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08.29.07

Looking Ahead: GNOME Desktop a Windows Implementation for the Linux Kernel?

Posted in GNOME, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Mono, Novell at 10:52 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Was GNOME eying the Microsoft API back in 1997?

I sometimes think that certain people are either paid directly or ‘compensated’ (indirect payment) by Microsoft for sidling with a malicious and monopolistic agenda. Two individual examples would be the ZDNet bloggers George Ou and Ed Bought [by Microsoft]. Sometimes, however, a long-term strategy requires exploration.

Despite all of Miguel de Icaza’s enormous contributions to the Linux desktop, we must never forget where he comes from and who he still interacts with. Despite Microsoft long history of abuses, de Icaza defends them rigorously. He even defends OOXML. His vocal take on this matter has being used to fuel arguments made in favour of OOXML. Since he is expected to be on the ‘other side of the fence’, his arguments are perceived as more credible than these which come from Microsoft employees and partners. The same goes for OOXML support by Apple and Linux companies that liaised with Microsoft (for money, of course).

Novell’s direction with Linux seems worrisome. It does not align with the vision of a free operating system that builds upon open standards. Control of its direction is not decentralised, either.

Yesterday, Linux.com published an article that contained another ‘red flag’ statement from de Icaza.

Though de Icaza is no longer directly involved with GNOME development, he says his work on Mono, and that of the rest of his team at Novell, “pretty much revolves around the goals from 10 years ago.” He says he keeps in touch with GNOME developers, but “mostly with those who are using the APIs and tools that we are creating, like the Banshee Media Music Player, the F-Spot manager, and the Bater collaboration tool.”

Say No to MonoCan you see this? Building a desktop that revolves around the Microsoft API was a goal since inception (unless we read this incorrectly). Follow at the link and read about his background again. It was exactly 10 years ago that Miguel traveled to Microsoft and attended a job interview. This statement from Linux.com seems like news, which might confirm what some used to call “conspiracy” or “hidden agenda”.

If you do not know why this is dangerous, have a look at our previous writings (GNOME is gradually becoming .NET-dependent) . What is the thinking here? According to a Gartner analyst, a lot of SUSE developers left because of the Microsoft/Novell deal. Some months ago, Novell said that it was hiring many Mono (.NET) developers. It sometimes seems like de Icaza and Microsoft have taken control of SUSE’s direction. The company transforms into something else. We’re concerned that we’re seeing a patent-encumbered clone in the making.

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20 Comments

  1. Anon said,

    August 30, 2007 at 2:08 am

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    “Can you see this? Building a desktop that revolves around the Microsoft API was a goal since inception (unless we read this incorrectly)”

    I think you can build a suggestive (but not an airtight) case that Miguel was really intending to build a *heavily* Microsoft-inspired desktop when he sat down to create GNOME – ironic as it is KDE that is often described as the “Windows-like” one nowadays!

    In his own words:

    ” went to interview to Microsoft that summer and met both Randy Chapman and Nat Friedman for the first time in person. We had known for a long time from the LinuxNet IRC network.

    At Microsoft I learned the truth about ActiveX and COM and I got very interested in it inmediately. Upon my return to Mexico Federico and I started to design a GUI control infrastructure for Unix that we code named `GNOME’. [1]”

    So he stays at Microsoft a while, describes ActiveX as “very interesting” and then *immediately* begins work on the GNU *Network Object Model* Environment? The Wikipedia article strengthens the point:

    “The name “GNOME” was proposed as an acronym of GNU Network Object Model Environment by Elliot Lee, one of the authors of ORBit and the Object Activation Framework.[citation needed] It refers to GNOME’s original intention of creating a distributed object framework similar to Microsoft’s OLE.”

    And now the guy spends the whole of his life explicitly duplicating Microsoft’s technologies?

    I would not be even remotely surprised to find that that was his goal since the beginning.

    [1] http://primates.ximian.com/~miguel/gnome-history.html

  2. Blubbo Teh Clown said,

    August 30, 2007 at 2:13 pm

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    I hate to break it to you, but Miguel Icaza is and always has been a gigantic charlatan. I have never understood why so many people put him up on some godlike pedestal and proclaim his greatness so much–I have yet to see anything he has done that impresses me at all. GNOME was a heavily rushed “me too” game that produced a horribly unstable mess for many, many iterations of it’s release cycle. It improved greatly once Icaza followed his attention defecit disorder to his next half-baked project (which also fell by the wayside in favour, eventually, of MONO).

    But I have seen much to make me quite suspicious of his motives. And his blatant love for Microsoft has been well-known for a long time… Why is this still news to some people?

  3. Gianluca said,

    August 30, 2007 at 2:18 pm

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    Oh, could you please cut the crap? You fanboy are becoming really obnoxious.

