EditorsAbout the SiteComes vs. MicrosoftUsing This Web SiteSite ArchivesCredibility IndexOOXMLOpenDocumentPatentsNovellNews DigestSite NewsRSS

11.20.08

Reader’s Post: The Windows Software Development Minefield, and Mono

Posted in GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Mono, Novell, Patents, Windows at 6:43 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

A bad penguin -- Novell

Many people just yell at critics of Mono. But if it’s a non-issue, then not so many people would be concerned about it. Slated.org has contributed the following informative analysis, so without further ado, here it is.


What’s the worst thing a software developer has to worry about?

Schedules?

Budgets?

If you’re a FOSS developer then generally it’s none of the above, but there is one concern that both Windows and FOSS developers have in common … Intellectual “Property”:

In a new lawsuit, Microsoft asks a San Francisco court to declare
invalid several patents assigned to an online transactions company in
hopes of defending customers who have been sued by the patent holder,
WebXchange.

WebXchange earlier this year filed lawsuits against Dell, Allstate and
FedEx in the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware, charging
patent infringement. The suits, filed on the same day in March, say that
the companies violate WebXchange patents in some of their online
services. In the FedEx suit, for example, WebXchange alleges that FedEx
violates three of its patents in an online system that lets people send
print jobs to Kinko’s stores.

Microsoft is not mentioned in any of the three complaints. However, in
the suit that Microsoft filed against WebXchange, it says that the
charges relate to the companies’ use of Microsoft’s Visual Studio software.

How nice of Microsoft to help out their customers, eh? However, they haven’t always been quite so benevolent towards Visual Studio users and developers … but we’ll get to that in a minute.

“However, they haven’t always been quite so benevolent towards Visual Studio users and developers”Of course, FOSS developers can easily circumvent the whole “software patents” issue, by hosting outside the jurisdiction of countries corrupted by Intellectual Monopolists, however that doesn’t help the commercial users/distributors of that software, who then set themselves up as targets for litigation, or even (incredibly) raids by customs officials, as happened in Germany recently:

Quite what C&E has to do with patents, I’m not sure, since this has absolutely nothing to do with either tax or dangerous goods (unless one counts patents as “dangerous”, which now that I think about it, makes sense), but apparently Customs officers are now responsible for “policing” alleged patent violations … by shooting first and asking questions later. Furthermore, it’s not exactly clear why a branch of the government would be engaged in pursuing some private company’s civil claim, but that’s the modern world for you … as corrupted by the Intellectual Monopolists. The dastardly “crime” of Intellectual Monopoly violation is now given the same status as drugs trafficking.

Commercial FOSS users/distributors may not have a free pass to “violate” these Intellectual Monopolies (which is why distros are all rushing to provide the “Fluendo codecs”), but the ordinary users certainly do, and since most of the developers are also non-profit enthusiasts in the software patent “DMZ”, there’s plenty of choice for Free Software users (e.g. MPlayer and ffmpeg). This is helped in no small part by the fact that the whole infrastructure around FOSS development is also Free.

But what if it weren’t?

What if the compiler toolchain itself was encumbered up to the hilt with patents and licence restrictions, like say – Visual Studio.

Microsoft threatens its Most Valuable Professional

Who said you could improve our software?
By Will Watts
Posted in Software, 5th June 2007 10:25 GMT

What’s the best way to attract a pile of threatening lawyers’ letters
from Microsoft? Sell pirate copies of Windows? Write a DRM-busting program?

Londoner Jamie Cansdale has just discovered a new approach. He had the
temerity to make Redmond’s software better.

As a hobby, Cansdale developed an add-on for Microsoft Visual Studio.
TestDriven.NET allows unit test suites to be run directly from within
the Microsoft IDE. Cansdale gave away this gadget on his website, and
initially received the praises of Microsoft.

In fact, Microsoft was so pleased with him, it gave him a Most Valuable
Professionals (MVP) award, which it says it gives to “exceptional
technical community leaders from around the world who voluntarily share
their high quality, real world expertise with others”.

