Linux Foundation: Let's kill Microsoft's FAT

Linux Foundation: Let's kill Microsoft's FAT

Summary: The Linux Foundation is ready and willing to help companies get Microsoft's FAT out of their products.In his blog posted today about TomTom's settlement with Microsoft that was announced yesterday, foundation executive director Jim Zemlin said the case only proves that Microsoft was taking aim against Linux when it filed its lawsuit against TomTom last month and that it only undermines Microsoft's efforts to keep its technology relevant.

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The Linux Foundation is ready and willing to help companies get Microsoft's FAT out of their products.

In his blog posted today about TomTom's settlement with Microsoft that was announced yesterday, foundation executive director Jim Zemlin said the case only proves that Microsoft was taking aim against Linux when it filed its lawsuit against TomTom last month and that it only undermines Microsoft's efforts to keep its technology relevant.

Zemlin fired away on several fronts, attacking Microsoft's purported efforts to be a more open company and its ongoing campaign against Linux.

"In the last several days Microsoft has shown that despite claims of acquiring a newly found respect for open principles and technology, developers should be cautious in believing promises made by this “new” Microsoft. When it counts, it appears that Microsoft still actively seeks to undermine those technologies or standards that are truly open, especially when those technologies pose a significant threat to their business.

Yesterday, Microsoft announced with a formal press release a settlement of a nuisance patent case filed against a smaller company. Despite Microsoft’s protestations to the contrary, the press release makes it clear that the motivation behind this case was the fear, uncertainty and doubt Microsoft hoped the suit would create around the use of Linux. Linux is, not coincidentally, one of Microsoft’s strongest threats in the server, embedded and desktop computing arenas as evidenced in recent remarks make by its CEO Steve Ballmer.

The case proves only that the patent system -- and the modern operating system -- both need reform, Zemlin said.

In his words: "First, the software patent system in the US needs reform. The need for reform stems from why common functionality like this (which is neither innovative nor novel) was granted a patent in the first place.

Second, it proves that, even apart from this larger issue, this case is a non-event. The technology at the heart of this settlement is the FAT filesystem. As acknowledged by Microsoft in the press release, this file system is easily replaced with multiple technology alternatives. The Linux Foundation is here to assist interested parties in the technical coordination of removing the FAT filesystem from products that make use of it today.

There is one other fact clear from this case. Microsoft does not appear to be a leopard capable of changing its spots. Maybe it’s time developers go on a diet from Microsoft and get the FAT out of their products.

Zemlin also contends that the quick settlement demonstrates the power of the open source community and the inability of Microsoft to create a protracted legal drama like ones in the past that threatened adoption of Linux.

There is another silver lining here. We read the outcome of this case as a testament to the power of a concerted and well-coordinated effort by the Linux industry and organizations such as the Open Invention Network, the SFLC and the Linux Foundation. This was not merely a typical David vs. Goliath story. This time David aligned itself with the multiple slingshots of the Linux community. Microsoft relented as soon as TomTom showed they were aligned with that community and ready to fight. The system is working.

Topics: Linux, Microsoft, Open Source, Operating Systems, Software

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186 comments
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  • Good..

    Nobody needs FAT in the first place. Mac and Linux can read/write FAT only for incompatibility. Neither ever promoted to use it, because it's a bad filesystem.
    TedKraan
    • Replace FAT with LEAN

      Linux Enhanced . . . something, something. Anyone out there good with acronyms?
      Roger Ramjet
    • Thats sad....

      That these companies are producing stuff with a fat filesystem. I would find sales dropping if the devices just fail, doesn't make sense? I also don't understand why there is even a license for Open source if licenses are so bad? Everything is licensed, why not be the first to do away with licensing all together? Be fully consistent with their complaints of licensing. Its our choice to buy something or get it for free. Throw the money talk out the window and we end up with licenses on both sides. Weird. The FOSS seems to be kind of like MS that happens to be free. Whats wrong with freedom of choice?
      OhTheHumanity
      • FLOSS is freedom of choice

        In really free countries it is illegal to sell yourself as a slave. Would you call it lack of freedom?

        I see in your post some misconceptions. Please read a post I wrote about this and hopefuly they'll change

        http://rarsa.blogspot.com/2009/01/open-source-and-capitalism-some-people.html
        rarsa
  • From the word on the street, it sounds like MS settled for close to zero to

    make this go away and avoid having any patents invalidated. Microsoft quickly realized how thin the ice was that they were on.
    DonnieBoy
    • Quite right

      That is the reason why Microsoft settled so fast (and it was THEM coming to TomTom with an offer, contrary to the news reports). They KNEW their patent would be invalidated based on them not pushing this for so many years.

      As they say: got to sue to protect your patent, or you lose it!
      Lerianis
      • Once again ....

        ... show me a single reputable source that supports your claims. If you guys are going to continue to make it up as you go I am going to have to call you on it. Your post was idle speculation at best and total BS at worst.
        ShadeTree
        • Once again, why does it bother you so. Is your only argument that hope

          against all hope that TomTom really did have to pay millions????
          DonnieBoy
          • What bothers me is your ....

            ... assertions of fact when you don't have any.
            ShadeTree
          • YOU were arguing that MS won without knowing the amount of the payment.

            Meanwhile, the buzz on the street is that the amount was insignificant - a retreat my MS.
            DonnieBoy
          • Good Point

            A win is a win the amount of the settlement is irellevant except when you figure that it was in line with what the loser was capable of paying.
            trundor1
      • Sigh. That's *trademark*

        "As they say: got to sue to protect your patent, or you lose it!"

        That's *TRADEMARK*, not patents. Or copyrights. If you're going to comment at least use Google!
        wolf_z
    • Show me one legitimate source ....

      ...that makes that claim. Just one. I know you have been all over the blogs spouting it but that doesn't make it so!
      ShadeTree
      • Is that your ONLY argument?? That hope against hope the rumers are wrong

        and TomTom had to shell out millions???? Why does that bother you so much?? You even stated the amount does not matter, but now, faced with the reality that amount was insignificant, you are depressed.
        DonnieBoy
        • We want facts not your borderline-religious opinion

          You claim and claim the amount was 0 or insignificant, but when we ask for a source (That didn't come from your own blog or that dude in his basement), you say exactly the same thing, attempting (Very horribly, I might add) to dodge the facts and claim victory.

          When you give us a source, the rest of us may actually listen, but like every one of your posts, I have little hope that you will.
          TylerM89
          • Ok, YOU tell us how much it was, or, YOU can not claim this is a victory

            for MS. Just that MS got paid tells us nothing.

            But, the rumor is that MS essentially got nothing.
            DonnieBoy
          • It doesn't count

            when *YOU* created the rumor in the first place! (laughing)

            Give it up. TomTom lost. Regardless of the philosophical moaning, as it stands *right now* MS has a valid patent, they sued, TomTom settled--and paid (something), they're going to stop infringing, and they allow MS to use TomTom's patents.

            So by what stretch of the imagination can TomTom have been said to win?

            Well, they were able to extricate themselves in one piece, so I suppose that's a victory of sorts. :)
            wolf_z
          • The problem with rumors...

            is that they are sometimes based in fact. Unfortunatley not this one though the amount settled for may be insignificant to a multibillionaire like yourself but to the everage compamy it was quite significant as was the fact that they lost and MS won.
            trundor1
        • MS was asking for 1/4 million

          But then, that doesn't sound nearly as impressive as "millions" does it? :)
          wolf_z
    • Pffttt... THe world series was only won by one point.

      Guess what, they still won and the other team lost. One gets all the glory, the losers gets a plane ticket home.
      No_Ax_to_Grind