  4. ig said,

    August 30, 2007 at 2:37 pm

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    Miguel de Icaza and Nat Friedman cannot be trusted. While I can’t prove it, I’m fairly certain that they are both secretly on Microsoft’s payroll, as part of a plan to subvert open source from within. This is why they started GNOME instead of adapting KDE to their needs. It’s why they’ve started half a dozen other open source projects instead of adapting existing ones to their needs. This pair of villains has singlehandedly caused most of the major rifts in the open source community. They cannot be trusted.

  5. Eduardo Padoan said,

    August 30, 2007 at 2:41 pm

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    Sorry, but this is crap. GNOME is not only Icasa, even in the begining. Also, it is obvious *everyone* wants to be compatible with the must used OS out there. And if Icasa have some good feelings about Microsoft products, There is no proof that he is a soldier of the “dark side”. He made great contributions to Free Software, and we must remember this. How many patent-free code did you wrote today?

  6. Alan B. Cohen said,

    August 30, 2007 at 3:01 pm

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    Roy, paranoia is not attractive. You have documented only that these two persons admire a competitor’s creation. Another (ig) has suggested only that they wanted to work on their own projects instead of joining a pre-existing one. One commenter (Blubbo Teh Clown) has only commented that GNOME was ‘rushed’ [know any other projects that could describe?]

    If only Glenn Curtis had not admired the Wright Brothers achievement.
    If only Henry Ford had joined the Daimler’s in developing their car.
    If only we waited until materials sciences had strong enough materials for a skyhook before exploring space.

    Deal with it! Money may be YOUR primary motivator, but not the only one that will turn most people’s heads! Ever see a pretty (insert sexual object of your choice)? Personally, I think you get too much of a rush seeing your name in print – and rush articles you KNOW are false just to see your name. My paranoia is showing too.

  7. MattD said,

    August 30, 2007 at 3:14 pm

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    I don’t think people are even aware of this. I wasn’t a few months ago (but the articles here have me questioning a number of things)… Whenever I look at Gnome vs KDE, I focus on the technical aspects of each and where they’re heading.

    This bit of info changes things for me… I’ll have to research this topic further but appreciate the work (links provided, etc) regarding this.

    I have seen Miguel de Icaza post here before. If he posts again, he should be clear about what he was trying to build those many years ago.

    The question of a non-Free Linux troubles me greatly. Microsoft’s involvement and their continued patent threats against Linux seem ridiculous. Is Miguel de Icaza purposely aiding Microsoft and helping to destroy FreeLinux?

    Since Miguel de Icaza isn’t involved in Gnome development anymore, I wonder what kinds of affiliations some of the lead developers have with Microsoft and what they’re doing to insure that Gnome remains free.

  8. MattD said,

    August 30, 2007 at 4:08 pm

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    I also want to add Ubuntu and RedHat. Both Mark Shuttleworth and Redhat have spoken candidly about patent extortion and Microsoft.

    While I respect the work you are doing here, Roy, I also need to ask why these two companies still make Gnome the Default GUI… there’s alot happening in the Linux front and Microsoft should *always* be watched and reported on. Keeping track of all this is too much to ask of the end-user so we finally put our trust in companies that oppose the negative work Microsoft engages in.

    When companies that are highly critical of Microsoft and support FOSS but go out of their way to support a specific GUI, perhaps there isn’t much here.

    In any case, I look forward to additional information regarding this. There is enough information in this and previous articles to question specific applications such as Gnome. Developers who do strongly support FOSS should have no issues answering these types of questons clearly and easing the minds of their supporters.

    End-users who *believe* in the types of freedoms that Linux and the GPL provide should also be open enough to question and expect responses when things are not so clear.

  9. john said,

    August 30, 2007 at 4:09 pm

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    Innuendo, ungrounded accusations, questioning the (secret?) motives of others…

    Can’t decide if this is more like McCarthy-ism or the Salem Witch Trials.

    Articles and comments like this from “our” side and still Microsoft gets all the credit for attempting to fracture Linux.

  10. Roy Schestowitz said,

    August 30, 2007 at 5:02 pm

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    Alan,

    Use of labels to discredit an argument/person is a cheap (albeit not necessarily weak) strategy. With words like “jihad”, or “geeks”, or “paranoid” or “tinfoil hat” being used, it seems like part of these old attempts to stick stereotypes onto groups or individual people. It would be more effective if you refuted not only facts that we present here, but also the one that we build upon (facts that are cross-cited).

  11. Azerthoth said,

    August 30, 2007 at 6:55 pm

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    Wow, and people accuse me of blogging just to get my name in lights. I read boycottnovell because I believe in questioning everything, not that I necessarily agree with anything I have ever read here, but keeping an open mind is important to me, but I read conflicting points of view because I will readily admit I’m wrong when it can be proved to me.

    There is no proof here, just narcissism attached to a full blown paranoia complex.

