The open source foundation governing the licensing of open source software may strip Novell of its right to sell Linux as a result of its recent Microsoft deal.

The £300-million deal Novell struck with Microsoft last November led to criticism from Free Software Foundation (FSF) members that the principles underpinning its free intellectual property practices could be infringed.

A FSF review kicked off last Friday underway could punish Novell by withdrawing its right to sell and distribute new versions of the Linux operating system, which accounted for some 5% of its revenue last year.

Eben Moglen, FSF general counsel said: "The community of people wants to do anything they can to interfere with this deal and all deals like it. They have every reason to be deeply concerned that this is the beginning of a significant patent aggression by Microsoft."

Novell declined to make any comment until the review had made a ‘final determination,’ according to a spokesman.