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Ubuntu Open Week - OpenSuSE Invite Discussion - Wed, Nov 29, 2006
07:02 sabdfl we called this particular session to discuss my invitation to the opensuse folks to join us in the open week 07:03 sabdfl fire away 07:04 sabdfl so far so good :-)
Circus-Killer: what exactly were your initial intentions when you did that invite?
- simply to make sure opensuse folks know about this Ubuntu Open Week
mattl: If you could do the invite again, what would you change?
cronholio: had you known the reactions beforehand, would you still have posted that invitation to your blog and/or the list?
- i think i was blunt in the preamble to the invitation. it would have been better to focus on the opportunities to collaborate between the distros, which are also interesting. hopefully some opensuse folks are here, and those opportunities will get explored. i AM very concerned about the novell deal and i know that many very senior open source developers feel the same way. at least, those who understand how devastating a firm patent claim by microsoft would be. i feel the novell folks who did the deal either did not realise what a potential trap they were walking into, or just ignored it in favour of the cash. either way, its alarming
brent_cool: Would Canonical ever consider any kind of deal with Microsoft, after careful consideration of the impact? Or is *any* deal with Microsoft always completely out of the question due to Microsoft's past?
- we actually have an open line of communication with different folks at microsoft. i exchanged mail with someone today who contacted me based on the comments i've made recently. i'm not opposed to microsoft on principle - they've done a lot of good in the world. it would be trite to take such a black-and-white view. however, they play a very hard game, and right now i think we are seeing the beginnings of a push back against linux. part of that push back is competition - office 12 is going to be very cool. good for them. they are stepping up. part of it is community - i think they have been studying community, and working out how they can get some of that vibe into their own scene. hence the blogging, hence the open bug trackers, hence codeplex, hence their shared source licence. all of that is cool. and i would work with them on that sort of thing. however, there's clearly a part of microsoft that just wants to be able to stop linux in its tracks, and right now I think patents are at the top of their list for that. so we have to be very, very careful. listening to Nat Friedman the other day, he said that Novell initiated the deal, and Microsoft then "just slipped in this patent idea". well, that was naive. it's abundantly clear that this is a significant thrust back from microsoft. if it succeeds, it will mean that linux can never be made freely available. debian, fedora, ubuntu, gentoo would all effectively be illegal in places where microsoft files patents. they file a lot of patents in south africa, for example. so, to sum up, i would work with microsoft on some things, compete on others. on the patent issue, i think we need a furious defense
freakcode: How do you see it affecting Ubuntu. I mean, like Novell suporting and developing apps for GNOME, that Ubuntu makes use (F-Spot as example). If I'm not wrong, it uses Mono. Is there any "fears" about those components, being taken off in the next release, in order to avoid future problems with Novell?
- at this stage we have no plans to change package selection based on these events. i don't believe that microsoft actually plans lawsuits in the short term. however, we need to make it clear that option is not open to them, so they focus on pure competition.
highvoltage: QUESTION: Mark, have you read http://www.tectonic.co.za/view.php?id=1281 , and do you think that it is appropriate that my local company go in and advise them about Ubuntu?
- yes, i think a commercial response will send a strong message as would developers leaving to work elsewhere
corstar: have you noticed, Novel has stopped development support for HULA? Do you think this is a trend that will sadly continue after "The Deal"?
i don't think the HULA decision was related to the deal. too much conspiracy there
daxelrod: What is the Ubuntu agreement with Mozilla? Does it propagate to Ubuntu derivatives?
- simply that we maintain an open line of communication, and they are happy for us to use the firefox brand at the moment. in future, of course, we might go in different directions, but both fo us are committed to working out whatever issues arise. w.r.t. derivatives, ubuntu would be a natural conduit for the necessary discussions. derivatives are free either to work within that, or fork
mattl: Have you had any contact with any execs at Novell since they made the announcement, or since your post?
- no formal contact, only conversations with angry developers
rejden: regarding novell and microsft deal about patent issues which now are mostly applyable only in us the opensuse community suffered some kind of stress about that deal. Will ubuntu/canonical prefer to have similiar agreements with the IPR holders, or even cross-patenting with competition or you will prefer to stay on the other side (lets say the real 4 freedoms as defined by the GPL)?
- its clear we need to take a more active stance on patents. we'll review the situation and make announcements in that regard when we're ready. for now, its clear our public position is one of strong opposition either to the existence of software patents or to their use to block access to markets by free software developers. in particular, i'm concerned about the chilling effect of patent threats on the willingness of developers to contribute to free software
LoudMouthMan: Mark unlike other distros your far more visible as a figure head (in my opinion ) and therefore you are a target for criticism when you post any comments. How do you feel about that ?
- Sometimes I wish my feet tasted better. It's particularly difficult in cases where I have very strong personal opinions. the good thing is that this is an open community, so members express their own opinions just as loudly. we have had several ubuntu folks publicly take a different position to me, and i like that
fliegenderfrosch: Were you surprised by the largely negative reactions?
