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Why Novell Became a Threat to Java and the GNU GPL

"Novell wants you to know that selling its soul to Steve Ballmer was a really good idea."

--The Register, 2008



A reader has just contacted us, pointing to the following forgotten article.

Microsoft is in the process of applying for a wide-ranging patent that covers a variety of functions related to its .Net initiative.

If approved as is, the patent would cover application programming interfaces (APIs) that allow actions related to accessing the network, handling Extensible Markup Language (XML), and managing data from multiple sources. APIs are the hooks in software that allow applications to work with another system.

Microsoft declined to elaborate on its plans for the patent, but intellectual property attorneys said that if it's granted, the company could dictate how, or whether, developers of software and devices can link to the .Net initiative.


Say No to MonoThe patent can be found here. "That was 2003," said the reader, then adding: "It's especially pernicious when you notice that underneath the smoke and noise about 'linux' Novell signs onto and commits to spreading .Net patents at the expense of Java." This issue was covered here recently.

Our readers continues: "The claim that .Net is a multiplatform standard is rendered false: .NET developers are further locked into a single vendor. Java, in contrast, is fully open source and has the developer community."

Mono users -- especially those who are also developers -- love to rave about .NET like it was the second coming, but only yesterday we find articles such as this one from OSNews.

In part one, Bright heavily criticised the Win32 API, saying it was filled with legacy stuff and hindered by 15 year old design decisions. In part two he explains that as an answer to the complaints, Microsoft introduced the .Net framework, which was supposed to replace the Win32 API as the API of choice for Windows; in fact, the next release of Windows, Longhorn, would make heavy use of .Net. "It could have provided salvation," Bright writes.

But it didn't. According to Bright, .Net was fine technically, with a "sound" virtual machine, "reasonable" performance, and an "adequate" language (C#), but the library - "used for such diverse tasks as writing files, reading data from databases, sending information over a network, parsing XML, or creating a GUI" - the library is "extremely bad". Bright explains that this is due to the target audience of .Net.


Knowing all about and bearing these deficiencies in mind, why would anyone ignore Java? Novell buys (pays for) Mono protection from Microsoft although at the same time Java is free (gratis and libre). In fact, last week's announcement from Sun about the inclusion of Java in GNU/Linux distributions included the prominent mention of Fedora and Ubuntu, along with their parents (companies). Conspicuously missing was Novell/SUSE. Who is Novell kidding?

Meanwhile, also from the news, Sun bends backwards to make GNU/Linux developers and users happy(ier), unlike Microsoft which welcomes SCO staff (more on that very shortly). Here is what Sun has had to say:

Sun also had to cope with unrealistic expectations about how much time it would take to offer Java via open source under the GNU General Public License Version 2.0, a move made in November 2006.

"There was the expectation that it would be immediately carried into the universe," Green said. But it has taken time to free up the bits and pieces of Java to make it available via open source, Green acknowledged.

Now, the Ubuntu Linux distribution includes OpenJDK, featuring open source Java, Green noted. This move announced last week means the open-sourcing is complete, he said.


If Novell refuses to help the GPL-licensed Java defeat .NET, then Novell will once again demonstrate its role as nothing but a Microsoft vassal. It has already done a lot of work which helped Microsoft cause damage to OpenDocument format.

Does anyone still believe that Novell is a pro-Free software company? As opposed to a company that uses Linux (with the lenient and permissive Linux philosophy) to promote Microsoft's agenda?

Bad Novell

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