[NCLUG] The Microsoft vs. Red Penguins Thread

Paul Hummer paul at eventuallyanyway.com
Wed May 16 08:12:26 MDT 2007

I figured it'd be better to actually make a thread out this instead of
hijacking another thread.  I've been following the NCLUG for a while
now, but have never had a chance to make it to a meeting (NCLUG or
Hacker Society), but I still feel like part of the group, and so I'll
add my two cents.

First of all, the patent study was _not_ performed by Microsoft, no
matter what Ballmer claims.  It was performed by Dan Ravicher of Open
Source Risk Management to examine how many patents are violated in the
Linux kernel.  Dan is also executive director of the Public Patent
Foundation, and he is looking to _reform_ the patent system with this
report(which I believe _should_ happen).

Microsoft gets a hold of this report, and begins generating FUD (fear,
uncertainty, doubt) on people like my Dad, who are technically inclined,
but retarded my the Microsoft virus, i.e. "there's a reason Windows is
the #1 OS.  Because it's safe.", etc...  Now with this FUD, they can go
two ways.

(1) They can open lawsuits to every single patent violation.  This may
crush smaller projects, but can you _imagine_ them trying to sue the
samba project?  Last time I saw, Jeremy Allison was working for Google
(he left Novell over the Microsoft/Novell deal).  Google's got lawyers
who aren't afraid to go toe to toe with media moguls (read: YouTube vs.
Viacom).  Imagine what happens when they step in.  So yeah, they may
kill a little RDC application or the like, but the big stuff just won't
go away.  What happens with KDE, which Microsoft is so certain violates
their patents?  Those guys are in GERMANY!  Remember how the EU feels
about Microsoft?  They've got nothing outside the US.  So they spend
millions of dollars, only for me to have to switch my Debian sources to
non-us to get my packages.
or (2), They can use this FUD to generate more revenue.  A senior
Microsoft exec released a statement saying that Microsoft did not plan
on litigation, but using the patents to create partnerships much like
the Microsoft/Novell thing.  If they can partner with Red Hat and
Ubuntu, that's pretty much a lock on the majority of linux users at that
point (I use SuSe at work, and "we hateses it").

Fighting open source is like fighting communism.  You may be able to
smash out the first few Russias, but pretty soon you've got nuclear
China looming over your head, and that's when you learn to play nice...


> So, I'm curious - is anyone else just feeling really ticked at the
> latest M$
> plot to claim Linux infringes on patents?  Surely this doesn't have
> anything
> to do with the new announcements from Dell, HP and Lenovo about Ubuntu
> being
> shipped on laptops...  Like they weren't feeling truly threatened
> until they
> realized that new systems were being shipped without Windows (Linux for
> desktop has typically been put on older PCs, not new ones)?
> I know as a "Microsoft" shop at work I'm supposed to fall in line... but
> this stuff just makes my skin crawl.  I feel all dirty every time I
> sell a
> new server or PC with Windows :)  Which is pretty much daily...  given
> that
> volume I wonder why M$ even really cares to make baseless threats (so far
> this has all been FUD- they haven't released any data on what patents
> have
> supposedly been violated).
> sorry, just had to get that off my chest...  One of my clients is a
> patent
> law firm, I'll be very curious to talk to them about this next time I
> visit.  I'll let you know what perspective they bring to it, if any.
> -DJ Eshelman
> http://www.thedeej.net

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