12.20.08

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Mono is Only for Novell, Says Microsoft Ally

Posted in Microsoft, Mono, Novell, Patents at 5:29 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

A 'friend' of Microsoft, Tim Anderson, wrote the following post a day after the deal between Novell and Microsoft:

A common objection to Mono is its fuzzy legal position. Although parts of .NET are ECMA standards open for anyone to implement, other parts (including ASP.NET) are not. Mono implements ASP.NET as well as other non-ECMA class libraries. The worry has been: if Mono gets successful enough to threaten Microsoft, will there be legal problems?

[...]

See the comments below for more. It seems this falls short of a promise not to sue over patent breaches in Mono, if they exist, except in certain defined circumstances (Novell customers or non-commercial). I guess that is not surprising.

What will the Mono enthusiasts have to say? Microsoft voiced the same opinion as Anderson.

Mono is Novell

Let the spin commence.

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157 Comments

  1. jo Shields said,

    December 20, 2008 at 7:29 pm

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    No legal attacks that I’ve noticed in the 2 years since this was written – and then, as now, the policy both upstream and downstream remains unchanged: if something specific is threatened, it gets worked around, the claim invalidated, or worst case it gets yanked. Pulling, say, ASP.NET isn’t a problem for apps like F-Spot – it’s a problem for people looking to migrate from Windows to other platforms. But the option remains open.

  2. Roy Schestowitz said,

    December 20, 2008 at 7:40 pm

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    No legal attacks that I’ve noticed in the 2 years since this was written

    Of course not. They wait until there’s ‘dynamite’ in every corner before barking and leading to panic. First, they need people to ‘plant’ the Mono in Debian, Ubuntu, etc.

    if something specific is threatened, it gets worked around, the claim invalidated, or worst case it gets yanked.

    Two problems with this:

    1. Mono relies on being able to mimic .NET functionality/behaviour
    2. Mono lies beneath many applications that depend on it. It can’t just be removed as though it was a feature or plug-in.

    Remember that copyrights != patents. The former refers to implementation; the latter — to ideas.

    Pulling, say, ASP.NET isn’t a problem for apps like F-Spot – it’s a problem for people looking to migrate from Windows to other platforms.

    They can temporarily use Wine. It’s a different thing when GNU/Linux apps are developed using Microsoft’s so-called ‘IP’ at their very foundation. A thread is enough to cause damage; they hardly need to sue.

  3. jo Shields said,

    December 20, 2008 at 8:12 pm

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    Of course not. They wait until there’s ‘dynamite’ in every corner before barking and leading to panic. First, they need people to ‘plant’ the Mono in Debian, Ubuntu, etc.

    I’m still waiting to hear about their hundreds of patents in the kernel which are supposedly violated. Pretty sure that’s a rather more widespread piece of “dynamite” – but I think FUD is more valuable to Microsoft than real lawsuits they might lose.

    1. Mono relies on being able to mimic .NET functionality/behaviour

    For compatibility, sure. But if divergence were required, then Free apps could be modified to suit.

    2. Mono lies beneath many applications that depend on it. It can’t just be removed as though it was a feature or plug-in.

    You’d be surprised. 100% worst case, existing apps can be modified to target Vala instead.

    And if a patent were threatened, then it’s unlikely that the *whole* thing would be yanked without reason – Freetype was altered, not removed entirely, after Apple threatened with patents. An altered Mono becomes less useful to switchers from Windows, but doesn’t necessarily disappear in a puff of smoke. That’s one of the great things about Free Software.

    They can temporarily use Wine.

    Not to run ASP.NET sites, which is what I was talking about (i.e. allowing corps to move to Free platforms). For desktop users… well running .NET apps in WINE requires, um, Mono for Windows. So that’s not much help.

    It’s a different thing when GNU/Linux apps are developed using Microsoft’s so-called ‘IP’ at their very foundation. A thread is enough to cause damage; they hardly need to sue.

    There are an awful lot more get-out clauses than you realise, I think.

    But at its core, I’m still not convinced that in the unlikely event that a specific patent is actually waved at people in a threatening manner, that it couldn’t be worked around fairly reasonably.

    The funny thing about patents is that they need to be worded as more than just “doing X” – they need to be “doing X by Y”, where Y is where the workarounds come from. To borrow a reasonable hardware example, a company called “Immersion” sued Microsoft and Sony for “violating” its force feedback controller patents – but didn’t have anything to bring against Nintendo (as their implementation differed from the patent). I don’t think there’s anything sufficiently general and unworkaroundable in Mono that it wouldn’t apply to a bucket of other similar technologies like Java too

  4. Roy Schestowitz said,

    December 20, 2008 at 8:27 pm

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    I’m still waiting to hear about their hundreds of patents in the kernel which are supposedly violated. Pretty sure that’s a rather more widespread piece of “dynamite” – but I think FUD is more valuable to Microsoft than real lawsuits they might lose.

    For the time being — sure. Dependency of Mono won’t vanish unless we engage in an open discussion that strives to find solutions.

    > 1. Mono relies on being able to mimic .NET functionality/behaviour

    For compatibility, sure. But if divergence were required, then Free apps could be modified to suit.

    You’re left in a ‘Vista scenario’. You need to chase developers and ask them to ‘fix’ their applications for ‘broken’ specs.

    You’d be surprised. 100% worst case, existing apps can be modified to target Vala instead.

    How much work on Vala would be required to restore ‘Mono compatibility’, in which case you are left right where you started?

    And if a patent were threatened, then it’s unlikely that the *whole* thing would be yanked without reason – Freetype was altered, not removed entirely, after Apple threatened with patents.

    Font rendering is a cosmetic thing. Functionality? Not so much. It’s like maths.

    Not to run ASP.NET sites, which is what I was talking about (i.e. allowing corps to move to Free platforms). For desktop users… well running .NET apps in WINE requires, um, Mono for Windows. So that’s not much help.

    it’s better to depart from that? Doesn’t Mono just encourage more ASP.NET?

    I don’t think there’s anything sufficiently general and unworkaroundable in Mono that it wouldn’t apply to a bucket of other similar technologies like Java too

    Sun is likely to defend against that. The patenter counts. A lot.

  5. jo Shields said,

    December 20, 2008 at 8:44 pm

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    For the time being — sure. Dependency of Mono won’t vanish unless we engage in an open discussion that strives to find solutions.

    What would you propose? And how are you defining “dependency of Mono”? Is running an app against DotGNU Portable.NET instead okay?

    You’re left in a ‘Vista scenario’. You need to chase developers and ask them to ‘fix’ their applications for ‘broken’ specs.

    Or do it yourself. That’s how Free Software works. Any idea how often interfaces change in things like the kernel? All the bloody time! Someone’s gotta go back & make changes to suit. It’s not necessarily the guy who wrote it in the first place.

    How much work on Vala would be required to restore ‘Mono compatibility’, in which case you are left right where you started?

    I haven’t researched which C# features Vala does & doesn’t offer. Since the output is compiled without any non-C runtime dependencies though, it would remove pretty much any concern about the Mono JITter and runtime – and given the language has a more than passing resemblance to C#, it should be easier to convert an app than rewrite it in something less pleasant like C++. Hard work? Sure. But that’s the nuclear option – and I don’t see people who’ve poured hours into their apps simply letting them die.

    Font rendering is a cosmetic thing. Functionality? Not so much. It’s like maths.

    The Freetype example is still a good one, though, because it underscores the “X by Y” issue – Apple’s patent covered font hinting using hint data in the font file – Freetype’s workaround was basically to calculate hinting data on the fly instead – providing the same functionality via a different (non-infringing) method at no cost to end-users. I don’t see why things would go any other way if any specific Mono patent infringements were argued

    it’s better to depart from that? Doesn’t Mono just encourage more ASP.NET?

    Other than a front-end to monodoc documentation, i don’t know of any ASP.NET apps specifically *for* Mono (there are a few formerly Windows-only ones which are now multi-platform)

    Sun is likely to defend against that. The patenter counts. A lot.

    Question is, how much is covered by the Sun-Microsoft patent deal from 2004?

  6. Roy Schestowitz said,

    December 20, 2008 at 8:58 pm

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    What would you propose? And how are you defining “dependency of Mono”? Is running an app against DotGNU Portable.NET instead okay?

    AFAIK, DotGNU is mostly used to run existing applications, whereas Mono has its sibling MonoDevelop. Novell fosters development — not just runtime — in Mono. RMS is against that path, AFAIK.

    Or do it yourself. That’s how Free Software works. Any idea how often interfaces change in things like the kernel? All the bloody time! Someone’s gotta go back & make changes to suit. It’s not necessarily the guy who wrote it in the first place.

    It’s a toll and a risk.

    Sure. But that’s the nuclear option – and I don’t see people who’ve poured hours into their apps simply letting them die.

    It’s a toll and a risk.

    The Freetype example is still a good one, though, because it underscores the “X by Y” issue – Apple’s patent covered font hinting using hint data in the font file – Freetype’s workaround was basically to calculate hinting data on the fly instead – providing the same functionality via a different (non-infringing) method at no cost to end-users. I don’t see why things would go any other way if any specific Mono patent infringements were argued

    A Mono-based application cannot run without Mono; It can, OTOH, run with coarser fonts.

    Other than a front-end to monodoc documentation, i don’t know of any ASP.NET apps specifically *for* Mono (there are a few formerly Windows-only ones which are now multi-platform)

    Mono fuels projects like SplendidCRM and makes it more acceptable for programmers to choose .NET. It helps Microsoft win API wars.

    Question is, how much is covered by the Sun-Microsoft patent deal from 2004?

    I thought about it too. Remember who ‘stole’ whose idea. (hint: Java is the Real Thing is the better option).

    According to brand-new benchmarks [1,2], Java on GNU/Linux kicks Windows’ rear. With .NET, GNU/Linux is always behind.

    ___
    [1]http://www.phoronix.com/scan.php?page=article&item=java_vm_performance&num=1
    [2]http://www.theinquirer.net/inquirer/news/112/1050112/linux-runs-java-faster-than-windows

  7. MonkeeSage said,

    December 21, 2008 at 12:58 am

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    [quote]AFAIK, DotGNU is mostly used to run existing applications…[/quote]

    “Our main goal is to make it easy to write portable application programs which work well both on DotGNU Portable.NET and on Microsoft’s .NET platform.”[1]

    [quote]A Mono-based application cannot run without Mono…[/quote]

    You are confused. Mono and pnet implement two Ecma specifications — one for C# and one for the the CLI. Nobody can claim patent violations on these core technologies (or the conversion of C# to CLI, or a CLR that runs CLI).

    The only questionable things are extensions, like Windows.Forms, ASP.NET, ADO.NET, and possibly some low-level optimization stuff (like the JIT and AOT engines).

