01.05.11

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Change Happens (Consensus Regarding Mono)

Posted in GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Mono, Novell at 10:31 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Coins in hand

Summary: How the perception around Mono in GNU/Linux has changed despite bullying and because of persistence with the truth

REAL change is hard to bring about. When companies pour millions into marketing, it is usually them who get to determine public perception, which is a multi-trillion-dollar business. Here at “Boycott Novell” (we have broadened our scope under the Techrights umbrella) we have worked for over 4 years to persuade people to see through the fog and discard PR messages. To a large degree we succeeded and now more than ever people are fed up with Novell and the pet Microsoft projects it fosters, notably but not exclusively Mono and Moonlight.

This morning and afternoon I had some engaging talks with friends to whom less conformist views are easier to absorb (harder to do with adult generations above me as I’m in my twenties). After about 3 hours of talking it emerged that the greatest danger is that younger generations will fail to learn critical thinking. Schools teach them to obey conventional thought and sometimes learn how to learn; but they are state-funded precisely because they define a boundary within which one’s permissive views must stay. Indoctrination serves those in power. This is why questioning some of the pillars of modern society would seem dubious to discouraging peers and marginalisation of rights is assured to carry on this way. The relevance of this long discussion to Techrights (there were similar talks on our site recently, e.g. in IRC) is that Web sites like Groklaw, which are mostly aligned with our side, begin to admit that some of the aspects of Techrights they once criticised were actually on target all along. There needn’t be an explicit admission as it is there between the lines. Techrights got a lot of flak for daring to say the ‘unsayable’ at times, but 4 years later more and more sites normalise — so to speak — what we have been arguing ahead of the times. Some of history’s worst regimes were also resisted and had people warn about them long before they were rogue to the extent that their abuse of power became irreversible and any critic/dissident fled or was imprisoned, sometimes assassinated. Being progressive is not being angry. I am not angry. I rarely even raise my voice. Techrights is an educational resource, not a rant site.

“Being progressive is not being angry.”The point of the matter is, here at Techrights we always strive to politely express opinions which many people hold within themselves for fear of backlash or retaliation. We attract many readers but not as many comments (because a lot of people choose to read the site silently). This need not be the case and it never helps when people from the outside create a monster-like image of the messenger/platform, always neglecting to challenge the actual message or its accuracy.

A long time ago we got criticised for criticising Monodroid, which is an attempt to bring .NET mentality to Android. It seems like the dominant mobile platform to be, but Mono boosters hope to ‘reform’ it [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15]. As we shall cover in posts later this week, Microsoft attacks Android with patents from several angles (at least 3 now). The last thing Android needs right now is an underlying framework (for applications to depend upon) which is clearly a patent problem, according to Microsoft.

One of our success stories — if we dare take just a little bit of credit for it — is that we helped popularise the understanding that Mono is trouble. It is trouble because over the past few years we got more and more evidence (even from Microsoft itself) that Mono promotes the Microsoft APIs, which also happen to be somewhat of a patent bait. Microsoft supports Mono, it doesn’t quite compete against it.

“As we shall cover in posts later this week, Microsoft attacks Android with patents from several angles (at least 3 now).”Mobile platforms are the future in an increasing number of areas. As the differences between mobiles and desktops continue to blur (e.g. tablets), there is increased likelihood that Vista 7 (or any hype du jour) will start dropping in terms of installed base. Linux is the most viable replacement, but do not expect it to be branded “Linux” anymore. The branding does not matter so much (it is also the private property of a person), is it the software freedom that usually accompanies it which matters. Threatening the freedom of the platforms, we always have software patents, which are means of using new laws/bureaucracy to crush a competitor.

Microsoft MVP Miguel de Icaza has just advertised “Mono for Android” and we are pleased to find among the news headlines a very reasonable response to it. One news site says that the “Mono Trojan Released To Attack Android” right there in the headline. The Mono boosters won’t like it. As the article puts it: “Mono on Android is a major threat. Android developers should stay away from using any tool which locks them into Microsoft’s technologies.”

We do expect AttachMSFT (or Microsoftmate or Attackmate) to continue promoting this. If not, Microsoft will find a ‘foster home’ for it. It’s in Microsoft’s interests.

The bottom line is, news sites too express skepticism if not outright disdain when it comes to Mono. So progress is being made.

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