Patents incorporated also
SEVERAL DAYS ago, in an essay from Novell’s management in Canada, the relationship between Microsoft and Novell was reaffirmed in the sense that it was shown once again that Novell competes not against Microsoft and Windows; it competes against UNIX, Apple, Sun, Red Hat, Ubuntu (Canonical) and so forth.
To quote Ross Chevalier, “It’s not about replacing Windows with Linux, it’s about making it dead simple for the two to work together.” He also adds: “No other software company our size is as about interoperability as we are.”
Clearly enough, Novell has not heard of open standards as a bridging element. Or maybe Novell is just indifferent, almost uninterested, so it facilitates and reinforces Microsoft lock-in instead. Had Novell behaved properly, it would be capable of saying: “No other software company our size is as about open standards as we are.” But Novell supports ActiveX, Windows Vista, Internet Explorer, .NET, and even XAML.
Novell seems as obsessed as Microsoft with this sound bite: inter-oper-ability. Big word, empty promise, no substance. What would make better ‘interoperability’ than an almost-complete unification (imitation rather) of APIs, based on Microsoft’s own terms, of course? Software patents (equals cost) as well as control are only two among a variety of broad issues. Whereas reverse engineering like Wine encourages no developers to actively build the Free desktop using Microsoft APIs (including DirectX), Novell’s MonoDevelop is a sign that Novell has sincere yet risky intentions to do so.
Well, as the road to Mono clears up and even Microsoft people join the cause (yes, not only Novell staff is on board anymore), lots of media hype is generated to usher what Novell wishes to label “inevitable”. It’s true, Novell gave up fighting and it wants us too to become defeatists. Novell insists that Windows and .NET are not going away and therefore they must be embraced, even through internal assimilation of GNU/Linux to Windows’ 'superb' security model and intellectual monopolies (.NET).
Sam Varghese has a new article about the unexplained hype surrounding the release of Mono 2.0. We are not the only ones to have noticed an abnormality.
As Novell vice-president Miguel de Icaza, the head of this project, has been blathering on about Mono for years and years, one did not expect that this announcement would have any more traction than the grandiose announcements of previous releases.
Mono, after all, is a project that tailgates APIs from Microsoft, and its development and adoption increasingly makes those who use it open to patent infringement claims by Microsoft.
Surprise, surprise! Many sections of the tech press went bonkers about this announcement. To use a phrase from a former Australian politician, a whole conga line of suckholes lined up to write about it and even interview de Icaza.
In June 2001, Ximian set up the Mono project. Today the project defines itself as “an open development initiative sponsored by Novell to develop an open source, UNIX version of the Microsoft .NET development platform.” The Novell bits were introduced in 2003 after the purchase of Ximian.
When Microsoft can proudly claim that Free software developers use .NET (Mono) it can then invite them to do it with ‘real thing’ (Visual Studio) for the ‘real’ platform (Windows Vista). Novell and Microsoft help promote a notion, not just among users but also among developers, that GNU/Linux is a second-class choice, a clone, a compromise [1, 2]. They prevent those developers from taking the lead with already-leading and highly-proven technologies like Java.
Another reasons to avoid Mono may be backward compatibility, as pointed out by one of our readers.
I really do not understand why Net is not backwards compatible but I suppose at least I should be happy that the libraries can co-exist instead of the old DLL hell. Microsofts attempt to replace Java could have been implemented in a better way.
Novell’s attitude remains both tactless and dangerous. It puts itself (and moreso others) in unnecessary danger of reliance and dependency, both from a technical and a legal perspective. Moreover, it does almost nothing to compete with Windows.
Novell’s attitude is something like: Why compete with Windows? Just try to work together with Windows (and really hope that Microsoft won’t bite the heads off). Other people knew better, but they learned this lesson the hard way. It was already too late, but they can still teach us something many years later. █
“I once preached peaceful coexistence with Windows. You may laugh at my expense — I deserve it.”
“Pearly Gates and Em-Ballmer
One promises you heaven and the other prepares you for the grave.”
–Ray Noorda, Novell