Summary: An exodus away from Mono or just a coincidence? TomTom case still casts a shadow on Mono’s future
An anonymous reader has just alerted us about another such migration, but this one is nothing like a fork. From the OpenSUSE Web site (yes, Novell’s own site):
Easy-LTSP was designed to work on any distribution, but unfortunately it is not integrated anywhere other than openSUSE, discussing with the upstream LTSP developers suggested the slight reservation could be due to it being written in C#. We wanted to add new features to the GUI to take care of all the exciting new development we have in KIWI-LTSP so it was felt that the rewrite will be much better option than to extend the current code, as it is anyway being written from scratch why not use something like Python which would be easier to attract more contributors and increase possibility that users of all distributions running LTSP server can benefit from it inclusion in their prefered distro.
One of the common defenses – a “talking point”, if you will – of mono / moonlight apologists goes something like this:
“Software patents are bad, but are not a problem unique to mono. If you worry about patents in mono, you have to worry about patents in general. And, if you do that, you might as well not even develop software at all. So, don’t worry about mono.”
Variations on this theme abound, here’s just one recent example from the Ubuntu Forums:
using mono is the same as using the linux kernel. there is always a risk for patent infringement since it’s the whole patent system is so broken in america.
This defense of mono has been around for a while, Miguel de Icaza uses it back in 2004, with what I guess he thinks is an especially subtle misrepresentation of the concern:
Not using Mono in any shape or form is not a blank waiver against patents.
Microsoft suing TomTom has made this a bit of a tricky argument for mono apologists – it was once popular to point out how Microsoft only used their patent portfolio defensively – but it still comes up enough to be worth addressing.
I don’t want to go too far afield – I’m trying to stick to one small point per post and this is already too long – but there is a subtler bit of misinformation here: the implication that if there were no patent issues at all, everyone would be welcoming mono with open arms. I guess they think mono is just that fucking awesome. However, there are countless projects that fail to achieve mainstream acceptance for a host of reasons.
I’ll try to deal with some of those reasons later – thanks for reading!
MS v Linux: Sparks of the Tom Tom Fire stubbornly refuse to die
In course of the last decade, every once in a while Microsoft has been known to have accused Linux of infringing one of its patents or another. Despite the said multiple claims for years that elements of the open-source operating system violate its patents, Microsoft had restricted itself till 2009 to supporting legal action against Linux (for instance, the infamous alleged funneling of money by Microsoft to SCO so as to fuel the latter’s lawsuits against IBM and other Linux-user companies). Simultaneously with such actions, Microsoft has not restricted either its alliances with the said companies, including its partnerships with Novell and Red Hat.
However, the settlement is far from successful in calming down the much-agitated open-source legal community, with the legal issues involved being still undecided. In effect, this settlement ends one phase of the community’s response to Microsoft patent aggression and begins another.It may be interesting to note that a continuing litigation will have subjected Microsoft’s patent claims to a rigorous ‘prior art’ search to which the company may have been unwilling.
Given the lessons of TomTom (regarding FAT), Mono is an iffy territory, as a few people projected years ago. What is left for Mono’s legacy then? Well, Gnome-Do’s founder has just been hired by one of the companies most receptive to Mono. █