Linux

New Linux kernel release and brewing legal battles vs. Microsoft?

This week Linux released version 2.6.33 of its kernel with a few improvements and an interesting move of dumping Android support. Also, what legal battles could be brewing with Microsoft?

The first Linux Kernel release of 2010 came out this week, and while there weren't any flashy new features, it does add some improvements to graphics drivers that many users will appreciate:

Nouveau is an open source graphics driver for Nvidia graphics cards that's been built by open source developers -- that is, Nvidia didn't contribute the driver code, but rather, it was reverse engineered by the open source community.

Other news with the release of 2.6.33 is that the kernel developers are dropping support for Android, finding that the original authors of the drivers have dropped them and no longer want them in the mainline Linux kernel. If you want to know the technical reasons given for this move, see the linux kernel monkey blog for details.

Call the lawyers

If you're interested in following the latest in all the Microsoft-Linux wrangling, you might want to read Matt Ansay's post, "When will Microsoft sue Google over Linux?" Ansay recaps Microsoft's Intellectual Property claims against Linux, their ongoing patent cross-licensing agreements (most recently with Amazon), and wonders if their IP case is strong enough (I detect a high degree of skepticism) to lead them to sue Google:

Microsoft can't afford to take on a party with a big vested interest in Linux, just as it can't afford to sue the entire planet, which has moved to Linux en masse, from the U.S. government to every single company in the Fortune 500. Microsoft has lost the war. It's trying to pick up pennies at the edge of a few battles, and hoping to raise the price of Linux above $0.00.

With Italian courts convicting Google executives for the content of random video uploaded to Youtube.com, I guess anything is possible in the world of litigation.

About

Selena has been at TechRepublic since 2002. She is currently a Senior Editor with a background in technical writing, editing, and research. She edits Data Center, Linux and Open Source, Apple in the Enterprise, The Enterprise Cloud, Web Designer, and...

12 comments
public_domain
public_domain

windozer is a bully pirate just looking to steal what they can take. by default - being as microcrap is a convicted felon, they are guilty until proven innocent. quite frankly - if you look about the entire world - windozer is an american abortion gone bad.

gstrock
gstrock

MS has no problem censoring data to help Communist China suppress it's people, so what is a little law suit against Linux users? That is just business as usual for Mr. Ballmer and his multi-billion dollar company.

racegmr-23146726531002510757825927915518
racegmr-23146726531002510757825927915518

When will Microsoft stop suing everyone to make money and look like greedy asses? Make me want to go 100% open source and tell Microsoft that until they can make their money the old fashioned way, and they do, but without suing everyone else for anti-trust this, and crying over everyone wanting to move to open source and Linux because it is either free, or very reasonably priced. Cry some more to mommy Bill Gates! She can't help you stop change!

gstrock
gstrock

Free also means that Microsoft will sell Linux Licenses. Maybe that's what the war boils down to: licensed vs non-licensed software. MS will fight tooth and nail to continue to make this a licensed software world. Every PC sold with an MS OS installed is money in their wallet and a vote for licensed software.

jwhitby3
jwhitby3

Interesting thought. Unfortunately many people over look the fact that while the software is generally speaking (RHEL) freely available, the people who maintain it aren't. The third party add on software used to monitor the systems, isn't free. Etc, etc. Linux does cost money. Not that I view that as a con in any way. We use a combination of Sun...(ok Oracle's) xVM hypervisor with CentOS 5.4 Linux virtual machines. We are still a small enough company that the cost for our software is free. I like all of my counterparts throughout IT, however am not. ^_^

jck
jck

a) It feels it genuinely has a case. b) To tie up a smaller corporation in IP litigation for 2-5 years costs millions. Most smaller corps can't afford to fight the behemoth that is Microsoft. Hence, it's a financial strategy. They can sue a smaller firm, financially wreck them, then go back later and buy them out. It's cutthroat capitalism at its finest. There are already Linuxes that cost (because they have proprietary tools included), but most are free. I'm getting ready to start the 100% migration to Linux. Windows is too much to upgrade every 3-5 years for $100-250.

Dr_Zinj
Dr_Zinj

Like, where are most legal departments located in a company? Under Finance? A lawsuit is merely a risky product venture; will it make money, or will it be a loss?

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

Who uses 'non-licensed' software? Heck, who creates 'non-licensed' software?

madox99c
madox99c

It seems that when ever they come out with a new os MS brings out the lawyers. I guess you can't expect much from a company that never really made anything. Just tried to upgrade what they had. Remember Dos was written by someone else (Microsoft bought that) and windows was created by apple.

Aaron Mason
Aaron Mason

... like a lot of people don't realise, free doesn't always mean no money. It actually represents freedom in this context. It means that folks like RedHat can bundle their own flavour of Linux up and sell it for $200 and there's nothing we can do about it, but there's also nothing they can do to stop someone from selling their own flavour (or a burnt CD of RedHat's flavour, provided there aren't any closed-source or non-GPL/BSDed components) for $20, or even giving it away. RedHat can maintain IP over the materials provided with their distribution and any non-FOSS licensed, in-house contributions included on the CD(s), but that's as far as their legal arms can reach. Of course, if a closed-source system uses GPL/BSDed components, they are supposed to give credit where credit is due, and put changes they make back into the original codebase (the latter rarely happens, but if the first isn't done, FOSS operators have every right to sue for a licence violation). In summary, the software is free as in beer, not free as in no money. You can do whatever you want with it, as long as you give credit where credit is due, and give back any changes you make to the various components, as well as making sure people can access the source code if they want to. In summary of the summary, people are a problem. ^_^

Aaron Mason
Aaron Mason

I think that's what gstrock intended, even if that person doesn't see it that way. A lot of people tend to forget that there is in fact a number of licenses behind free and open source software (FOSS), they just offer a lot more freedom than most proprietary EULAe*. In the end, what it really boils down to is enterprise support. There is enterprise support for Linux just as there is for Windows, Solaris, AIX, HPUX, etc. The freedom of the platform means that any Thomas, Richard and Harrison can start a company that provides Linux support - it's really a matter of trust. Who you trust to support your enterprise architecture is up to you, and people make that decision based on what they believe and expect. (* = I think "EULAs" just sounds weird. If you don't, that's fine, I won't argue with you if you won't argue with me.)

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