Linked by Eugenia Loli on Wed 19th May 2004 20:03 UTC
Mono Project Red Hat's Seth Nickell is making his argument why including Mono on Gnome is an unacceptable legal risk down the road. Our Take: So much is being said that there is no written proof that MS won't sue over C# in the future, even if C# is an ECMA Standard. What I don't understand is why Red Hat's and Novell's laywers don't even try to extract that assurance from Microsoft in the first place and have a definite answer (and let us know too). This industry works via legal and contract co-ordination, it's time the Linux companies put that into work too: call a meeting and clear this up. It's that easy.
Order by: Score:
it's that easy.
by Anonymous on Wed 19th May 2004 20:49 UTC

Or is it?

What I don't understand...
by rds on Wed 19th May 2004 20:51 UTC

Is why Ximian hasn't done that. It'd be the obvious solution.

If they said 'hey, look, IBM, Intel and MS have all given the OK in legal writing to use this stuff,' I'd have a copy of it installed today. Instead they just have a mailing list entry that only eludes to being OK to use it (that has now been lost to the sands of time) as a thumbs-up on the deal. And that's only MS. Their are other patent holders on the technology, and none of them are strangers to patent litigation...

If MS and the rest are really OK with people using it, I don't see why asking them to say it in writing would be such a difficult thing to do...

Java has the patent issue too?
by bsdrocks on Wed 19th May 2004 20:57 UTC

Red Hat hackers complain. Some try to weakly push Java and some stick with working in C & Python. Sun makes noise, and does their own thing, starts some wacky projects, tries to push Java with OpenOffice.org, and is generally ineffectual.

If Java has the same issue as with C# for the patent issue and etc, then why bother on programming in Java while not on C#? I think, I read in Miguel's blog about Java has the same patent issue. I don't really remember, I might be wrong.

java is safer
by Anonymous on Wed 19th May 2004 20:58 UTC

"If Java has the same issue as with C# for the patent issue and etc, then why bother on programming in Java while not on C#? I think, I read in Miguel's blog about Java has the same patent issue. I don't really remember, I might be wrong."

java is safer because of the patent grant for a complete implementation. it would require passing thru sun tests to call it java thou

Addition, if they don't really like them..
by bsdrocks on Wed 19th May 2004 20:59 UTC

Then, they might take a look at the D programming language and help improvement it to get what they like.

RE: it's that easy.
by Eugenia on Wed 19th May 2004 20:59 UTC

>Or is it?

Sure it is. You have your lawyers ready and you call up a meeting about this. I can't imagine any company turning such a matter out.

Besides, what does Novell and RH are waiting for? Microsoft to knock their door? THEY have to knock MS' door first!

license?
by Anonymous on Wed 19th May 2004 21:03 UTC

"Then, they might take a look at the D programming language and help improvement it to get what they like."

what license? any patents?

....
by Anonymous on Wed 19th May 2004 21:10 UTC

It doesn't really matter to the FOSS community what happens with Mono because it's a product line and it does not corollate to any form of advancement for the developer as far as having control over their system and a return on their investment of learning time.

It's possible
by Kyle on Wed 19th May 2004 21:21 UTC

It's possible that they have already tried to contact the MS lawyers about legal assurances and could not reach a written agreement.

Without a written agreement it is a huge risk.

RE: it's that easy.
by Marciano on Wed 19th May 2004 21:22 UTC

It's not very easy to "set up a meeting" when one of the parties is in no hurry to agree to anything...

Seth ought to be commended for laying out the details. Basically, MS has *zero* incentives to commit to a blanket policy of royalty-free licensing, or to any licensing form at all. And it's hard to see how a court could compel MS to do so.

MS could simply, and very legitimately IMHO, state that, as policy, it only deals with each company / organization / developer at a time---no "public" licensing. This would be perfectly OK with e.g. Novell, or even IBM and Redhat, but probably less so for individual developers, as Seth points out. Also, such licensing conditions would most probably be incompatible with the GPL, again as Seth points out.

Bottom line: the Gnome project was started mainly as an alternative to the not-quite-free-enough KDE project, which relied on the then not-GPL QT. It would be very ironic to create a dependency on another non-GPL technology...

Just my $0.00000000000000002.

M

....
by dennisj on Wed 19th May 2004 21:22 UTC

>> Or is it?
> Sure it is. You have your lawyers ready and you call up a
> meeting about this. I can't imagine any company turning such
> a matter out.

What would you discuss with them? They *cannot* give you a generic waiver that they will not sue you in future about anything mono related. That would be downright silly. Why would they want to nullify their patents?
And they cannot do this for a specific version of mono either since that simply doesn't work for open source software.
I'm sorry but this idea doesn't make any sense.

good idea
by sandy on Wed 19th May 2004 21:25 UTC

Eugenia's right, novell and RH should call MS now and make them sign something about C# and the CLI.

Why, because MS is just waiting for the Mono and Gnome teams to embed as much C# code into their core systems as possible, and then MS will swoop in and start patent lawsuits deep and wide. This will cause massive problems for gnome, make them lose tons of development time, as well as losing tons of OSS developers

Novell should do this now, so to gauge MS's true intentions. I vacillate often about whether Mono is a good idea or not, but just remembering how MS shafted so many competitors - and ALLIES - in the 90's warns me to stay away from Mono. How quickly everyone forgets history...

They'll just sit back and wait for what their technology to take over. Then when the time is right they'll say OK, you pay us $$$.

They wont care about single developers, they're not worth anything. Microsoft are in it for the money so they'll go after the big boys. If there is another Munich style Linux switch and Mono is involved Microsoft will have to be paid.

Even if MS loses on some desktops they still get their $$$.

Best bit is Microsoft don't even have to pay people to develop it - the Mono people are doing it for free!

Bill Gates will be laughing all the way to the bank, he's outsmarted you - again.

M$ likes Mono enuf to..
by Anonymous on Wed 19th May 2004 21:39 UTC

...interview Miguel de Icaza about it...

In the December 2003 issue of Microsoft .Net Magazine (Dutch edition, published by the Dutch division of Microsoft, might also be published in other international issues) there's an interview with Miguel de Icaza about Mono... Tho there's no mention of possible legal issues in the published interview itself, no doubt it's come up at some point then... Doesn't seem like Miguel's too concerned about it at this point.

re: It's obvious what Microsoft will do.
by sandy on Wed 19th May 2004 21:42 UTC

Best bit is Microsoft don't even have to pay people to develop it - the Mono people are doing it for free!

Bill Gates will be laughing all the way to the bank, he's outsmarted you - again.


Thank you, completely correct. This has to be restated over and over to get it through everybody's skulls.

MS has hundreds of lawyers waiting to throw lawsuits at this - and it doesn't matter at all if MS's lawsuits are right or wrong, time and money is on their side, and OSS will be plundered.

RE: it's that easy.
by SteamedPenguin on Wed 19th May 2004 21:45 UTC

No it isn't that east.

So RedHat and Novell get a blanket immunity for their developers. This doesn't address independent hackers.

As it is C# is just not open enough to qualify as a technology that is usable for a Free Software project.

RE: RE: it's that easy.
by Eugenia on Wed 19th May 2004 21:47 UTC

>So RedHat and Novell get a blanket immunity for their developers.
>This doesn't address independent hackers.

You misunderstood. I never suggest they get the immunity for themselves, but for the whole Mono project and whoever uses it.

Yep
by Anonymous on Wed 19th May 2004 21:56 UTC

Good point, Eugenia.

...
by dennisj on Wed 19th May 2004 21:58 UTC

>>So RedHat and Novell get a blanket immunity for their developers.
>>This doesn't address independent hackers.
>
>You misunderstood. I never suggest they get the immunity for
>themselves, but for the whole Mono project and whoever uses
>it.

Why would Microsoft even consider this? What does the "Mono project and whoever uses it" have to offer in return for them to give up their rights as patent holders?

I don't get it...
by Simon on Wed 19th May 2004 21:58 UTC

I simply don't get why Microsoft should be able to sue Ximian or Novell over C#? Or the CLR or the CIL or the blablabla? They are ECMA standards, which means you can make an implementation of it freely, am I right?

The only problematic parts are the ones not within the ECMA standards, which are going to be (and already are) separable from Mono just in case.

- Simon

Easy? Make them? Huh?
by Anonymous on Wed 19th May 2004 22:03 UTC

"Sure, it is."

No, it's not. If Microsoft wants to make anything hard, it will be VERY hard.

"Eugenia's right, novell and RH should call MS now and make them sign something about C# and the CLI."

How do you make Microsoft do anything? You don't. The government can't do it. Why would Novell and Red Hat "asking" them "make Microsoft" do anything but laugh?

re: RE: it's that easy.
by Anonymous on Wed 19th May 2004 22:05 UTC


Bottom line: the Gnome project was started mainly as an alternative to the not-quite-free-enough KDE project, which relied on the then not-GPL QT. It would be very ironic to create a dependency on another non-GPL technology...


That is definitely the bottom line! Gnome will do well to keep with its ideals. However, companies like Novell (Ximian) and Redhat should have the freedom to do as they wish within legal reason. If they want to use C#, they should know that they will be legally safe to do so.

Eugenia's point still is still a good point.

Re: RE: it's that easy.
by David on Wed 19th May 2004 22:07 UTC

Besides, what does Novell and RH are waiting for? Microsoft to knock their door? THEY have to knock MS' door first!

Microsoft have a track history here, and I have to say that they are probably more clever than anyone realizes over these issues. There's about as much threat to Mono as Samba or Wine - probably even more so for the latter two.

They say "Sure, fine we support competition", but give no firm assurances and leave everything up in the air as they usually do (it's the threat of patents that counts). I don't believe Microsoft will go the patent route and sue over Mono. Microsoft have consistently relied on technology to cut out competitors, and if a handful of people tie themselves in knots over patent threats that Microsoft knows would be costly to enforce (it wouldn't make them look good, that's the main one) then so much the better ;) . Have Microsoft sued Samba, Wine etc? No, because they know it would be a terrible journey with no end in sight. Don't worry, we'll lock them out in the next version! Microsoft did this on a consistent basis with Windows 3, IBM and OS/2 and IBM fell for it every time.

With the CLR and C# actually being standards of one form another, that isn't the problem. These two technologies are nothing (the ECMA standard for the CLR describes very little), and I fail to see how they can be any kind of a threat to anyone. Trying to be interoperable with Microsoft's .Net/Longhorn could possibly be, but Microsoft will use technology to lock people out of that long before patents come into play. Patent royalties are not how Microsoft does its business, but no one seems to realize that yet.

