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Novell CEO addresses patent concerns

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SUSE

Novell CEO Ron Hovsepian has issued a public letter addressing concerns about the recent agreement between Novell and Microsoft and how it might impact Linux customers. The letter does not appear to be available on Novell's homepage so far, so I will reprint the full text here:

Open Letter to the Community from Novell
November 20, 2006

On November 2, Novell and Microsoft announced a significant, multi-part agreement to work together to improve the interoperability between Linux and Windows and for Microsoft to redistribute more than 350,000 subscriptions for SUSE Linux Enterprise to the Windows customer base over a five-year period. This agreement is at the heart of what IT users demand -- to deploy both Linux and Windows, and to have them work well together -- and many companies have spoken out in support of this new cooperation.

Customers told us that they wanted Linux and Windows to work together in their data centers, and so we agreed to develop new technologies and standards in server management, virtualization and document file format compatibility. CIOs want to focus on their business, and they want their suppliers to focus on improving operating system interoperability. The Linux community will benefit from the creation and release of the open source code to improve Linux's interoperability with Windows that will result from this agreement.

Our interest in signing this agreement was to secure interoperability and joint sales agreements, but Microsoft asked that we cooperate on patents as well, and so a patent cooperation agreement was included as a part of the deal. In this agreement, Novell and Microsoft each promise not to sue the other's customers for patent infringement.

Full Story.

Novell replies to the community and Microsoft

Novell CEO Ron Hovsepian today issued an "Open Letter to the Community from Novell," in which he defends his company's recent accord with Microsoft, and challenges recent statements made by Microsoft on the topic of Linux and patents.

In the weeks since Novell and Microsoft announced this agreement, many open-source figures have objected strongly to it. In particular, the agreement on patents has drawn the ire of open-source programmers, like The Samba Group; open-source supporters such as Pamela Jones, editor of Groklaw; and rival Linux distributors such as Red Hat.

Some open-source figures have defended Novell's move, but for the most part the open-source community has rejected the move as being potentially very harmful to Linux.

Hovsepian opens his letter by reminding the community that the patent deal was only part of the agreement. He states that Novell and Microsoft have also agreed to work to improve Linux and Windows interoperability, and that Microsoft will distribute "more than 350,000 subscriptions for SUSE Linux Enterprise to the Windows customer base over a five-year period. This agreement is at the heart of what IT users demand -- to deploy both Linux and Windows, and to have them work well together -- and many companies have spoken out in support of this new cooperation."

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