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Clarifications About GNOME

Jeff Waugh has strongly insisted that this Web site is doing no justice to GNOME. We thought we ought to include (with his implicit permission) large portions of the conversation with him. Editing this would require a lot of time, but this should hopefully shed light on misconception that may have led to disinformation in the past. His input was greatly appreciated.

Jeff said:

You've just posted another embarrassing mess here, with serious lack of attention to relevant technical details:

http://boycottnovell.com/2007/11/05/gnome-mono-yelp/

You even refer to me in the article:

"This seems to shatter Jeff’s argument, after he requested a correction. For all it seems, GNOME is indeed becoming dependent on Mono."


Didn't that tweak something in your mind to perhaps get in touch, to ask if this is in fact the case? If you're going to assert that my argument has been "shattered", perhaps double-checking that would be a good idea before posting it to your site. You're posting wild "revelations" from random folk who contact you, without doing enough fact-checking to avoid embarrassing yourself, when you have *full access* to people in the FLOSS community who will actually put these things straight from a position of deep knowledge.

Are you not getting in touch because you're concerned that my refutations will have an impact on the controversy value of your stories?

I'll refute this when you get in touch.


This is a fair point and I appreciate Jeff's approach. Since the invitation was polite I carried on expressing my concerns more specifically.

I believe this has a little to do with semantics. When I refer to GNOME, perhaps I should clarify that it does not refer to standalone GNOME (to be compiled from source code, for example), but to GNOME when it's packages in pretty much every major distro. In each such distro, it appears not to be trivial to remove Mono, and it's becoming harder and harder all the time.


Jeff asked me to be asking questions.

That too is not the case. Again, you're stating things without asking any questions. Why don't you ask?


Quoting some links that have been accumulated I added:

Here is a list of URLs which indicate that Mono is put inside many GNOME (by default, with the exception of Mandriva) based distributions.

OpenSUSE: http://lists.opensuse.org/opensuse-commit/2007-09/msg00634.html

Ubuntu: https://bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntustudio/+bug/114957/comments/7

Fedora 7: http://koji.fedoraproject.org/koji/rpminfo?rpmID=262838

Mandriva: http://www.beranger.org/index.php?page=diary&2007/09/06/07/24/16-2-mi…

I worry that businesses will become heavily dependent on Mono and then receive demands for money (patent 'protection'). KDE does not have such problems yet.

I know it's not GNOME's fault (I didn't know this before), but those that build a GNOME-based environment might be giving GNOME an undesirable image, IMHO. Miguel continues to escape the issue.


The response was reasonable and welcome, albeit not so pleasant (the lack of vocal tone in E-mails might be blamed here).



Here is a list of URLs which indicate that Mono is put inside many GNOME (by default, with the exception of Mandriva) based distributions.


Okay, given that you're STILL not asking ANY questions, I'll interpret this sharing of sources as a request for more information as to why your analysis and conclusions are wrong.

OpenSUSE: http://lists.opensuse.org/opensuse-commit/2007-09/msg00634.html


This does not indicate any dependency on Mono whatsoever. You're welcome to *ASK* why. This is a packaging patch.

Ubuntu: https://bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntustudio/+bug/114957/comments/7


This does not indicate any dependency on Mono whatsoever. You're welcome to *ASK* why. This is a bug related to packaging file conflicts during a devel cycle.

Fedora 7: http://koji.fedoraproject.org/koji/rpminfo?rpmID=262838


This does not indicate any dependency on Mono whatsoever. You're welcome to *ASK* why.

Mandriva: http://www.beranger.org/index.php?page=diary&2007/09/06/07/24/16-2-mi…


This does not indicate any dependency on Mono whatsoever. You're welcome to *ASK* why.

I worry that businesses will become heavily dependent on Mono and then receive demands for money (patent 'protection'). KDE does not have such problems yet.


As a dose of severe reality for you: KDE has plenty of problems with patent encumberancies, much like GNOME and the rest of the FLOSS world. Problems do not arise simply through bizaare attempts at conspiracy theory construction between FLOSS projects, Novell and Microsoft.

I know it's not GNOME's fault (I didn't know this before), but those that build a GNOME-based environment might be giving GNOME an undesirable image, IMHO. Miguel continues to escape the issue.


Miguel has nothing to do with GNOME and nothing to do with decisions that individual distributions make with regards to the software they distribute. This conclusion in your email, much like plenty of statments on your site, is not related to the substance of the issue at hand. That's a disappointing way to write, particularly about important community issues.

Again, I remind you: ASK QUESTIONS. I've given you an opportunity in every section above where you provide sources to ASK QUESTIONS. Do it, so you can get into the habit.