"Chris Williams, Microsoft's director of product development, explained his attitude to software piracy in the Far East: 'We're just flooding the market with copies... The goal is... that when people actually end up having to buy software, they [will] already know our software and it's the one they will have to buy when the laws get passed. We're basically getting market share. As soon as we start to get a return on that investment, it will be humongous'."

If that really is Microsoft's attitude then I will be more than pleased. I fail to see what laws they'll pass in the Far East. They don't pay for software!

Herman (MS directory of IP) provides a number of quotes about what the royalty free + RAND license might stipulate in the case of C#/CLI:

I'm not interested in what it might stipulate. I'm interested in what it does stipulate.

Furthermore, our release of the Rotor source code base with a specific license on its use gives wide use to our patents for a particular (non-commercial) purpose,

He mentions the Rotor source code here. Since Mono does not use this implementation (and is totally different) then I don't see how Microsoft can realistically go after this legally. Of course they will try FUD tactics (which the SCO saga has provided training for), but if they have to resort to that then things will be too late anyway...

Act 2 - As the number of Mono-only features grows, Red Hat's unwillingness to ship Mono begins affecting sales. Novell holds a competitive advantage (self-inflicted by Red Hat) because Red Hat-written features can be shipped by SuSE, but Novell written features require Mono. A couple years down the line, Red Hat caves and begins shipping Mono. Evolution or some other major GNOME application begins to convert their core to Mono. Maybe a couple do. GNOME starts to move toward Mono.

I just see this as a panic by Red Hat because they don't much like the thought of Mono in Gnome. I don't find that to be much of a response.

....
by Anonymous on Wed 19th May 2004 22:07 UTC

Microsoft doesn't consider the open source community as a threat, they do however consider vendors that base their product lines on Linux as a threat.

FOSS is different than Microsoft if the FOSS developer is able to resist innovation (change) because he/she has the source code. For example if I don't like the new nautilus, I should be able to install an older version of nautilus while still updating other pieces of software including the kernel. This has not happened widely in the FOSS community therefore it is not a threat to Microsoft because FOSS is acting the same as a vendor and it doesn't have the resources, it will always lag behind.

Java bridge instead of C# and what about SCO?
by Stan on Wed 19th May 2004 22:09 UTC

Didn't microsoft already start patenting file formats for Word? How nice does that sound?

If linux takes half the desktop market of which microsoft now has what 95%, what would that do to microsoft? Would they act like SCO then?

If you get a good linux desktop OS and people figure out how to swap out windows to linux couldn't that happen pretty quickly, especially at corporations?

The article author seems to write off Java and Sun pretty easily, much like one political party scoffs at another. I don't see why there cannot be more desktop applications written in Java. The ones I've seen work pretty fast. jgnash for example could replace quicken.

And why not use Java to build a bridge to the windows people instead of using C#/CLI to build a bridge from windows to linux? What's the difference except it's already here and used and working.

reason to sue
by dev on Wed 19th May 2004 22:11 UTC

if the Ximian project created extensions to the .net platform that were not windows "friendly", but detracts a lot of developers/attention from the windows .net platform (some SAML/liberty or Web Services extension is plausable), MS could sue.....and quite possibly get ownership of all mono code.

Who knows, may be this is what MS wants in the long run, someone to develop a working .net compiler for the Linux/Unix world...they sue, take the rights, and sell their products with lock-in and all.


OSS movement's greatest nightmare. I see no reason for Ximian/Novell to take the risk.

Hrm.... Couple of comments.
by Dan Ostrowski on Wed 19th May 2004 22:21 UTC

Then, they might take a look at the D programming language and help improvement it to get what they like.

First off, D isn't even considerable. It's nothing more than a slightly tweaked version of C++... we've moved byond D already, there's no going back to it when it hasn't sucked up ANY market/mindshare comparatively.

Second of all, this is Mr. Red Hat Rep talking. Know who competes with Red Hat? Oh yeah.. Novell. Hmm... red hat rep bashing Mono which is funded mostly by Novell... gee.

IANAL, but the way Miguel has stated the case for Mono is pretty reassuring. As someone pointed out Wine and such are just as much "in the firing line" as Mono... I don't think this will turn into a patent issue, esp. with MS submitting C# as a "standard". Try to tell a judge that they can't use your "standard" that's been ratified by a 3rd party entity like the ECMA. It's the OTHER stuff like XAML and other .NET stuff that we should be worried about changing overnight and not being emulatable... but then again, if GTK# + C# end up being a better platform...

The ONLY way Mono can work...
by Anonymous on Wed 19th May 2004 22:34 UTC

The Only way Mono can work is if they CUT out all content that isn't ECMA approved. That means they can't be 100% compatible with .Net.

The risk is as long as Mono includes Any Library that Microsoft can claim copyright on they can POLUTE Linux. By requiring licencing fees for the use of these libraries.

Mono must cut these libraries because the Zealot Microsoft fanatic will unthinkingly use these libraries in a project in Linux, thus opening up any Linux implemetation to a Microsoft/SCO style legal and financial attack.
Since Microsoft started the SCO funding it's clear they will attack Linux.

Mono Must Cut the libraries from Linux
or Mono can't go on Linux.

against the law
by Anonymous on Wed 19th May 2004 22:39 UTC

Legal counsel cannot be passed on. Its against the law.

With the diclaimer that I know nothing of mono internals...
by Anonymous on Wed 19th May 2004 22:42 UTC

The problem is in the licensing issues of the CLR and C#. Now I'm totally at a loss as to what can be done about C#, but wouldn't it be possible for mono to implement thier own CLR-type representation?

Seriously...there are already plans to split mono into 2 stacks: MS-ripoff stuff like ASP.NET and Windows.Forms, and completely original stuff like gtk# and gnome#. It seems that the windows-ripoff stuff is a HUGE risk to begin with, and my prediction is that eventually it WILL be shut down and anyone who comes to depend on it will be left holding the bag. However, MS has nothing to do with gtk#...the only way to trace that technology back to them is the CLR and C#. If the mono-specific stack could use a different CLR than the Windows-Ripoff stack, then really the only vulnerable part of mono would be the stuff that's questionable to begin with (with the exception of the use of C#, which I've already stated I really don't know what to do about...ideas anyone?)!

Think about it...if the mono project splits into 2 separate branches, one to basically implement the .NET API as it exists on windows and ensure windows compatibility (ie, write once run anywhere) and another to build on the free components of mono as they stand today and deviate from what MS is offering as much as possible, then really only half the project can be shut down. Worst case scenario, those who took a chance get hosed, and Gnome being based on FreeMono keeps chugging away happily...RedHat, SuSE and Novell and whoever else decides to use mono are all relatively unaffected by the legal action.

With regards to compatibility I'm certain it would be conceivable to design a new CLR such that it's easy to translate between new and old specifications, but then again gtk and gnome on windows just isn't widely used at all...I'm sure that the demand for compatibility between the two projects would be slim.

Anyway just figured I'd get the idea out there. Feel free to expand/pick apart as required ;)

Sorry, Mono can't be used until this mess is cleared up.
by Anonymous on Wed 19th May 2004 22:42 UTC

Act 4 - Eventually Microsoft starts dropping barbs, saying things in the press, etc reminding people that to distribute C#/CLI implementations you need a license from Microsoft. It slowly works up to the point that they've made it very clear that individual contributors not working for their corporation etc all need to execute license agreements with Microsoft. In the best case, these can be done by individuals, in the worst case, RAND excludes license agreements that are "too small". In either case, people have to work with Microsoft to get a license (who stalls and takes a long time) and agree to terms that include restrictions on sub-licensing. Microsoft uses other license features to exert leverage in irritating ways. In the worst case (and this is unlikely for MS PR reasons) Microsoft actually drops the royalty free bit.

Legal problems abound
by Maynard on Wed 19th May 2004 22:54 UTC

I think Microsoft would rather not have some Justice Department trying to figure out why they want control over say all developers able to use C#/.NET. Its an anti-turst nightmare to them.

This is probably why they will keep quiet about mono. It is convenient. Actually, one might argue it is the best FUD tactic. Look how much fear there is that they would do something. No one knows what they will do in any case hence the uncertainty, and so on.

Besides, like before when critical industries were nationalised, any anti-competitive behaviour by Microsoft is likely to be punished hard. They do not want that.

Didn't Microsoft open up C# and the CLR?
by Mike on Wed 19th May 2004 22:57 UTC

Didn't they declare that they weren't going to go after anyone for using the C# and CLR? Unless I am mistaken, anyone sued by them could make a good argument in many courts in the U.S. that from Microsoft's public statements and their (IIRC) RAND royalty-free licensing of the patents for just C# and the CLR, that they had a good faith reason to believe that they were safe. Of course, since the courts in America often only take the Constitution, let alone the laws, as a mere suggestion, you could end up in trouble even if the USC said "Microsoft cannot sue Ximian."

Besides, all of the Java advocates here seem to forget that Java royally sucks from John Q's position. I know it doesn't, most of you know it doesn't, but Java 1.0 and 1.1 were as pleasant to the average user as finding a pile of burning dogshit on their bed when they are ready for bed. Let's face it, Java applets in 1.0 and 1.1 were terrible. They were goofy little curiosities that often just caused the machine to slow down to a crawl while the JVM figured out what to do with them. Sticking with Java, the way Sun is doing it and making it a part of the "Linux strategy" is royally dumb and in the long run self-defeating barring Java getting a lot better in the minds of many lay users.

If you find this sort of thing to be so hideous then support CLASSPATH and IKVM. Help them geting Java completely functional on Mono so that you don't need a JVM to run Java.

Bull...ummm...feces...
by the_trapper on Wed 19th May 2004 23:06 UTC

First of all, C#, the CLI, and anything else Microsoft has standardized through the ECMA is fair game for anyone.

It's what we call a standard. This means that Microsoft has as good a chance of yanking it away from us as they do HTML, XML, or C++.

Microsoft was on the XML standards committee, the C++ standards committee, the HTML standards committee, and many other important standards bodies. Does that mean we should stop using these technologies in open source...just in case Microsoft some day starts to patent them?

