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11.08.07

What Lies Beneath (Another Mono Alert)

Posted in Finance, GNOME, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Mono, Patents at 4:33 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Further to a recent comment, Slated adds his conclusions:

I think the “Mono by the back door” quote sums up the truth of what is really going on, WRT these Mono binding dependencies.

That’s how I see it anyway – Gnome and Novell are basically trying to “sneak” Mono in the back door, and hope that nobody notices, until it’s too late. The harsh reality; it probably already is.

When I think of Gnome now, I think of Novell, and when I think of Novell, I think of Microsoft. Anyone who has taken a stand against Novell, because of their uncomfortably close relationship with Microsoft, must surely think of Gnome in the same light, since they are driven by the same destructive forces, of which (of course) de Icaza is a central part.”

That is essentially the Mono-tisation of GNU/Linux.

Mono is greed

”It’s the Greek bearing gifts and a Trojan horse that will add ‘Microsoft tax’ to your GNU/Linux.“The key issue here is the (virtually so) forcing of people to use Mono, which sounds benign. But then, come to consider the fact that Microsoft only gave Novell ‘protection’ for Mono. It will last for just 5 years. Xandros and Linspire did not get this ‘protection’. That alone ought to tell you a lot about Microsoft’s plan (it gave it away really). It’s something that we emphasised many times before, in the Web site and elsewhere. We just need more people to finally listen to us and understand what is going on.

Be sure and aware of what Mono is all about. Beware packages like Tomboy. It’s the Greek bearing gifts and a Trojan horse that will add ‘Microsoft tax’ to your GNU/Linux. Here is some artwork we’ve just been sent and were permitted to use.

Novell/Microsoft Monopoly


Credit: slated.org

Patent coupon from novell


Credit: beranger.org

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16 Comments

  1. Joe Shaw said,

    November 8, 2007 at 8:04 pm

    Gravatar

    When I think of Gnome now, I think of Novell…

    I should hope so. Novell (and Ximian before that) have been significant contributors to GNOME, even ignoring the so-called pollution of GNOME with Mono. Still today they are significant contributors to the core platform, which is (and forever will be) in C.

    Anyone who has taken a stand against Novell… must surely think of Gnome in the same light, since they are driven by the same destructive forces, of which (of course) de Icaza is a central part.

    Miguel hasn’t been involved in GNOME in any meaningful way in probably 5 years. I doubt he’s written a patch for a GNOME program in that time. His focus has been solely on Mono for several years now. If he’s being “quiet” on the GNOME/Mono/OOXML front, it’s probably because he doesn’t care. (And the fact that this site will jump on his words probably doesn’t help.)

    The key issue here is the (virtually so) forcing of people to use Mono, which sounds benign.

    Novell does not set packaging policy for Fedora, Ubuntu, or any distribution other than SUSE-based ones. Nobody is forcing these distributions to ship or use this software, regardless of whether it has the official GNOME stamp or not. And to date all the Mono software has been on the periphery, at the individual application level. Only Beagle could really be argued as somewhat of a platform item, but it’s always been optional at the source code level. It seems your indignation against Novell in this case is misplaced — it would better be directed to the Ubuntu and Fedora communities, among others.

    A worthy thought experiment might be to ask yourself: why would these distributions do this? Why would they ship Mono software, or make Yelp depend on a C Beagle library? Maybe it’s software or functionality that their users are demanding. Maybe the corporate backers of these distributions have done a cost-benefit analysis and don’t feel that there’s a realistic risk from Microsoft. Maybe it’s something else. But I think it would be difficult to argue that the leaders of these distributions and their communities didn’t have free will and weren’t unknowledgeable of sites like this one and the opinions it holds.

    I, for one, would have a lot more respect for this site if it called for a boycott of Fedora and Ubuntu because of this. Or if the authors, commenters, and others started a “Boycott Novell” Linux distribution to avoid exactly these problems.

    Be sure and aware of what Mono is all about. Beware packages like Tomboy. It’s the Greek bearing gifts and a Trojan horse that will add ‘Microsoft tax’ to your GNU/Linux.

    Maybe, but the evidence just isn’t there. Microsoft is a boogey man, but historically doesn’t have any teeth. They don’t bring patent lawsuits against others, and lose virtually every one brought against them. Hopefully it won’t be long before they realize they’re on the wrong side of the fence financially and start lobbying against software patents — but I’m not holding my breath.