Jeff made some fair assessments which hopefully show places where we reported inaccurately. On the URLs, here is my explanation:

The URLs above were grabbed quickly from a comment which posted yesterday (not mine). Perhaps they do not demonstrate the issue I spoke about, but they show the presence of Mono in builds of these distros.


With regards to other projects, such as KDE:

There are other issues here:

1. Mono isn't just an issue of patents. With .NET going shared source, SCO-like claims become a danger.

2. Novell signed a patent deal. Had it not signed it, Microsoft would find it harder to demand businesses to pay for patents.

I am not convinced there's parity here.


The remainder goes as follows:



Miguel has nothing to do with GNOME and nothing to do with decisions that individual distributions make with regards to the software they distribute. This conclusion in your email, much like plenty of statments on your site, is not related to the substance of the issue at hand. That's a disappointing way to write, particularly about important community issues.


The way I write as you call it does not disappoint /me/ while I still believe in what I write and I fail to be convinced that I was wrong, with a few exceptions where I corrected myself (e.g. about the future of GNOME, per the linux.com article)

Again, I remind you: ASK QUESTIONS. I've given you an opportunity in every section above where you provide sources to ASK QUESTIONS. Do it, so you can get into the habit.


I will do, Jeff. I appreciate your feedback. You must understand, however, that I can't just parrot arguments which I am not entirely convinced are true (the example above, which relates to Novell, can be considered here).



The remainder of this:



The URLs above were grabbed quickly from a comment which posted yesterday (not mine). Perhaps they do not demonstrate the issue I spoke about, but they show the presence of Mono in builds of these distros.


No they don't. Again, I note you haven't asked any questions here. I suggest you do, as a matter of research. I could not have made it more clear in my answers that you need to ask questions.

1. Mono isn't just an issue of patents. With .NET going shared source, SCO-like claims become a danger.


That was the case with Java for years. That is still the case with all kinds of things, including Samba. There's a metric buttload of code out there that we as FLOSS developers can't look at. This has and always will be an issue, whether the code is owned by Microsoft or not.

2. Novell signed a patent deal. Had it not signed it, Microsoft would find it harder to demand businesses to pay for patents.


Microsoft aren't interested in getting people to pay for patents. They're interested in using them to keep companies out of the market, and make sure they can defend themselves against other patent holders.

The way I write as you call it does not disappoint /me/ while I still believe in what I write and I fail to be convinced that I was wrong


But you haven't asked *WHY* you're wrong yet. I haven't explained it because you haven't *ASKED*. I've given you every opportunity. I've suggested it as clear as day. I have made this so easy for you, yet you still come back with statements, assumptions and NO QUESTIONS.

I'm trying to help you get in the habit, so I'm facilitating your ability to ask questions of a knowledgeable source, such that you're more comfortable and likely to do it in the future.

Come on, I'm handing this to you on a silver platter: Please, please, please include a question in your next email. I can answer it, you can see how your statements (and "evidence" provided by whoever posted to your site) was not correct, and we can get on with actual details relevant to the issue of Mono and GNOME.

You'd rather have the right information, wouldn't you? One question is all you need to ask. Just one question. Go for it!


Okay, I was hoping you would correct me where you believed I was wrong, so let me ask a question instead. Which Linux distributions come with GNOME but without Mono?

Another question would be, do you think it is 'safe' for businesses to use Mono amid times of saber-rattling? (I'm aware of the fact that Australia has 'inherited' the amazingly broken stance on software patents (America style), which is bad news to everyone and I sympathise)


Jeff then made a very strong argument which shows that GNOME and Mono are still somewhat independent in the sense that they can be separated safely.



Okay, I was hoping you would correct me where you believed I was wrong, so let me ask a question instead. Which Linux distributions come with GNOME but without Mono?


I'm not sure, I don't track that very closely. Perhaps you could look at it from their point of view: Ubuntu and Fedora are comfortable enough with Mono to ship it. Perhaps you're making a big deal about something that is less of an issue that you believe? (There are quite a few things backing that up.)

Anyway, you've asked the wrong question again, assuming that GNOME is wedged to Mono in some way. I'm sick of this idiotic conversation, so I'm going to give you the answer you've managed to stay away from asking for the entire discussion. Next time, do your research, and ASK QUESTIONS of people who know what's going on, so you don't make such silly mistakes on your website.

libbeagle is a C library with no Mono dependencies. It is simply an access method for C programs should they wish to interface with Mono. You can take all the Mono packages out of your system without removing GNOME. Sure, you will lose access to Mono-based software such as Beagle, Tomboy, F-Spot and Banshee, but if that's your goal, you *CAN 100% ACHIEVE IT*. GNOME is not bound to Mono, even in the distributions that ship it. I will demonstrate on my Ubuntu machine:

