Mono enthusiasts are already actively pursuing and ensuring that the the next version of Ubuntu will have Mono deep inside its heart. Mono 2.0 that is, with extra Poisonware called WinForms.
It is probably a good time to share the concerns expressed by Jose X, who asked us to post his remarks below.
The “Technical Merits” Red Herring:
Assuming mono has technical merits that impress or you can’t get elsewhere, here is one argument about how there are more important things than technical merit if you are building for the long haul and want to keep costs under control.
And don’t forget this: a subset of the community can fork mono and then maintain or even improve the “technical merits”. The point would be to diverge from the details of Microsoft .NET.
Novell’s “Interop” Fantasy:
“Interop” with Microsoft .NET, where it would really count, is a pipe dream. Microsoft controls what code ships and updates their customers’ systems. They are not beholden to produce bug-free and standards-based .NET code. They are not beholden to limit themselves to the standard without adding undocumented lock-in. Surely they won’t limit themselves and yield ground if they don’t have to. They are not going to give away key items crucial to keeping their monopolies in place. They are also not going to give up the revenue generator that is their hidden source code as it’s secrets change over time. They are not going to give up their option to change the rules or their option not to renew your NDA contract terms after they are up or not to increase the fees, perhaps beyond the breaking point. [See this article]
Gifting Linux to Microsoft While Saving Microsoft Lots of Money:
“Additionally, in the case of a fork, we test Microsoft’s behavior to forks and to code being develop in areas where they have many patents.”By avoiding .NET or perhaps to a lesser degree by forking mono significantly, we lessen patent issues and the ability of Microsoft to EEE (embrace, extend, extinguish) and to leverage their existing huge investments in .NET. Additionally, in the case of a fork, we test Microsoft’s behavior to forks and to code being develop in areas where they have many patents. Better now then later. Better to learn now than later when we could have much more to lose and to recode.
Microsoft already made the huge investments. Giving them extra bang for the buck spent is the exact opposite of what the FOSS community should want. I’m still waiting for Microsoft to open up their core platforms essentially completely. Until that happens, their monopolies, the dollars they spent to fight real FOSS and Linux, etc, all hurt FOSS and open platforms. To fight such a strong, established, and committed enemy of software openness and transparency and of user and developer freedom, you want to see devalued the assets where they have put their dollars. Don’t help grow mind share in .NET or the .NET ecosystem.
Here is a comment titled “It’s so obvious.”
“Mono will just improve the situation for Microsoft by making porting Linux applications to Windows a no-brainer.”
To which I would add that …
(a) “FOSS” on Windows/Vista is not FOSS any more than HTML running on Internet E is FOSS: in both cases the “open source” completely depends on the lower closed source software layer to function.
(b) Microsoft can more easily and subtly sabotage FOSS running on Windows/Vista than they can closed source apps running there. And sabotage (as well as pre-design of “special” API) will happen as the season dictates a beneficial risk/reward ratio for Microsoft.
“Generally, there will be more and better Windows apps if there are more and better .NET apps.”(c) Apps ported to Windows grow the value of Windows. This more so the better these apps are. Generally, there will be more and better Windows apps if there are more and better .NET apps. The more FOSS ports there are to Windows, the more Microsoft can keep their monopolies entrenched by keeping up with Linux/FOSS. Most users won’t bother to go through the hoops and over the hurdles if they can get most of what they want right where they are.
(d) Exclusivity gives extra value to a platform. There will be more and better exclusive Windows apps if there are more and better mono apps BECAUSE Microsoft can more easily embrace and extend open source mono apps to incorporate into their integrated software. They study the code but hide their extra lock-in sauces (thus saving on perhaps 90%+ of the work required). .NET is where Microsoft has an advantage over everyone else. They have invested the most in .NET. They control the direction of .NET.