Anyway, has anyone else noticed the irony of people who blast Mono as a Microsoft trap and then in the same paragraph suggest that we place our hopes on Java? Java is far more tightly controlled than C# ever thought of being. Sun is also a company that is being put in an ever-increasingly desperate position. Sun is far more likely to go SCO on us than Microsoft. Well, at least that's the way it looks to me.

Software Patent Issues
by Recusant on Wed 19th May 2004 23:09 UTC

This issue is not just about Mono. Microsoft, Apple, and IBM have so many patents on so many broad areas of computer science that if they decided to enforce them against Linux, it would be at risk with or without Mono.

Linux (and likely any program more complex than "Hello World") is so full of patent infringements at this point that it's purely the lack of enforcement on the part of the owners that OSS isn't already under a tremendous legal attack.

I don't see where there is any large additional exposure with Mono. If patent enforcement is to come, it will come regardless of whether Mono and C# are available on the platform.

Re: Dan
by Mike Hearn on Wed 19th May 2004 23:16 UTC

D is not a "slightly tweaked C++", as you put it. I'd like to see some arguments for that position. It is a modern, garbage collected language with many features that Java is only just getting now (generics, better C interop etc).

If you mean that it's natively compiled then yeah, but so what? Java and .NET binaries can be natively compiled as well, and in fact the evidence I've seen suggests that this is normally a better approach than using a JITC VM anyway: witness the success of gcj and .NET AOT compiling.

the real danger might be technical
by dukeinlondon on Wed 19th May 2004 23:22 UTC

If Linux apps and other subsystems start relying on that layer then MS would have a major weapon to hit the community. But given the relative lack of interest the open source community has generally shown for java, it's unlikely to happen.

Mono would be useful to lower or nullify the cost of making windows apps work on other platforms. It is what java has been used for in the rare occasions it has been the base of desktop apps.

But for that matter, java is probably a better choice, if only because of the range of plateform the jvm is available for. The problem is what happens if SUN drops the ball ? I mean they are not in the best shape and might decide to sell or otherwise get rid of the platform.

The open source road might reside in investing even more in gcc for full support for Python, Perl and other truly open source languages on Linux and Windows, with functionalities expected by both open source and proprietary developpers.

ecma standard doesnt mean anything open
by Anonymous on Wed 19th May 2004 23:24 UTC



ECMA just means its RAND. RAND!= free implementation. rand+royalty free also isnt enough for developers. what can be reassuring is a patent grant. offhand remarks in mailing lists are not legal papers

vs python
by Anonymous on Wed 19th May 2004 23:42 UTC

I'm still waiting to "see the light" as to why I should do
applications in mono/c# rather than python. Sure C# has a bunch of features. In python you just code away, and it works.
Making GUI apps is pretty much a noprainer with PyQt an PyGtk.

Until the CIO of a company reams you Mono zealots out, after he receives a bill from Microsoft, that's when you will get the problem with Mono.

ECMA != free
by Roy on Wed 19th May 2004 23:47 UTC

"First of all, C#, the CLI, and anything else Microsoft has standardized through the ECMA is fair game for anyone."

Sorry to burst some people's bubble, but being an ECMA standard doesn't automatically grant the use of associated patents. In this way, .Net is inherently different from C/C++ and HTML. Microsoft has patents covering the ECMA portions of .Net and has NOT openly granted the use of those patents.

If the patent situation continues like it is here in the US (and may soon be in the EU - grrrrr), open source will die. MS (and Apple,IBM,Sun...) are patenting anything and everything they can think of. It won't be possible to create ANYTHING without infringing on at least a few patents. It is only a matter of time until some patent company decides to start suing companies using Linux. The bad part is that unlike the SCO case, they will have a solid legal (not moral) case.

Simple
by Anonymous on Thu 20th May 2004 00:53 UTC

The facts here are simple. Sun is against it because they don't want to see it moving in on a market Java could possibly take. They are even going so far as to making an email client that competes with Evolution because the next version of Evolution will be Mono based and they don't want to include Mono in their Java Desktop System.

RedHat is being cautious about it because all of a sudden, Novell has come up on their tails. With the purchase of Ximian and SuSE, they got a nice compatitor to RedHat's own products and, arguably, as much sway in the Linux world as RedHat. Let's face it, while no one can control GPL software, having the founder of Gnome on your side gives you a big voice in decisions. The Ximian purchase also gave them the Evolution email/groupware client, the Red Carpet software management system, the Mono project, and Ximian Desktop. And, of course, you can't dismiss SuSE. The second largest Linux distro that gives Novell an in to the KDE camp as well as lots of Linux tools and big clout in the European market.

Let's face it. Novell has purchased two big Linux companies and others are affraid. Will Novell be able to make good of their purchases? I think so, but that's not the point. The fact is that there is the possibility that they will make good out of those purchases and threaten other companies with Linux ambitions. Novell has set the bar high and if they can reach it, it will pose a big problem for RedHat and Sun.

Free software can use Java
by Mike Reid on Thu 20th May 2004 01:15 UTC

How many of you people are actually developers rather than just clever people that follow tech news?

As a developer in both Java and C# I think that the advantages of C# over Java don't warrant the risk for Free Software. Sure, if you are a commercial company go ahead and develop with C#, but it is *impossible* to make Free Software if it is based on restricted technology (which any portable form of C# is). Even if Microsoft were to free up the license for the libraries (which really is the useful bit, the language itself is minor), then they could still enforce their patents.

I don't care about "Winning the Desktop" as some do ie. converting others to Free Software, what worries me is that if we get trapped by Microsoft (there is no question M$ has done this to perceived threats in the past) then we may lose the ability to run Free Software on our own machines as M$ pressures hardware manufacturers to make M$ approved DRM hardware.

Java can be used for Free Software as Sun have publically declared that anyone can make an implementation, hence gcj. The only restriction is that to be called "Java" it must pass a compatibility test which they control - which is designed to benefit the users of Java rather than Sun, and prevent incompatible languages from inducing incompatibilities. The reason Sun guard it so jealously is because it is required to prevent another Microsoft-induced J++ debacle. Even though Microsoft didn't manage to control Java they managed to induce enough confusion to spot developers from adopting it. Note: Sun can't undo its public patent grant for Java now, but Microsoft can alter licensing terms at any time (the terms can even be changed in the future, after you have signed them, see recent Windows EULA).

Yes, the Java applets were and are horrid things, no question about that. Java applications had dismal performance until the release of Java 1.4.2, which prevented me using it, but now it runs very well and I can always use gcj or Excelsior Jet to boost it further. If you haven't tried Java in a while then take it from me, the performance is reasonable now. While it doesn't run as fast as C or assembly it is still faster than C# code (I know because I've tried it) and vastly faster than the early Sun JVMs.

It makes sense to adopt Java on the desktop. It runs everywhere - the real world uses a huge mount of J2EE on servers, it is on cellphone, and on most architectures in between. We don't have to rely on Sun as we can use gcj and Classpath (although they obviously need as much help as Mono or DotGNU to finish their libraries).

People who suggest scripting languages (Python et al.) are obviously not software engineers (as ooposed to 'programmers' of small systems). A pedantic strongly-typed language is essential for building and maintenance of very large systems, such as a desktop suite.

To me the answer is obvious, use Java for the desktop. This is what Seth suggests, and my development *experience* leads me in that direction. It has plenty of flaws and ain't perfect by a long way (eg. Java USB is not yet portable) but it is the best Free option that is here and now (and we need to start developing *applications* [not more languages] right now to compete with Longhorn!).

My only question is whether the community are smart enough to figure out that this is the only realistic software engineering option we have at the moment - before it is too late.

Yeesh...
by Shapeshifter V.90 on Thu 20th May 2004 01:19 UTC

I don't know what all this yelling and screaming back-and-forth is about.

Ximian has already said they will clear up the patient issue on their 1.0 release of Mono. What's that, a month or two from now? Like, ah, why can't anyone wait until then?

As for patent traps... well, I don't go rummaging through the US Patent Office everytime I write a block of code.

Free software can use Java - correction
by Mike Reid on Thu 20th May 2004 01:19 UTC

Apologies people

"Even though Microsoft didn't manage to control Java they managed to induce enough confusion to spot developers from adopting it."

should read

"Even though Microsoft didn't manage to control Java they managed to induce enough confusion to *stop* developers from adopting it."

Understand the full scope of patents...
by Eu on Thu 20th May 2004 01:57 UTC

Patents suck. The only way to do away with them is through legislation. They only way to get legislation passed is to educate the current fold of politicians and vote out those that do not work with us.

This is the best speech on patents that I have found:

http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/audio/audio.html#WMUPAT2003

It's in the ogg vorbis format. Use xmms in Linux or Winamp in Windows to listen to it.

Mike Reid is exactly correct
by johnMG on Thu 20th May 2004 02:54 UTC

Java is a Free software platform when used with GCJ (Classpath is now being integrated with/into GCJ). Both GCJ and Classpath are official GNU projects and GNU holds all the copyrights involved. This means that even if Sun went SCO on the Free software community, we'd just officially say that, fine, GCJ is *not* an ahead-of-time *Java* compiler, but rather, an AOT compiler for some other made-up sounding language (my vote is for "gnova" ;) .

If Sun started making patent claims, GNU would just do what they've always done -- remove the infringing code and replace it with new cleanroom code. Done and done. (Recall that the GNU GPL addresses software patents.)

I've no doubt that Miguel is a very sharp developer, however, Mono is a huge step in the wrong direction -- not only for all the legal risks, but also just for the fact that Mono will simply make it easier for the masses to write "built-with-.Net-and-should-hopefully-run-on-Linux" software instead of "built-and-tested-on-Linux-because-of-the-great-platform" software. Java+GCJ is the way forward.

Yeah, it's that easy
by Chully Scorbus on Thu 20th May 2004 03:02 UTC

What I don't understand is why Red Hat's and Novell's laywers don't even try to extract that assurance from Microsoft in the first place and have a definite answer (and let us know too). This industry works via legal and contract co-ordination, it's time the Linux companies put that into work too: call a meeting and clear this up. It's that easy.

I would strongly urge the person who made this comment, which can be only classified as stupid (and one is being kind in using such a mild adjective) to read a little before making such sweeping conclusions. Not even an eight-year-old would make such a silly statement. If history is any judge, it is easier to get blood out of a stone than to get binding agreements with Microsoft.

re:Understand the full scope of patents...
by Verbatim on Thu 20th May 2004 03:45 UTC

"Patents suck. The only way to do away with them is through legislation. They only way to get legislation passed is to educate the current fold of politicians and vote out those that do not work with us."

