EditorsAbout the SiteComes vs. MicrosoftUsing This Web SiteSite ArchivesCredibility IndexOOXMLOpenDocumentPatentsNovellNews DigestSite NewsRSS


Novell Selfishly Uses Mono as ‘Protection’-based Advantage

Posted in Microsoft, Mono, Novell, Patents at 8:07 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

No Mo’ patents!

Computer Weekly has just published a one-sided article about Mono.

To Mono’s founders, the proprietary/open-source battle was less important than issues of co-existence and the most appropriate platform for the job. According to Justin Steinman, Novell’s director of product marketing for Linux and open platform systems, and the man in charge of selling Mono to the world, “Mono essentially enables you to run .net applications on Linux,” giving you the choice of developing for either platform knowing that it will run on both.

Interestingly enough, the article defends Mono proponents while dismissing opposition to it as being “anti-Microsoft”. Mind you, they use negativism; not “pro-open standard”, not “anti-patents”, not “freedom advocate”, or even “fair competition proponents”.

“Remember that Microsoft has no commitment for Mono.”The article quotes Justin Steinman, whose “night job” (that’s what he calls it) now involves both Microsoft and Novell. This type of duality in role and responsibilities is similar to Miguel de Icaza’s role at Novell, but Miguel describes a duality in a different way, namely: “I have two positions, and one is speaking as the person managing the Mono team, and then there is another answer speaking as a Novell vice president.” It wasn’t long ago that he spoke about OOXML being a “superb standard”.

In any event, remind yourselves why Mono is risky, unlike GNU/Linux and open standards (Novell will try to convince you otherwise, using perceived risk as an ‘advantage’).

…Mono’s role in the deal that of a hook to make customers write .NET applications because they can be run on Linux – only to find later on that they are armless or legless because of a change in the .NET specifications, a change which Microsoft decides not to make public?

Remember that Microsoft has no commitment for Mono. It can pull the carpet from underneath Mono’s feet at any time, so again, as a Mono-reliant customer, you’re left at Microsoft’s mercy.

If you seek evidence of what might come, then read the following.

I read the agreement between Xandros and Microsoft, and one of the excluded products was Mono, so Microsoft promises to not sue Xandros over their distribution but excluding Mono and a few other products, i.e. they reserve the right to sue over Mono. I wonder if this is an interesting preview of on what basis they want to fight the free world.

Interestingly, the Novell deal seems to be different, Mono is not excluded from the Novell deal. So Microsoft seems to be promising not to sue Novell over Mono, but keeps the option open for Xandros. Weird but true.

Share this post: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Reddit
  • co.mments
  • DZone
  • email
  • Google Bookmarks
  • LinkedIn
  • NewsVine
  • Print
  • Technorati
  • TwitThis
  • Facebook

If you liked this post, consider subscribing to the RSS feed or join us now at the IRC channels.

Pages that cross-reference this one


  1. David said,

    October 2, 2007 at 2:49 am


    Hi Roy, After reading this post, I fail to see the point of it, regurgitating an old, albeit intresting difference between the several microsoft deals.

    To me the title especially seems over-sensationalised, and fails to deliver. Theres no new evidence in this post of Novell using mono as a competitive advantage.

    Obviously, if I’m missing something, then please correct me.

  2. Roy Schestowitz said,

    October 2, 2007 at 4:26 am



    Have a look at this:

    And There You Have It: You Need Novell (Not Just .NET) to Run Moonlight

    While Linux thrives in the sharing of work, Novell seems to be Monopolosing (pun) Mono. Since Novell is claimed to have received special ‘protection’ for “Mono”, I firmly believe that it would be wise to disengage and exclude it from other GNU/Linux distributions. While Jeff Waugh has insisted that GNOME is in no way Mono-dependent, a friend of mine who is a former Fedora maintainer begs to differ, even after hearing Jeff’s rebuttal to my posts.

