Pat Gunn (dachte) wrote,
Pat Gunn
dachte

Failed Umbrellas

Sometimes when something's portrayed as a watershed moment, it's more of a disaster than a delight. Miguel de Icaza, turncoat of the Open Source Community, is using his (unfortunate) position to try to point people towards disaster.

==History==

  • Miguel started Ximian, a group that pushed certain interesting improvements to GNOME, as part of a special GNOME distro for many Linux distributions
  • Ximian decided to reimplement Microsoft's C# language for Linux and FreeBSD, calling its project (surprisingly honestly) Mono
  • Ximian was bought by Novell, which after the whole Caldera mess, decided it wanted to be involved in Linux again

==Onward==

The problem with Mono is that it wades into the patent minefield that Microsoft has laid, that it's a reimplementation of a bad clone of Java, and that it reinforces Microsoft's position. The good thing about Mono is that it might make it easier to migrate away from Microsoft. Recently, Novell and Microsoft entered into an agreement whereby it agreed that it would not enforce its Mono patents against individual and non-commercial developers. Novell (as a company) further cross-licenses all its patents with Microsoft, they'll have some obligations, and .. Microsoft gave Novell a pretty good chunk of cash (around 350 million). This is a bad thing, and it hurts the community - notice that the patent license to the community is only a promise to individual and noncommercial developers - it leaves as vulnerable all commercial distributions apart from Novell - while the Apache Foundation, the Mozilla Foundation, and Novell may be "saved", any other distribution that is also a business, such as RedHat, is left vulnerable to Microsoft. Miguel acknowledges that there may be patent concerns -- I reference his blog for this quote:

So today we have secured a peace of mind for Novell customers that might have been worried about possible patent infringements open source deployments. This matters in particular for Mono, because for a long time its been the favorite conversation starter for folks that find dates on Slashdot.

Fortunately, I'm not the only one who reads the fine print...

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