Thursday, October 11th 2018

Microsoft Joins the Open Invention Network, Adds 60,000 Patents To Protect Linux and Open Source

Steve Ballmer once said 'Linux is a cancer'. Times have changed a lot, and since Satya Nadella became CEO of Microsoft, Linux and Open Source have become really important for Redmond's company. Azure is based on Linux, for example, and this OS dominates the cloud platform with about half of Azure VMs being Linux ones). Running Linux distributions such as Ubuntu, SuSE or Fedora is also possible natively under Windows 10 through Windows Subsystem for Linux.

The company has made big strategic acquisitions, and Microsoft recently acquired Github, but that approach to Linux and Open Source goes further with the new announcement. Microsoft has joined the Open Invention Network (OIN), a consortium that defines itself as a "shared defensive patent pool with the mission to protect Linux". With that move, Microsoft is bringing 60,000 patents to OIN that will be available royalty-free to anyone who joins the OIN community.
OIN has more than 2,650 members (Google, IBM, Red Hat, Sony, Philips, or Facebook are among the biggest ones) and even with the latest moves from Microsoft, this last announcement has surprised many people. Erich Andersen, Microsoft's corporate VP and Chief Intellectual Property Counsel confirmed that idea: "We know Microsoft's decision to join OIN may be viewed as surprising to some; it is no secret that there has been friction in the past between Microsoft and the open-source community over the issue of patents."

The move is a major change for Microsoft, that has been making big moves to transform that relationship with Linux and Open Source in the last five or six years. As Scott Guthrie, another Microsoft executive, told to ZDNet, "at the end of the day, we've shown by our actions that we're serious about open source". OIN's CEO, Keith Bergelt, explained Microsoft's stance: "They aren't trying to sell you something. Microsoft really has been changing. No one's made a longer journey than Microsoft from a proprietary software company to one that lives with Open Source. Source: ZDNet
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23 Comments on Microsoft Joins the Open Invention Network, Adds 60,000 Patents To Protect Linux and Open Source

#1
XiGMAKiD
I got mixed feeling reading this
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#2
windwhirl
"To protect Linux and Open Source"

I just had some weird thoughts about that.

Jokes aside, although unexpected, it's not unwelcomed.
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#3
DeathtoGnomes
m$ = "Ok fine Linus you win, here is all those patents we've been lording over you, but we still own github!"
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#4
R-T-B
I wonder if IBM can finally opensource OS/2 now. They claimed only MS patents were stopping them... on HPFS. :laugh:
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#5
OSdevr
"...to anyone who joins the OIN community. "

Big problem there! Linux likes to think they're the only open source operating system out there but they're not. The BSD family is not only a significant presence but uses the BSD software license which is in fact much more open then the GPL that Linux and GNU use. Several times GNU/Linux have actively opposed open source software for allowing the user to "limit their freedom" by using that software on a proprietary platform. The Universal Driver Interface may be the worst example of this. Ever wish you could use the same driver on Windows, Linux, and Mac OS without worrying if it was available for your platform? We could have had a single driver binary that worked across Windows, Linux, BSD you name it, and GNU KILLED IT!

BSD may be able to join OIN, but for a hobbyist OS developer it may as well be closed source. I should point out that lack of drivers is the biggest thing keeping homebrew OS' homebrew, and the reason we are unlikely to see another hobby-to-mainstream OS such as Linux come about. And some (though not mine) are quite worthy.
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#6
StrayKAT
"OSdevr said:
"...to anyone who joins the OIN community. "

Big problem there! Linux likes to think they're the only open source operating system out there but they're not. The BSD family is not only a significant presence but uses the BSD software license which is in fact much more open then the GPL that Linux and GNU use. Several times GNU/Linux have actively opposed open source software for allowing the user to "limit their freedom" by using that software on a proprietary platform. The Universal Driver Interface may be the worst example of this. Ever wish you could use the same driver on Windows, Linux, and Mac OS without worrying if it was available for your platform? We could have had a single driver binary that worked across Windows, Linux, BSD you name it, and GNU KILLED IT!

BSD may be able to join OIN, but for a hobbyist OS developer it may as well be closed source. I should point out that lack of drivers is the biggest thing keeping homebrew OS' homebrew, and the reason we are unlikely to see another hobby-to-mainstream OS such as Linux come about. And some (though not mine) are quite worthy.
BSD > Linux

Too bad it's ecosystem is even worse.. or actually just hand me downs of Linux (regular desktop-wise. Not that it matters for Servers).
Posted on Reply
#7
R-T-B
"OSdevr said:
"...to anyone who joins the OIN community. "

Big problem there! Linux likes to think they're the only open source operating system out there but they're not. The BSD family is not only a significant presence but uses the BSD software license which is in fact much more open then the GPL that Linux and GNU use. Several times GNU/Linux have actively opposed open source software for allowing the user to "limit their freedom" by using that software on a proprietary platform. The Universal Driver Interface may be the worst example of this. Ever wish you could use the same driver on Windows, Linux, and Mac OS without worrying if it was available for your platform? We could have had a single driver binary that worked across Windows, Linux, BSD you name it, and GNU KILLED IT!

