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Linux Business Week Exclusive: Linux Kernel To Be Re-Written To Counter Microsoft FUD

Linux Leaders Plot "Operation Open Gates"

IBM, Intel, the Open Source Development Labs, where Linux creator Linus Torvalds works, and other industry lights are planning to rob Microsoft of the ability to scare customers off of Linux by saying that the operating system is a patent infringer, informed sources say.

On January 25 they will supposedly announce that a consortium has been created that will rewrite the components in the Linux kernel that, it has been alleged, tread on other people's IP - or at least the 27 Microsoft patents that Linux supposedly infringes.

The consortium will reportedly be underwritten by the state of Oregon and the city of Beaverton and will recruit its staff from local universities, which will also be backing the effort. The governor of Oregon and the mayor of Beaverton will reportedly be at the announcement.

The tactic is called "Operation Open Gates."

The Linux kernel supposedly infringes on 283 (unidentified) patents according to the wannabe insurance start-up Open Source Risk Management. The patents were reviewed by Free Software Foundation counsel Daniel Ravicher, a patent attorney who also runs the Public Patent Foundation.

Ravicher refused to identify the patents, in order that Linux users couldn't be charged with willful infringement.

Microsoft's patents are regarded as the most dangerous, although at least another third of the 283 patents are owned by other people with little to lose in threatening enterprise Linux users with litigation in hopes of winning a handsome settlement. The rest are owned by companies known to be friendly to Linux like IBM, HP, Intel, and Novell.

More Stories By Maureen O'Gara

Maureen O'Gara the most read technology reporter for the past 20 years, is the Cloud Computing and Virtualization News Desk editor of SYS-CON Media. She is the publisher of famous "Billygrams" and the editor-in-chief of "Client/Server News" for more than a decade. One of the most respected technology reporters in the business, Maureen can be reached by email at maureen(at)sys-con.com or paperboy(at)g2news.com, and by phone at 516 759-7025. Twitter: @MaureenOGara

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Most Recent Comments
Denis Robert 02/10/05 08:03:58 AM EST

Why hasn't O'Gara been fired yet??? I don't get it: When someone repeatedly invents "news" reports in a respectable news organization, they usually get fired, don't they? O'Gara's imagination is running wild these day, and SYS-CON's insistence on publishing her ramblings puts them in the same league as FOX"News".

MG 01/28/05 05:38:53 PM EST

Michael,
You are a bit wrong. The announcement was made and it was just as ODSL claimed it was. It is a new lab for open source development; including help with coding, testing and other bells and whistles. It is a "seed" lab to help developers and the open source community to develop products that are able to work within the guidelines of GPL. They will also help them develop market strategies and processes that works hand in hand with GPL and the spirit of open source while allowing them to build a viable business.

You are right about everything else though. She did cry "wolf" and I personally feel she knew exactly what she was doing; thus the silence.

This should be a sign to all the MOG supporters that she is not always on the up and up. I’m not going to claim she has an agenda, though that may be true. I can’t because I really don’t know for sure except the evidence seems to build that she does. You see, I did not ask “unnamed resources”. I didn’t talk to the “people in the know”. I rather have verifiable answers from real sources, with real names and faces. It simply amazes me that people follow her words blindly like lemmings. Do you own research people! One site and one writer do not make its news indisputable.

Michael 01/28/05 02:11:17 PM EST

Hey, the deadline for "open gates" has passed and still no announcement, Maureen. Time for a retraction, yet? Time to admit you were had? Time to get off your butt and actually research articles instead of regurgitating press releases? No, I didn't think so. Move on, nothing to see here.

Well 01/21/05 08:36:28 AM EST

Maureen reports the story but I am waiting for "more news" form the "Utah Court" today, that would be real interesting to see!

I wonder how people will interpret the news which did not come out yet.

AllEars 01/21/05 07:24:24 AM EST

So what will MOG today tell us about the SCO v IBM decision yesterday? The federal magistrate has handed a partial victory SCO surely? I do hope there won't be any gloating from Maureen.

