Microsoft has announced the first customers for its Novell SUSE Linux support vouchers since the software giant declared that it was ‘not a party’ to the Free Software Foundation’s General Public License.
In a move that is bound to raise tensions with the FSF, Microsoft has announced that two German industry giants – BMW and Siemens – have taken delivery of certificates for three-year support subscriptions to SUSE Linux Enterprise Server from Novell.
Siemens will use the certificates in its the ISEC subsidiary of Siemens Enterprise Communications, which is responsible for customer software application development, while BMW will use the certificates to support its drive to consolidate onto Linux and Windows.
Earlier this summer Novell announced that BMW was adopting SLES with the Xen open source virtualization hypervisor in order to improve the efficiency of its computing operations.
Siemens and BMW bring the number of named Microsoft/Novell support certificate customers to 19. Deutsche Bank, Credit Suisse and AIG Technologies signed up in December 2006, a month after the scheme was announced, while Wal-Mart came on board in January, HSBC in March, and no fewer than 12 in May.
Microsoft announced in November 2006 that it would distribute 70,000 Linux support certificates a year for five years, at the cost of $240m as part of an interoperability and patent deal with Novell. According to Microsoft and Novell 44% of the $240m worth of vouchers have already been invoiced by Novell, however.
Version three of the FSF’s GNU GPL, delivered at the end of June, sought to prevent a repeat of the deal but stopped short of outlawing it entirely on the grounds that Microsoft’s distribution of support certificates for a distribution that included GNU GPL v3 code would extend its patent protection to all GPL v3 software and users.
In July Microsoft insisted that it is not a party to the GPL and, just to make sure, decided that its support certificates did not extend to GPL v3 code. Novell responded by stating that it would provide certificate holders with GPLv2 and v3 code regardless of Microsoft’s position.
However, the FSF responded in late August by insisting that Microsoft cannot declare itself exempt from the GPL and suggesting that it would be prepared to take the matter further if it is required to do so.
We will ensure – and, to the extent of our resources, assist other GPLv3 licensors in ensuring – that Microsoft respects our copyrights and complies with our licenses, it stated.
While the Linux kernel remains under version 2 of the GPL many free and open source software projects are moving to version 3, including a number that are included on top of the kernel in Linux distributions.