The Free Software Foundation is considering banning Linux software distributor Novell Incorporated from using new versions of a group of programs known as the GNU operating system, to punish the company for signing a patent deal with Microsoft Corporation. Novell and bigger rival Red Hat Incorporated have made a profitable businesses out of selling their own versions of Linux bundled with technical support, maintenance and other services. Novell would likely have a tough time keeping its version of Linux competitive with Red Hat if it lost access to future upgrades of GNU software. The Free Software Foundation released a draft of a licensing agreement, known as GPLv3, on Web site gplv3.fsf.org Wednesday for discussion for 60 days. If the foundation decides to ban Novell from selling the GNU programs, it could incorporate that provision into the license before it goes into effect at the end of June.
"The unforeseen agreement between Microsoft Corp. and Novell Inc., announced in November, presents grave threats to users of free software," said the foundation, adding that it made changes to the draft license "to combat this threat." It said arrangements like the Microsoft-Novell deal "make a mockery of free software, and we must do everything in our power to stop them."
"If the final version of the GPLv3 does potentially impact the agreement we have with Microsoft, we'll address that with Microsoft," Novell spokesman Bruce Lowry said, adding Novell is committed to continuing the partnership with the software giant.
Horacio Gutierrez, Microsoft's vice president for intellectual property and licensing, said the foundation's draft license did not "tear down the bridge Microsoft and Novell have built for their customers. It is unfortunate, however, that the FSF is attempting to use the GPLv3 to prevent future collaboration among industry leaders to benefit customers."
News source: InformationWeek