Understand this is likely to happen the day after Hell freezes over.... Not in our lifetime.

another possible scenario
by johnMG on Thu 20th May 2004 04:53 UTC

If history is any judge, it is easier to get blood out of a stone than to get binding agreements with Microsoft.

*Getting* the binding agreement isn't even the whole problem.

MS has the resources to enter into such a contract, violate it if it suits their business model, and then keep it in the courts for as long as necessary.

Of course, the other possible scenario is:
- Novell/Ximian develops Mono,
- Mono gains wide popularity among the pointy-haired boss community (lured in by supposed MS-Linux compatibility),
- Finally, when the mothership in Redmond is ready...
- somehow Novell/Ximian (after receiving an offer they can't refuse -- i.e. either MS patent lawyers or else lots-o-money ) gets purchased by MS making the Novell folks very rich.

Maybe Mono's not such a bad idea after all,.. well, for Novell principals anyhow.

RE:Yeah, it's that easy
by jayzz on Thu 20th May 2004 05:03 UTC

If history is any judge, it is easier to get blood out of a stone than to get binding agreements with Microsoft.

Getting binding agreements may not be the only goal. It can work either way. If they (linux companies) can get agreemetns, that's great; let's use Mono. If they can't, at least, we know that Mono is a risky thing to touch; so don't use it.

Either way, we will have some sort of closure on this matter.

Told you so
by kaiwai on Thu 20th May 2004 05:18 UTC

I'll say it once, and I'll say it again. If Microsoft want to be taken seriously, remove/recant those patents and make their whole .NET implementation opensourced under BSD/X11 or similar license. When they've done that, then I'll take Microsofts efforts, until then, their "shared source" and "community tree hugging" they're involve in right now is nothing more than a "screw the developers and customers out of a whole heap of dosh".

Stop being silly
by cendrizzi on Thu 20th May 2004 05:38 UTC

This issue always brings out silly people.

I agree whole heartedly that it would be nice to get some extra assurance from MS and the others. Knowing people that work for Novell I can say, from the very little I get, Novell takes legal matters VERY seriously. That is why they only use JSP and not mono for asp.net. That said they do seem to have some faith in the legal issues surrounding mono since iFolder has been written in c# for use with mono.

That said I agree whole-heartedly that some extra assurance is necessary at this point to court more developers and to get fine distrobutions like Redhat and Debian on board.

Incorrect
by J.F. on Thu 20th May 2004 05:43 UTC

If Sun started making patent claims, GNU would just do what they've always done -- remove the infringing code and replace it with new cleanroom code.

You're confusing copyrights with patents. A copyright prevents a particular implementation of something from being used. A patent keeps ANY implementation from being used. See the difference? That's why software patents are so bad for the software industry. You can't just make a clean-room implementation - with a patent, if it does the same thing, it's infringing regardless of how it does it.

exactly
by Anonymous on Thu 20th May 2004 05:54 UTC

"You can't just make a clean-room implementation - with a patent, if it does the same thing, it's infringing regardless of how it does it"

very correct. there can be never a truly free and open source mp3 or mpeg coder.

there can be a java implementation because of a patent grant. the mono legal status is not clear.


Dangerous, but inevitability
by Anonymous on Thu 20th May 2004 06:03 UTC

Yes, there is a patent risk in mono. It is true. But when (and NOT if) the .NET based technologies will replace the java applets, flash, javascript and other desultory techonlogies in web applications the client side of linux will be totally unuseable. IMHO it is the biggest danger in the history of linux.

RE: It's obvious what Microsoft will do.
by Claus on Thu 20th May 2004 06:06 UTC

I agree. I have not read the fine print carefully. And I don't think I need to. I think I can hear someone at the MS boardroom meeting going

"This Linux thing is worrying me. If it had just been a company like Apple then we could just have bought them or out priced them. But Linux is like Afghanistan - there are no targets as Rumsfeld said. And there are no one else we can attack. What do we do?" And someone else goes "Well, if we can't get them why don't we make them come to us? We still have overwhelming muzzle. Let's put out some bait. How about we file our latest technology as a standard, patented and apparently free? And then when they have hooked themselves and the time is right then we just reel them in. Hey - ironic, isn't it - FOSS becoming OSS working for us?".

We've seen sleazy surprise attacks coming out of hibernation before. Lately the Google Googol case.

Re:exactly
by Anonymous on Thu 20th May 2004 06:14 UTC

And what about the legal state of SAMBA, wine, xine, mplayer, etc ?

PYTHON, the ONLY safe managed software layer for Linux
by Coral Snake on Thu 20th May 2004 06:55 UTC

I said it once and I'll say it again. The ONLY "managed" software layer that is safe for linux and attempts at cross platform compatability is one that is ITSELF FOSS but with the ability for proprietary commercial developers to make use of it. This is PYTHON. I really believe that open source would actually be considered innovative if we could complete (add a switch statement and a do while loop) and speed up Python to be competitive with Java and .NET and add a good free for all (proprietary and FOSS) GUI layer and designer (perhaps WxWidgets and an improved wxGlade) to it. I think that this would also catch on with the old fashion VB programmers who would have the combination of an easy programming language and OOP that they always wanted from VB and never got with VB.NET.

The future of patent free "managed" software is in PYTHON and not either of the proprietary layers, .NET OR Java in any form.

give me a break
by Anonymous on Thu 20th May 2004 07:02 UTC

without mono wat do we have then? java? so much about sun innovation!

there is a need...
by andre on Thu 20th May 2004 07:37 UTC

...for a cross-platform system that is (potentially) compatible with many programming languages. hence the attraction of .NET. there's no "second-class" language in .NET, unlike in the JVM world where Java is the first-class language and all other implementations that target the JVM are second-class.

so if you want python to be the ultimate cross-platform VM, that would alienate a lot of non-python programmers. and they will still long for something like the .NET CLR.

PYTHON, the ONLY safe managed software layer for Linux
by Anonymous on Thu 20th May 2004 07:55 UTC

Python, perl and other scripting languages are funny toys, but never will tools for a professional developers. The only possible alternative the java. But the java langage is a little bit obsolote (no properties, no operator overloading, etc), the GUI interface (swing) is slow and ugly, and you must install JRE to your machine (IMHO the future versions of windows will held .NET runtime). I don't see any chance to survive to java oppositely with .NET.

Then NATIVE CODE SOFTWARE ONLY!!!
by Coral Snake on Thu 20th May 2004 08:10 UTC

If we can't build a managed software layer ENTIRELY OF OUR OWN
with out any Micro$oft "submarine" patent traps in it then we should stick with NATIVE CODE SOFTWARE using cross platform API's like QT or WxWidgets (for "shareware" developers who can't afford a QT license at this time. Those who feel they should financially support WxWidgets if they are going to use it in proprietary software can easily do so by buying the corrent WxWidgets CD at their site.)

I have simply seen Micro$oft in action for TOO LONG to trust the future of Linux to ANYTHING they have designed and hold patents on.

Re:Then NATIVE CODE SOFTWARE ONLY!!!!
by Anonymous on Thu 20th May 2004 08:29 UTC

1. You must compile your code to EVERY processor and EVERY linux distro. It is not easy, but if users will use more architecture (64 bit procoessors) will be harder.
2. Qt is very expensive. It is a simple GUI lib with a little data access layer and a simple GUI builder, but the price is higher then M$ Visual Studio. wxWidgets is free but the data access layer is very poor (odbc). There is no professional developer tool for linux at this moment, expect java stuffs and Kylix (but the future of Kylix not too certain).

Most of you are clueless...
by Foo Bar on Thu 20th May 2004 09:00 UTC

... in order to have protection, patents and copyrights must be defended. If MS sits back and lets others use technology which essentially copies its own invention -- and fails to act -- then it loses the right to sue. Xerox lost a similar kind of copyright suit against Apple because it failed to enforce its copyright.

Get a clue! I'm so sick and tired of hearing this nonsense repeated ad nauseum...

re: PYTHON, the ONLY safe managed software layer for Linux
by BlackCat on Thu 20th May 2004 09:20 UTC

Using Python or using Mono does not have to be an either/or choice. Python could benefit from Mono in several ways:

1. Python can be sped up by targeting the Mono CLR. See Iron Python (http://ironpython.com/) for more details.

2. Various bindings, such as PyGTK, are often behind in development. By creating common bindings targeting Mono such as GTK# and WX#, all languages in the CLR can use the same bindings. The GTK# bindings are badly named, IMO they should be called GTK-Mono. GTK# also has the huge benefit that Ximian has thrown their weight behind them.

3. Python for Mono can interoperate with C# code and use .NET assemblies. Perhaps some part of the code (transaction processing) is better written in C#, some other (text-parsing, configuration-engine, whatever..) is better in Python. Sugar on the top is using C# libraries (ADO.net) in Python and vice versa (Python FAM). The possibilites are amazing.

4. It's an ideal upgrade path. When language X using the Newfangled Programming Paradigm comes out, I don't want to throw my existing Python codebase away because the PHB tells me to now support the new hyped langauge. Targeting the CLR as common ground just makes sense.

5. Python isn't really taking off as a server-side language (according to the stats of mod_python deployments) in my opinion. Perhaps Python code can be deployed in an ASP.NET environment. I don't see why not, if Python was just another language in the .NET toolbox. This would open up a huge new venue for Python on the server side. Crappy Provider X selling hosting for $5 a month isn't going to install mod_python for you to play around with, but you're likely to find ASP installed. Not to mention the millions of ASP servers in back offices. Like it or not, I'm more of a PHP fan myself, ASP kicks Pythons ass when it comes to availability.

@BlackCat
by andre on Thu 20th May 2004 09:36 UTC

but then, you haven't addressed the question of Mono being risky to begin with... ;)

no one's stopping python running on JVM (Jython) or .NET (IronPython). but what about those that DON'T WANT to program in python?

@IP: ---.fibernet.bacs-net.hu
by Rod on Thu 20th May 2004 09:44 UTC

Python, perl and other scripting languages are funny toys, but never will tools for a professional developers.

Says who?

There are a lot of professional projects going on with Python right now. Seems like you wrote this out of prejudice, not facts.

