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Reader’s Take on Microsoft, Novell, and Miguel de Icaza

Posted in Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Law, Microsoft, Mono, Novell, Windows at 7:47 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Star wars Vader

A previous post discussed Miguel de Icaza on Microsoft licences. A reader expands on that: “Notice how the first commenter is a MSFT employee trying to do the damage control. Immediately afterwards Miguel almost apologizes for his warning about the licensing terms being incompatible with anything except Windows. This whole situation reminds me about some very famous movie (see photo):


Good. See to it that he finds his way here. Calrissian, take the princess and the Wookiee to my ship.


You said they’d be left in the city under my supervision.


I am altering the deal. Pray I don’t alter it any further.

“Will Miguel wake up and be brave as to take the same decision as Lando in the movie and rebel against the “Empire” or will he stay as one more of its puppets/minions…?

“In reality I don’t expect from Miguel that he will do the right thing and act as Lando (pity he will waste that opportunity to become a hero). When I keep reading his comments to his blog post, I had the bad feeling that he speaks more as a Microsoft lawyer than as an Open Source (let alone Free Software) programmer. On its part, Novell is very much making the Boba-Fett man-hunter work: The prize: 340 million dollars (and 100 more now).”

This must be the effect of 'buddies' from Microsoft. Mary Jo Foley once told me that they exist and that they get ‘assigned’ to people in order to influence them (or try to moderate them, so to speak).

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  1. max stirner said,

    September 9, 2008 at 8:48 am


    star wars analogy hilarious! :D

  2. Needs Sunlight said,

    September 9, 2008 at 10:30 am


    Great analogy. However, de Icaza has been MS booster since day one.

  3. Roy Schestowitz said,

    September 9, 2008 at 10:40 am


    I know we’ve covered this before, but moments ago I found an article being spread to more and more IDG Web properties calling a Microsoft employee “.Net advocate” and urging Linux to embrace Mono. Sends shivers down your spine, don’t it [sic]?

  4. aeshna23 said,

    September 9, 2008 at 12:35 pm


    I disagree with Needs Sunlight. It looks to me that de Icaza started off on the path of righteousness but stumbled into the darkness. I’m sure money played some role in his turn to darkness, but I’d really like to talk to him for a while and see if I can determine what character flaws he has.

  5. mike said,

    September 9, 2008 at 7:53 pm


    I worked with him for quite a few (8?) years – on GNOME first, and later Ximian and Novell – although by the Novell time-frame I was well past working with him directly (partly because when he started mono after leaving us to clean up the mess in Evolution/Bonobo/ETable, I thought it was yet-another of his excitable pet-projects he’d soon abandon to some poor lackey for a more fun idea). And I was only in the same office for about 12 months anyway, on and off during that time.

    I don’t think money has anything to do with it – I mean – I’m sure he loves getting nice money, but he isn’t selling his services to anyone to get it. He really has always loved MS technology. I think early on his technical library largely consisted of ms-press books, and he was always quoting books going on about how great com or ole or whatever was. GNOME aimed to become basically a clone of com(+) (well Bonobo did specifically, but that was the core of the component architecture), and he forced Evolution to be a clone of Outlook. The argument for Evolution was that ‘that is what people are used to’, so they will more easily switch – even though most of the team had never used it/hated the idea.

    He is quite a strange character – absolutely loves being the centre of attention and playing it up for all its worth. He was known to make strange noises or make up silly words during gatherings or in his office, seemingly if the attention started to wane for example. i.e. so much so it seemed a little odd after a while, and no longer ‘cute’. He is a dynamic speaker, and can get people very excited about his ideas. He tends to dismiss those who disagree with him as idiots or ideologues or irrelevant/unimportant/uninformed. As a result I guess he tended to surround himself with yes-boys and his followers were mostly wanna-be yes-boys. He’s quite a celebrity (i.e. more so) in Latin countries.

    I personally think that he truly believes that the technology he’s pushing is really great technology, and sees any political issues as not just secondary – but totally irrelevant.

    (A little bit like how the neo-cons who seemingly ‘truly believed’ the iraqi’s would welcome them with open arms and become a shining beacon of democracy in the middle-east. It is hard for a thinking person to take that at face value without suspecting they are crazy or simply lying.)

    On the surface of it, much of the technology *is* good. .NET for example, the CLR is a model for a very good VM. But you can’t just consider the technology on it’s own. The reality is that MS are a convicted monopoly abuser and generally just nasty pasties all over, so you have to question the political judgement of a free software leader (another reality) fawning over everything they do.

  6. aeshna23 said,

    September 10, 2008 at 2:02 pm


    Thanks mike for explaining de Icaza. So, it’s pretty hopeless that he’ll ever see how his path for Linux is bad.

