Canonical opening up, what about Apple?

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Storm, the Python-based ORM used by Launchpad, has been released under a free license. In a bug report comment, our benevolent dictator stated that “We are all actively working on making Launchpad open source.”. I hope that this is just the first step, and that we’ll see more components being re-licensed soon. I don’t understand how keeping Launchpad proprietary will make Canonical more money, but I’ve decided to trust their judgment and their business plan.


I’m not sure if I should trust Apple that much though. They have purchased CUPS, the printing system used in Ubuntu and many other unix-like systems. Apple has licensed CUPS for MacOS X for several years now, and many people have questions on the reasons for the buy-out. I’ve been wondering whether Apple has some fears around the freshly released GPLv3. Apple has manufactured printers in the past (I’m not sure if they still do), and they probably own a significant amount of patents regarding to printing.

I don’t have anything to base it on, but perhaps they anticipated CUPS being released under the GPLv3, which might have an affect on the value of their patents if they ship CUPS in MacOS. Buying out CUPS means that they can keep the software under the older license, which does not cover patents. Maybe, it’s nothing like that at all. Perhaps we’ll see CUPS getting even better, and be able to get great commercial support for CUPS directly from Apple. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

Microsoft signs another Linux distributor

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For those who haven’t quite caught up, last year Microsoft signed a broad-collaboration deal with Novell that included a patent covenant. Since then, Xandros, Samsung Electronics, LG Electronics, and now also Linspire, another Linux development and support company.

I wouldn’t be surprised if they target the cellular handset manufacturers as well. Both Nokia and Motorola have a lot invested in Linux as a platform, and they have existing agreements with Microsoft, so they would be easy targets.

Today, Aaron Toponce, and Richard Johnson (both Ubuntu members), urged Mark Shuttleworth (founder of Ubuntu), to make a public statement about where Ubuntu and Canonical stands with regards to Microsofts new partnerships.

In a recent interview, Mark was asked whether he would sign such an agreement, and his response was:

“No, absolutely not. But the time will come when the folks at Microsoft who have a clear vision for the company as a participant in this community, rather than as a hostile antagonist, will win. At that point I’d love to work with Microsoft. It’s not an evil empire. It’s just a company that is efficiently grounded in the 1980s. New leadership and new thinking might make it a more effective partner for us.”

By that, I understand that Mark has already stated that there won’t be a Microsoft-Ubuntu cross-patent deal. Mark has also previously expressed that he is against software patents. It does sound like he’s quite keen to be doing work with Microsoft though, and I don’t think that’s necassarily a bad thing, as long as Ubuntu doesn’t give Microsoft more FUD mud, I think I’ll be fine with that.

However, what IF Ubuntu would sign a patent covenant with Microsoft? Would I still advocate Ubuntu? I honestly can’t say. I certainly won’t like it, and I admit that I would also feel more comfortable if Canonical would make a statement on where they stand on this. I have lots of trust in the Ubuntu project though, and I’m very confident that the right choices will be made.

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