Wednesday, May 16, 2007

The Empire Strikes Back...At Itself

Not long ago, in a galaxy distressingly close to this one...

Microsoft did make comments that "Linux violates MS patents", and threatened to sue.

Then they did make a deal with Novell to share each other's "Intellectual Property", to "improve interoperability between Linux and Windows" (which, verily, everyone in the Linux world had been doing since the Dawn of Linux anyway) and threatened to sue the customers of any distribution but Novell (SuSE) Linux, because, they quoth, Linux violateth their software patents. And Novell were sore amazed, and said "No it doth not". And everyone laughed as the God of Closed Source made mincemeat of the erstwhile God of Networking.

And it came to pass that Microsoft did offer to make a similar deal with Redhat, who told them Where To Go Today(TM) (and tomorrow).

And it so happened that in Boston, of Massachusetts, the Free Software Foundation did decide to write a clause into the next version of their favourite licence, the GPL, to obviate the patent rights of anyone who contributed code to GPL-licensed software (oh, and get rid of DRM on the side). But the God of Open Source Operating Systems rebelled, and told people he Did Not Like GPL3 and Would Not Use It in his Holy Operating System, because DRM should be defeated on pragmatic grounds, not through licensing.

So, for the first time in living memory, the God of Free Software did relent, and spake thus, saying "Thou shalt make changes that shall please Linus, of Torvalds, and we shall once more be One Big Happy Linux Family". And so Eben, of Moglen, did make these changes, and lo! The God of OSOS saw that it was good(ish). And the Linux developers did speak unto customers, saying, "Oh, ye of little faith! Can ye not see that Microsoft have not the proof of their claims, and that until ye do, we shall call them on it, naming their pronouncements FUD?"

And Microsoft did cry out, saying "No! It can't be true". But the Linux developers spake again, saying unto Microsoft "Oh, ye of little faith! Can ye not see that ye have not the proof of thy claims, and that until ye do, we shall call ye on it, naming thy pronouncements FUD?"

And seeing that their Holy Customers were aggrieved, and that Dell did promise to keep on selling the previous version of their One True Operating System, and even preinstall Linux, and that Michael Dell forsook Windows for Linux on his laptop, Microsoft did relent, and spake thus, saying "Oh, well, we still have proof that Linux violates 10 score patents, (which we will show you not)," and "oh, btw, we're not really going to sue anyone who uses Linux, of which we have proof that it violates 10 score patents (which we will show you not)".

And Microsoft customers cried out, saying "Yay! Verily we can use any distribution of Linux we like, without fear of being sued. LiveCD, LiveCD, wherefore art thou, LiveCD?"

And the Late Developer smiled, and spake unto himself, saying, "Perhaps Ye Olde Bigge Blue did call, and spake unto Microsoft, saying 'Show ye your patents, that ye believe Linux doth violate, or verily, we shall sue thy ass to Kingdom Come for these patent violations, and these, and these, and shall go publicke on them'".

And he further said unto himself, "I wonder how long it will be before Microsoft decides they aren't going to sue anyone at all for infringement of their mythical patents?"

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