# remove anything that mentions 'mono' in its package name... COLUMNS=200 dpkg -l | awk '{print $2}' | grep mono | xargs sudo apt-get autoremove --purge ... (snip boring bits) ... The following packages will be REMOVED: banshee* banshee-daap* boo* f-spot* libart2.0-cil* libavahi1.0-cil* libgconf2.0-cil* libglade2.0-cil* libglib2.0-cil* libgmime2.2-cil* libgnome-vfs2.0-cil* libgnome2.0-cil* libgsf0.0-cil* libgtk2.0-cil* libgtkhtml2.0-cil* libipoddevice0* libmono-cairo1.0-cil* libmono-cairo2.0-cil* libmono-corlib1.0-cil* libmono-corlib2.0-cil* libmono-data-tds1.0-cil* libmono-data-tds2.0-cil* libmono-security1.0-cil* libmono-security2.0-cil* libmono-sharpzip0.84-cil* libmono-sharpzip2.84-cil* libmono-sqlite2.0-cil* libmono-system-data1.0-cil* libmono-system-data2.0-cil* libmono-system-web1.0-cil* libmono-system-web2.0-cil* libmono-system1.0-cil* libmono-system2.0-cil* libmono0* libmono1.0-cil* libmono2.0-cil* libndesk-dbus-glib1.0-cil* libndesk-dbus1.0-cil* libnjb5* librsvg2.0-cil* libsgutils1* libtaglib2.0-cil* mono-classlib-2.0* mono-common* mono-gac* mono-jit* mono-runtime* tomboy* 0 upgraded, 0 newly installed, 48 to remove and 252 not upgraded. Need to get 0B of archives. After unpacking 61.8MB disk space will be freed. Do you want to continue [Y/n]? Abort.

See that? All of Mono gone. Completely functional GNOME desktop left for my use. Standard packaging as provided by Ubuntu. Yes, libbeagle0 will remain on my system, but it is *NOT* based on Mono, nor (as demonstrated so clearly above) does it depend on Mono.

Another question would be, do you think it is 'safe' for businesses to use Mono amid times of saber-rattling? (I'm aware of the fact that Australia has 'inherited' the amazingly broken stance on software patents (America style), which is bad news to everyone and I sympathise)


Ask Canonical and Red Hat, who ship Mono with their distributions, and do not have relationships with Novell or Red Hat. I have the impression that using the ECMA-standardised parts of Mono is safe, and there are plenty of defensive measures in place (such as OIN) for us and our users. I've worked to try and get Miguel (and other Mono folks) to separate the ECMA standard chunks of Mono from the rest of it, to make it clear what those in the FLOSS world who want to write software with Mono can use comfortably. That would be a bigger win than simply deep-sixing Mono for ideological reasons -- I'm sure you'd say the same thing about Samba, Wine, etc. Should we dump them, or try to be in the best position to draw advantage from them without fear?

None of this implies that Mono is of strategic interest to the GNOME project (in fact the obvious conclusion is that it doesn't, because both the GNOME and Mono hackers have had to do quite a bit of work to keep it technically at arms lenght), so please do not fall for that conclusion either.

Despite my frustration at your approach to this conversation, I am still here to answer your questions when you realise that research and knowledge are more important than making controversy. I will help you make your site accurate on issues related to GNOME, Mono, Novell, OOXML/ODF, etc., so that the accuracy and correctness of your claims assist with the mission of the site you run.


I would have to admit at this stage that, other than telling me that I asked the wrong question (i.e. not the question he wanted me to ask, I presume), Jeff made an excellent point and provided proof to show that GNOME-Mono dependency is probably a myth. I replied:

Thanks, Jeff. That has been very useful and I'm convinced on certain issues that I now understand better. Can I use parts of our correspondence to post corrections and clarifications? It needs to be clarified that GNOME and Mono are separate by all means, which I can now see.


Jeff concludes by clarifying and summarising some key points:

As I've said in previous mails, there are some ways in which GNOME and Mono are related (in the same sense that there are some ways in which GNOME and other FLOSS projects are related), so "by all means" is not correct. I'll make it clear again:

* Tomboy, a Mono-based application, is included in the GNOME Desktop suite

* gtk-sharp is included in the GNOME Bindings suite, so that third-party developers can create GNOME applications using C# and/or the CLR

* No other Mono applications have been proposed for or included in the official GNOME release suites

* There is no clear agreement within the GNOME project to proactively adopt Mono or to avoid its use entirely

* There is absolutely no requirement to have Mono in order to run GNOME


Hopefully this establishes some key points and we can refer back to it in the future. I wish I had time to edit this properly, but I'm under a lot of workload at the moment.

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