07.08.09

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Microsoft Confirms Mono is Not Safe, Stallman Agrees

Posted in GNU/Linux, GPL, Microsoft, Mono, Novell at 11:26 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Thank you, Microsoft.

No, really. Thank you.

Ignore the spin from Mono/Novell blogs and think what Microsoft has just formally acknowledged, even implicitly. To reuse a belated response sent to some journalists (it was hard to reply while absent), the gist goes like this:

1. Mono — like .NET — does not correspond to an ECMA standard because it brings with it more than just the core. It puts Microsoft in better charge of developers (as in “developers developers developers developers”). Patents were never the sole issue when it comes to Mono.
2. Deviation from the ECMAs is not allowed. This is a concern we highlighted too. This ensures that Microsoft stays in control (no independence, which it may describe as “fragmentation” just to justify this policy).
3. Additional parts of Mono will ultimately be used. Projects like Banshee are sponsored by Novell and Novell only has acquired protection with a patent deal (and that too will have expired for SLE* users by January 2012). Some projects already grab portions of the ‘restricted’ parts. We gave examples before.
4. FAT had Microsoft make similar promises that Microsoft did not keep or obey when it sued TomTom. FAT needed to spread first. It is simply called “patent ambush”.

It is very important for Microsoft to ensure Mono spreads, so it is hardly surprising that amid controversy it sought to lull things. This isn’t the first time, either.

As FFII’s president just told us, “Don’t rely on promises, get a patent RAND license at iplg@microsoft.com.

“I should launch a contest on the first guy who manage to get a copy of the RAND terms.”

And guess what? Richard Stallman does not appreciate Microsoft’s move either.

After one week of break (hoping that nothing significant would be missed around the US holiday), some catching up will certainly be required, so posts will probably resume tomorrow. Between the big news about Google’s OS and Mono ‘news’ (that was inflated), one very important item is this confirmatory observation which possibly shows Black Duck’s ulterior motives (maybe true colours). Did we warn about this Microsoft-sourced proprietary software company or did we not?

In the coming days we’ll post links from the past week’s news so as to encapsulate what was missed. When that’s all done, we shall resume Comes vs Microsoft exhibits. Wallclimber helps us a lot with it.

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12 Comments

  1. niemau said,

    July 8, 2009 at 11:31 pm

    Gravatar

    one additional point to add:

    F-Spot and Banshee connect to sqlite via ADO.NET.

    ADO.NET is absolutely NOT covered by the supposed ‘promise’.

    please see:
    http://www.mono-project.com/SQLite

    Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    Thanks. I caught that too.

    For erroneous reasons/purposes, at least in Fedora, Benshee and Tomboy also grab Winforms.

  2. eet said,

    July 8, 2009 at 11:51 pm

    Gravatar

    Roy; this is really poor. In another discussion I said jokingly that you would have to invest one or two hours of additionalo fact-twisting and truth-bending in order to portray Microsoft’s latest move as something that fits your conspiracy theory. It seems I have been right.

    But how you did it is really a coward’s way to talk around an argument. You simply ignore everything newsworthy – that the overwhelming part of Mono is now really SAVE TO USE and very likely will allow Mono being installed as a default by distributions after Mono has been split up in an ECMA and a non-ECMA version.

    Instead you reiterate what little remains of your conspiracy theories that will now make everyone laugh right away. But transferring all your distrust of Mono now onto the non-ECMA parts of it is just not credible.

    It would do you good to admit that ECMA-Mono, C# now is a save choice and an even contender among language.

    You will eventually have to face the fact that you cannot keep predicting doomsday for years (your latest prediction being January 2010…) without loosing all credibility, and, on a personal level, that you have ruined your career with all this nonsense.

    Jose_X Reply:

    Why do you waste people’s time here?

    Are you here to discuss issues or just repeat yourself?

    If you are here to discuss issues, then reply to what others say.

    Consider this just written: http://boycottnovell.com/2009/07/09/community-promise-sham/comment-page-1/#comment-69181

    Or this http://boycottnovell.com/2009/07/01/mono-poll-on-rms/comment-page-1/#comment-69144 or any of the other comments that address your comment in some way but to which you failed to reply.

    If you ignore our rebuttals, it suggests you cannot address the points or that you are purposely ignoring us. If the former, then please stop repeating your nonsense. If the latter, than you are asking to be ignored.

    I will continue to point to these sorts of comments until you address them. I get tired of replying repeatedly to nonsense reposted in different forms.

    Show me what you are saying is not nonsense. Reply to the rebuttals. If I am wrong, I want to be clued in.