    As another commenter pointed out, these things can be worked around in some way or other (e.g., in the case of Winforms, a wrapper library that presents a compatible API, but renders widgets in GTK#; in the case of ASP.NET, a preprocessor that generates some other type of web-scripting interface from aspx files). It may be very hard to implement such work-arounds, but it is possible. And regarding JIT and AOT, they would have a really hard time there, as prior arts could easily be demonstrated (smalltalk anyone? scheme?).

    Ps. Vala is a preprocessor that generates C language files (or native binaries using GCC), using GLib / GObject for it’s object system. It can use any library with a C ABI, given that it knows some metadata about the library (the metadata is stored in a VAPI file–a bunch of them already ship with Vala, such as DBus, GTK+-2.0, libxml, libsoup, SDL, SQLite3, &c). So even if mono somehow (unlawfully) was forced to stop everything, Vala would make a pretty good replacement, especially after it has matured a bit more.

    ____
    [1] http://www.gnu.org/software/dotgnu/pnet.html

  8. MonkeeSage said,

    December 21, 2008 at 2:58 am

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    Oops…original comment got lost…repost:

    “AFAIK, DotGNU is mostly used to run existing applications…”

    “Our main goal is to make it easy to write portable application programs which work well both on DotGNU Portable.NET and on Microsoft’s .NET platform.” (From their homepage.)

    “A Mono-based application cannot run without Mono…”

    You are confused. Mono and pnet implement two Ecma specifications — one for C# and one for the the CLI. Nobody can claim patent violations on these core technologies (or the conversion of C# to CLI, or a CLR that runs CLI).

    The only questionable things are extensions, like Windows.Forms, ASP.NET, ADO.NET, and possibly some low-level optimization stuff (like the JIT and AOT engines).

    As another commenter pointed out, these things can be worked around in some way or other (e.g., in the case of Winforms, a wrapper library that presents a compatible API, but renders widgets in GTK#; in the case of ASP.NET, a preprocessor that generates some other type of web-scripting interface from aspx files). It may be very hard to implement such work-arounds, but it is possible. And regarding JIT and AOT, they would have a really hard time there, as prior arts could easily be demonstrated (smalltalk anyone? scheme?).

    Ps. Vala is a preprocessor that generates C language files (or native binaries using GCC), using GLib / GObject for it’s object system. It can use any library with a C ABI, given that it knows some metadata about the library (the metadata is stored in a VAPI file–a bunch of them already ship with Vala, such as DBus, GTK+-2.0, libxml, libsoup, SDL, SQLite3, &c). So even if mono somehow (unlawfully) was forced to stop everything, Vala would make a pretty good replacement, especially after it has matured a bit more.

  9. MonkeeSage said,

    December 21, 2008 at 3:00 am

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    Errata: “C# to CLI, or a CLR that runs CLI” -> “C# to CIL, or a CLR that runs CIL”

  10. AlexH said,

    December 21, 2008 at 3:40 am

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    More potential this and risk that.

    The major distros have actual legal advice at their disposal, and many have examined Mono. Consensus is that it’s not too risky to include. I go along with the prevailing legal opinion.

  11. MonkeeSage said,

    December 21, 2008 at 4:13 am

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    Ps. It may be of interest to those claiming that mono is extremely brittle because of possible patent infringement and IP, to actually read the mono FAQ regarding patents and IP:

    http://www.mono-project.com/FAQ:_Licensing#Patents

  12. Roy Schestowitz said,

    December 21, 2008 at 4:40 am

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    AlexH,

    Consensus was that “others were doing it, so…”

    Not “that it’s not too risky to include.”

  13. jo Shields said,

    December 21, 2008 at 5:22 am

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    Consensus was that “others were doing it, so…”

    Not “that it’s not too risky to include.”

    Hmm, not so sure about that. Fedora for example has never been shy about excluding useful things from its repositories over reasons of perceived risk (or, in this case, conflicts with Red Hat’s Java business motivations)

    Debian’s had it since 2002; Ubuntu’s had it since 5.10 (2005); SuSE had it in 9.1 (2004); Fedora since FC5 (2006); Mandriva since 2007; Gentoo since 2006.1; FreeBSD since 4.7 (2002)

  14. jo Shields said,

    December 21, 2008 at 5:23 am

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    Hey, has anyone else noticed how Sun’s new “JavaFX” platform only supports Windows & Mac?

  15. Roy Schestowitz said,

    December 21, 2008 at 5:24 am

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    Yes, mostly before the Novell deal that shed light on issues.

  16. Roy Schestowitz said,

    December 21, 2008 at 5:25 am

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    Yes, I know about JavaFX and have complained about it.

  17. ushimitsudoki said,

    December 21, 2008 at 5:29 am

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    MonkeeSage,

    Read the email linked to in the FAQ.

    1. It is explicitly framed as the author’s personal opinion – as it should be. It is no way whatsoever “official” in any manner. It matters not one whit that author is one (of several) people listed on the patent.

    2. It only covers the language and CLI, and then only under “royalty-free” and “RAND” terms. These are in no way Open Source agreements.

    3. It explicitly limits commercial purposes and mentions other licensing possibilities for Rotor (now the SSCLI), which is under the so-called “Shared Source” license – of which so much is wrong I hesitate to even mention it, because I hate to understate the enormity of its problems.

    The FAQ then basically straight up misrepresents this email as a “grant” to *anyone* for *free* and *any purpose*. It clearly is not. There is no possible way to read it so.

    Please continue to read the FAQ. It does absolutely nothing to address any patent concerns beyond stating:
    - some countries don’t allow software patents, which is laughable. As if Novell would continue development is such countries if there was a patent issue? Come now, Novell is an American company and they will not be skirting the law for mono in such a manner. Is this really a defense worthy of going in the FAQ? In contrast, I think it speaks strongly to the weakness of Novell’s position that they put something so foolish in there.

    - they could work around any potential issues. Well, maybe. At that point it’s hardly .NET anymore, though, is it? Look at the so-called “strategy” they outline right there for dealing with potential issues – you might think that is sufficient, but you must realize it is quite debatable.

    It’s not enough just to provide a link. You have to read and question it. It seems clear to me that the FAQ intentionally misrepresents the facts, and indeed actually tries to deceive the reader.

    (Only bothering to post because I really hate the “I linked to the FAQ, so that settles the argument” mentality.)

  18. jo Shields said,

    December 21, 2008 at 5:29 am

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    Yes, mostly before the Novell deal that shed light on issues.

    Except for Mandriva, Gentoo & Fedora. Certainly Mandriva, anyway – I’d need to check months on the other two. And pretty telling that no distro has REMOVED Mono from its archives following that deal.

    Where does Mono get a specific mention on http://www.microsoft.com/interop/msnovellcollab/patent_agreement.mspx – and if it’s not a specifically named entry, why are other things (say, Evolution) not considered equally risky if equally covered?

  19. Roy Schestowitz said,

    December 21, 2008 at 5:33 am

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    Regarding Mandriva, see this.

  20. jo Shields said,

    December 21, 2008 at 5:36 am

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    Regarding Mandriva, see this.

    Not news, and only tangentially related to my point – Mandriva DOES offer Mono in its repositories.

    As for OOo, if you understood what go-oo actually was, rather than just waving the “EVIL NOVELLNESS!” flag, you’d know how trivial removing *any* go-oo component is. That’s the POINT of it – adding the packager flexibility Sun won’t

  21. Roy Schestowitz said,

    December 21, 2008 at 5:38 am

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    Not news, and only tangentially related to my point – Mandriva DOES offer Mono in its repositories.

    That’s the way it ought to be in Ubuntu. Don’t feed people Microsoft, not by default.

  22. jo Shields said,

    December 21, 2008 at 5:40 am

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    Don’t feed people Microsoft, not by default.

    And we’re including NTFS support, Samba, AJAX, Page Up, etc, in that?

  23. Roy Schestowitz said,

    December 21, 2008 at 5:43 am

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    That’s very different

  24. jo Shields said,

    December 21, 2008 at 6:03 am

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    Glyn is misinformed in two directions.

    Firstly, an attack against Mono is *NOT* an attack against the apps.

    System.Console.WriteLine(“BN sucks”);

    is not patentable, even if the universe took an enormous shift towards insanity and somehow System.Console.WriteLine itself (or some part of using it) were, at which point the 100% standard Free Software resolutions would apply – work around, invalidate, remove, rearchitect. Worst case, there’d be a loss of F-Spot and Tomboy on a temporary basis during the rearchitecting phase.

    Secondly, an attack against Samba WOULD affect other things. It’d directly affect, say, Nautilus & Konqueror. Assuming we follow Glyn’s own reasoning, anyway.

    Look at it this way: if patent claims were fired at, say, FUSE, do you think people who’ve coded FUSE filesystems (and the FUSE devs themselves) would simply go “oh well, never mind”? Of course not – their framework would be altered, or worst case, they’d need to modify their code to be in-kernel instead.

    There are ALWAYS escape routes.

  25. Roy Schestowitz said,

    December 21, 2008 at 6:18 am

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    it’s not merely a function call that’s an issue (subject of collision) in Mono.

  26. jo Shields said,

    December 21, 2008 at 6:28 am

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    it’s not merely a function call that’s an issue (subject of collision) in Mono.

    But YOU don’t know which patents are supposedly violated (you tried to point to one once, it could only be violated by WINE), and distros with legal counsel haven’t removed it, so… what IS the “subject of collision”?

  27. Roy Schestowitz said,

    December 21, 2008 at 6:37 am

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    What does Wine have to do with this?

    what IS the “subject of collision”?

    I can’t do your homework, sorry.

  28. MonkeeSage said,

    December 21, 2008 at 6:41 am

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    ushimitsudoki,

    1.) I see no indication of any standard disclaimers regarding ones personal opinions vs. those of their employers. I see a statement of a MS employee who is also a patent holder, acting in his official capacity, releasing all rights to the IP under RAND-Z terms.

    2.) While copyleft licensing may not float everyone’s boat, it is at least secure from claims of IP infringement. Everyone can use the technology for free, without fear of prosecution.

    3.) The limitations of use on Rotor source code under the “permissive” license, have nothing to do with mono or pnet, insofar as they refrain from using that source code. As mentioned in the email, MS has released Rotor under a further (separate) license than the RAND-R license given to the core technologies covered under the Ecma / ISO RAND-Z grant.

    I wasn’t meaning to simply post a “Here’s the FAQ, RTFM”-type post. I was pointing up a (valid, I believe) response to concerns over IP and actionable claims.

  29. jo Shields said,

    December 21, 2008 at 6:53 am

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    I can’t do your homework, sorry.

    And now we’re back onto one of my favourite topics – burden of proof. You won’t say which patents are violated (but you use the general handwaving that some are) to attack Mono, those with actual things to lose (and legal teams) don’t think there’s anything to worry about….. if you have an actual, concrete, viable case of infringement, then it’s your duty as a supposed member of the Free Software community to share details so it can be worked around & rendered a non-issue. The burden of proof lies on the accuser, you should know that.

  30. Roy Schestowitz said,

    December 21, 2008 at 7:07 am

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    The proof is not a list of patent numbers.