  3. David said,

    October 2, 2007 at 9:03 am


    Thanks for replying, Roy. I understand that Novell has the ability to use Mono to prolong dependence on proprietary software and formats, but I don’t see how Mono is any different to Samba or MS-Exchange implementations.

    Or is it that Novell owns the copyright of Mono, and now has perceived clearance from Microsoft to use Mono, that makes this different from other Free implementations of proprietary standards?

    Forgive my ignorance/stupidity ;-) Almost a year after the deal I still don’t understand a lot of the ramifications of it.

  4. Roy Schestowitz said,

    October 2, 2007 at 9:13 am



    Have a look at this excellent analysis from MattD. It also includes the Mono promises.

    The Novell/Microsoft Deal Dissected

    Also, of interest you might find the following:

    Dissecting Microsoft’s OOXML/ODF Strategy

    Mindmap: Microsoft Deals and Partnership as Proxies in a Software Battle

  5. Jose_X said,

    September 14, 2008 at 9:46 pm


    >> I understand that Novell has the ability to use Mono to prolong dependence on proprietary software and formats, but I don’t see how Mono is any different to Samba or MS-Exchange implementations.

    Here is one difference. One is an API, used to build things. The others are specific implementations. Two specific bad apples (for arguments sake let’s assume) vs. the rotting poison that creates bad apples.

    That’s an oversimplification of one of the major differences.

  6. AlexH said,

    September 15, 2008 at 2:18 am


    @Jose: that’s not true in a theoretical or technical level.

    Samba is entirely about the API. Samba 4 is built out of API descriptions (idl files) and can be used to build things (e.g., OpenChange).

    Mono is no different to GNU Portable.net, gcj, etc.

  7. Roy Schestowitz said,

    September 15, 2008 at 2:23 am



    Is Samba /actively/ being used to build things, like Novell builds a lot of the desktop with Mono (unlike Mainsoft for example)?

  8. AlexH said,

    September 15, 2008 at 2:46 am


    I just gave you an example, OpenChange for native MAPI access to Microsoft Exchange.

  9. Roy Schestowitz said,

    September 15, 2008 at 2:52 am


    I’ve just browsed it a bit [ http://www.openchange.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=16&Itemid=54 ].

    it seems like a drop-in replacement for Exchange, which is designed to work with existing software. That’s not the same thing as Mono. Here you have protocols that Microsoft commoditised.

  10. AlexH said,

    September 15, 2008 at 3:42 am


    No, primarily (at the moment) it’s to get clients to talk to Exchange, replacing Exchange comes later.

    Microsoft didn’t commoditise these protocols in any way.

  11. Roy Schestowitz said,

    September 15, 2008 at 3:59 am


    It made them hard to bypass.

  12. AlexH said,

    September 15, 2008 at 5:58 am


    Do you just want to explain what you understand “commoditisation” to mean?

    “It made them hard to bypass” doesn’t fit with the definition I use, so I suspect we’re talking at cross purposes somewhat.

  13. Roy Schestowitz said,

    September 15, 2008 at 6:10 am


    There are a variety of protocols that became almost essential to follow due to the ubiquity of Microsoft software, particularly on the desktop. One example of this is Outlook/Exchange, which the widespread use of Microsoft Office led to. At one later stage, the competition among ‘rival’ protocols hardly exists, but there is no standardisation, either. I think of it (the protocol) as a form of a commodity although it may still involve pricey licensing, such as those that Scalix (Xandros) subscribed to. Other examples worth adding are the wide use of GIF on the Web and x86 on the desktop.

  14. AlexH said,

    September 15, 2008 at 6:29 am


    I think your use of the word “commodity” is incorrect.

    In terms of protocols, HTTP or TCP/IP are commodity protocols: they are well-known and used in the marketplace, but there are also many different products which implement them. Cars are commodity items in the same way; different people buy different cars for different reasons, but at a basic level they all do the same thing. X86 processors are also commodity.

