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07.12.09

Mono Roundup: Microsoft Following, Deception, and the Moonlight ‘Extend’ Phase

Posted in Debian, Deception, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Mono, Novell at 1:31 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Stars
It gets dark under the Moonlight

Summary: A further look at Mono, those supporting it, and where it is all likely to be heading

TO those looking for our response to the Mono CP from Microsoft, here is the short explanation and a longer analysis. Some people still inquire about this in the IRC channel.

It is saddening — albeit hardly surprising — that Microsoft is among the big advocates of Mono right now. The pro-Microsoft spinners hold the very same position; Microsoft’s ally and Mary Jo Foley’s friend Gavin Clarke promotes Mono and the Microsoft blog at the Seattle P-I claims in light of this CP that:

The move was another indication that Microsoft increasingly is embracing open-source technology.

Saying you will not sue something based on some conditions that must be fulfilled is hardly en embrace, it is a patronising insult. As Rene Levesque-Caline puts it (in reference to Sam Ramji and other Microsoft decoys [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13]):

Does Carmona not realize that tHese are recyclable guys that Redmond sends out to smile and take guff and make us believe that things have changed?
ANYTHING they say is for PR benefits but in no way woyld they have authority to do what you want.
They are low level managers with no power that are sent for PR (Carmona believes that they arent).
Their job is to distract your attention from what Ballmer, Hector Gutierrez and others with REAL power in Microsoft say about free software and Linux.
Have you EVER listened to some low level serf when you want to know which way the company is going or do you listen to Jobs?
Same goes for every big company I can think off.
But because these guys smile and act nice, were supposed to forget that Linux they claim stole from them over 200 times.”Yeah guys, I dont believe what my bald boss claims. Im one of you. Pinky swear.”
Were supposed to forget that Ballmer said that Red Hat users (U-S-E-R-S) owe them money (he also reminds us that VP de ICaza’s company, Novell, has paid the extortion fee and are the ‘legal’ Linux) because Linux stole from them.
Anything the Rajmi’s of this world say has absolutely no meaning because their boss says this:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?gl=CA&hl=en&v=5B0GTYf PoMo
I am a Red Hat user and Microsoft says that I owe them money because Linux stole their IP.
Has this changed?
No?
Then Rajmi is meaningless as he ever was.
Comes vs Microsoft shows us well how Microsoft acts towards Linux and NOTHING weve heard from the heads of the company has shown this is to be different.
(I dare anyone to show me one quote from a MS head which says differently. I can wait…..)
Are there people in Microsoft who use/develop FLOSS on their own?
Sure, the odds are pretty good. But in a company of that size Im sure you can find also bedwetters, pedophile, addicts and insomniacs like in any large cross section of society. Heck, Im sure you’ll find a few Windows users working at Apple. This shouldnt be considered exceptional.
None of this matters because those ‘brave groups of Redmond FLOSS lovers’ arent the ones who run the company.
And if Rajmi does make a statement now, how much do you think that will mean when Ballmer comes out with his next statement on Linux?
You think you could win in court by claiming that some meaningless peon made certain claims while no one in charge at MS says a word?
I know that we have clients sometimes claim that such and such employee promised things that they had no power or authority doing which is why we always start every partnership by specifying which empployees here speak for the company. Anyone outside these select few does not represent or have the authority to make such claims.
A Rajmi promise would be equally meaningless except it could make for great PR for Microsoft.
At least his predecessor, Bill Hilf, had a little juice then and lots more now and the only thing I remember him during his lovefest was “”The Free Software movement is dead. Linux doesn’t exist in 2007. ”

Other people whom we consider to be Microsoft sympathisers hold a similar position to that of pro-Microsoft reporters, but they cannot ignore the caveats.

Neither parts of .NET not implemented in Mono, such as ADO.NET, ASP.NET and Windows.Forms, nor libraries developed by Mono specifically for GNU/Linux, have ever been affected by these or any other patents, according to Mono’s Licensing FAQ. However, the affected parts have been more than enough for sections of the free software community to reject Mono, or at least to treat it cautiously.

The same issue gets raised by longtime critics of Mono.

“In the next few months we will be working towards splitting the jumbo Mono source code that includes ECMA + A lot more into two separate source code distributions. One will be ECMA, the other will contain our implementation of ASP.NET, ADO.NET, Winforms and others.”

Watch this reaction from Novell’s PR team and pay attention to the fact that a Novell employee embarks on a joint .NET/Mono event (one among other such new events... like MonoSpace). Novell/Mono people are also in Gran Canaria and one reader at LinuxToday complained about “Mono Infiltration” (that’s the subject line of the message).

I run Kubuntu KDE 4.3 RC1 and I just wanted to install sysinfo to check my system specific hardware. When I tried installing it, I was surprised to see the Mono junk. I just couldn’t stand it and I immediately killed it.