  31. jo Shields said,

    December 21, 2008 at 7:12 am

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    The proof is not a list of patent numbers.

    Wait… what?

  32. Roy Schestowitz said,

    December 21, 2008 at 7:16 am

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    There are lots of software patents out there affecting lots of software, but the patenter counts. Who is it that suffers the most from GNU/Linux? Oracle? IBM? Microsoft?

  33. jo Shields said,

    December 21, 2008 at 7:28 am

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    Who is it that suffers the most from GNU/Linux? Oracle? IBM? Microsoft?

    From GNU/Linux? In simplistic terms, that’s pretty obvious. But if the question is Mono, then it’s rather more complex. Who is most threatened by Mono? I’d probably say Sun – for Microsoft, the “threats” from it (people migrating CLI apps to other host platforms) are more or less balanced out by the positives to them (people opting to use CLI instead of, say, Java).

    Actually, patent threats against Mono from Sun? That would be a fascinating turn of events, wouldn’t it?

  34. Roy Schestowitz said,

    December 21, 2008 at 7:34 am

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    What would Sun have to gain?

  35. jo Shields said,

    December 21, 2008 at 7:35 am

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    What would Sun have to gain?

    Killing Free CLI could help in pushing Java as a second-best alternative

  36. jo Shields said,

    December 21, 2008 at 7:39 am

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    Remember, Sun have been filing orders of magnitude more software patents than Microsoft, lately. What are they DOING with them all?

  37. Roy Schestowitz said,

    December 21, 2008 at 7:44 am

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    Not what SCO did. They are not against F/OSS anymore.

  38. ushimitsudoki said,

    December 21, 2008 at 7:53 am

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    MonkeeSage,

    Really? You honestly think an email to a mailing list where the guy starts off with saying “..I’d like to explain why I’ve never *felt*…” is an official and legal release of all IP rights for a patent where he is one of literally 6 dozen listed inventors? And your basis for this is because it does not have some sort of disclaimer at the bottom of his email?

    Seriously?

    If so, it might interest you to know that Mr. Miller is neither listed on nor is the Assignee of the approved patent (6,920,461). So his email statement is worth exactly zero, because he no more owns the patent than Howdy Doody does.

    And yet this email is referenced in the FAQ — and often otherwise dragged out — as some proof of something. It is not. Not in any way shape or form does it speak to anything except one man’s opinion.

    You have similarly missed the points of #2 and #3 – but I’m not inclined to revisit them right now.

  39. SubSonica said,

    December 21, 2008 at 8:33 am

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    All Mono developers: You are unadvertedly working for Microsoft’s best interests, or, at the very least, advancing Microsoft’s strategy to kill Gnu/Linux and Free Software.
    Once mono gets inserted in most popular Gnu/Linux distros and so deeply intertwined with some core application, Microsoft can BUY Novell anytime they want (IMHO they de-facto did it in exchange for some 450 million dollars) and sell “Microsoft-Suse” as they only “Legal” Gnu/Linux.

    The Samba project, like Mono, provides a cross-platform alternative to closed Microsoft technologies. It is equally vulnerable to the (increasingly toothless) Microsoft patent threats and arbitrary changes in the protocols. Yet Samba is admired. Perhaps the difference is merely in the words of each project’s leaders– the Samba team have never praised Microsoft’s technologies, while Miguel de Icaza, the leader of Mono, has.

    Mono. Like Samba, it aims to reproduce functionality available on the Windows platform, so that people can use free software instead: a laudable goal in itself. But the end-result, which depends on Microsoft’s work, is something that encourages developers to write *yet more* code that uses Microsoft’s approach. In benighted countries where software can be patented, this means that any patents that Microsoft has in the .NET framework are like to apply to any code developed with Mono. Like an infectious disease, the intellectual monopoly is spread wider.

    This is what makes Mono so dangerous: developers that use this framework are, in fact, helping to disperse the poison of Microsoft’s intellectual monopolies across the free software ecosystem. I’m sure that’s not the aim of the Mono developers, who doubtless have the best of intentions, but sadly it is the inevitable result. And that is why developers and users need to be warned off Mono in a way that is not necessary for Samba.

  40. Dan O'Brian said,

    December 21, 2008 at 8:48 am

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    If you are unhappy with the statements made by Jim Miller, you are able to request the RAND-Z grant from Microsoft directly or via the GNOME Foundation which is a member of ECMA. Of course, the anti-Mono crowd will never bother asking for this information because they know it would disprove their FUD which is the last thing they want to happen.

    Moving on:

    Secondly, an attack against Samba WOULD affect other things. It’d directly affect, say, Nautilus & Konqueror. Assuming we follow Glyn’s own reasoning, anyway.

    Using that reasoning, it would also affect Akonadi/KMail as well as Evolution. These projects are both, afaik, working on MAPI support via the SAMBA libraries.

    ushimitsudoki: Patent 6920461 is not a core C# or CLI patent. Thus, your argument is debunked.

  41. Roy Schestowitz said,

    December 21, 2008 at 8:52 am

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    ECMA, which is corrupt, has nothing to do with patents or exclusions thereof.

  42. Dan O'Brian said,

    December 21, 2008 at 8:56 am

    Gravatar

    It doesn’t matter if ECMA is corrupt or not, a RAND-Z patent grant is legally binding.

  43. Roy Schestowitz said,

    December 21, 2008 at 8:58 am

    Gravatar

    It’s useless to Free software.

  44. Dan O'Brian said,

    December 21, 2008 at 9:20 am

    Gravatar

    No, it isn’t. Because it’s zero-cost, it means that everyone can get a copy of the patent grant making them immune from patent attacks over the patents that Microsoft owns relating to ECMA 334 and 335.

  45. ushimitsudoki said,

    December 21, 2008 at 9:47 am

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    Dan O’Brian,

    If I have made a mistake on the patent number, it still does not change the fact that the email is not an official or legal document.

    Will you favor us with the core patent numbers that are applicable? I can not find a specific reference in the ECMA or ISO standards and thought I had the right one.

  46. ushimitsudoki said,

    December 21, 2008 at 10:00 am

    Gravatar

    For example, if it is any of the other “Application program interface for network software platform” patents, such as:
    7,013,469
    7,017,162
    7,165,239

    In all cases it is Microsoft Corporation who is the Assignee and my point stands.

    In any case, it is absolutely ludicrous to assert that an email to a mailing list is some sort of official release of IP for Microsoft.

    I’m not playing “gotcha” arguments here, I’m attempting honest debate. That email comes up all the time and it is simply meaningless as anything more than one man’s opinion.

  47. saulgoode said,

    December 21, 2008 at 10:58 am

    Gravatar

    I’m not playing “gotcha” arguments here, I’m attempting honest debate. That email comes up all the time and it is simply meaningless as anything more than one man’s opinion.

    Even if Mr Miller’s e-mail were considered legally binding, the only thing he asserts in it is that the ZRAND patent licensing “would be available”.

    The conclusion drawn from Mr Miller’s statement by the Mono Project’s FAQ that, “Basically a grant is given to anyone who want to implement those components for free and for any purpose“, completely misrepresents what Mr Miller actually stated.

  48. Dan O'Brian said,

    December 21, 2008 at 1:03 pm

    Gravatar

    Miguel has stated that anyone can request a copy of the RANDZ license from the GNOME Foundation or directly from Microsoft.

    If that is correct, then it doesn’t matter if Jim Miller’s email is legally binding or not (and I would agree with saulgoode, the Jim Miller’s email is not something I would trust as legally binding).

    ushimitsudoki: the point is no one asserting that Mono infringes patents has been able to come up with any. Not a single one. No one has even been able to provide any evidence that Microsoft even has any patents that apply to ECMA 334 or 335.

    Just ask to get a copy of the RANDZ agreement and be done with it. Speculation will get you nowhere.

  49. saulgoode said,

    December 21, 2008 at 3:14 pm

    Gravatar

    Miguel has stated that anyone can request a copy of the RANDZ license from the GNOME Foundation or directly from Microsoft.

    I did not know the GNOME Foundation could provide this; I shall send them a request. I knew Miguel proposed that MS could be contacted about licensing but was (am?) unaware that this was a previously granted license — I presumed I would be “negotiating” for patent licensing on my own behalf. I prefer not to do this as I have know intent to avail myself of such licensing.

    ushimitsudoki: the point is no one asserting that Mono infringes patents has been able to come up with any. Not a single one. No one has even been able to provide any evidence that Microsoft even has any patents that apply to ECMA 334 or 335.

    According to the Mono Project FAQ, patents covering the core of the .NET Framework exist (in the paragraph referencing Mr Miller’s email). I will grant the possibility that Mono has implemented this technology without infringing those patents. I would be even more willing to accept that those patents (and IMO, ALL software patents) are invalid. However, by questioning the existence of patents covering ECMA 335 technology, are you not thereby questioning the accuracy of the Mono Project FAQ?

    ECMA guidelines require that disclosure of covering patents be made by any company participating in their standardization process, though I saw no mention of how (or even whether) this information might be made available. I have not pursued implementing the standard, and therefore have not made a request for a listing of that disclosure.

    If the disclosure is public knowledge, I would appreciate a link to where I might find it. If the disclosure of applicable patents has not been made public then it would seem reasonable that the Mono Project must have, as part of their effort to implement the standard, requested and received from ECMA information about such disclosures and thus feel justified in asserting the existence of applicable patents in their FAQ.

    Just ask to get a copy of the RANDZ agreement and be done with it. Speculation will get you nowhere.

    Does this RANDZ agreement come with a non-disclosure clause? Why would the Mono Project assure us that there is RANDZ patent grant “to anyone … for any purpose” without actually disclosing the details of that grant?

  50. Roy Schestowitz said,

    December 21, 2008 at 3:27 pm

    Gravatar

    saulgoode, see this for details. I think they like to reserve details, keeping them private just like they do with OEMs and cross-licensing.

  51. MonkeeSage said,

    December 21, 2008 at 4:37 pm

    Gravatar

    ushimitsudoki,

    Yeah, seriously. Just like (evidently) every legal council who has advised on this matter. And since Novell has endorsed this interpretation in their FAQ (you don’t dispute that as a legally binding position statement, right?), that *still* indemnifies *me*, should MS choose to go for the jugular sometime in the future.

    —-

    SubSonica,

    Once again, people seem to forget that GNU has a .NET compiler, runtime, and disassembler too (DotGNU Portable.NET) and explicitly states that their aim it to allow for development of programs which operate on MS .NET. Also, even if MS bought-out Novell and changed all the licenses, that doesn’t retro-actively change the previous licensing. The community could just fork mono at the last open revision and nothing would change (in practice) for people developing with mono.

  52. MonkeeSage said,

    December 21, 2008 at 4:43 pm

    Gravatar

    However, by questioning the existence of patents covering ECMA 335 technology, are you not thereby questioning the accuracy of the Mono Project FAQ?

    No. That’s exactly what the FAQ addresses. If any such patents should be discovered, they shall be non-actionable, since the IP they cover has been released under a royalty-free grant.

