Taking advantage of open source developer dissatisfaction with Novell’s recent partnership and patent deal with Microsoft,Canonical CEO Mark Shuttleworth invited Novell’s OpenSuse community members to defect to the Ubuntu Linux operating system.
Ubuntu was created by Shuttleworth.
The Microsoft-Novell deal has unnerved many open source software developers who view the deal as circumventing the GNU general public license (GPL) governing at least the spirit of Linux distribution practices.
Shuttleworth’s suggestion to defect fromOpenSuse, posted to the OpenSuse developer mailing list, was attacked by Linux developers as being divisive. However, he won backing for his criticism of the Microsoft-Novell deal.
“Novell’s decision to go to great lengths to circumvent the patent framework clearly articulated in the GPL has sent shock waves through the community,” Shuttleworth wrote in his blog and on the OpenSuse mailing list. “If you are an OpenSuse developer who is concerned about the long-term consequences of this pact, you may be interested in some of the events happening next week as part of the Ubuntu Open Week,” he wrote.
Despite Shuttleworth’s call to patronize one Linux flavor over another, the Novell-Microsoft pact and discussion comes at a time when IT buyers may have more platform choices than ever, largely thanks to Linux, Interarbor Solutions Principal Analyst Dana Gardner told LinuxInsider.
Shuttleworth’s strategy is among the many unintended consequences of the Novell-Microsoft deal, which seemed rushed and was laid out in more detail only later, Gardner said.
The controversy surrounding that deal could also help Microsoft, he claimed, noting that any discord within the Linux community probably aids and abets Microsoft in offering Windows as “safe, secure and unified.”
Based on the Microsoft-Novell deal and its fallout, the entire industry is getting a close look at how open technology communities and companies work, according to Gardner.
“The notion that a vendor can have a secret or fuzzy pact with another vendor doesn’t work when the community is instant and global and seamless,” he said. “You need to be pretty open and thoughtful about your announcements.”
The same factors served to minimize recent industry concerns about Microsoft’s vague claims of intellectual property rights to Linux, which were the cause of some disharmony between the two software giants last week.
“If you’re going to work in a community, you need to recognize you’re exposed,” Gardner said. “Sleight of hand doesn’t work, and ambiguity will be exposed and discussed.”