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Novell Incorporated: Convergence of Windows and GNU/Linux Since 2006

Posted in GNU/Linux, Law, Microsoft, Mono, Novell, Patents, Windows at 8:28 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Patents incorporated also

Novell and Microsoft piss on GNU/Linux codebase

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.

NindowsNovell 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.

Mono, ECMA, Microsoft

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.”

Be’s CEO Jean-Louis Gassée

“Pearly Gates and Em-Ballmer
One promises you heaven and the other prepares you for the grave.”

Ray Noorda, Novell

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  1. satish said,

    October 14, 2008 at 2:59 pm


    Well i have been hearing a lot of Criticism for Miguel , even i agree that what he is upto is not truly in the spirit of open source . We would expect more passion for the Open Source community form someone who created one among the most famous Open Source projects ….. though i am truly not eligible to comment considering the miniscule contributions i have made to OSS ( and continue to make ) …. but i can’t hold back my dislike !!

  2. Fred Arnold said,

    October 14, 2008 at 7:23 pm


    Why do you hold it against Novell for not competing with Microsoft? They are partners, after all. As for why is Mono getting so much attention now, I’d say it’s because of the recent 2.0 release, and then all the foamy fact-challenged columnists like Sam V. trying to stir something up. Can we have more facts and fewer vague rants, please? In a nutshell, after wading through the insults and handwaving, its two things: everyone hates Miguel, and there is a very vague patent threat. Mono has been around for seven years now- what is microsoft waiting for?

    I agree that Novell is doing too little to implement actual open standards, and I can even cite their awful kludgy iPrint as one example of a useless proprietary blob of a supposedly cross-platform server. It relies on ActiveX for god’s sake, so there are some truly awful mac and linux clients. which are pointless when CUPS works fine, as do Novell’s older printer servers.

    So there is one specific- where are yours?

  3. TK said,

    October 15, 2008 at 10:38 am


    “Mono has been around for seven years now- what is microsoft waiting for?”

    MS is waiting for the guards to fall asleep before they begin wreaking havoc from that trojan horse. Has MS retracted the whole “Linux violates over 200 MS patents” meme? Hmm? No, right?

    “Why do you hold it against Novell for not competing with Microsoft? They are partners, after all.”

    This argument tries to bypass the meat of the matter – that a company with a Linux product has a partner agreement with MS IS the outcry. Many folks feel like Novell may be holding the gates open for MS to run right in. Unless you understand that FOSS and proprietary software, especially their intended goals, are oil and water, you won’t understand why so many folks won’t touch it with a 10-foot pole.

    Many folks are leery of these agreements. They see this as a possible attempt to plant code that hopefully no one will notice; later, when the code is in wider use, MS will begin jumping up and down shouting, “Ah hah! We have the smoking gun! See? Linux violates our patents and here’s the proof!” Folks are none the wiser.

    Yes, I know this sounds like a Dale Gribble rant. :)

  4. Roy Schestowitz said,

    October 15, 2008 at 12:49 pm


    Mono has been around for seven years now- what is microsoft waiting for?

    Ask the people of Troy.


    Also ask Rambus. It’s called patent ambush.

  5. seller_liar said,

    October 15, 2008 at 2:48 pm


    API domination is a bad way for free software.

  6. bob said,

    October 15, 2008 at 6:04 pm


    So what about WINE and ReactOS? Are they not a larger target? Do they not implement a larger number of Windows APIs compared to Novell’s work?

  7. Roy Schestowitz said,

    October 15, 2008 at 6:44 pm



    That is a common question. Since WINE enables you to run Windows executables ‘as-is’ (are), there is no actual construction of the desktop using Wine libraries. This means that if reverse-engineering of DirectX and COM ever became an issue, that would not have impact on native GNU/Linux applications but more of an appendage that’s foreign in the sense that it’s binary and replaceable anyway. The damage is being constrained and isolated.

    Remember that Novell distributes MonoDevelop and actively encourages volunteers to build the Free desktop with Mono. It even sponsors that, e.g. in Banshee. Novell is the only company that’s permitted to do such things.

    Glyn Moody explained this point last week; we are far from a sole voice. He also explained why the “they are evil too” defence does not work for Samba.

  8. Fred A said,

    October 15, 2008 at 8:08 pm


    “Many folks are leery of these agreements. They see this as a possible attempt to plant code that hopefully no one will notice; later, when the code is in wider use, MS will begin jumping up and down shouting, “Ah hah! We have the smoking gun! See? Linux violates our patents and here’s the proof!” Folks are none the wiser.

    Yes, I know this sounds like a Dale Gribble rant. :)

    Well yes it does :). Seriously, it’s still vague. All software violates some patent somewhere. True, MS’ business plan starts, ends and in-betweens nasty dirty tricks. So let’s say that secret patent-violating code is successfuly on-purpose sneaked into Mono and MS sues. Who will they sue? Novell and Red Hat are the only Linux vendors of any size, and even they aren’t that attractive in terms of recovering money damages. If they both get sued out of business Linux will go on. It’s really hard to see this as anything other than ‘evil by association’, and Miguel doesn’t badmouth MS enough.

  9. Roy Schestowitz said,

    October 15, 2008 at 8:28 pm


    They don’t need to sue; they can go to users directly (extortions). They already do this very quietly:

    It’s also important to understand why Mono is very different:

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