  53. saulgoode said,

    December 21, 2008 at 5:40 pm

    Gravatar

    And since Novell has endorsed this interpretation in their FAQ (you don’t dispute that as a legally binding position statement, right?), that *still* indemnifies *me*, should MS choose to go for the jugular sometime in the future.

    That’s not how patents work. Patents prevent or restrict usage in addition to marketing/distribution. It may not be common for patent holders to pursue litigation against private individuals (though they have the legal right), but it is quite common to go after businesses engaged in the unauthorized use of the patented technology (i.e., customers of an unlicensed, patented product). It is even more common to threaten litigation and demand license royalties from the “customer”.

    No. That’s exactly what the FAQ addresses. If any such patents should be discovered, they shall be non-actionable, since the IP they cover has been released under a royalty-free grant.

    The FAQ states that the patents exist, not that they may exist.

    Mono Project FAQ:
    The core of the .NET Framework, and what has been patented by Microsoft falls under the ECMA/ISO submission. Jim Miller at Microsoft has made a statement on the patents covering ISO/ECMA, (he is one of the inventors listed in the patent): here

    So, given that the patent exists, where is this grant of which you speak? Not an “interpretation” of an archived email suggesting that patent licensing would eventually be made available, but the actual grant itself.

  54. Dan O'Brian said,

    December 21, 2008 at 6:04 pm

    Gravatar

    It’s already been explained that you can request the patent grant from the GNOME Foundation (since they are members of ECMA) or from Microsoft itself.

  55. Roy Schestowitz said,

    December 21, 2008 at 6:08 pm

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    Why need it be requested? Is there a limited supply?

  56. Jo Shields said,

    December 21, 2008 at 6:13 pm

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    Why need it be requested.

    I know it might sound funny, Roy, but some people are okay with the idea of asking questions to get an answer. The standard ECMA rules rely on that detail!

  57. Roy Schestowitz said,

    December 21, 2008 at 6:17 pm

    Gravatar

    Requests for permission are a sign of possessiveness. Some 2-3 years ago people were requesting that I send them my thesis template before I just made it available for all to download.

    Why the reluctance to give up so-called “IP”?

  58. Jo Shields said,

    December 21, 2008 at 6:19 pm

    Gravatar

    Ask Sun, they’re one of the biggest patent hoarders today

  59. Roy Schestowitz said,

    December 21, 2008 at 6:21 pm

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    In terms of volume, it would be IBM or Microsoft, IIRC.

  60. Dan O'Brian said,

    December 21, 2008 at 6:25 pm

    Gravatar

    Some 2-3 years ago people were requesting that I send them my thesis template before I just made it available for all to download.

    So, at one point, people had to ask you for it just as they currently have to ask to get a copy of the RANDZ patent grant from ECMA or Microsoft.

    Way to admit to your own logical fallacy.

  61. Jo Shields said,

    December 21, 2008 at 6:26 pm

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    You recall wrong, as someone already showed you figures for this year, with Sun filing ~5x more than MS

  62. Roy Schestowitz said,

    December 21, 2008 at 6:28 pm

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    You’re totally missing the point. It was better for me to just make it available to end the requests (several a week).

  63. Roy Schestowitz said,

    December 21, 2008 at 6:28 pm

    Gravatar

    Jo Shields,

    Probably not software patents then.

  64. Jo Shields said,

    December 21, 2008 at 6:34 pm

    Gravatar

    You’re totally missing the point. It was better for me to just make it available to end the requests (several a week).

    Or perhaps YOU’RE missing the point – for a period you WERE responding individually, until there were sufficient requests to render it annoying. Have there been sufficient requests for the ECMA334/335 patent grant details? Probably not – why do research when FUD is easier?

    Probably not software patents then.

    Would evidence saying they were even matter to you? Honest question, since you’ve made it ABUNDANTLY clear you have no objectivity RE Sun, would a list of thousands of recently filed software patents even register one iota of sentiment?

  65. Dan O'Brian said,

    December 21, 2008 at 6:34 pm

    Gravatar

    You’re totally missing the point. It was better for me to just make it available to end the requests (several a week).

    Maybe ECMA/Microsoft aren’t getting many requests for the document? Maybe if/when they do start getting a lot of requests for it, they’ll simply post it on their website.

  66. Roy Schestowitz said,

    December 21, 2008 at 6:36 pm

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    Jo,

    Sun called Microsoft’s May 2007 attacks “patent terrorism”. Tell me when Sun does the same.

  67. Dan O'Brian said,

    December 21, 2008 at 6:41 pm

    Gravatar

    Roy: irrelevant. Stop trying to change the subject.

  68. Roy Schestowitz said,

    December 21, 2008 at 6:44 pm

    Gravatar

    I didn’t change the subject.

  69. Dan O'Brian said,

    December 21, 2008 at 6:49 pm

    Gravatar

    Yes, you did. We were discussing getting the RANDZ document for ECMA 334 and 335 specifications, not when Sun was going to use “patent terrorism”.

  70. Roy Schestowitz said,

    December 21, 2008 at 6:51 pm

    Gravatar

    Jo brought up # of patents @ Sun.

  71. MonkeeSage said,

    December 21, 2008 at 7:24 pm

    Gravatar

    That’s not how patents work. Patents prevent or restrict usage in addition to marketing/distribution

    INAL, but 35 USC 271 (a) defines infringement of a patent as “whoever without authority makes, uses, offers to sell, or sells any patented invention”. As I understand it, the RAND-Z grant that Novell claims in it’s FAQ is granted by MS, is exactly the “with authority” that indemnifies me from action for infringement. Now I may still need to file a licensing request, but even if I never did, I doubt I could be sued, since the grant is royalty free (i.e., MS could not show any fiscal damage resulting from my failure to file). Again, INAL, but that’s my understanding of the issue.

  72. MonkeeSage said,

    December 21, 2008 at 7:37 pm

    Gravatar

    So, given that the patent exists, where is this grant of which you speak?

    I’m not sure if this is what the MS employee in that e-mail was referring to, but one option I’m aware of is the MS-PL 2.(B): “…each contributor grants you a non-exclusive, worldwide, royalty-free license under its licensed patents to make, have made, use, sell, offer for sale, import, and/or otherwise dispose of its contribution in the software or derivative works of the contribution in the software.”

  73. MonkeeSage said,

    December 21, 2008 at 7:39 pm

    Gravatar

    Ps. Feel free to contact the mono project to find out the legal details.

  74. Jo Shields said,

    December 21, 2008 at 7:50 pm

    Gravatar

    I’m not sure if this is what the MS employee in that e-mail was referring to, but one option I’m aware of is the MS-PL 2.(B):

    Neither Mono nor Rotor are Ms-PL, so that doesn’t apply here.

    And that mail predates the penning of Ms-PL, if memory serves

  75. ushimitsudoki said,

    December 21, 2008 at 8:38 pm

    Gravatar

    Dan O’Brian said:

    ushimitsudoki: the point is no one asserting that Mono infringes patents has been able to come up with any. Not a single one. No one has even been able to provide any evidence that Microsoft even has any patents that apply to ECMA 334 or 335.

    Dan,

    I’m sorry I guess we are arguing at cross-purposes here. The point I have been trying to make is that the “Miller email” is not a legal document and so referencing it from the Novell FAQ is at best irrelevant, and at worst intentionally deceptive. Secondary to this is that the email does not actually assert what the FAQ represents.

    Making this point is important to me because:
    1. The email is often referenced as some “proof” – you can see this attempt here in the comments, and all over the web if you care to search.

    2. I think examination of most – if not all – of Novell defensive arguments are equally strong.

    3. It seems a clear and strong point to me, and so it is a good metric for determining whether the other person is worth engaging. I don’t want to waste my time with people that are just spouting talking points and not actually considering what is being said. (Nor would I expect people to waste time on me if I were deaf to thier arguments.)

    That’s why (in this thread of comments), I have been trying to stick to that small and specific point.

    I would gladly discuss another point at another time – you have already got me to thinking about examining those specific patents I listed, for example.

  76. Jose_X said,

    December 21, 2008 at 9:07 pm

    Gravatar

    I hope not to get caught up in this thread, but I was passing by and wanted to chime in on a few things.

    Dan and Jo, I remember that for the EU, Sun had about 2x more (software?) patents than MS. In terms of patent applications pending, however, I think it was opposite with MS ahead by near 2x. Some “software” patents apply to actual hardware (the patent doesn’t limit to “software”, in other words), and we know Sun makes a lot more computing equipment than does Microsoft.

    Microsoft really appears to be looking for enforcement of software implementations. I don’t think Sun is doing that. Sun needs the FOSS community much more than MS. Sun is not protecting huge cash cows and monopolies threatened by FOSS. As an example of the anticipated relationship towards the community, Sun leverages FOSS to challenge Microsoft’s cash cow built in-house. There are few guarantees about the future but one should factor these things when doing risk analysis of any sort. “Risk analysis” is the sort of thing businesses do before spending millions on decisions.

  77. Jose_X said,

    December 21, 2008 at 9:31 pm

    Gravatar

    ushimitsudoki mentioned 3 patents earlier on this thread, for example, http://www.freepatentsonline.com/7013469.html . Can someone with dotnet experience say whether those patents are (or aren’t) violated by any part of (eg) mono and as well not covered in any covenant?

    Regardless of covenant, this patent does appear to show coverage of what could easily be violated by some API or other.

    It seems claim 1 and 12 narrow the context fairly narrowly to *key* portions of *dotnet* (or to things that work very similarly) that one won’t be able to avoid if one is using dotnet (maybe asp dot net), and the other claims cover many general things one would want to do from those points onward.

    [I'm assuming all of this from the names being used and from a cursory reading. I don't know dotnet.]

    Also, Microsoft is the only company able to draw up this sort of patent to the extent it leverages specific information from the official MS dotnet API. In particular, Sun can *try* to come up with these dotnet specific patents, but they don’t know the direction dotnet will take before Microsoft comes up with an offering. MS’s offering serves as prior art to any patent being filed afterwards. Ditto for OOXML and other MS technologies. Thus, I don’t expect Sun being able to file dotnet-based patents even though they would gain from those types of patents (if they had any.. as pointed out on this thread). [Sun may have patents covered by dotnet (eg, from Java work), but these would not likely be specific to dotnet (that would make little sense).]

    Do note that by being very narrowly focused on how dotnet works (claim 1?), they can probably avoid prior art (eg, from Java). Apparently though their further claims beyond the first (twelfth) claim have very wide scope within the context of claim 1 (12) so that I *can’t* imagine someone very easily avoiding that patent if they fulfill claim 1 (12) (eg, use dotnet) and then need to do anything in the other claims which do cover a lot of ground.

    [This is related: the first comment here http://www.linuxtoday.com/it_management/2008121702335NWLL or the discussion leading to this http://boycottnovell.com/2008/11/22/protection-for-use-of-mono/#comment-40361 , but I was trying to show that they wouldn’t have to think too much since they can patent something with a gratuitous and odd twist but nevertheless enshrined within the API and so likely to be used by many using dotnet.]

