05.03.09

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Gnote Enters Fedora

Posted in GNOME, GNU/Linux, GPL, Microsoft, Mono, Novell, Red Hat at 2:05 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Fedora (hat)

Summary: Gnote will be included in Fedora 10 and Fedora 11, which is out shortly

THE developer of Gnote moved to Fedora a few days ago. Fedora is known for its realisation and insistence on Freedom (although it does not go far enough for some). A lot of this is caused by legal precaution and Fedora already blocks Moonlight for this reason alone.

Gnote is a perfectly acceptable application which performs gracefully. According to this conversation, “The Fedora project further confirms this [that Gnote is fine] by including Gnote in Fedora 10 and 11.” Moreover: “Gnote is GPLv3-or-later, so it can always be distributed under the terms of the latest version of the GPL.”

“Gnote is a perfectly acceptable application which performs gracefully.”The pro-Mono crowd (some Novell and Microsoft employees included) would not be terribly happy about this because Tomboy is admittedly not as libre as Gnote. Jo Shields says that “[f]eatures CANNOT be ported back from Gnote – Gnote is GPLv3, and is only compatible with LGPL2 in one direction. I suspect this was 101% intentional.”

Irrespective of whether it’s intentional or not — and apparently it’s not even true — Gnote grew tremendously fast (even its resistors are stunned by how much was achieved in less than a month) and it's pending addition to Debian and Ubuntu. For those who want GNOME to stay independent from Mono, Gnote [1-6] is a project to support by spreading the word and asking distribution packagers to include it (either installed by default or added to the repositories).
____
[1] Project of the Day: GNote
[2] Tomboy is Afraid of Gnote, Its Mono-free Sibling
[3] Gnote Supports 6 More Languages, Does Not Support C#
[4] The Role of Mono and Moonlight Revisited
[5] Did Tomboy Learn from TomTom? Project Forked, Moves Away from Microsoft ‘Standards’
[6] Novell Partners Promote Silverlight, Zeitgeist at Risk of Mono(polists)

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11 Comments

  1. a said,

    May 3, 2009 at 9:23 pm

    Gravatar

    “Gnote grew tremendously fast (even its resistors are stunned by how much was achieved in less than a month)”

    Well, it’s not particularly hard to transcribe code from one language to another. You’re really just limited by how fast you can read the C# and write the corresponding line in C++. There’s very little thinking required.

  2. Jose_X said,

    May 4, 2009 at 1:33 am

    Gravatar

    [Thinking defensively for a minute]

    I worry that most of what might be patented in the csharp version would still be affected in the c++ version (at least initially). I would rather avoid gnote for the reason that its core design comes from the environment restraints imposed by dotnet .. Ie, it’s possible we are witnessing a submarine attack.

    The odds of avoiding dotnet related patents should grow over time as more changes are made to the c++ version. The problem is that the key properties that might violate a patent in the mono version, might still be there in gnote. Worse would be if the author was working intentionally to guide gnote such as to remain in violation as gnote grew in features and popularity.

    I’d prefer something else be used instead of gnote, with gnote used only by those that want to get weaned off the mono version. It’s safer taking this approach, especially since gnote appears to be so similar to its parent in design.

    If we were witnessing a submarine attack, it would be more effective than the efforts with mono because it would be sneaking in under any radar that was going to judge only based on the mono label. People might then even help the app out more than usual, thinking they were getting “even” with the mono project. I could even see the original mono authors faking being upset.

    Any application can be started by individuals working in concert with patent owners (as proxies to bypass the GPL). I don’t know if the GPLv3 would stop this. Perhaps the GPL could add in a clause saying “to the best of my knowledge, my contributions do not violate any patent.” Even in this case, we would not be protected, but at least someone would be on the hook (a deterrence) to help defend against fraud and sabotage.

    I’d prefer to see a project managed by a group that would adopt such a clause (independent of the GPL) as a requirement from the author of any changes to the project’s code.

    As an aside, please considering writing to your government representatives explaining the foolishness of software patents. These do not promote the progress of science and useful arts.

    Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    The problem is that the key properties that might violate a patent in the mono version, might still be there in gnote.

    I’m not sure that I agree. To use an analogy, if someone has a patent on rubber, than making a car with wheels may be hard, but making a boat shouldn’t. Boats don’t ‘interface’ much with rubber.

  3. Jose_X said,

    May 4, 2009 at 6:15 am

    Gravatar

    >> To use an analogy, if someone has a patent on rubber, than making a car with wheels may be hard, but making a boat shouldn’t. Boats don’t ‘interface’ much with rubber.