    The bigger concern than Mono and Microsoft in my mind are patent trolls. Look at the IP Innovation LLC suit against Novell and Red Hat. That’s the first of many to come, and those are the lawsuits that will be crippling to Linux, not Mono.

    Joe

  2. Roy Schestowitz said,

    November 8, 2007 at 8:40 pm

    Gravatar

    Joe,

    Just a couple of quick points:

    • The issue with Mono does not just involve software patents. With .NET going shared source, there’s the risk of SCO-type action.
    • Do you not think that Microsoft’s selective handling of Mono ‘protection’ ought to trigger concerns?
  3. Joe Shaw said,

    November 8, 2007 at 8:54 pm

    Gravatar

    Roy,

    The issue with Mono does not just involve software patents. With .NET going shared source, there’s the risk of SCO-type action.

    Possible, but this isn’t anything new or particular to Mono. This was the case with Java for years (and maybe still is). This was also the case with Linux and BSD, Linux with Minix, Linux with Unix. It’s just a reality of life in open source, and you have to be sure of your copyrights — Mono isn’t special in any way here. I think that Mono’s guidelines on this as a project are pretty clear:

    http://mono-project.com/Contributing#Important_Rules

    It seems to me that an easier attack vector for Microsoft if they were going to do this would be to do it in (a) a module that is more core to a Linux system than Mono and (b) in a module that was under less scrutiny than Mono.

    Do you not think that Microsoft’s selective handling of Mono ‘protection’ ought to trigger concerns?

    I don’t think Mono has any sort of special status here? Can you point to a source? No more special than the Linux kernel, GNOME, KDE, OpenOffice, etc. That is, they’ve committed to not suing Novell customers who they believe are infringing on their patents.

    In any case, I’m not particularly concerned about it, for the reasons I mentioned in my last comment. Microsoft has a lot more to lose (because of countersuits by the OIN at a minimum) than any patent troll. A few years ago Novell bought a bunch of e-commerce patents (through a holding company to disguise their identity) to bolster a defensive portfolio along with important networking patents from the NetWare days. I think that some of those patents were donated by Novell to the OIN, and those would obviously be pretty damaging to Microsoft.

    Joe

  4. Joe Shaw said,

    November 8, 2007 at 8:58 pm

    Gravatar

    Hi again,

    Also note that the MS/Novell agreement does not contain a covenant not to sue one another, so there is nothing to stop MS from suing Novell for patent infringement, or (more likely) a suit by Novell against MS for going after some piece of open source code. Novell has said they would sue to defend open source if it affected them… I’m not sure how much you trust their word, but I think they would actually do it.

    Joe

  5. Roy Schestowitz said,

    November 8, 2007 at 9:03 pm

    Gravatar

    Have a quick look at the the following piece .

    I read the agreement between Xandros and Microsoft, and one of the excluded products was Mono, so Microsoft promises to not sue Xandros over their distribution but excluding Mono and a few other products, i.e. they reserve the right to sue over Mono. I wonder if this is an interesting preview of on what basis they want to fight the free world.

    Interestingly, the Novell deal seems to be different, Mono is not excluded from the Novell deal. So Microsoft seems to be promising not to sue Novell over Mono, but keeps the option open for Xandros. Weird but true.

    That’s the point I was referring to in my second point. As for the former point, Alberto Barrionuevo (FFII) recently said:

    Brad, you are confusing .NET with C# and CLI, that are the only parts of .NET that are standardized by ECMA and ISO. But .NET is much more, and Mono(pol) is using much more than these standardized parts. Just read a little:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/.NET_Framework

    @@@@@@@@@
    Standardization and licensing
    In August 2000, Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard, and Intel worked to standardize CLI and the C# programming language. By December 2001, both were ratified ECMA standards (ECMA 335 and ECMA 334). ISO followed in April 2003 (ISO/IEC 23271 and ISO/IEC 23270).
    While Microsoft and their partners hold patents for CLI and C#, ECMA and ISO require that all patents essential to implementation be made available under “reasonable and non-discriminatory (RAND) terms.” In addition to meeting these terms, the companies have agreed to make the patents available royalty-free.
    However, this does not apply for the part of the .NET Framework which is not covered by the ECMA/ISO standard, which includes Windows Forms, ADO.NET, and ASP.NET. Patents that Microsoft holds in these areas may deter non-Microsoft implementations of the full framework.
    @@@@@@@@@@

    Additionally, you are supposing that ECMA is warranty enough to avoid patent threats. Check the two patent (non)licenses of Microsoft for OOXML and you’ll check that ECMA is far from any warranty regarding patents. Indeed ISO, who many times grants RAND standards instead of open standards.