[...]

At one point, in a splendid example of the right hand being unaware of
who is getting the left hand’s index finger, Cansdale got a letter
presaging another MVP award only to have it hastily withdrawn the next
day (find this incident the bottom of the second page of emails.)

Finally, Microsoft lost patience, and in the last few days has hit
Cansdale with a flurry of lawyers’ letters, also available on his
website [see here and here]. Cansdale now has until 4pm Wednesday 6 June
to disable the Visual Studio Express features of his product.

We await the deadline with bated breath.

Meanwhile, a quiet word in the ear of any earnest young programmer who
is considering downloading a copy of Visual Studio Express and slaving
deep into the night, striving hard in the Microsofty ways, in the hope
one day of earning the glorious rank of MVP.

Do ya feel lucky, punk? ®

Read the actual Emails too, they’re most illuminating:

http://www.mutantdesign.co.uk/downloads/ExpressEmails1.html
http://www.mutantdesign.co.uk/downloads/ExpressEmails2.html

Weber repeatedly refers to Cansdale’s work as a “hack”, even though Cansdale proves conclusively that it only uses API’s published by Microsoft, and available for free on their Website.

“It’s only Novell customers who are “indemnified” against whatever threats they may encounter WRT Microsoft’s alleged “IP”.”This set me thinking about Mono, and how this Microsoft-encumbered Intellectual Monopoly was a specific threat to FOSS, not merely because of the patents (RAND or otherwise), but primarily because of the patentor. If Microsoft would pursue one of their own MVPs so viciously and tenaciously, over nothing more than a damned plugin, what do you suppose they’ll start doing once their “IP” has well and truly infested Free Software?

I wonder if Microsoft will be as “benevolent” to the Free Software community as they’ve apparently been to Dell and friends, if some patent troll sues a FOSS developer for patent “infringements” relating to .NET?

But then, that’s where Novell comes in, isn’t it? It’s only Novell customers who are “indemnified” against whatever threats they may encounter WRT Microsoft’s alleged “IP”.

From that perspective alone, it’s sheer insanity for any distro other than SUSE to ship Mono or any of it’s related technologies and dependants, but there’s still the question of the infamous “patentor”
and it’s motives.

It’s not exactly news, and it doesn’t take a genius to work out what Microsoft is up to, in fact it’s transparently obvious. The plan goes something like this:

  1. Find some Microsoft-friendly FOSS developers (e.g. Miguel de Icaza. Heck, judging by Torvald’s latest rant, he may well be next).
  2. Buy a commercial Linux vendor (they’ve essentially bought Novell).
  3. Start infecting FOSS with Microsoft “IP”, right down in the foundations of the compiler toolchain (e.g. Mono), so the infection spreads upwards to everything built using that toolchain.
  4. Provide “indemnity” only for customers of that single (sellout) Linux vendor.
  5. Wait for the infection to spread, until this “IP” becomes ubiquitous and virtually unavoidable.
  6. Meanwhile, start making a lot of noise about “undisclosed balance sheet liabilities”, and certain Linux vendors’ customers having an “obligation to compensate us”.
  7. Keep the pressure on certain Linux vendors, with shell companies acting as patent trolls, such as IP Innovation LLC, and it’s parent shell company Acacia.
  8. Light the patent-fuse; sit back and enjoy the show, as every commercial Linux vendor finds themselves forced to choose between either paying Microsoft or dropping a large chunk of their repos, thus making their distros unusable (or at least considerably less functional than SUSE).

And as they say on South Park:

9. ???
10. Profit!!!

Or more importantly from Microsoft’s perspective … monopoly!!! Again.

Now you know why de Icaza named it “Mono®”.

So is this just the ravings of a paranoid Linux loony?

Really; really think about who Microsoft are; what they do; how they do it; and what their motives and principles are. What right-minded Free Software advocate; user or developer would continue to support Mono?

Well … Fedora, for one.