Of course Python is no silver-bullet, but call it an amateur language is dumb.

re: andre
by BlackCat on Thu 20th May 2004 09:50 UTC

I'm of the belief that Mono can and should be divided into two software stacks, the Mono Free stack which would be certifiably patent-free and a Mono .NET stack that would provide the non-ECMA assemblies such as Windows Forms etc. I'm sure Novell's legal department could figure out if this is possible or not. That way, Red Hat and others could choose to ship only the free part without risk, which in turn could be used to build Linux specific applications. You see, I don't see Mono as a competitior to Java, I see it as the next gen Linux application framework. I'm not ready to dismiss the entire idea just because Microsoft came up with it first.

As for those that don't want to program in Python, they can of course continue to program in whatever langauge they like, ideally a CLR targeting one but not necessarily. The existence of a modern framework like Mono that features languages like Python, C#, C++, Java (and hopefully many more) does not detract from them in any way.

re: re: andre
by JCooper on Thu 20th May 2004 10:59 UTC

I'm of the belief that Mono can and should be divided into two software stacks, the Mono Free stack which would be certifiably patent-free and a Mono .NET stack that would provide the non-ECMA assemblies such as Windows Forms etc

This is already the case, and is how Mono 1.0 will be delivered. As a previous poster suggested, perhaps everyone should wait until 1.0 is released before discussing this issue further.

According to Mono...
by Simon on Thu 20th May 2004 11:06 UTC

Just posted on the Mono mailing list (mono-list@lists.ximian.com)

http://lists.ximian.com/archives/public/mono-list/2004-May/020448.h...

- Simon

Look at FAT, it is the standard used for CompactFlash and Secure Digitial cards. MS all of a sudden patented the technology and is now asking for royalties. This was a FREE STANDARD. http://tech-report.com/onearticle.x/5956

(The same with the GIF file format <not MS, another company>).

Fast forward 2 years from now, Mono has made a completely working compiler ECMA spec and all. Tons of developers are using it, C# is great, full GTK# bindings and ADO.NET implementation, everything. Microsoft then tells all developers and distributers that if it does not pay a royality of $$$ it will sue them, and block the selling and distribution of said software....not only that, they send a cease and desist letter to any company that is distributing the mono framework or THEY will be sued.

Java is in a totally different boat! Sun has already legally GIVEN the language away (or at least the current version), it does however reserve rights about the VM technology. Even then, any current VM cannot be taken away. Also Sun is loosening those VM requirements and there are alot of open-source VMs sprouting up now.


If i was Novell i would not take the legal risk. I cannot see how the OSS community is willing to risk loosing all of that hard work. That time could be spent on so many other worthy projects....

To J.Cooper:
by Anonymous on Thu 20th May 2004 11:41 UTC

1. I'm of the belief that Mono can and should be divided into two software stacks, the Mono Free stack which would be certifiably patent-free and a Mono .NET stack that would provide the non-ECMA assemblies such as Windows Forms etc

You seem to be spreading confusion: The whole issue is that the ECMA part is not patent-free.

2. (in the mono-list mail) Ximian ha[s] a letter from Microsoft, Intel
and HP stating that they would offer *royalty-free* RAND licensing to the
ECMA-submitted components of .NET.


Read Seth's original again. It is not enough that they "would offer" licensing; for the standard to be usable, the license needs to be granted in advance.

Trust in MS
by SumItUP on Thu 20th May 2004 11:49 UTC

In one acronym:
FAT

Microsoft allowed it's use to grow and it became ubiquitous, even being used as the standard for digital cameras. Then Microsoft set about to extract license fees for it's use from manufacturers. Any and all talk, along the lines that Microsoft won't do this or that because it would make them *look* bad is just wishful thinking.

In the end, what would really keep Microsoft from being able to execute a successful SCO maneuver?

The bottom line is, if Linux drastically effects Microsoft and Mono could be used as a means to an end to attack Linux, then Mono should be considered an "Achilles heal."

from a Microsoft Certified Pro :-) with years of C#
by LinuxMCP on Thu 20th May 2004 13:31 UTC

I'm a seasoned C#.NET developer with a large financial firm, who did tons of projects in C#.NET. 1.5 years ago I realized that the job market is not that great for Microsoft-only droids and switch everything I had at home to Linux (Debian, Knoppix, Fedora, even Gentoo): 10+ computers, including IPAQ! People don't like Microsoft droids. Industry doesn't like them. How can you like a person whose mind is locked on a certain vendor only, even if the products of that vendor are inferior. At the end business wants a result at the cheapest price (+risk assessment). It's a LEGACY software of the company nobody likes. .NET is great, but so is Mono! Guess what, I've heard all that debate about Mono pursuit by Microsoft, BS! Even if they wanted, the public outcry will be enormous, and this time (unlike Netscape times), the community is ready to fight for its baby. We well not surrender our freedom. My freedom to say: #apt-get install kde gnome mplayer xine, and not some BS Microsoft junk. Think about it.

Re: Dangerous, but inevitability
by Anonymous on Thu 20th May 2004 13:46 UTC

But when (and NOT if) the .NET based technologies will replace

No. If and not when. I remember in the mid-90's there was a similar panic about NT. Unix vendors fell all over themselves trying to kill off their own businesses in the wake of the new and supposedly perfect and unbeatable new OS. The results were underwhelming. The demand for Unix has continued unabated, although in new form.

NT was supposed to be the server OS to end all server OSes. It wasn't. We're now supposed to believe that .NET is the middleware to replace all middlewares. I don't buy it.

the java applets, flash, javascript and other desultory techonlogies in web applications the client side of linux will be totally unuseable.

Leaving aside Flash and JavaScript, I don't think you know much about Java. Try messing around with the Eclipse IDE for a while and make your judgement based on that, rather than crappy amateur web applets.

Hence the reason many moons ago I said that what the world needs is a universal, openstandards based filesystem that all operating systems support and has no patents, UDF *could* do the job, however, UFS could too. There are a number of file systems that would be ideal for the task.

Re: PYTHON, the ONLY safe managed software layer for Linux
by Anonymous on Thu 20th May 2004 13:52 UTC

I totally agree. (Although I'd like it to be Ruby more, but Python is 95% of what I want).

The unfortunate thing is that a mature, fast, managed-code environment for Python is not yet here - not one comparable to the CLR or JVM. And the GNOME guys seem to be getting impatient.

I really wish they'd give more support to the Parrot project or something similar. Using a truly Free VM would have important morale-boosting as well as purely practical consequences.

Re: there is a need...
by Anonymous on Thu 20th May 2004 13:54 UTC

...for a cross-platform system that is (potentially) compatible with many programming languages. hence the attraction of .NET. there's no "second-class" language in .NET, unlike in the JVM world where Java is the first-class language and all other implementations that target the JVM are second-class.

This is untrue. .NET makes any language first class as long as that language is basically C# with relatively minor syntactic variations possible.

Re: re: andre
by Anonymous on Thu 20th May 2004 14:00 UTC

I'm of the belief that Mono can and should be divided into two software stacks, the Mono Free stack which would be certifiably patent-free and a Mono .NET stack that would provide the non-ECMA assemblies such as Windows Forms etc.

Just for clarification, the ECMA-compliant-only stack is not patent-free. Rather, Microsoft's patents to the ECMA stuff are offered under royalty-free and reasonable and non-discriminatory licensing terms.

Seth's article points out that this may not be the same thing as "free." IANAL, so I can't judge it either way. But there are patents.

RAND and royalty-free NOT enough for FOSS
by Marciano on Thu 20th May 2004 14:19 UTC

This has been hinted at in a few previous posts, but to fix ideas, let me point out a very simple fact:

RAND-and-royalty-free terms may very well be inconsistent with the GPL and/or other FOSS licenses.

Seth's post cites a Microsoft exec who explicitly says that, whatever terms the relevant patents will be offered under, they will surely be inconsistent with the sub-licensing requirement of the GPL. There are other complications as well: see the last section of Seth's post for details.

Now, these conditions *may* be OK for Novell's purposes (e.g. distributing Mono to support their iFolder product). They may or may not be OK as far as Mono proper is concerned (because it is not GPL-licensed). They are probably bad for Portable .NET (because it is GPL-licensed, with a linking exception). In any case, the picture is somewhat murky.

[And, BTW, while there is a "statute of limitations" of sorts for patent enforcement, the "window of opportunity" is wide enough to be worrisome---5 years or thereabouts, although I may be wrong, and there are surely exceptions and conditions to be met.]

I am not suggesting that the FOSS community should necessarily avoid .NET at all costs. I am just pointing out that some commingling with the commercial world is probably unavoidable, and compromises will have to be made. However, this *is* a bit ironic---wasn't this precisely the situation people wanted to avoid w.r.to QT?

M


They are probably bad for Portable .NET (because it is GPL-licensed, with a linking exception). In any case, the picture is somewhat murky.

DotGNU has no option , buying a RAND license is not possible with GPL.
Southern Storm is outside USPTO jurisdiction , I'm in India , which has no epatents.
So what could possibly happen is that , it cannot be used legally inside the US . That's too bad for the people there ;)

Meanwhile with Ximian , it is in US and subsidary of Novell..

Think about it ..

MS has already set the terms under which they're willing to license the .Net technology. Unless Red Hat, Novell, etc., have some market leverage I'm not aware of, what's MS's incentive to change that to "We'll never sue anyone for using .Net technology to make their own (possibly competing) product"?

GCJ may be a Free software platform, but what I've read doesn't seem to indicate it's currently a viable alternative to more restricted platforms. What will persuade more people to choose GCJ than any argument on behalf of its status as Free is for everyone who is capable of doing so to contribute to GCJ's development so it can *become* a viable alternative.

how about a new language?
by dr_gonzo on Thu 20th May 2004 15:25 UTC

what if the OSS community created a new language together? it could be a subset of c++ (no use of pointers) with maybe a friendlier syntax. when compiled, the code could be translated to c++ and then compiled into machine code.

if this language was worked on and was given a huge library like java has, then there'd be no need to port apps, a simple recompile would be needed to port the app to a different architecture.

Parrot
by Seo Sanghyeon on Thu 20th May 2004 15:37 UTC

In my opinion, People should support Parrot Project. Free VM for interpolating Perl, Python, Ruby, Tcl, Scheme, whatnot.

Parrot is fast. Parrot has dead easy way to load native libraries. And think about dizzying number of Perl/Python libraries.

