Co-founder of Samba and open source stalwart, Jeremy Allison, has resigned from Novell, calling the firm a "pariah" because of its deal with Microsoft.
He said in a statement that the deal was a "mistake" and will damage Novell in the future.
The Novell-Microsoft patent-sharing and legal indemnity deal has caused strong feelings within Novell and the open source community. Red Hat executive Mark Webbink called it an act of appeasement in the sense of being bought off by a competitor.
Following the deal's announcement Microsoft attempted a PR hijack by claiming it supported its contention that Linux users were unlawfully using Microsoft intellectual property (IP). Novell CEO Ron Hovespian strongly and publicly disagreed saying Novell did not sign up to that.
In November, the entire Samba team at Novell publicly criticised the Microsoft-Novell deal. They wanted Novell to re-think its involvement.
Recently Novell has issued a release saying customers are supporting the deal. In another boost to its open source credentials, a SuSE co-founder, Hubert Mantel, who resigned from Novell in November 2005 after Novell bought the SuSE Linux business, rejoined Novell in a surprise move.
Mantel is supportive of the Microsoft-Novell deal, saying: "Now even Microsoft acknowledges that (Linux) exists and will not go away. We are not working against somebody, we are working for Linux. Fundamentalism always leads to pain."
Virtually simultaneously, and providing proof of his fundamentalism point, Allison resigned. His statement said: "My main issue with this deal is I believe that even if it does not violate the letter of the licence it violates the intent of the GPL licence the Samba code is released under, which is to treat all recipients of the code equally."
The statement included a copy of an earlier and strongly-worded letter of his to Novell senior management. That letter stated: "Whilst the Microsoft patent agreement is in place there is *nothing* we can do to fix community relations. And I really mean nothing."
"We can pledge patents all we wish, we can talk to the press and 'community leaders', we can do all the right things wrt all our other interactions, but we will still be known as GPL violators and that's the end of it. The Microsoft patent agreement has put us outside the community, and there is no positive aspect to that fact, and no way to make it so. Until the patent provision is revoked, we are pariahs."
Allison has decided enough is enough, Novell management isn't going to revoke the agreement and so he is leaving. He is joining Google and continuing to work on the open source Samba project. There he will find Andrew Morton who is a close asociate of Linux founder Linus Torvalds.
Google is a major user of open-source software and a participant in open source projects. There are now only two members of the Samba team who still work for Novell.