What the Microsoft/Xandros Deal Means for Linux

Some in Linux hate the deal with a passion, while others don't consider it really worth noticing.

Microsoft and Linux distributor Xandros on June 4 signed a broad set of collaboration and patent agreements that reminded many of the November 2006 Microsoft/Novell partnership.

What do analysts and other Linux vendors think this new deal means for Linux?

While the FSF (Free Software Foundation) has tried to block such patent deals with the latest version of the GPLv3, Microsoft and Xandros didnt let that legal objective stop them.

Now that the deal is in place, the question is, "What to make of it?"

We do know that the partnership has not drawn even a tenth of the criticism that the Novell/Microsoft patent partnership drew. Nonetheless, some other Linux vendors have little good to say about the new Xandros partnership.

Leading that side of the debate is Warren Woodford, president and founder of MEPIS, a well-regarded Ubuntu-based desktop Linux distribution. Woodford launched his attack on the deal quietly, "I believe that Xandros can do an excellent job of representing Microsofts interests in the Linux market. And Im sure that the Xandros VCs are happy with the deal they made with Microsoft."

Warming up to his theme, Woodford continued, "So far Microsoft hasnt revealed any legitimate claims of intellectual property infringement. Their strategy appears to be to coerce weak players in the open source space to fold. This is reminiscent of the play made by SCO a few years ago, which some say was financed by Microsoft. Maybe that was just their trial run."

Then, he launches his main assault on the partnership, "Im reminded of Neville Chamberlain waiving his agreement with Hitler in the air and declaring peace in his time. Linux vendors should be reminded that, if you give your lunch money to a bully, the bully does not go away. Who will have the cojones to just say no? The Linux community may not like the answer, but the only name that comes to mind is—Larry Ellison."

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