IBM reluctant to discuss their use of Wine

Interesting post from InfoWorld: Top News stating the IBM seems reticent to talk about using Wine in-house, perhaps out of concern for potential liability. The article that the threat is likely to come from Microsoft’s vast patent portfolio, and the thought that a Wine developer could be unknowingly infringing on a patented process. This is yet another example of why software patents are inherently a bad idea. Copyright protects the expression of an idea, so that someone cannot lift your source code without your permission. But patents protect the very idea itself. In the physical world of patents, an invention physically identical to someone else’s is unlikely to happen by chance. But in computer software source code, there are only so many ways to make a process happen, to click, drag and drop, and there are common and “best practices” guidelines on how code should work. Software development should be a commons of ideas building on other ideas, not a wasteland of locked-up, owned, restricted ideas.

IBM a reluctant user of Wine software. “IBM’s effort to promote Linux as a viable alternative on the company’s 350,000 corporate desktops took a step forward last month, when the company’s IT organization began supporting the open-source Firefox browser. However, while the move to support a browser that runs on Linux may provide a boost for both Firefox and IBM’s internal Linux effort, Big Blue hasn’t been nearly so eager to promote a lesser-known piece of software, called Wine, that it has used to advance Linux on the desktop.”

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