Is it in Canonical’s KDE now?

Polls and reactions consistently suggest that the majority of GNU/Linux users doesn’t want Mono. People do not migrate to GNU/Linux (or escape Microsoft lock-in) just to find themselves immersed in a Microsoft movement that evolves and inflates itself from inside distributions like an illness inside GNU/Linux. And when Doctor Stallman warns about this illness [1, 2], then this doctor just gets vilified not for his expert opinion but for his personal life.

A prominent voice in Debian is meanwhile saying that Debian does not come with Mono because GNOME can be separated from Debian.

So, yes, I have overseen two issues when writing my previous blog. But I still think, that it’s wrong to say “Debian will install mono by default”. If you want to say anything at all, say “Debian might install mono with its GNOME install media, but that can still change”.

Some people are justifiably concerned:

Before You Congratulate Mono

[...]

My long held theory is that mono was never to be considered a legal threat, it is a tool to be used in a strategy of erosion … insert a compelling technology, then provide a migration path by adding on proprietary extensions. It erodes Linux and it erodes OSS… and advocacy for it, even in purely legal/ethical ways, using just the free bits, and so forth, help enhance that position and acceptability.

Dana Blankenhorn talks about the negative effect Mono has had on integrity of the Free software movement. According to Blankenhorn, Microsoft is imposing a sort of "mixed source" model on GNU/Linux. Novell, which describes itself as a “mixed source” company [1, 2, 3, 4], would probably like that. It holds the upper hand because it has special ‘protections’ from Microsoft. This includes Moonlight.

So is this just a PR stunt, or is it going to last? I suppose time will tell. If you’re looking for an answer to that question, the existing dependancy Banshee/F-Spot have on System.Data (which is not covered by the ECMA spec) is an interesting place to watch.

This debate is far from over and someone has just created a Web site called “Mono Nono”. But Moonlight is an even more complicated beast that Microsoft — through Novell — spreads in order for it to be slid into GNU/Linux distributions.

Further to this previous discussion about Mono/Moonlight in immutable systems, one person looking for an explanation for “the mischievous wording in their [Moonlight] license” learned that Debian replaces Microsoft codecs with ffmpeg. Further, it was added that:

1. Debian is not an immutable system (do they ship Moonlight on a LiveCD?)
2. Distributing ffmpeg is a patent risk (MP3 and others)

If we hypothetically assume, for one moment, that the core of Moonlight is not, itself, patent encumbered, but that reliance on these codecs pulls-in patent risks, then that would leave a choice of one of the following, equally unacceptable scenarios:

1. The vendor ships Moonlight prebuilt against ffmpeg, which is a patent risk, since ffmpeg has not licensed any of the patent encumbered codecs it uses (most notably MP3). End users won’t really care about this though … until the vendor goes to court. Fedora bans such software for this very reason: http://fedoraproject.org/wiki/ForbiddenItems

2. The vendor ships Moonlight prebuilt against a sanitised version of ffmpeg (essentially nothing left except vorbis and theora), thus leaving the end users with software that, in practical terms, is nearly useless

3. The vendor complies with patent law (no ffmpeg), but can/will not distribute proprietary software (Microsoft codecs), and therefore chooses to ship Moonlight “naked”. End users must then either accept Microsoft’s proprietary and patent encumbered “codec pack” as a “pushed” download, or somehow figure out how to rebuild Moonlight against ffmpeg themselves, by downloading the source from patent safe-harbours (I tried and failed to rebuild Moonlight, as seen in the link I provided). Note that unlike modular media players, such as Xine, ffmpeg does not utilise loadable plugins, therefore users must either obtain binaries that already support the required codecs, or rebuild it themselves. Rebuilding ffmpeg is not particularly difficult (for someone like me), but rebuilding Moonlight has proved to be rather less easy. Most users (noobs in particular) will just give up at the first hurdle, and default to accepting Microsoft’s proprietary blobs

4. The vendor ships Moonlight with Microsoft’s codec pack under license (e.g. Novell), and thus both the vendor and users are protected by both copyright and patent law (explicit grant). However, the vendor is now distributing proprietary software, and so end users have lost their Freedom as a de facto condition. They also have the technical disadvantages of Microsoft’s blobs (bugs, privacy, security, etc.)

Now consider that Moonlight is in fact patent encumbered, and that Microsoft only provided indemnity for direct “downstream recipients” from Novell to use this software.

Conclusion: The only practical and legal way to obtain and use this software, is to be a Novell customer running SUSE, and use their distribution of Moonlight in conjunction with Microsoft’s proprietary codec pack.

This hurts GNU/Linux, Open Standards, Free Software, developers, and users, whilst greatly benefiting Microsoft’s agenda of software and standards dominance.

Can you see why this might be a problem?

[...]

The LGPLv2.1 does not prohibit distribution under immutable systems.