Re: how about a new language?
by Anonymous on Thu 20th May 2004 15:37 UTC

There are already, for starters, Perl, Python and Ruby. Not to mention Pike, PHP, 2 Common Lisps, a dozen Scheme implementations, FOSS clones of Rexx, Pascal, Smalltalk - the list can go on as long as you want.

The problem isn't a FOSS language per se; it's a good, mature, fast, multilanguage managed-code FOSS runtime environment. So far there are:
1. Mono (problematic Microsoft IP issues)
2. Java clones (all incomplete)
3. Parrot (VM for Perl, Python & Ruby; far from complete)

re. some gcj stuff
by johnMG on Thu 20th May 2004 15:43 UTC

Jud wrote:
GCJ may be a Free software platform, but what I've read doesn't seem to indicate it's currently a viable alternative to more restricted platforms.

What does that mean?

What will persuade more people to choose GCJ than any argument on behalf of its status as Free is for everyone who is capable of doing so to contribute to GCJ's development so it can *become* a viable alternative.

Of course, we care about *both* (Free status and how complete the implementation is), but I see your point.

Also, regarding what J.F. wrote:

> If Sun started making patent claims, GNU would just do what they've
> always done -- remove the infringing code and replace it with new
> cleanroom code.

You're confusing copyrights with patents. A copyright prevents a particular implementation of something from being used. A patent keeps ANY implementation from being used. See the difference? That's why software patents are so bad for the software industry. You can't just make a clean-room implementation - with a patent, if it does the same thing, it's infringing regardless of how it does it.


Thank you for the clarification. I see how awful software patents for our industry. In the above case, we might be forced to remove whatever patented feature is in question. However, this is alongside the point that we still need to fight software patents in general if we expect our industry to continue to be worth participating in.

Re: there is a need...
by BlackCat on Thu 20th May 2004 15:49 UTC

This is untrue. .NET makes any language first class as long as that language is basically C# with relatively minor syntactic variations possible.

Well, Python is already up and running on the CLR in a form that is fully dynamic and supporting on the fly compilation. Some functional language, IIRC Haskell, have also ported to the CLR without any feature loss. Anyway, even if the .NET VM's can't support every language feature at the moment, we're just seeing the beginning. The framework is at version 1.1, you have to also consider the future implications of continued development. Look at DirectX, 1-3 are turds, 4-6 are acceptable, and 7-9 pretty much own the market. Already we're seeing the .NET VM developing into a general purpose VM, just give it a few version.

Even if you disagree on the direction, what's the alternative? Does anyone seriously believe Sun will ever allow any other language first class status on the JVM? Parrot is again only targeting interpreted languages (and seeing a Parrot bytecode->Mono CLR gateway in the future is not unreasonable). If we're going to get a generic extendable VM it's going to be Mono IMO. Imagine that, Mono could take the .NET ball and run with it creating one unified kick-ass platform for Linux. Of course you might disagree that Linux needs this in the first place, I happen to believe it does.

Re: Re: there is a need..
by t3rmin4t0r on Thu 20th May 2004 16:31 UTC


Parrot is again only targeting interpreted languages (and seeing a Parrot bytecode->Mono CLR gateway in the future is not unreasonable). If we're going to get a generic extendable VM it's going to be Mono IMO.


I worked on the C# -> Parrot compiler for DotGNU , and it was blocking on Parrot for support for classes sometime back. DotGNU was planning to use Parrot as THE VM of preference. But the .NET binary support slowed this work , and now it's still in pnet/codegen/pm_output.tc ..

Register VMs are more similar to the CPU , and IMCC in parrot makes register allocation child's play ;)

You should try that before commenting that Mono is "all that's needed"

Not using Mono is not a patent waiver.
by Miguel de Icaza on Thu 20th May 2004 17:11 UTC

One point that most people fail to see here is that
not using Mono does not give them a patent waiver.

Parrot, Java, Ruby, Python: they all might infringe a
Microsoft patent. Their class libraries might infringe
a Microsoft.NET patent, just as much as Mono might today.

Patent holders will go after you if you are successful, that
is pretty much the recipe. If you have a product that sucks
that does not have any penetration and poses no threat, you
will be left alone.

If someone can extract money from you through a legal
claim, they will try to go after you, and what choice
of a platform you have used does not matter, it wont even
matter if you invented this yourself or if this was an
obvious invention.

Read my blog for further details.

Miguel

mono
by miki on Thu 20th May 2004 17:15 UTC

go miguel go ;)

man...
by Matt on Thu 20th May 2004 17:22 UTC

talk about madness. its like, 1 in 20 comments even make sense...

first off, what possible motivation would ms have to cooperate with ximian? if novell continues with embracing mono, they win. if they do nothing, and the free software community rejects mono, they win. if they make a public agreement that they will not change liscences to something gpl incompatible, then they not only hand their core technology to a stated competitor, but they also lose a significant amount of control over outside implementations, that they would not lose if they kept their mouths shut. to believe anything thing else is pretty dumb.

to the people saying perl/python/ruby, please, be quiet. these are scripting languages with gui frameworks tacked on. totally suitable for small apps, totally unsuitable for a desktop manager.

to the java people, i agree 100% that it would not only be an awsome thing to happen, but it would totally be in SUNs best interests as an open-source company to give us a gpl compatible liscence for their jvm. the problem with hoping for this is that sun is playing its cards very close to its chest atm, they have been dragged into linux kicking and screaming, and despite being willing to cooperate, they are definately not an open-source company yet. java is just the tip of the iceburg, imagine what linux could be with some strategic solaris contributions...

one final note. GNOME has, and will be, totally free. if you dont agree with the ideology behind it, then dont use it. that simple. free software is all about making a political stand and statement at the same time as providing technology. whether you agree or not, (i happen to be more in the oss camp myself), you have to both understand and respect the motivations of the free software movement. if you dont understand, then email rms and ask him to use jpegs instead of png cause the ie support for png isnt that hot. and mention you would appreciate it if he put his speeches up in mp3 format for better compatibility with windows media player. the response you will get should be education enough...

@Miguel
by hohum on Thu 20th May 2004 17:28 UTC

Miguel,

Parrot, Java, Ruby, Python might very well infringe Microsoft patents. Hell, Wine, Samba and several other FOSS projects might too.

However, *none* of them (with the possible exception of Samba and Wine) are as open to legal trouble as Mono!

However, few FOSS developers are arguing that we should adopt Wine or Samba as fundamental building blocks for *our* software. Rather, they are seen as important pieces to interoperating with MS systems. OTOH, That is not what you are proposing with Mono. You wish FOSS developers to adopt Mono into our free and unencumbered software and you are giving assurances which you are incapable of delivering on.

Mono is entirely predicated on technology wholly designed and created by a few large corporations. Microsoft being the overwhelming participant. If and when MS decides to go after you and FOSS... you better pray that Mono hasn't become an integral part of the FOSS developer stack.

Get it through your head Miguel: "RAND + ROYALTY FREE" is not enough!

It could be free as in beer and 'reasonable and non-discriminatory' and still be incompatible with the GPL, BSD, X-11 license if Microsoft so wishes. All MS would have to do is write a provision in the license forbidding redistribution much like Rotor. Rotor isn't FOSS software by any stretch of the imagination, yet it is offered under RAND + ROYALTY FREE.

Grow up, Miguel! You are entirely relying on the good grace of Microsoft. Fool!

Deal With the Devil
by z1xq on Thu 20th May 2004 17:31 UTC

If you sell your soul to the Devil he will eventually collect. Look forward to the day when we are using Microsoft Linux.

v @Miguel
by hohum on Thu 20th May 2004 17:36 UTC
@hohum
by Matt on Thu 20th May 2004 17:44 UTC

yeah, call miguel a fool. just like einstein was a moron, or steven hawkings is an idiot.

@Matt
by hohum on Thu 20th May 2004 18:19 UTC

...you forgot to compare Miguel to Jesus or Buddha.

@ hohum
by John on Thu 20th May 2004 18:19 UTC

Although i largely agree with your first post, you should not insult Miguel de Icaza. Treat a person with respect and he and others will listen to you and may change their opinion. Insult a person and he will never listen to you again, no matter how valid your point may be.

Biggest....ChickenLittles.....EVER
by Lumbergh on Thu 20th May 2004 18:27 UTC

Some of you people seem to be so paranoid you might as well break out the XP CD and say goodbye to Linux, BSD, etc... forever.

On a more serious note, is this so surprising that Red Hat employees would want to spread FUD about Mono? Of course not. This is nothing new, the only difference now is that with the Novell acquisition of Ximian the Red Hat fudsters have lob a new salvo out.

It goes beyond this though. Read through some of the gnome archives and you'll find that certain core Gnome people just don't like Mono because it's Microsoft technology. Not only that, but there's a certain undercurrent of antipathy towards Miguel in general in certain quarters of the Gnome community.

The bigger problem is that Red Hat is pretty much the de-facto controller of Gnome, no matter what kind of front foundation is put up.

Personally, I could care less if it's Mono or Java or whatever that serves as an official runtime for Gnome. But having an official runtime for managed code makes a lot of sense. It's not that you won't or couldn't keep on writing Gnome core in straight C, but to just up the ante by saying here's the gtkmm bindings, they're not official Gnome is ridiculous. You've got to raise the bar higher than that in 2004.

Ok, so some people don't like Mono, Miguel, .NET, whatever...but what is baffling is how come there hasn't been some kind of talks with Sun in order to see what they can do to relax their licenses. The Gnome java bindings are up to speed and you've already got an incredible IDE in eclipse for people to use. You could even write some killer plugins just for Gnome development.

In the end, this FUD is what holds back open source, not Microsoft. Heck, I think it would be hilarious and quite fitting if after all is said and done(including the Smoke library), more and more KDE development was done using Mono.

I'll leave you to your regularly scheduled programming of FUD.

@hohum
by Matt on Thu 20th May 2004 18:31 UTC

i was attempting to point out to you that you that the person you are talking to is wildly intelligent, and has proven that time and again. i guess i should be more blunt.

when you refer to someone, especially someone who is obviously quite intelligent and talented, as a fool, you end up looking like a fool yourself. i happen to disagree with miguels' views on this myself, but he is far from a fool. you follow it up with a quote completely out of context about the dancing paperclip. read up and down the thread, he isnt talking about the animation, he is talking about software that helps the user if he/she is doing something in an inefficient manner. yeah, now thats foolish. who wants software that helps you use it better....

i am not saying he is einstein, or hawkings, definately not jesus or buddah (bringing them up only proves you totally missed the point) however, he is someone who has proven his intelligence and talent enough to diserve respect, and im more then a little tired of people who have done nothing to help free software level that level of critism and disrespect to those who are at its core.

