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06.22.09

Reader’s Article: Mono and (Anti)Trust

Posted in Antitrust, ECMA, Finance, Microsoft, Mono, Novell, Patents, TomTom at 8:52 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Evil monkeys

Summary: Mono suffers from an issue of trust — one must trust Microsoft just like TomTom trusted them

NOVELL, like Mono, is impossible to trust. Would anyone trust a company whose CEO rakes in millions in bonuses despite abysmal performance? Yes, Novell fires GNU/Linux developers (supposedly its business focus) while giving Ron Hovsepian a $6 million bonus. Novell fails to beat its own goals and it had been taking loans while its CEO was essentially robbing the company for personal benefit. Why do so many good reporters fail to see this?

“Whose agenda is actually served by Mono? Microsoft’s of course.”As the treasonous deal with Microsoft demonstrated, Novell is a morally deprived company, with the possibility of imminent financial bankruptcy too, or at least the splitting for sake of survival. Whose agenda is actually served by Mono? Microsoft’s of course. And the more times goes on, the more obvious it becomes. In fact, Novell has begun development which puts Windows in a position of advantage even for Mono [1, 2, 3]. What more compelling proof do proponents of Mono require before the Eureka moment? Some of those Mono proponents are former Microsoft employees and at least one person from the Mono team is working for Microsoft at present.

And with this blunt introduction off my chest, I hand it over to Slated, who equally bluntly wrote the following about what makes Mono so dangerous:


This single, vague yet far reaching example, is as much as I personally have been able to discover.

The ECMA declaration is indeed just a statement of intent.

However, the substantive point is that .NET is Microsoft technology, and as such you can be sure they have it patented up to the hilt, and one way or another Microsoft will use those patents as a weapon against its enemies. It would be extremely naive (in fact dangerous) to assume otherwise, because Microsoft have a violent history of aggression in their crusade to protect their racketeering operation.

“The best case scenario might be that Mono developers find themselves having to abandon whole projects, or at least significant parts of them, in order to “work around” the problem.”The problem is that, outside of Redmond HQ (and presumably UPSTO), nobody has the faintest clue as to what these patents might be, if any, and of course Microsoft have so far remained silent on the issue (much like the infamous “Linux violates 235 Microsoft patents” scandal, except this time the intent is initially somewhat more subtle and subversive, rather than being a more obvious and aggressive FUD attack). This also begs the question of how de Icaza and friends intend to “work around” non-ECMA covered patents, if he doesn’t have the first clue as to what
exactly is, or is not, patented, and by the time he eventually finds out, it may be too late (assuming he isn’t already privy to Microsoft’s darkest secrets).

The best case scenario might be that Mono developers find themselves having to abandon whole projects, or at least significant parts of them, in order to “work around” the problem. The worst case scenario is that Microsoft begins an all-out frontal attack (just like they did with TomTom).

Naturally Microsoft finds this situation very useful, since it enables them to poison Free Software in a subversive fashion, and with little resistance, especially as they have pacified certain key developers with “RAND” assurances. The problem is that the ECMA RAND only pertains to certain parts of the .NET framework, and moreover the “RAND” itself only refers to price (i.e. a fair and reasonable price). This doesn’t actually prevent Microsoft from suing those who implement that technology without a license, and the private (i.e. unofficial) assurances they’ve given regarding “royalty free” are, at this stage, nothing more than hot air (i.e. dependent on implicit trust, rather than being legally binding). To be legally binding, every GNU/Linux distro would require an explicit patent grant from Microsoft, which is not what either the ECMA RAND nor the so-called “covenant” are. Novell presumably has such a grant, as part of their agreement, others don’t. Exactly what sinister implications entering into such an agreement entails, is anyone’s guess, since they are (like everything else Microsoft does) yet another dark secret (Memorandum of Understanding), but you can be sure it isn’t good, or at least it is very good for Microsoft, which means it will inevitably be very bad for everyone else.

IOW it’s all a big mystery, and deliberately so (patent pending).

Then again, maybe not.

After all, this is Microsoft we’re talking about, and there’s very little mystery about their motives, is there? So do we actually even need to know the details? We should all know more than enough about the history of these gangsters, to steer well clear of anything tainted by them.

Here’s a shortlist of things we can safely assume Microsoft considers to be their “enemy”:

. Competing operating systems
. Interoperability (i.e. anything which enables operation on the above)
. Open Standards (ditto)
. Free Software (ditto)
. Any company which distributes or primarily utilises any of the above

And here’s a few key facts about Microsoft:

. They have a global software monopoly
. They abuse that monopoly to suppress competition
. They use highly unethical, and often illegal, tactics in the above
. They are only motivated by power and greed, to attain domination
. They essentially operate like gangsters

Now study those two lists, then give me one good reason why anyone should implicitly trust Microsoft to:

a) Do anything that helps GNU/Linux
b) Keep their legally non-binding “royalty free” promise
c) Keep their “covenant to not sue” promise (hint: TomTom)
d) Not launch a submarine patent attack against Mono projects
e) Not abuse the confusion over Mono as leverage for cross-licensing “deals”, to pervert the GNU/Linux distro landscape into an extension of Microsoft’s portfolio of rotting carcasses

Seems pretty simple to me, but then I am allegedly rather “monochromatic”.

