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Novell — Like Corel — Becomes a Microsoft Vassal, Promotes XAML-based Desktop

Posted in Corel, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Mono, NetWare, Novell, Patents at 2:32 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“We could refresh the look and feel of the entire desktop with Moonlight”

Miguel de Icaza

Summary: Novell’s (and Mirosoft CodePlex’) Miguel de Icaza issues a call to make more software with Microsoft XAML

AT the beginning of 2008 we wrote this summary of how Microsoft had turned Corel from a GNU/Linux proponent into a .NET proponent. Microsoft neutered the competition using money. In other words, a small ‘bribe’ was once again used to dismantle competition. There is a lot to be learned here also from Apple [1, 2, 3].

In a new article from SJVN, the history of GNU/Linux on the desktop is outlined with the following portion about Corel: “Alas, after Corel experienced some brief success, its efforts came to little. Facing strong opposition from Microsoft and financially ravished by an ill-timed move into the then-hot application service provider (ASP) market and inadequate profits from its application lines, Corel quickly found itself in hot water. By the end of 2000, Corel had changed management and partnered up with Microsoft.

“On several occasions, Novell had changed management (Schmidt, Messman, etc.) and eventually partnered up with Microsoft.”This sounds just like Novell, doesn’t it? To rephrase the above, Novell experienced some success with Netware, but its efforts came to little in recent years. Facing strong opposition from Microsoft and financially ravished by an ill-timed move into the then-hot *NIX/groupware market and inadequate profits from its application lines, Novell quickly found itself in hot water. On several occasions, Novell had changed management (Schmidt, Messman, etc.) and eventually partnered up with Microsoft.

Then, in both cases, came .NET promotion. Novell’s de Icaza, who is currently a board member at Microsoft's CodePlex Foundation, is now rallying his troops at Novell/Ximian/outside to create applications with Moonlight rather than with tools which are not controlled by Microsoft. There are many posts about it in his blog on November 12th (3 in one day, which is unusual). For example he says:

I know that various members of the Moonlight team are passionate about Moonlight because it is this next generation API for building GUI applications.

Which applications do you think are needed nad could be built with Moonlight?

I say video editing, and I have some ideas of how it should work.

The Mono-Nono Web site calls it “Moonlight Marching Orders” and explains this as follows:

Look for ever more of this sort of thing as Team Mono attempts to expand Mono and Moonlight. Team Mono is already getting marching orders to start pushing Moonlight harder, the first plan being a video editor.

A video editor is a beautiful infection vector for Moonlight, because:

1. Moonlight itself only safe to use for direct Novell customers,
2. All those nice proprietary video codecs that Novell has licensed from Microsoft are only safe for direct Novell customers as well.

So, Novell sees a great opportunity to spread Moonlight and the fruits of its Microsoft collaboration, while pretending to develop a “Linux” application.

So long as your “Linux” comes directly via Microsoft-approved Novell-only channels, of course – other Linux flavors need not apply – or redistribute.

Moonlight is a mess, based on the following message which was posted this afternoon:

Subject: Silverlight crap: the saga continues
From: Richard Rasker <spamtrap@linetec.nl>  (Linetec)
Date: Friday 13 Nov 2009 12:37:13
Groups: comp.os.linux.advocacy

Well, it’s been two weeks already since the last Moonlight update — you know, the one that broke Silverlight playback. How time flies. And sure enough, because this Microsoft crap requires on average one update per week, I got yet another notification: http://www.linetec.nl/linux/mooncrap1.png
OK, so I click “Install”. Oh, drat. Once again, it requires the installation of a codec pack: http://www.linetec.nl/linux/mooncrap2.png . Sheesh, this must be the fourth or fifth time that I installed it. Can’t these incompetent idiots even manage to create a codec pack that remains usable for two whole weeks? And yup, as expected, there’s the license again http://www.linetec.nl/linux/mooncrap3.png — in typical Microsoft fashion: unreadable lingo in a non-resizable window, no doubt meant to discourage more perseverent users. Copy/pasted it to a decent text editor, and read it.
OK, no truly onerous terms, apart perhaps from the patent provisions: http://www.linetec.nl/linux/mooncrap.txt
Then I noticed something: the installed update was Moonlight version 1.99.8, whereas the codec pack distinctly mentions that it’s “ONLY FOR USE WITH NOVELL’S MOONLIGHT 2.0 ALPHA VERSION.” Ah well, 1.99.8 is close enough to 2.0, so I guess it should work.

