.NET News Desk
Is Ubuntu Linux Next After Novell, Xandros and Linspire?
Canonical's billionaire CEO took to his blog to squelch speculation that Canonical and Ubuntu would be next
By: .NETDJ News Desk
Jun. 24, 2007 03:30 PM
Canonical's billionaire CEO Mark Shuttleworth took to his blog over the weekend to squelch speculation that Canonical and Ubuntu would be next to follow in the steps of Novell, Xandros and Linspire and cut a patent deal with Microsoft, deals he calls "trinkets in exchange for air kisses."
That of course doesn't mean it won't somehow happen.
Anyway, Microsoft really wants Red Hat and Red Hat, like Canonical, also says it won't deal, complaining that the "unsubstantiated tax lacks transparency."
Shuttleworth says he doesn't think Microsoft's patent claims have "any legal merit, and they are no incentive for us to work with Microsoft on any of the wonderful things we could do together. A promise by Microsoft not to sue for infringement of unspecified patents has no value at all and is not worth paying for. It does not protect users from the real risk of a patent suit from a pure-IP holder….People who pay protection money for that promise are likely living in a false sense of security."
Shuttleworth, however, thinks any interoperability breakthroughs Microsoft and its Linux pals make are dandy and "will no doubt be free software and will no doubt be included in Ubuntu."
On the other hand, he doesn't think Microsoft's OpenXML specification can be trusted "to deliver a vibrant, competitive and healthy market of multiple implementations" or that it's "good enough" or that Microsoft "will hold itself to the specification when it does not suit the company to do so."
"As far as I'm aware," he said, "Microsoft hasn't even certified that their own Office 12 completely implements OpenXML, or that OpenXML completely defines Office 12's behavior."
He prefers the OpenDocument Format (ODF) and invited Microsoft to join the OASIS ODF working group, saying it "would be "a far more constructive open standards approach than OpenXML, which is merely a vague codification of current practice by one vendor."
The fact that OpenXML has been standardized by ECMA and is on a fast track to ISO standardization doesn't seem to impress Mr. Shuttleworth.
He continued: "I have no objection to working with Microsoft in ways that further the cause of free software, and I don't rule out any collaboration with them, in the event that they adopt a position of constructive engagement with the free software community. It's not useful to characterize any company as 'intrinsically evil for all time.' But I don't believe that the intent of the current round of agreements is supportive of free software, and in fact I don't think it's particularly in Microsoft's interests to pursue this agenda either. In time, perhaps, they will come to see things that way too."
Anyway, Shuttleworth didn't mention it, but in April Canonical, which uses proprietary code in its Linux distribution, joined the Open Invention Network, the IBM-instigated mutual deterrence league that promises Ubuntu developers and users IP protection in case Microsoft sues. Its OIN membership kinda restricts its moves.
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