Yes, this community distro that vigilantly strives to purge all that is patent-encumbered or otherwise questionable from its distro, ships one of the most dangerous pieces of software ever to taint the Free Software community … Mono.

And to think that Tom “Spot” Callaway (Fedora Engineering Manager) once vehemently proclaimed:

We will never include Mono, or anything that is obviously patented
without a patent grant in writing that permits unrestricted use and
redistribution, as per the terms of the GPL.

Today it’s an entirely different story:

1. The decision to allow Mono to enter the tree seems to have been made
arbitrarily by Red Hat, with no community consultation, and in spite
of protests (including some by high profile Red Hat personnel -
mostly expressed as a rejection of Mono before the announcement).

2. There has only ever been one public announcement on the subject, and
that was made (with some dismay, it seems) by Tom Callaway:

https://www.redhat.com/archives/fedora-extras-list/2006-January/msg00588.html

3. There has only ever been one, extremely reserved, explanation given
for this decision, in a blog post by Greg DeKoenigsberg:

“Business considerations that prevented certain Mono components from
being included in Fedora previously have now been resolved.”

http://gregdek.livejournal.com/3597.html

The specific nature of this resolution is not given.

4. There is precious little concrete information about precisely who
made these arbitrary decisions that also affected the Fedora
community distro, but as best as I can deduce, the key players seem
to be Greg DeKoenigsberg (as above) and Christopher Blizzard,
although it may be that these were simply the only people discussing
it publicly:

http://www.0xdeadbeef.com/weblog/?p=188

5. The nearest thing to an actual justification for this acceptance of
Mono, is that the OIN offers a kind of Mexican Stand-Off protection
to those who implement it:

http://gregdek.livejournal.com/4008.html

My final conclusion is that Fedora includes encumbered, non-Free
software, that is covered by patents owned by Microsoft, and assured by
a patent covenant that is not worth the (metaphorical) paper it’s
written on, since Moonlight, which is also covered by this same type of
covenant by the same company, has recently been exposed by Groklaw as
undistributable (I’m advised that PJ is currently investigating Mono as
well). The announcement and justification for this inclusion is
extremely sparse, and there has been almost no community consultation on
the subject, either before or after the fact.

Why the secrecy?

More here:

“Red Hat not shipping Mono is currently a can’t rather than a won’t.
Making it worse, we are not able to spell out all the facts on why we
can’t.” ~ Havoc Pennington, ex-Red Hat Desktop manager/engineer.

Again, what is the big secret?

And why do these commercial Linux vendors seem to be going to so much trouble to infect Free Software with Microsoft’s Intellectual Monopoly?

Windows software development is an absolute minefield of legal pitfalls, and now thanks to some mysterious conspiracy (or at least grossly misguided decisions) that same minefield is slowly infesting Free Software too, via Mono.

Then to cap it all, we have the creator of the Linux kernel complaining about people who see things in “black and white” terms.

Maybe we should all just give up any hope of autonomy and Freedom, switch to Windows, and pledge 10% of our income to the Cult of RedmondGangsters for life. That’s what certain people within our community seem to want. I’m sure it’s the “pragmatic” thing to do, after all.

“Beware the enemy within.”

Share this post: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Reddit
  • co.mments
  • DZone
  • email
  • Google Bookmarks
  • LinkedIn
  • NewsVine
  • Print
  • Technorati
  • TwitThis
  • Facebook

If you liked this post, consider subscribing to the RSS feed or join us now at the IRC channels.

Pages that cross-reference this one

3 Comments

  1. mejust me said,

    November 20, 2008 at 11:00 pm

    Gravatar

    hey roy, if this is a ‘reader’s post’ then who wrote it?

    thanks!

  2. Roy Schestowitz said,

    November 21, 2008 at 4:14 am

    Gravatar

    It says so in the post (first paragraph). ;-)

  3. Slated said,

    November 21, 2008 at 4:39 pm

    Gravatar

    I did.