BSD may be able to join OIN, but for a hobbyist OS developer it may as well be closed source. I should point out that lack of drivers is the biggest thing keeping homebrew OS' homebrew, and the reason we are unlikely to see another hobby-to-mainstream OS such as Linux come about. And some (though not mine) are quite worthy.
Free as in beer, and free as in freedom, is the core definitions issue.

It's all semantics to most of us, but GNU has always had a much more... political view of what OSS is.
Posted on Reply
#8
StrayKAT
"R-T-B said:
Free as in beer, and free as in freedom, is the core definitions issue.

It's all semantics to most of us, but GNU has always had a much more... political view of what OSS is.
If by "political" you mean, specifically one man's politics (RMS), and insisting that freedom only means what he says. BSD actually means it in a literal sense, with no caveats. You're free to treat software like you would GNU.. but you're also free to capitalize on it and not even release your own source. There's no ideological purity. It's simply "freedom" in the most literal sense.
Posted on Reply
#9
R-T-B
"StrayKAT said:
If by "political" you mean, specifically one man's politics (RMS), and insisting that freedom only means what he says.
That is exactly what I mean.

I view the Stallman ideology much like I view most utopian theories: Nice on paper, but impractical.
Posted on Reply
#10
StrayKAT
"R-T-B said:
That is exactly what I mean.
I think calling it politics in a wider sense gives it too much weight. It's more petty than that imo.
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#11
R-T-B
"StrayKAT said:
I think calling it politics in a wider sense gives it too much weight. It's more petty than that imo.
I don't really see it that way. You must view politics in a brighter light than I do.

They can be very petty, need I remind you. But noted, all the same. :p
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#12
StrayKAT
"R-T-B said:
I don't really see it that way. You must view politics in a brighter light than I do.

They can be very petty, need I remind you. But noted, all the same. :p
Brighter? I thought I was being cynical. :p

In any case, I consider it a sort of tragedy that GNU picked up more than BSD.. but it was a matter of timing (BSD had legal issues at the time Linus developed Linux).
Posted on Reply
#13
R-T-B
"StrayKAT said:
Brighter? I thought I was being cynical. :p

In any case, I consider it a sort of tragedy that GNU picked up more than BSD.. but it was a matter of timing (BSD had legal issues at the time Linus developed Linux).
I love BSD but most of my servers are gentoo at the moment so I'd be lying if I didn't say I like Linux as well.

Still, I agree wholeheartedly.
Posted on Reply
#14
StrayKAT
"R-T-B said:
I love BSD but most of my servers are gentoo at the moment so I'd be lying if I didn't say I like Linux as well.

Still, I agree wholeheartedly.
I like Gentoo as well.. Or at least, what I tried back in the day. It was a good learning experience (and much of it can be configured to be friendly to BSD users anyhow).
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#15
R-T-B
"StrayKAT said:
I like Gentoo as well.. Or at least, what I tried back in the day. It was a good learning experience (and much of it can be configured to be friendly to BSD users anyhow).
Yeah, I guess the correct thing to say would be I like good code compiling package managers. Portage certainly qualifies.
Posted on Reply
#16
OSdevr
"R-T-B said:
Yeah, I guess the correct thing to say would be I like good code compiling package managers. Portage certainly qualifies.
Haha, Portage was a BSD invention!

An unfortunate result of the BSD and GPL licenses is that as @StrayKAT has mentioned BSD doesn't require the source code to be published. GPL does and as such a developer can take a BSD project, make a few minor modifications to it, and then publish the whole thing as GPL and cannibalize BSD code. Obviously the BSD guys aren't happy about this. Stallman is essentially a cult leader, and his followers defend his philosophy fervently.
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#17
altcapwn
I'm kind of glad that a giant like Microsoft doesn't end up abusing that much its status and still does great things.
Posted on Reply
#18
R-T-B
"OSdevr said:
Haha, Portage was a BSD invention!
More or less meant to give that credit in my post, but in case I wasn't clear: I'm aware. :)
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#19
StrayKAT
Honestly, I feel like going back to Macs (but keeping my PC for gaming, of course). Plus, it's basically BSD and has ports too, if you want it.

All I want though is the open source world to create something just as good as Mac OS (and free). Maybe even better. Even though I knocked Stallman earlier, the HURD would be pretty sweet.
Posted on Reply
#20
R-T-B
"StrayKAT said:
Even though I knocked Stallman earlier, the HURD would be pretty sweet.
I may knock Stallman, but you gotta respect the guy for sticking to his guns. He certainly won't compromise.
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#21
Eviling
embrace extend extinguish.
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#22
Liquid Cool
"Eviling said:
embrace extend extinguish.
I'm not going to disagree with this statement. Corporations play chess...it isn't until the final move that you know their true intentions. I'll leave my opinion to myself until the muddy water becomes clear.

I do not expect a positive outcome.

Best,

Liquid Cool
Posted on Reply
#23
StrayKAT
"Eviling said:
embrace extend extinguish.
Conspiracy: They're the ones who intentionally planted that CoC drama that got Linus in trouble. Now the biggest force behind Linux is gone. And all they had to do was pay a bunch of pink haired agitators. This was much easier than IBM, Apple, and Netscape.
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