06.02.08

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Software Patent Deals, Mono, and Other Legal Timebombs

Posted in GNOME, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Mono, Red Hat, Scalix, Ubuntu, Xandros at 9:34 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME and Mono continue to be separable and it’s important to keep it that way. In practice, however, the two are often combined to form GNU/Linux distributions. Yes, unfortunately enough, Mono is also in Fedora. It’s in almost every modern distro with GNOME (if not all the popular ones). Here is the analysis of Ubuntu. We contacted Fedora’s leader and Mark Shuttleworth, from whom the Reply was this. They remain unconvinced and unalerted.

GNOME logoAnother separability to consider is one that divides free GNU/Linux distributions from ones which Microsoft is milking through software patent deals.

Some time ago, Florian von Kurnatowski from Xandros (formerly of Scalix, which was acquired) said to us about Eee PC that there was “no impact or royalties to Redmond in this case, most of it open source, the stuff that’s not ours and Asus’ own development, and given the numbers this little thingy leaves the building in, actually one of the most successful end-user products based on open technology, ever.”

Despite all of this, Sam Varghese seems to insist otherwise. He believes that the Eee PC from ASUS is either affected by the deal or is somewhat of a timebomb (“Trojan horse” is what he calls it)..

Could the eeePC end up being Microsoft’s trojan horse?

[...]

In the excitement of the moment, everyone seems to have forgotten that Xandros is one of the companies that lined up meekly in June 2007 to sign a patent deal with Microsoft.

[...]

No, this kind of patent deal works through the fear factor. Once there is a sufficient large number of people using the software that is susceptible to the FUD factor, the company which has IP in the mix begins a campaign through issuing warnings of one kind or the other.

[...]

For the moment, the eeePC is free of insidious software like Mono and Silverlight, both the creations of the GNOME project co-founder Miguel de Icaza, and both posing susceptible to posing patent threats as they are both implementations of Microsoft technology.

Right now, there is no talk from the folk at Microsoft about any kind of patent threat. That kind of talk seems to have disappeared. But remember the deal with Xandros is a five-year affair – it runs till 2011. What happens after that?

There is some ongoing discussion in the #boycottnovell IRC channel (FreeNode) and some E-mail correspondence which could soon shed some more light (hopefully not Moonlight) on Mono. It’s now said to be believed, based on a reliable source, that Mono is even worse than Moonlight, which we wrote about last week.

Disclaimer: I like GNOME. I use it sometimes. I just don’t trust Mono (and yes, mainly because of Microsoft)

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2 Comments

  1. aeshna23 said,

    June 2, 2008 at 11:03 pm

    Gravatar

    Sam’s argument would improve if he could point to an example of where M$ could attack. The source code of the eeePC is available at

    http://support.asus.com/download/Download.aspx?SLanguage=en-us

    Asus says “The source code found here is complete to the best of Asus’s knowledge. If you believe any additional source code files should be provided under the applicable open source license, please contact Asus at support@asus.com and provide in detail the product or code module in question. Asus is committed to meeting the requirements of the open source licenses including the GNU General Public License.”

    While I have no doubt that M$ is up to no good, I’m a little reluctant to believe that the eeePC is the vector for its evil.

  2. Roy Schestowitz said,

    June 2, 2008 at 11:22 pm

    Gravatar

    Yes, I remember that. A hacker checked to see what Asus made available, found that it was just a bunch of debs, complained about it, I passed on the word to Stan Beer whose complaint made the front page of Slashdot and then it was all rectified by Asus, which also put up this polite message.

    I don’t believe that the Eee PC is ‘tainted’, as some put it. I actually promote it as much as I can, as long as it’s XP-free.

    In fact, if anything about it is to be avoided, it’s the Intel chips. Intel used Asus at the time in order to fight OLPC. I’d show you the proof if you need it. The price-fixing needed to end.

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