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Poll: 62% Don't Trust Microsoft on Mono

Pie chart colour

Summary: A lot of news about Mono with special emphasis on key developments

A GREAT DEAL has happened [1, 2, 3, 4, 5] since Richard Stallman spoke his mind about Mono. Coverage in the press was initially scarce because Stallman's statement had been made public just before the end of the week, but here is ZDNet UK catching up.

GNU project founder Richard Stallman has called on developers to pull back from Mono, arguing that increasing use of the open-source toolset could prompt legal action by Microsoft.

Stallman does not even say much (or anything) about the fact that Mono makes Windows stronger [1, 2, 3]. Novell makes it happen. It is almost Novell's obligation to do so because as the SCO-faithful Maureen O'Gara put it a couple of days ago, "Of course, without Microsoft propping up its Linux business, Novell would be in the tank." To say more on the path to Windows, watch how Novell loses to its so-called 'partner'. From the news:

Sydney Water has decided to migrate its email platform from Novell's GroupWise to Microsoft Outlook/Exchange and is looking for a contractor to help implement the change.

Is Novell trying to befriend the company which takes away its Netware and GroupWise customers? If so, why? And why does it help Microsoft by promoting and spreading .NET? GreyGeek writes the following in LinuxToday:

De Icaza has been trying for EIGHT YEARS to get a distro to become totally dependent on MONO, and since Novell bought De Icaza, both have increased their propaganda efforts, with the assistance of Microsoft TEs, trolls, astroturfers and fanbois.

IF MONO is what its advocates are saying it is (the best thing since sliced bread and safe to use), it would already be in widespread adoption by now. The fact that you can count dependent programs on the fingers of one hand says VOLUMES about how the Linux community as a whole totally distrusts MONO. They are right to hold that distrust.

Java is open source and is MUCH less susceptible to patent attacks. It has CONSIDERABLY MORE tools and applications built with it and for it than MONO does.

Qt4 is GPL'd and has an excellent API and development tools, bar none. It also has excellent apps built by it and tools available for it.

MONO serves no purpose, except to raise the risk of patent attack or of being left in isolation WHEN Microsoft adds extensions to .NET that patents will prevent being added to MONO. This is backwards from Microsoft's usual attack mode.

The remainder of this comment is well worth reading.

Perhaps the most interesting finding today is this poll. Based on 557 votes in total, 62% don't trust Microsoft on Mono (at the time of writing). Compare that to 73% who said "No" to Mono (for whatever reason). Might it be safe to infer from this that the majority of people are with Stallman on this subject?


Looking at distributions more specifically, Stallman referred to Debian as an example. One of the Debian officials wrote an open letter to Stallman. It concludes as follows:

So, Debian didn't change "the default installation" (whatever that's supposed to be) but the dependency of a package which is used by a minority of our users who explicitly wishes to install everything GNOME related (which is to the best of my knowledge in accordance with upstream developers who added tomboy to the default GNOME installation, too).

This is already covered by Heise

Debian - Mono is not in our default installation


In response to the open letter written by free software guru Richard Stallman about the Mono problem, Alexander Schmehl, Debian developer and spokesperson for the GNU/Linux distribution has pointed out that Debian has no plans to include the controversial programming environment in the default GNOME installation. Stallman, who opened his letter with "Debian's decision to include Mono in the default installation, for the sake of Tomboy", had suggested that Debian were including the Mono libraries for anyone using Debian with GNOME.

There are other noteworthy remarks and there are skeptics of Mono inside Debian. How is this for an argument?

I recently came across this very interesting article, written in 1999, which details the tactics used by Microsoft to fight IBM. They obviously saw OS/2 as a threat. Back then, Windows 95 was the trading token. They could have caused IBM a great deal of harm shall they refused to license it to them, but it seems the idea of subjugating IBM was more appealing. This is how Garry Norris (IBM) put it:

“Microsoft repeatedly said we would suffer in terms of prices, terms, conditions and support programs, as long as we were offering competing products.“

“[Microsoft] insisted that IBM sell 300,000 copies of Windows 95 in the first five months or face a 20 percent price increase“

Nice deal, eh? Make your dependancy on Windows 95 stronger, or else we’ll use your existing dependancy on Windows 95 against you. No surprise IBM abandoned the PC market. Are Red Hat and Sun/Oracle set on the same direction?

Why don't people learn from history? It is an immense loss to ignore all these lessons. Consider what Bill Gates, for example, had to say on this subject.


Canonical repeatedly insists that it will not change its Mono policy, not even after recommendations from the FSF and SFLC. There is a lot of coverage about it, such as:

  1. As It Stands, Ubuntu Has No Issues With Mono

  2. Ubuntu’s Position on Mono Revealed (Update)

  3. Mono Discussion: Stallman Warns, Ubuntu Dismissive

This comes at a price. From yesterday, for example, there is this:

Our company also takes the potential threat of patents seriously. As such we stand by the position of the SFLC, FSF and RMS in that Mono is just too dangerous.

We are therefore going to look at switching from Ubuntu to Fedora.

The threat is too great to ignore. I wish the UTB would reconsider this as more harm will come to Ubuntu rather than good.

For context, there is more in this address.

Sam Varghese cites the assessment of the SFLC and aligns this with Canonical's relative apathy.

The Ubuntu technical board has announced that it sees no reason to consider a dependency on Mono as an issue when suggesting applications to be included in the default set included in the GNU/Linux distribution.


The Software Freedom Law Centre, which provides "legal representation and other law-related services to protect and advance Free, Libre and Open Source Software" has a diametrically different view.

Following the statement made by Free Software Foundation chief Richard M. Stallman against Debian's inclusion of Mono as a default, SFLC technology director, Bradley Kuhn , has written an essay, backing Stallman's view about it being better to avoid a language like C#.

And to conclude, popular blogger devnet writes about Ubuntu's decision: "I think this is pretty bold…they’re inviting someone to throw the first stone so to speak.

"I’m with Stallman on this one….better safe than sorry."

"I saw that internally inside Microsoft many times when I was told to stay away from supporting Mono in public. They reserve the right to sue"

--Robert Scoble, former Microsoft evangelist


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