@lumbergh
by Matt on Thu 20th May 2004 18:37 UTC

there has been alot of public pressure on sun, which went up in smoke when we all found out they were getting into bed with microsoft.

also, kde was not founded as the free software desktop. it would be alot more appropriate for kde to embrace something like mono, then gnome whose stated purpose from day 1 is to be a totally free desktop. this is why its base is C, C is free, C++ is not.

if you want to get a better idea of the ideology in gnome, go check out www.gnu.org. i happen to disagree with most of it, but it will give you an understanding of what free software is, and why something like mono will not ever be free.

assembler
by Anonymous on Thu 20th May 2004 18:40 UTC

Forget about "RAND + ROYALTY FREE", "good grace of Microsoft" and "sell your soul to the Devil". ALL software is patent, if you fear patents don't write software. Microsoft, Sun, IBM have patents on your software.

Read the faq http://go-mono.org/faq.html#patents

(1) work around the patent by using a different implementation technique that retains the API, but changes the mechanism; if that is not possible

(2) remove the pieces of code that were covered by those patents

(3) find prior art that would render the patent useless

and the most important:

"Not providing a patented capability would weaken the interoperability, but it would still provide the free software / open source software community with good development tools, which is the primary reason for developing Mono"

@Miguel
by hohum on Thu 20th May 2004 18:42 UTC

Fools are those who act foolishly as Miguel is wont to do. That Miguel is intelligent is not in question. Many quite intelligent people, nevertheless, behave foolishly from time to time. Such is Miguel.

If you have a problem with the complexity of this concept, might I suggest you retreat to dictionary.com and lookup the definition for 'fool' and study accordingly. You will find that Miguel, in this and many other instances, certainly meets the 2nd and 3rd definitions consistent with the use of the word 'fool' as a noun.

Further, you're skiddishness regarding what you consider the ill treatment of a well known FOSS developer should extend to Miguel's characterization of Seth Nickel. In Miguel's so-called rebuttal he labels Seth, (and by association all other Redhat employees who take issue with some of the legal ramifications of Mono), a whiner and a fear-monger.

If Miguel wishes to be treated with a modicum of respect, he should heed his own words by treating Seth and Redhat with a modicum of respect. This he has not and fool he is.

re. @ hohum
by johnMG on Thu 20th May 2004 18:45 UTC

John (not me) wrote:
> hohum wrote:
> > Grow up, Miguel! You are entirely relying on the good grace of
> > Microsoft. Fool!
>
> Although i largely agree with your first post, you should not insult
> Miguel de Icaza.

Personally, if I'm behaving foolishly, I sure as heck hope that at least my closest friends will have the guts to tell me so. That's one way you learn and grow.

Sometimes, you can have your head buried so deep in the details of your projects that you fail to see the larger implications of your work. People can be smart at some things and dumb at others -- just ask my wife how good I am at figuring out what my 2-year-old is trying to tell me. ;)

hohum
by Bitterman on Thu 20th May 2004 18:49 UTC

Don't try and draw Miguel in a flamewar. He doesn't deserve your insults. Keep things to technical merrit and you might learn something.

That said I'm like most here and too nervous to base almost all of our work on something made by a competing company that could at the very least cause a sco issue and tie us into legal battles for years taking away Novell and Red Hats funding from better spent areas like development.

There 'needs' to be absoulte confidence in C#. There are far too many things that could 'possibly' go wrong. If mono is successfull for three years and legal issues start, then another 3 years M$ wins the case thats 6 years of time put into intergrating C# we have to just throw away and go all the way back to gnome 2.8 or whatever the newest uninfected version is. What if during that first 3 years KDE needs to adopt mono to compete with gnome's rapid development and they run into the same problems when patent wars start?

Point is we are just about to start competing with M$ on the desktop and is it a good idea to compete with them directly when they own the patents for our base development? Scares the crap out of me, I'd need 100% assurance and that doesn't come from blogs or message boards, it comes from court rooms and full blown legal documents.

Okay i'm not a lawyer or a big time dev. Maybe miguel can have two seperate forks one of which is completly cleared. I hope that is the case.

Mono in Gnome
by --_==Josh==_-- on Thu 20th May 2004 18:56 UTC

If Gnome decides that they dont want anything to do with mono, what happens to Evolution/Dashboard/other apps written in c#?

The Very Nature of Microsoft
by z1xq on Thu 20th May 2004 18:56 UTC

is to grow and devour all in it's path. An angler fish puts out an antennae with a small light on it to draw smaller fish into it's gaping, toothy, mouth. It's not evil...that is just what it does. So to with Microsoft. When you reach to pet a rattlesnake and get bit, you have only yourself to blame.

To all claiming FUD
by Bitterman on Thu 20th May 2004 19:00 UTC

For those who are saying Red Hat is starting FUD because Novell owns Mono is flat wrong, Mono was out what two years before Novell bought it and have had the same take on it since day one. People are getting louder now because C# is threatening to be the base development for Gnome. It's no longer just Miguel and Ximian who lose out if something goes terribly wrong, but it would be Gnome that blows up too. This
is an honest cause for concern.

@Bitterman
by hohum on Thu 20th May 2004 19:01 UTC

Look, I'm not drawing Miguel into anything. I called him a fool, which he is.

Before the lot of you bemoan the tenor of the argument, go and look at Miguel's reply to Seth.

**He called Seth and Redhat whiners and fear-mongers.**

Miguel's continual attempts to brush this under the table are products of his foolishness crossed with his arrogance. A bad mix.

@johnMG
by Jud on Thu 20th May 2004 19:06 UTC

"Jud wrote:

'GCJ may be a Free software platform, but what I've read doesn't seem to indicate it's currently a viable alternative to more restricted platforms.'

"What does that mean?"

Broadly, that a GNU or other reasonably complete Free implementation of Java doesn't yet exist such that free software users can choose it as a viable alternative to proprietary Java implementations, .Net, or Mono.

subset
by Anonymous on Thu 20th May 2004 19:10 UTC

""What does that mean?"

Broadly, that a GNU or other reasonably complete Free implementation of Java doesn't yet exist such that free software users can choose it as a viable alternative to proprietary Java implementations, .Net, or Mono."


a subset of java is being used in fedora core 2. so its already viable

@matt
by Lumbergh on Thu 20th May 2004 19:13 UTC

if you want to get a better idea of the ideology in gnome, go check out www.gnu.org. i happen to disagree with most of it, but it will give you an understanding of what free software is, and why something like mono will not ever be free.

I found that quote of yours quite amusing. Because, on one hand you point me to www.gnu.org for "RMS's definition" of free software, and then you go on to say you disagree with a lot of it.

Let's get something straight. RMS doesn't have exclusive rights to redefine the word free for his own political agenda. Once you understand that RMS's wacky definition of free software is held only by a miniscule minority of software developers and users than you can have a argument on whether Mono has legal entaglements that might bite Gnome or KDE or anybody else in the future.

But you're probably right in the sense that if Gnome is basing it's sofware ideology on RMS's definition of free then, no, Mono or Java or probably a lot of other interesting technologies will ever make it into Gnome proper.

There's a lot more than some wacky ideology going on here though. As I stated before, Redhat is the defacto controller of Gnome and there's a lot more corporate competition going on here than Redhat employees would have you believe. First of all, Redhat doesn't even really care about the desktop. I think they've made that perfectly clear by now. Secondly, the redhat guys don't want to be playing second fiddle to the Ximian guys at Novell. Whether software is open source or not, there's still a hierarchy when it comes to development.

Mike, although there is ideology at play here, don't be fooled into thinking it's all ideology. Novell is a competitor to Redhat and that gives you the whole picture.

"Redhat doesn't even really care about the desktop. I think they've made that perfectly clear by now."

Putting Linux on the Corporate Desktop
Posted by Eugenia Loli-Queru on 2004-05-19 20:04:21 UTC

Red Hat is the latest Linux company to challenge Mircosoft's hold on the business desktop space with the introduction of Red Hat Desktop, the latest addition to the Red Hat Enterprise Linux family. Matthew Szulik, the company's chief executive, chairman and president met ITWeek to discuss Red Hat's latest efforts and share his views about the Linux landscape.


lumbergh
by Bitterman on Thu 20th May 2004 19:31 UTC


As I stated before, Redhat is the defacto controller of Gnome

and:
Redhat doesn't even really care about the desktop. I think they've made that perfectly clear by now.


Which one is correct cause it certainly cannot be both. I'm not a Red Hat insider but it's obvious they put nearly as much or the same amount of development into Gnome as they do the kernel. It's so hard to have a debate with some people..

Red Hat has done more gnome development than ximian, there by proving ximian doesn't care about gnome, I rest my case!
c'mon now, really.. While you were on slashdot pounding red hat kills desktop, Red Hat had 10 desktop development jobs open and looking to hire, they probably still do go check thier career opertunities would ya. Oh yeah, I think they released a 'desktop' product too. *sigh*

As for the hohum I agree Miguel could go about things better and as I've stated I think he's wrong here but I wouldn't insult him and expect to work anything out.

Sun-Tzu in the art of war said:
"one who speaks deferentially but increases his preparations will advance. One who speaks belligerently and advances hastily will retreat."

I think that comment is right on line with this discussion and why I think Red Hat is right for bringing it up.

@Bitterman
by Lumbergh on Thu 20th May 2004 19:39 UTC

First of all, I could care less what Redhat does because I don't use it...haven't for years, so I wasn't "on slashdot pounding redhat".

Secondly, I could care less what some random Redhat announcement of the week is

Right?
by --_==Josh==_-- on Thu 20th May 2004 19:41 UTC

While Mono is doing an implementation of Microsoft's extensions to the ECMA spec, they're also doing their own set in parallel.

This means that if Microsoft torpedoes the .NET clone stuff, Mono still has a viable system built on top of the ECMA standard (Gtk#, etc...) that they've been encouraging people to target all along.

@Josh
by hohum on Thu 20th May 2004 20:01 UTC

Josh asks, "Right?"

Wrong, Josh. Wrong. While Mono is indeed dividing their software stack up between [ECMA+Original] and [ASP.NET, SWF, etc] ... this does not mitigate or unencumber the essential issue. Let me explain.

