Novell has welcomed the provisions of the fourth, and final, draft of the upcoming GNU General Public License 3.0, which allow it to include technologies under this license in SUSE Linux Enterprise, OpenSUSE and other Novell offerings.
On May 31, the Free Software Foundation released the fourth and final draft of GPL Version 3, referred to as the "final call" draft, which will be open for comments for 29 days. The final license will be released after that.
While the fourth draft says that distributors that make discriminatory patent deals after March 28 may not convey software under GPLv3, it does not stop Novell from distributing software under GPLv3 "because the patent protection they arranged with Microsoft last November can be turned against Microsoft to the communitys benefit," FSF Executive Director Peter Brown said in a statement.
That news was welcomed by Kevan Barney, Novells senior public relations manager. "We will continue to distribute Linux and other GPLd technologies," he said. "Nothing in the last call draft of GPLv3 suggests that the final version of that license will inhibit Novells ability to include GPLv3 technologies in SUSE Linux Enterprise, OpenSUSE and other Novell offerings as these technologies become available.
"We note that the language which grandfathered the Novell–Microsoft agreement remains in the draft. All of this is good news for our customers," he said.
The terms of the "last call" draft also suggest that the final version of GPLv3 will not interrupt Novells partnership with Microsoft, Barney said.
"We remain committed to that partnership, which we believe will help grow the Linux market and satisfy longstanding customer needs. We look forward to providing the fruits of our joint technical interoperability to our customers and our fellow community members in accord with our previously outlined road map," he said.
For its part, Microsoft would only reiterate its commitment to building a bridge between proprietary and open-source software, as well as its accusation that the FSF wants to destroy that bridge.
"Microsoft has been, and will remain, focused on building a bridge between the worlds of proprietary and open-source software. This is something customers have requested to address their interoperability and IP needs in a mixed-source environment and something we are committed to continuing," said Horacio Gutierrez, Microsofts vice president of intellectual property and licensing.
"It is unfortunate that instead of encouraging industry collaboration to solve problems for customers, going forward the FSF wants to burn down this bridge," he said.
But Richard Stallman, the FSFs founder, laments in an article he penned about why people should upgrade to GPLv3 that the explicit patent protection users get from the programs contributors and redistributors in GPLv3 does not go as far as he would have liked.
GPLv3 gives users explicit patent protection compared with the implicit patent license in GPLv2, which provides that the company that gives them a copy will not sue them, or the people they redistribute copies to, for patent infringement.
"Ideally, we would make everyone who redistributes GPL-covered code surrender all software patents, along with everyone who does not redistribute GPL-covered code. Software patents are a vicious and absurd system that puts all software developers in danger of being sued by companies they have never heard of, as well as by all the megacorporations in the field," Stallman said.