Novell and the Free Software community

Posted in Free Software at 2:39 pm by Pirate Praveen

A message with great insight, which I found in the flurry of messages back and forth in all major mailing lists across India.

In a debate on question of “free vs non-free” or “role of non-free in free
conferences”, this one is drifting towards private and personal references
which can be avoided. Let not Novell get off the hook by stirring trouble
here. There are countless private conferences and symposiums going around
nearby which promote themes of non-free and patents. No free software
activist goes there to register protest.

Differences of opinion are usually accorded highest priority in a democratic
institution, as they may be revealing something very surprising or
innovative – silencing and subjugating are hallmarks of despotic or
autocratic institutions. No one expects the entire rank and file of
organisers to be aware of non-free designs; Novell could have very well
evaded such a public scrutiny before gaining entry here, especially when it
has very little public presence in Kerala.

Free Software conferences serve many purposes and we can accept that one
such method in revealing or knowing about non-free intrusions could be
through some kind of non-violent protest – stickers, posters and T-shirts
are hallmarks of FS protests. Now many of us know what Novell does, and such
an exposure on Novell coincides perfectly with the theme of our public
conference in disseminating concepts on Free Software.

Since public institutions have a say on private lives, it cannot be beyond
criticism. Just like “divine rights” cannot be placed over “human rights”,
it would be equally suicidal if we uncritically submitted to “political
rights” of any party. After all, political parties gain power only after
they appeal before citizens – notably the poor-off ones. Hence sharing dias
or approaching leaders is in no way a transgression, it falls perfectly
under rights of citizens. No established leader or representative would ever
think this way.

Here, a wrong has been committed by (a) humiliating an individual who
protests against a non-free incursion inside a Free Software conference and
disseminates non-free ideology and (b) protecting the non-free intruder to
display their non-free trickery without objections. Novell has succeeded in
driving the wedge, inflicting a kind of perfect damage to a contributors’
community and getting away scot-free.

CK Raju


  1. cyberorg said,

    November 21, 2008 at 5:49 pm

    This is a better representation of Novell and Open Source communities: http://www.novell.com/company/affiliations/

  2. Praveen A said,

    November 22, 2008 at 11:20 am

    The highlight of the Novell-Microsoft deal is the breaking of “every user gets the same rights” spirit of GNU GPL (copyleft in general). Now Novell has succeeded in dividing the community to those who pays Microsoft and those who do not.

    Now that opens door for Microsoft to sue customers using GNU/Linux. No company wants to sue its own customers, and that was the only thing stopping Microsoft from suing GNU/Linux customers, because most GNU/Linux customers were also Microsoft customers.

    Now they can get all business users to Novell and go after every one else who does not agree to pay them.

    Novell also established legitimacy to Microsoft’s patent threats on Free Software. In any patent infringement lawsuit Novell’s payments will tilt the balance towards Microsoft.

    These are not the kind of actions you expect from a member of the community. When they chose to turn their back towards the very same community that creates much of the stuff that they sell, it is only normal to expect the behavior back from the community.

    The community did not start this, Novell is responsible for their own actions.

  3. Praveen A said,

    November 22, 2008 at 2:38 pm

    in a simple way “Putting money in Temple Hundi does not absolve you robbing the bank ;-))”

    from ilugc http://www.ae.iitm.ac.in/pipermail/ilugc/2008-November/044725.html

    பொற்றாமரை குளத்திலும் தாமரை மலர்கிறது. சேற்றிலும் தாமரை மலர்கிறது.
    தாமரை தேவைதான். அதற்காக சேற்றை வாரி பூசிக் ொள்ளமுடியாது.

    Fond are we to Lotus – Divine
    Pond or Silt it may come from – for
    sure the Pond leads us to Mukthi
    Silt traps and reduces our Sakthi

    another one from ilugc http://www.ae.iitm.ac.in/pipermail/ilugc/2008-November/044694.html

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