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04.27.08

Novell and GNOME Help Microsoft and .NET’s Fight Against Sun and Java

Posted in GNOME, GNU/Linux, Java, Microsoft, Mono, Novell, SUN, Windows at 9:44 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Microsoft No

It is no secret that Free software has been attracting some highly-skilled and influential developers, who can easily change the programming agenda, set trends, and turn some consistent choices into a de facto standard.

It is also no secret that Microsoft wants to destroy Java (even from the inside), which is soon to be fully GPLv2-licensed and therefore available pre-installed on GNU/Linux distributions (without IcedTea). So how come GNOME has adopted the following policy (if true)?

2. The front page of gtk.org.

There’s no evidence Java was ever on the front page of this site, and I’d love to see someone try to prove it – gtk-web is stored in GNOME’s svn, so you don’t need a cache, the full history is there.

C++, Python and C# are mentioned there. They also are the allowed dependencies in the GNOME desktop set, whereas Java is not.

A reader of ours says (outside this Web site): “If that is true, then there is the smoking gun that C# is being shoehorned into GNOME at the expense of open source material like Java.”

Only days ago the following article got published in Dr. Dobb’s, which is quite a respected and authoritative source of information on these matters:

I expect in five years time there will be two main languages: Java and C#, closely followed by good-old Visual Basic. There is no new paradigm foreseen.

DDJ: Which languages seem to be losing ground?

PJ: C and C++ are definitely losing ground. There is a simple explanation for this. Languages without automated garbage collection are getting out of fashion.

Can you imagine why Microsoft might want its partner, Novell, which already controls Mono and to a large extent GNOME as well, to demote Java and promote Mono? Microsoft wants to become the standard for programming as we noted several times before. So here you have yet another reason for Sun to be bitter and impatient with Novell, which mocked OpenSolaris quite recently [1, 2, 3].

The story about Microsoft’s very malicious sabotage of Java has been told so many times before (even here), so here is just one among the many articles which talk about it with Linux and open source software in mind.

These [Halloween] memos are nothing short of fascinating. In them, the authors freely admit that many Open Source Software products equal or surpass the quality of commercially produced products, such as Microsoft’s own Windows NT, and urge that Microsoft itself could benefit by adopting certain aspects of the OSS development environment. The authors warn that OSS products (Linux, in particular) could certainly threaten Microsoft’s server market, and even allow that OSS could possibly erode the company’s existing desktop dominance — that is, if OSS is not stifled.

To this end, the authors suggest a number of ways in which the OSS threat might be attacked. Conceding that OSS products themselves are “FUD proof,” simply because they obviously have credibility by their very nature, the authors suggest instead that the the OSS production process itself might be brought into question — a rehash of the old “who you gonna blame if it doesn’t work?” argument.

[...]

This is an example of Microsoft’s infamous “embrace and extend” policy at its worst. Embed Microsoft-proprietary extensions in common Internet protocols hook unsuspecting customers on these look-alike but incompatible tools, and lock those customers into the resulting custom Microsoft solutions — neatly locking out Open Source Software (and commercial competitors) in the process.

How might this strategy work in practice? For an example, we need look no further than Microsoft’s alleged “embrace and extend” treatment of Java, a commercial product developed by competitor Sun Microsystems. To counter the threat that Java might marginalize their Windows products, some at Microsoft have recommended letting Microsoft’s “Java [developer tools] space fragment so that ‘write once, run anywhere’ does not happen” and “eliminate/contain cross-platform Java by growing the polluted Java market.”

And in a page that could have been taken directly from the Halloween Memos: “quietly grow [Microsoft's versions of Java] and assume that people will take advantage of our [versions] without ever realizing they are building win32-only java apps.”

In case you have time to spare, consider going through some old articles from this long-ago-retired articles archive of Boycott Microsoft. If you find something we can associate with present events, please share. Critics need to make use of the most evidence we have available and identify behavioral patterns, possibly managerial strategies too. So long it has been, yet so little has changed.

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49 Comments

  1. AlexH said,

    April 27, 2008 at 11:28 am

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    You know, you could always ask a question if you’re unsure about something, rather than making wild accusations. Let’s try to reduce this into two separate questions; a. why is Gtk# a blessed dependency? and b. why is GNOME Java not a blessed dependency?

    The answer to both questions is basically the same: Gtk# has been proposed and accepted, Java has not been proposed and therefore has not been accepted.

    The rules on bindings are pretty simple if you care to look. They need to be stable API wise and cover the vast majority of the GNOME API. I doubt you will find anyone who thinks those are not reasonable requirements. A number of languages have bindings which meet those requirements: Python, C++, and C# (Python was the first IIRC).

    Java’s bindings do not meet those requirements since they were completely reengineered:

    “Please note that we will not be declaring API stable (which, under the GNOME release definitions inevitably means “frozen forever”) until java-gnome 4.2.0; method signatures are subject to change.”

    http://java-gnome.sourceforge.net/4.0/

    When they reach 4.2, I’m sure that they will be proposed for inclusion into GNOME, and there’s no obvious reason why (once proposed) it wouldn’t be accepted.

    Does anyone still see a smoking gun? :D

  2. ZiggyFish said,

    April 27, 2008 at 9:44 pm

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    Just curious to know whether the patients are on the C# language or the API.

    PS: what convention does this comment editor use (i.e BBCode or html).

  3. Dan O'Brian said,

    April 27, 2008 at 9:58 pm

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    C# as specified by ECMA and ISO is safe from patents. ADO.NET and ASP.NET along with the Windows.Forms API are the only places where patents may exist that you need worry about as far as using Mono or DotGNU/Portable.NET goes.

  4. ZiggyFish said,

    April 27, 2008 at 10:16 pm

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    That’s what I thought. So it really isn’t a patient trap at all. Although I don’t like the language (I’ve used it many times within my daily work because I’ve had to (trust me If it were up to me I would be using another language)). This is something I can live with though as long as it doesn’t have legal complications involved.

