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11.29.07

GNOME Foundation, Please Stop Attacking the Messenger and Please Listen

Posted in GNOME, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Mono, Novell, Office Suites, Open XML, OpenOffice at 6:46 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Disinformation Fights Information

I tried to send some information through to Luis Villa, but there is no response yet (here or on the GNOME Foundation’s mailing list). I shall post it here urgently before the discussion becomes irrelevant.

From my E-mail

“I’ve been informed of a thread in the Foundation’s mailing list and I am stunned to see a shoot the messenger tactic being used to intercept inconvenient truths. Let it be clear that I’m a GNOME user sometimes and I am only concerned about directions that the project recently took. About the site which I co-edit, things are taken out of context in the mailing list and the credibility put to question in order to suppress postings that we based on factual evidence (articles and quotes).”

”This is a case of “get Mono, or be left out in the cold”.“The point many of the posters appears to be escaping completely (which is probably a cause for concern) is the connection between Mono and Moonlight (even OOXML). They need to see the attempt to forcefeed people .NET infringements through Web sites (Silverlight) and document exchange (translator project and OOXML, which itself is protected by patents)? Even IBM can apparently see this. It’s gradual and it’s quiet. This is a case of “get Mono, or be left out in the cold”. Microsoft is already cracking down on businesses that use Linux. This type of extortion is barely covered by the media, i.e. it is becoming a reality quietly.

I’ve been following the discussion in the mailing lists (people send me pointers via E-mail) and one thing that I noticed is that Jeff Waugh is being hostile and disrespectful towards us. Where else have we heard this today? That is something which we do not do. This leads to prejudice and suppresses legitimate information.

In the mailing list’s archive you’ll find a lot more information, but just to highlight bits that caught my attention:

Richard Stallman:The more “cool stuff” depends on Mono, the closer we get to a situation where a Microsoft attack on Mono would put GNOME in a vice.

If these programs are important enough to deserve the term “miss out on”, then I think they should be written in another language.

Rui Miguel Silva Seabra: “People are very freaked out and nerves on a real fringe, so it’s very easy to trigger alarm. We have Novell, as a huge puppet from Microsoft’s manouvers to divide the Free Software community, to “thank” for so much friction.

Richard Stallman: “Microsoft is trying to spin the apparent “support” of GNOME into proof that OOXML is not bad for free software.

Luckily, OpenOffice.org is not a Novell project (same features available in other GNU/Linuxes), unless you consider the highly disturbing fact that Novell is now discriminating against Linux, due to Microsoft’s terms. OpenOffice.org for Windows is incompatible with OpenOffice.org for Linux now. It is divided. Ron Hovsepian said that it was Microsoft’s condition.

Maybe it depends where you read about Novell, but the company’s image is on the decline. After Novell liaised with a company that hates Linux (by its own confessions), the world should be careful (in my very humble opinion) of Novell’s motives and moves, if now altogether yawn at Novell’s product, which are increasingly aligning with Microsoft patents.

A Reader’s Take on the Dangers of Software Patents and Microsoft’s Role

Posted in Free/Libre Software, Microsoft, Mono, Open XML, Patents at 4:01 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

An anonymous reader wishes to share his point of view.


The speech by Richard Stallman on software patents is the fundamental basics any software engineer should know when thinking about how damaging the patent system is to his/her job. As the speech explains, the mainstream discourses about how convenient and useful the patent system and how nicely it allegedly “protects” software, are crafted by parties with vested interests in the system (usually patent lawyers or patent office bureaucrats or big corporations with an army of lawyers and legal counselors).

”One of the things the speech warns about, is that patents that are in the pipeline waiting for approval are secret for at least 18 months, so I am sure that even if no patent covers MSOOXML yet, they have something prepared in case the format gets approved by ISO and gains adoption.“This speech puts the perspective on the view of a software engineer, so I think is fundamental that every FOSS software engineer/developer know it. Combine it together with these rebuttal by Pieter Hintjents to all the typical justifications by the mainstream to the patent system applied to software, and you have a formidable set of arguments to dismantle all the FUD being applied to software patents lately by the usual suspects.

