Free Software Foundation Threatens Novell with GNU Ban

Lora Bentley

Just when you thought there might be a lull in the Free Software Foundation vs. Novell-Microsoft saga, here comes another curve ball. According to a Reuters report published in InformationWeek this morning, Richard Stallman and the rest of the FSF just might ban the Linux distributor from using any future versions of GNU software. And they're not making any bones about their motives, either: They want to punish Novell for dealing with Microsoft on patent issues.


Because much of the Linux operating system (excluding the Linux kernel, which is controlled by creator Linus Torvalds) consists of GNU programs, the ban would be costly to Novell, the report says. One expert estimates that Novell's R&D and marketing costs could increase as much as $2oo million per year if it must develop its own programs to replace the GNU software and remain competitive.


A FSF statement says the agreement between Novell and Microsoft "aims to undermine" software freedoms, and that the organization is doing what it can to prevent such agreements -- including adjusting the terms of the GPL v3. (The latest draft of the license was released for comment yesterday.)


Novell's Bruce Lowry won't comment on the possible ban at this time, according to InformationWeek. He says only that the company will address the issue with Microsoft if the final version of GPL v3 affects the agreement.

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