What Else is New


  1. The Moral Depravity of the European Patent Office Under Battistelli

    The European Patent Office (EPO) comes under heavy criticism from its very own employees, who also seem to recognise that lobbying for the UPC is a very bad idea which discredits the European Patent Organisation



  2. Links 26/9/2016: Linux 4.8 RC8, SuperTux 0.5

    Links for the day



  3. What Insiders Are Saying About the Sad State of the European Patent Office (EPO)

    Anonymous claims made by people who are intimately familiar with the European Patent Office (from the inside) shed light on how bad things have become



  4. The EPO Does Not Want Skilled (and 'Expensive') Staff, Layoffs a Growing Concern

    A somewhat pessimistic look (albeit increasingly realistic look) at the European Patent Office, where unions are under fire for raising legitimate concerns about the direction taken by the management since a largely French team was put in charge



  5. Patents Roundup: Accenture Software Patents, Patent Troll Against Apple, Willful Infringements, and Apple Against a Software Patent

    A quick look at various new articles of interest (about software patents) and what can be deduced from them, especially now that software patents are the primary barrier to Free/Libre Open Source software adoption



  6. Software Patents Propped Up by Patent Law Firms That Are Lying, Further Assisted by Rogue Elements Like David Kappos and Randall Rader (Revolving Doors)

    The sheer dishonesty of the patent microcosm (seeking to bring back software patents by misleading the public) and those who are helping this microcosm change the system from the inside, owing to intimate connections from their dubious days inside government



  7. Links 25/9/2016: Linux 4.7.5, 4.4.22; LXQt 0.11

    Links for the day



  8. Patent Quality and Patent Scope the Unspeakable Taboo at the EPO, as Both Are Guillotined by Benoît Battistelli for the Sake of Money

    The gradual destruction of the European Patent Office (EPO), which was once unanimously regarded as the world's best, by a neo-liberal autocrat from France, Benoît Battistelli



  9. Bristows LLP's Hatred/Disdain of UK/EU Democracy Demonstrated; Says “Not Only Will the Pressure for UK Ratification of the UPC Agreement Continue, But a Decision is Wanted Within Weeks.”

    Without even consulting the British public or the European public (both of whom would be severely harmed by the UPC), the flag bearers of the UPC continue to bamboozle and then pressure politicians, public servants and nontechnical representatives



  10. Released Late on a Friday, EPO Social 'Study' (Battistelli-Commissioned Propaganda) Attempts to Blame Staff for Everything

    The longstanding propaganda campaign (framing staff as happy or framing unhappy staff as a disgruntled minority) is out and the timing of the release is suspicious to say the least



  11. Links 23/9/2016: Latest Microsoft and Lenovo Spin (Now in ‘Damage Control’ Mode)

    Links for the day



  12. White Male-Dominated EPO Management Sinks to New Lows, Again

    Benoît Battistelli continues to make the EPO look like Europe's biggest laughing stock by attempting to tackle issues with corny photo ops rather than real change (like SUEPO recognition, diverse hiring, improved patent quality, and cessation of sheer abuses)



  13. Journalism 102: Do Not Become Like 'Managing IP' or IAM 'Magazine' (the Megaphones of the EPO’s Management)

    Another look at convergence between media and the EPO, which is spending virtually millions of Euros literally buying the media and ensuring that the EPO's abuses are scarcely covered (if ever mentioned at all)



  14. Journalism 101: Do Not Believe Anything That Benoît Battistelli and the EPO's Management Say (Also Don't Fall for the UPC Hype)

    A survey/review (or an overview) of recent articles about the EPO and why they're wrong (mostly because they parrot the official lies from Battistelli's department)



  15. Patent Law Firms, David Kappos, and IAM 'Magazine' Still Shelter Software Patents by Cherry-Picking and Lobbying

    Amid the gradual collapse of software patents in the United States there are disingenuous efforts to bring them back or maintain a perception that these patents are still potent



