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Why Mono Redefines Free Software

Just say no to Mono



Summary: Free as in Freedom, with Microsoft's conditions that are not enforceable by law

THE MONO-NONO WEB site has just published this long post which explores the impact of Mono on the term "Free software", assuming Mono qualifies as "Free software" in the first place.

The question then becomes: Do you think that the licensing of the software, when combined with the patent assurances Microsoft has given are sufficient to meet all the requirements of the Four Freedoms? Of the Debian Free Software Guidelines?

Think on that in great detail and see what answer you come up with – think on it first trusting Microsoft to do the “right” thing, and once again assuming Microsoft will do the “wrong” thing. Can software be conditionally Free, depending on the intention of Microsoft? It is a sort of Schrödinger’s Freedom – how Free the software is depends on how Microsoft decides to act!

Perhaps you think that the assurances of the ECMA/ISO standard and the Community Promise are sufficient when combined with the licensing terms to consider Mono Free Software. I do not think that is an unreasonable conclusion. Now, read Microsoft’s Moonlight Covenant, and see if you get the same answer about Moonlight.


This matter is becoming important because code which falls outside Microsoft's Community Promise will make it into GNU/Linux distributions [1, 2, 3, 4, 5] if Banshee's vision is realised. Mono and Moonlight are persistently being promoted by Novell's PR people, so it is by all means a strategic focus for Novell.

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