    Also AFAIK the Mono project is in the process or has removed the patented api from Mono. Is that what the following article means.

    http://www.mono-project.com/FAQ:_Licensing#Patents

  5. David Flax said,

    April 27, 2008 at 10:19 pm

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    Interesting statements considering Java is used pretty heavily at Novell. ConsoleOne, iManager, and Novell Remote Manager all use Java. If you would bother to look at the products rather than just promote wild conspiracy theories you would be better served IMHO.

  6. Saul Goode said,

    April 27, 2008 at 10:49 pm

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    Dan O’Brian said,

    “C# as specified by ECMA and ISO is safe from patents.”

    Could you provide a source which supports this statement? I have never seen the specified terms of Microsoft’s RAND licensing for ECMA-334, ECMA-335, ISO/IEC 23270, or ISO/IEC 23271…

    AND

    “According to Microsoft, third-party developers who want to develop or deploy an implementation of C# development tools and CLI-compliant virtual machines, which are part of the .Net framework, must enter into a reasonable and non-discriminatory (RAND) license agreement with Microsoft. That’s the short answer.”
    http://techupdate.zdnet.com/techupdate/stories/main/0,14179,2887217,00.html

    AND

    “According to Microsoft’s director of intellectual property Michele Herman, who I interviewed earlier this year, the answer is a qualified yes. ‘If someone implemented a product that conforms to the specification, we believe we have a patent or one pending that’s essential to implementing the specification.’” — (same article)

    Now I realize that those statements were made nearly six years ago; nonetheless, I would ask if since that time there has been some change? If so, there should be a readily accessible statement from Microsoft delineating the precise terms of the patent licensing of those standards and it would be nice to clear this issue up once and for all.

  7. Roy Schestowitz said,

    April 27, 2008 at 11:22 pm

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    Dan O’Brian,

    Saul beat me to it, but I was going to utter something similar. RAND is incompatible with the GPL (this was discussed many times before). By saying “C# as specified by ECMA and ISO is safe from patents” you are misleading some readers, in my humble opinion. Additionally, I knew of no contact between C# and ISO. Am I missing something? ECMA, for what it’s worth, is a total fraud and it’s also heavily influenced by Microsoft. To say that something is an ECMA standard is laughable to say the very least. It’s like getting an ‘award’ from Frost & Sullivan. ECMA is giving the nod to whatever or whoever pays the bills.

  8. ZiggyFish said,

    April 27, 2008 at 11:33 pm

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    Roy Schestowitz,

    “In July 2005, Ecma submitted the Standards and TRs to ISO/IEC JTC 1 via the ISO Fast-Track process. The Standards were adopted in April 2006 as ISO/IEC 23270:2006 (C#), ISO/IEC 23270:2006 (CLI), ISO/IEC TR 23272:2006 (CLI, XML Libraries) and ISO ISO/IEC TR 25438:2006 (CLI, Common Generics).”

    The only thing that’s not standardized is the API it’s self.

  9. ZiggyFish said,

    April 27, 2008 at 11:37 pm

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    I do agree with you over the EMCA credibility though, I use to think it was some sort of alpha version of an ISO standard.

  10. Roy Schestowitz said,

    April 27, 2008 at 11:43 pm

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    Thanks for the information about ISO. However, do bear in mind that it doesn’t mitigate RAND issues. RAND is a tool for banning Free software. Microsoft could play ambush for the time being in order to suppress Java adoption (first win) and later terrorise FOSS developers (second win, if Java is defeated). You’re giving them too much control by embracing their frameworks. Linux becomes Microsoft-dependent, in a sense.

  11. Victor Soliz said,

    April 28, 2008 at 12:26 am

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    I am actually tired of all of this.

    On one hand, we have gnome leaders evidently trying to force mono into all who currently are Linux users and might end up becoming mono users (it is a whole different platform) but they keep pretending nothing is happening and they are just doing business as usual.

    On the other hand, we got Mono people and their usual speech of how everything is wonderful with MS’ rand and OSP, and the assumption that we all need MS technology in Linux since it is apparently sooo superior. Besides of absolutely no work in making mono able to get a Wine-esque status in Linux as a way to run foreign desktop programs but instead they want to exploit it to replace A HECKLOAD of things that are so fundamental to FOSS, let me mention GCC, LAMP, and all of our apps!

    It looks like Mono’s objective in life is to make everyone move from established FOSS projects into new MS wannabee technology, why the feck do they want this? Every once in a while you’ll see Miguel Icaza in his blog gloating about how he got able to make something as terribly insipid as visual basic.net work in Linux.

    The worst part is that everyone just misses the point, gnome is becoming this sort of windows-gnome mutant in which applications get a .exe extension, and everyone is ok with it. We are literally making everything depend on MS clones, and no one cares, they just say that all is fine in the patent front since, benevolent MS has promised not to sue, and we got the assurance of such established institutions as ECMA and ISO as backup…

    … I must say, really, even if Mono had no patent issues and it wasn’t a turn off switch being handled to Microsoft for free. Why, why are doing this? Why is everyone moving to MS clones? Isn’t it ridiculous to begin with? Are you saying MS’ design is so important to all of us that we should just go and copy, and replace all we got with copies of MS software? Why is gnome even including Mono apps? What has happened to sanity in this world?

  12. ZiggyFish said,

    April 28, 2008 at 1:25 am

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    Victor Soliz:

    [rant]
    I absolutely agree with you. We shouldn’t need Microsoft technology to exist. But this is where open standards need to be embraced. We only need Microsoft technology because it’s forced on us. And this is the reason why ODF should be embraced over OOXML and why the OOXML saga should not be forgot. ATM I’m so sick of hearing about what Microsoft is doing and no one is doing anything to prevent them or to punish them.