Ultimately, one only needs to ask oneself this single question, to determine whether or not they should have anything to do with Mono, either as users or developers:

Do you trust, and therefore wish to help, the self-declared enemy of Free Software, Microsoft, a company which inhibits all competition using immoral and criminal methods, similar to gangsters running a racketeering operation?

My answer: No.

I really don’t need to know any more.

Case closed.

“Our partnership with Microsoft continues to expand.”

Ron Hovsepian, Novell CEO

“[The partnership with Microsoft is] going very well insofar as we originally agreed to co-operate on three distinct projects and now we’re working on nine projects and there’s a good list of 19 other projects that we plan to co-operate on.”

Ron Hovsepian, Novell CEO

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12 Comments

  1. Yuhong Bao said,

    June 22, 2009 at 11:37 am

    Gravatar

    “RAND” – yep RAND only lives up to it’s name if you ignore free software.
    To be honest however, Mono is not as bad as the MS-Novell deal. And yes, I am completely avoiding OpenSUSE, Linspire, Xandros, all of which signed a deal similar to MS-Novell, but not Mono.

    Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    To be honest however, Mono is not as bad as the MS-Novell deal.

    Those two things are not comparable because they are different in nature. A relation was shown only regarding the issue of mistrust.

    Yuhong Bao Reply:

    Yep, Mono and the MS-Novell deal is certainly different in nature, the the latter is IMO worse because it imposes a MS tax on Linux, which is not good, while Mono, while it does have it’s issues, at least you are not paying the patent racketeer.

  2. lalala said,

    June 22, 2009 at 12:09 pm

    Gravatar

    An article from Homer? Seriously, that’s your source? He has as much credibility as astralknight.

  3. Jose_X said,

    June 22, 2009 at 4:45 pm

    Gravatar

    The Ad Bard Network ad I got was interesting: http://tag1consulting.com/mysqlsupport

    There is a book on performance being written publicly. There are patches. They host and maintain.

    The topic is relevant to many (mysql and drupal performance).

    They appear to deal entirely with FOSS… just realized by looking at their about page that these are the people that started the Ad Bard Network.

  4. Sir Sane said,

    June 22, 2009 at 6:12 pm

    Gravatar

    I don’t see what’s even wrong with Mono. Yes, it’s a controversial in nature due to what it is based upon, but as Dave said in an earlier article: RMS and Torvalds are both okay with Mono. If the founding fathers of GNU/Linux are okay with it after looking through it, what could possibly be wrong?

  5. Yuhong Bao said,

    June 22, 2009 at 7:39 pm

    Gravatar

    BTW, what about DotGNU? Are they subject to the same patent issues regarding .NET?
    “by the time he eventually finds out, it may be too late (assuming he isn’t already privy to Microsoft’s darkest secrets).
    The best case scenario might be that Mono developers find themselves having to abandon whole projects, or at least significant parts of them, in order to “work around” the problem. The worst case scenario is that Microsoft begins an all-out frontal attack (just like they did with TomTom).”
    How long do you estimate before this will happen? I am just curious.

  6. The Mad Hatter said,

    June 22, 2009 at 10:59 pm

    Gravatar

    I’ve suggested several times that the only way to answer this is to get a legal opinion from a law firm that specialises in business law and patents. Curiously, every time I suggest this, I get shouted at very loudly. I wonder why?

  7. Peter said,

    June 24, 2009 at 5:39 am

    Gravatar

    Sir Sane,

    DotGNU and Mono are both Free Software, but DotGNU users/developers would never be sued for patent violations. Where is your source that both RMS and Torvalds are “okay” with Mono?

    Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    “The patent danger to Mono comes from patents we know Microsoft has, on libraries which are outside the C# spec and thus not covered by any promise not to sue. In effect, Microsoft has designed in boobytraps for us.

    “Indeed, every large program implements lots of ideas that are patented. Indeed, there’s no way to avoid this danger. But that’s no reason to put our head inside Microsoft’s jaws.”

    Richard Stallman

  8. The Mad Hatter said,

    June 28, 2009 at 12:50 pm

    Gravatar

    Stallman has real problems with Mono. If you don’t believe me, read it in his own words.

    For those too lazy to click on a link:

    Debian’s decision to include Mono in the default installation, for the sake of Tomboy which is an application written in C#, leads the community in a risky direction. It is dangerous to depend on C#, so we need to discourage its use.

    The problem is not unique to Mono; any free implementation of C# would raise the same issue. The danger is that Microsoft is probably planning to force all free C# implementations underground some day using software patents. (See http://swpat.org and http://progfree.org.) This is a serious danger, and only fools would ignore it until the day it actually happens. We need to take precautions now to protect ourselves from this future danger.

    This is not to say that implementing C# is a bad thing. Free C# implementations permit users to run their C# programs on free platforms, which is good. (The GNU Project has an implementation of C# also, called Portable.NET.) Ideally we want to provide free implementations for all languages that programmers have used.

    The problem is not in the C# implementations, but rather in Tomboy and other applications written in C#. If we lose the use of C#, we will lose them too. That doesn’t make them unethical, but it means that writing them and using them is taking a gratuitous risk.

    We should systematically arrange to depend on the free C# implementations as little as possible. In other words, we should discourage people from writing programs in C#. Therefore, we should not include C# implementations in the default installation of GNU/Linux distributions, and we should distribute and recommend non-C# applications rather than comparable C# applications whenever possible.

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