Speaking of Linux and the spirit of open source

Novell has just pronounced its intentions, and they are clearly not good.

It's almost shameful how paltry Novell's understanding of open source is. I don't say this to denigrate anyone personally, but when I read things like this from Groklaw I just can't understand how Novell manages to say "open source" with a straight face.

I'm all for using open source as a capitalist weapon. But this is the opposite of that. It's an attack on open source by a company that claims to espouse it. And it relies on deliberate falsehoods to propagate its still anemic success.

Pamela writes:

Justin Steinman reveals that to market their SUSE Linux Enterprise Server against Red Hat they ask, "Do you want the Linux that works with Windows? Or the one that doesn't?" It's just appalling. Let me ask you developers who are kernel guys a question: When you contributed code to the kernel, was it your intent that it be used against Red Hat?

It truly is appalling, and shows that Novell has never truly grok'd the spirit of open source (or even the letter). Justin's comment is 100 percent false, and he knows it's 100 percent false. He's not stupid. But this comment indicates a willingness to trade truth for cash, and that is wrong. And not merely because it's still a pittance compared to what the pureplay Linux vendor is pulling in.

Pamela writes further:

How can Novell not care about that? They are benefiting from code that was written by people who are now not protected from patent claims from Microsoft, and Novell is making money from doing a deal with the company threatening them. All the money they are making is hence tainted. They didn't write that code 100 percent, after all. They didn't write most of it. I don't think anyone cares if Novell wanted to sign some deal about Mono or Moonlight or any code they actually did write. But taking other peoples' code and going against their wishes, as reflected in the license, is not acceptable and it never will be. Money doesn't make it right. Broader acceptance of Linux now doesn't make it right either, if it threatens the long-term survival of Linux by altering the Open Source development model in a way that prevents Linux and FOSS from flourishing.

Novell doesn't need to urinate in the pool from which it hopes to build its future, but that is precisely what it is doing. It can and should do better.

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About the author

    Matt Asay is chief operating officer at Canonical, the company behind the Ubuntu Linux operating system. Prior to Canonical, Matt was general manager of the Americas division and vice president of business development at Alfresco, an open-source applications company. Matt brings a decade of in-the-trenches open-source business and legal experience to The Open Road, with an emphasis on emerging open-source business strategies and opportunities. He is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not an employee of CNET. You can follow Matt on Twitter @mjasay.

     

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