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Driving a wedge between IBM and the FOSS community


"After years of pretending to be a friend of Free and Open Source Software (FOSS), IBM now shows its true colors. IBM breaks the number one taboo of the FOSS community and shamelessly uses its patents against a well-respected FOSS project, the Hercules mainframe emulator."

Those are the words of Florian Mueller, the well known software developer and open source political lobbyist and founder of the NoSoftwarePatents campaign, who accuses IBM of betraying its promise to the FOSS community and claims the company has declared patent war in order to "protect its highly lucrative mainframe monopoly against Free and Open Source Software."

Open source business industry commentator Glyn Moody says that "IBM is either a friend of open source, or it's simply an opportunist, supporting some projects when it suits, and attacking others when it doesn't" and points out that amongst the patents that IBM is citing in the letter to TurboHercules which kicked off this new battle that there "seem to be some that it has “pledged” to the open source community." Mueller agrees, pointing out that patent numbers US 5613086 and US 5220669 can be found on page 4 of IBM's 2005 patent pledge. One thing is for sure, IBM is certainly a friend of the Patent Office.

Meanwhile, 'sources close to IBM' are claiming that Mueller is just "trying to drive a wedge between IBM and the open-source software community" and question his authority to speak on behalf of the FOSS community in the first place.

That is, perhaps, a distraction strategy of the first order. Anyone taking a look around the web will find plenty of support for the view that IBM has broken its patents promise and by so doing is attacking the FOSS community. Indeed, I'd suggest that it is beyond argument that a wedge is being driven between the two parties, but rather than accusing Mueller of wielding the hammer IBM would do well to look a little closer to home.

That wedge would appear to be big and blue.

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Davey Winder

I'm a hacker turned writer and consultant, specialising in IT security. I've been a freelance word punk for over 20 years and along the way I have seen 23 of my books published, produced and presented programmes for TV and radio, picked up a bunch of awards and continue being a contributing editor with PC Pro - the best selling IT magazine in the UK .


Why are these people claiming that IBM has somehow broken a promise to the linux/oss community?

Just out of curiosity, what does a microsoft-funded IBM rival have to do with linux/oss in the first place? I don't see the connection.

On what grounds do these people object to IBM not wanting to give away the store to this competitor?

What bearing does IBM asserting its patents against this microsoft-funded vendor have to do with its pledge to the linux/oss community?

What are these people thinking? I'm amazed at the absolutely insane conclusions they are jumping to.

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