Ok, Jo Shield decided to reply to the Linux Today invite. Other than some plausible technical points, some unuseful considerations on LinuxToday ad revenue (?!) and some even lower level whining, he brought up some interesting points about the licensing issues.
I’m commenting only those, because I don’t really think any technical point is that relevant.
Mono is not the result of any deals between Novell and Microsoft. Mono was started 4 years before that unfortunate deal took place. Mono gets no special treatment under that deal. It is not mentioned in the deal (as with other apps). This is important to note.
Novell and Microsoft doesn’t seem to think alike. “Under the patent agreement, customers will receive coverage for Mono, Samba, and OpenOffice as well as .NET and Windows Server.” It may receive no special treatment, but it’s fully contemplated.
Mono is covered by the OIN, as with most other major Free apps. Patent attacks against Mono carry the same risk to attackers as attacks against any other OIN entrant. Attacks against Mono would risk patent “world war”, which Microsoft cannot win. Such an action would harm their business – and lose them money.
We’ve seen how much OIN counted in the TomTom dispute.
Mono implements an international standard – albeit one from a convicted monopolist. If this is a problem, why do people use C, the standard from convicted monopolist AT&T? Mono implements an improved, Free replacement for a proprietary offering. If this is a problem, why do people use GNU (which provided an improved, Free replacement for proprietary UNIX)?
Because it doesn’t pose patent concerns ? That applies to almost any other patented software for whose a royalty free perpetual non-exclusive agreement is provided.
Regardless of whether or not any specific patent licenses over ECMA 334 and 335 cover Mono’s implementation of those standards, if indeed such agreements are available (ITWire’s curlish “attempt” to secure such an arrangement aside), the fact that statements have been made in public supporting the idea of royalty-free licensing essentially reduces the financial impact of such infringement to zero. If Foocorp has a license to use patents, under a “non-discriminatory” license, and did not pay for them – then it would be discriminatory to change anyone else for them (breaking the signed terms regarding patent licensing), and as such, those patents lose any financial value. They may, however, still hold non-financial value (such as their use in defending against patent-related attacks), hence not making the patents “free for all” in any understood sense.
Still all the world uses FAT 32 and just one got sued. It will be pretty interesting to see if and when the Linux kernel will strip it. My guess is people are waiting for OIN to proof the patent invalid. TomTom, though, didn’t had so much time.
It’s not about money, it’s about control.
Mono cannot be “disabled” via an incompatible change to Microsoft.NET, for two reasons. Firstly, such a change would also break every single existing app for Microsoft.NET (in fact, if it were to happen, then the best option for those users would be to run their apps with Mono instead). Secondly, support for Microsoft.NET is a secondary goal for Mono – if Microsoft change something in .NET 5.0, then so what? It doesn’t prevent Banshee or GNOME Do from compiling and running fine on non-legacy systems like Ubuntu.
True. It would be crazy for Microsoft to change their specifications.
Absence of “patent protection” is not the same thing as “patent violation”. If I offer to sell somebody a promise not to sue them using any of my patents, their taking me up on my offer is no guarantee that I even have anything valid to sell them – merely that they are willing to buy it. If Jim buys protection from any patents I hold, it does not mean that Jim is infringing on anything specific – nor that if Ted does the same thing, that Ted is violating anything either. If a house insurance policy includes flood protection, it does not mean that your house will be flooded – and not buying flood protection does not mean that you will be flooded either.
Sure. But if something is found to be a real infringment, then you can’t either say you didn’t know. The agreement doesn’t name Mono, but that’s cited in the infamous joint letter cited above.
The message is clear: you ship Mono, you need a patent covenant. The only good way found yet is to be a Novell customer. Then you go to Novell and ask for it and they say “Look, we agreed to disagree with Microsoft about our work to be infringing Microsoft patents – how many coupons, btw ?”
Is this a joke ?
Patents covering a specific implementation detail of a project cannot kill it dead – the example here is Freetype. Apple made some patent threats against the Freetype developers, for using their proprietary hinting data stored in TrueType fonts. You’ll notice that Freetype still exists today – this is because the specific METHOD that apple laid claim to was worked around, and auto-generated hinting data used instead. Apple’s threat was diffused, and the project went on. Suggestions have been made by FUD vendors that the Linux kernel contains a number of patent infringements – if specific details are ever provided, then those specific infringements can be worked around. A patent infringed in the Linux kernel would not cause all GNU/Linux distributions to be shut down overnight – and it’s disingenuous to suggest that any other Free Software is any different on that front. Even if a fundamental patent is infringed in Free Software, it’s no big deal – as a core change can be made, and applications etc which expect the “old” way can be modified to work with the “new” way, easily. Only proprietary applications cannot be fixed in the event of radical change – and proprietary apps are a secondary concern.
