CyberTech Rambler

June 15, 2007

And the dominos keep falling…

Filed under: Uncategorized — ctrambler @ 11:35 am

First, it was Novell that signed an agreement with Microsoft, then Xandros and now Linsphire. So one may say, the dominos are falling.

Microsoft did learn from the Novell deal. Now there is no longer a patent covenant specifically aimed at Linux. Especially since this will be illegal under GPLv3 when GPLv3 is approved. Hence, they signed deals with the traditional covenant not to sue. Given the undertone of MS-Novell deal, people, like Mary Jo Foley, see this as just the same old “MS-Novell” deal. I can see their points. Most importantly, they learned not to trumpet the covenant not to sue anymore.

It looks like we are not seeing Microsoft calling Linux a cancer or commy that needs to be eradicated. Now they accept that for at least the middle term, we are going to see mixed Microsoft/Linux environment. I believe it is going on a divide-and-conquer strategy. Just look at what they promise to do for each of their partners:

  1. Virtualization (Novell)
  2. File System management (Xandros)
  3. Instant Messaging and other cute user application (Linspire)

How does this work? Fast forward to 2015 and lets assume all parties take the stuff to its logical conclusion. Who will have the best software stack? Windows or any of the three distributions? You want virtualization, file system management, users apps separately? That is fine, just use Novell/Xandros/Linspire. BUT, what if you want any combination of the three? You are stuck as there is no one MS partners here that can satisfy your need. In fact, your situation is no better than 1980-2000 Unix fragmentation scene. Wait a minute, is there an alternative which do all three? Yes, Micorsoft’s.

Sometimes you got to wonder whether the three companies had indeed signed an agreement with the devil.

On hindsight, all three companies are those likely to sign the deal. SuSE before Novell’s acquisition was known to be threading an extremely fine line with its GPL responsibility. However, it always stays on the right side. I thought Novell’s acquisition will make this a less high-wire act, but obviously I am wrong. Xandros had set out to be Windows-like. Linspire had been taking a lot of heat about its business approach.

Xandros and Linspire are small players. Niche players? May be. Something to keep in mind but not to focus attention on. Novell is the one to watch. Its agreement is more broad than the other two as Novell is a heavy weight compare to the other two.

Right now, the counter to Novell is RedHat and Ubuntu. CentOS is another important player. I will be disappointed if either of them falls for the protection racket coz that has the potential to upset the balance in favour of the community.

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