  6. Roy Schestowitz said,

    November 8, 2007 at 9:10 pm

    Gravatar

    Your last message seems to align with statements that the Novell/Microsoft deal was therefore pointless. Thank you.

    Novell has said they would sue to defend open source if it affected them… I’m not sure how much you trust their word, but I think they would actually do it.

    Sure, so why did Novell not just stick with OIN? Why did it fuel Microsoft’s patent FUD by signing a patent deal that was rendered moot from the very start? I believe that’s because Microsoft paid Novell over $300 million.

  7. Joe Shaw said,

    November 8, 2007 at 9:15 pm

    Gravatar

    Interestingly, the Novell deal seems to be different, Mono is not excluded from the Novell deal. So Microsoft seems to be promising not to sue Novell over Mono, but keeps the option open for Xandros. Weird but true.

    Well, I haven’t read the entirety of the Xandros deal, but the Novell deal does not offer any protection for Novell itself, only its customers.

    This is such a key aspect of the deal that is overlooked that the rest of this post seems to be highly suspicious in fact.

    But in any case, why does it matter if Red Hat and Ubuntu users (by far the majority of server and desktop users out there today) aren’t parties to similar deals?

    With regards to your former point, the SCO case was a copyright case. The post you included seems to be related to patents. They’re both lumped together as “intellectual property”, but they’re quite different:

    http://www.fsf.org/licensing/essays/not-ipr.xhtml

    Can you articulate what you have in mind when you say a “SCO-type action”?

    WRT the comment itself, I think what Alberto says is right. One thing that people are pushing for is for Mono to split up and distribute the strictly ECMA-conforming parts separately from the cloned parts. But still, this has nothing to do with copyright. And I don’t think there’s any reason to believe that Novell wouldn’t defend its own (revenue generating) open source Mono project if MS were to sue over it.

    Joe

  8. Roy Schestowitz said,

    November 8, 2007 at 9:36 pm

    Gravatar

    But in any case, why does it matter if Red Hat and Ubuntu users (by far the majority of server and desktop users out there today) aren’t parties to similar deals?

    The nature of the deal is divisive. If Microsoft decides to give Moonlight the go-ahead (for now… but Moonlight can only be bundled by and downloaded from Novell), it could later use some threats to divide further (differentiation) and group Linux users like sheep inside the SUSE pen. This includes all forms of unspecified ‘taxation’ (per-unit royalties).

    This brings to the discussion another key point, which is Microsoft’s use of the World Wide Web to pretty much pressure or force Linux users to pick up Mono.

    With regards to your former point, the SCO case was a copyright case. The post you included seems to be related to patents. They’re both lumped together as “intellectual property”, but they’re quite different:

    http://www.fsf.org/licensing/essays/not-ipr.xhtml

    Can you articulate what you have in mind when you say a “SCO-type action”?

    Consider the article about the Mono death trap, as SJVN shrewdly referred to it. It explains the resemblance to SCO.

  9. Joe Shaw said,

    November 8, 2007 at 10:23 pm

    Gravatar

    The nature of the deal is divisive.

    I would say that it’s divisive in part because you help make it so.

    Consider the article about the Mono death trap, as SJVN shrewdly referred to it. It explains the resemblance to SCO.

    Well, first off, I don’t know that citing your own articles is a good citation, but in reading that, it’s no different than what I said before:

    Possible, but this isn’t anything new or particular to Mono. This was the case with Java for years (and maybe still is). This was also the case with Linux and BSD, Linux with Minix, Linux with Unix. It’s just a reality of life in open source, and you have to be sure of your copyrights — Mono isn’t special in any way here. I think that Mono’s guidelines on this as a project are pretty clear:

    http://mono-project.com/Contributing#Important_Rules

    It seems to me that an easier attack vector for Microsoft if they were going to do this would be to do it in (a) a module that is more core to a Linux system than Mono and (b) in a module that was under less scrutiny than Mono.

    The other thing to note is that the SCO case, while a huge pain in the ass and waste of money, didn’t lead to any injunctions that prevented the distribution of Linux, and in the end we prevailed. This could happen with any project, not just Mono, and it could come from anybody, not just Microsoft. It’s a reality of the open source model.

    Ok, well, I am done with this. It’s been fun.