    We really need as a community find ways to prevent Microsoft from doing these sorts of things (I know it should be up to the US government to control Microsoft, but their doing a piss poor job of it) and to protect the Linux way of life. I’m sure the billion of us can find something. As an old saying goes, prevention is better than a curer.

    ATM, the Linux development is very important (we’ve been as a community able to stop a lot of technology that could have completely locked everyone in to the Windows world, e.g Firefox, OpenOffice.org, Apache, PHP, Perl, Python) and this needs to and will continue. Open source prevents (as much as possible) Microsoft from really fecking the world up, but we need to do more.
    [/rant]

    It’s sad that we are just sitting there and letting this all happen.

  13. CoolGuy said,

    April 28, 2008 at 1:46 am

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    Least that you can do is not use mono yourself, tell others not to use it, and spread this and similar websites everywhere you can.

  14. Roy Schestowitz said,

    April 28, 2008 at 1:54 am

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    ATM I’m so sick of hearing about what Microsoft is doing and no one is doing anything to prevent them or to punish them.

    They’ll get fined again and again. Additionally, more people wake up and realise what type of company they are dealing with. You’re being too pessimistic, I think.

  15. Jeff Waugh said,

    April 28, 2008 at 7:24 pm

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    Victor: GNOME leaders are not “forcing Mono” on anyone. Regardless of the unresearched and meaningless crap you’ll see written about GNOME on this site, most of the GNOME community is ambivalent about Mono. It certainly doesn’t have any kind of seal of approval from the community in general. In fact, it’s special cased (much to the disappointment of some Novell folk and Mono hackers).

    Roy keeps blathering about GNOME because he seems to enjoy raising controversy and finding conspiracies more than uncovering meaningful truths (particularly if they don’t support his pet argument of the week). It’s why you’ll see him mention the same stupid things over and over again, even if the reality is vastly different to his uninformed take on it.

    This is FLOSS. You can get your information from reputable sources. You can get your information from the horse’s mouth. You don’t need Roy’s irrational, disconnected, unresearched and uninformed perspective.

    This is a guy who posts to usenet over 1000 times (sometimes more than 2000 times) a month! Do the math. There is a problem here.

  16. Roy Schestowitz said,

    April 28, 2008 at 7:46 pm

    Gravatar

    …finding conspiracies…

    There are ‘conspiracies” (negative connotation) here. It’s a simple explanation of what Novell has been doing with the help of others.

    You don’t need Roy’s irrational, disconnected, unresearched and uninformed perspective.

    Later on you wonder, having treated others the same way, why articles like this new one get published.

    http://www.itwire.com/content/view/17924/1090/1/0/

    Just because you don’t accept it or like does make it “uninformed”.

    This is a guy who posts to usenet over 1000 times (sometimes more than 2000 times) a month! Do the math.

    Advocacy of Free software. You don’t like it?

    There is a problem here.

    That too.

    When corruption is used against Free software, we need to study and explain it.

  17. masteroblaster said,

    April 29, 2008 at 7:02 am

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    Roy is but a scared child; someone with severe personal problems.

    And if you look at the level of writing of the regular posters on his site, like coolguy, who seems on the mental level of a 12-year-old, too, you know that talking to them is invain.

    Please just ignore this strange sect of scared haters.

  18. LinuxIsFun said,

    April 29, 2008 at 7:02 am

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    Jeff you are destroying GNOME to maintain control over it.

    http://www.itwire.com/content/view/17924/1090/1/0/

    I read that and it does not seem to be good way to deal in FOSS. People have kept quite does not mean such things will go unnoticed . Some or the other day the truth will be out.

  19. masteroblaster said,

    April 29, 2008 at 7:05 am

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    You are but an extreme sect. Far, far removed from reality. Reflect on what your hate-filled witchhunt is doing to the community.

  20. masteroblaster said,

    April 29, 2008 at 7:09 am

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    I mean, we shouldn’t even talk to crazos like you; it’s not possible to get through to you conspiracy-theorists with any rational argument. You always insist there is a hidden agenda – and as long as you insist on believing into something that can never be proven nor disproven, trying to convince you that you’re suffering from paranoia is invain. It’s like a religious debate. You choose to believe in it, like in X-files. No sense in trying to get you out of your little sect.

  21. Roy Schestowitz said,

    April 29, 2008 at 7:15 am

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    A set of logical argument backed by concrete evidence is not a conspiracy. If there is something that we miss, please point that out. Attacking the messenger does not help your cause; au contraire — it may or may not indicate that you cannot offer a substantiated refusal, rebuttal, or whatever.

    By the way, mind the language please. You’ve gone foul-mouthed in some other comments you left in different threads. We keep it clean and polite here.

  22. masteroblaster said,

    April 29, 2008 at 7:24 am

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    You have never HAD any concrete evidence. That is the whole point. You always say you do, but you never deliver.

    All you ever do is link to articles which themselves engage in idle speculation.

  23. masteroblaster said,

    April 29, 2008 at 7:25 am

    Gravatar

    BTW, as for the nice language, accusing others of corruption is much dirtier than any dirty language could ever get. And you and your compadres have written personal insults before, so just you be careful yourself.

  24. Roy Schestowitz said,

    April 29, 2008 at 7:29 am

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    People are accused of corruption where evidence is present.

  25. masteroblaster said,

    April 29, 2008 at 7:31 am

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    You NEVER D E L I V E R any evidence! Clear enough for you?

    But that proves just once again, there’s no use in speaking to conspiracy-theorists; people like you have long lost contact with reality and cannot discern between what might be and what is. (This difference is all that separates knowledge from pure superstition BTW.)

    No, there’s no sense talking to you. I hope someone find you worthy of spending some money on a good lawyer and sueing the shit out of you.

  26. Roy Schestowitz said,

    April 29, 2008 at 7:40 am

    Gravatar

    Show me a case where someone is accused of “corruption” without evidence?

