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11.27.09

The Case for a Mono-Free Ubuntu and Novell’s Case for a Mono Fee Ubuntu

Posted in GNOME, GNU/Linux, Intellectual Monopoly, Microsoft, Mono, Novell, Patents, Ubuntu at 8:23 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“[O]ne of the attributes of the agreement we made with Novell is that the intellectual property associated with [Mono] is available to Novell customers.”

Bob Muglia, Microsoft President

Summary: Canonical’s route to escaping Microsoft’s patent extortion is simple owing to gThumb and Gnote, but will it manage to see Mono’s agenda?

A few days ago we made a constructive suggestion for Canonical to add gThumb, then put Gnote in Ubuntu 10.04 and thereby resolve the legal issue with Mono [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6], which can be removed. According to this Ubuntu blogger, the new gThumb may be a potential “F-Spot killer” and one of our readers feels similarly about a demotion of GIMP and promotion of Mono. Suffice to say, there are those who defend Canonical’s move and they too make reasonable arguments (while ignoring other issues).

Perhaps in the end, if we can’t have tools like Inkscape, Audacity, Gimp and OpenOffice installed by default, then perhaps we should have a good mechanism that clearly shows their availability and install them through it, it was talked about at the session that we should have the software center provide this featured app list, perhaps that will work. And for poorly connected nations such as those in Africa, perhaps we should master a second CD to send to them.

And that is another key point (bandwidth constraints). As another person put it in this blog comment: [emphasis in red is ours]

That one beautiful day in which we, the community, start to find that we don’t have much room left to maneuver appears to be on the way. Gimp was pushed aside to make room for Microsoft’s mono and to create a disturbance to distract from that heinous act.

I, too, will wait until 10.04 comes out, but with Microsoft having its representatives *inside* Ubuntu and using their participation in Ubuntu as a vehicle to taint other distros, such as Debian, it will take a major clean up effort at this point.

What Jono tried by bringing Microsofters into Ubuntu was noble and generous if not exceedingly naive. It’s time to face the facts that it was a mistake and that they are causing a lot of damage with ripple effects far outside Ubuntu.

The largest group harmed by the removal of Gimp and the affliction of mono has had *zero* voice, *zero* input: those without ready access to broadband. That includes nearly all of Africa, including hi-tech South Africa where TCP over carrier pidgeon beats Internet for throughput. It also includes large parts of the U.S. In those areas without broadband, and even those areas without *good* broadband, what’s not on the default CD might as well not exist. And what comes on the CD by default is what they will have to use, no matter how inappropriate, simply because it’s there.

So if no professional grade digital photo management software is included, those regions are denied use of those resulting skills for school, hobby, business or government work.

Shouldn’t a distro “Linux for Human Beings” aim to reduce or eliminate the digital divide rather than expand it? Removing Gimp expands. How much is up to argument, but that the gap expands is incontrovertible.

Shouldn’t a distro “Linux for Human Beings” aim to increase or establish digital independence and economic self-sufficiency rather than work to eliminate it? Giving new users an ultimatum of either not programming or else share-cropping on Microsoft technology is not a way to establish self-sufficiency or independence. Maybe that is the goal of adding mono, to bring these nations, many of which are just leaving a colonial or post-colonial stage, into a new, digital colonialism.

It seems like the Mono controversy is not omitted from the rant above. Many people in the Ubuntu community turn a blind eye to the important issue of C# being promoted and instead talk about installation from repositories, “mainstream adoption”, the GIMP’s UI (which is fine), and disk space. As The Source puts it today (in a Thanksgiving special), the Mono team continues to promote Microsoft, just as Microsoft’s own documents show.

It’s crazy. Somehow, and I’m not sure how it happened, Team Mono not only began executing a strategy that Microsoft foresaw and pre-approved, but also seems to be convincing some people that it is some sort of win for Linux!

Microsoft itself recognizes that the exact strategy Mono and Moonlight are carrying out is the best thing Microsoft could hope for, yet point that out and watch the accusations of “hate”, “zealotry” and whatever other memes are in effect come out.

I’m just telling you what’s in the slides. I already know it. You can be damn sure Microsoft already knows it. You are following them precisely. Here’s one more bit of slide for you:

We Are Here to Help Microsoft

* By helping those developers…
* …That can best help Microsoft…
* …Achieve Microsoft’s objectives

Did anyone miss the point, here?

Indeed. Does anyone still miss the point? Drool over that for a while.

That’s a reference to Microsoft's Novell's Miguel's "drooling" over Microsoft's proprietary software. Is it really hard to see whose agenda Novell serves?

“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.”

James Plamondon, Microsoft Technical Evangelist. From Exhibit 3096; Comes v. Microsoft litigation [PDF]

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