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Bruce Perens Rains on the Novell Brainshare Parade

UPDATE 2: Groklaw covered this post and Justin's. Comments following are insightful, and far outstretching the content here. Read more here.

UPDATE: Justin wrote up a good review of the conference on his blog. You can find his post here.

I had the opportunity today, along with John, Kyle, Justin and Mike (some local LUG members), to meet with Bruce Perens during the Novell Brainshare Conference. Although, this meeting was not part of Brainshare, and was strictly a press conference. However, the insights that were shed on the Novell / Microsoft deal were priceless.

The press conference was good. It was held at the Shilo Hotel in downtown Salt Lake City, Utah. My friends and I arrived about an hour early to help get a few details coordinated before the meeting started at 12 noon. When 12 hit, there were only a couple press present, so we were worried that a good turnout would not show. But, apparently, Novell had them held up in a Q&A session that went a few minutes over. It wasn't long before the room was filled, seating about 20 or so. The meeting lasted an hour, which went by too quickly, and was loaded with really good information.

Pete Ashdown, Democratic Candidate for the U.S. Senate last year and CEO of XMission, was present and introduced Bruce to the press. I would like to thank Pete for allowing us to use XMission to host the images and media of the event. I would also like to thank my employer introPLAY, for sharing their account on the XMission servers.

You can find all the images and audio from the event here.

Bruce Perens pictured during the meeting

A few highlights from the meeting:

  • Microsoft is spreading FUD with this deal with Novell to the Open Source community.
  • The Novell / Microsoft deal poses a real threat to Open Source due to software patents.
  • Novell and Microsoft both hope to sue end users if the Open Source Software is not purchased from them.
  • Version 3 of the GNU General Public License is written to thwart those lawsuits.
  • Every piece of software, Free and non-Free infringes on a software patent one way or another.
  • Software patents are the ability for corporations to protect themselves first and innovate later.
  • Software patents stifle Open Source Software development.

The conclusion of the meeting? Nothing good is coming from this deal between Microsoft and Novell. If it were just a technical partnership, everything would be okay, but it's not. Bruce kept saying "is this really a Novell exit strategy?" I can't help but wonder if it is. The worst nightmares of every Open Source developer is becoming a realization. The GPLv3 is our savior from a potential litigation nightmare on Open Source that will come about because of this.

At any rate, I would highly encourage you to listen to the audio provided on the XMission page. Very insightful stuff.

{ 33 } Comments

  1. Francis Giannaros using Konqueror 3.5 on GNU/Linux | March 20, 2007 at 2:42 am | Permalink

    FUD and even more FUD. I'm an Ubuntu user too but I can't stand the absolute nonsense that Perens spreads. Honestly, it doesn't take any knowledge of real logic to understand that he's speculating (almost beyond belief) on his own prejudices.

    The real gem of this day was:

    > Novell and Microsoft both hope to sue end users if the Open Source Software is not purchased from them.

    I can't describe how stupid this statement is, so I won't try.

    > Bruce kept saying “is this really a Novell exit strategy?” I can’t help but wonder if it is.

    Err, yeah. You're at Brainshare (I think they had something like 5000 people turn up), Novell's stocks are booming, and you really think they're exiting? Come on, this is quite silly.

  2. Karl Zollner using Firefox 2.0.0.2 on GNU/Linux | March 20, 2007 at 3:08 am | Permalink

    it looks like Perens is creating more FUD than Microsoft itself.

    Man Microsoft is smart they get free software developers to do their FUD for them, and don't actually have to pay for it ;)

  3. Aaron using Firefox 2.0.0.2 on Ubuntu | March 20, 2007 at 5:56 am | Permalink

    Francis- Hahahaha!! You honestly think Bruce Perens is the one spreading the FUD??? I think you need to listen to the audio excerpt.

    Karl- Novell stock is only doing well, because Microsoft is funding them. As with every other corporation Microsoft has partnered with, Novell will be swallowed up whole, then there will be only Microsoft stock. Novell was and still is a sinking ship. I would advise you too to listen to the audio, rather than pass judgment on Bruce.

    You both might learn something.