  27. Nikolas Koswinkle said,

    April 29, 2008 at 8:58 am

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    I think this is quite underlining masteroblasters’s point: In answer to his demand that you should disclose some evidence you simply ask back. I have seen you do the very same thing in those endless discussions with Jeff Waugh where you drove some of us out our minds with always asking back or writing something unrelated instead of simply giving evidence.

    I have read this blog almost from its beginning and I have never even once seen Roy present hard evidence on anything he claimed.

    Note: comment has been flagged for arriving from a possible incarnation of known (eet), pseudonymous, forever-nymshifting, abusive Internet troll that posts from open proxies and relays around the world.

  28. Roy Schestowitz said,

    April 29, 2008 at 9:06 am

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    Nikolas Koswinkle,

    Just to verify here:

    You’re using an address similar to one used by ‘eet’ and your name never appeared on the Net before:

    http://www.google.com/search?sourceid=mozclient&num=50&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&q=Nikolas+Koswinkle

    Is your name made up? Are you nymshifting? I am just asking, that’s all. I notice that ‘eet’ accessed this Web site just a couple of hours ago (it shows up in the logs), so I feel obliged to at least verify.

  29. Nikolas Koswinkle said,

    April 29, 2008 at 9:15 am

    Gravatar

    How can I verify that I am me?

    Note: comment has been flagged for arriving from a possible incarnation of known (eet), pseudonymous, forever-nymshifting, abusive Internet troll that posts from open proxies and relays around the world.

  30. Roy Schestowitz said,

    April 29, 2008 at 9:22 am

    Gravatar

    I apologise for this, but I just need to be prudent, if not prejudiced only because there were some trolls in the past who kept changing names.

    If possible, please show me a Web page that has you mentioned.

    Actually, did you use a variation of your surname?

    http://www.google.com/search?sourceid=mozclient&num=50&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&q=Koswinkle

  31. Nikolas Koswinkle said,

    April 29, 2008 at 9:38 am

    Gravatar

    Well, no, but thanks for thinking I could be the writer. Unfortunately I work in the public health department – and have no aspirations to creative writing.

    Note: comment has been flagged for arriving from a possible incarnation of known (eet), pseudonymous, forever-nymshifting, abusive Internet troll that posts from open proxies and relays around the world.

  32. Roy Schestowitz said,

    April 29, 2008 at 9:52 am

    Gravatar

    Okay, so returning back to your comment, you said:

    I have read this blog almost from its beginning and I have never even once seen Roy present hard evidence on anything he claimed.

    “Never even once”? Isn’t that an exaggeration, to say the very list? Need we provide more external references? You know, most journalists hardly even cite any of their sources.

  33. Nikolas Koswinkle said,

    April 29, 2008 at 10:23 am

    Gravatar

    From that I take it you don’t see a difference between ‘proof’ and ‘reference’?

    Note: comment has been flagged for arriving from a possible incarnation of known (eet), pseudonymous, forever-nymshifting, abusive Internet troll that posts from open proxies and relays around the world.

  34. Roy Schestowitz said,

    April 29, 2008 at 10:58 am

    Gravatar

    The references contain arguments, scientific figures or quotes that back other arguments.

  35. Miles said,

    April 29, 2008 at 2:13 pm

    Gravatar

    And by that you mean falsified evidence or “evidence” which doesn’t prove what you say it proves.

    E.g. a list of all the Mono bindings for the gnome libs doesn’t prove that GNOME depends on Mono, yet time and time again that is exactly what you claim it proves.

    And then there are references to comments about how some random guy did “apt-get remove mono-common” and claims that it removed all of GNOME from his system. Yet, anyone who actually tries this on Ubuntu or Debian discovers that no GNOME components other than Tomboy get removed and that GNOME continues to function.

    What you really discover is that “apt-get remove mono-common” removes things named libgnome-cil and gtk-cil (which are .NET *bindings*, not the libs themselves).

    The problem, Roy, is that you assume that just because some random person says something that aligns with your arguments, that those statements must be true, and so you never actually personally confirm these statements. Instead, you present them as fact (this is, I believe, the point that Nikolas Koswinkle is trying to make) and accuse innocent developer communities of evil aims to destroy free software or in some way subvert it. This is simply untrue and it pisses a lot of us off.

    To top it all off, you NEVER issue formal apologies for your mis-accusations (and there have been a lot of them).

    You are always saying “don’t attack the messenger”, but you aren’t the messenger as you claim to be; you are the source of the misinformation. You have stooped far below the immoral tactics of the companies you claim to be fighting against.

  36. ZiggyFish said,

    April 29, 2008 at 4:48 pm

    Gravatar

    I think there is a issue that may arise with Mono(i.e someone uses a single patient API call, and in which case, but because of opensource, will be changed fairly quickly), but in gnome will not be subject to the problems that say an application that is run by an individual(i.e one person developing it). I don’t believe that Mono is as big of a threat as things like Silverlight, which if we do something now won’t be a big threat too.

    Roy, I believe your expressing your concern, in the wrong way. Maybe do an article on what Mono is and what is bad about it (i.e do some research, and find the exact issues), so you can reference back to it in later articles or in user comments.

  37. Dan O'Brian said,

    April 29, 2008 at 6:18 pm

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    ZiggyFish: Roy’s whole premise of “Mono is evil” is that he is promoting the fear that someday in the future (Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt…) Microsoft might try to sue Linux users/companies/whatever over patent infringement by Mono.

    The problem with that logic is that it is a completely uninformed understanding of how patents work and seeing as how every piece of software out there is very likely to infringe upon some patents somewhere, it is extremely disingenuous to single out Mono and Moonlight, especially considering that Microsoft is actually helping along Moonlight development.

    Contrary to popular uneducated opinion by people like Roy, CoolGuy and others on this website, Java is not some umbrella of protection against patent attacks. Nor is any other programming language. While I will agree that Sun is unlikely to take legal action against free software developers/projects or users wrt Java, Sun isn’t likely to be the only owner of patents over Java (either the VM or the language). This holds true for every piece of software out there.

