Home opinion-and-analysis The Linux Distillery Linux beware: Microsoft acquires Novell, become UNIX copyright owner

Linux beware: Microsoft acquires Novell, become UNIX copyright owner

In a shock announcement, Microsoft has today taken majority ownership of software house Novell. This immediately gives the Redmond giant control of Novell's intellectual property assets including the legal copyright over UNIX. Already Red Hat and Canonical (Ubuntu) have expressed their expectation Microsoft will aggressively seek to eradicate all distributions save for Microsoft Linux Vista, formerly SUSE. (APRIL FOOL JOKE!!)

Dear reader, the following is an April Fool story that Novell took seriously and asked us to retract (possibly because of the time difference between the US and Australia). We want to make clear that this story was intended to be for satirical purposes only and has no basis in reality.

Microsoft’s sudden takeover is at the same time a surprise and not a surprise.

On the one hand, there had not been any recent comment or activity that indicated Novell was a target for Microsoft.

Yet, on the other hand, the two companies had formed an alliance back in 2006 to forge interoperability between Novell’s SUSE Linux and Microsoft Windows. This alliance has continued without wavering and Microsoft published a video at the end of last year highlighting some of the achievements during the “two years of interoperability progress.”

This alliance was viewed with suspicion at the time, particularly given the strategic importance of Novell’s ownership of the UNIX brand and copyright.

Ironically, it is now the Redmond giant who is the UNIX owner, and this has Linux vendors concerned.

Previously, SCO had engaged in a lengthy court case where they argued Linux infringed about SCO’s intellectual property (as expressed in earlier releases of UNIX operating systems.)

SCO were unsuccessful and Novell, the owners of the UNIX copyright by that time, stated that they had no intentions of pursuing Linux or repeating SCO’s activities.

Earlier this year SCO’s CEO Darl McBride announced his plans to sell off SCO assets to continue the fight. This was also a surprise announcement with many commentators believing the fight had gone out of SCO and that, in fact, they were no longer in operation.

It was rumoured among conspiracy theorists, but never proven, that Microsoft were bankrolling McBride’s activities.

Consequently, spokespeople from both Red Hat Linux and Canonical – the makers of popular distro Ubuntu – have already commented to the media that they are expecting to receive lawsuits in the very near future and that the death knell is sounding for their products.

Microsoft’s Vice President of Stealth Acquisitions, Mr Russell Sprout, is issuing a press conference by midday today, April 1st. No doubt there will be many questions.

Sprout has already stated Novell’s recently released SUSE Linux 11 will be relaunched as Microsoft Linux Vista by the middle of this month.


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David M Williams

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David has been computing since 1984 where he instantly gravitated to the family Commodore 64. He completed a Bachelor of Computer Science degree from 1990 to 1992, commencing full-time employment as a systems analyst at the end of that year. Within two years, he returned to his alma mater, the University of Newcastle, as a UNIX systems manager. This was a crucial time for UNIX at the University with the advent of the World-Wide-Web and the decline of VMS. David moved on to a brief stint in consulting, before returning to the University as IT Manager in 1998. In 2001, he joined an international software company as Asia-Pacific troubleshooter, specialising in AIX, HP/UX, Solaris and database systems. Settling down in Newcastle, David then found niche roles delivering hard-core tech to the recruitment industry and presently is the Chief Information Officer for a national resources company where he particularly specialises in mergers and acquisitions and enterprise applications.