Ruminations on the Digital Realm

Jan Stedehouder

Ubuntu says no, but will the Mandriva management follow suit?

On the Mandriva Cooker mailinglist there was the following request based on my earlier article that made the case that Mandriva and TurboLinux might be next to partner with Microsoft.

It is a speculation, but I think that it would be good to get a clear
statement from the management on where Mandriva stands, especially
regarding the alleged Microsoft patents.

After some words about the article referring to a non-event (true, it didn’t happen yet) and focusing more on the patent issues than on the idea of Mandriva partnering with Microsoft the original writer returns with words of concern

My point is not about giving importance to the patents, but about Mandriva taking a stand and saying clearly that they are *not* going to participate in such a scheme. Even more so because these patents are most likely not valid in Europe. That would quench these speculations.

The problem with the game Microsoft is playing is simple – even if the patents are bogus, if sufficient critical mass of distros and vendors
plays “cover your own ass” and sells out, it will be simply impossible for the rest not to join. The corporate customers will demand it,
helped, without any doubt, by Microsoft’s saber-rattling. Remember the copyright indemnifications which were unheard of until SCO came?
Everyone agreed that they have no case, but customers demanded it (and Microsoft made it a big point in their FUD), so now RedHat and Novell (AFAIK) offer it.

Even if we stay out of the ideological issues (GPL, free vs. not-free, …), this whole thing could have disastrous financial consequences
without Microsoft actually revealing the patents or spending a dime and suing anyone. For Microsoft it is a win-win situation – they get their racketeering money via the contracts, divide the community and make commercial exploitation of Linux unviable without essentially getting a cut out of each installation.

Mandriva is in a more vulnerable position that e.g. Novell or Linspire due to the fact that it is a lot more dependent on its development
community. I have no doubt that if the management decided to sign such contract, many people would leave, crippling the distro. That is why taking a clear stand is important.

The next contributor appears to be more open to the idea of cooperation:

Why should Mandriva say no before even knowing the terms of this contract ? Because it’s Microsoft ?

Of course, it is always interesting to see how your articles are being read and interpreted. Another contribution to Mandriva Cooker says the following:

For what its worth this article seems to wish for Mandriva to join MS in a patent protection pact as did Xandros & Linspire. I for one dont believe there is any merit in these so-called patent protection pacts and such a strategy short-sighted.

Me? Wishing for Mandriva to partner with Microsoft? I don’t think I wrote that. I did write that Microsoft was less of an evil company than some in the Linux community seem to be comfortable with.

But… I did not see a clear statement from the Mandriva management along the lines of Mark Shuttleworth yet. 😉

Edit: The idea of Mandriva partnering with Microsoft isn’t considered that farfetched by some Dutch Mandriva users.


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4 thoughts on “Ubuntu says no, but will the Mandriva management follow suit?

  1. Pingback: Boycott Novell » Linspire Has No Patents, So What Did Microsoft Pay Linspire For?

  2. Well, well, it looks like the Mandriva management will be making a statement soon:

    we have no plans for a deal with MS, and that comes from the top. we’ll
    put out a more detailed statement soon.



  3. This is the basic statement. It’s being cleaned up (language wise) for official publication.

    “As far as patent protection is concerned, we are not great fans of software patents which we consider as counter productive. We also believe what we see, and until we see hard evidence from, say, SCO or Microsoft, that there are pieces of codes in our software that infringe existing patents, we will assume that any other announcement is just FUD. So we don’t believe it is necessary for us to get protection from Microsoft to do our job.”

    (that’s from Francois Bancilhon). When the final version of the statement comes out, it would be appreciated if you’d update this article.

  4. Pingback: Ruminations on the Digital Realm » Archive » Mandriva will say no to Microsoft, it just needs some time to do so.

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