Even the ECMA parts of Mono are not unencumbered. MS holds patents on the core of Mono ie, the ECMA standards. Now, Miguel has been told (and willingly believes) that Microsoft will license the use of these patents in a RAND+ROYALTY FREE manner. However, he has not produced such a legal agreement for the rest of us to observe. Thus the community is relying upon Miguel's word ... while Miguel is relying upon MS's word.

However, even if Miguel were correct and MS did agree, in a legally binding way, to license the use of the patents in a RAND+ROYALTY FREE way... that does not mitigate the problem.

See, the crux is this. RAND is an ambiguous term. We don't know what the licensing terms will be and they could very well be incompatible with FOSS software licenses. Indeed, MS executives have already said they will likely be incompatible with the GPL. Further, MS could require that all potential licensees agree to the license on their own, in a cumbersome manner. Get the picture?

Easy....
by Dave on Thu 20th May 2004 20:25 UTC

Is there really anyone left who doesn't believe the conversation would go like this.

Novell Laywer: Dear MS lawyer please sign an legally binding agreement not to sue us over C# and .NET

MS lawyer: errrr....No!

wacky?
by Anonymous on Thu 20th May 2004 22:36 UTC

"Let's get something straight. RMS doesn't have exclusive rights to redefine the word free for his own political agenda. Once you understand that RMS's wacky definition of free software is held only by a miniscule minority of software developers and users than you can have a argument on whether Mono has legal entaglements that might bite Gnome or KDE or anybody else in the future. "

free as in freedom is wacky definition?

@ hohum
by --_==Josh==_-- on Thu 20th May 2004 23:05 UTC

:) OK I got it now.

Conclusions
by cbass on Fri 21st May 2004 00:44 UTC

This is great discussion, but, like many such discussions, Im not sure any clear conclusions have been reached, so I thought Id offer a couple:

http://metabass.com/conclusions/

[I was going to post the full text here, but it got too long.]

Where Ximian goes ....
by Mike Reid on Fri 21st May 2004 00:45 UTC

Miguel is indeed a clever guy, but where Ximian/Novell goes we cannot follow. He is clever but hasn't worked out what works for him can't work for us. While Novell might have a license from M$ for .NET development, most Free Software guys don't, and probably never will. So C# will work for Ximian, but will never be a realistic choice for Free Software until M$ makes a public patent grant.

Now, just because the gcj/Classpath libraries can't do GUI doesn't mean Java can be used. You can use the Eclipse SWT libraries (and there are even Swing bindings to these if you prefer to remain even more 'portable' between VMs). These are ready for use right now!

It is perfectly legal to use the Sun JDK to develop and deploy to gcj later. Hopefully gcj will have the GUI sorted by then. Instead of you fellows whining about it, how about you give the Classpath crew a hand. Delaying only makes it worse for us. If they got 100 dedicated souls they would churn through the work in no time. We would then have an implementation that couldn't be assailed (Sun publically granting use of its patent, but them having a patent protects someone else like M$ coming in and screwing things up for us).

Maybe M$, IBM, and Sun all want defensive patents only, but only Sun has given the patent grant. No Sun ain't angels, but what they do (ie. turn into rotters) doesn't matter now as their patent grant has been made public.

So lets get on with writing apps and not inventing new languages, eh?

Re: subset
by Jud on Fri 21st May 2004 01:22 UTC

"a subset of java is being used in fedora core 2. so its already viable"

Viable in the sense of usable, absolutely. Viable in the sense of being a reasonably feature-complete alternative to development with proprietary Java, .Net, or Mono, not yet. Which is the reason I said, as Mike Reid does above, that the greatest help to Free software users would be assistance in making GCJ, Classpath, etc., into such a reasonably feature-complete alternative.

re. Where Ximian goes ....
by johnMG on Fri 21st May 2004 02:53 UTC

> Now, just because the gcj/Classpath libraries can't do GUI ...

Excuse me? I've only got a Mac OS X box on my desk right now, but I'm pretty sure GCJ + AWT (which uses GTK+) works on GNU/Linux right now right out-of-the-box.

(GCJ's AWT doesn't work perfectly quite yet on OS X without some tweaking though.)

Also note that the GCJ class libs and those from Classpath are already in the process of being merged. ;)

Mike, could you please point to where on Sun's site it discusses this patent grant you mention? Jeez. If that's the case, we're even better off than I thought. ;)

re. subset
by johnMG on Fri 21st May 2004 03:06 UTC

I think Kaffe ( http://www.kaffe.org/ ) makes use of Classpath.

I found this link on the LQ-Wiki:
"comparison between jdk14 and classpath"
http://www.kaffe.org/~stuart/japi/htmlout/h-jdk14-classpath.html

Classpath is lookin' pretty good. ;)

Re: Dangerous, but inevitability
by Anonymous on Fri 21st May 2004 05:06 UTC

>But when (and NOT if) the .NET based
>technologies will replace

No. If and not when. I remember in the mid-90's there was a similar panic about NT. Unix vendors fell all over themselves trying to kill off their own businesses in the wake of the new and supposedly perfect and unbeatable new OS. The results were underwhelming. The demand for Unix has continued unabated, although in new form.

NT was supposed to be the server OS to end all server OSes. It wasn't. We're now supposed to believe that .NET is the middleware to replace all middlewares. I don't buy it.



But the most of users will. The M$ won the browser war. Mozilla/Firefox is a very good browser (IMHO better then IE) but the most of web pages are optimized to IE ONLYand the most of users are use it. And when .NET will be available as applet IMHO the web designers and coders (who are already uses windows to design web pages) will prefer this technologies instead of javascript, flash, etc. And if they can create web applications easily (web forms, etc) with Visual Studio they will use it instead of PHP+MySQL or java. In this case linux will dead both in server and desktop side.


Try messing around with the Eclipse IDE for a while and make your judgement based on that, rather than crappy amateur web applets.
I used Eclipse under linux. It is relative slow and ugly, but useable. But the SWT is not supported by SUN. If you write a SWT applet (if it is possible) the users need to install swt jar-s to his computer. IMHO there are only few web designer/coder will select this way, most of websites will use the .NET based technologies. It is cheaper and simpler for the most of users of web pages. And the companies will not care with the ~5% of users who are use linux or MacOS on desktop if they can create more attractive for the ~95% with lower cost of development.

Re: Dangerous, but inevitability
by Anonymous on Fri 21st May 2004 06:17 UTC

And when .NET will be available as applet IMHO the web designers and coders (who are already uses windows to design web pages) will prefer this technologies instead of javascript, flash, etc. And if they can create web applications easily (web forms, etc) with Visual Studio they will use it instead of PHP+MySQL or java. In this case linux will dead both in server and desktop side.

And the companies will not care with the ~5% of users who are use linux or MacOS on desktop if they can create more attractive for the ~95% with lower cost of development.


I simply do not believe that .NET's advertised advantages are that great.

You've chosen to focus the debate on apps delivered over the internet to home desktops. Fair enough. I'd just point out though that for apps delivered over intranets to corporate desktops, Java is already well-established (the COBOL of the 90's).

But for home-user stuff, your argument presumes that:
1. .NET will be overwhelmingly more convenient to develop web apps in than anything else.
2. That this added ease of development will be so great that providers will willingly sh!tcan their existing unix-based web servers to take advantage of it.
3. That consumers will suddenly develop an overwhelming newfound patience for slow-loading VM-hosted apps.

I simply do not believe any one of those points.

Sun's patent grant
by Mike Reid on Fri 21st May 2004 06:25 UTC

Hi johnMG,

>AWT (which uses GTK+) works on GNU/Linux right now right
> out-of-the-box.
>
> (GCJ's AWT doesn't work perfectly quite yet on OS X
> without some tweaking though.)

So not quite working out of the box then ;) But we both agree that gcj (or even Sun JDK) is the sensible way forward for those wanting to write Free Software ;)

> Mike, could you please point to where on Sun's site it
> discusses this patent grant you mention? Jeez. If that's the > case, we're even better off than I thought. ;)

See the interview with James Gosling on http://today.java.net/jag/, specifically
"There has been a big debate about implementation languages in the Gnome world. It's been all over the map, but one point of concern has been a set of formless dreads about the usability of the Java language specification. We've been very clear about this, but it seems like few have read the spec: if you look in the frontmatter, it contains an explicit statement that anyone is free to implement the specification. It goes much farther than most other specification documents: it actually includes a patent rights grant."

The Java Language Specification license he alludes to is
http://java.sun.com/docs/books/jls/first_edition/html/jcopyright.do...

So, while *any* implementation of the .NET libraries have dubious legality with respect to patents implementation of the Java libraries are in the clear. Better yet, Java is a safe bet because programs written in Java can be moved to .NET later (thanks to J#, and Sun will have to implement its JDK for .NET eventually anyway). So Java is a safe bet for an application language, unlike C#.

One point I would like to make is that we do need the Mono project to help C# developers make the transition to Linux. I just don't think that Gnome should be developed in C#.

Cheers,
Mike

@Foo Bar RE: Most of you are clueless
by Recusant on Fri 21st May 2004 07:40 UTC

You had better do some research yourself before calling people clueless.

Enforcement of copyright and patents can be asserted at any time. It is only trademarks which can be put at risk if reasonable efforts at enforcement are not taken.

( Item #5 on the copyright myths web site )

http://www.templetons.com/brad/copymyths.html

20 year old patents are quite successfully enforced after over a decade of silence. see: the GIF format.

patent defense
by Michael Knepher on Sat 22nd May 2004 00:31 UTC

Enforcement of copyright and patents can be asserted at any time. It is only trademarks which can be put at risk if reasonable efforts at enforcement are not taken.

There can, however be a defense against patent infringement (known as the doctrine of laches) if it can be shown that the patent holder intentionally sat on the patent while the technology covered by the patent became widely implemented. Of course, if those implementing the technology knew or could reasonably have known it was patented, then the defense doesn't stand up.

Is the CLR patented?
by Nando Florestan on Mon 24th May 2004 07:00 UTC

Excuse my ignorance; but I have to ask this. (Please remember that there exist no dumb questions; (almost) every question is a cry to understand the world ;)

Everyone is talking about how Mono divides its classes and how both divisions are subject to Microsoft patents and how even so, all patented interfaces could perhaps be worked around. But Mono implements something larger: the Common Language Runtime which is an idea in itself. Is this (and the corresponding binary file format) patented, or can it be? If so, how could Mono work around such a patent?