  12. Geoff said,

    August 30, 2007 at 7:09 pm

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    While it’s probably true that a lot of this talk is speculation – I’m afraid I can’t help but be extremely suspicious when an apparently very talented programmer expresses admiration for Activex, which is by far one of the worst lock-in vectors Microsoft has ever come up with(worst meaning it’s insidious and insecure, it’s got to be one of the BEST lock-in methods they’ve come up with – look at South Korea for an example). How many botnet nodes exist today because of Activex?? Probably the majority…

  13. Roy Schestowitz said,

    August 30, 2007 at 7:37 pm

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    Azerthoth,

    Proof of what exactly? Be specific. I believe we have documented proof of all the arguments made. Just let me know which part you are not sure of and I’ll point you to factual information (which is probably cross-referenced anyway, one just needs to follow the path of hyperlinks)..

    Geoff,

    I am assuming that you are referring to South Korea being unable to adopt Windows Vista (government sites incompatible because of ActiveX, never mind the effect on other platforms). I read about it a long time ago.

  14. Jeff Waugh said,

    August 30, 2007 at 9:44 pm

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    Roy, perhaps you’d like to do a follow-up to this article after talking to someone who is actually involved in GNOME? Your interpretation of Miguel’s quotes in the article is pretty clearly incorrect (be it a matter of history or comprehension), and I would be happy to clear things up for you.

    - Jeff (the other person who was independently interviewed and quoted in that article)

  15. Roy Schestowitz said,

    August 30, 2007 at 10:07 pm

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    Jeff,

    Will gladly do so. Let’s clarify what needs to be clarified and resolve this mystery once and for all. In the past, Miguel did not provide any compelling counter argument and instead resorted to vague accusations and criticisms of character.

    I’ll mail you.

  16. Darrin Auxier said,

    August 30, 2007 at 11:13 pm

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    I just checked my Ubuntu Feisty Fawn. Using synaptic, I selected all packages with mono in the name and marked them for complete removal. The only dependent packages that were to be removed were fspot and tomboy (and a few related libraries). Since Ubuntu sticks with the latest Gnome version, I think it’s fairly safe to say that this report is false.

  17. Roy Schestowitz said,

    August 30, 2007 at 11:37 pm

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    I don’t know for sure about Ubuntu, but here’s Fedora:

    http://slated.org/mono_infestation_in_fedora
    http://boycottnovell.com/2007/07/23/gnome-mono-dep/#comment-1380
    http://boycottnovell.com/2007/07/23/gnome-mono-dep/#comment-1426

  18. Slated said,

    August 31, 2007 at 5:36 am

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    I think you’ll find that if you did a full audit of Ubuntu, you’d probably find even more Mono dependants than Fedora, since:

    Ubuntu (Debian) has more packages, which means a statistically higher chance of infection
    Ubuntu does not have as strict criteria for package inclusion as Fedora, with respect to Freedom (i.e. patent issues)

    I’d be more than happy to conduct such an audit, unless someone else (an Ubuntu user) wants to do it first.

  19. MattD said,

    August 31, 2007 at 1:01 pm

    Gravatar

    @ Jeff Waugh

    Thank you Jeff! I am currently looking at a number of distros and Ubuntu is on the top of my list. The distro isn’t just for my use but it’s something I want to be able to recommend to others (many novice users and a few small companies for now) – so usability is an issue.

    Like many transitioning Windows users, the decision is based solely on the actions of the company itself. I don’t believe that boycotting novell works against the community since they signed a patent deal they had no right to sign (just my view on this subject). I do now feel that targetting specific applications would have a detrimental effect so your input on this is very welcomed. My initial knee-jerk reaction to this news hasn’t been good (previous posts) but would rather not comment further for now.

    Since Microsoft’s involvement might lead to distros that are patent-encumbered, it’s an important issue for users that are looking for a free-linux (but still want/need the ability to install commercial applications that are clearly defined as such all the way down to their libraries).

    Wiki has some good info for users, like myself, who don’t follow this closely at:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mono_(software)

    The article even provides a quote from Richard Stallman: “we know that Microsoft is getting patents on some features of C#. So I think it’s dangerous to use C#, and it may be dangerous to use Mono.”

    The article also includes a long list of applications that use Mono and C#.

    If mono latches itself onto Gnome (and if mono is indeed dangerous down the line) – a reliance on these technologies would bring many users like myself and others back to square one. Supporting a company like Microsoft is not something I want to do any longer.

    In the meantime, I’ll be looking over Kubuntu and a recommended BSD distro.

  20. Roy Schestowitz said,

    August 31, 2007 at 7:59 pm

    Gravatar

    This PC that I’m using at the moment is all about KDE, but I know that underneath, with the GNOME libraries installed, .NET ‘DNA’ is embedded. This is not right.

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