The license for Moonlight does prohibit LGPL distribution under immutable systems.

Therefore Moonlight is not licensed under LGPLv2.1.

At best, it could be described as “LGPLv2.1 with modifications”, but given that the LGPL explicitly prohibits “further restrictions”, and Moonlight’s license stipulates such a “further restriction” (the “immutable” clause), then I don’t really see how it can be truthfully described as LGPL software at all. Novell would be more honest if they described it as a “Microsoft EULA”, since that’s only one small step away from what it really is.

What role (if any) does Moonlight play in Microsoft’s infamous “extend” phase? Thoughts welcome.

Richard Stallman and the GPLv3

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26 Comments

  1. Chips_B_Malroy said,

    July 12, 2009 at 3:18 pm

    Gravatar

    This is the part that I have trouble with:

    “In the next few months we will be working towards splitting the jumbo Mono source code that includes ECMA + A lot more into two separate source code distributions. One will be ECMA, the other will contain our implementation of ASP.NET, ADO.NET, Winforms and others.”
    ———————————————————————————————————
    Wait a minute here, wasn’t it these same Mono folks that have been telling us at every turn that there was no patent problems???? And now they have decided to “split” the project based on the part “they think” may have problems. Isn’t this an admission that Mono/Moonlight did and continues to have, serious patents problems and questions?

    Also, I would think that the FSF would look into the licensing issues of Mono and Moonlight being a “GPL” program. Since it clearly now has patents issues, the GPL license should be withdrawn from it. My understanding is that the FSF can sue to protect the GPL license, and maybe they should do this in this case to prevent Novell from using that license with Mono. Let Novell use some other kind of license, most likely one from M$.

    From your article:
    “1. Debian is not an immutable system (do they ship Moonlight on a LiveCD?)”

    I have not seen it in some Debian based distro’s, thankfully. But since its in the Debian repo’s, and has a GPL license, it could be added to a live cd. Now this poses a major problem for any distro that does this, except for Novell Suse, and only for them, as long as their “secret” agreement lasts. And here is why this is a problem for these distro’s, again taken from your article, Roy:

    “Now consider that Moonlight is in fact patent encumbered, and that Microsoft only provided indemnity for direct “downstream recipients” from Novell to use this software.
    Conclusion: The only practical and legal way to obtain and use this software, is to be a Novell customer running SUSE, and use their distribution of Moonlight in conjunction with Microsoft’s proprietary codec pack.”
    —————————————————————————————————–
    I think that was well written Roy, and the other distro’s may be in a patent dispute at some point by putting this in the repo’s. Even Red Hat could be in trouble, as they did use it for awhile. Debian and Ubuntu maybe in more trouble than they think. Just because Debian doesn’t have money to sue for, doesn’t mean that M$ would not dislike destroying them if it could.

    Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    They could sue to discourage Debian users. Legal harassment can also come in other forms.

  2. Chips_B_Malroy said,

    July 12, 2009 at 3:31 pm

    Gravatar

    Some further thoughts on this matter. Since Mono/Moonlight is being given a GPL License by Novell, at the prodding of M$, one has to questions the motives of M$. M$ hates the GPL. This is clearly a way for them to try to poison the GPL license with patent traps and restrictions, if nothing else. And as for the M$ CP (promise), did they also not promise to not sue for Fat32? Then later when everone was using it, they sued TomTom for the long file name patent in Fat32. Remember Balmer, who said, “Linux infringes on our patents.” We cannot trust, nor should we, M$.

    Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    IM(very)HO, Microsoft tries to impose that whole “open core” nonsense on FOSS, leading to the concept of paying Microsoft for improved (advanced) function. At the end of the day it’s about cost and control. Microsoft uses Novell to ‘tame’ Linux.

    Hans Heinz Reply:

    what?

    this is ridiculous!

    I know that you did not mentioned google.
    But google keep pimping linux, and NOBODY tells a word about it.

    Not to mentioning the F(l)OOS peoples google ad’ing their ‘ideal$’ for “free”!

    come on, grow up!

  3. eet said,

    July 12, 2009 at 4:37 pm

    Gravatar

    You are absolutely and gravely delusional.

  4. JohnD said,

    July 12, 2009 at 8:27 pm

    Gravatar

    This quote:
    “In the next few months we will be working towards splitting the jumbo Mono source code that includes ECMA + A lot more into two separate source code distributions. One will be ECMA, the other will contain our implementation of ASP.NET, ADO.NET, Winforms and others.”
    You attribute to ITWire is actually from Miguel’s blog.
    http://tirania.org/blog/index.html

    Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    Yes, I kept the quotes in tact.