    Exchange’s protocols are very much not commodity; they are de-facto as you rightly point out, and while some people have licensed the information to use them they’re not replaceable in the market place.

    Indeed, there isn’t really such as thing as “Exchange protocol” anyway. In terms of authentication, you have exactly the same Active Directory/Kerberos setup, which Samba already provides. The IPC mechanism is the same, and it uses the AD tree, and then provides a MAPI API to access actual data.

  15. Roy Schestowitz said,

    September 15, 2008 at 6:36 am


    This brings us back to the earlier point about whether or not Mono is different from Samba. This comparison was used a lot by Jeff Waugh.

    We can live without Mono because we have popular frameworks like Java. It’s not the same with Samba.

    Also see:


  16. Dan O'Brian said,

    September 15, 2008 at 7:30 am


    Moonlight and Mono are also separate products, so your logic fails to deliver.

    Here’s my theory:

    Only Novell can deliver Moonlight (as defined by the product Novell is implementing + the Microsoft codec binary blob) because Microsoft only gave Novell the right to redistribute the binary blob and it comes with a number of other restrictions as well.

    There’s nothing that suggests that distributions could not ship Moonlight sans binary codec blob that I’ve seen.

    Of course, for distributions to do so, they would have to link with, say, ffmpeg to make it feature-complete and by doing so put themselves at legal risk unless they also licensed the video formats (from Microsoft and MPEG) because the video formats are patented.

    AFAICT, the risk of other patents applying to Silverlight should be fairly minimal because there’s nothing that Silverlight does that does not have “prior art” written all over it (e.g. 2D vector graphics, gee wiz, SVG maybe? Same with the XAML format – SVG or GladeXML = prior art).

    If Microsoft have patents on Silverlight’s 2D vector graphics, then it is just as likely that Cairo infringes – and Cairo is a core part of the Linux Desktop (and actually, afaik, Moonlight uses Cairo for drawing anyway).

  17. Dan O'Brian said,

    September 15, 2008 at 7:33 am


    I should mention also that InkScape can read/save XAML and convert between it and SVG and whatever other formats it supports.

  18. Roy Schestowitz said,

    September 15, 2008 at 7:47 am


    It’s irrelevant to the point that Moonlight requires Mono.

  19. AlexH said,

    September 15, 2008 at 7:47 am


    @Roy: what you mean is, *you* can live without Mono. And that’s fine, it’s a choice you can make. Others will choose to use Mono, and that’s also fine, because it’s free software.

    @Dan: indeed, the actual output – Flash, Silverlight, whatever, is relatively unimportant.

    What is crucial is that there need to be free software apps for *creating* the content, not just passively consuming it. Inkscape is one app, LunarEclipse is another.

    I personally wish that there was a decent free software tool which did SVG + animation. It looks like we’re a long way from that, though.

  20. AlexH said,

    September 15, 2008 at 7:51 am


    @Roy: Moonlight doesn’t require Mono unless you’re scripting it, and you can always script it from the outside using Javascript anyway – in that mode, it’s just a fancy canvas. Even Moonlight users can avoid Mono if they wish.

  21. Roy Schestowitz said,

    September 15, 2008 at 7:56 am


    It’s also possible to use GNU/Linux without X. Would people actually do this? Would /packagers/?

    Look at the URL:


    “A page to track the various projects that make up the Mono-based implementation of Silverlight.”

What Else is New

  1. Links 21/3/2018: Cutelyst 2, More on webOS

    Links for the day

  2. SUEPO: “Today May Be Your Last Chance to Demonstrate Against the Seriously Flawed Reforms That Mr Battistelli Has Imposed” on EPO Staff

    Benoît Battistelli will likely remain involved in EPO affairs for a long time to come (even through a fellow Frenchman, Campinos, whom he swaps two chairs with at the Office and CEIPI), but today is the last opportunity for EPO staff to march in protest against the Battistelli regime, which for the first time ever will result in major staff cuts and growing irrelevance for the Office