    And we aren’t talking only about Microsoft named patents. Microsoft could sell rights/information to patent trolls. This way, Microsoft wouldn’t have to announce the patents ever and it would be difficult to find.

  78. Dan O'Brian said,

    December 21, 2008 at 9:33 pm

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    Jose_X: indeed, and those businesses have found that Mono is safe enough to use and depend on.

  79. Jose_X said,

    December 21, 2008 at 9:40 pm

    Gravatar

    Sure, Dan, that’s why everyone and their grandmother is using mono and building GPL apps with it.

    I’d hate to have a GPL app and then have Microsoft coming after me for money and to invalidate the GPL promises.

  80. Dan O'Brian said,

    December 21, 2008 at 9:54 pm

    Gravatar

    Like you said, people are using Mono to build apps with it. I saw someone mention he was writing a photo editing software using Mono on the Ubuntu forums the other week. There’s GNOME-Do. There’s Muine, Tomboy… There’s this list as well.

    None of which were started nor maintained by Novell.

  81. Jose_X said,

    December 21, 2008 at 10:23 pm

    Gravatar

    Those don’t look like large numbers (sourceforge by itself has how many projects?), but we’d have to look closer if we wanted to get a better idea. I don’t think it is being used very much for infrastructure and for widely used code.

    There is also this http://boycottnovell.com/2008/11/25/jose-on-mono/ giving reasons to avoid mono besides the patent risks.

  82. Dan O'Brian said,

    December 21, 2008 at 10:37 pm

    Gravatar

    That list is by no means a comprehensive list – nor is a search on sourceforge. Besides, most projects on sourceforge are failed/abandoned projects – so it doesn’t really matter what language those projects are in.

    It also stands to reason that most projects are going to be in languages that have been around longer, like C, simply because they’ve been around longer. Projects started before Mono obviously couldn’t be developed in C# on Linux, could they?

    Also, most people will develop using the language they know – many developers on Linux are used to C (and C++) because that’s the best language they had available for decades. Now they have C# and some developers have switched.

  83. Roy Schestowitz said,

    December 22, 2008 at 4:25 am

    Gravatar

    You forgot the J word. Are you afraid of the real thing?

  84. SubSonica said,

    December 22, 2008 at 7:28 am

    Gravatar

    About patent requests and ECMA: The fact that you need to request a patent RAND licence (Not neccesarily free, moreover, if Microsoft is ultimately in control of whom gets the patent grant, it de-facto invalidates the “virality” of the GPL and GPL-style Free Software -which Microsoft hates and fears-) puts Microsoft back in control of the software no matter what licence you publish it under. And you are at the mercy of Microsoft volition. Now imagine you are publishing some software that just happens to use some Microsoft-controlled ECMA patent: For Microsoft the only “reasonable” term is to get paid for their precious “IP”, so they can denegate the right to use their patent depending if the publisher of the software caves to a patent-protection-racket agreement similar to what Novell signed: If they don’t want to licence the patent to you you are out of look. Look at what just happened with MSOOXML:

    http://www.noooxml.org/forum/t-114765/microsoft-excludes-competitors-with-ooxml-patent-license

    ECMA has just published two documents (letter1 and letter2) related to the patent licensing of ECMA376v1 and ECMA376v2. Microsoft promises to give a patent license under so called “reasonable terms”. Reasonable for whom?

    Here is the letter for the ECMA376v1:
    Here is the letter for the ECMA376v2:

    We have requested a commercial patent license in July, but radio silence since then on the Microsoft side. Yet another proof that the patent system does not work.

    The ECMA code of conduct in patent matters is here:

    1. Policy
    General Declaration:
    The General Assembly of Ecma shall not approve recommendations of Standards which are covered by patents when such patents will not be licensed by their owners on a reasonable and non-discriminatory basis.

    1.1
    In case the proposed Standard is covered by issued patents of Ecma members only: Members of the General Assembly are asked to state the Company licensing policy with respect to these patents.

    I wonder what the latest requirement means. Nobody knows exactly which Microsoft patents covers the specification. Nobody has ever seen the list.

    …so much Microsoft alleged “openness”, for ECMA standard-mill and for utterly meaningless “RAND” terms…

  85. AlexH said,

    December 22, 2008 at 11:09 am

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    @SubSonica: if the patent license is non-exclusive and perpetual, then it doesn’t affect the freeness of the software. A lot of free software has such terms – e.g., Ogg, Java, etc. If the software is Free there is no “control”.

    If there were a patent problem with OOXML, then neither Sun nor Novell would touch it, because neither have the requisite patent licenses.

  86. saulgoode said,

    December 22, 2008 at 12:13 pm

    Gravatar

    MonkeeSage said,

    As I understand it, the RAND-Z grant that Novell claims in it’s FAQ is granted by MS, is exactly the “with authority” that indemnifies me from action for infringement. Now I may still need to file a licensing request, but even if I never did, I doubt I could be sued, since the grant is royalty free (i.e., MS could not show any fiscal damage resulting from my failure to file). Again, INAL, but that’s my understanding of the issue.

    There was an article by David Berlind published in 2002 which addresses this topic directly, including comments from Microsoft’s Senior Director of Intellectual Property, Michele Herman, explaining the types of restrictions that may be placed on even a royalty-free, reasonable, and non-discriminatory patent license for their ECMA patents.

    In brief, the possible restrictions Ms Herman mentioned are “reciprocity”, “suspension”, “field-of-use”, and “sub-licensing”. I would recommend reading Mr Berlind’s article for an explanation of why these conditions are problematic to a Free Software project which would rely on such RAND-Z licensing; but the gist of it is that you are not indemnified by a patent grant (covenant, or promise) if you don’t meet the terms of that grant.

    As an example, Microsoft’s Patent Pledge for Non-Compensated Developers “Non-Compensated Individual Hobbyist Developer” makes their patent grant conditional on you not marketing the software you create, or not developing it while you are at work. Other MS patent grants include stipulations that your software is only indemnified if it gets accepted by the OpenSuSE project. Both of these grants might technically be considered RAND-Z because everyone is afforded an equal opportunity to develop non-commercially or to have their software accepted by with OpenSuSE.

    So knowing the specific terms of any ECMA mandated RAND patent licensing is critical. Being royalty-free is certainly helpful with regard to the patent licensing’s usefulness to Free Software, but it is not sufficient.

    The Mono Project’s Patent FAQ separates their handling of patent problems in two separate categories: known patents associated with the ECMA-standard technologies, and unknown (perhaps nonexistent) patents that “might arise with ASP.NET, ADO.NET or Windows.Forms” (i.e., the Windows compatibility layers not covered by ECMA).

    Personally, I see nothing wrong with their position on handling potential non-ECMA patents; it is indeed similar to practically every other Free Software project’s approach: i.e., “we are not aware of any” and “we will handle them appropriately when they arise”.

    The difficulty I have is with the Mono Project’s policy on the ECMA-covered patents; the same ones that most Mono supporters (and even a good number of its opponents) accept as “not a problem”. The Mono Project does not claim ignorance or invalidity of any ECMA-covered patents and they don’t claim that they are avoiding ECMA-covered patented technology. They clearly state that Microsoft patented technology is included in the ECMA standard and even cite one of MS employees as a holder of patents in the ECMA .NET standard.

    In lieu of denying the existence or validity of ECMA .NET patents, and instead of assuring that they are working around such patents, we are assured that Microsoft has provided everyone an unconditional grant to use this patented technology. The only support provided for this assurance is an e-mail from 2003 which doesn’t even mention any unconditional grant, promise, or covenant; it merely states that RAND-Z licensing will be made available.

    Instead of the Mono Project FAQ providing you with indemnity against patent infringement, what it actually does is increase your liability. Under U.S. law, penalties for patent infringement are tripled if the infringing party is found to have known that the patent existed. In addition, courts have sometimes acquitted defendants who had diligently researched patents and either found none that were applicable or deemed the ones found non-applicable.

    If you seek indemnity from Microsoft for their ECMA standard patented technology, you’d better make sure that you have proper licensing from Microsoft and that you abide by the terms of that licensing. You will not be able to claim that the patents don’t exist; you won’t be able to claim you were unaware of them, and you can’t claim that they were avoided by the implementers of the standard (the Mono Project only avoids non-ECMA patents).

    The Mono Project protests that they have been singled out amongst Free Software projects with regard to software patents and indeed, I agree this is true. But it is they themselves who have made themselves unique by relying not on the absence, invalidity, or avoidance of applicable patents, but on RAND-Z licensing terms offered by Microsoft on patents which they themselves assert exist and apply to the ECMA .NET standards.

    Regards.

  87. MonkeeSage said,

    December 22, 2008 at 12:29 pm

    Gravatar

    Microsoft promises to give a patent license under so called “reasonable terms”. Reasonable for whom?

    This issue is addressed in the mono licensing FAQ (see above post for the link). A MS employee indicated that MS will not only grant rights to implement / use / distribute their IP associated with ECMA-33{4,5} under a “Reasonable And Non-Discriminatory” (RAND) license, but have further committed to it being a royalty-free grant (RAND-X or RAND-RF). Some people dispute whether the employee was speaking in his official capacity, and deny the validity of the royalty-free grant, but Novell supports the interpretation that it is a legally binding contract (as per their FAQ page). So the definition of “reasonable” is pretty much moot, since they have (in Novell’s interpretation) renounced any standing for seeking damages for infringement.

  88. MonkeeSage said,

    December 22, 2008 at 12:38 pm

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    saulgoode,

    Thanks for the link. I’ll definitely read it through later today. I’m aware that many technologies implemented by mono may in fact be patent-infringing, since as you and others have mentioned, they fall outside of the scope of the IP contained in ECMA-33{4,5}. They may be covered by the Novel-MS covenant, but that doesn’t help a developer deploying to RHEL (or even OpenSUSE in one reading of the covenant). I also realize that in the licensing phase, tighter restrictions can be required than were required in the broad patent indemnity phase.

    I’m not meaning to downplay the soberness that the ubiquity of MS IP in mono should evoke. I’m only meaning to address the folks who (at least in my perception) think that mono is the mark of the beast, and all part of the anti-christ’s (MS’s) plot overthrow the body of true believers (FLOSS advocates–of which, I’m one, BTW).

  89. MonkeeSage said,

    December 22, 2008 at 1:36 pm

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    saulgoode,

    Regarding personal liability (again, just for posterity, I am not a lawyer!)–I stand by my previously stated interpretation. Even if I were found to have no valid license(s), the very fact that MS has provided royalty-free licensing for ECMA-{4,5} related IP (according to Novell), makes it very hard for them to make a case regarding an expectation of reimbursement or actual fiduciary detriment regarding my use of their technology. AFAICT, the most they could do is acquire a cease and desist injunction against my product until it had obtained a proper license. Granted, that could be a leverage point, and should be well considered by any unlicensed products utilizing the technology–but at the same time, that is quite different from saying that they will be able to nullify GPL, sue for damages, &c.