(e) Novell is contracted to work for Microsoft. Giving copyrights to Novell or helping improve software and systems key to their business (e.g., OpenSUSE), will be helping Microsoft. Microsoft has a better chance of getting the source code you give Novell but with a special proprietary license instead of the GPL. [Such an automatic pact may already be in place.]
Here is another comment titled “On tactics and the nature of Free Software.”
Let me say something positive for Novell. Assuming .NET becomes well-established and the greater Linux FOSS community and Linux commercial players have already suffered, then Novell might be sitting pretty. They can play the lock-in game against Microsoft, essentially through a fork/extension of .NET. Of course, the best lock-in is closed source. Novell has shown they love and likely prefer closed source (Netware). Not to mention that Novell may even fold or be bought out by Microsoft.
Microsoft has stated they will deal with those serious about licensing. Only to those that are serious will they reveal the patents and other details. If you don’t have it, I can look for a link to a recent interview that revealed no less than this much in very explicit terms.
Before closing the book on this, you may want to consider asking something similar from Linux vendors or other vendors. It’s easier to contrast responses this way. See what Red Hat offers the community, and see what Microsoft offers. Actually, we already know what Red Hat offers and what Microsoft offers, and the differences are plenty.
Just like with the benefits Microsoft gains from so-called ‘piracy’, they gain similar and greater benefits from the spread of .NET clones people will use for no charge.
“Novell and everyone that advocates use of .NET or clones are helping to spread Microsoft’s technological “drugs””Novell and everyone that advocates use of .NET or clones are helping to spread Microsoft’s technological “drugs”; however, in this respect, mono is worse than Windows and Office. The extra damage arising from mono and other clones vs. from user level Microsoft “drugs” is that the former are not end products to themselves but propagate as they are used by developers to create apps. Further, a stronger “addiction”/commitment/dependency results from a complex set of API vs. what most ordinary users have to deal with when they use end products. [Do note that most developers limit themselves to a rather small set of projects, languages, etc, because of the large overhead learning curve.] Spreading .NET or clones is a serious win for Microsoft. The battle for developers is very important.
Without an open source .NET clone, Microsoft’s proprietary offerings would be much less attractive to businesses. Most managers and even some developers have some faith that a “second source” is possible. In any case, risks for using Microsoft .NET are lowered if there is something similar enough in the market that is FOSS; thus, mono has increased the attraction from managers to Microsoft .NET.
Mono apps are easier for Microsoft and for anyone to port to Windows. These ports help Microsoft retain their lock-in and levers through the increased value that accrues to Windows. Additionally, it’s easier for Microsoft to gain control (”manage”) FOSS apps than closed apps.
Mono (and other Novell owned code.. assuming they own mono or have a license to sub-license) is even worse than would be a different .NET clone owned by someone else to the degree Novell is already working very closely and is financially dependent on Microsoft so as to be that much more likely to give special non-GPL licenses to Microsoft. Thus, the GPL only hampers/checks everyone except Microsoft — a very clear gain in advantage for Microsoft over everyone else.
Novell developers are not naive enough to think that interoperability is possible. Enough said.
“They also want to weaken the strategic advantages Sun gains from Java and OO.org, thereby making Microsoft’s path to holding and growing the lock-in that much more secure.”Look at the basic facts, Novell is a mostly proprietary company, helping a very powerful monopolist hold and gain ground. They aren’t fooled by the interoperability spiel they push. Novell is more than willing to participate and agree with Microsoft’s deceptive maneuvers (like the patent scare with customers) to grab extra money from clients.
Novell wants to eliminate Red Hat competition with full battle guns, again, helping to give a very significant strategic gain to Microsoft. They also want to weaken the strategic advantages Sun gains from Java and OO.org, thereby making Microsoft’s path to holding and growing the lock-in that much more secure.
The list can go on and on. I have to expect a lot of the developers defending Novell, e.g., those developers posting here, many of whom have read all of this before, are well aware of the details… yet they continue to defend Novell. █