12.27.09

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gNewSense Abandons Ubuntu, Microsoft’s Mono Agenda Revisited

Posted in Debian, FSF, GNU/Linux, GPL, Law, Microsoft, Mono, Novell, Ubuntu at 10:28 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

sudo apt-get remove mono-common

Summary: gNewSense is shifting to Debian codebase, shafting Mono, and the debate about Mono and Moonlight reaches new levels

THE FSF has already taken a stance against the use of Mono and the SFLC has shown that Moonlight is not acceptable from a legal perspective (the latest “promise” from Microsoft has at least 10 holes in it).

gNewSense, the distribution which Richard Stallman is currently using, has already removed Mono [1, 2] and gNewSense developers are now “dropping Ubuntu” (not our words) and moving to Debian, just like MEPIS did. From the site’s updated FAQ (“modified on December 23, 2009, at 09:42 PM”):

13. Will gNewSense 3.0 be based on Debian instead of Ubuntu, and why?

Yes, because:

* Debian separates free and non-free software better, so it’s easier to make a fully free derivative out of it.
* Debian supports the architectures we want to support (e.g. MIPS).
* it suits our infrastructure better (easier development).

Since Gobuntu never materialised [1, 2], this means that there is no longer a truly free/libre variant of Ubuntu.

gNewSense’s reasons are known (see above). In the case of MEPIS, the reasons had to do with infrastructure too. One cannot help wondering if Ubuntu’s increasing reliance on Mono also had something to do with this decision, even subconsciously.

To quote a conversation that came up an hour ago in our IRC channel (the full log will be posted tomorrow):


kecskebak Did anyone listen to the latest Ubuntu UK Podcast? Dec 27 13:25
kecskebak Talking about Silverlight / Moonlight Dec 27 13:25
kecskebak “At last a real Microsoft Open Source application…” Dec 27 13:25
kecskebak “Watch the Winter Olympics on Ubuntu” Yeah, right… Dec 27 13:26
oiaohm God Dec 27 13:26
oiaohm Its not really open source while MS hold the cards to revoke the licence. Dec 27 13:26
oiaohm Some of the ubuntu guy are legal morons. Dec 27 13:27
kecskebak That’s a typical Ubuntu attitude to software freedom, sadly Dec 27 13:28
oiaohm Problem is most of them have no clues what freedom is. Dec 27 13:29
oiaohm So will have to learn the leason the hard way. Dec 27 13:29
kecskebak I think the attraction of GNU/Linux in the UK is it crashes less or you don’t have anti-virus Dec 27 13:31
kecskebak The software freedom part is seen as rather eccentric and for geeks Dec 27 13:31
kecskebak Anyone who believes in anything in the UK tends to be regarded as rather suspicious Dec 27 13:31
kecskebak That’s why Richard Dawkins gets a kicking in the press Dec 27 13:31
oiaohm Software freedom is about data protection kecskebak Dec 27 13:32
oiaohm I want to be able to access anything I create in the future. Dec 27 13:32
kecskebak Yes – that’s precisely why I moved from Flash to Inkscape Dec 27 13:32
oiaohm If you don’t have direct control over the software you don’t have direct control of your data so you are in a invisable jail with your data held hostage. Dec 27 13:33
amarsh04 ms-publisher has been a real trap that way Dec 27 13:33

Regarding the text of the new Moonlight covenant, Groklaw writes: “So Moonlight is being framed as a proprietary product, then, I gather.” Groklaw highlights what it calls an “interesting bit” from the covenant, namely: ““Moonlight Implementation” means only those specific portions of Moonlight 3 or Moonlight 4 that run only as Conforming Runtimes within a Conforming Host on a Personal Computer and are not licensed under GPLv3 or a Similar License.”

One of our readers, Brandon, has written a long post to explain Microsoft’s “Mono/Moonlight Agenda”. To quote just a portion (it is a very detailed analysis):

Many relevant points are brought up in this section. James Plamondon states (infamously) that “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 would imply that by using the C# standard (ECMA 334 & 335), Microsoft receives a small victory. An example of defeat would be lines of code written in Java, C++ (Standardized, C++98 or C++03 for example), Python, etc.

The second paragraph explains that they want to use psychological, economic, and political weapons to convince people to adopt their standards. Often I hear a lot of business talk about wanting to use Microsoft because most of their customer base is Windows machines. Other excuses for sticking with Microsoft has been the FUD “Total Cost of Ownership” studies that falsely prove Microsoft is cheaper or that GNU/Linux is more expensive.

Some days ago we wrote about Novell’s removal of GPL-licensed code from MonoDevelop [1, 2]. Why is Novell still against the GNU GPL? Its ally Microsoft hates the GPL with passion, so this may not seem so absurd a move after all.

In defence of the GPL, Groklaw writes regarding Glyn Moody’s article and Google’s highly-cited document: “The GPL would mean there’d be no need to work hard to avoid fragmenting. If you choose a license that can fragment, you will get fragmenting, because proprietary desires are sure to come into the picture, as they did with UNIX. That’s exactly what is wrong with Apache. It’s open, until it isn’t.”

At this stage, Mono too is being closed. It’s not so surprising considering the fact that Novell calls itself a “mixed source” company. It’s false marketing [1, 2].

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