    To be clear: mono use is a very risky proposition when we consider patent threats/Microsoft, and it is not smart to help grow dotnet use.

    Another link: http://boycottnovell.com/2009/02/04/the-api-trap-part-1

    Jose_X Reply:

    Also eet, don’t be embarrassed to ask that I clarify. Part of the problem might be how I explained things (assuming what I was trying to say is legit). The other problem might be that you don’t have the background to follow along. In either case, I can help if you ask.

    Jose_X Reply:

    .. and also..

    I wrongly suggested you don’t discuss things. You obviously do discuss. However, when you say things like

    >> Instead you reiterate what little remains of your conspiracy theories that will now make everyone laugh right away. But transferring all your distrust of Mono now onto the non-ECMA parts of it is just not credible.

    You ignore all the material (posts and replies) that show that the distrust has been over a lot more than core mono and that the dangers of non-ECMA are very real.

    >> It would do you good to admit that ECMA-Mono, C# now is a save choice and an even contender among language.

    C is patent safe (let’s assume), yet new C apps continue to fall foul of patents (or at least could potentially).

    The patent problems do not end when you use the core of a computer language tool that is patent safe. No they do not. As soon as you start building things with the language you can once again start running into trouble with patents.

    The particular problem with some platforms/tools is that some patents can achieve their “innovation” and “prior art avoidance” by piggy-backing on these specific platform/tools. The ECMA standards in question serve as a foundation to Microsoft (their creator) for the many patents that can extend from it.

    boycottnovell has even quoted Microsoft execs speak just to such a strategy. Not that these quotes are needed, since these people are just recognizing how the broken patent system works and can be exploited, but it does suggest that the strategy was well known by top brass at least going back to just before dotnet was introduced.

    >> You will eventually have to face the fact that you cannot keep predicting doomsday for years (your latest prediction being January 2010…) without loosing all credibility

    No one can predict some things very well; however, making predictions doesn’t void the value of some of the analysis that led to such prediction. Predictions always assume way too many more things beyond the core points.

    I know it rains sometimes. That is a very sure thing. Yet if I try to predict it will rain over me starting exactly 3 hours from now (to the minute), then I will likely be wrong. And predicting the minute it will start raining (so far into the future) is much easier to do than predicting some other things that depend on human decision making.

  3. twitter said,

    July 9, 2009 at 12:21 am

    Gravatar

    Welcome back, Roy. Nice links, as usual.

  4. amd-linux said,

    July 9, 2009 at 12:57 am

    Gravatar

    Well done.

    Not to forget that a promise not to sue is a legal instrument that does not exist as such in most jurisdictions; it is neither a contract nor a waiver, and most likely, it will only bind Micro-Soft, but no third parties which might aquire IP from Micro-Soft under the promise.

    All it says is ” yes, we do claim IP on Mono; but will only enforce it outside court” – i.e., it is still possible to net claims for damages of a third party (OIN i.e.) against alleged damages from using Mono without license (in my jurisdiction). That is not suing but still enforcing their alleged Mono IP.

    Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    Microsoft routinely reminds that press that it is interested in striking more patent deals (Linux included), it does not want to sue. It prefers to settle/cross-license like it did with Brother and Samsung (behind closed doors), not like it did with TomTom (after TomTom had refused to pay… following prolonged pressure behind closed doors). It is all publicly-accessible information. There is even a Microsoft book about it (Burning the Ships).

  5. Luke said,

    July 9, 2009 at 1:34 am

    Gravatar

    As always, your analysis on all things Microsoft is amazing.
    It’s always a tough choice between you and The Onion on which will provide the greater laughs.

    Jose_X Reply:

    Another comment from an upset reader who avoids the topic in order to attack the site.

    At least your comment is funny (+1).

  6. vexorian said,

    July 9, 2009 at 6:45 pm

    Gravatar

    So, is anyone else unable to believe in coincidences?

    To me it seems pretty clear that the recent Mono events touched a nerve at Microsoft. It would appear like they are VERY interested in making sure ubuntu and major distros keep using Mono in their default.

    Why? Well, there are the issues with the small print and the fact that MS’ record does not make them the sort of people you would take a promise from… But it could actually be that they are more interested in using Mono and .net to embrace open source, FUD against the GPL and dominate the world a-la win32. Not that much in destroying Linux.

    But well, at least I never opposed to Mono solely on legal basis, the intrinsic problem with making the defaults depend on MS technology remains whether this addresses the legal concerns or not. (And it is not clear that it does)

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