Bonum Certa Men Certa

Microsoft and Novell Still Fight for .NET Inside GNU/Linux

Soviet Microsoft
Reversal of a rather famous joke



Summary: An assemblage of new writings that show who is promoting Mono

Yesterday we gave a sample of responses to Richard Stallman's advice against Mono and C#. The SFLC and FSF are absolutely behind him. It is around the same time that we also find Linux developers scrambling to avoid Microsoft's VFAT patent. It is a timely reminder of reasons to avoid software from Microsoft. As Bradley Kuhn from the SFLC put it this year, "Microsoft is unique among proprietary software companies: they are the only ones who have actively tried to kill Open Source and Free Software. It's not often someone wants to be your friend after trying to kill you for ten years, but such change is cause for suspicion."

Regarding the FAT situation, LWN reports:

Andrew Tridgell has posted a new patch intended to enable the kernel to work around the VFAT patents. Unlike the previous version (covered on LWN in May), this patch preserves the long filename functionality which is at the core of the patent. There's an associated FAQ which describes the patch and the approach which has been taken in its development and posting.


APIs too can be patent traps, but Canonical carries on ignoring the warning signs. Well, Canonical's desktop engineering manager is from Microsoft, so maybe it's to be expected. Via Sam Varghese:

The Ubuntu technical board appears to have decided that there is no significant cause for IP concern over Mono, the contentious clone of Microsoft's .NET development environment.


Varghese adds that Richard Stallman considers Mono to be risky.

The founder of the Free Software Foundation, Richard Matthew Stallman, has termed Debian's decision to include Mono as part of its default desktop task a move that "leads the community in a risky direction."

[...]

Red Hat's community Linux distribution, Fedora, recently decided to throw out Mono altogether from its default install, and replaced Tomboy with Gnote.

While pro-Mono zealots often claim that it is possible to obtain a royalty-free, reasonable and non-discriminatory licence for the use of Microsoft patents which may be part of Mono, in reality, it is extremely difficult to even find out how one can do so.


Another person, who describes himself as an "intern at Microsoft [who is] writing an extension to the MonoDevelop project," has just written about this. "Fuck you, Richard Stallman," screams the headline of his blog post where he complains about Stallman's stance on Mono. It's interesting to know that Microsoft is helping MonoDevelop, which helps Windows of course [1, 2, 3]. The foul-mouthed rant also links to libel about me (personal attacks) and about this subject in general. Not bad for proponents of Mono who are also working for Microsoft, eh? At least there is a pattern.

In other news, Tomboy may be getting yet another decent replacement called KeepNote.

Best Linux Notetaking Application



[...]

I know a lot of people out there like to take notes with Linux, and probably didn’t come across this program yet, as it look me a bit googling to find it again. The program is called KeepNote, and is a fantastic program for taking notes. I use it with Dropbox, and store all of my notes there and that way it is synchronized to all of my systems. The program itself is open source and free, and you can support it by making a donation on the homepage.


Other good note-taking applications are Gnote, zim, knotes, and Basket.

We wish to end this with an ongoing discussion about licences. It is based on conversations where it has emerged that when it comes to Mono/Moonlight (to quote Novell), "In addition to the GNU LGPL, [Mono] code is available for relicensing for non-LGPL use, contact Novell for details (mono@novell.com)."

According to one of our readers, "this basically means that at your option you can acquire a proprietary license instead of using the LGPL. This is similar to e.g. MySQL or Qt."

The opinion of another reader is very different. "I'm aware of that," he says, "but it's wholly irrelevant to my argument. I am not claiming, nor have I ever claimed, this software is not available under different licenses.

"The point I take issue with is Novell's interpretation of non-LGPL use, which as I indicated, would preclude LGPL distribution on something as innocuous as a LiveCD. There is absolutely nothing in the LGPL which precludes distribution on inherently immutable systems, so this clause is a "further restriction", as explicitly prohibited under the LGPL. Therefore Moonlight is explicitly non-Free software, regardless of any potential patent threats.

"Distributing LGPL software on inherently immutable systems is not "non-LGPL use". Period. Novell's assertion is a lie.”
      --Anonymous reader
"Non-LGPL use means just that: use under terms other than the LGPL. If you don't like or don't want those terms, you can convey those in the LGPL instead.

"Notice they also want to support distribution on tivoized systems, not just inherently immutable ones. But this is not LGPLv3, so such wording is unnecessary. Maybe Novell's legal department is paranoid, or incompetent (or both).

"Novell need to force, through licensing, distribution of Moonlight in a manner in which they can guarantee it will be updated with a certain specific component that they push to users - something not possible on immutable systems. And on immutable systems, Novell can ensure this mysterious component is either preinstalled, or paid for in lieu anyway (at ISV level), due to their "non-LGPL use" redefinition clause."

Adds another reader: "Distributing LGPL software on inherently immutable systems is not "non-LGPL use". Period. Novell's assertion is a lie.

"The fact than Novell wish to fool people into seeking non-LGPL licensing, where it is totally unnecessary, is quite palpable, but that does not make their assertion true. I don't care that other licensing is available as an option. I don't care that I (or others) may distribute and use this software on immutable systems if we/they are fooled into accepting a proprietary license. The fact that "other licenses are available" is completely and utterly irrelevant. Novell is perverting the meaning of the LGPL, and abusing that bastardisation to "sell" the false premise that Moonlight is Free Software, when it clearly is not.

As a last remark, adds one reader: "Guess what that component is, where it comes from, and why Novell "need" Moonlight users to deploy it.

"Yes, that's right, it's Miguel de Icaza pushing yet more of their proprietary and encumbered standards down Free Software users' throats again. Not content with poisoning us with their .NET Silverlight (Moonlight) garbage, they also want to coerce us into accepting their proprietary licensed, patent encumbered media codecs, via a "push" to all Moonlight users to install "MICROSOFT MEDIA PACK 1.0".

"That is the real reason for all this "we consider non-LGPL use..." nonsense. That is why these systems need to be mutable, so they can install this "media pack" at Microsoft's behest. De Icaza and friends are simply trying to force people to install proprietary Microsoft codecs. No doubt this is in fact part of the "arrangement" de Icaza has come to with Microsoft, in order that they tolerate this Silverlight "Cloneware" from Novell. Although I deeply suspect that there is little coercion on either side. Novell and Microsoft now have the same agenda."

Speaking of Silverlight, Microsoft appears to have bought itself another contract for excluding GNU/Linux users from yet another Olympic event [1, 2] (or forcing them to install Mono for inferior and risky experience).

He also points out that the Olympics, which are being held in Vancouver, will be using Microsoft’s (MSFT) Silverlight standard, and its Smooth Streaming technology, which he notes the company worked on with Akamai.


This is another fine example where Microsoft uses Free software stacks (Linux at Akamai) to serve content. Microsoft never succeeded with CDNs, which it tried to pollute with Microsoft patents.

"There is a substantive effort in open source to bring such an implementation of .Net to market, known as Mono and being driven by Novell, and one of the attributes of the agreement we made with Novell is that the intellectual property associated with that is available to Novell customers."

--Bob Muglia, Microsoft President



Addendum: the gentleman who insulted Stallman has expressed regret about it and the statements should not be attributed to Microsoft.

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