05.30.13

Mono Can Now be Treated Like a Microsoft Project

Posted in Microsoft, Mono at 8:19 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Monkey

Summary: With Microsoft copyrights, patents, and licences in Mono, as well as a CEO who worked for Microsoft and financial backing from Microsoft veterans, it is naive to treat Mono as anything other than an extension of Microsoft

Both Mono and Miguel de Icaza hardly make the news anymore. Perhaps due talk family life, the latter mostly left the public scene and after his new company, Xamarin, received some funding from a Microsoft veterans’ VC, it is safe to assume that Microsoft interests/leadership will inherit more responsibilities over this project. It helps openwash .NET and pretend it is cross-platform. Moonlight did the same for Silverlight. As Richard Hillesley put it earlier this week, Microsoft is now more directly involved. To quote his column: “Microsoft gave a certain level of encouragement to Mono in the knowledge that the project helped to spread the word and bring developers into the Microsoft fold. It is also true that many individuals within Microsoft had a genuine interest in promoting the idea of ‘open source’, usually with strings attached, and Mono gave credibility to Microsoft’s claim that its technologies were multi-platform, accessible to free software developers and a ‘part of the open web’.

“…Mono gave credibility to Microsoft’s claim that its technologies were multi-platform, accessible to free software developers and a ‘part of the open web’.”
      –Richard Hillesley
“But Microsoft always held back on a full commitment to patent neutrality and the possibility was always open that some aspect of Mono might be patent encumbered. Some elements of Mono were covered by ECMA. Some were not. Even where de Icaza did manage to forge an agreement with Microsoft such as its ‘Covenant to End-Users of Moonlight’, the language was ambivalent and open to reinterpretation.

“As Tom ‘spot’ Callaway, Fedora’s engineering manager noted, the ‘covenant’ was “specifically worded to apply only to end-users, and makes the following noteworthy distinction: ‘an entity or individual cannot qualify both as an End User and a Distributor for use of the same copy of a Moonlight Implementation.’ It grants no patent rights to Distributors, aside from those already granted to Novell in the previous covenant. What it practically means is that once you distribute, you stop being considered an ‘End User’ by Microsoft, and are no longer protected by this ‘covenant’ (unless you’re Novell or Microsoft).” The covenant reserved the right for Microsoft to discontinue the agreement at any time, and didn’t allow the use of “GPLv3 or a similar licence”.

“Most computer users don’t care about the origins of the software they use, but this has never been the case with Linux users and developers. Richard Stallman expressed the opinion of many when he wrote: “I have always supported the development of free platforms for C#, just as I’ve supported the development of free platforms for any language that users use. I also wouldn’t argue that people should not use C# with a free platform for secondary applications… However, making GNOME depend on Mono is running a grave risk, and [is] a grave mistake.””

Recently, FOSS Force asked, “When It Comes To FOSS, Who Don’t You Trust?”

Well, at 38%, Microsoft is a clear leader (123 votes), outpacing Apple and Oracle by a considerable gap. Microsoft is quite unique with its attacks on FOSS and people still recognise this.

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This post is also available in Gemini over at:

gemini://gemini.techrights.org/2013/05/30/microsoft-project-in-foss-gown/

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