Linked by Eugenia Loli on Fri 21st May 2004 01:17 UTC
Mono Project The tomato war between Red Hat, Novell and the developer Gnome community about Mono and its legal safety continued today. Novell's Nat Friedman and Miguel de Icaza replied to yesterday's editorial by Red Hat's Seth Nickell. Later, Red Hat's Havoc Pennington replied to Nat and Gnome's Andrew Sobala also threw a few (metallic) cents too. For future episodes, bookmark PlanetGnome (unverified rumors circulating on IRC claim that eggs might be used next if there is no sign of their lawyers meeting with Microsoft to try to give an end to the saga). In any case, you don't want to miss this.
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A summary
by hohum on Fri 21st May 2004 02:17 UTC

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, in turn, 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?

Now, Miguel has offered two points to counter this concern.

1. He contends that all FOSS software is equally at risk of patent infringement by Microsoft. So, why bother worrying.

2. Seth and Redhat are whiners who are just fear-mongering.

Neither is an appropriate response.

What Miguel fails to mention with regard to the first point, is that Mono is one of a kind with two other MS technology clones. Wine and Samba. These are great projects, but neither Wine nor Samba is actively lobbying to become the foundation for the future of FOSS software. Mono is. Wine and Samba are content to be compatibility projects which add to the linux platform. Mono seeks to embed the heart of MS technology directly into the core pieces of the FOSS desktop.

As for Miguel's disrespectful attitude towards Seth and Redhat? Well, that speaks for itself.