07.19.11

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Xamarin Gets Permission From Novell But Not From Microsoft

Posted in Microsoft, Mono, Novell, OpenSUSE, SLES/SLED at 3:37 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Closed-source risk

Xamarin site

Summary: A new PR offensive portrays an endorsement from SUSE as an elixir to Mono’s problems

WE ALREADY know that Mono is a patent risk. Nothing has changed since 2009 when Microsoft provided clarifications that only reinforced our scepticism. Well, it seems like SUSE, now a subsidiary of a Microsoft Gold-Certified Partner, decided to show love for Mono again [1, 2]. “In addition to the intellectual property license, SUSE is also partnering with Xamarin to provide customer support,” says this article. Just as someone people started to hope (perhaps wishfully) that SUSE had cut ties with Microsoft deals, the sad realisation dawns upon Fred Williams, who writes, “so much for trying SUSE”

He clarifies in the body of his comment:

After Attachmate’s purchase of SUSE I was going to try it. But not if their going to push this Mono rubbish.
If Microsoft wants there language (C#, their version of Java) and .Net IDE to be available, let them license it so every one can use it. Why are intelligent developers chasing a moving target that contains portions of code that contain patent issues?

Rainer Weikusat responds by saying that this happens “[f]or the same reason Mono opponents are apparently incapable of understanding that the US patent systems is fubarred enough that ‘code without patent issues’ does not exist in ths USA: They are not really intelligent. That’s why they seek to imitate the not exactly glorious Microsoft designed technology to begin with.

Another reply says:

They may be intelligent in regard to software, but not in other areas, such as law, or English.

In our Xamarin wiki page we provide a lot more background. Some Mono boosters entered our IRC channels recently, playing ball for Microsoft’s interests. Well, “how is that good news,” asked our contributor Oiaohm. “Nowhere is Xamarin getting funding out of that.”

“Also you are forgetting what Miguel de Icaza has systematically done to mono. [...] Basically wherever he can see profit [he] ends up closed.”
      –Oiaohm
The operation is still funded by Microsoft MVP Miguel de Icaza and it is a company which de Icaza admits is an "open core" (i.e. proprietary software) company. So what’s to celebrate here? Here is the press release from Nuremberg (also in Novell’s site, which is mostly inactive these days). “SUSE today announced it is partnering with Xamarin,” says the press release, “to bring products to market faster and to more effectively support customers using Mono®-based products. The agreement grants Xamarin a broad, perpetual license to all intellectual property covering Mono, MonoTouch, Mono for Android and Mono Tools for Visual Studio. Xamarin will also provide technical support to SUSE customers using Mono-based products, and assume stewardship of the Mono open source community project.”

They use the vague term intellectual property without saying if it’s copyrights or trademarks (or both). This does not actually cover the area of patents, which are mostly held by Microsoft, so how much of a reassurance is the above? Phoronix says “Xamarin gains rights to the IP surrounding Mono.” What is “IP”? What is it then? Patents, copyrights, or trademarks? These are all very different. In our latest IRC log there is a longer discussion of these points. It was initially a Microsoft booster who brought to our attention the news right from the horse’s mouth, only to face dismissal from Oiaohm who wrote: “Xamarin does not get Novell license with MS by that. So Xamarin only has the bless[ing] of 1 party when it needs 2 [the Novell PR, by the way, does not change much]. Also you are forgetting what Miguel de Icaza has systematically done to mono. People forget the visual studio plugin started as open source. Migual de Icaza systematically convert that from GPL to MIT… Then from MIT to closed source. [...] MIT license allows you to change to closed source without approval. So as long as you are silver tongued enough to convince people that converting from gpl to mit will give more freedom you can pull it off. Monotouch also started open source as well. Basically wherever he can see profit [he] ends up closed.”

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10 Comments

  1. Needs Sunlight said,

    July 20, 2011 at 2:58 am

    Gravatar

    Use of the vague term “intellectual property”, instead of specifying copyright or trademark or patents explicitly, is a sure sign that they are bullshitting. It’s cliche but using the term “intellectual property” means that they are either confused themselves or intentionally trying to confuse others.

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    They try to make something glorified out of a monopoly. According to Wayne Borean, it’s about copyrights: “Consider the position that Miguel was in. Because of the change of ownership of the company, he was no longer working for the company that held the copyright to his work. This is why he had to go to such lengths, to regain control to his own creation. Was that right?”

  2. twitter said,

    July 20, 2011 at 12:04 pm

    Gravatar

    Mono opponents are apparently incapable of understanding that the US patent systems is fubarred enough that ‘code without patent issues’ does not exist in ths USA

    I’m not sure what mono opponents Weikusat is talking about. Techrights, the FSF and every one else I’ve read understands both that the USPTO is insane and that Mono poses a special problem. I’m glad to see Weikusat slamming Mono for performance issues that .NET had but he should do a better job of understanding Microsoft’s propaganda and the patent issue.

    The sad state of the US patent system is a problem that Microsoft has both created and exploits. Mono is a Trojan horse that promotes Microsoft’s second rate java replacement in a way that both harms performance and puts people at special risk of Microsoft judicial extortion. Microsoft’s propaganda is that free software is that the free software world does nothing but copy Microsoft, the world’s one true innovator. Mono is one instance where this is half true. .NET is poor copy of Java and there is nothing innovative about it. Mono was a Microsoft funded trap. Any distro that tries to use Mono without a Microsoft license is, as Richard Stallman put it, putting their head into the lion’s mouth.

    Now that Microsoft’s license for Novell is ending, Attachmate’s blessing of Xamarin means even less than Novell’s blessing once did. This is a real change that should be noted.

    Needs Sunlight Reply:

    Which logical fallacy does this “‘code without patent issues’ does not exist in ths USA” quote embody? It’s one of the “appeals”.

    Anyway, there are enough reasons on the technical side of things that Mono can be banned from the distros. It’s slow and unreliable.

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    It also leads developers to Visual Studio and the rest of the Microsoft universe.

    Needs Sunlight Reply:

    Indeed. Bradley Kuhn and others posit that mono should lead people out of the Microsoft pit. However, that’s an indefensibly naive position: As much as some folks wish that to be true, the reality is that it has been used to spread M$.NOT to Linux. This is seen in the number of new .NOT applications. Has there been todate even a single case where Mono lead to a migration away from either M$ in general or more specifically .NOT ?

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    IMHO, Kuhn was trying to portray himself as “reasonable” (or “good cop”). I disagree with him sometimes.

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    Indeed. The Novell-Microsoft deal expires in January 1st.

    Needs Sunlight Reply:

    Soon it is time for a retrospective. There was a lot written when the contract was signed, some of it by Novell’s own departing staff.

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    All the management which was involved in this has left, AFAIK.

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