In Stallman’s speech you find a very, very good portion on software patents that explains very clearly why is so important to avoid patent-encumbered format. The speech explains LZW (patented by Unisys) and how it was almost impossible to avoid breaching the patent since it was implemented in GIF. I would call it “the software patents for dummies speech”.

But this can be applied to any format. I am sure that MSOOXML and Silverlight are full of patents. OK, now keep this in mind because it is important that the engineers and developers ingenuously (or disingenuously) implementing MSOOXML or Silverlight or .mono in FOSS projects to know why this is a terribly bad idea:

One of the things the speech warns about, is that patents that are in the pipeline waiting for approval are secret for at least 18 months, so I am sure that even if no patent covers MSOOXML yet, they have something prepared in case the format gets approved by ISO and gains adoption. Once the patents are disclosed, people would already be locked-in, so Microsoft can sue around users and companies alike and cause much disruption.


If you have posts that you want to contribute, I’d be happy to receive and publish them (roy at schestowitz dot com).

Novell and Microsoft Make an ‘Impartial’ Crowd

Posted in Interoperability, Microsoft, Novell, Open XML, OpenDocument at 3:33 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Microsoft Novell

Apparently, if Microsoft and Miguel de Icaza agree on something, then we might as well assume that Linux has made peace with Microsoft. That’s the type of impression one is left with after reading this:

How many sides are there in the OOXML debate? What if all sides are Microsoft and Microsoft business partners?

[...]

Dough Mahugh (Microsoft) :

Next week’s XML 2007 conference in Boston features speakers from all sides of the document format debate, including a document interop session with Miguel de Icaza (Novell) and Vijay Rajagopalan (Microsoft) that I expect will offer a lively discussion around Open XML, ODF, and XML-based interoperability in general.

”OOXML is all about Microsoft, so what is Novell’s presence supposed to mean in this case?“Novell insists that it supports ODF, yet it sends a speaker to this conference who thinks that OOXML is a superb standard. Let is be clear that OOXML is against ODF in the sense that it’s designed to interfere with its adoption. OOXML is all about Microsoft, so what is Novell’s presence supposed to mean in this case? As we stated before, Novell helps OOXML. Need one even mention the fact that Yahoo is presenting, despite it close relationships with Microsoft and some apparent tendencies that are against Open Source and freedom?

It is the type of smug deception we see above (“all sides of the debate”) which makes the GNOME Foundation's presence in ECMA a disaster, makes Gnumeric support of OOXML a disaster, with even more to come. Any participation of this kind will be used by Microsoft against OpenDocument format? It’s bad enough that Novell is one among several known 'puppets' that are companies. But why GNOME?

A Quick Look at Mono Licensing and Microsoft Licensing

Posted in GNOME, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Mono, Novell, Patents at 3:02 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Thanks to a couple of readers, who gave up a quick headsup on this issue, we believe that interesting new information is now available.

Curious bits about Mono licensing can be spotted in the Mono project Web site:

Why does Novell require a copyright assignment?

When a developer contributes code to the C# compiler or the Mono runtime engine, we require that the author grants Novell the right to relicense his/her contribution under other licensing terms.

This allows Novell to re-distribute the Mono source code to parties that might not want to use the GPL or LGPL versions of the code.

Particularly embedded system vendors obtain grants to the Mono runtime engine and modify it for their own purposes without having to release those changes back.

Patents

Could patents be used to completely disable Mono?

When .NET went Shared Source Miguel de Icaza talked about what it all meant. Looking at the Microsoft Reference License you find some very brow-raising phrases discussing software patents. Examples include:

(B) If you begin patent litigation against the Licensor over patents that you think may apply to the software (including a cross-claim or counterclaim in a lawsuit), your license to the software ends automatically.

IANAL, but nonetheless there’s something to watch out for here. We wrote about this before.

Another thing you may find suspicious is related to Novell’s copyright assignment, as mentioned above. From GNOME’s Web site, in the Evolution download page (at the bottom of the page): “Copyright © 2004-2007 Novell Inc.”

Remember that only weeks ago, Miguel de Icaza began speaking about Mono extensions for Evolution. Whatever you make out of this, all we do here is provide information.