  16. Microsoft-Connected Patent Trolls Going Places and Suing Microsoft Rivals, Microsoft Wants More 'Linux Patent Tax'

    Microsoft-connected patent trolls like Larry Horn's MobileMedia are still attacking Microsoft rivals and Microsoft wants more money from Korea, after it attacked Linux with software patents over there (notably Samsung and LG)



  17. Links 22/9/2016: Linux Professional Institute Redesign, Red Hat Upgraded

    Links for the day



  18. Links 22/9/2016: Red Hat's Latest Results, GNOME 3.22 Released

    Links for the day



  19. The Patent Law Firms in the US Relentlessly Lobby for Software Patents Resurgence by Placing Emphasis Only on Rare Outcomes

    Decisions against software patents continue to be ignored or intentionally overlooked by patent law firms, which instead saturate the media with the few cases where courts unexpectedly rule in favour of software patents



  20. Links 21/9/2016: Lenovo Helps Microsoft Block GNU/Linux Installations

    Links for the day



  21. Like Big Tobacco Lobbyists, Benoît Battistelli and Team UPC Are Just Chronically Lying and Manipulating Politicians With Their Lies

    Benoît Battistelli and Team UPC continue to meddle in politics and mislead the public (through the press) about patent quality as well the UPC, which is now in effect sunk inside the ashtray of history



  22. The EPO's 'Investigative' Function is Totally Out of Control and Continues to Get Bigger, Whitewashed by So-called 'Review'

    An update on the situation which still causes great unrest at the European Patent Office (EPO), namely abuse of staff by the so-called Investigative Unit (Eponia's equivalent of unaccountable secret services)



  23. Microsoft and Patent Law Firms in the United States Can't Stop Writing About McRo in a Coordinated Push to Resurrect Software Patents

    Microsoft is pursuing more Linux 'patent tax' (using software patents) and patent law firms are preoccupied flooding the media with their shameless self-promotion which is also software patents promotion



  24. For Abuse Like Plagiarism and Malpractice, the US Patent System is Still World Champion

    Low patent quality, abusive litigation (e.g. by patent trolls) and various other elements that globally discredit the USPTO are only symptoms of a wider problem, which is a greedy system motivated by neo-liberal values rather than professionalism and servitude



  25. Links 20/9/2016: GNOME 3.22 Preview, Absolute 14.2 Released

    Links for the day



  26. Links 19/9/2016: Linux 4.8 RC7, KDevelop 5.0.1

    Links for the day



  27. Patents Roundup: Disclosure Requirements, Mobile Patents, Patent Lawyers' Plagiarism, USPTO Getting Sued, and Corporate Domination of the Patent System

    The unwanted elements of the patent system (as it stands at present) illuminated by very recent news and patent court cases



  28. With or Without the UPC (Which Will Probably Never Happen) Battistelli is Crushing the EPO and Ejects Experienced Staff, a Future Without Examination Possible

    A pessimistic but probably realistic take on what is happening at the European Patent Office (EPO), which is undergoing a silent transformation so wide-ranging that stakeholders deserve to know about it



  29. When EPO Liar-in-Chief Benoît Battistelli Defamed His Staff in Parliament, Comparing Them to Nazis and Criminals

    A reminder of the audacity of Benoît Battistelli, who in his capacity as a politician -- a problem in its own right -- slanders EPO staff



  30. After McRO v Namco Case (at CAFC) the Patent Microcosm Works Overtime to Produce Pro-Software Patents Propaganda, Smear the Supreme Court

    Increasingly desperate to convince people to pursue software patents and/or use their software patents to initiate growingly risky lawsuits (high risk of losing), the patent microcosm hugs McRO v Namco while distorting the complete record of the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) on this subject


CoPilotCo

RSS 64x64RSS Feed: subscribe to the RSS feed for regular updates

Home iconSite Wiki: You can improve this site by helping the extension of the site's content

Home iconSite Home: Background about the site and some key features in the front page

Chat iconIRC Channel: Come and chat with us in real time

CoPilotCo

Recent Posts