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Mono Watch: Where Is It All Coming From?

Patent protection expires



Mono is still a controversial thing among readers of Linux Today, one of whom has just said:

Mono is a solution looking for a problem where the problem does not exists. If you want Web programming, there are enough Open Source alternatives that work actually better than NET in many cases and equals to it it in most cases.

VM environments include Java, PHP, Ruby, and Python. Frameworks include MVC type packages from Spring, Struts, WebWorks, Ruby on Rails,Ambivalence, WACT, CakePHP, etc. If NET is so wonderful, then why is MS so intent on offering a Ruby and Python for NET?


For whatever reason, while Ars Technica understands the problems with OOXML, it fails to recognise the known issues of Mono. To make matters worse, Mono continues to be promoted there.

Controversy erupted in the standards community this week when key members of Norway's national standards body resigned in protest over procedural irregularities in the ISO approval process for Microsoft's Office Open XML (OOXML) format.

This week also brought the long-awaited release of Mono 2.0, the latest version of Novell's open-source implementation of the Microsoft .NET framework. Mono 2.0 includes support for C# 3.0 with Language Integrated Query (LINQ) support and many other compelling features. We also looked at the Mono 2.0 Live CD, which makes it easy for users and developers to try out the new version of Mono.


That Live CD comes from Novell and this type of infectious hype also made its way into EFYTimes.

The Mono project, an open source initiative sponsored by Novell, has announced the availability of Mono 2.0, an open source, cross-platform .NET development framework. Mono 2.0 provides all the necessary software to develop and run .NET client and server applications on Linux, as well as other operating systems. The new Mono 2.0 release is now compatible with the desktop and server components of version 2.0 of the Microsoft .NET framework and features the Mono Migration Analyzer (MoMA), an analytical tool for .NET-to-Linux migrations.


Overall, this level of coverage dedicated to an unimportant piece of software is rather baffling. We mentioned this bafflement before [1, 2]. It's truly curious that a lot of the coverage actually comes not just from Novell; it also comes from its partners at Microsoft. Here, for instance, is some coverage from Justin James at TechRepublic. James appended a disclosure: "Disclosure of Justin’s industry affiliations: Justin James has a working arrangement with Microsoft to write an article for MSDN Magazine." No wonder he promotes Mono.

For developers who want an alternative to Microsoft Visual Studio, there is Mono Develop. A new version of Mono Develop is slated for release in January 2009; it will deliver improved usability and an enlarged feature set, including support for Visual Studio file formats. This will allow developers on the same team to use both Mono Develop and Visual Studio, with no conversions between the two needed.


From the same site comes coverage of GNOME Do, which depends on Mono. They covered Banshee a few days ago. It's Mono based and Novell-sponsored as well; same with Kerry Beagle (for KDE), which I came across the other day while looking for desktop search programs. It's frustrating to see how Mono spreads down the dependency trees, even in KDE-based distributions (this was on Mandriva 2008.1).

For a couple of months now we've been tracking the movement of Mono around KDE [1, 2, 3]. It was seemingly gone -- at least in terms of progress -- well, for about a month. Now it's back to making progress. From the very latest KDE Commit Digest:

Richard Dale committed changes in /branches/KDE/4.1/kdebindings/csharp:

* Promote the C# bindings from the trunk to the KDE 4.1 release branch * Regenerate the KDE and Plasma sources from the 4.1 headers


This raises some concern.

What ever happened to forgotten article like this one from Tina Gasperson: "The patent trap: If Gnome gets Mono"

From the "things that could happen if Mono is incorporated into Gnome" department: Intel, having gleefully taken advantage of the MIT licensing on Mono's class libraries, enforces its patents against every entity making use of its modifications, including the Gnome project, effectively shutting it down.

[...]

We are surprised we heard little complaining when Ximian CTO and Mono project leader de Icaza told The Register, "I'd like to see Gnome applications written in .NET in version 4.0 -- no, version 3.0. But Gnome 4.0 should be based on .NET. A lot of people just see .NET as a fantastic upgrade for the development platform from Microsoft." de Icaza took issue with The Register over the headline on the article, but he didn't deny that he made the statements as quoted. We don't know what, if anything, will come of the Mono license change, and of course, de Icaza is not the CTO of Gnome, only of Ximian. However, we're also not sure why Intel insisted on the MIT license instead of the LGPL, but you can be sure it has everything to do with protecting so-called intellectual property.

So, even if they are not part of the Free Software religion, shouldn't Open Source software developers be doing everything they can to keep software patents out of their projects? If you think Intel. or any other company, would do whatever it takes to protect their profits, then the idea that they would insert patented processes into the Mono libraries, sit back while Gnome makes use of them, and then try to cripple or even shut down Gnome through sky-high royalties or refusal to grant license doesn't seem implausible. What better reason to use the GPL or the LGPL? What was de Icaza thinking when he adopted the MIT license?


How true certain words can be even 6 years down the line.

"Linux: the operating system with a CLUE... Command Line User Environment"

--comp.software.testing

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