JRB 01/20/05 07:19:58 PM EST

First off, As long as Linux has been here, the chances of it infringing upon others IP, is very unlikely, to do this from my understanding they must find complete reproduction of thier coding. To just toss a patent up and then go back hunting through code tha is similar to it is absurd. Any judge with good sense should release the patent and place it with Linus and in doing so, really breaking this streak of BS going on now, they have been shown time and again that it was his own code.
The only reason I see for them wanting to rewrite is for thier own personal chance of putting in code that "They" might be able to claim patent on as well. This OS is one of the best for one reason and one only because it is open to all. Rahter then rewite I personally would attempt to counter and claim first creation and then turn back and let them be the ones pleading for mercy.

anal 01/20/05 06:10:53 PM EST

poor BG, seems to be visiting us from another planet, as do a number of other Anti-linux morons.
As a supposidly intellegent race, we seem to specialize in shooting our self in the foot.
Again & again & again!!

BG 01/20/05 04:09:51 PM EST

My email to Maureen,

Dear Maureen,

As usual, you have gotten to the folks behind the scenes at OSDL and found out Linux is getting rewritten to evade
patent infringement claims and to remove the stolen SCO
intellectual property that's riddled all through Linux. I realize these communists are screaming as loud as they can, but you are doing a good thing pointing out that open source really does steal otehr peoples property.

I salute your courage and candor in having the backbone to report the truth about Linux to the world.

Rodd Ahrenstorff 01/20/05 02:35:02 PM EST

My email to Maureen:

As a faithful reader and subscriber to sys-con publications, I would certainly appreciate a published explanation regarding the story linked below. Based on recent published accounts from those very parties mentioned in the story, your original work is part fabrication or at least based on false information from "informed sources". It would appear no further research went into the details of this article on your behalf.

Maureen, this really undermines your readers faith in you, as an unbiased IT analyst, and further erodes the reputation of LBW and sys-con in general. Please either retract this original story or publish an explanation for the factual discrepancies. People can fogive mistakes when made, but delaying a public reply is only asking for more trouble. I'll be waiting...

Thanks for your time,
(signed)

Jackie Smith 01/20/05 01:44:59 AM EST

Reading the Ads is much more useful than the O'Gara's smelly garbage! O'Gara is the secret weapon of the LBW's competition - let's get rid of her - once and forever...
If I were O'Gara I would resign voluntarily after so much negative response from the LBW's readers.

Michael 01/19/05 08:40:26 AM EST

It's simple, really. If O'Gara's subject in an article is Linux, 90%+ will be outright lies and fabrications. The woman absolutely despises Linux and open source, and feels like anything is justified in the effort to slow its progress. That she writes for the unquestionably anti-Linux yellowsheet called "Linux Business Week" is sort of poetic.

JD 01/18/05 09:30:39 PM EST

April Fool! Oh, it's not April 1st. I guess the jokes is on you then.

Fewclues 01/18/05 09:26:47 PM EST

Stop and realize how most of us hate Microsoft's tactics, and some actually hate Bill Gates and some just hate Windows. Well add all that together and then stand in front of a mirror and you have MOG's feeling about Linux. She is a clever author of a lot of fiction that gets some bad rumors to rumbling. I say she's had all of us!

Michael 01/18/05 01:50:41 PM EST

OSDL denies that there is any truth in this story. Someone is lying. My money is on OSDL as the truthful one.

Mark Murphy 01/18/05 01:17:16 PM EST

Here's a link to the truth: http://news.zdnet.co.uk/0,39020330,39184543,00.htm

Xeno 01/18/05 01:14:32 PM EST

My god! Would someone fire this Fud-monger?!! Not only is this false, she made it up out of thin air. Who pays her check? SCO?!!

John Doe 01/17/05 02:03:39 PM EST

Ppl, what kind pot R U using?
Heroine ?

MG 01/17/05 01:22:15 PM EST

This is a lot to do about nothing (as usual). ODSL is *THE* consortium she is reporting about and they deny this article as being true. This is not some new group that complements or displaces ODSL. What does ODSL do? They promote Linux. They work to make sure that Open Source software is developing properly and moving in the right direction and in the sprit of Open Source. They are also involved in helping to protect customers against litigation. They have big backers from Hitachi, *IBM*, *Intel*, HP, Nec and others. Sound familiar?

It should because it is exact same thing this article reports except with no confirmable sources (only unspecified). I’ve looked (quickly) as far back as 2003, and ODSL has had pretty much the exact same goal as now. That is promoting and protecting the Open Source. The only difference between their mission and what the article reports is what exactly they are supposed to be doing on the 25th. MOG has her theories; based on “trusted sources” and the ODSL evidently thinks otherwise. I suspect that Ms. O’Gara thinks that ODSL knows less about what they do than she does.