    This analogy basically says that you can make a note application that avoids a mono-ish patent [build a boat that avoids rubber (let's assume)]

    What I am saying is that this immediate port that is gnote is still likely mostly the original boat that was made with rubber, except that the color and the way the rubber holds and various other things may have changed some (or the equipment used to make the boat is different, but it’s still a similar boat).

    In short, gnote can become safe of what plagues a mono app, but I’m not confident gnote is at that level or will be allowed to be taken to that level.

    A more direct example is that a hypothetical mono-ish patent might cover various arrangement of objects or methods that are a part of mono/dotnet. If these are very core obj/meth, then we’ll say that almost any mono app would be in violation.

    Now, convert a mono app to c++ without re-architecting, and you likely are still using the same obj/method arrangements (organization), except that you used a different language to blueprint these. The final product still would be constructed or function possibly just as the patent describes.

    It’s not a matter of “can gnote be made safely” but one of “will gnote be made safely”. This is difficult to answer unless you could know all the patents that might apply. Not knowing that, the best is not to start with a mono based design. Doing so is risky. Finally, I worry the lead dev might work to maintain the violations [not accusing anyone, but that is a worry].

  4. Jose_X said,

    May 4, 2009 at 7:42 am

    Gravatar

    Here is a positive. Some of the patents might be with things that happen in the background when you use mono. Cutting out enough of that “managed” framework, might get you off the hook.

    Please write to your government reps saying how foolish and stupid the patent system is when applied to software. http://boycottnovell.com/2009/04/13/acta-leaks-ip-wars/comment-page-1/#comment-61915
    http://boycottnovell.com/2009/04/16/rms-software-patents-eu/#comment-62024

    Jose_X Reply:

    I submitted the wrong version of the comment by accident.
    ******
    Here is a positive (I’d hate to ignore the positives since there may be no subterfuge involved here).

    Some of the patents might be with things that happen in the background when you use mono (very dotnet-ish things). Cutting out enough of that “managed” framework, might get you off the hook.

    Please write to your government reps saying how foolish and stupid the patent system is when applied to software. Software patents are creating undeserved riches for a few at the cost of much to many.

    http….

    Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    I’m a little more pessimistic. As much as I wish to believe that people influence policies, I doubt congresspeople will turn a deaf ear to corporations that buy laws for software patents and other protections like DMCA.

  5. Robert said,

    May 4, 2009 at 8:40 pm

    Gravatar

    Has roots in mono? Just say no… very easy!

    I do not think there is a safe path by which to connect the babie’s room and the snake pit – all discussion of relative merit is just words – just say no!

    And with respect to Jose_X – that would only apply in a nation where law rules, and where the people had representation – that, unfortunately is no longer murka…

  6. r_a_trip said,

    May 5, 2009 at 8:13 am

    Gravatar

    I think we need to step back here just a little. If the patents in DotNet are worded in such a way, that they lay claim to a note taking app, then all note taking apps violate DotNet patents.

    DotNet, like java, is a virtual processor with a virtual instruction set that can be fed with corresponding machine code. The neat trick here, is that it can be potentially WORA (Write Once, Run Anywhere), if you make the virtual processor available on multiple platforms. The only new addition MS put in DotNet in comparison to Java is language independence. You can mix and match modules written in different languages.

    Most patents in DotNet likely pertain to the way the CIL interacts with the CLR and how you can compile different languages to CIL. These don’t interact with an independent program like a note taking app. The structure of Tomboy is dictated by its functionality, not on which platform it runs. Cut the physical machine independence (CLR) from the executable and most of the DotNet patents go poof.

    Translating the C# code to C++, makes Gnote native and removes the DotNet language dependence. In essence Gnote has now become like any other app. It can violate patents, but not because development started on DotNet. The DotNet link has been severed.

    Then we still have the ruling in Re: Bilski. This ruling severely damaged the basis for Software Patents. It very well might be that software Patents are dead,but they don’t know it yet.

    Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    Sun recently tried the Bilski DefenseTM without success.

    Check out this from the news.

    the11thplague Reply:

    Agree with this. Mono is a problem because it deals with a patented language, C#. Stop using Mono, and you are safe from C# patents.
    Patents about programs in general will sill be a danger, as they are for any software, open or not. Even M$ got hit by software patents.
    Really, no program is completely safe, so Gnote can be just “safer” by using GPL3 and not using Mono (which is likely to be a C# trap).

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