Xandros CEO Defends Microsoft Deal - InformationWeek
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Xandros CEO Defends Microsoft Deal

Xandros CEO Andreas Typaldos says his company's deal with Microsoft will help increase Linux adoption rates.

Xandros CEO Andreas Typaldos said his company's technical and marketing agreement with Microsoft will help increase Linux adoption rates because users will have access to improved technology and won't have to fear lawsuits from Redmond.

"What's good for adoption rates is good for Linux," Typaldos said in an interview.

Responding to criticism that tie-ups between Linux distributors and Microsoft amount to a sellout of the open source community, Typaldos said Linux users can actually benefit from such arrangements.

"We're working toward interoperability" between Microsoft systems and Xandros' Linux-based server products, said Typaldos. "This agreement goes well beyond the desktop."

Under a deal announced Monday, Xandros and Microsoft agreed to a broad set of joint technology and marketing initiatives. Among other things, the companies plan to develop software that will link Xandros' System Management tools with Microsoft's System Center -- with an eye to giving IT departments an easier way to manage heterogeneous environments.

Xandros also plans to license a set of Microsoft server communication protocols in order to make its Linux offerings more Windows friendly.

Under the most controversial aspect of the deal, Microsoft will extend "patent covenants" to Xandros' Linux customers, waving its right to sue them for using what the company claims is Microsoft technology embedded in Linux. "For users, it's a way of saying that if sparks fly between Linux and Microsoft, they have insurance," said Typaldos.

Microsoft struck a similar agreement with Linux distributor Novell in November.

The Linux community disputes the claim that the operating system, or other open source software, violates Microsoft patents. In response to the Novell pact, the group that governs open source licensing is in the process of adding provisions to a widely used license that would prohibit Linux distributors from striking patent-protection deals with commercial developers.

Under the third version of the General Public License, expected to be published in final form this month by the Free Software Foundation, all such deals that were not inked by March 28 are forbidden. As a result, it would appear that Xandros will not be allowed to distribute open source code licensed under GPLv3 because of its relationship with Microsoft. Typaldos said he's not concerned. "If you are a businessperson, you can't worry about every eventuality."

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