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Brier Dudley offers a critical look at technology and business issues affecting the Northwest.

November 3, 2006 at 10:14 AM

Linus warm to Microsoft Linux deal, but doesn’t indemnify

I was lucky to get in touch with Linus Torvalds for today’s column on the Microsoft-Novell deal. Getting his perspective helped shape my ideas, and he gave me a terrific quote.

Wall Street has moved on to other things, like rising oil prices and interest rate worries.

Going forward I’m not sure how we’ll track the success of the partnership and its effect on Linux. Hopefully customers will make it known whether their situation improves.

Merrill Lynch analyst Kash Rangan thinks Red Hat will be benefit the most, partly because Novell’s credibility with the open-source community will decline. That’s probably why Red Hat declined to enter a similar partnership with Microsoft, he said.

I don’t think the credibility issue is that significant, especially among the big enterprise customers who are more concerned about cost, efficiency and service than the purity of their open-source software.

Rangan did make a good point about the indemnification protection that’s part of the Microsoft-Novell Linux offering. He said that’s an old issue that hasn’t limited Linux uptake lately.

“Linux/RedHat survived and thrived through the indemnification (perhaps intimidation) and patent issues raised by SCO 2-3 years back,” he wrote. “Understandably, Microsoft is raising the profile of the issue in order to secure its Windows franchise and monetize Linux synthetically, and Novell sees this as an opportunity to regain its relevance in Linux.”

It’s not the first time Microsoft has raised that issue with customers. Here’s a story about Steve Ballmer’s infamous Singapore speech in 2004. This followup story sheds light on Microsoft’s concerns about intellectual property that factored into the Novell agreement.

Comments | Topics: Enterprise, Microsoft, Open source

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