    So saying “don’t use anything that designed by Microsoft!” won’t save you from the possibility of infringing on patents owned by Microsoft. Using Java over C#, PHP over ASP(.NET), etc doesn’t necessarily lessen your risk. Besides, how quickly people forget that the DOM was first introduced by Microsoft as well as XMLHttpRequest which is used extensively in AJAX. Are we to stop using these inventions now, too?

    Saying that people should avoid the use of Mono for fear of patents is like arguing that people should avoid flying in airplanes because the plane might crash. Both arguments are extremely disingenuous (in that they are meant to insinuate that alternatives are somehow safer) and both are extremely unlikely to occur.

  38. Roy Schestowitz said,

    April 29, 2008 at 6:52 pm

    Gravatar

    It was never just a question of software patent (and it isn’t implied in this post, either). Look at this one for example. As for summary of the issues at hand (Mono), there is already a summary here .

  39. Saul Goode said,

    April 30, 2008 at 8:16 am

    Gravatar

    Dan O’Brian:

    > ZiggyFish: Roy’s whole premise of “Mono is evil” is that he is promoting
    > the fear that someday in the future (Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt…) Microsoft
    > might try to sue Linux users/companies/whatever over patent infringement
    > by Mono.

    My concern is not really about lawsuits — I expect Microsoft should be extremely reluctant to have their patents tested in court — and it is not limited to what may occur someday in the future. The patent issues surrounding Mono are being employed _at present_ by Microsoft & Novell to discourage customers away from non-Novell GNU/Linux offerings.

    > The problem with that logic is that it is a completely uninformed understanding
    > of how patents work and seeing as how every piece of software out there is
    > very likely to infringe upon some patents somewhere, it is extremely
    > disingenuous to single out Mono and Moonlight, especially considering that
    > Microsoft is actually helping along Moonlight development.

    Mono and Moonlight are distinguished by the fact that the providers of the software have taken unprecedented measures to assure their own direct customers have an exclusive safe haven against charges of infringement. It is Novell and Microsoft who singled out Mono & Moonlight for special consideration, not those who point out the unique nature of the relationship.

    > Contrary to popular uneducated opinion by people like Roy, CoolGuy and
    > others on this website, Java is not some umbrella of protection against
    > patent attacks. Nor is any other programming language. While I will agree
    > that Sun is unlikely to take legal action against free software
    > developers/projects or users wrt Java, Sun isn’t likely to be the only owner
    > of patents over Java (either the VM or the language). This holds true for
    > every piece of software out there.

    The implementors of Java have, however, placed me under the same umbrella of protection under which they stand (at least this will be the case when it is completely GPLed). The implementors of Mono, on the other hand, have taken extreme and unprecedented measures to circumvent the patent clauses of GPL2.

    Novell maintains that there are no Microsoft patents covering Mono; yet they pay royalties on those non-existent patents to Microsoft. If your “educated opinion” considers that to be neither disingenuous nor irrational, I should be glad to listen to your honest and logical reasoning.

    > Saying that people should avoid the use of Mono for fear of patents is like
    > arguing that people should avoid flying in airplanes because the plane might
    > crash.

    To follow your analogy, Novell is like a travel agent assuring me that it’s completely safe to take a plane, while he himself insists upon taking a train. If it is so damn safe, why doesn’t he share my risk? To borrow a phrase from Microsoft, Novell should be willing to eat its own dog food if it expects others to do the same.

  40. Dan O'Brian said,

    April 30, 2008 at 9:41 am

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    My concern is not really about lawsuits — I expect Microsoft should be extremely reluctant to have their patents tested in court

    agreed.

    The patent issues surrounding Mono are being employed _at present_ by Microsoft & Novell to discourage customers away from non-Novell GNU/Linux offerings.

    Microsoft has been playing the patent card for a decade now – it didn’t start with the Microsoft-Novell deal.

    Novell has insisted repeatedly that it does not believe Linux or Mono infringes on any patents.

    Have Novell been using their deal to pimp SLED to customers? I’m sure they have – “If you buy SLED, you don’t have to worry about patent attacks by Microsoft because of the deal.”

    The thing you have to understand is that the customers who are afraid of patent attacks most likely want to avoid law suites completely – it might not be enough for them that Red Hat (as an example) will step in and help them fight it.

    That’s the difference between Novell’s and Red Hat’s patent protection for their customers (as far as I understand it, anyway).

    Mono and Moonlight are distinguished by the fact that the providers of the software have taken unprecedented measures to assure their own direct customers have an exclusive safe haven against charges of infringement.

    The deal between Microsoft and Novell were based on number of machines running SuSE or Windows. Basically, Novell gets money for every copy of Windows installed and Microsoft gets money for every copy of SuSE installed. Since Novell has no way of knowing the number of RHEL/Fedora/Ubuntu/Mandrake/etc installs are out there, it couldn’t make a deal Linux-wide. Also, even if the number could be established, it’d be an unfair burden to make Novell responsible for paying for protection for the other distros.

    You can make the argument that the deal wasn’t in the ideal spirit of the GPLv2 – and I might even be inclined to agree, but I think it’s fairly obvious that the deal wasn’t meant to hurt Linux or its users.

    That said… that doesn’t completely answer your comment above, so allow me to continue:

    What if the deal never happened? Would that somehow make Mono or Moonlight any safer? Any less safe? No, it wouldn’t have changed a thing.

    In conclusion, the deal made no impact whatsoever on the legal standing of Mono or Moonlight for the vast majority of F/LOSS users.

    It is Novell and Microsoft who singled out Mono & Moonlight for special consideration, not those who point out the unique nature of the relationship.

    Not really, no. Novell simply covered all of it’s products which Mono happened to be one of. Doesn’t make much sense for them to strike a deal with Microsoft saying “You can’t sue our customers over X, Y, or Z… but we’ll let you sue over Mono.”

