Tag Archive for 'free software'

United Kingdom government heading for the cloud?

There are plans afoot to replace the UK government’s computer systems with a “cloud” and free software.

The government will also push for “open source” software to be used more widely among central and local government’s 4m desktop computers. That poses an immediate threat to Microsoft, whose Windows operating system and Office applications suite is at present firmly embedded as the standard on PCs in government..

I doubt that Microsoft would sit idly by and let this happen, though.

FSF response to Microsoft’s “Promise”

The Free Software Foundation has published a reply to Microsoft’s Community Promise surrounding C# and CLI. Here’s a snippet:

Incomplete Standards

The ECMA 334 and 335 specifications describe the core C# language, including information about standard libraries that must be available in any compliant implementation. However, there are several libraries that are included with Mono, and commonly used by applications like Tomboy, that are not required by the standard. And just to be clear, we’re not talking about Windows-specific libraries like ASP.NET and Windows Forms. Instead, we’re talking about libraries under the System namespace that provide common functionality programmers expect in modern programming languages: binary object serialization, regular expressions, XPath and XSLT, and more.

Microsoft needs to do more to assure the free software community that they will not sue over the use of .NET. Release an irrevocable license for all patents in .NET (or at least Mono’s implementation) that remains in effect even after a sale of said patents. Or make a deal with Novell and get them to release Mono under GPLv3..

Novell to split Mono

Miguel de lcaza has written on his blog about Microsoft’s announcement to include C# and CLI under their community promise.

The promise itself aside, Miguel has announced something very interesting, Novell will be separating the Mono C# and CLI parts which are covered under the promise from the rest of their .NET implementation which is not.

He writes:

Astute readers will point out that Mono contains much more than the ECMA standards, and they will be correct.

In the next few months we will be working towards splitting the jumbo Mono source code that includes ECMA + A lot more into two separate source code distributions. One will be ECMA, the other will contain our implementation of ASP.NET, ADO.NET, Winforms and others.

So there you have it. Mono itself does indeed implement more technology than just C# and CLI (we all knew that) and those extras are not covered under this “promise” from Microsoft (obviously). They still pose a significant risk to free software (and so still might C# and CLI, but that for another day).

The good thing about this is that distros (if they aren’t already) can more easily leave out all the extra .NET stuff from their Mono implementations, which is good news.

If you are going to write .NET applications, I think it would be smart to stick to C# and GTK.

This promise from Microsoft vindicates the anti-Mono crowd’s point of view as it shows that there is/was an issue around patents, even for CLI and C#. For this promise, pro-Mono people should be thanking the other side.

Of course, when it comes to the promise itself, I’d like to see the word “irrevocable” put in there somewhere. No doubt over the next few weeks we’ll see people far more intelligent than I doing some analysis on the promise and what it really means for free software.


Microsoft C# and CLI patent promise coming?

Peter Galli has written on his blog that he was informed by Scott Guthrie (the Corporate Vice President for the .Net Developer Platform) that Microsoft will include C# and CLI under their “Community Promise“.

Peter writes:

It is important to note that, under the Community Promise, anyone can freely implement these specifications with their technology, code, and solutions.

You do not need to sign a license agreement, or otherwise communicate to Microsoft how you will implement the specifications.

Just when (or if) this will happen is not yet clear, nor is whether it will hold any water. Still, it could be the one step to help ease the current patent issues in Mono in relation to C# and CLI (the rest of the Mono implementation of .NET remains under threat however).

Gotta laugh at this from Microsoft’s promise, though:

This promise by Microsoft is not an assurance that either (i) any of Microsoft’s issued patent claims covers a Covered Implementation or are enforceable.

Anyway, interesting to see where this goes.


Mono: An infectious disease

I’ve been reading around the Internet for a while now about folks asking why some people don’t like Mono.

I have written an article which expresses my opinion on the situation as it relates to free software.

By all means, let Linux run Windows .NET applications through Mono, but let’s not make our own software dependent on this proprietary programming framework.

The article itself is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Australia license.

ODF in South America

It looks like the Ecuadorian Institute of Standardisation has just unanimously approved the use of ODF in the country.

This comes after Brazil adopted ODF as their national standard last year and then their Ministry of Education developed a custom Linux distribution which is being rolled out to the country’s 52 million children.

Venezuela also adopted ODF as their national standard, as has Argentina and Uruguay (pdf).

Great stuff.