Bonum Certa Men Certa

Trusting Mono While Microsoft Attacks GNU/Linux Left and Right

Walking gorilla
Can an 800 lb. Gorilla coexist with little Mono?



Summary: Yet another analysis of Microsoft's relationship with Mono and GNU/Linux

HEISE has just published a piece which insinuates that Mono is "monkey business". The FSF too addressed the issue about a month ago. "More indication of course that Microsoft has everyone's best interest at heart," sarcastically claims Neighborlee, quoting the following text: "...[Microsoft] released an 'extended' version of the JVM for Windows, which resulted in the writing of Java apps that would work on Windows but not on other platforms, in Internet Explorer but not in Netscape..."



To quote from Heise:

This stance has been countered to some degree by Microsoft's Community Promise, but doubts remain as to what is actually covered, and de Icaza concedes as much. "In the next few months," he wrote, "we will be working towards splitting the jumbo Mono source code that includes ECMA + A lot more into two separate source code distributions. One will be ECMA, the other will contain our implementation of ASP.NET, ADO.NET, Winforms and others." In theory, the core components of Mono and the Mono development stack for Gnome are covered by the Community Promise. The elements that provide compatibility with Windows are not.

From the beginning Mono has been beset by misunderstandings, misconceptions and political ineptitude, not least by Novell, de Icaza's employer, which allowed Microsoft to insert patent indemnification into its commercial agreement of 2006, souring its relationship with the free software community and giving Microsoft grounds for suggesting, without substantiation, that GNU/Linux and other free software infringed Microsoft patents - and by Microsoft's ongoing ambivalence towards free and open source software within its own halls.


The author, Richard Hillesley, has actually been a critic of Mono for quite some time. He apparently did try to tone it down for the H, just as he did in other publications. Other writers were not allowed to even express their real opinions -- let alone assessments -- about Mono, especially in the press (probably grumpy editors).

This is risky judgment.

Back at the beginning (more towards middle) of the decade, people warned against invasion of Iraq, saying it was misguided and would prove rather fruitless. Major newspapers gave little or no attention to such voices, but knowing what we know today it was a colossal mistake. So, the message to get across here is that to forbid criticism of Mono is to make ourselves a lot more vulnerable. A lot of people did not denounce Novell for its patent deal with Microsoft until the middle of 2007 when Microsoft started using this deal to accuse everything and everyone of 'stealing'.

Jim Zemlin is quoted in this fluffy new piece which is doing too much to commend Microsoft (it's from Gavin Clarke after all).

Zemlin, though, thinks Microsoft can and should go further by ending any claim to patents in Windows that may or may not be present in Linux.

"They should take a patent license out with the OIN - put their money where their mouth is to make sure patents don't get in the way of operating systems, make operating systems a no fly zone when it comes to patents," Zemlin said. "That sends a clear message Linux is solid, and we validate this collective development model and we want to interoperate."


Most of the article is pretending that Microsoft's eventual GPL compliance (after violation and boundless spin [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8]) makes up for patent racketeering. Regarding the latter bits, Microsoft was invited to OIN before. Microsoft declined the invitation. Microsoft is spreading not only patent FUD against Linux; it is also spreading lies about the acceptance of GNU/Linux in the market. To quote yesterday's column from James Gaskin:

In this case, Dell: Linux v Windows Netbook Returns a “Non-issue,” a report from OpenSource World reported Dell exec Todd Finch refuting Microsoft's Kevin Turner's lies that Linux netbook returns were “four or five times higher” than Windows netbook return stats.

You'd think Microsoft would treat Dell with a little more decency, since Dell is either number one or number two in PC and server sales depending on sales results in a particular quarter. But no, Microsoft spokespeople keep slamming Linux and netbooks at every opportunity.


"You'd think Microsoft would treat Dell with a little more decency," writes Gaskin. He apparently isn't entirely familiar with Microsoft's previous attacks on GNU/Linux at Dell. That is just how Microsoft operates, which brings us back to the question, "has Microsoft changed?" The answer is no, and thus Mono cannot be trusted.

"I’d be glad to help tilt lotus into into the death spiral. I could do it Friday afternoon but not Saturday. I could do it pretty much any time the following week."

--Brad Silverberg, Microsoft



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