08.25.09

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More Monkey and MonkeyLight Business

Posted in Microsoft, Mono, Novell, Vista 7 at 4:29 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Planet of the apes
Planet of the Mono

Summary: Moonlight and Mono news from the past week or so

Earlier this month we mentioned the release of the beta of Moonlight 2 [1, 2, 3], which was highlighted in some places that habitually mention it (also here). Long-time Mono proponent Ryan Paul and also eWeek do it as a matter of routine, whereas many Linux sites turn a blind eye to Mono- and Moonlight-related news.

“…[M]any Linux sites turn a blind eye to Mono- and Moonlight-related news.”These feature-by-feature imitations of Microsoft software are generally treated with suspicion in the GNU/Linux community, and rightly so. Here is new software called PDF Mod. “There are likely some bugs,” writes the author, “but in my testing it is quite useful and slick already. It’s built on top of libpoppler/poppler-sharp, PdfSharp, Gtk#/Cairo, and Banshee’s Hyena library. The app itself is a paltry 2009 lines of .cs files.”

As one person points out in the comments: “It seemed a cool hack until the point I realized it is in Mono. I can’t express any interest on that.” There is an update on this.

The Mono-Nono Web site has commented on the article from Heise regarding Mono:

Next, it reinforces the point that Mr. de Icaza was totally serious back when he said that “Gnome 4.0 should be based on .NET” – that’s exactly what he thought then, and exactly what he thinks now. It’s dressed up a bit in pseudo-technical rhetoric, but the underlying desire is the same.

Simon Phipps made a blog post titled “Monkey Business” where in reference to the same article he wrote: “Very interesting overview of the story of Mono and Miguel’s role in it. If you’ve not been following that story all along, it’s an especially useful summary and briefing. Note also the GNOME acronym expansion.

Linux.com has this new article about Moonlight where criticism of the software is also being voiced.

But to critics of Novell’s moves to align with Microsoft to offer Moonlight as a way to make Silverlight-enabled content work for Linux users, the bad karma continues. Instead of this being a good thing for Novell and Linux users, critics argue, the Moonlight project helps Microsoft maintain a leadership role in a development platform that only gives lip service to the open source community, they say.

GreyGeek remarks on the above as follows:

Novell’s CEO, a former IBM/Windows guy, told us. He said he couldn’t sell Linux against Windows. So, he sold out Linux and the FOSS community by implicitly claiming that Linux contains MS IP, and now pays ROYALTY to Microsoft for every copy of SLES sold, in return for special treatment and immunity from possible lawsuits.

[...]

As far as MONO and MoonLight being on a Linux desktop, Microsoft’s James Plamondon said it best: “Every application written to Microsoft’s standards is a WIN for Microsoft…”

In other words, “He who controls the desktop API controls the desktop.”

My question has always been: “What advantage for Linux and FOSS is there in giving Microsoft direct or indirect control of the Linux desktop?”

ABSOLUTELY NONE. To do so would result, eventually, in the destruction of Linux, a goal Microsoft has NEVER ceased to attain. So, why do certain people CONTINUE to campaign, even with hostility, in order to help Microsoft attain it’s goal?

Linux.com quoted only a portion of my explanation, which goes as follows:

There are more reasons than people are led to believe (a form of distraction that trivialises the criticism by posing the issues incorrectly and then addressing straw men). The main issue is proliferation of Microsoft de facto standards on the Web (and later on the desktop). Other issues, including patents, are secondary.

Allow me to explain.

In its leaked evangelical slides (approved by Microsoft’s highest chiefs for presentation), James Plamondon, a Microsoft Technical Evangelist, presented the company’s views on standards. From Exhibit 3096 (Comes v. Microsoft litigation) we gather the following quote:

“Every line of code that is written to our standards is a small victory; every line of code that is written to any other standard, is a small defeat.”

This quote is symbolic, but it is one among many which show the company’s realisation that in order to increase its dominance it must have other, competing developers rely on its own APIs, formats, protocols, etc.

Coming into play then are various factors, such as:

1. Microsoft’s tool kit is typically ahead (examples: Silverlight vs Moonlight, Visual Studio vs MonoDevelop, .NET vs Mono). This leads to correct perceptions that anything other than Microsoft’s offering is “cheap imitation”.

2. Migration is made easier from competing products over to Microsoft’s “superior” offerings, as explained in (1). It’s like a migration route and we have real-world examples.

3. If Microsoft’s competition happened to leapfrog Microsoft in its own territory, then it can devise patents as a tool as intimidation, taxation (royalties), and — if all else fails — litigation. Microsoft has already sued TomTom and Melco over Linux patents (few people know about the latter case, but Processor.com alluded to it). FAT is an example of a Submarine Patent, which corresponds to Microsoft specs and patents.

There are other factors that fit this recurring pattern, which is mostly about control.

Let’s focus on Silverlight and delve into Moonlight more specifically. Microsoft has a lot to gain here with Novell. First of all, Microsoft keeps regulators at a distance (Novell’s deal harmed the Samba case in Europe, it helped OOXML, and it helps Silverlight). Silverlight had several States complain in 2007 . ECIS also filed a complaint for similar reasons. They realised there was a plot to harm the Web and replace HTML with XAML. When only one company delivers the renderer/viewer, this puts the whole Web in jeopardy and competing operating platforms at Microsoft’s mercy. Flash may raise similar issues, but Adobe is not prolific further down the stack, so it’s rather agnostic. Moonlight came a while later, but it was falsely (yet repeatedly) characterised as a “port” of Silverlight or the “Linux version” of Silverlight, which it is not. Moonlight is almost designed to be inferior and deliver a poorer experience to GNU/Linux users. It’s always behind. Then there is the legal complication, which the SFLC addressed last year. As a result of it, Red Hat concluded that it cannot ship Moonlight.

Watch out for Microsoft’s new attempts to absorb PHP using .NET. Krill has some more details on how Microsoft uses “open source” to merely transform PHP programmers into .NET.

In summary, Mono and Moonlight are all smoke and hype. They can be be harmful. We are still keeping track of the hype Microsoft generates for Vista 7 and it’s sad to see Novell using similar tactics. The video below was uploaded to YouTube a few days ago. It’s called “The Goodbye Novell Blues”. Since Novell spends much of its time promoting Microsoft these days, it’s time to say “goodbye” to Novell.

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