Except that it doesn’t. Not only that — the situation has even gotten worse: on some Web pages, Firefox now crashes immediately when clicking Silverlight content, and on other pages, nothing happens. So I tried running Firefox from a terminal window, to catch any messages:

  $ firefox
  Attempting to load libmoonloaderxpi
  Moonlight: Forcing client-side rendering because we detected binary drivers which are known to suffer performance problems.

Huh? The official nVidia drivers “suffer performance problems”? And how come this crapware is the *only* software complaining about it? From what I see, accelerated video rendering works absolutely great with my GeForce 8500 GT graphics card.

  Moonlight: Installing signal handlers for crash reporting.
  Moonlight: Enabling MONO_DEBUG=keep-delegates.
  Moonlight: Plugin AppDomain Creation: OK
  Moonlight: Plugin AppDomain Creation: OK
  URL /includes/wmvplayer.xaml downloaded successfully.
  URL /includes/wmvplayer.xaml downloaded successfully.

  (firefox:12436): Moonlight-CRITICAL **: void MediaElement::Pause(): assertion `playlist != NULL’ failed

  (firefox:12436): Moonlight-CRITICAL **: void MediaElement::Pause(): assertion `playlist != NULL’ failed
  Download of URL http://www.rtvoost.nl/nieuws/images/preview/itemsMedia/156318.jpg?nid=103704 failed: 1 (network error)
  Download of URL http://www.rtvoost.nl/nieuws/images/preview/audio.png?nid=103704 failed: 1 (network error)

Hm, OK, so those latter lines suggest that something’s wrong at the server side. But no, that can’t be, because it works under Windows. So two of the  biggest software companies in the world combined can’t even pull off a decent media player that works under Linux. Just compare this sorry mess with MPlayer: just a handful of guys (and perhaps gals) created a media player, complete with browser plugin, that has worked great from day one, on each and every Linux, Windows and Mac version.

So I give up on this closed source rubbish. I uninstalled everything having to do with Moonlight and Silverlight (regaining some 50MB of HD space in the process — probably all those useless codec packs), and I’ll tell my users that they’re out of luck when they stumble upon Silverlight content.

Richard Rasker


Rather than present a rational rebuttal, Miguel de Icaza libels me in Twitter (personal attacks with outright lies). He still has some remaining defenders, who nonetheless acknowledge that “Mono is also seen by many as a potential legal landmine, due to Microsoft patents.”

The “Mono Tools” are based on Mono, a from-scratch open source implementation of .NET. Developed by the Novell-sponsored Mono project, which has also developed the Moonlight open source clone of Microsoft’s Silverlight, Mono has proven to be controversial in the open source community, as are most Novell-sponsored efforts that appear to sidle up to Microsoft. While an impressive piece of software, and imminently useful in a .NET dominated enterprise software world, Mono is also seen by many as a potential legal landmine, due to Microsoft patents.

There are issues greater than patents. It’s about control. No wonder Microsoft helps Mono so much, as the following new post puts it:

Microsoft has said that it backs Mono Tools, but then Microsoft would put their stamp of approval on products that integrate with its Visual Studio IDE (integrated development environment) as they “enrich the Visual Studio ecosystem” no less.

Of course Microsoft approves it. It’s beneficial to Microsoft, so it’s not competition. Mono is complementary to Microsoft, just like Novell is to Microsoft. Here is simple visualisation of where Mono fits.

What Microsoft wants
What Microsoft wants

Microsoft finds some other new complements for Visual Studio/.NET while pretending to have embraced “open source”. Only yesterday we wrote about Orchard, which is now being cast as independent even though it’s not. Microsoft knows that in order for people to swallow .NET it needs to pretend that it comes from other companies, preferably those who are perceived as “trusted”.

No more

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A Single Comment

  1. Needs Sunlight said,

    November 17, 2009 at 4:58 am


    “a small ‘bribe’ was once again used to dismantle competition.”

    Sort of like what the Apache Foundation is allowing M$ to do…

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