I see no reason to foster a development environment which is probably infringing. You can port all the apps if they’re a handful as they are now, if they turn to be more that’s gonna be painful.
Oh wait, someone already ported Tomboy. And someone didn’t liked it, crying out for copyright infringement (highly subjective matter it seems, already fixed), license change (WTH?) and the Mackenzie bug (one (1!) bug) being marked as invalid (turned out the dev used a well known library and expected it to be the most correct behaviour).
Back in topic: even TomTom had a similar way out but it was forced to cross-license with Microsoft in the mean time. That means money and further sacrifices. It’s not about end users being sued at any kind. It’s about a free and competitive eco-system. You don’t care about it, accept someone else does.
It’s not about killing a project. It’s about getting damaged.
Let me show you how a good patent covenant looks like.
The layering of escape routes is extensive in Mono, especially Mono in Debian/Ubuntu. In the first instance, the contentious Microsoft-sourced non-ISO libraries such as System.Windows.Forms are not included by default, and are rarely used in Free applications anyway (because WinForms looks like ass, amongst other things). If a reason is found to remove these non-standardised libraries, then bam, they’re gone – without harming Free apps. Secondly, if a more severe change is required, then the Mono packages can be patched to remove the infringement. If more drastic changes are required, as mentioned above, then the applications can also be patched to support any core changes. And, taking it one step further, if the whole of Mono needs to be pulled, then applications can be ported. The porting process would potentially be slow and painful, and cause great harm to an application’s future rate of development (although no worse than if the app was written in the target language from day one), but nobody who has written an app they care about would simply throw their hands in the air and say “never mind, it was fun, but the Man says I have to stop now”.
They may look like ass, but hey, they looks so good in the Ubuntu main repository (which also mean they’re by default on the CD, or not?).
I’ve chosen not to reply the technical points, because I’m not really concerned with Mono being crap or not technically. I just don’t care. If it’s good, I’m happy it is.
As a final post:
In the end, there is NOTHING which will cause the Mono controversy to disappear – as long as vague threats of legal attacks are manufactured and fuelled by certain members of the community. Much like a presidential birth certificate, there is simply nothing which will placate those who have already made up their own minds without any concerns about basis in reality or fact. Anti-Mono arguments based in reality or fact are fine, and I welcome them – but I’ve very rarely seen them. And even when they are offered, they are offered drowning in a sauce of demagogy and FUD so thick as to obscure the salient point.
You don’t really welcome any argument at all.
Thanks for your kind reference to the scaring calls for death of Microsoft employees (especially for pointing out this bloody serious call for them to be thrown into an active volcano). I just wish you had more time to point out more, and substantiate your claims. You know, that thing that help people to understand you’re serious. Not that pointing out random people comment posting on a uncensored site help any way, of course.
You perfectly know that the community is full of people talking harshly, and that can be said of Mono proposers as well (ops, it’s you). Or not ? What about the Gnote PPA thread in the ubuntu forums ?
If you were trying to be taken seriously by summing up all the mono-haters as the worst kind of individuals, well, you could have tried to be better than that yourself, at least in writing your last post. Or at least pretend to be funny.
Also, sharing pearls for wisdom such as “Double click is patented”, “They’re just doing FUD” does not really help people think you’re serious. DOSsing BoycottNovell also doesn’t help (nor to claim they did it to themselves), nor helps claiming that Fedora included Gnote just for space saving (weird how what make Fedora lose space apparently makes Ubuntu save it, uh ?): I’ve got a nice news for you:
“We do have some serious concerns about Mono and we’ll continue to look at it with our legal counsel to see what if any steps are needed on our part,” Frields said.
“We haven’t come to a legal conclusion that is pat enough for us to make the decision to take mono out,” Frields said. “Right now we’re in a status quo. Gnote is a relatively recent development and unfortunately was too late in the Fedora 11 development cycle to include by default.”
That conclusion was probably drew after some consulting with RedHat’s “oh-so-sophisticated anti-Mono lawyers”.
It’s not that Mono is that bad. Let’s move it to Medibuntu and everyone is fine.
Update: if you aren’t still fed up with the topic, you may want to read the comments in the LinuxToday entry. You’ll find random flaming but also nice points.