Red Hat: Customers Can Deploy Linux with Confidence

By Peter Galli  |  Posted 2007-10-10 Print this article Print

The Linux Foundation dismisses Ballmer's threat as another "FUD attack."

Red Hat is assuring its customers that they can continue to deploy its Linux operating system with confidence and without fear of legal retribution from Microsoft, despite the increasingly vocal threats emanating from the Redmond, Wash., company. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer told a small meeting of Web 2.0 developers and partners on Oct. 1 at its London office that "people who use Red Hat, at least with respect to our intellectual property, in a sense have an obligation to eventually compensate us."
Ballmer, in response to a question about Microsoft and open source, lauded the deal it struck with Novell last year.
"Not only are we working on technical interoperability between Linux and Windows, but weve also made sure that we could provide the appropriate, for the appropriate fee, [protection for] Novell customers [so that they] also get essentially the right to use our patented intellectual property. And I think its great the way Novell stepped up to kind of say intellectual property matters," he said. Ballmer threatens Linux and open source with patents again. Click here to read more. In a scathing response to Ballmers remarks, Red Hats IP team said the reality is that the community development approach of free and open-source code represents a healthy development paradigm, which, when viewed from the perspective of pending lawsuits related to intellectual property, is at least as safe as proprietary software. "We are also aware of no patent lawsuit against Linux. Ever. Anywhere," the team said in a blog posting. The Linux vendor, which is based in Raleigh, N.C., also gives customers open-source intellectual property protections through its Open Source Assurance Program, which includes a promise to replace the software if there is an intellectual property issue. "This provides customers with assurances of uninterrupted use of the technology solution. Protecting our customers is a top priority, and we take it very seriously. Our confidence in our technology and protections for customers remains strong and has not wavered," the blog posting said. Click here to read more about Microsofts claims that open-source technology violates 235 of its patents. The Open Invention Network also has an independent patent portfolio to help protect and maintain the pro-competitive effect of the open Linux environment. For his part, Jim Zemlin, the executive director of the Linux Foundation, dismissed Ballmers comments as just another "FUD attack squarely aimed at slowing the threat Linux and open source represents to its business." He also pointed to the fact that Microsoft has yet to specify which of its patents are allegedly being infringed, and appeared skeptical that it ever will. Microsoft sees no conflict with its patent and open-source initiatives. Click here to read more. "Based on Microsofts experience to date in litigating patent matters, it is not surprising that they are reticent to begin the process and watch the resulting weeding out of their patent portfolio. Nor do they wish to test the open-source communitys ability to respond to a specific patent allegation. Unfortunately, we are getting used to these Microsoft scare campaigns that seem to pop up every six months," he said. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest open-source news, reviews and analysis.
Peter Galli has been a financial/technology reporter for 12 years at leading publications in South Africa, the UK and the US. He has been Investment Editor of South Africa's Business Day Newspaper, the sister publication of the Financial Times of London.

He was also Group Financial Communications Manager for First National Bank, the second largest banking group in South Africa before moving on to become Executive News Editor of Business Report, the largest daily financial newspaper in South Africa, owned by the global Independent Newspapers group.

He was responsible for a national reporting team of 20 based in four bureaus. He also edited and contributed to its weekly technology page, and launched a financial and technology radio service supplying daily news bulletins to the national broadcaster, the South African Broadcasting Corporation, which were then distributed to some 50 radio stations across the country.

He was then transferred to San Francisco as Business Report's U.S. Correspondent to cover Silicon Valley, trade and finance between the US, Europe and emerging markets like South Africa. After serving that role for more than two years, he joined eWeek as a Senior Editor, covering software platforms in August 2000.

He has comprehensively covered Microsoft and its Windows and .Net platforms, as well as the many legal challenges it has faced. He has also focused on Sun Microsystems and its Solaris operating environment, Java and Unix offerings. He covers developments in the open source community, particularly around the Linux kernel and the effects it will have on the enterprise.

He has written extensively about new products for the Linux and Unix platforms, the development of open standards and critically looked at the potential Linux has to offer an alternative operating system and platform to Windows, .Net and Unix-based solutions like Solaris.

His interviews with senior industry executives include Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, Linus Torvalds, the original developer of the Linux operating system, Sun CEO Scot McNealy, and Bill Zeitler, a senior vice president at IBM.

For numerous examples of his writing you can search under his name at the eWEEK Website at


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