    None of your reasoning has shown Mono or Moonlight to be more or less safe than they would have been without the deal.

    The implementors of Java have, however, placed me under the same umbrella of protection under which they stand (at least this will be the case when it is completely GPLed).

    No, they didn’t. You see, they have protection from patent attacks against Java because they have their own patent portfolio card to play if they were to get attacked. You do not.

    You’ll also notice that Sun is licensing Java under the GPLv2, not the GPLv3.

    See http://www.sun.com/2006-1113/feature/index.jsp for evidence.

    Their FAQ http://www.sun.com/software/opensource/java/faq.jsp#g also states GPLv2 (in case you wanted to write off the previous link as being “old and possibly outdated”).

    The implementors of Mono, on the other hand, have taken extreme and unprecedented measures to circumvent the patent clauses of GPL2.

    There was no patent clause of the GPLv2 – also note that Mono is not licensed under the GPLv2, it is licensed under MIT/X11.

    Novell maintains that there are no Microsoft patents covering Mono; yet they pay royalties on those non-existent patents to Microsoft. If your “educated opinion” considers that to be neither disingenuous nor irrational, I should be glad to listen to your honest and logical reasoning.

    And Microsoft maintains that it doesn’t infringe on Novell patents, yet it pays even heftier royalties to Novell – what’s your point?

    The deal was meant to put their customers minds at ease with all the patent threats going around. If the customer isn’t worried about being sued, he’s more likely to buy your product.

    In the end, it’s not about whether your products do or don’t infringe on patents, it’s about whether your customers feel safe from law suites using your products.

    I hope I’m not dropping a bomb on you when I say this, but every piece of software out there is extremely likely to infringe on some other company’s patents.

    The idea is “better safe than sorry”. Companies that foolishly fear patent attacks from Microsoft and have a lot of money to lose, want peace of mind. For them, the Microsoft-Novell deal is just what they needed to accept Linux.

    To follow your analogy, Novell is like a travel agent assuring me that it’s completely safe to take a plane, while he himself insists upon taking a train. If it is so damn safe, why doesn’t he share my risk? To borrow a phrase from Microsoft, Novell should be willing to eat its own dog food if it expects others to do the same.

    Not exactly… more like Novell is a travel agent booking you on a plane that is guaranteed not to crash.

    I’m not sure where you get the “while he himself insists upon taking a train” bit or the “Novell doesn’t eat it’s own dog food” bit.

    Novell does eat their own dog food.

    They all use Open Office, they all run Linux, they write software using Mono. What dog food of theirs do they not eat?

  41. Nikolas Koswinkle said,

    April 30, 2008 at 9:51 am

    Gravatar

    Roy, as always, answers a direct question by treating us to so some random links out his vast array of articles, which each on its own prove absolutely nothing. And linking them recursively doesn’t make them any more proof of anything than they are on their own…

    So, please stop that behavior, Roy. If asked a direct question please give a direct answer and don’t try to evade by linking to other blog-entries which would deserve equal criticism as the current one. This is a cheap tactic, nothing more, to obscure the weakness of your argument and to distract from the point. Jeff Waugh has drawn our attention to this your behavior time and time again.

    @Saul Goode:
    “The patent issues surrounding Mono are being employed _at present_ by Microsoft & Novell to discourage customers away from non-Novell GNU/Linux offerings.”
    and
    “…to assure their own direct customers have an exclusive safe haven against charges of infringement”

    And this is perfectly legitimate business practices. Nothing wrong with it. I would discourage my customers to buy COMMERCIAL PRODUCTS from anyone else but me, too. (Note we are talking about commercial offerings like RHEL and SLED; NOT free (as in beer) stuff like Ubuntu.)

    This is actually quite a ridiculous argument; do you really believe home users would shy away from any software out of fear of a LAWSUIT from Microsoft? When a good portion of typical home users are running illegal copies of Windows and other MS software anyway? I think not.

    Where are those ex-Ubuntu users which have been scared out of their pants by MS-threats?

    “The implementors of Mono, on the other hand, have taken extreme and unprecedented measures to circumvent the patent clauses of GPL2.”

    Now, this is absolute and complete bullocks. You say this because you assume that Mono (or what?) violates the GPL, which it doesn’t.

    “Novell maintains that there are no Microsoft patents covering Mono; yet they pay royalties on those non-existent patents to Microsoft.”

    This is bullocks against (probably) your better knowledge: WHAT does Mono have to do with the reciprocal ‘no-sueing-our-customers’ agreement between Novell and MS? Nothing! Mono is (one of several) free and open-source implementations of a standardized framework. And before you start on Moonlight and multimedia, let me remind you that your Windows-capable GStreamer or Xine or mplayer is technically illegal anyway; whether or not you use Moonlight to watch beefed-up internet content.

    I don’t want to delve into another long and fruitless about how the money flowing between Novell and MS is NOT a recognition of MS having any claims on anything, but it would be simply no discussing that with people whose approach at truth is ‘well, they say it isn’t, but it could be!’

    Let me close with saying that I am ever so happy that in this thread the voices of those with some reason are heard, and not only the same paranoiacs as always.

    So; thank you Miles, ZiggyFish, Dan O’Brian, you just made me feel less alone and gave me some hope for sanity in this world. Even on this website. :)

    Note: comment has been flagged for arriving from a possible incarnation of known (eet), pseudonymous, forever-nymshifting, abusive Internet troll that posts from open proxies and relays around the world.

  42. Miles said,

    April 30, 2008 at 10:55 am

    Gravatar

    No, they didn’t. You see, they have protection from patent attacks against Java because they have their own patent portfolio card to play if they were to get attacked. You do not.

    You’ll also notice that Sun is licensing Java under the GPLv2, not the GPLv3.

    Since this site is so fond of conspiracy theories, I’d like to form one of my own:

    Sun is publishing Java purposely under the GPLv2 instead of the GPLv3 because they know it violates patents. In so doing, they are purposely allowing for the possibility for users and developers of Java-based software being attacked for patent violations in conjunction with SCO in a continuing attempt to destroy Linux (which has been eating away at Sun’s sales of Solaris and more importantly, their hardware sales).