  4. Anonymous Coward using Firefox 2.0.0.2 on Mac OS | March 20, 2007 at 8:28 am | Permalink

    for you morons out there, you might want to read some of the FUD Ballmer has already been spreading.

    http://computerworld.co.nz/news.nsf/news/F1BDC941E758CE0BCC25728800190E58

  5. Aaron using Debian IceWeasel 2.0.0.2 on Debian GNU/Linux 64 bits | March 20, 2007 at 8:31 am | Permalink

    Anonymous Coward- A similar link to ZDNet was posted on Slashdot. Who's the one spreading the FUD? Microsoft or Perens. I tend to think it's the former. Just read Balmer's own words:

    http://linux.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=07/02/21/1346218

  6. Bruce Perens using Debian IceWeasel 2.0.0.2 on Debian GNU/Linux | March 20, 2007 at 11:22 am | Permalink

    Francis and Karl,

    There is always implicit in a license the threat that you'll be sued if you don't comply. Even if the license is the GPL. The implicit threat in Microsoft's license to Novell's customers is that anyone using Open Source without that license might be sued. And Ballmer has been very clear in his public statements that this is the case. So, the FUD is coming from Microsoft, and Novell takes shameless advantage of it.

    Bruce

  7. Karl Zollner using Firefox 2.0.0.2 on GNU/Linux | March 20, 2007 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

    Bruce,

    I have a great deal of respect for you and what you have done for free software. But when you make comments like :

    "Novell and Microsoft both hope to sue end users if the Open Source Software is not purchased from them."

    you seem to be going off the deep end. I have yet to see any actions form Novell would could possibly justify such a statement. By stating such you are trying to rally everyone against Novell-and the method you are using is FUD-by definition. Until you can prove such a statement you are simply speculating- speculating a worst case scenario which would post-hoc lend total credibility to your statement. any publicly held Linux company could -at any time- be purchased by Microsoft and used to attack Free Software developers.

    Shy of being bought-out by Microsoft I find it rather disingenuous of you to state that Novell plans on suing users of Free Software. And although I am sure you see them as being a sell-out let us remember that Novell, like the vast majority of software corporations, has always profited as parasites in the economy hosted by Microsoft.

    This parasitic economic form is synonymous with the for-profit software industry-and accounts for 95% of commercial software development. Redhat, Sun and Apple are the only notable exceptions to this-and both Sun and Apple have similiar deals with Microsoft(the details of which neither you nor I will ever know).

    I am vehemently against software patents and the entire proprietary software model. My disgust with the IP practices of Microsoft started long before Linux was even dreamt of.

    Your comments pose themeselves as if they reflect the actual reality, yet the facts, however, speak a different language

    Over the past years Novell has invested significant time and money in making code Free Software- additionaly they have contributed significantly to several external projects and to
    Free Software projects which they themselves host. To ignore everything they have done and are doing and to paint a picture of them ala SCO is simply nonsense.

    And Microsoft is still not suing Free Software developers. Patent-troll firms are a much greater threat to the Free Software community than Microsoft- Microsoft does not wish to sour the very IP regime which they created in the first place.

    As much as I dislike their corporate practices and politics I think you are dead wrong if you think they are going to start suing the Free Software projects for patent infringement. Of course I could be wrong-but as long as such is not the case you have no right to slander Novell due to them doing what any reasonable understanding of their corporate history would have rendered as likely and to-be-expected behavior on their part.

    I am not a fan of the recent MS-Novell deal. But being angered by this deal does not justify making such claims.

  8. Aaron using Debian IceWeasel 2.0.0.2 on Debian GNU/Linux 64 bits | March 20, 2007 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

    Karl- And what say you of Steve Ballmer, CEO of Microsoft, saying himself that he is going to sue the Open Software developers if they don't quit infringing 'his' patents? The "facts", as you refer to them, are already on the table. No litigations yet, but a company's expressly written desire to do so. Bruce isn't speculating, he's taking the intent directly from the horse's mouth.

  9. Karl Zollner using Firefox 2.0.0.2 on GNU/Linux | March 20, 2007 at 1:30 pm | Permalink

    I read those same things from Ballmer. And of course I was angered to see such stupid remarks.

