Linux users say 'Sue me first, Microsoft'

Open-source software users are asking Microsoft to sue them, a tongue-in-cheek response to the company's recent patents claims over Linux

In an unconventional request, some users of Linux and other open-source software are inviting Microsoft to sue them.

The users have put their names on a public wiki as a way of protesting Microsoft's recent claims that Linux and other open-source software infringe on at least 235 of its patents. They've listed the open-source OSes and software they use, along with frequently snarky comments.

"If you would like to invite a visit by Brad Smith, Microsoft's head litigator, please feel free to add your name here," according to the wiki, part of a blog by Digital Tipping Point, a video project centered around open-source software.

Microsoft maintains it has no immediate plans to sue, although it is encouraging companies to license its intellectual property. Open-source advocates on the list want Microsoft to prove that it has valid patent claims against Linux.

Microsoft has been evasive about details, saying broadly that the patents involve the Linux kernel and user interface; the OpenOffice productivity suite and other open-source applications, including e-mail programs.

The list had more than 250 people on it as of Tuesday morning.

"I use Gentoo Linux and exclusively FOSS (free and open-source software) tools to write experimental speech and natural language processing prototypes," wrote Sean Jensen [cq], of London. "And for music. And other fun stuff. No, Microsoft, you did not invent any of this. It ain't yours, it ain't mine, it ain't theirs. It's ours. All of ours."

Joe Grigg [cq] of Kalamazoo, Michigan, wrote that he has used the Ubuntu and Vector Linux distributions since Windows XP's security left him "sickened."

"Microsoft's business practices made me ashamed to own a computer," Grigg wrote. "I now run a LAMP (Linux, Apache MySQL, Perl) server and develop professional websites on LAMP servers and am 100 percent Microsoft free."

Emrah Aœnal [cq], who listed his locale as Turkey and Finland, wrote: "As a Linux user for nine years, I believe I deserve to be sued. There's no escape from justice."

Microsoft did not have an immediate comment on Tuesday morning.

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