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The Mono Trap and the Open/Closed Promises

Another independent look at Mono

A reader diverts our attention to the following portion of an article from Roughly Drafted Magazine. "It's a very interesting take on Microsoft strategy through Mono (the same applies to OOXML and recent efforts to incorporate into it the FOSS environment," he adds.

FOSS Reevaluates Microsoft with .Net and Mono.

As the stalwart champion of closed, proprietary software, Microsoft has long accumulated a reputation as a planet inhospitable to any form of FOSS life forms. However, recent rumblings of change have suggested that a new world of interoperability is afoot, and that Microsoft may actually take the lead in launching new open standards.

One example is .Net, a general marketing name that includes new development frameworks that aspire to replace Windows' former Win32 platform with a modern new platform formerly referred to as Longhorn's WinFX, and now called Windows Vista and the .Net Framework 3.0.

Conceptually, this new framework has a lot in common with Apple's Cocoa frameworks in Mac OS X. The main difference is that while Apple has made no effort to offer an open specification for third party implementations of Cocoa (the way NeXT earlier opened up its predecessor under the name OpenStep), Microsoft has submitted portions of .Net technologies to the ECMA standards body.

Back in 2000, Microsoft's release of .Net's C# language and its Common Language Infrastructure captured the attention of Miguel de Icaza, a FOSS developer behind the Linux GNOME environment.

De Icaza started Mono, an open source project to implement Microsoft's .Net development platform for Linux. His company, Ximian, also worked to create an open source alternative to Microsoft's Exchange Server, called Ximian Evolution.

Ximian was bought up by Novell, which continues to support the development of Mono for a variety of platforms, including Apple's Mac OS X. Last fall, Microsoft entered into an agreement with Novell to not sue each others’ customers for patent infringement. This includes Novell customers using Mono.

Does this mean that Microsoft is now aligned with open source developers and working to push open, interoperable implementations of its software? Is the old triangle of contention between Microsoft, Linux and Apple dissolving into a free and open love circle?

[Mono - Wikipedia]

Ha Ha, No. Microsoft is not trying to usher in a new OpenStep with .Net. It is working to usher in a new Win32: another decade of dependance upon Microsoft software that can only work on Windows. Why the subterfuge on submitting portions of .Net to standards bodies? Three guesses, and the first two don't count!

The best way to keep opponents busy is to give them false directions that lead into traps. This will distract them from blazing their own successful, competing trail, and will lead them directly into containment with the least mess and inconvenience.

Microsoft is leading Mono users and developers into a pleasant feeling trap. Along the way, they gain appreciation for Microsoft's development tools as they struggle to make their own open source copies. They will grow increasingly familiar with Microsoft's directions, up to the point where they are hopelessly brainwashed into thinking that Microsoft is leading technology into a paradise of openness.

Then Microsoft will spring out its patent gun and offer a tight ultimatum: join or die. The only options for Mono developers will be to get bought out by Microsoft and join the collective, or to suddenly face the fact that Microsoft will always be two steps ahead in knowing where .Net is headed, and will have a laundry list of patents--obvious or not--lined up waiting for anyone who attempts to use its own technology to compete with it.

We already know that Mono development exists at the whim of Microsoft, and that dangerous looking stalactites of patent threats point down from above. Mono developers insist that Microsoft is a changed company and would never let anything bad happen to developers working to extend the features of its .Net.

Microsoft's own icy embrace of Mono developers is to offer a license that allows them to do anything but offer commercial software. Mono is nothing more than a training camp on how to serve Microsoft that leads to a do or die diploma ceremony at the end.

You thought Microsoft was serving the open source community? Why?


The author's analysis is spot-on. In case you wish to connect some dots and draw a comparison, here are some our previous writings on this topic:

  1. Microsoft Unleashes the Death Trap to Mono (Updated)
  2. Mono: the Warning is Here, the Timebomb is Near
  3. The Mono and Moonlight Roadblock
  4. Novell's Windowsization of GNU/Linux
  5. Novell Selfishly Uses Mono as 'Protection'-based Advantage
  6. Novell is Still a Pawn in Microsoft's Web Hijack Plan
  7. Novell Sets Focus on .NET
  8. Hey, .NET! Leave That Phone Alone.
  9. Moonlight (.NET) on Linux Became a Microsoft 'Pet Project'
  10. Novell Helps Microsoft Build Its World Wide Web Fortress of Lockin
  11. Moonlight a Second-class Citizen in a WindowSilverLight Wide Web
  12. And There You Have It: You Need Novell (Not Just .NET) to Run Moonlight
  13. Silverlight (and Moonlight/Mono, by Association) Becomes Part of the Antitrust Debate
  14. The Crazy Theory: Is “Microsoft Linux” Already in the Making?
  15. Microsoft's Silverlight for GNU/Linux? Only If You Accept Mono. (Updated)
  16. Novell Fights Red Hat, Fights for Mono While Microsoft Fights Free Software
  17. Novell Brings .NET to Teenagers
  18. Concerns About Mono Raise Suspicion About a Hidden Plan
  19. Mono and Patents, Putting a Price Tag on Linux
  20. Novell to Boost .NET (Miguel de Icaza Talks About the Partnership)
  21. Does Novell Spread Its Mono Along with FUD?
  22. Red Hat to Stay Mono-free
  23. Mono Officially a Minefield, is OOO Too?
  24. Miguel de Icaza Talks About Novell, Mono, and Patents
  25. Patent Alert: Is GNOME Growing a .NET Dependency?
  26. Studying Novell's Plans and Direction with Mono
  27. Novell Supports .NET and MS OOXML, the BBC Supports .NET and MS DRM
  28. Looking Ahead: GNOME Desktop a Windows Implementation for the Linux Kernel?
  29. Enough is Enough. Novell is Becoming a Risk to Free/Libre Software.
  30. Is Novell Building Microsoft Linux۩? (Signs That Your Mono Ain't So Safe)
  31. Microsoft Set for Lock-in-backed Hijack (and Novell Helps It)
  32. Novell's Identity Crisis Makes Linux an Expensive Second-class Windows
  33. More on Microsoft's Plan to Acquire (Extinguish) the Open Source Threat
  34. IBM's Standards Vice President Asks About Mono-free Linux

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