    But Ballmer does not dictate or direct the legal division at Microsoft. His comments are not an expression of "Microsofts" desire. His comments are simple posturing-nothing more, nothing less.

    I guess what I am getting is at is there is a logic in work in these things-and your blog post just set me off because it is written as if this logic has not always, already been the case.

    Noone who has followed these things for any length of time can be shocked or surprised by such comments from Ballmer. If they are shocking or surprising it is because you haven't been following him closely enough to have noticed it before.

    His speech was directed at those who have a stake in the parasitic economic ecosphere which Microsoft created. By beating his breast loudly he drums up the enthusiasm of those who live by virtue of their enslavement to surplus economic spillover created by Microsoft's hegemonic position.

    Ballmer is a master at FUD, not quite as good as the Bush administration but awful damned good. Each and everytime he holds a speech in front of an audience he creates, rhetorically, an enemy, and depicts how Microsoft will defeat them. Now remeber- these enemies- are for the most part those same people who have their livelihoods vested in the parasitic economic ecosphere which Microsoft created. Microsoft is equally dependent on this ecosphere-these enemies, use their OS and other software and develop their software to be sold for MS's OS. MS has no intentions of killing off its customer base-if it did-well good, that would be suicide.

    For the foreseeable future 'enterprise' businesses will be using hybrid MS-Linux systems('solutions').Microsoft has already sold more Novell SLES licenses than Novell probably ever did alone: Microsoft does this cause they know that the personell working in these companies will still be using MS/MS-Office on their desktops for the next several years-regardless of what happens in Linux land. MS would not go to the trouble(profit) of selling these companies SLES if it were just going to turn around and sue them for using the software.

    Logic dictates what Ballmer says and Logic dictates how Microsoft leverages its IP(patents etc.). That logic is first and foremost a logic of self-survival.

    There is simply no comparison, economically speaking, between the amount of money in the entire Free Software industry, which could be won in lawsuits, and the money which Microsoft would loose by souring this parasitic ecosphere.

    And until this balance tips- and that is a long, long way off, there is simply not even a likelihood of them becoming the evil litigous corporation like SCO. SCO engaged in this behavior because the relative value of their products was insignificant in contrast to what the dreamed they could win by pursuing litigation. When Microsoft accounts for less than 10% of the market then, perhaps, they will resort to such as a last stop-gap measure to avoid bankruptcy.

  10. Gryyphyn using Firefox 1.5.0.10 on Windows XP | March 20, 2007 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

    I think that one of the core things that everyone is ignoring is what Open Source is: it's open source, not open, pre-compiled programs. The spirit of the GPL is for the program as a general term but is strictly to protect the openness of the source itself.

    If Novell or Microsoft want to sue for their programs they must write them themselves. Using Open Source code means they don't have the right to sue. GPL is a recognized standard of software release and not a court in the world would let them get away with suing users for using programs, OSs and applications published under its auspices.

    Gryyphyn, out.

  11. Irony using Debian IceWeasel 2.0.0.2 on Debian GNU/Linux 64 bits | March 20, 2007 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

    Karl's statements are baffling to me. He seems fairly deluded (optimistic?) to think that "Logic dictates what Ballmer says and Logic dictates how Microsoft leverages its IP(patents etc.). That logic is first and foremost a logic of self-survival." And since when does the CEO of a company (even a large one) "not dictate or direct the legal division". If not him then who does direct the legal division? Let me be more explicit... everyone at microsoft is ultimately responsible to the CEO. that's why he's the CEO. Sure, he says a lot of stuff for PR reasons but he still has the authority to act. Microsoft's acts in the past have shown they'll use all sorts of strategies to destroy the competition, even if the competition is not yet a direct threat. Just look at how MS dealt with Netscape and Novell. Millions of dollars make people/companies forget the past I guess.

  12. Francis Giannaros using Konqueror 3.5 on GNU/Linux | March 22, 2007 at 11:59 am | Permalink

    Aaron,

    > Francis- Hahahaha!! You honestly think Bruce Perens is the one spreading the FUD??? I think you need to listen to the audio excerpt.

