Restriction on distribution by Novell?

Justin Clift justin at
Tue Sep 26 13:47:55 UTC 2006

Hi Philippe,

No worries, this is Paragraph 5 in full (the whole document only has 6 

   "Upgrade Protection Benefits. The purchase of Upgrade Protection for 
a specific installation of SUSE Linux entitles Customer to install and 
use all Upgrades and Updates (see below) made commercially available by 
Novell during the period covered by the Upgrade Protection, up to the 
number of installations for which Customer has purchased Upgrade 
Protection. Update means a fix or compilation of fixes released by 
Novell to correct operational defects (program bugs) in the SUSE Linux 
product. Upgrade means any new version of SUSE Linux which bears the 
same product name, including version changes evidenced by a number 
immediately to either the left or right of the decimal (e.g. for SLES 
8.0 to 9.0). If a question arises as to whether a product offering is an 
Upgrade or a new product, Novell's opinion will prevail, provided that 
Novell treats the product offering the same for its end users generally. 
If Novell commercially releases any Upgrades and/or Updates, Novell will 
make such Upgrades and/or Updates available to Customer within a 
reasonable period of time after they become commercially available. 
Customer acknowledges that Novell cannot guarantee any specific 
turnaround times and/or regular release intervals."

When I asked our Novell Territory Exec he directly said we're only 
allowed to apply downloaded updates to SLES9 boxes we've already bought 
licenses for (in line with the above).

This appears to be curtailing some of the freedoms expressed in at least 
the GPL, and it appears to be occurring in Real World practice as well.

All thoughts appreciated.

Regards and best wishes,

Justin Clift

Philippe Verdy wrote:
> Using the Novell's distribution services for updates (i.e. direct connections to Novell's servers) may be restricted to a few registered computers/users, but I don't think that redistribution can be limited. So, downloaded updates can't be restricted.
> It would be smarter to include the full paragraph 5 to see what it applies to, notably because the GPL clearly states that redistribution is ALWAYS permitted, and accesses to the sources must be given to all users by the redistributors (so the redistribution right of sources must be granted by the redistributor, who must then be able to include the sources as well as the binary updates in its redistribution).
> I don't think however that Novell must provide the sources (including sources modified by Novell to create the updates) to those who have not licenced the software directly from them, but Novell cannot limit their redistribution by their licensees.
> ----- Original Message ----- 
> From: <justin at>
> To: <license-discuss at>
> Sent: Tuesday, September 26, 2006 8:58 AM
> Subject: Restriction on distribution by Novell?
>> Hi all,
>> Just came across something interesting.  Although Novell's SuSE Linux  
>> Enterprise Software (SLES) product allows for unlimited use once  
>> purchased:
>>   "You may make and use unlimited copies of the Software for Your  
>> distribution and use within Your Organization."
>> They have been clever with their terms for receiving updates (Upgrade  
>> Protection).  They appear to restrict the number of servers to which  
>> the updates can be applied:
>>  (paragraph 5)  "... up to the number of installations for which  
>> Customer has purchased Upgrade Protection."
>> The updates in this case are software updates under various OSI  
>> certified licenses (i.e. GPL, etc) which prohibit restriction on  
>> distribution.
>> Have I missed something here, or is Novell doing the wrong thing?

The Flame Project - Open Source GUI for animated SVG & Flash

More information about the License-discuss mailing list