Bonum Certa Men Certa

On Novell, Ubuntu, Microsoft and Mono



Summary: Another exploration of circles of interest that favour Mono

YESTERDAY we wrote about Novell promoting Apple with .NET. The story is in Slashdot under the headline "Novell Bringing .Net Developers To Apple iPad". It links to this article about Novell supporting the Apple iPad and also about Citrix doing something similar (earlier on we wrote about the possibility of a Citrix/Novell merger).



Anyway, it helps one identify Novell as a promoter not only of .NET but proprietary platforms too. This is not the first evidence of its kind. Novell does not do it directly though. It uses a surrogate of .NET, just as Ubuntu will use a surrogate of Microsoft's 'search' engine [1, 2] (biased against GNU/Linux by design), which led to a lot of debate. The fact that Ubuntu supports both Mono and Yahoo (.NET and Microsoft search by inference) has upset one of our readers, who wrote:

I personally migrated to Linux and FOSS after repeated let downs by Microsoft technology, I am loathed to give my custom to them again until they produce something which can compete with what I use now; thats either directly or indirectly. I am rather disturbed that after years of being dictated to as to how to do things by Microsoft, when I finally break away and get a better experience, I see Microsoft trying to creep into that better experience. Having said that Ubuntu is not on my main rig.

Conversely though, Canonical deserves to make money, as I say Canonical has made a great product that many people enjoy, but they need to keep in mind that whilst they may need revenue to keep “alive”, they are just as dependent on the users to keep with Ubuntu. Now its obvious that to change back to Google is a simple step, but could the perception of Yahoo provide a negative feeling from its user base towards Canonical?

[...]

With Ubuntu seemingly going in a pro-Mono direction, Mr De Icaza getting his MVP & Yahoo getting a default search status, without conjuring up any allegations of foul play, what we can say is Ubuntu seems to have a growing Microsoft theme about it. (Either directly or indirectly)

And what of GIMP? Have we had confirmation if it is definitely to be left out of 10.04 and if so replaced with what? A Mono app perhaps?


It is the Mono part of the situation which repels at times. Groklaw too has responded negatively to Canonical's attitude when it comes to Mono. Jeremy Allison suggested removing it on numerous occasions [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8], but the desktop manager at Ubuntu is a former Microsoft employee, so to explain that Microsoft is a problem might be hard.

Pawel told us yesterday that "it seems someone is lobbying against mono at lkml". A former employee of Microsoft is using the kernel mailing list to promote his Ubuntu-themed blog (and getting told off by some people for doing this).

Among the text he posted there:

And to the outside community: * Garbage collection is necessary but insufficient for reliable code. We should move away from C/C++ for user-mode code. For new efforts, I recommend Mono or Python. Moving to fewer languages and runtimes will increase the amount of code sharing and increase the pace of progress. There is a large bias against Python in the free software community because of performance, but it is overblown because it has multiple workarounds. There is a large bias against Mono that is also overblown.


What about Java? Why promote Mono in a Linux mailing list? It is a Microsoft patent trap. We contacted the poster to get further insight*. We had communicated with him in the past and he seems sincere and innocent with his intentions, even though he sometimes publishes GNU/Linux-hostile material (a week ago, for example, he published "Linux Needs to Master Hardware to Beat Windows", even though Linux has much broader hardware support than Windows or any other platform for that matter).

He told us: "I think Java got old before it got input from the community. And because there were so many runtimes, they couldn't evolve the language anyway. How did you find that email? I presume you don't read the insanely busy list, right?"

I told him that someone who reads the mailing list had alerted me, calling it "Mono lobbying". Then he explained:

I debated putting Mono in there. But it is a codebase built by a quite diverse free software worldwide community. And I think it would be a shame that, after having built it, we throw it away. That is terribly inefficient. We can win any legal battles.

Flash isn't treated like such a pariah! Unlike Flash, the specs are free, the code is free, it has a lot of runtime and language tinkerers, etc. It is also good for Python to have competition. Python has no default IDE and debugger and is not JITed, unlike Mono. Python can learn from Mono.

Anyway, my major focus is on moving away from C++ and not moving to 100 different languages and runtimes.

[...]

Oh by the way, that doesn't mean I support building apps in XAML today. It is fine to separate the big tech pieces out and evaluate them each separately. Likewise, I wouldn't recommend VB.Net even though it is there.


Given his background at Microsoft, it's expected that he might be biased, but anyway, it is worth pointing out where advocacy of Mono often comes from. As we wrote here many times before, a lot of pro-Mono pressure comes from former Microsoft employees, some of whom are part of the Mono project. ____ * This hopefully invalidates the myth of bias, as we do try to show other perspectives. We contacted him because we don't want to write about it without hearing the other side of the story. He permitted us to quote him.

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