Jeremy Allison leaves Novell in protest

Lead Samba developer and vocal open source figure Jeremy Allison has left his position at Novell in protest of their recent patent-protection agreement with Microsoft. It is a great move from Jeremy who has made it clear in the past that his principles (and tongue lashings) will not be bent by corporate pressure.

In a parting shot Jeremy made public a letter he had sent to Novell management. Within it he made a brilliant point regarding the patent agreement and the often misunderstood reaction to it by the Free Software community:

"Do you think that if we'd have found what we legally considered a clever way around the Microsoft EULA so we didn't have to pay for Microsoft licenses and had decided to ship, oh let's say, "Exchange Server" under this "legal hack" that Microsoft would be silent about it - or we should act aggr[i]eved when they change the EULA to stop us doing this?"

It is an excellent point that brings into question people's willingness to accept theft and wrong doing as something that can only occur to an object with a defined monetary value. The components that form GNU Linux have a value, they are Free in all senses of the word. Yet when Novell and Microsoft found a way around the GPL2 license to 'sell' their patent-protection alongside GNU Linux many in the industry viewed it as completely honest and worthwhile. This even though the agreement broke in spirit, but not in practice, the licensing terms of the GPL2.

UPDATE: CNET is reporting that Jeremy Allison will be joining Google in the new year.