We will see what this is about on or around the 25th if there is anything to this story. But the story is probably not all false in a very broad sense; just misleading because it implies the groups (sole?) purpose is to remove IP violations; when for years they openly planned on doing this as part of their mission. It is widely known that a lot of software falls in the same IP dilemma, proprietary or Open Source. In fact proprietary software could be worse because you never see the code; therefore you cannot confirm or deny IP infringement exists. Open Source doesn’t, and can’t have anything to hide. So of course they are the easiest target and logically, should be reviewed to do what can be done to prevent this from ever being a problem.

oprogue 01/17/05 12:47:22 PM EST

I'm a touch confused, Linus just blasted the way security breeches are handled - seems to me these patent nfringements boarder along the same lines. Fix the kernal, issue a new release, give developers time to incorporate it, then and only then comment on potential patent infringements. The greatest battles are won when we didn't even know there was a war.

I am grateful for the contributions being made to ensure the future development of Linux. Maybe we can see the implementation and incorporation of FAST TCP … this alone would allow Linux to fly past the M$ market share in the internet world (percent OS usage by a given populace would probably already place Linux as the dominating OS). M$ is going to have its hands full trying to keep the 7 versions of Longhorn patched, and justifying its charging end-users for antivirus protection for its’ own security holes. I wouldn’t be a bit surprised to see M$ attempt to market its’ own flavor of Linux as a means to getting a share of the Linux market (I cringe as such a suggestion … what would they call it, Lindows perhaps … geesh, thank goodness Linspire won that battle). Sun should have publicly crushed M$ over Java patent infringements. Two victories against the monopoly holder. To this ends, we as end-users should pressure the software and hardware markets to cater more to Linux (is that ATI petition still floating around? … how about putting some pressure on D-Link, Texas Instruments, Netgear, Linksys, and others?). A great victory will be had when software and hardware vendors recognize the potential of Linux and the Linux market place.

I am curious, if the Free Software Foundation counsel Daniel Ravicher, the patent attorney, working for us or against us as Linux end-users? Is Linus apart of Operation Open Gates? Many questions remain to be answered.

Linux - for the free generation.
Support Operation Open Gates.
SuSe purchaser and end-user.

oprogue

Mulder 01/17/05 09:02:06 AM EST

> If Microsoft do own any patents which Linux breaches, why haven't Microsoft taken the matter to court?

It wouldn't become MS in its quasi-monopoly position to openly attack a competitor with patent infringement lawsuits.

> It's like the fox coming from the hen house, with chicken feathers all over his lips, saying, "show me the chickens."

If we look at the SCO cases, it's more like the squirrel coming from the woods and the farmer saying "you're a fox and you killed my 5 billion chickens".

Nomen Nescio 01/16/05 06:06:40 PM EST

*chuckles* As usual with O'Gara, you have to look up more reliable sources (such as Groklaw) to find out what the hoopla is all about.

See http://www.groklaw.net/article.php?story=20050115131942494
for more (accurate) information.

tech.nix.yoda 01/16/05 09:52:45 AM EST

Linux Developer / Jeff / GrokScam

Since when is making valid and logical obsercations regarding a story and the resulting "support" acharacter attack.

Secondly, the story does not mention the IBM patent release as having any part of this. Unless ubass has info or analysis that says the 500 patatents released were to cover the 253 Microsoft uses to scare folk...

I will let you finish the thought. Please though, use logic when you do.

ubass 01/16/05 09:35:23 AM EST

This raises questions about the value of the IBM patent portfolio recently made available to FOSS. If that portfolio were all that was necessary, then a rewrite would not be required. Great reporting Ms. O'Gara.

Jeff Merkey 01/16/05 04:23:23 AM EST

I provided no input to Ms. O'Gara related to this story. I have more pressing issues than worrying about some brain dead project hosted by OSDL. I'm just surprised OSDL is going at all since it dependent on handouts from IBM and Intel.

Anyway, for those nut cases out there who post and claim I am at the bottom of everything, well, I'm not. I had nothing yo do with this particular story.

