developers! - will do.

The only word that springs to mind almost automatically with this all - and
I'm not even a natively English speaker, mind you - is *poison...*

> They say they will fork anything that goes under GPL v3. Oh yeah, fork the
> kernel, fork the toolchain gcc, libs, emacs, and the small matter of about
> half a million open source pieces of code, etc. Go ahead - make my day.
> Even the combined manpower of Novell, Microsoft, IBM, etc. could not
> possibly take that on.

Indeed, they couldn't.  And even if they could, I doubt that it would be a
good thing for the non-technical GNU/Linux users.  People are already
scared enough of technology as it is - evidence of which can be ascertained
from the success of Microsoft's "Get the FUD" campaign among all the
newbies and the ignorant people who just buy a SOHO PC without knowing
anything about operating systems and are unvoluntarily shoved a Windows
license under their noses via a pre-installed copy - and so they certainly
don't need to be scared even more by any possible legal implications.

But then again - not that it makes any difference to us as GNU/Linux
advocates - Microsoft has a sufficient enough amount of well-paid lawyers -
as does Novell - and a sufficient enough grudge against Free & Open Source
Software in general and GNU/Linux in particular that this might just have
been their exact intention.

It's not too far-fetched to presume that the legal confusion tactics - as
well as the superficial bonus of cleaning up their reputation by being the
ones "who reached out their hand to the GNU/Linux community" - were
Microsoft's prime objectives, not to mention the "divide and conquer"
benefits of this initiative, because - as I stated earlier - several of the
Linux kernel developers and developers to important userspace tools such
as /udev/ are employed by Novell/SuSE, and this could lead to various
imbuings with poisonous bile, as I will expound on briefly here below...:

(a) Suppose that Linus Torvalds is all okay with it.  Greg Kroah-Hartmann
and Andi Kleen - both very fine people - stay on as kernel developers. 
Microsoft will then have a claim - even if it is based only on reasonable
doubt - that proprietary code - notably Novell's - is being inserted in the
official kernel tree, and they could then use Novell as a sockpuppet the
way they have done with The SCO Group.  Not that The SCO Group was
complaining about being an MS sockpuppet, mind you...!

Result: A painstakingly long lawsuit with a lot of bickering back and forth
between lawyers over things that may not even have anything to do with the
case anymore, as is typical for Microsoft and as it has been seen during
the SCO vs. IBM lawsuit.

(b) Suppose that Linus Torvalds is not okay with it all and decides that
Andi Kleen, Greg Kroah-Hartmann and various others are no longer accepted
as developers for the official Linux kernel tree out of the concern for the
legal implications mentioned in (a), without that it should even be
questioned whether Greg K.-H. and Andi K. would even be so dishonest as to
include real or alleged proprietary code into the Linux kernel tree.

Result: Microsoft's /divide/ /et/ /conquere/ has worked, and Linus has to go
headhunting for several equally proficient developers as the ones he's just
lost because their employer was in league with The Evil Empire(TM).  At the
same time, all of what Novell releases with regard to GNU/Linux will be
forked under a possibly proprietary license, or at the very least something
that allows exploitation by proprietary software developers, like the BSD

(c) Option number three...: Greg Kroah-Hartmann, Andi Kleen and all other
fine Linux kernel developers currently employed by Novell/SuSE either quit
their jobs at Novell/SuSE, or at the very least - they too have families to
feed - sign an agreement that states that they will not submit any work on
the development and testing of any code from the Linux kernel tree under
their title as Novell/SuSE employees, and that thus any code they continue
to submit to the Linux kernel tree and related projects is to be regarded
as being their own personal work, void of Novell's interests and

Result: Forking still occurs, and Novell will stick to its own versions of
the Linux kernel and the userspace GNU code, based upon that which was
allowed under GPLv2, while Linus still continues developing the kernel with
the help of Greg, Andi and the others, albeit that they will now have a
double job on their hands, i.e. the stuff they do for the upstream Linux
kernel and the stuff they'll need to do for Novell/SuSE's specific kernel. 
Pressure may then rise so high on these people that they'll eventually have
to make a choice and resign from either of both projects.

(d) Richard Stallman and Linus Torvalds join their not insignficant
respective intelligences in trying to work this out the best possible way. 
I have a lot of confidence in these people and it would certainly be very
arrogant of me to presume that they won't be able to resolve this current
situation and any future threats it currently still obscures from our
eyesight, but it'll be a tough break.  

It'll be tough because of the evil genius at work here, and it'll be tough
because of the current differences of opinion between Linus and RMS over
the whole DRM issue.  They're going to have to look beyond that if they
want to tackle Microsoft in what is without any doubt one of its most
dangerous anti-FOSS moves ever.

Like the man says...: Hope for the best, expect the worst... :-/

> Two years from now, when we are all running Linux kernel 2.8.x, with gcc
> 5.5 or so, Novell will still be peddling Linux kernel 2.6.22 with gcc 4.1
> with outdated apps promising its increasingly dubious customers that its
> products are still this century, while fighting a losing court case trying
> to to defend its violation of GPL v2.

Well, I doubt that there will be a Linux 2.8.x two years from now, given
that Linus has announced to have no plans whatsoever as of yet to start
with a 2.7 branch. ;-)

But the above would corroborate with the scenario I wrote above under the
paragraph labeled (c).  It is a possible scenario.  They all are.  But
either way, until Linus and RMS work this out - provided that they even
*can* - we're all going to be swallowing bitter pills for a while, because
the situation is already here and the community is already starting to get
draped in FUD.

> Novell has made its bed. Its laid down with the snake. Its common courtesy
> for us to supply the covers and switch off the light.

That would be the right thing to do, but I'm afraid that it won't _that_
easy... :-/

With kind regards,

(registered GNU/Linux user #223157)

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