  90. MonkeeSage said,

    December 22, 2008 at 1:38 pm

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    *ECMA-{4,5} = ECMA-33{4,5}

  91. Jose_X said,

    December 22, 2008 at 2:20 pm

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    >> AFAICT, the most they could do is acquire a cease and desist injunction against my product until it had obtained a proper license. Granted, that could be a leverage point, and should be well considered by any unlicensed products utilizing the technology — but at the same time, that is quite different from saying that they will be able to nullify GPL, sue for damages, &c.

    Many businesses and many looking to build something serious that will be used by others will avoid a product that is as you described (ie, as Microsoft makes extra noises over your specific product or ups the ante somehow). The *promise* of GPL (informally speaking at least) would be neutralized to some extent.

    Just look at mono today. I think if a product different enough from Microsoft’s dotnet would evolve from that, people would shun it less/ be more attracted to it. I don’t see why most FOSS advocates would get so close to Microsoft, giving Microsoft, of all companies, extra opportunities.

    It doesn’t take that much to develop something different from dotnet yet along the lines of what you may like from dotnet. After all, if the mono devs were capable enough to build mono to this point, they can surely build a different variation of the main themes. They can start by writing up their own distinct spec docs. Maybe some FOSS Java folks would participate.

    Novell is in a position (unless they are too close to Microsoft already) to take a leadership role with a product over which they would have more control and which would be significantly different from dotnet. However, they seem to be committed to playing the “‘second source’ to Microsoft” angle.

    Perhaps an independent group will fork mono or take some other dotnet clone in a new direction. If they keep good attributes of the system going forward (but change the details) and can convince they are independent and different enough, they will likely attract a greater following. Maybe Novell will want to spin off a group to do just that. That way, they can play the “second source” and “MS-IP safe” angle if they believe in that while the spin-off can …. never mind. I don’t think they have the resources to invest in a significantly different product.

    Neutralize the closeness to Monopolysoft, and more people will consider the technology.

    As for what Novell says about the safety of mono or of X, Novell is likely not going to defend Jack or Business Jill from Microsoft if these two are not using Novell products.

    For any that care: http://www.parrot.org/ .. the platform of the future official perl, python, and many others.

    >> Parrot is a virtual machine designed to efficiently compile and execute bytecode for dynamic languages. Parrot currently hosts a variety of language implementations in various stages of completion, including Tcl, Javascript, Ruby, Lua, Scheme, PHP, Python, Perl 6, APL, and a .NET bytecode translator.

    >> The Parrot Developer Summit last month was incredibly productive. One of the biggest results was a roadmap for the next several years of releases, starting with the 1.0 production release in March 2009. Many of us on the project have been treating 1.0 as the perfect release where all features we could ever hope for are completed. But the simple fact is, there will always be interesting new features to add to the project, and that’s a good thing. The paradigm shift for the new release plan is to start treating 1.0 more like we already treat our regular monthly releases.

    I think they’d happily accept help from anyone who wants to help build the components needed to support language X.

  92. Jose_X said,

    December 22, 2008 at 2:23 pm

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    Matrix of parrot support for various langs:

    https://trac.parrot.org/parrot/wiki/Languages

  93. Roy Schestowitz said,

    December 22, 2008 at 2:48 pm

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    Deviation from .NET = Microsoft wrath. Besides, why would Novell do such a thing that harms Microsoft’s API (separating or fragmenting it)?

  94. AlexH said,

    December 22, 2008 at 2:56 pm

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    They’ve already fragmented it by providing equivalent or better APIs from the free software world. Most Mono apps use as much non-Microsoft API as any other.

  95. Roy Schestowitz said,

    December 22, 2008 at 2:58 pm

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    But these come in the form of enhancements, not alternations to the core.

  96. AlexH said,

    December 22, 2008 at 3:02 pm

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    Not true; see Mono.SIMD or Mono.Posix. They can be as fundamental as altering the machine code generated or as high-level as vector graphics libraries.

  97. Jose_X said,

    December 22, 2008 at 3:14 pm

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    Alex, I don’t think any of those things break from dotnet. They augment it like Roy said.. or that is the impression I got from a quick googling.

    See http://tirania.org/blog/archive/2008/Nov-03.html and http://www.go-mono.com/docs/index.aspx?tlink=0@N%3AMono.Posix

  98. MonkeeSage said,

    December 22, 2008 at 3:19 pm

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    Jose_X,

    Don’t confuse my position (I’m not *accusing* you here, just trying to be very clear). I’m not *advocating* .NET, per se. I’m merely speaking as a developer who has been deploying (internal and external customer) software on .NET with mono for a number of years. I have absolutely no affiliation with MS, Novell, or any of the mono team (aside from contributing the occasional bug reports / patches here and there). And I’m all for open alternatives! In fact, for the past few months I’ve been using Vala for just that reason. But, honestly speaking, the current state of the art regarding Vala is miles behind .NET (I’m not saying it can never catch up–it’s just far behind this very moment). As a most simple example, there is no MySQL / PostgreSQL (or any other kind of ODBC) data provider for Vala that I’m aware of ATM.

  99. Roy Schestowitz said,

    December 22, 2008 at 3:21 pm

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    I think we had this extensive discussion just over a month ago. Alex argues that Mono is ‘better’ than .NET because of some hooks, but in essence, this only empowers .NET and Microsoft. It brings even OpenGL developers to the Microsoft ecosystem.

  100. Jose_X said,

    December 22, 2008 at 3:44 pm

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    >> Alex argues that Mono is ‘better’ than .NET because of some hooks, but in essence, this only empowers .NET and Microsoft. It brings even OpenGL developers to the Microsoft ecosystem.

    I guess you have to look at the whole picture. I don’t like what I currently see, but if they actually broke away and didn’t look back, I think my perception of mono (wrt Monopolysoft) would change.

    Businesses that leverage some technology (like mono) for in-house coding and then find the BSA coming after them in the future will likely end up paying money anyway and not getting all they they may have hoped to get (eg, $0 per user/processor/etc) or perhaps not even close. Growth makes you a target.

    Why would mono devs be so hesitant to break away?

    Anyway, Java and parrot look like they will (continue to) have more support than mono moving into the future.

  101. MonkeeSage said,

    December 22, 2008 at 3:54 pm

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    Not to be a stick in the mud here, but Simon Peyton Jones and Phil Wadler have almost certainly infringed upon *some* patents here and there (whether those patents would be deemed actionable in any particular court of law, or whether the patent holders would actually pursue legal recourse, not-with-standing). So pugs / PERL6, insofar as it relies on such (possibly infringing) technology as Haskell, is in a similar situation, when you get down to brass tacks.

  102. Roy Schestowitz said,

    December 22, 2008 at 3:58 pm

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    It’s important to keep in mind who the patenter is. A lot of companies abstain from agitating F/OSS.

    http://www.fsf.org/blogs/community/boycottTrendMicro.html

  103. Jose_X said,

    December 22, 2008 at 3:59 pm

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    Roy, do you think the parrot people would be interested in getting a guest column (or exposure of some sort) on BN? With all of this talking about mono, you (we) should also advertize for the competition. Java folks may also be interested. Really, maybe a bunch of others might be.

    Not sure who or how many would be attracted to your “anti-companyX” stance. [I would make sure that the Monopolysoft threats be explained as the root problem.] I would approach them carefully laying out your concerns over Microsoft EEE, and mention that BN’s readership over time may include a number of devs who may not know too much about parrot (or whatever other tech is the focus). Perhaps just offer to link up to articles already written (that is less controversial).

  104. Jose_X said,

    December 22, 2008 at 4:08 pm

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    MonkeeSage, random patents pose the random headaches.

    Microsoft is a very specific, very large, and very determined threat who “owns” dotnet. They have an inside track to generating a stream of patents guaranteed to be violated now and into the future by those following dotnet (without a license). [Also, they can conduct business through trolls.. like Myrhvold's company.]

  105. Roy Schestowitz said,

    December 22, 2008 at 4:08 pm

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    That’s a good idea. I don’t know enough about Parrot to write about it, but if you sort something out, then we can cross-link to it as a recommended alternative. Someone else suggested that I mention the right routes rather than just antagonise the bad route, which only makes it more visible.

  106. Jose_X said,

    December 22, 2008 at 4:34 pm

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    http://www.parrot.org/dev/get-involved That’s a page to get started.

    I’ll hang around irc a bit to see what is up. Maybe an opportunity will arise, but I don’t want to spam.

    One suggestion is to feature apps say once a month. Maybe hit the end user angle as well as the dev angle.

    Or we can just see who appears to have a problem on their mind. Maybe BN can give them a small forum for it beyond irc or the mailing lists.

  107. Jose_X said,

    December 22, 2008 at 4:47 pm

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    You may want to link to http://www.parrot.org/news/vision-for-1_0 (and to the getting started page) to start the ball rolling a little faster.

    >> Each stable release has a particular focus that defines what features are critical for that release. The focus for the 1.0 release is “a stable API for language developers”.

    Besides the parrot vm getting started page, BN can rotate some other link to something of interest at that point in time (eg, the above link about road map and upcoming 1.0).

    When you do your Saturday do no evil.. maybe do something quick for alternatives like parrot.

    Maybe I’ll read some stuff and maybe write something up.

  108. Roy Schestowitz said,

    December 22, 2008 at 4:50 pm

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    Thanks, I’ll try to steer people who are after Mono in this better direction.

    http://www.parrot.org/sponsors

  109. SubSonica said,

    December 22, 2008 at 5:07 pm

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    @Alex:
    If you control the patent grant you can have the last word over the software.
    Anything “perpetual” is useless if I cannot pass the rights further on subsequent development/contributions. In my view, keeping the last word on who you grant the patent or you dont is a way to keep control of the software and break the share-and-share alike virtuous cycle of the GPL, because the patent will always be in the hands of the original “grantor” (Microsoft) and they can change the conditions whenever see fir for other licensors or either don’t license it at all (like has happened with the MSOOXML patent i quote)
    As you said both Novell and Sun have some kind of patent agreements with Microsoft.
    Logically, I am more concerned with Novell’s, since it has been used by Microsoft to threat users of distros not covered by the agreement, and to extort further patent agreements with other distros, like Xandros and Turbolinux. Fortunately it has not worked with RedHat, though.
    Sun has not threatened anyone because of that, instead they have GPLed java and brought more technologies to Linux, even if it could be perceived as a more direct threat towards solaris than Microsoft perceives it to be for winnt.
    I think maybe it would be a good idea in order to ease some criticisms and to show these projects are truely in favor of software freedom, for mono/silverlight/ooxml implementations to be released under the GPLv3 in order to challenge Microsoft patent-racket strategy and see what they do…

  110. MonkeeSage said,

    December 22, 2008 at 5:20 pm

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    Microsoft is a very specific, very large, and very determined threat [with] an inside track to generating a stream of patents guaranteed to be violated…

    True. And, just for the very paranoid, SPJ has been working for MS for several years on F#, so any advances on GHC in them interim are equally likely to be tainted (thus spilling over into the current PERL6 implementation).