Joe7PaK 01/15/05 10:05:51 PM EST

Hey MOG, I hear CBS is looking for a few reporters ... looks to me like you'd fit right in.

Just Me 01/15/05 08:23:21 PM EST

Anticipated OSDL announcement blown out of proportion

http://trends.newsforge.com/article.pl?sid=05/01/15/136251

I am not Jeff Merkey 01/15/05 07:42:23 PM EST

But "Linux Developer" is.

Maureen, you should know better than to trust Jeff as an "informed source". What is it between the two of you anyway? Does Jeff's wife know? Assuming she's not a figment of his imagination, too.

T Goddard 01/15/05 05:02:16 PM EST

I have a simple perspective on this. Microsoft hates Linux. The GNU/Linux OS is open source and therefore patent infringements can be easily found and proven.

If Microsoft do own any patents which Linux breaches, why haven't Microsoft taken the matter to court?

I believe that even Microsoft don't think they could make a case based on these alleged patents stand up in court so these patents are more use to them untested as a way to spread FUD.

Bill Fuller 01/15/05 02:43:52 PM EST

Doesn't this woman ever bother to check the facts before she writes her crap - or would that take valuable time away from her constant spreading of FUD? Her stories are so worthless and devoid of facts that to line the bottom of a parakeet's cage with her articles would be an insult to the bird. Might as well just listen to Darl Mc Bride's lunacy - at least you would be getting it straight from the horse's ass, instead of second hand from another one.

GrueMaster 01/15/05 01:47:38 PM EST

Would everyone please quit slamming MOG? She is an excellent writer and this is another example of her exellence as a journalist. I mean, really, she has the best linux columns out there, and she continues to bring truth to the open source world in the same tradition as other great publications, like the "Weekly World News" or the Sun. Other publications and journalists take a Wall Street Journal approach, boring us with facts and information. MOG takes journalism to the cutting edge--and then some!

"Linux Developer" = MOG 01/15/05 01:46:43 PM EST

Thanks Maureen.

Linux Developer 01/15/05 01:41:17 PM EST

Why is it than anytime some makes an observation about Linux that a few people don't like, they attempt to character assassinate anyone who makes the statements? Linus has apparently publically admitted something everyone else has known for years, to put it bluntly, Linux is contaminated with the IP, patents, and trade secrets of others and infringes on other people's IP. I think it is a move in a positiv direction to attempt to clean up Linux. Unfortunately, it may be too little too late.

I mean, who is ever going to trust that Linux doesn't contain stolen intellectual property when the same people who did it in the first place are fixing it. It's like the fox coming from the hen house, with chicken feathers all over his lips, saying, "show me the chickens."

crunchie812 01/15/05 12:23:18 PM EST

For a more accurate perspective, and some insights into O'Gara's value as a reporter and analyst:

http://trends.newsforge.com/trends/05/01/15/136251.shtml?tid=148&tid=17&...
" Two OSDL officials, however, told NewsForge that the report was "inflation of reality" and "not close to accurate at all."

"It's just crazy," said one official, adding that the report's speculation on the patent strategy is "total fabrication as far as we can tell."

tech.nix.yoda 01/15/05 09:39:00 AM EST

re: bystander.

So making logical and critical observations about the article and comments around it are childish, eh?

Mirror?

bystander 01/15/05 04:33:31 AM EST

This is one of the silliest and most childish threads I have had the misfortune to read. May I make a constructive suggestion. The reporter should report whether she approached Linus Torvalds for confirmation, on behalf of OSDL, of this plan. And, if she did, she should report his response, that isn't much to ask. Failing a comment from Linus, or a specification of who she means by the "lights" of Linux, then what does it really matter...the speculation is just that, speculation. Facts are what we need here please. And as for the various idiotic posts on this thread: grow up!

malcontent123 01/15/05 12:15:23 AM EST

It's not enough to just boycott LWN. You must all boycott all SYS-CON advertisers.

The Mad Hatter 01/14/05 06:47:00 PM EST

While I do not think this story is at all accurate, the comments from various PRO/ANTI linux types are off the wall. Keep a lid on it folks.

Oh, and as to the supposed Kernal re-write - what everyone seems to forget is that the Kernal is re-written every two-three years anyway, just as Microsoft's Kernal is, and as Sun's Kernal... All of them are being re-written as we read this article - business as usual in the software trade.