    Note that Sun gave SCO a large sum of cash at the start of the SCO-vs-Linux attack.

    So don’t use Java! You’ll be helping Sun destroy Linux and Free Software!

  43. Miles said,

    April 30, 2008 at 10:56 am

    Gravatar

    Consider my tin foil hat once again removed. Thanks.

  44. Roy Schestowitz said,

    April 30, 2008 at 11:37 am

    Gravatar

    The deal between Microsoft and Novell were based on number of machines running SuSE or Windows. Basically, Novell gets money for every copy of Windows installed and Microsoft gets money for every copy of SuSE installed.

    This is not correct. Microsoft tossed money at Novell to sign the deal and only Microsoft receives royalties for SUSE (not the other way around)

    None of your reasoning has shown Mono or Moonlight to be more or less safe than they would have been without the deal.

    Microsoft would have brought Silverlight to Linux if it weren’t for Novell.

    Novell does eat their own dog food.

    They all use Open Office, they all run Linux, they write software using Mono. What dog food of theirs do they not eat?

    Some of them use Macs.

  45. Miles said,

    April 30, 2008 at 11:59 am

    Gravatar

    This is not correct. Microsoft tossed money at Novell to sign the deal and only Microsoft receives royalties for SUSE (not the other way around)

    False. Read the following quote from Brad Smith, Microsoft’s general counsel:

    Money is flowing both ways for the patent agreement, Smith said, including an “up-front balancing payment that runs from Microsoft to Novell, reflecting the large relevant volume of the products that we have shipped

    This confirms what I said above and rebut’s your assertion.

    Microsoft would have brought Silverlight to Linux if it weren’t for Novell.

    I find it amusing, then, that you attack Microsoft for not bringing Silverlight to Linux.

    Your attacks regarding that suggest that you were knocking them because they were purposely ignoring Linux. Yet now you claim that if it weren’t for Novell’s Mono team taking it upon themselves to implement Moonlight, Microsoft would have ported their own Silverlight implementation to Linux?

    Curious…

    Question: which implementation would you rather have? A closed-source port of Silverlight done by Microsoft or the Free Software Moonlight implementation?

    Seems to me that you’d rather have closed source software running on your system. Combine that with the fact that you love to post links to YouTube videos (which require either a closed-source Flash plugin or illegal video codecs to be installed) and I start to wonder about your commitment to Free Software.

    Some of them use Macs.

    Linux runs on the Mac.

    And who’s to say that even if some Novell employees use Macs that maybe they aren’t required to in order to make sure the software they are developing runs properly on the Mac? (I don’t know if this is the case or not, but without more information – who can really say?)

  46. Saul Goode said,

    April 30, 2008 at 3:15 pm

    Gravatar

    Dan O’Brian:

    > That’s the difference between Novell’s and Red Hat’s patent
    > protection for their customers (as far as I understand it, anyway).

    I fully concur, with Novell I am paying Microsoft for patent protection. Taking this at face value (disregarding the paper shuffle), this means that Novell providing patent-encumbered GPLed (v2) software is effectively infringing on the copyrights of software authors. I do not find this commendable.

    > What if the deal never happened? Would that somehow make
    > Mono or Moonlight any safer? Any less safe? No, it wouldn’t
    > have changed a thing.

    By way of digression, either the covenant deal makes usage of Mono safer for Novell customers by offering coverage of valid Microsoft patents, or Novell customers are being asked to pay royalties to Microsoft based on claims that Novell asserts do not read on Mono technology (s/Linux/Mono/g). The first would indicate that Novell is misleading its customers when it assures that no valid patents exist, the second means Novell is extracting patent protection money from its customers under false pretenses. I find neither assessment commendable.

    Returning to your question as to level of risk, I disagree that things would have been unchanged. I don’t place much stock in a person claiming one thing in words, when their actions support the opposite. Novell is asking potential GNU/Linux customers and the Courts (were it to reach them) to accept that despite the fact that royalty payments are being made on patents held by Microsoft, no such patents actually apply. Such payments do lend a certain degree of credence to the claims of those patent and make things less safe for non-Novell customers.

    > Not really, no. Novell simply covered all of it’s products which
    > Mono happened to be one of. Doesn’t make much sense for them
    > to strike a deal with Microsoft saying “You can’t sue our customers
    > over X, Y, or Z… but we’ll let you sue over Mono.”

    YOUR claim was how disingenuous it was to single out Mono and Moonlight; my point addressed WHO was doing the singling out, not a contradiction of what was being singled out. For what it’s worth, I agree that the Linspire and Xandros “XYZ w/o M” covenants indeed made even less sense than Novell’s.

    > No, they didn’t. You see, they have protection from patent attacks
    > against Java because they have their own patent portfolio card to
    > play if they were to get attacked. You do not.

    Fair enough. Nonetheless, Sun provides me with the same level of legal protection as they themselves experience. Maybe you don’t recognize the distinction between extralegal protection advantages and those based upon laws, but I do.

    > You’ll also notice that Sun is licensing Java under the GPLv2,
    > not the GPLv3.

    Indeed. And that means that if there are patent licenses that don’t permit royalty-free redistribution of Java, Sun wouldn’t be able to license it that way. I would presume that this includes any cross-licensing that exists between Sun and Microsoft per their 2004 agreement. But then, if you have some specific patents in mind that read upon Java technology, please feel free to share them that a fair assessment of the risks involved be possible.

    > There was no patent clause of the GPLv2 -

    Did your copy of GPLv2 not include a Section 7?

    > also note that Mono is not licensed under the GPLv2, it is
    > licensed under MIT/X11.

    Then I would recommend that ‘mono-1.9.1/mcs/LICENSE’ be updated.

