Ryan Paul at Ars has a fantastic illustrated timeline of the Microsoft/Novell deal and the subsequent flamewar among tech companies. Here’s his conclusion:
Now that the steady stream of accusations has died down, the implications of the deal are beginning to become more apparent. Although Ballmer validated the critics’ concerns with unsubstantiated patent infringement claims, the claims themselves haven’t negatively affected Linux adoption. Microsoft has been making baseless claims about Linux since 2004, and it seems apparent at this point that few outside of the Linux community really take those claims seriously. It is ironic that the Linux community itself raised the profile of Ballmer’s patent infringement assertion and perpetuated its relevance with such a vehement response. Regardless of the motivations behind Ballmer’s actions, the most detrimental consequence of the entire deal and subsequent fallout is the fragmentation that has resulted from the prevailing divisive attitude that it has engendered in members of the Linux community. The success of the Linux operating system is largely predicated on the collaboration of the Linux development community, and this petty squabbling impedes that collaboration. What the corporate executives of these companies have declared, with stentorian vehemence, is that they are all abundantly willing to abandon collaboration and take advantage of each other whenever it is convenient.
You should check out the rest of it for the pictures, if nothing else.