    Nice comeback.

    > Anonymous Coward- A similar link to ZDNet was posted on Slashdot. Who’s the one spreading the FUD? Microsoft or Perens. I tend to think it’s the former. Just read Balmer’s own words:

    Microsoft can say whatever they want; Perens can also say whatever they want. That changes absolutely none of the facts of the way things are. Novell have quite explicitly addressed all your apparent 'issues'.

    Bruce,

    > There is always implicit in a license the threat that you’ll be sued if you don’t comply. Even if the license is the GPL. The implicit threat in Microsoft’s license to Novell’s customers is that anyone using Open Source without that license might be sued. And Ballmer has been very clear in his public statements that this is the case. So, the FUD is coming from Microsoft, and Novell takes shameless advantage of it.

    Absolutely nothing has changed for every other distro out there. If we could all apparently be sued before (it's insane that you're suggested users could be sued), then they'll be susceptible after. Nothing has been _added_.

    I honestly don't think there's a point in even attempting to speak to you, after you reach such crazily wild conclusions from a small collection of unrelated propositions.

    Let's now look into non sequitur.

  13. Aaron using Debian IceWeasel 2.0.0.2 on Debian GNU/Linux 64 bits | March 22, 2007 at 12:17 pm | Permalink

    Francis- It's not a comeback. I find your post funny, and have concluded that you have not listened to the conference. You need to listen to the audio.

    As far as your comment to Bruce, Microsoft has a track record that allows us to predict their actions. They have every intent, and most definitely the capability, to sue end-users for patent infringement. That is the goal of this agreement. Ballmer has said it himself. What more do you need? And we're the ones spreading the FUD? That's what I find funny about your post and your logic.

  14. Piter using Internet Explorer 7.0 on Windows XP | September 14, 2007 at 3:57 am | Permalink

    This site is interesting and very informative, nicely interface. Enjoyed browsing through the site.

  15. Apteka internetowa using Internet Explorer 7.0 on Windows XP | September 21, 2007 at 4:42 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for very interesting article. Can I translate your article into polish and publish at my website?
    I will back here and check your answer. Keep up the good work.

  16. Rencontre using Firefox 2.0.0.7 on Windows XP | September 26, 2007 at 7:43 am | Permalink

    I am not a fan of the recent MS-Novell deal. But being angered by this deal does not justify making such claims.

  17. Viktor using Firefox 2.0.0.6 on Windows XP | September 27, 2007 at 10:38 am | Permalink

    So why not? Lets give them the one and only Monopol status, so that they can reign over us non-intellectual people...

  18. chat using Internet Explorer 6.0 on Windows XP | October 8, 2007 at 8:40 pm | Permalink

    I am not a fan of the recent MS-Novell deal

  19. sohbet using Internet Explorer 6.0 on Windows XP | October 8, 2007 at 8:48 pm | Permalink

    Your comments pose themeselves as if they reflect the actual reality, yet the facts, however, speak a different language

  20. Tomasz Gorski using Internet Explorer 7.0 on Windows XP | October 12, 2007 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

    That logic is first and foremost a logic of self-survival.” And since when does the CEO of a company (even a large one) “not dictate or direct the legal division”. If not him then who does direct the legal division? Let me be more explicit… everyone at microsoft is ultimately responsible to the CEO

  21. Pioneer using Firefox 2.0.0.6 on Windows XP | October 15, 2007 at 4:52 pm | Permalink

    Hi Every!
    This site is interesting and very informative, nicely interface. Enjoyed browsing through the site.
    Thanks!

  22. sohbet using Internet Explorer 6.0 on Windows XP | October 18, 2007 at 6:08 am | Permalink

    That logic is first and foremost a logic of self-survival.” And since when does the CEO of a company (even a large one) “not dictate or direct the legal division”. If not him then who does direct the legal division? Let me be more explicit… everyone at microsoft is ultimately responsible to the CEO

  23. The Muse using Internet Explorer 6.0 on Windows XP | October 24, 2007 at 9:00 pm | Permalink

    Novell and Microsoft both hope to sue end users if the Open Source Software is not purchased from them.

