Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 29th May 2009 22:32 UTC, submitted by lemur2
Mono Project If there is one technology in the Linux world that ruffles feathers whenever it's mentioned, it's Mono, the open source .Net clone. Since .Net comes out of Microsoft, and has some patents encircling it, it is said to be a legal nightmare. Supposedly, you can obtain a "royalty-free, reasonable and non-discriminatory" license from Microsoft regarding the patents surrounding Mono. iTWire decided to look at just how easy (or hard) it is to get such a license. Turns out it's kind of hard.
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RE[3]: minefield
by Slambert666 on Mon 1st Jun 2009 05:38 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: minefield"
Slambert666
Member since:
2008-10-30

My problem wrt mono runs deeper than a vague fear about MS sueing individuals and/or FOSS projects over a bunch of mono/.Net related patents.


What on earth makes you think that a patent covering some fundamental part of the CLR is only applicable to the CLR? and not for example the python VM, JVM or Parrot?

Why do you think that Sun (and IBM etc.) made a patent cross licensing deal with Microsoft?

The consituents of what is known as "Mono" are distributed under a mix of licenses. And please correct me if I'm wrong, but the licenses used for the C# toolchain part and the runtime libs seem to be (at least as of now) the GPLv2 and the LGPLv2 respectively, both licenses that require upstream parties to ensure that all potential downstream recipients, regardless of their position in the supply-chain and relationships to upstreams, have equal access to all necessary patent licenses.


Both GPLv2 and LGPLv2 says no such thing.

The problem is that Microsoft itself is - when it comes to mono, at least as far as I know - not a party of the GPLv2 / LGPLv2 (e.g. they have not distributed Mono or equivalent software under these terms) but are in a position to suddenly start collecting license fees (which is allowed under RAND terms). There are several potential ways to craft even an RAND-Z license which is incompatible with the GPL/LGPL, like for example reserving the right to sublicense so that each and every user has to obtain a license directly from Microsoft. This practice is actually quite usual for several technologies that can be licensed royality free from Microsoft (afaik, the Core fonts and the the license for the ribbon interface have or at least had these restrictions in the past).


There are tons of stuff out there to which Microsoft has some kind of patent compilers, VMs and desktop environments etc. Do you for example think that the creators of python has the rights to all patents, and also the rights to sub-license those patents, that cover the entire suite of technologies that python covers?

If you do then you are delusional at best.

If you don't then please tell me how the python patent case is in any way different from the Mono patent case. Because I cannot see the difference. It is the same licenses, largely the same patents and the same actors involved in both cases.

Call me odd and paranoid, but the words "kill switch" are pretty much what I would use to describe this scenario. Note that (let's say) MS does not even have to actually sue somebody. All that it takes is that some parties (like for example RedHat, Debian, etc.) are excluded from getting a GPL compatible license.

It is especially because of the large number of trivial patents that are already out there which may be used to wreak havoc on pretty much any FOSS project regardless of their preferred toolkit/language/etc. (double-click and progress bars anyone?) that it seems a bit strange that a project like GNOME increasingly relies on Mono which - according to this article - introduces some additional legal concerns.


Now you are just contradicting yourself, or are you now spreading FUD against linux as a whole?
The problem is that you cannot just single out Mono and say it is "patent encumbered" and "patent encumbered" technology should not be used on linux or wherever.
All software is "patent encumbered" and focusing on any one specific technology is either naive, or worse supporting the idea that software patents are somehow "real" and must be supported. Once you open up that can of worms there is no stopping it. "Patents" are anti free software at its core and whatever you say about Mono can be used against any piece of software beyond the most trivial.

If you like mono / .Net as a development environment, then go for it. But if you work on an (in the perspecitve of the FOSS desktop: extremly) important FOSS project, then I hope you take the legal ambiguity resulting from the conflicting interpretations of the patent situation into account when you form your strategic decisions.


So what you are saying is don't use FOSS Software because of the "patent situation"..... I will take that into account when I "form my strategic decisions" NOT.

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