- I knew it would be controversial, I said as much in the mail
kalon33: What do you think is great in Suse that we haven't in Ubuntu ?
I think they have some excellent configuraiton management in YaST that I would like to see in Ubuntu. PPPOE, apparently. also, server side config. contributions welcome for the rest, i haven't ever used it so can't comment
rejden: adding to my previous one, did Canonical made any patents/trademark/copyright (IPR) except the legal trademarks of the names and logos? In EPO (European Patent Office) or in United States. Is Canonical considering applying to make patents in the future? What kind of patents that will be?
- no, we have never filed for patents, though we often say "gee, this would be a great patent" when we are working on new code. there's a lot in bazaar, from example, that would have been patentable before we released it as GPL, same in LP and of course int he core distro, our livecd approach, ltsp work etc but we have never filed for patents
KHatfull: If Microsoft does pursue IP suits against Linux how would the Linux community be able to defend itself? Would there be enough evidence to support the notion that there's no Microsoft IP currently being distributed?
- It's quite possible that there is code in Linux which does infringe a Microsoft patent. In general, the response could be threefold.
- (1) show that Microsoft in turn violates a patent, or more, which is held by a Linux-supporting company, thereby acting as a deterrent (2) Rework the code to avoid the specific terms of the patent (3) Agree to pay patent fees
popey: Do you feel this deal taints the developers who work for Novell on FLOSS products such as SAMBA?
- No. I think the developers were entirely out of the loop on this one. There may have been some senior guys who heard about it before the announcement, but I don't think this was a deliberate step from the developer side
KHatfull: If Microsoft decides to pursue IP suits and Ubuntu, as a very high profile distro, becomes a target, how vigorous a defense will you/Canonical be able to mount?
- We are particularly vulnerable to this. We have no patents with which to mount a deterrent. Nor do we have deep pockets for a protracted lawsuit. That's just how it is. So you can see why I'm very concerned. The same is true of all the distros which aim to be freely available. I'm interested to know how the Microsoft deal relates to OpenSUSE. It's easy to see how a paid product, like SLED, could include the fee to pay Microsoft ("to not sue you") but with a free, community product, it's not possible to collect the fee
corstar: so, would you guys "ever" patent anything(to protect Open source). Or does that go against the FOSS?
- if we did file patents, we would licence them to GPL implementations, freely.
Nat_: Novell, Red Hat, IBM and others put a lot of resources into funding the Open Invention Network and providing it with patents to use to protect Linux in case someone decides to sue a Linux user or distributor for patent infringement. Will Canonical participate in OIN?
- We've asked IBM for further details on OIN. We have no patents to contribute, and do not have deep pockets, but it may be that our participation is useful from other perspectives. if so then they may be willing to let us in on terms that would work for us. and then yes, that would be something we could do
tuxub: Mark, do you think that european community has enough strong will to stand up against microsoft patent politics and, maybe in a few years time, make a turn to openly embrace and promote open source usage by european companies?
- So far so good. I think this will require eternal vigilance, though. since the pressure from IP holders to expand the scope of their property is very high and there is not a strong voice for the commons. however, the free software movement, and now also the creative commons movement, have gained significant mindshare. hopefully, that continues to build
andresmujica: Do you expect that ubuntu evolves as a mainly desktop distro or are you planning to put more effort at server side? Is any chance that SUSE's expertise on KDE would help the kubuntu's development?
- we are currently hiring both desktop and server developers
amachu: Education sector the real arena where Ubuntu can prove decisive.. Mark, how do compare with Microsoft's educational suites with Edubuntu?
- I think the best thing that free software does in education is DIVERSITY. we don't (yet) have the best word processor. though we have at least three *pretty good* ones. what we do have is a huge spectrum of tools. for all sorts of disciplines music, art, maths, physics, statistics, programming, design. you name it. and those tools are free of charge and OPEN. you can see how the tools work and you can shape them. that's a treasure chest for education. especially in places where the kids are often smarter than the teachers. so, we should focus on that
oblio: what do you think about mono entering gnome base? after all, it's surely cause for concern at M$\
- The mono guys have done awesome work. it would be very sad to have that come under a cloud now. at this stage, we have no plans to drop mono because of these concerns. Novell has said that they believe there are no patent issues and we believe that is in good faith
jjtec1: What can we as community do to influence this bad deal?
- first, i thnk the terms of the deal are not yet set in stone. i suspect there is a lot of activity internally at novell with developers trying to help set things right. add your voice to theirs. speak with opensuse folks and see if you can help them make the case for novell management to take a stronger line. also, watch gpl v3. i hope that this deal does not upset the balance of the v3 discussion. we need v3 to be a balanced licence, not unduly influenced by the issue du jour, but this has certianly thrown the patent question into stark relief
MisterN: is Canonical / Ubuntu actively lobbying against software patents? (i already asked but with wrong case)
- we have not done enough. individually, canonical folks have always spoken against software patents, but we are not part of a formal lobby group, for example
_MMA_: With IBM's seemingly great support for linux do you think they would do well to jump back into the desktop market? Ubuntu-powered IBM desktop anyone? ;)
- No, I think IBM is not yet really engaged in the desktop market. for them, the focus remains servers. they sold their desktop PC business (and were very happy to get rid of it). that said, they do have a big global business managing office PC's for other companies. that's where I would expect them to climb in
sjoeboo: mark, You recently blogged a bit about the pros and cons of non-free drivers and codecs, and reasons to include some and not the others. Has a "final" decision been made about non-free drivers from here on out?