    They actually said that? Don't you think that's taking it to the extreme? Very unproffesional too.

  24. JLGraham using Internet Explorer 6.0 on Windows XP | October 24, 2007 at 9:01 pm | Permalink

    I agree with the Muse. Are these the standards that we have come to, to threaten lawsuits as a business strategy? Pathetic.

  25. Gta using Firefox 2.0.0.11 on Windows XP | December 17, 2007 at 9:37 am | Permalink

    As far as your comment to Bruce, Microsoft has a track record that allows us to predict their actions. They have every intent, and most definitely the capability, to sue end-users for patent infringement. That is the goal of this agreement. Ballmer has said it himself. What more do you need? And we’re the ones spreading the FUD? That’s what I find funny about your post and your logic.

  26. Arts using Firefox 2.0.0.11 on Windows XP | December 17, 2007 at 9:37 am | Permalink

    I am just not convinced the market is here. More and more people are not willing to accept DRM, people are not willing to pay as much for digital content as the 'real thing,' and people still like the feel of paper. That being said though, there is the potential for a very popular service akin to the iTunes store which means libraries will have to figure out how to meet the needs of users who want content in this manner. Good summary of the Kindle!

  27. sharp aquos using Firefox 2.0.0.11 on Windows XP | December 19, 2007 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

    As far as your comment to Bruce, Microsoft has a track record that allows us to predict their actions. They have every intent, and most definitely the capability, to sue end-users for patent infringement. That is the goal of this agreement.

  28. indigo196 using Firefox 2.0.0.10 on SuSE 64 bits | December 30, 2007 at 5:46 pm | Permalink

    I have just gone through several days of trying distros and found openSUSE to be solid... its what I am using right now... but this article makes me think I might want to head back to Debian.

  29. adult forum using Internet Explorer 7.0 on Windows XP | January 1, 2008 at 1:46 am | Permalink

    Karl- And what say you of Steve Ballmer, CEO of Microsoft, saying himself that he is going to sue the Open Software developers if they don’t quit infringing ‘his’ patents? The “facts”, as you refer to them, are already on the table. No litigations yet, but a company’s expressly written desire to do so. Bruce isn’t speculating, he’s taking the intent directly from the horse’s mouth.

    ı agreee with comment good article thanks

  30. Aaron using Debian IceWeasel 2.0.0.11 on Debian GNU/Linux 64 bits | January 1, 2008 at 8:43 am | Permalink

    @adult forum- I don't mind you commenting on my site, but using an adult web page for your URL is not appropriate here. I've removed your link to keep people from visiting.

  31. mp3 indir using Firefox 2.0.0.11 on Windows XP | January 4, 2008 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

    Thanks ... ! overed Bruce Perens’ efforts to steal Novell’s thunder. Head over to pthree.org which offers the most comprehensive coverage of Bruce’s

  32. mp3 using Firefox 1.5.0.5 on Windows XP | January 8, 2008 at 7:43 pm | Permalink

    Thanks … ! overed Bruce Perens’ efforts to steal Novell’s thunder. Head over to pthree.org which offers the most comprehensive coverage of Bruce’s

  33. mp3 using Firefox 2.0.0.11 on Windows XP | January 10, 2008 at 7:32 pm | Permalink

    By stating such you are trying to rally everyone against Novell-and the method you are using is FUD-by definition. Until you can prove such a statement you are simply speculating- speculating a worst case scenario which would post-hoc lend total credibility to your statement...

{ 3 } Trackbacks

  1. [...] covered Bruce Perens’ efforts to steal Novell’s thunder. Head over to pthree.org which offers the most comprehensive coverage of Bruce’s small-yet-loud [...]

  2. [...] to similar, competitive environments that might be deployed by customers on the Personas site. Aaron Toponce blogs about Bruce Perens talking at Novell’s Brainshare, and how Microsoft and Novell will attempt to sue companies who have not purchased open source [...]

  3. Aaron Toponce : Emacs.NET? | January 1, 2008 at 9:01 am | Permalink

    [...] course, with all the FUD they’re throwing about with patent protection and what not, I can’t help but ask the question: “Who’s the innovator now?” [...]

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