05.05.11

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Groklaw Worried About Novell Polluting Ubuntu With Mono, IBM’s Open Source VP Thinks Microsoft Might Scoop Mono

Posted in Microsoft, Mono, Novell at 7:58 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Sludge

Summary: Nobody knows for sure if another company will pick Mono up from the ground, but there are conflicting interpretations as to what Microsoft will do about it

Novell’s Mono and Mono-based projects are being habitually promoted for all sorts of GNU/Linux distributions despite the known risk. “For those who think that Novell didn’t do quite enough damage to the FOSS community yet,” writes Groklaw‘s Pamela Jones, noting that Ubuntu’s Unity is getting hooks for Mono. From the Ubuntu Web site she quotes:

With bindings for C, Python, and Mono, you can integrate your app into the Unity desktop quickly and easily.

Upon the news about Monocalypse, she wrote: “Maybe they’d prefer to develop it in a country where patent laws haven’t gone stark raving mad, as in the US? If so, that would show some astuteness.”

“Would not be surprised at all if MSFT picks up Mono employees…”
      –Bob Sutor, IBM’s Vice President of Open Source
Bradley Kuhn tries to pretend that he is the good guy in all of this and that other Mono critics somehow feel happy about the layoffs rather than the end of Mono funding (a red herring for sure as we do not celebrate loss of jobs). Jones also did not like Kuhn’s post and she wrote in response: “I disagree with this reasoning. Strongly. If you suspect, or know, that something violates somebody’s patent, it’s not actually wise to violate it. Kuhn acknowledges that. But then he argues it’s useful for it to exist. So it’s all right to violate the patent to get the benefits? It will come back to haunt you later, when you are accused of willfulness, from all I know about patents. If those programmers end up working for Microsoft, at least they won’t be violating anyone’s patents. And besides, what makes us assume that they don’t have jobs waiting for them already at Microsoft, part of a bigger plan? Alternatively, if Attachmate prefers to develop in Germany, maybe that is patent-related strategizing, which isn’t a bad thing.”

Bob Sutor’s immediate response in Twitter was: “Would not be surprised at all if MSFT picks up #Mono employees per http://bit.ly/l0nzUy Perfect fit, except for the open-sourcey part” (that would make sense). “But,” says GNU/Linux champion Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols, “without its corporate backer, what happens now to Mono? I really hadn’t expected this. Microsoft sponsored Attachmate’s purchase of Novell. I had presumed they’d be happy to see Mono keep going. I was wrong.” The last words are grand: “As for Novell? Well, I’m just glad its founder, the brilliant and cantankerous Ray Noorda is no longer to see the end of his company. It would have broken his heart.”

Sutor is IBM’s Vice President of Open Source and he never trusted Mono. Needless to say, the Mono boosters gave him flak for it.

Remember that Mono is not about spreading GNU/Linux, it is about spreading .NET. In fact, some Mono-derived products do not even run on GNU/Linux. As for SUSE, it is going back to its Nuremburg origins (nostalgic photograph) and Edward Berridge’s punch line about it went like this:

It is not clear if Miguel has been sentenced to Nuremburg, but pulling apart his team like that must miff him somewhat.

Stephane Rodriguez once told us about “Microsoft persons who take a pride not to be on their payroll. (DeIcaza told me in the past that he’s rich).” Nobody needs to cry for Miguel de Icaza, who is already a Microsoft MVP. Will he also become a Microsoft employee to be paid directly by Microsoft? He was already involved in steering CodePlex. We shall find out soon if it’s taken further. He is not blogging about the news yet.

Paul Cutler, who only joined Novell quite recently (after he had helped some Mono projects) is among those who leave. From his blog:

Yesterday was my last day at Novell. I enjoyed the 1+ year I spent working there – helping to ship SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop to millions of end users through OEM partnerships was a fulfilling experience in knowing it helped Linux on the desktop grow.

People who did PR for Novell are also axed with the rest, which may help decrease the AstroTurfing from the company (they have abused this Web site under pseudonyms):

Social media, particularly Twitter, had comments running all day about the layoffs. Even the person who ran the NovellTalks Twitter account posted this farewell message, “To all those who have followed me, I’m sad to say that this account is being retired as I am leaving Novell. Best to all!”

Groklaw is left wondering what will happen next in Novell’s case against Microsoft. Has AttachMSFT decided to also cut down Novell’s legal team? Hopefully not, as it is also necessary for the SCO case. From Groklaw:

Novell has prevailed in its appeal against Microsoft in the antitrust case about WordPerfect! Here’s the Order [PDF], hot off the presses. The lower court’s order dismissing Novell’s claim on summary judgment essentially on a technicality is “reversed and remanded.” That means it goes to trial. Novell has the opportunity to tell a jury just what it believes Microsoft did wrong.

I have a special treat: I also have the audio of the oral argument before the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, and when you hear how skillfully Novell’s attorney, Charles Cooper, presents Novell’s case, I think you will understand very well why Novell prevailed.

Ultimately, there is not much love for Novell, but some of its court cases are still important. SUSE is a complicated subject because it helps Microsoft get richer and a lot of what Novell does is just putting a price tag or proprietary software on top of GNU/Linux. Jason Brooks reviews Novell’s Red Hat ripoff [1, 2], saying that it has “hiccups”. So who needs SUSE Manage anyway? It adds nothing new.

Don’t cry for Novell. It’s just a defunct company. Companies implode all the time, unlike people. Nobody is born an employee of a particular company.

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4 Comments

  1. Needs Sunlight said,

    May 5, 2011 at 8:00 am

    Gravatar

    In all the talk of patents, it gets forgotten that mono (C#, M$.NET) is not a good platform. So there are both licensing and non-licensing reason to avoid it. With Novell firing the Mono developers, there is hope that some will go back to java, python or other useful languages.

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    Yes, it would be best if Novell assigned them to other (non-Mono) projects, not laid them off.

  2. twitter said,

    May 5, 2011 at 3:55 pm

    Gravatar

    Microsoft’s malice and Novell’s decision to partner with Microsoft are responsible for the demise of Novell. Those who pointed out the consequences before they happened deserve praise for their foresight. Roy deserves special commendation for consistently tracking the fate of his favorite distribution and offering helpful advice throughout Novell’s corporate suicide. The only way to win in tech is to have nothing to do with Microsoft.

    I see shades of Enderle’s infamous attack on Groklaw in the usual suspects blame of mono critics for the demise of Novell and mono. PJ’s response [2] should be linked for the sake of fairness, though the stupidity of Enderle’s and mono boosters charges speak for themselves.

    The destruction of great American technology companies like SCO, SGI, HP and Novell and attendant loss of jobs are the intentional result of Microsoft malice. A quote from a Microsoft training manual is appropriate here:

    Victory. The developers, marketers, and managers of the competing technology give up the sinking ship, and interview for positions at Microsoft. Victory is sweet. Savor it. Then, find a new technology to evangelize — and get back to work :-)

    Microsoft is evil and will leave most of those who lose their jobs unemployed. As they put it,

    ISVs— independent software vendors—are pawns in the struggle between platform vendors … You can’t let them feel like they’re pawns in the struggle. I mean, all through this presentation previously I talked about how you’re using the pawns you’re going to screw them if they don’t do what they want, and da-da-dah. You can’t let them feel like that. … It’s like you’re going out with a girl… you have to talk long term and white picket fence and all these other wonderful things, or else you’re never going to get what you’re really looking for.

    If you are using mono, .NET, Windows or any other Microsoft technology, Microsoft is screwing you.

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    Exploiting rather.

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