From a discussion in Digg.com (initiated by accusations against the messenger)

Well, I actually question some of the newer parts of GNOME as well, like MONO.
They are truly constructing something that legitimizes the case for intellectual property infringement.

When some judge actually decides MONO is too much of a clone for a technilogical tool (this does not concern double-click style patents but true technology patents), the FUD due to that might back fire to all linux technology including those that are original.

If I were Microsoft i would be very happy with MONO. The trojan horse of the linux eco-system. Those actively promoting it on microsoft-sponsored-payroll (such as Novell), should have their loyalty questioned.

Richard Stallman actually wrote about this yesterday and even cited this Web site.


- ——– Original Message ——–
Subject: GNOME dependent on Mono
Date: Wed, 28 Nov 2007 20:03:38 -0500
From: Richard Stallman rms [at] gnu.org
Reply-To: rms [at] gnu.org
To: foundation-list [at] gnome.org

I read http://boycottnovell.com/2007/11/05/gnome-mono-yelp/ with
great concern.

Since I am not an expert, I cannot tell on my own if that description
of the situation is accurate. If part of it is not accurate, I hope
someone will explain. However, if it is accurate, GNOME has a serious
problem.

I have always supported the development of free platforms for C#, just
as I’ve supported the development of free platforms for any language
that users use. I also wouldn’t argue that people should not use C#
with a free platform for secondary applications.

However, making GNOME depend on Mono is running a grave risk, and a
grave mistake. If the article accurately describes the situation, I
think we need to launch a high-priority project to reimplement Yelp in
some other language.

The use of code from Firefox in a way that might cause trademark
problems is also a serious issue. The solution might not be difficult
- — it may be enough to remove the trademark in the sources used by
GNOME wherever that is necessary — but the solution does need to be
carried out.

The nontechnical impact of these issues vastly exceeds the technical
impact, so considering them only in technical terms is fundamentally
misguided. In this sort of decision, the Foundation should intervene
and decide based on the nontechnical issues at stake. If those who
work for Novell tell us not to worry, we should not listen to them.


Given all the information which is presented here, how can one’s doubts be alleviated?

More Microsoft ‘Shills’ Come to Its Rescue in Antitrust Debate

Posted in America, Antitrust, Deception, Europe, Microsoft, Novell at 12:48 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Remember the Department of Justice jumping to Microsoft's defense in Europe and in the United States (separately)? Remember Novell's role in helping Microsoft escape scrutiny in Europe? That is where Microsoft has, in some sense, got its way [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11]? It has become apparent that it’s a game of money of power (buy friends and shills. It’s rarely about justice, which is a merely ‘nice-to-have’.

The Department of Justice is apparently not enough for Microsoft to escape scrutiny as more and more states continue to voice their concerns.

Ten states and the District of Columbia made the unusual claim to try to show that the operating system and browser spaces had changed much more slowly than expected in 2002, when state regulators and the US Department of Justice brokered a deal with Microsoft in a long-running antitrust case against the company. The lack of change, they said, means that potential competitors need more time — and judicial protection — if they are to develop into real rivals to Microsoft.

In such a scenario, the solution should be predictable. When Microsoft wanted to intercept Google’s acquisition of DoubleClick, it paid plenty of money to lobbying firms, bombarded journalists using PR firms, and probably reached out for other proxies like AT&T. There’s no concrete proof for the last point, but there is for the rest. So, guess what Microsoft is up to now? Check out this new article from MarketWatch:

Microsoft’s fellow giants push to end its oversight

Fellow giants Visa Inc. and Weyerhaeuser Co. have come to the aid of Microsoft Corp., arguing that extending restrictive antitrust oversight of the software maker could trigger a glut of needless litigation for already overburdened courts.

Isn’t that just so predictable? When there’s not enough support, buy or lend some. Novell is just one example among many, but it’s an interesting thing to watch once the pattern gets identified.

Monopoly has money

Video: PBS on USPTO Reform

Posted in Patents, Videos at 12:17 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Investors, bankrupt companies, patent trolls, and drugs

This video reached YouTube just 3 days ago. It’s not too clear if Nightly Business Report is copyrights-bound in this case, but enjoy it while it lasts (we’re just linking)…

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