    > And Microsoft maintains that it doesn’t infringe on Novell patents, yet
    > it pays even heftier royalties to Novell – what’s your point?

    Doesn’t really pass the Duck Test, now does it? If the best argument that can be proffered is “use Novell, we’re no worse than Microsoft” then I guess my point is made.

    > I’m not sure where you get the “while he himself insists upon
    > taking a train” bit or the “Novell doesn’t eat it’s own dog food” bit.
    >
    > Novell does eat their own dog food.
    > They all use Open Office, they all run Linux, they write software using
    > Mono. What dog food of theirs do they not eat?

    I was not commenting on which software is being used by Novell employees, but on the exclusivity of the patent covenants. If Novell wishes their projects to be accepted by the Free Software community, they should be willing to stand behind enabling them to be truly Free for all deployments without encumbrances. Such criteria may not be demanded by law, but it should be a requisite for acceptance as a GNU project.

  47. Nikolas Koswinkle said,

    April 30, 2008 at 3:30 pm

    Gravatar

    BTW, if you visit Linux festivals you see lots and lots of developers with MacBook Pros… Not because they love Mac OS X but because the hardware is pretty good for the price (though ThinkPads rule, of course).

    Note: comment has been flagged for arriving from a possible incarnation of known (eet), pseudonymous, forever-nymshifting, abusive Internet troll that posts from open proxies and relays around the world.

  48. Saul Goode said,

    April 30, 2008 at 8:02 pm

    Gravatar

    Dan O’Brian:

    > That’s the difference between Novell’s and Red Hat’s patent
    > protection for their customers (as far as I understand it, anyway).
    >
    > What if the deal never happened? Would that somehow make
    > Mono or Moonlight any safer? Any less safe? No, it wouldn’t
    > have changed a thing.

    So going with Novell, as opposed to RedHat, I am paying Microsoft for patent protection on GPLed software (Samba, OpenOffice.org, Mono-C#). Taking this at face value (i.e., accepting the actions of Novell over their words), Novell is providing patent-encumbered GPLed software which is in violation of the terms of the GPL.

    Alternately, I may accept the assurances of Novell that no valid patents are being infringed upon, and that the portion of the money I give them which they use to pay patent royalties to Microsoft is effectively extortion since they are wrongfully exacting fees based on an illegitimate fear.

    I find neither interpretation to be acceptable, let alone commendable.

    Ignoring that dilemma, and returning to your question as to level of risk, I disagree that things would have been unchanged. I don’t place much stock in a person claiming one thing in words, when their actions support the opposite. Novell is asking potential GNU/Linux customers and the Courts (were it to reach them) to accept that despite the fact that royalty payments are being made on patents held by Microsoft, no such patents actually apply. Such payments do lend a certain degree of credence to the claims of those patent and make things less safe for non-Novell customers.

    > Not really, no. Novell simply covered all of it’s products which
    > Mono happened to be one of. Doesn’t make much sense for them
    > to strike a deal with Microsoft saying “You can’t sue our customers
    > over X, Y, or Z… but we’ll let you sue over Mono.”

    Your claim was how disingenuous it was to single out Mono and Moonlight; my point addressed WHO was doing the singling out, not a contradiction of what was being singled out. For what it’s worth, I agree that the Linspire and Xandros “X, Y, Z w/o M” covenants indeed made even less sense than Novell’s.

    > No, they didn’t. You see, they have protection from patent attacks
    > against Java because they have their own patent portfolio card to
    > play if they were to get attacked. You do not.

    Nonetheless, Sun provides me with the same level of legal protection as they themselves experience. Maybe you don’t recognize the distinction between extralegal protection advantages and those based upon laws, but I do.

    > You’ll also notice that Sun is licensing Java under the GPLv2,
    > not the GPLv3.

    Indeed. And that means that if there are patent licenses that don’t permit royalty-free redistribution of Java, Sun wouldn’t be able to license it that way. I would presume that this includes any cross-licensing that exists between Sun and Microsoft per their 2004 agreement (were Java to contain some MS-patented technology). But then, if you have some specific patents in mind that read upon Java technology, please feel free to share them that a fair assessment of the risks involved be possible.

    > There was no patent clause of the GPLv2 -

    Did your copy of GPLv2 not include a Section 7?

    > also note that Mono is not licensed under the GPLv2, it is
    > licensed under MIT/X11.

    Then I would recommend that ‘mono-1.9.1/mcs/LICENSE’ be emended.

    > And Microsoft maintains that it doesn’t infringe on Novell patents, yet
    > it pays even heftier royalties to Novell – what’s your point?

    Doesn’t really pass the Duck Test, now does it? If the best argument that can be proffered is “use Novell, we’re no worse than Microsoft” then I guess my point is made.

    > I’m not sure where you get the “while he himself insists upon
    > taking a train” bit or the “Novell doesn’t eat it’s own dog food” bit.
    >
    > Novell does eat their own dog food.
    > They all use Open Office, they all run Linux, they write software using
    > Mono. What dog food of theirs do they not eat?

    I was not commenting on which software is being used by Novell employees, but on the exclusivity of the patent covenants. If Novell wishes their projects to be accepted by the Free Software community, they should be willing to stand behind them being truly Free for all deployments without encumbrances. Such criteria may not be demanded by law, but it is requisite for acceptance as a GNU project.

  49. Roy Schestowitz said,

    May 1, 2008 at 12:56 am

    Gravatar

    @ Saul Goode:

    Alternately, I may accept the assurances of Novell that no valid patents are being infringed upon, and that the portion of the money I give them which they use to pay patent royalties to Microsoft is effectively extortion since they are wrongfully exacting fees based on an illegitimate fear.

    For all we know, they may have never really done a proper assessment. It was a marriage of convenience that harms everyone outside the marriage. As far as substantiation of the claims is concerned, Novell seems indifferent. To Novell it’s a marketing tool and a way of signing more contracts, with Microsoft’s blessing.

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