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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Storm In a Teacup
by David on Fri 21st May 2004 21:27 UTC

From what I have read, both sides are right.

It needs to be identified exactly what the threat is, and exactly what the patent threat is from these ECMA standards. I mean exact facts, not something that a Red Hat (or Novell) guy has plucked out of the air as being fact. In all of this I have never seen an appraisal of what threats there may be on the ECMA standards and Mono itself. Show us a list of patents, and maybe the community at large can pour through them?

Since Mono uses different implementations to .Net (but does the same thing), even for the Microsoft-oriented stuff, I'm not convinced. Maybe it would have been better to take the ECMA standards and create a new API? Who knows.

However, the articles in the past about Miguel Icaza having some sort of letter do not inspire confidence. If you have it tell people about it, and if you are doing a patent review then tell people about it.

Does the use of the ECMA standards require a royalty license today? If not then there is really not much of a threat. The situation is not like SCO because if Microsoft have the patent then they have to come out in the open and sue. There is also Samba and Wine is a clone of the whole of the Win32 API! However, we are speculating wildly on patents. That is not how Microsoft locks people in and out.

Technologically, Microsoft will try to lock out any interoperability of anything with their own .Net, and they will largely succeed. That's how Microsoft work - technological lock-out. Patents - well that's a nice FUD addition, and if people scream out in their blogs then so much the better ;) (and we only come full-circle). Seriously, if Microsoft have to sue over Mono then it will already be too late.

Besides, I welcome a patent war, and it has got to come sooner or later. If there isn't a patent threat on Mono then it will be something else. A nice juicy, pointless leveraging of patents will bring patent, copyright and trademark legal systems crashing to the floor. Us mere mortals can only benefit from that.

Some amusing additional statements have come out of this:

Nat: Novell internally is standardizing on Mono for the development of new applications that have to run on Windows or Linux.

I don't see Suse or anyone at Novell else outside of the Ximian sphere saying this. Is Zenworks, Groupwise and the Suse/Novell server products being completely re-engineered and written in Mono and is Suse shipping Mono by default and using it for their development? Has anyone else in Suse and Novell (not within the Ximian sphere) come out and said "We are standardizing on Mono". If not then the above is a bit of a lie then (nothing unusual there), isn't it?

Havoc: Novell is pressuring everyone to take this huge risk, under threat of forking the Linux desktop.

You'll be forking Gnome presumably, not the Linux desktop (whatever that is). Quite how the concept of the Linux desktop hinges on Mono and Gnome is anyone's guess, but that is the level of paranoia we are at.

For me, Mono is a decent development option and will provide a good avenue for anyone stuck with .Net over the next few years if we can work out a way of getting people off Windows. The danger is that some people just automatically assume that this will happen.

However, that is all Mono is - a development option. Unfortunately, some people are acting as if Mono is the answer to all our prayers and will be the single programming environment anywhere. We have had a whole catalogue of articles from the Ximian people with hints sprinkled around them about Gnome adopting Mono more fully. Heck, we even had an article about KDE moving to Mono just because Qt# got started!

Given all of this history then I can see why many people are distrustful. Nat, Miguel and others have to earn that trust back.