  3. Links 20/3/2018: GStreamer 1.14.0, Freespire 3.0, Endless OS 3.3.13

    Links for the day

  4. BIO, MDMA and PhRMA Are Pushing the PTAB-Hostile STRONGER Patents Act While IAM and Patently-O Continue to Bash PTAB

    The patent microcosm, which compares the Board to the above (crude analogy from Judge Rader and other patent extremists), is still trying to kill inter partes reviews (IPRs), in effect overlooking its own hypocrisy on the matter (they don’t want patent justice, they just want to metaphorically ‘shoot down’ the judges)

  5. 35 U.S.C. § 101 is Still Effectively Tackling Software Patents in the US, But Patent Law Firms Lie/Distort to 'Sell' These Anyway

    The assertion that software patents are still worth pursuing in 2018 is based on carefully-constructed spin which mis-frames several court decisions and underplays/downplays/ignores pretty much everything that does not suit the narrative

  6. Battistelli's EPO Became Extremely Reliant on China for Distraction and on Endless Supply of Applications (Supply Which Doesn't Exist)

    Discussion about the EPO granting machine (or patent-printing machine) and figures the way EPO management would rather the public won't ever see them; the concept that China means redemption for this patent system is as laughable as always

  7. The US International Trade Commission (USITC) Against Comcast, Courtesy of the Intellectual Ventures-Connected Rovi

    The USITC/ITC, which mostly serves to impose embargoes (sometimes in shocking defiance of PTAB decisions), is being invoked by a firm connected to the world’s largest patent troll, Intellectual Ventures

  8. Tinder/Match Group Uses Software Patents to Sue a Rival, Obviously Choosing to Sue in Texas

    Software patents are being used for leverage, but only those which were likely granted before Alice and only in courts at districts somewhere around Texas

  9. Links 19/3/2018: Linux 4.16 RC6, Atom 1.25, antiX 17.1, GNU Mcron 1.1

    Links for the day

  10. From PTAB Bashing to Federal Circuit (CAFC) Bashing: How the Patent 'Industry' Sells Software Patents

    The latest tactics of the patent microcosm are just about as distasteful as last month's (or last year's), with focus shifting to the courts and few broadly-misinterpreted patent cases (mainly Finjan, Berkheimer, and Aatrix)

  11. Patent Maximalists Keep Coming Up With New Terms and Buzzwords to Bypass the Practical Ban on Software Patents

    The fightback against Section 101 and the US Supreme Court (notably Alice) seems to concentrate on old and new buzzwords, such as "Software as a Medical Device" ("SaMD") or "Fourth Industrial Revolution" ("4IR"), which the EPO recently paid European media to spread and promote

  12. News About Patents is Often Just Advertisements Composed Directly or Indirectly by Companies That Sell Patents and Patent Services

    Infomercials are still dominant among news about patents, in effect drowning out the signal (real journalism) and instead pushing agenda that is detached from reality, pertinent facts, objective assessment, public interest and so on

  13. Blocks and Paywalls Won't Protect the Patent Trolls' Lobby From Scrutiny/Fact-Checking

    Joff Wild and Benoît Battistelli have much in common, including patent maximalism and chronic resistance to facts (or fact-checking)

  14. China Has Become Very Aggressive With Patents

    China now targets other Asian countries/firms -- more so than Western firms -- with patent lawsuits; we expect this to get worse in years to come

  15. UPC/Battistelli Booster IAM Blames Brexit Rather Than EPO Abuses

    While the EPO is collapsing due to mismanagement the boosters of Team Battistelli would rather deflect and speak about Brexit, which is itself partly motivated by such mismanagement

  16. European Commission Again Urged to Tackle Abuses at the European Patent Office (EPO)

    Rina Ronja Kari is the latest MEP attempting to compel the Commission to actually do something about the EPO other than turning a blind eye