- this is tangential to the opensuse discussion, but it's controversial and topical so... no. no final decision has been made. the discussion is ongoing on ubuntu-devel, forums, blogs, email. i've expressed an opinion, as have other members of the tech board. i think the final position will be a nuanced, careful, clear one. that maintains our commitment to making your hardware work, while still promoting only free software applications. we are unlikely to become gNewSense. nor are we suddenly going to become Mint Linux. our place is in the middle.
07:47 sabdfl i tihnk that's all the opensuse related questions in -chat 07:48 sabdfl Nat_ from opensuse is here, i'd like to invite him to speak a bit if he wants the floor 07:48 sabdfl "you're in a maze of twisty tunnels, all looking the same" 07:48 sabdfl "Nat_ is here" 07:48 Nat_ You were killed by a grue :-) 07:48 Nat_ Thanks for the invitation to say something, I appreciate that, but I was just hear to lurk and listen :-) 07:48 sabdfl story of my life :-) 07:49 Nat_ I do think a lot of people misunderstand and blow out of proportion the Novell/MS deal 07:49 Nat_ I can understand why people would be concerned about a partnership with Microsoft, but I guess I'd ask people to look at the situtaion and try to see if there's really a real harm being done. 07:50 Nat_ And if people have questions I'm glad to field those :-) 07:50 Nat_ Here or elsewhere 07:50 Nat_ I'm also on another phone call right now so I'm not really as articulate as, like, I'd want to be 07:50 Nat_ ;-) 07:50 sabdfl ok, questions for Nat_ in -chat, i'll post here 07:50 Nat_ Thanks :-)
jku_: Nat_, so you disagree with sabdfl about the meaning/importance of the patent-part of the deal? Do you see no ill effects for the free software community?
- [Nat_] Personally I think we got MS to acknowledge that Linux is real, that it matters; we got a lot of money from them that we can use to continue to subsidize writing free software -- software that shows up in Ubuntu, for example; we didn't violate the GPL and I don't think there's any real harm to any other parties.
KHatfull: (for Nat_) Can you give us the short 3-5 sentence statement on what the Novell/MS deal means to someone iside openSUSE?
[Nat_] Microsoft has been making threatening noises about Linux and their patents for years and years, that's nothing new. I think it menas basically nothing for someone inside opensuse, except I hope it means that we get to hire more people to contribute to opensuse. One of the things we asked Microsoft to put in the deal, and which they tried to put in, is a promise never to sue a person for their association with free software. They didn't do a great job of that, but they're going to redraft it and we hope to see something improved at some point soon
LoudMouthMan: NAT_ can you introduce your self and clarify your relationship with OPensuse and Suse/Novell ?
- [Nat_] Oh, I'm Nat Friedman, I cofounded a company called Ximian in 1999; in 2003 we sold it to Novell; now I'm CTO of the Linux group at Novell. I live in Germany.
Bourlotieris: "No real harm done" - do you believe that Balmer would make the UNACCEPTABLE announcement he did a few days ago if there was no deal with Novell? [Nat_] Well, first I agree that Ballmer's statements were totally unacceptable and our CEO published an open letter in which he said the same thing. But, it doesn't take a lot of google searching to determine that he's been saying approximately those same things for years and years, independent of any dealings with Novell. So, yes, I think he would have been saying that stuff anyway. Novell is not released. Microsoft could sue Novell at any time, that's not prohibited in the contract. We would be protected by our own patent portfolio (which we could use to sue Microsoft back) and by OIN, which we helped create. If you don't know OIN -- check out www.openinventionnetwork.com. it's a company that pools patents and uses them to protect Linux. so if someone sues Canonical, or Red Hat, or Debian, over a Linux-related patent infringement, OIN will sue them back. Novell helped OIN get all of the patents they have today.Novell didn't actually need that protection itself (becuase we already had ~400 patents)... but we did it anyway
07:57 Nat_ thanks for the chance :-) 07:57 sabdfl Best news I've had all day :-) 07:57 sabdfl Ok, thanks very much Nat_ 07:57 sabdfl yer welcome 07:58 sabdfl in closing 07:58 sabdfl i do want to apologise to anyone offended by my direct invitation to opensuse devs 07:58 sabdfl i don't in any way believe that opensuse devs had any malicious intent in the novell deal 07:59 sabdfl and i do believe that the devs are likely helping, behind the scenes, to straighten things out 07:59 sabdfl thanks to Nat_ for shedding some light on that process