    Regards,
    Joe

  10. Victor Soliz said,

    November 8, 2007 at 11:04 pm

    Gravatar

    So, the covenant is not really about suing each other, it is just about not suing costumers, that sure is much better.

    The issue remains, doesn’t it. Microsoft itself considers that MONO is a product that gives them the right to sue Linux users (else they wouldn’t explicitly remove them from the second class distros’ agreements).

    So, let’s say Microsoft’s fantasy goes true, and we got Mono into gnome and everybody needs silverlight in their computers just to browse the web. Microsoft will be able to sue anybody that uses Linux that does not come from Novell… It is effectively exclusively giving Novell the “right” to distribute that thing we call Linux, which in this case would be Kernel + DE. We would have two kinds of Linux distributions, the ones that come with MS’ blessing (since you are indeed paying MS) so you can use your beloved MONO and the ones that will make you subject to legal threats if you use MONO or if MS got reasons to think you have used MONO without using an MS’ approved distribution… (And if you dare not to install MONO you will be unable to use the web, brilliant!)

    It is a fact, and I hope people don’t begin to deny what Novell people themselves have stated, that the only legal way to get moonlight will be from Novell (And moonlight is called open source by its developers…). Excuse me but that’s is enough reason for me not to trust all things Novell and all things MONO.

  11. Victor Soliz said,

    November 8, 2007 at 11:14 pm

    Gravatar

    I would say that it’s divisive in part because you help make it so.

    With leadership like Torvalds and Stallman I would say Linux is more than able to survive a few controversy.

    The real divisive part of the deal is the objective to get two kinds of Linux, the one that gets MS’ blessing and has more “features” such a windows interoperability and the rogue one that disrespects OP and is inoperable with windows.

    Of course, we know it is mostly BS, since samba is the same for all distros and THAT’s the thing doing 90% of the interoperability between windows and Linux, but that’s the intention of it.

    You may try to deny it, but the thing is that neither Novell or Microsoft have done anything to prove otherwise. Novell advertises SUSE as the only Linux distribution with windows operability and Microsoft constantly advertises the deal as a “demonstration that open source is not free and that they are going to have to respect their IP” . With such statements and actions coming from the companies that made the deal themselves, I certainly cannot go into saying the deal is any good to Linux or open source or free software.

  12. Roy Schestowitz said,

    November 8, 2007 at 11:21 pm

    Gravatar

    It is a fact, and I hope people don’t begin to deny what Novell people themselves have stated, that the only legal way to get moonlight will be from Novell (And moonlight is called open source by its developers…). Excuse me but that’s is enough reason for me not to trust all things Novell and all things MONO.

    Two quick points:

    1. Mono is not open source. It contains proprietary codecs, by Miguel’s own admission.
    2. Moonlight is an incomplete implementation of Silverlight which cannot have some of Vista’s boosting of and integration with Silverlight (XAML). This means that Silverlight makes many people second-class citizens on the Web, legal considerations aside.
  13. eet said,

    November 9, 2007 at 8:16 am

    Gravatar

    for 1): Not true. Just where to you get such nonsense? Please don’t make ridiculous claims without offering proof.

    You are not refering to video-codecs, are you? You can embedd proprietary-format video in HTML, too, but that doesn’t mean HTML contains proprietary codecs…

    for 2): And now where did you pull this ‘fact’ from?

    ATM I get the impression that the ‘trolls’ are not MS and Novell but you, Sir.

    Note: comment has been flagged for arriving from an abusive Internet troll

  14. Roy Schestowitz said,

    November 9, 2007 at 2:12 pm

    Gravatar

    eet,

    Based on your last three comments, you are here with malicious plans. About your claims, I could be doing your ‘homework” for you, but all this information is out there. You can research to find the answers. Given how rude you’ve been so far, I’m not inclined to fetch URLs at the moment.

  15. eet said,

    November 9, 2007 at 3:21 pm

    Gravatar

    I take that for a “yes” to my question whether you were about video-codecs and a ‘I don’t care about facts for this is my blog and I can write what I want to’ to my second question.

    Talking about being rude, isn’t it funny how touchy people who themselves don’t care about crossing the border to outright slander suddenly get when someone else doesn’t treat them with the utmost courtesy?

    Note: comment has been flagged for arriving from an abusive Internet troll

  16. eet said,

    November 16, 2007 at 4:54 am

    Gravatar

    Please correct your article!!!

    Note: comment has been flagged for arriving from an abusive Internet troll

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