  17. Links 18/3/2018: Wine 3.4, Wine-Staging 3.4, KDE Connect 1.8 for Android

    Links for the day

  18. TXED Courts Are Causing Businesses to Leave the District, Notably For Fear That Having Any Operations Based There is a Legal Liability

    A discussion about the infamous abundance of patent cases in the Eastern District of Texas (TXED/EDTX) and what this will mean for businesses that have branches or any form of operations there (making them subjected to lawsuits in that district even after TC Heartland)

  19. PTAB Hatred is So Intense Among the Patent 'Industry' That Even Scammers Are Hailed as Champions If They Target PTAB

    The patent microcosm is so eager to stop the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) that it's supporting sham deals (or "scams") and exploits/distorts the voice of the new USPTO Director to come up with PTAB-hostile catchphrases

  20. The Patent 'Industry' is Increasingly Mocking CAFC and Its Judges Because It Doesn't Like the Decisions

    Judgmental patent maximalists are still respecting high courts only when it suits them; whenever the outcome is not desirable they're willing to attack the legitimacy of the courts and the competence of judges, even resorting to racist ad hominem attacks if necessary

  21. The Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) Carries on Enforcing § 101, Invalidating Software Patents and Upsetting the Patent 'Industry' in the Process

    A quick report on where PTAB stands at the moment, some time ahead of the Oil States decision (soon to come from the US Supreme Court)

  22. Luxembourg Can Become a Hub of Patent Trolls If the EPO Carries on With Its 'Reforms', Even Without the UPC

    With or without the Unified Patent Court (UPC), which is the wet dream of patent trolls and their legal representatives, the EPO's terrible policies have landed a lot of low-quality patents on the hands of patent trolls (many of which operate through city-states that exist for tax evasion -- a fiscal environment ripe for shells)

  23. The Patent 'Printing Machine' of the EPO Will Spawn Many Lawsuits and Extortions (Threats of Lawsuits), in Effect Taxing Europe

    The money-obsessed, money-printing patent office, where the assembly line mentality has been adopted and patent-printing management is in charge, is devaluing or diluting the pool of European Patents, more so with restrictions (monetary barriers) to challenging bad patents

  24. Links 17/3/2018: Varnish 6, Wine 3.4

    Links for the day

  25. Deleted EPO Tweets and Promotion of Software Patents Amid Complaints About Abuse and Demise of Patent Quality

    Another ordinary day at the EPO with repressions of workforce, promotion of patents that aren't even allowed, and Team UPC failing to get its act together

  26. Guest Post: Suspected “Whitewashing” Operations by Željko Topić in Croatia

    Articles about EPO Vice-President Željko Topić are disappearing and sources indicate that it’s a result of yet more SLAPP from him

  27. Monumental Effort to Highlight Decline in Quality of European Patents (a Quarter of Examiners Sign Petition in Spite of Fear), Yet Barely Any Press Coverage

    he media in Europe continues to be largely apathetic towards the EPO crisis, instead relaying a bunch of press releases and doctored figures from the EPO; only blogs that closely follow EPO scandals bothered mentioning the new petition

  28. Careful Not to Conflate UPC Critics With AfD or Anti-EU Elements

    The tyrannical Unified Patent Court (UPC) is being spun as something that only fascists would oppose after the right-wing, anti-EU politicians in Germany express strong opposition to it

  29. Links 15/3/2018: Qt Creator 4.6 RC, Microsoft Openwashing

    Links for the day

  30. PTAB Continues to Increase Capacity Ahead of Oil States; Patent Maximalists Utterly Upset

    The Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) sees the number of filings up to an almost all-time high and efforts to undermine PTAB are failing pretty badly -- a trend which will be further cemented quite soon when the US Supreme Court (quite likely) backs the processes of PTAB


RSS 64x64RSS Feed: subscribe to the RSS feed for regular updates

Home iconSite Wiki: You can improve this site by helping the extension of the site's content

Home iconSite Home: Background about the site and some key features in the front page

Chat iconIRC Channel: Come and chat with us in real time


Recent Posts