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Novell’s Hack Week: Mono, Ports to Windows, Mac OS X

Posted in Apple, GNU/Linux, Java, Microsoft, Mono, Novell, Windows at 8:58 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Loss of direction

It’s disappointing enough that the head of the Linux Foundation (which we have not much respect for [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]) buys an iPhone, but it’s also worth highlighting the fact that some Novell employees still have Macs./p>

Here for example is a video interview with a Novell General Manager that uses a Mac. Granted, some of these people run GNU/Linux on Mac hardware (Linus Torvalds for instance), but some may not. Either way, it’s clear that Novell and the Linux Foundation, which is partly funded by Novell, are not truly committed to what they preach, especially on the desktop. The other option is that they simply don’t preach what people believe they should preach.

“…they simply don’t preach what people believe they should preach.”Maybe Novell is not an open source company after all. It actually insists that it’s a “mixed source” company [1, 2, 3, 4]. Microsoft adopted a similar ploy.

Are there no decent laptops that come without an operating system? Is it true that there are no business-ready Linux phones, as Jim Zemlin seems to be implying by deeds? Frankly, this is just embarrassing, but it reflects perfectly well on the stance taken by those who consider themselves pragmatists and concede key values even at the very senior level. Dana Blankenhorn, for example, is one among many writers who cover open source and GNU/Linux without actually using it. It’s insulting.

Found in the news yesterday is the following short piece. Look what OpenSUSE (funded by Novell) is up to.

Calls for porting Tomboy to Windows (and maybe even Mac OS X), adding geocode filtering to RSS and fully supporting Amazon’s Elastic Cloud 2 are just a few of the ideas put forth in this year’s annual Hack Week.

Tomboy is Mono [1, 2] and it seems like efforts are being diverted into the wrong direction. A year or so ago, Sun (SUNW) changed its ticker/stock symbol to Java (JAVA), symbolising a shift in strategy. Might Novell see .NET (and software patents) as a business strategy rather than pay attention to Free software?

At the moment, points are being raised in the IRC channel about Mono fans slamming Java. Novell is no friend of Java anymore [1, 2, 3, 4], despite it embracing the GNU GPL. A lot of Mono advocacy seems to be arriving from Novell. Bloggers just find it hard to criticise.

In case the roots of Mono need finding, the following new article may be of use.

Like Aaron Seigo, Mr. Harrington also theorizes that Linux users are more tech-savvy and accustomed to the idea of being contributors, and Windows users are conditioned to being passive consumers with only two options for handling problems: yelling, or purchasing a different product. The foundation of Microsoft’s core business plan is eliminating the second option, so Windows users get a lot of yelling practice. So a large influx of Windows users can swamp a FOSS project with demands but no help. Inkscape’s Windows port has a larger userbase than its Linux version


Which is a point that is always overlooked by the “World Domination At Any Cost” crowd- attracting hordes of Windows and Mac refugees doesn’t necessary benefit FOSS projects, as the KDE4 near-riots demonstrated. The complaining was unbelievable; all those disappointed users behaving like spoiled brats instead of members of a community that depends on community contributions and support.

Could the same observations and lessons be applied to Mono?

“Moonlight is usable for anyone on any distribution of Linux (redhat, ubuntu, etc.) — it is not limited just to Novell as Mono is.”

Brian Goldfarb, Microsoft
[note: Moonlight depends on Mono, emphasis is ours]

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  1. Michael said,

    August 27, 2008 at 8:28 pm


    The luser-overload problem is a big one with any relatively popular project, on any platform. Even on an exclusively gnu platform, once a product becomes usable by the general population, popularity attracts extra people you don’t really want:

    1. newbies who keep asking silly questions – overloading developers and/or ‘community champions’ who become less ‘happy to help’ on mailing lists and the like

    2. people who demand it works like ‘product x’ ‘or i’ll go use something else’ – it’s hard not to take that personally, and all they’re doing is winding you up.

    3. noisy bug reporters. Many people who go to the effort to report a bug treat it as the most important issue in the product, neglecting all other bugs or priorities.

    4. people who demand it works like ‘product x’ and provides some (often hacked up low-quality) patch to make it work that way. Ignoring any existing UI standards or underlying product philosophy along the way. Often you can never accept it even if they clean it up, and all it does is get everyone upset.

    5. people who see a whole new way of doing everything/a big chunk of the application. Ignoring often years of learning-by-mistake that got the project to the place it is. They can be quite disruptive, particularly if they gain a following of users/non-core developers.

    6. Constant criticisers. No matter what you’re product is, some small percentage of people will always bag it at every opportunity – even if they’ve never used it. And the more popular it is, the more of these you get. It wears you down.

    Maybe i’m just weak as piss, but all that burnt me out working on Evolution, and quite frankly I would not wish that experience on my worst enemies.

    Porting to Windows will certainly increase type 1 by far the most, but also increase the other parts as well (2, 4, particularly if said free product was a clone of some proprietary product in the first place). I think it would be the absolutely LAST thing any free software developer would want. Particularly irritating should be the fact that you’re supporting a proprietary platform at the same time – you’re helping M$ make more money. How’s that feel?

    I don’t think mono will really suffer from this, at least in the medium term. Firstly because mono is a poor second cousin to .NET – you need to reach a critical mass of quality before you get a critical mass of newbie lusers (ab)using it. Also because why would any developer use mono on windows when they have a free download from M$? And a little toy application like tomboy is unlikely to attract enough attention, or even if it did, it is so small it can hardly have major issues to solve any more.

    And … Novell isn’t ‘mixed source’, they are proprietary. You can be as partially proprietary as you can be partially pregnant. They might sponsor some free software projects, but so does Sun and IBM (hell, and M$), and nobody is arguing those are anything but proprietary software companies.

  2. masbani said,

    August 28, 2008 at 2:21 am


    How many ‘open source’ companies by your definition do exist in the world, then? 1? 2?

  3. Roy Schestowitz said,

    August 28, 2008 at 2:30 am


    And … Novell isn’t ‘mixed source’, they are proprietary.

    This may be true, but I only said what Novell calls itself: mixed-source.

  4. Jon said,

    October 24, 2008 at 12:17 pm


    New subject, Barracuda is gay!!!

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