  111. Jose_X said,

    December 22, 2008 at 5:36 pm

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    >> even if it could be perceived as a more direct threat towards solaris than Microsoft perceives it to be for winnt.

    Microsoft’s Windows monopoly is worth *much* more than is Solaris and is damaged much more for every extra percentage drop to the extent the levers are damaged.

    Solaris is much more like Linux so skills are transferable more easily. Remember that Sun has competed in the UNIX, Java, … spaces for years. They are less threatened by competition. Their business model tolerates it. If Linux were to displace significant Windows, Solaris would come along for part of the ride. A lot of market would open up.

    Sun has a more extensive hardware and services business than does Microsoft. They are less dependent on software. They have a vehicle for monetizing patents for hardware use.

    Don’t forget that Sun gains potentially very significantly if MS Office, MS This, MS That… fall down, so they value the FOSS community since they have competing FOSS products in all of these areas.

    Why fight for Solaris and antagonize the community, from whom there are greater potential gains? Why worry about little old Linux when the really big prize is in having Microsoft be displaced?

    Sun also has fewer resources to abuse in attacks on Linux.. when compared to Microsoft.

    Conclusion: the threats from Microsoft are much larger (even ignoring the already established behavioral history of each of these two companies).

    >> for mono/silverlight/ooxml implementations to be released under the GPLv3 in order to challenge Microsoft patent-racket strategy and see what they do…

    The GPLv3 does not cure all problems. Myrhvold is a patent troll that should have very close ties to Microsoft. Can you say proxy troll?

    Plus Novell is exempt from the relevant GPLv3 clause.

    Even if patents were to disappear as a threat, there is also this http://boycottnovell.com/2008/11/25/jose-on-mono/ , which is why I would not waste my time with mono as long as Microsoft is the force that they are and mono is based on dotnet.

  112. SubSonica said,

    December 22, 2008 at 5:55 pm

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    Jose_X:
    Of course, what I wanted to stress is the much different attitude towards FOSS and Gnu/Linux of Sun vs Microsoft, whereas the usual naysayers here try to equal what Novell+Microsoft did and what Sun did respect patents and Gnu/Linux…
    >
    >Conclusion: the threats from Microsoft are much larger (even ignoring the >already established behavioral history of each of these two companies).

    I fully agree on that. Top it with the continuing monoply abuse even after numerous convictions all around the world of MSFT.

    >The GPLv3 does not cure all problems. Myrhvold is a patent troll that >should have very close ties to Microsoft. Can you say proxy troll?

    Yes, but I still want to put the mono-proponents through the “GPLv3 test” ™ and let them show their true colors…

  113. Roy Schestowitz said,

    December 22, 2008 at 6:02 pm

    Gravatar

    Intellectual Ventures Does Not Like GNU/Linux (Video)

  114. MonkeeSage said,

    December 22, 2008 at 6:06 pm

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    Jose:

    Three points (in regard to your comments here and your linked article).

    1.) Interop. is a reality. I’ve run programs from people who never even thought of an alternative CLR implementation like mono / pnet. But their CIL bytecodes could care less about the scope of their horizons–it just worked out of the box. There were some hitches from time-to-time (such as pnet not playing well with XmlSerializer with TimeSpans), but close to 95% interop.

    2.) Interop. again. Just like Java, .NET is (mostly) “write once, run everywhere.” As many Java developers know, this is crucial to successful multi-tiered, mixed context deployment.

    3.) Did I mention interop. yet? Sure, Java offers similar support–IFF you already have the JDK / JPE / J2EE platform installed (and Apache libs, &c), but .NET is ubiquitous in the windows user space (something like 85% adoption I think? And all major Linux vendors ship mono, AFAIK).

    From a business planning standpoint there is plenty of reason to adopt .NET over competing technology. This may not be the wisest decision in the long run (I’ll reserve judgment on the matter), but it certainly makes “business sense.”

  115. Roy Schestowitz said,

    December 22, 2008 at 6:11 pm

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    By “interop”, do you mean “cross-platform/framework”? Interop is a very nasty term in its common use because it’s anti-standards and pro-software patents in ways.

    I just want to ensure vocabulary does not confuse us here.

  116. MonkeeSage said,

    December 22, 2008 at 6:16 pm

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    By “interop” I mean Write once, run anywhere.

  117. Roy Schestowitz said,

    December 22, 2008 at 6:23 pm

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    Thanks for the clarification.

    Interop (in its de facto use) typically means that things are inherently incompatible, but somehow they are made to work with one another, usually through lots of additional work. Otherwise there are APIs, standards, etc. (the preferable way)

  118. Jose_X said,

    December 22, 2008 at 6:57 pm

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    The problem with your interop examples is that control depends on Microsoft if you are talking about getting apps written for MSdotnet onto other dotnets without (or with very few) problems. [The reverse migration path is easy on Microsoft because all of the mono code is open as a book.] Breakage can happen at any time. *Lot’s* of binary and undocumented components work their way into many application developments and at any time. You are only talking about success in some cases, today, and of core components (I hope you weren’t looking at toy examples written with MS Studio). Heck, what about bugs that vary over time with the standard and with past MS implementations but remain interoperable among 100% MSware? Mono is open. File a bug report. Microware is closed and highly guarded.

    Look at the win api (32 whatever whatever). How old is this environment, yet porting to wine still requires application after application to be hacked? I mean if the win api aren’t a valuable target to clone, I don’t know what is? [Large market share and motivations to break monopolies.]

    And surely, Microsoft has developed more advanced techniques since then. Complexity of the desktop software is much greater, and the Internet is a much greater force today (allowing for much easier updating of the software running at the client site). Microsoft has more monopoly control today in more areas. Microsoft’s products/tools are more integrated today.

    Interop with MSware is a gimmick. It’s a rat race. ActiveX, very old win apps, and a lot more (especially the newer stuff) are still real issues. Surely, the problem level varies for different users, but it’s not very considerate to downplay this issue, allowing users to grow their dependence on MSware.

    Novell should be selling mono aggressively to all current MS customers. “Keep away from all MS tools and binaries (including the OS).” Instead, mono is being sold to the FOSS crowd while Novell sells the virtues of Vista.

    As for Java, these (interop among closed source implementations) are real issues for that platform as well. I will say that Sun, not being a monopolist, has a greater interest in support from the community. This was the case before, and it certainly is the case today. Additionally, Sun provided binaries for Windows, Linux, etc. Microsoft doesn’t provide a binary for Linux, but when they do I would not trust it. Trust is a very real issue 100% of the time when it comes to Microsoft. They have much more too lose from competition (the monopoly levers).

    >> From a business planning standpoint there is plenty of reason to adopt .NET over competing technology.

    I don’t see why this is the case (your interop argument didn’t do much for me). Java is also more mature and supported by a lot more companies. Honestly, I’m not sure why you think dotnet is a better idea.

    I’m also interested in your argument as to how mono is worth the patent risks at least in comparison to say an open source java implementation. Skim through some of the earlier replies on this thread for ideas.

  119. AlexH said,

    December 22, 2008 at 6:59 pm

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    Good grief, so much noise.

    If something from Mono doesn’t run on .net, then it doesn’t “leverage” .net. It’s really quite simple. I’m not arguing Mono is better or worse than .net; although I suspect on balance it’s probably worse.

    What is absolutely crystal-clear is that Microsoft have, by far and away, the most developer-friendly ecosystem of any OS vendor. That’s just incontestable. What Mono gives us is a relatively easy route by which people familiar with alternate frameworks can deliver apps on free platforms.

    Many people probably don’t care about that, and that’s fine for them. But free platforms are no use on their own; we need the apps to run on them (ideally, free apps). Mono makes it a viable runtime for many app developers.

  120. Jose_X said,

    December 22, 2008 at 7:08 pm

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    >> What Mono gives us is a relatively easy route by which people familiar with alternate frameworks can deliver apps on free platforms.

    Alex, is mono being sold to existing MSdotnet users with say 10 times the effort being put to sell it to Linux users/devs? That seems to be what you are suggesting is where mono has it’s main value: in attracting those that already use it.

    Help bring new devs, not tear existing dev resources from existing healthy FOSS environments. I like that idea. Let’s go tell Novell. I think their advertizing department is confused.

  121. Roy Schestowitz said,

    December 22, 2008 at 7:09 pm

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    That’s just incontestable. What Mono gives us is a relatively easy route by which people familiar with alternate frameworks can deliver apps on free platforms.

    Why not just use Wine in the interim and learn applications that are native also in the sense that they don’t have Microsoft holding them down?

  122. Roy Schestowitz said,

    December 22, 2008 at 7:09 pm

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    Jose beat me to it.

  123. Jose_X said,

    December 22, 2008 at 7:26 pm

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    >> If something from Mono doesn’t run on .net, then it doesn’t “leverage” .net. It’s really quite simple.

    Another one of these “it’s really quite simple.”

    I don’t understand what you are talking about with this “leverage” business in this sentence above. I searched for that word on this thread to see if I could figure out what you were objecting to, but no luck.

    >> What is absolutely crystal-clear is that Microsoft have, by far and away, the most developer-friendly ecosystem of any OS vendor. That’s just incontestable

    I don’t agree by a long shot. To me FOSS licensing and access to source code is much more important than what I consider the crud Microsoft provides. I don’t like developing surrounded by almost impenetrable black boxes or not being able to change and contribute at layers below the surface. I hate not being able to have clean design and integration that is only possible if you have access to deeper level code, more versitile tools, and the full semantics of the file formats from GUI tools (or from anything). Sometimes the biggest bang for buck also only occurs by changing something a “little” deeper. What a shame. [Of course, being able to analyze properly isn't possible on MSware.] And talk about reinventing the wheel. This is the norm by far on MS platforms. Productivity: fizzle away!

    But this isn’t about me, I know. I must be the only person that would go mad if forced to stay on MS development environments. No one else besides me is this upset.

    Sorry to contest your incontestable assertion, btw (had to twist the knife a little).

  124. Jose_X said,

    December 22, 2008 at 7:40 pm

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    Alex, Novell is passing up on a huge market in order to grab at some FOSS devs already developing with different FOSS platforms.

    Your primary focus on this forum is mono not Novell (iirc), but perhaps you will help your cause if you try to leverage your unwavering support of mono into a talk with an influential Novell rep who may be able to knock some sense into Novell management. Target the BIG market. Go after the Monopolist’s vast market share.

  125. Roy Schestowitz said,

    December 22, 2008 at 7:57 pm

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    They can’t now. They’re engaged to Mr. Ballmer.