  5. JohnD said,

    July 12, 2009 at 8:34 pm

    Gravatar

    I think the goal of splitting Mono is to help assuage fears in the FOSS community. The Mono project is taking the time to create a version that would be completely covered by the CP (yes this is assuming M$ will abide by their promise). Thus by using the ECMA version developers should have nothing to fear from M$. Many of the concerns I’ve seen revolve around the items like ADO etc – so if they take them out of a version – no issue.
    Personally I think it’s a nice move on Mono’s part to try to address the community’s concerns.

    John Grimes Reply:

    out of curiosity,

    when you write M$ with a dollar ‘$’, do you imply that other CORPORATIONS do it for the love of Jesus Christe?

    and

    using blogger$ with ‘do no evil’ corporations ad$ would it mean also that you could write bloger$ like that!?

    JohnD Reply:

    I type M$ instead of MS – to me Microsoft is all about the money, not about a quality product or having products succeed on their own merits.
    In this context the $ has no meaning other than money.

    Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    As Jason puts it, “Many mono apologists like to portray critics as fanatics, aggressively opposed to anything Microsoft-related.”

    Likewise, Microsoft uses the same tactics to ‘eliminate’ blogs that are critical of Microsoft. Language can be used against the messengers so that they won’t be cited in the press.

    Think along the lines of: “Don’t listen to them. They are hateful… like the Taliban.”

    Rob Enderle compared Linux users to “9/11″ terrorists.

    John Grimes Reply:

    SO, you can also use blogger$ to refer to open-sourcy guys pimping themselves with google ad$ in their blogg$!

    JohnD Reply:

    @John
    Not sure where you live, but here in the US you’re free to refer to people how ever you wish, as long as it’s legal.

    Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    Not sure where you live, but here in the US you’re free to refer to people how ever you wish, as long as it’s legal.

    From an article, about Linux folks:

    “I have a hard time seeing the Zealots as any different from terrorist… I strongly believe that if September 11 showed us anything, it was that zealots…” — Rob Enderle

    And later they try to call Linux users “zealots”. Oh, the hypocrisy.

    John Grimes Reply:

    Okay then,

    free-$oftware blogger$ then!

    “here where I am”, it would be VERY interesting to debate legality of some open source initiative and their connection$ and lobby with elected official$!

    It is time to grow up.
    Nothing AT ALL against open source, but come on! You should be REALLY concerned you that are “there in the US”.

    Do you think the # of software patents in China is decreasing? And India?

    Proprietary code is not Evil, per see.

    John Grimes Reply:

    Roy,

    I know that you enjoy a holly war! :) but I am sorry, it is ridiculous. Recent I attend to a conference and the open-sourceness was more debated then the actualy software itself!

    Since I am here to entretain you! go check this: http://www.microsoft.com/opensource/default.aspx

    but BE CAREFULL it is a MICROSOFT link! Mr. Gates Vader might “PENETRATE” your system! :)

    Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    SCO was also ‘developing’ Linux before the lawsuit and Rumsfeld shook hands with Saddam. That Microsoft link is for PR, confusion, dilution, invasion, and compromise of opposition through diffusion.

    John Grimes Reply:

    Of course, Roy!

    MS is the Evil of this world!

    Keep the Church clean! Pure blood only! well, of couse, blogger$ pimping their free ideology with “nice”, “compassionate” corporation ad$ it is okay!

    Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    I get the message: it would be safe to just ignore you.

    John Grimes Reply:

    “Ignore!” it is on the Hubbard Scientology bible! Any critic to the behaivor of a Scientologist should be IGNORED.

    :)

    but, honestly, You just need to tell me, and I will stop coming back here!

    I will make easier for you, I will take you reply as a kick out, but a nice one, coming from a true believer on the goodness of the wolrd! okay!

    have a good life, Roy!

    ciao!

    Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    You’re being just juvenile and off-topic. That’s why there is no discussion.

    aeshna23 Reply:

    Personally I think it’s a nice move on Mono’s part to try to address the community’s concerns.

    No, it’s not nice at all. It’s still an effort to Microsoftize the Linux community. I don’t stop using Microsoft for the Mono second rate version of Microsoft.

    Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    Mono developers need a seminar to explain to them “Embrace, Extend, and Extinguish.”

    John Grimes Reply:

    No, they already read satanic bible, mein kampf, and how to kill everything that is sacred, (secret book, by Steve Balmer)…

    It is too much already, Jedi!

  6. Yuhong Bao said,

    July 19, 2009 at 2:30 pm

    Gravatar

    “At best, it could be described as “LGPLv2.1 with modifications”, but given that the LGPL explicitly prohibits “further restrictions”, and Moonlight’s license stipulates such a “further restriction” (the “immutable” clause), then I don’t really see how it can be truthfully described as LGPL software at all. Novell would be more honest if they described it as a “Microsoft EULA”, since that’s only one small step away from what it really is. ”
    Yep, looks like software copyright vs software patents again. Basically they are using software patents to do what software copyright once did.

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