SuSE Denies UnitedLinux Per-Seat License Model; Announces Developer's Version
Jun 03, 2002, 20:30 (37 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Brian Proffitt)
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By Brian Proffitt,
Managing Editor, Linux Today
Representatives from SuSE Linux are anxious to help clear the
air about some misunderstandings they feel have arisen around
recent news regarding UnitedLinux. And to accomplish this, they
have revealed plans for a developer's release of the new
UnitedLinux, a joint enterprise-oriented distrbution that will
be created from the combined resources of Caldera, Conectiva, SuSE,
and TurboLinux, was announced last week to the Linux community at
large. Most of the reactions from industry analysts and community
notables has been a wait and see approach. Some, however, have
taken some strong exceptions to what they perceive UnitedLinux is
trying to accomplish.
One of the most prevalent concerns is the alledged
implementation of a per-seat licensing policy for UnitedLinux.
According to SuSE, nothing could be further from the truth, at
least as far as SuSE is concerned.
"We really don't plan any per-seat licensing for UnitedLinux,"
said SuSE's US Director of Sales Holger Dyroff. While he could not
speak for the other companies within the UnitedLinux consortium,
Dyroff was emphatic that such a major shift in licesning policy was
never in the works for their products released under the
Under the agreement signed by the companies last week, each of
the four distribution firms will contribute skills, manpower, and
other resources to the development of a single UnitedLinux
distrbution, which will then be marketed and released separately by
each individual company. Each release will be branded by the
individual companies, and will carry a "Powered by UnitedLinux"
From some media reports, early statements from Caldera indicated
that they were considering a per-seat license model for their
UnitedLinux products and that perhaps other members of the
consortium were considering this model as well. Given the separate
marketing and sales structure each company has, it is entirely
possible that any of the firms involved could use a per-seat
license model, though no one in the consortium has made a formal
statement regarding this possibility.
According to statements made by the consortium, the source code
for the product would be made available under the GPL, though the
binaries would not. This raised speculation that a per-seat
licensing arrangement was in the works, particularly when no
details were given on just how that source code would be
Dyroff acknowledged that no mention was made at the time of last
week's announcement regarding the source code or development access
to the UnitedLinux distribution, but he told Linux Today
this afternoon that plans were indeed in the works to provide
access to the distro for developers.
"We plan on having a downloadable developer's version as well,"
he stated. "We are absolutely committed to working with the
community to produce this product under the GPL."
Currently, none of SuSE's products have a per-seat license
arrangement, though the SuSE Maintenance utility (similar to the
Red Hat Network) that is integral to the SuSE product does have a
per-seat fee arrangement, Dyroff explained. The company has no
plans to change this approach when they released their co-branded
UnitedLinux enterprise product.
Bradley Kuhn, Executive Director of the Free Software
Foundation, who spoke strongly against a per-seat license model
from UnitedLinux in media interviews last week, was interested to
learn that SuSE was not planning on engaging in per-seat licensing.
But, he was quick to add that this did not change the FSF's main
concerns regarding UnitedLinux.
Kuhn stated that the FSF has long been concerned with the
distribution companies' approach to free software. "Every one of
these GNU/Linux companies have been including non-free software
with their releases of GNU/Linux," he said, "It's a wrong-headed
approach to mix free and non-free software."
Citing SuSE's own YaST application as an example, Kuhn said that
the inclusion of software such as this completely negated the value
of distribution. He feels the market is bearing the FSF out, too.
"Users don't want this non-free software in their distros."
Dyroff and SuSE is engaged in a bit of damage control with
respect to other areas surrounding UnitedLinux.
Because the product is targeted solely to the enterprise, Dyroff
lamented, many people are under the impression that SuSE will be
abandoning its desktop product line. Dyroff reiterated statements
he made last week to the media that while they won't be within the
UnitedLinux line, SuSE plans on maintaining releases of their SuSE
Personal and SuSE Professional editions and stressed that SuSE has
absolutely no plans to give up on their desktop models.