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Does Linux belong to Microsoft?

By Kiltie ·
In a recent Q&A session, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer declared his belief that the Linux operating system infringes on Microsoft's intellectual property.

I won't post any links, the tech news is buzzing about it.

Is not paying SCO to sue IBM and buying out Novell not enough?

(these aren't my comments, I've been just reading news, but i am concerned.)

Any comments folks?

EDIT: an obvious typo

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No. But...

by TechExec2 In reply to Does Linux belong to Micr ...

No. Microsoft does not own Linux. But, from Microsoft's point of view, Linux violates Microsoft's intellectual property (patents). Of course, they think they own ALL software. So that must be factored in.

If you research the U.S. Patent and Trademark office, Microsoft has MANY registered patents on all manner of things that are included in Linux. Other companies do as well. For example, patent hound IBM promised to not sue anyone running Linux over IP rights.

Software patents are a mess. People are getting registered patents for all sorts of nonsense and the only way to deal with it is an expensive lawsuit in court. Most people who are sued settle. This is just wrong.

I cannot name anything specific because I have not researched it. But, I guarantee that Windows contains lots of technology that is patented by others. That is why when Microsoft settles its many lawsuits, it "always" works in a patent cross-licensing agreement. Patents are a threat to Microsoft too.

So, I think there is room to be concerned about Microsoft. They are devious and treacherous. This deal with Novell makes it a requirement that Linux users pay Novell (who pays Microsoft). This takes some of the cost advantage away from Linux and makes Windows more attractive by comparison. If you're going to be paying for it anyway, why not run Windows...

But, in the end, I think most people choose to run Linux on servers and workstations for reasons beyond license cost. Linux will not be killed due to Microsoft's actions. I wouldn't worry. But, you may have to pay someone something (who pays Microsoft) one day.

P.S. This thread of yours is likely to provoke a reaction...

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I am aware of that:

by Kiltie In reply to No. But...

P.S. This thread of yours is likely to provoke a reaction...

Which is why I am framing things as questions, no opinions from my side ..... yet.

I have several more questions to add, but I think this discussion is significant, it deserves an article or major blog about it.
In the meantime, I hope this thread opens an area for opinions and attitudes to be discussed.

Ty for your comments TE, much appreciated mf. I hope for much more input here, while I do have an opinion, it is not engraved in stone.

I am sitting on the fence here, reading, watching, listening.....

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I think that many people are right with you

by w2ktechman In reply to I am aware of that:

on that fence.
I decided to hold my thoughts since the Novell deal. Now it seems to be clearing up those clouded skies though, Novell can use services and MS will sue all other Linux providers..... Maybe I should hold opinions for another time still. It doesnt look good though.

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Follow the money

by aad0002 In reply to No. But...

Your theory may turn out to be the simplist explanation and
that may mean the best explanation.

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I do beleive that the time has come

by drew6235 In reply to No. But...

For the justice department to Declare Microsoft a hostale monopoly. They controll 90% of the desktop market, 98% of the office software market, 94% of the browser market. IF this was a phone company, car company, ****, even a toy company, it would have been broken apart and highly regulated by our dear old uncle sam. Whay this has not happened in this case, one can only speculate. The patant mess aside, the truth is that windows was a knock off of the X-windows developed by xerox (as wall as the apple os) and linux is just basically an os inspired by unix. If enythig, microsoft should have to pay xerox royalties on the concept of a windowed OS. Microsoft is so politically and financialy powerfull that they can do as they please. On a positive note, the fact that they are asserting that linux "could be violating certain patents" is a sign that linux has matured enough to be a slight threat (I hardly think that 4% of the desktop market is much of a threat). As consumers, we should worry about our like of choices and that we are at the mercy of a monopoly. The kind of monopoly that will buy what it can't destroy with law suits.

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The Novell-Microsoft deal is troubling.

by stress junkie In reply to Does Linux belong to Micr ...

I read another post or blog here at TR that basically said that Microsoft got Novell to pay for IP to create a legal precedent. That precedent then creates a jumping off point for Microsoft to sue other Linux producers. That could include Linus Torvalds' group.

Novell had for years taken the position that they would protect their Linux customers from litigation. They made this offer when the SCO people were gaining some momentum with their lawsuits. Currently Novell and IBM make this same offer to their Linux customers. IBM certainly has the money to back up their offer. I doubt that Novell can say the same thing. Novell may be concerned about lengthy and costly litigation. I can't imagine any other reason for them to make any deal with Microsoft. The key components in a Linux environment that might infringe on Microsoft patents involve add on products that Novell includes in their distributions.

The most serious affront to Microsoft IP is Samba, which is becoming an Active Directory emulator with single sign on authentication into an AD environment. Well of course that's because Microsoft simply hijacked Kerberos and LDAP to create Active Directory but it still may cause some people to think about whether this is a legitimate IP infringement.

Novell has made me very angry creating this alliance with Microsoft. Novell doesn't own Linux so Novell's actions don't directly affect Linux. If worse comes to worst we still have the BSD systems.

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), never left BSD

by DanLM In reply to The Novell-Microsoft deal ...

Sorry, I couldn't resist stress.

I am like Kiltie, I am reading and watching. Truthfully, I am worried. Especially since I read your comments on Samba.


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How about this scenario?

by Kiltie In reply to Does Linux belong to Micr ...

Suppose M$ offer $10 billion to Linux Torvas guaranteeing not to sue him,
for whatever reason, provided he ........... (fill in the blank yourselves)?

Who can possible refuse such an offer?
Who has the resources to stand up to a battalion of M$ lawyers?

I couldn't survive such an offer, could you?.

They have the money, they have the legal team of overpaid lawyers.

What would happen?

Is it not a nightmare scenario?

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Not a nightmare scenario

by TechExec2 In reply to How about this scenario?

It's not a nightmare scenario because of the GPL. Linux is not owned by Linus Torvalds. Microsoft can buy people (e.g. Novell in their deal), but not Linux.

If the community were sufficiently dissatisfied with anything Linus did (unlikely), it could fork the Linux kernel and continue working without skipping a beat.

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Can I ask a question?

by DanLM In reply to Not a nightmare scenario

The GPL which covers most distributions. Is this license binding to the point that MS can not claim ownership?

Or, are they saying that part of the product that makes up the item covered in the GPL owned by them, thus voiding that license?

That probably sounds like a really stupid question, and I apologize.


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