Frank 01/14/05 05:35:57 PM EST

Hold on////

You are right about it being OG FUD, but I would think that she, as an analyst, would first do some research before making such a statement. How does she know the motivations of 1/3 of the patent holders, how did she interview them, when she does not know who they are? Oh wait, I keep forgetting that OG's sole purpose is to confuse and spread FUD.

Hold on 01/14/05 04:40:13 PM EST

/// "...at least another third of the 283 patents are owned by other people with little to lose in threatening enterprise Linux" Where did this come from? I don't recall Ravicher saying such a thing. ///

Where does the article suggest he did? this comment is made by the author. By Maureen O'G not by Ravicher. It's O'gara's point of view, that's quite clear. What you are writing here is just mischievous FUD of your own.

Kimball 01/14/05 04:21:19 PM EST

Rewriting the Linux kernel seems quite a major effort, the merit of which seems to be moot when at the same time being convinced that there is no infringement calling for such effort. I think it is fair to assume that these folks have better things to do then rewrite the kernel just for the sake and fun of it.

Bort 01/14/05 04:02:33 PM EST

an LBW advertiser boycott can be easily implemented with ad-blocking extensions to your web browser.

Matt 01/14/05 03:33:13 PM EST

I agree with the above. Ms. O'Gara should be removed from LBW staff; she is an embarassment. Also note that this phrase contains an actionable libel:

"...the components in the Linux kernel that have been found to tread on other people's IP"

this is stated as a fact -- infringements "have been found" -- not as an allegation or possibility.

Jez 01/14/05 03:27:36 PM EST

It's high time for a concerted boycott of LBW advertisers, until LBW ditches O'Gara.

Frank 01/14/05 02:35:19 PM EST

When will reporters who claim to be analysts begin to analyze? Your wording is interesting and misleading, but perhaps "to mislead" is your purpose. You say, "The Linux kernel is supposed to infringe on..." I remember reading Ravicher's words as MAY infringe. In fact he went out of his way not to put any value on the validity of any of the alledged patents and to say there were only possible infringements as none have ever been claimed against Linux or ruled upon in a court. "...at least another third of the 283 patents are owned by other people with little to lose in threatening enterprise Linux" Where did this come from? I don't recall Ravicher saying such a thing. In fact for him or anyone to do so they would first need to investigate all the patent holders, who "MAY" have been infringed on, to determine their motives.

darlmclied 01/14/05 02:33:18 PM EST

Why didn't you get Compuware's attorney to comment? You know, the guy who, along with Darl, misled[*] you about IBM's disovery "malfeasance" in Compuware vs IBM?

You know, the guy who was giving interviews about how Linux users might be liable to SCO without disclosing that he had a conflict of interest, representing Compuware against IBM.

[*] This is giving you the benefit of the doubt by assuming you were not co-operating with Darl and Compuware, trying to mislead the public.

tech.nix.yoda 01/14/05 02:32:36 PM EST

You're kidding.

First of all, since when has it ever been show to violate any patents.

Secondly, since was a CRIME to remove the ability to scare folkd to make money.

To all you PHB honks out there, think about that statement.

They want to take away MS's ability to SCARE YOU!

Ms. O'Gara, since when is it a company's right to scare the public into cash flow?

Oh thats right, when it is a monolopy.

This is sick.

W. Anderson 01/14/05 02:24:47 PM EST

Once again, Ms. O'Gara has overstepped truthfulness by stating in her article that Linux kernel "infringes" 200+ patents including a number from Microsoft.

This is a totally false quote from published reference speech and article. The "correct" statements, which were repeated again by author to quash comments like those above, were of "possible" patent infringements - to be determined only by court decision. Futhermore, most if not all more popular proprietary software were in exactly same poistion as singled out Linux kernel.

Tim Hanson 01/14/05 02:05:11 PM EST

I understood this portion was to be called:

"Barbarians at the Open ..."

Oh, never mind.

Wow 01/14/05 11:22:24 AM EST

/// The aim? To rob Microsoft of the ability to scare customers off of Linux by saying that the operating system is a patent infringer///

This is HUGE, HUGE NEWS. If it is corroborated - maybe by Linus himself, since he's at OSDL and so must be part of this if it's real - then it marks the biggest single leap forward that Linux has made since its inception. Bill Gates of course will be livid!!