  126. MonkeeSage said,

    December 22, 2008 at 9:34 pm

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    Jose,

    Not to be overly cynical, but I recall similar bleeting about adopting / using QT and-or Opera a few years back (wrt mobile devices). Now, of course, Trolltech (recently bought-out by an “Evil Empire” mind you) has released a “community” edition of QT under an (L?)GPL license. I’m not so deluded as to think that MS will ever open-source their relevant IP (even if Tom Cruise did kidnap Ballmer and throw vitamin-fortified eggs at him all day log from a secret Turkish prison camp). The point is that even when a high-profile, “earth shattering” deal goes down, the effects on “the little guy” often result in a zero sum gain scenario for both parties–things simply continue as always; business as usual. I see no reason to think the (alleged) MS IP clogging mono’s pipes would be any different.

  127. MonkeeSage said,

    December 22, 2008 at 9:46 pm

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    Clarification:

    My last comment was wrt the core mono technologies as may be covered under patents relating to ECMA-33{4,5}, not any additional components such as XSP/2 or mod_mono (the legal status of which I am unsure of).

  128. Jose_X said,

    December 22, 2008 at 10:04 pm

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    MonkeeSage, did I interpret your comment correctly that the fortunes of Microsoft are irrelevant to the “little” developer/user?

  129. Roy Schestowitz said,

    December 22, 2008 at 10:14 pm

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    Microsoft would go very far to secure the Windows monopoly. I’ve just published this a minute ago. Never underestimate Microsoft’s evilness. As Microsoft’s Jason Matusow said throughout the OOXML corruptions, “There is no question that all over the world the competing interests in the Open XML standardization process are going to use all tactics available to them within the rules.”

    Of course they even broke the rules by bribing people and going much further than that.

    Internalise this (again): Never underestimate Microsoft’s evilness.

  130. MonkeeSage said,

    December 22, 2008 at 10:51 pm

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    MonkeeSage, did I interpret your comment correctly that the fortunes of Microsoft are irrelevant to the “little” developer/user?

    Yes, in a sense. Generally, history has shown that the “little guy” is largely unaffected by major upstream changes (at least so far as the individual developer is concerned). Tom’s Surplus Widget shop, using ASP.NET, is probably not in any practical danger from MS.

  131. MonkeeSage said,

    December 22, 2008 at 10:59 pm

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    Ps. Obviously, when you stop talking about the “little guy” and start talking about big the hitters (e.g., USAA), their legions of lawyers will deal with all the legal in’s and out’s–still, it’s generally business as usual for the software engineer.

  132. Jose_X said,

    December 22, 2008 at 11:43 pm

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    >> Yes, in a sense. Generally, history has shown that the “little guy” is largely unaffected by major upstream changes …

    Not sure if you read my comment correctly. I didn’t ask whether the little guy would be sued. I questioned that the fortunes of Microsoft have no bearing on the little guy. That is nonsense. The big guys (customers and devs) play important roles in defining the direction of the industry as a whole. FOSS would be different if Microsoft had a much smaller market share and fewer levers. Is our little guy business servicing/enhancing Windows or Linux?

    What we do helps or hinders Microsoft’s future earning potential and their ability to maintain their lock-in, their market share, and their industry control. If it didn’t matter to Microsoft, they would not be making threats, taking out patents, dealing and wheeling, pushing their “drugs” aggressively, dumping their products, etc.

    As Roy recently suggested/implied (in other blog entry), either MS OS is worth $5 and they are using their monopolies to exact blood from wealthier countries, or they are dumping in areas where Linux is more likely to spread for cost reasons. Talk about distorted markets! [ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Predatory_pricing ]

    I care as a developer and as a consumer. Windows is used everywhere. The exacted blood hits our pocketbooks over and over, multiple times each day, as we buy goods and engage in business. The levers also mean government and industry “openness” can become an academic exercise (more so if other major players were to succumb).

    [Of course, there are many more reasons to want to end Microsoft's monopolies, but I want to keep this reply modest in size so will stop here.]

  133. AlexH said,

    December 23, 2008 at 2:45 am

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    @Jose:

    >> What is absolutely crystal-clear is that Microsoft have, by far and away, the most developer-friendly ecosystem of any OS vendor. That’s just incontestable

    I don’t agree by a long shot. To me FOSS licensing and access to source code is much more important than what I consider the crud Microsoft provides.

    Those two statements aren’t in conflict. To you, free software is crucial. That’s completely orthogonal to the quality of MS’s development environment.

    @Roy:

    Why not just use Wine in the interim and learn applications that are native also in the sense that they don’t have Microsoft holding them down?

    That’s a valid use also. But Wine and Mono are completely, totally, utterly different systems.

    If you know C# and .net, you basically don’t have any skills which allow you to use Wine. If you’re a Windows .net programmer, though, you can transfer to Mono immediately and start writing applications – you can even bring your Windows apps across using the Migration Assistant.

    This notion that somehow Mono is drawing in people who would otherwise be programming in Python / C / C++ / whatever is more or less a nonsense; you basically have to learn an entire new framework – you don’t do that just for fun or by accident.

  134. Roy Schestowitz said,

    December 23, 2008 at 4:28 am

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    You’re still enabling them to change FOSS rather than allow FOSS to change their inclinations

    http://linuxcanuck.wordpress.com/2008/12/03/how-windows-users-are-changing-linux-and-what-we-should-do-about-it/

  135. AlexH said,

    December 23, 2008 at 8:12 am

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    @Roy: people changing free software is the entire point of it being free software. Trying to stop that is trying to turn the software non-free.

  136. Roy Schestowitz said,

    December 23, 2008 at 9:12 am

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    Read the post. This is not the point I was making.

  137. AlexH said,

    December 23, 2008 at 9:26 am

    Gravatar

    Citing a link isn’t stating a point :)

  138. Roy Schestowitz said,

    December 23, 2008 at 9:30 am

    Gravatar

    Okay, let’s try this again.

    http://linuxcanuck.wordpress.com/2008/12/03/how-windows-users-are-changing-linux-and-what-we-should-do-about-it/
    I hereby repeat what this guy said.

  139. AlexH said,

    December 23, 2008 at 9:34 am

    Gravatar

    But he’s arguing that choice is good. You seem to be suggesting that Mono is an invalid choice.

  140. Roy Schestowitz said,

    December 23, 2008 at 9:40 am

    Gravatar

    When it becomes too hard to avoid, then it’s hardly a choice. It’s a case of Microsoft’s ally, Novell, pushing it down people’s throat for the benefit of the monopolist.

  141. jo Shields said,

    December 23, 2008 at 9:50 am

    Gravatar

    When it becomes too hard to avoid, then it’s hardly a choice. It’s a case of Microsoft’s ally, Novell, pushing it down people’s throat for the benefit of the monopolist.

    Yeah, I hear they’re porting the kernel to only run on Vista as we speak!

  142. Roy Schestowitz said,

    December 23, 2008 at 9:59 am

    Gravatar

    You’re humoring yourself out of an issue you cannot address. Not the first time BTW…

  143. jo Shields said,

    December 23, 2008 at 10:02 am

    Gravatar

    You’re humoring yourself out of an issue you cannot address. Not the first time BTW…

    I’m making more sense than you are, Roy. But it seems you really don’t understand why so much of what you say is garbage, so there’s little point in wasting my time on your education.

  144. Roy Schestowitz said,

    December 23, 2008 at 10:15 am

    Gravatar

    The main point made is that there’s a push from ‘outsiders’ to make GNU/Linux Fee software and people hardly have the chance to say “no”.

    http://www.itwire.com/content/view/22434/1090/1/1/

    Here’s a quote that says it much better than I ever could: “Mono is all about getting existing Windows applications, and their Microsoft-proprietary dependencies, installed on to your Linux system, so that you will in the near future require a paid-for license from Microsoft to run programs on your Linux system.”

  145. jo Shields said,

    December 23, 2008 at 10:22 am

    Gravatar

    Really, that quote is utter contemptible nonsense with zero basis in reality.

    Unless its author, like you, is a believe in the time-travel theories surrounding Mono

  146. Roy Schestowitz said,

    December 23, 2008 at 10:32 am

    Gravatar

    Unless its author, like you, is a believe in the time-travel theories surrounding Mono

    Mono is code, not physics. Stay focused on the issue.

  147. jo Shields said,

    December 23, 2008 at 10:33 am

    Gravatar

    “Mono is all about getting existing Windows applications, and their Microsoft-proprietary dependencies, installed on to your Linux system” is just a flat-out lie, Roy. Sorry, but it is.

  148. Roy Schestowitz said,

    December 23, 2008 at 10:37 am

    Gravatar

    Not my explanation. I would phrase it differently.

  149. jo Shields said,

    December 23, 2008 at 10:42 am

    Gravatar

    So why quote it twice already in disparate threads?

    You DO so love to quote other people then conveniently say “wait, I didn’t mean that” when called on it.

    I’m amused by the extent to which every single syllable in my post on your comment censorship thread is proven more and more as the minutes pass

  150. Roy Schestowitz said,

    December 23, 2008 at 10:45 am

    Gravatar

    Back on topic, Jo, please.

  151. jo Shields said,

    December 23, 2008 at 10:53 am

    Gravatar

    Back on topic, Jo, please.

    Why bother? It had its usual flame-based resolution-free arguments, with the requisite level of made-up demagogy

    It’s terribly convenient to say “back on topic!” when someone replies to YOUR off-topic posts, isn’t it

  152. Roy Schestowitz said,

    December 23, 2008 at 10:57 am

    Gravatar

    This post is about Microsoft granting only Novell the permission to use Mono and since your first comment you’ve been talking about other things.

    I therefore assume that you accept this post’s contention.

  153. jo Shields said,

    December 23, 2008 at 10:59 am

    Gravatar

    I therefore assume that you accept this post’s contention.

    No, but is there any point explaining why? Your “team” are already convinced I work for Novell or Microsoft or the Rand Corporation, any disagreement is seen as sinister… what’s the point in counterpoint which is completely ignored?

  154. Roy Schestowitz said,

    December 23, 2008 at 11:22 am

    Gravatar

    No, but is there any point explaining why?

    We’ve already done that many times before. Search the site’s archives.

  155. Jose_X said,

    December 23, 2008 at 12:42 pm

    Gravatar

    >> Those two statements aren’t in conflict. To you, free software is crucial. That’s completely orthogonal to the quality of MS’s development environment.

    Have you heard of tools that just get in the way? They may be great if you want that straight jacket, but otherwise they aren’t of much use.

    A major part of using a tool maximally and accurately is having all the information you need about that tool.

    Also, MS tools aren’t too useful in some obvious ways (eg, if I want solutions for the Linux platform).

  156. Roy Schestowitz said,

    December 23, 2008 at 12:47 pm

    Gravatar

    These don’t work well, either.

  157. AlexH said,

    December 23, 2008 at 12:50 pm

    Gravatar

    @Jose: look, plenty of people don’t like MS’s dev tools, and there are some who would never use any kind of IDE. Fair enough.

    But let’s be honest about the situation; developing Windows applications is much easier to get into than developing for free OSes.

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