01.18.10

With Mono Clearly on Microsoft’s Side, Another Call for Ubuntu to Move Mono to ‘Restricted’

Posted in GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Mono, Novell, Ubuntu at 8:55 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Now that Microsoft formally recognises the contribution of Miguel de Icaza to Microsoft, there is no longer any reason to think of Mono as beneficial to GNU/Linux

Microsoft MVP Novell’s de Icaza [1, 2] has put GNU/Linux at risk and this risk is infectious. Here are the responses in Linux Today to the news about the MVP award. It’s overwhelmingly negative and it was probably intentionally posted by the editor right next to an item about Microsoft’s attacks on GNU/Linux, as shown by Comes vs Microsoft exhibits.

Any attempt to promote Microsoft APIs and frameworks (SharpDevelop for example) is a disservice to GNU/Linux, based on Microsoft’s own documents [PDF]. A reader of ours is concerned about the effects Mono has on Ubuntu for example. Yesterday he wrote to us:

Bradley Kuhn had an interesting discussion of desktops.

I like the effort that Canonical has made with raising the popularity of Debian-based distros. I abhor the fact that it and related services, like Ubuntu One, are starting to be used as a vehicle to spread Microsoft products. With the strong integtration of services, like Ubuntu One mentioned there, into the desktop for Lucid Lynx, there are some real conflicts.

No one and no company can be promoting Microsoft products without knowing the one single possible outcome. Ubuntu has spent a lot of time creating a good brand. It is a shame for a bait-and-switch type scam just as things are getting good. Quality suffers as much from Microsoft products as other areas do.

Obviously the Mono problem is at the middle of all that, even though it itself is only the symptom of some staffing problems. If the staffing problems are not cleared up, it has bad repercussions for all of Free Software operating systems, especially upstream in Debian.

Another one of the lower-profile things that Ubuntu hurts with is that it is constantly steering those who don’t know better into proprietary formats, drivers and codecs. There used to be proper warnings about what users were losing if they installed proprietary extras. There used to be a clear distinction between ‘main’ and ‘restricted’ I have to point out that the things Bradley wrote about and the things mentioned above were in place and made Ubuntu as popular as it is today.

As Jeremy Allison suggested some months ago, Mono and Mono-based applications should be put in Ubuntu’s ‘restricted’ repositories [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6].

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9 Comments

  1. dyfet said,

    January 18, 2010 at 10:11 am

    Gravatar

    I consider Jeremy a very credible authority on this question. I think some of this effort should focus on Debian, for what happens upstream is another way to correct errors that happen downstream (Ubuntu). The Debian social contract should be respected more clearly than it is in this case.

    Perhaps one problem is that the Ubuntu code of conduct deals with behavior but does not itself reference software freedom. The DFSG clearly does…I note:

    “…#3 Derived Works

    The license must allow modifications and derived works, and must allow them to be distributed under the same terms as the license of the original software.

    ..#5 No Discrimination Against Persons or Groups

    The license must not discriminate against any person or group of persons…”

    The arrangements between Novell and Microsoft with respect to Silverblight clearly violate this as well as at least most of Mono core libraries.

    “…#6 No Discrimination Against Fields of Endeavor

    The license must not restrict anyone from making use of the program in a specific field of endeavor. For example, it may not restrict the program from being used in a business, or from being used for genetic research.”

    This is a reminder that similarly, “Non-commercial use” restrictions are not permitted in Debian either, which even the most “generous” Microsoft patent promise on some parts and uses clearly violates, both in spirit and in letter. Hence, I see the problem as originating in Debian itself violating it’s own social contract and core principles with respect to Mono.

    Needs Sunlight Reply:

    dyfet, someone within debian sponsored the growing mono team.

    Microsoft is going to spend more effort operating ‘behind the lines’ causing trouble. Projects like debian have to face up to the fact that some good people might be dangerously naive and that others, despite a happy smile and a round of beer, are there to fatally derail the project.

    Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    I was going to say that too, but I’m reluctant to open this jar of worms and upset Debian. Fedora eventually did the right thing regarding Mono.

    Needs Sunlight Reply:

    That’s fine, but it’s time to acknowledge that the rules have changed and Microsoft is no longer ignoring projects.

    When they go up against Oracle and Red Hat, it is money they waste: Bill is willing to lose money for an indefinite period of time just to ensure that no one else makes any money in that market either.

    When they go up against, Debian and Apache, it is time: Bil is willing to waste everyone’s time indefinitely just to make sure no one else gets anything done either.

    Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    “They [Microsoft] have the deepest of pockets, unlimited ambition, and they are willing to lose money for years and years just to make sure that you don’t make any money, either. And they are mean, REALLY mean.”

    Robert X. Cringely

  2. The Mad Hatter said,

    January 18, 2010 at 10:35 am

    Gravatar

    Same old thing, all over again. They start off with ‘Free Software’ and then degenerate to ‘Open Source’ when they think they can make a bit more money that way. I’m steering people away from Ubuntu, and Ubuntu based distros.

    Needs Sunlight Reply:

    I disagree that they necessarily plan to make more money, they being Microsofters. From watching them, speaking with them, reading what they do and getting also second hand information, a large motivation for the Microsoft crowd is ‘schadefreud’. That appears, from my experience to be, one of the main selling points for Microsoft tools. It may be painted and polished and have some nice spinmeistering, but at the bottom it appears to be about blocking, hindering or holding back other people.

    They being Ubuntu, it’s just a matter of naively bending with Microsoft influence. The influence pulls in the opposite direction from the original goals of the Ubuntu project, but as ‘compromise’ after compromise is reached with ever increasing numbers of Monomaniacs or other Microsofters, the center is moved further and further away from where it was. It’s a variant of stacking the committee, where they get their voices nearest the ears of the decision makers.

    Venue also plays a role. The last developer summit was in the US and thus excluded many Free and Open Source users and developers, but provided easy access for Monomaniacs and co.

  3. Roy Schestowitz said,

    January 18, 2010 at 12:53 pm

    Gravatar

    How timely an update. Earlier today Groklaw published the following in News Picks, under the headline: “If you are curious about what is going wrong with Ubuntu, read this.”

    It says:

    “[PJ: The article, titled “Giving up the GIMP is a sign of Ubuntu’s mainstream maturity,” paints replacing it with FSpot as a fine thing, and manages to do so without even mentioning mono (Wikipedia: “F-Spot is written in the C# programming language using Mono.”). So for me, it’s good bye to Ubuntu until they clean it out. It’s a question of ethics, but it’s also a question of prudence. If you know about patents, even if you think they are stupid, you are foolish at best to pretend they don’t exist.

    “And if you wondered why Ubuntu is going wrong, in my view, read the following decision-making process, and think about how easy it is to direct anything in a particular direction if all you need is numbers (think Slashdot moderation and Microsoft). A project leader has to decide certain issues, according to the vision, not leaving all decisions, particularly legal ones, to a vote by those who are not even lawyers:]”

  4. rs said,

    January 20, 2010 at 1:56 pm

    Gravatar

    People can help stop this by subscribing this petition, calling on major distributions to not hide such important applications from the live cd’s:

    http://www.petitiononline.com/botgimp/petition.html

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