    However, your analysis of neo-cons and Iraq is unsound. Looking at the last 14 centuries of muslim violence, our only hope to not having to conduct a genocidal war is to try to secularize and civilize the muslims with their jihads and murders of apostates. In a era of atomic weapons we cannot survive a large group that want to make members of every other religion second class citizens or dead. And let’s be honest about Iraq now. It is working out smashingly for the Bush Administration. Democracy is a real possibility for Iraq for the first time ever.

    My biggest issue with the Bush Administration and Islam is that the Administration did not support Brazil’s call for universal gay rights and thus help create a large segment of internal opposition to Islam within muslim countries.

  7. Roy Schestowitz said,

    September 10, 2008 at 2:24 pm


    aeshna23, de Icaza was actually a Microsoft fan from Day 1.

  8. Jose_X said,

    September 11, 2008 at 12:21 am


    >> Looking at the last 14 centuries of muslim violence, our only hope to not having to conduct a genocidal war is to try to secularize and civilize the muslims with their jihads and murders of apostates.

    Don’t mean to change topics, but I have to touch on this a dash.

    Over the past 14 centuries, I think many “Christians” have given most other groups out there a run for their money in terms of violence towards others. The irony is that the religion is supposed to be so much the opposite. Many Christians are remarkable human beings, yet many “Christians” from the US have gone and helped kill many more than the number of Americans lost during 9/11. Islam has its problems, but I think you will also find a bunch of problems in what a great many from other religions are taught God expects of them. If I were looking from the outside and was a bit more ignorant than I am, I would consider “Christians” to be a great threat to much of mankind. In most encounters, it’s the groups with the smaller armies that suffer the most casualties. Religion has little to do with it.

    Most humans are mild in their positions except when under stress. Most humans are mild in their positions except when under stress. It’s the wicked, the ones that prod others to violence instead of towards compassion, that deserve our attention. Many of these “Christians” and “Muslims” should learn from Christ’s teachings about how to handle their brothers and sisters around the world. Taking revenge can be worse. Each side will always feel the other started it and retaliate. The exploitation of others for profits and power is very bad.

  9. Jose_X said,

    September 11, 2008 at 1:18 am


    >> On the surface of it, much of the technology *is* good. .NET for example, the CLR is a model for a very good VM.

    Technology is never that amazing. Any real need for something is always eventually met. Most “innovation” is usually marginal improvements over something else.

    Key items here. Most programming languages have their own well-defined communities and bodies that maintain the languages. Microsoft has redefined many of these languages they have ported (it’s possible most of the language might stay the same, but clearly some of the environment has to have been redefined). Specific language communities, embraced by Microsoft, represented valuable existing developer mind share. It’s easier to embrace and extend than it is to develop a new following. The CLR didn’t come into existence because most of the languages were looking for another VM solution or interfacing beyond what currently existed. It came about to help solve a Microsoft business problem. [This doesn't mean some of these communities might not benefit from future changes.]

    What’s a VM? It’s a cononicalization of the various constructs/instructions you want to support. Take ELF, make a few changes (eg, add some higher level support if you want), standardize the assembly language, and you have myCLR v 1.0. Take a look at gcc’s IR for clues perhaps. [If I'm off, let me know because I have not actually sat down to try and "solve" the VM problem; I do have limited experience in this area.]

    It is work and does take time to analyze everything you want to support to do a decent design job, but it’s not magic or something that couldn’t be done (again.. and again) if the need to the FOSS world was that great. If ever there was a time to say “let’s be leaders and not followers” this would be it (if the need was that great). I am not saying anything bad about the MS CLR (haven’t looked at the spec), but it’s just not magic. At least not magic that can’t be recreated in our flavor.

    Worse is that beyond the CLR you have a bunch of API to be standardized. Clearly, you want to lead in this area and address the needs of our FOSS platforms. What was Novell thinking? .. Oh, yes, the money!

    So, “let’s differentiate ourselves, as our patron suggests, through ‘interop’. If we make the technology of the inevitable leader the standard, then us sophisticated companies (Novell here pulls out their patents, UNIX assets, and market share) will have advantages over all those other smaller or more pure community players. Microsoft is inevitable. We must all follow.”

    Remember that Microsoft’s technology is influenced by business concerns. It will always be less than what it could be from a technological pov for this reason. And it will likely be overused by it’s main supporters. How much of this CLR do we really need.. really?

  10. Roy Schestowitz said,

    September 11, 2008 at 1:43 am


    Watch what Novell just did. GNU/Linux be a slave under Windows, using Microsoft virtualisation products. Has Novell no shame? It’s becoming a Microsoft subsidiary indeed.

  11. Jose_X said,

    September 11, 2008 at 8:35 pm


    Just wanted to mention the parrot virtual machine for those that have never heard of it. I haven’t been keeping track, but here is their faq http://www.parrotcode.org/faq/

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