Novell statement on Microsoft’s GPLv3 position

On Friday, June 29, 2007, the Free Software Foundation released the final version of the new GNU Public License, GPLv3. Given the terms of GPLv3, we re-affirm Novell’s ability to include technologies licensed under GPLv2 or GPLv3 in SUSE Linux Enterprise, openSUSE, and other Novell offerings and to deliver these technologies to our customers. This is good news for our customers, who enjoy using the best engineered and most interoperable Linux platform for mission-critical computing. Novell welcomes and supports GPLv3, and intends to include code licensed under GPLv3 in its distribution.

Shortly after the GPLv3 license was released, Microsoft issued a statement in which they expressed their view that Microsoft is not a party to the GPLv3 and it is therefore not applicable to them. Yesterday, they also articulated that, “to avoid any doubt or legal debate on this issue, Microsoft has decided that the Novell support certificates that we distribute to customers will not entitle the recipient to receive from Novell, or any other party, any subscription for support and updates that includes the receipt of any code licensed under GPLv3.”

Microsoft’s current position, taken unilaterally, is intended to eliminate any perceived ambiguity about the applicability of GPLv3 to Microsoft. Nonetheless and independent of Microsoft’s position, we would like to make clear our commitment to our customers that Novell will continue to distribute SUSE Linux Enterprise Server with its full set of functionality and features, including those components that are licensed under GPLv3.

For those customers who will obtain their Linux via a certificate from Microsoft, Novell will provide them with a regular SUSE Linux Enterprise Server subscription, regardless of the terms of the certificate provided by Microsoft. Customers who have already received SUSE Linux Enterprise certificates from Microsoft are not affected in any way by this, since their certificates were fully delivered and redeemed prior to the publication of the GPLv3. Novell will continue to put the needs of our customers first and ensure that they can take advantage of the latest version of SUSE Linux Enterprise to run their business.

Novell and Microsoft plan to continue our technical collaboration efforts which include our joint development work on virtualization, standards-based systems management, identity interoperability and document format translators. Regarding the applicability of the covenants not to sue in the Novell-Microsoft agreement and their applicability in a GPLv3 world, our respective customers will continue to have the benefit of those provisions. For Novell customers, all Novell products are covered by the Microsoft covenant not to sue, independent of their channel of distribution, including both server and desktop and whether they are licensed under GPLv2 or GPLv3.

Novell is committed to providing the best engineered, best supported and most interoperable Linux distribution for our customers. Customers can remain confident deploying SUSE Linux Enterprise Server under the Novell–Microsoft agreement. Nothing in the final version of GPLv3 prevents us from maintaining that promise. For us, it’s business as usual.

Novell Open PR.