Tag Archive for 'novell'

Jeremy Allison on Mono (and how it differs from Samba)

Jeremy Allison has spoken up about Mono, Novell’s implementation of Microsoft’s heavily patented .NET platform. He recommends that it be put into “restricted” repositories until the licensing issues can be sorted out.

Mono is controversial as it is a re-implementation of Microsoft’s .NET technology, in much the same way as Samba is a re-implementation of Microsoft’s Server Message Block (SMB) file sharing protocol. The genesis of each project and how they have developed over the years is somewhat different however…

But my basic issue with the Microsoft Community Promise is that Miguel doesn’t have to depend on it like everyone else does. Miguel’s employer, Novell, has a patent agreement with Microsoft that exempts Mono users from Microsoft patent aggression, so long as you get Mono from Novell. Miguel takes pains to point this out. This is not a level playing field, or software freedom for all. This is a preferred supplier trying to pretend there is no problem. Sure there isn’t a problem, for them. If it isn’t good enough for Miguel, why is it good enough for other developers?

If .NET is not a risk to free software, then why did Novell get patent cover from Microsoft for their clients?

Had Novell arranged a royalty-free agreement with Microsoft for everyone (and not just their clients) like Andrew Tridgell did for Samba, then Mono would not be a problem.

Of course, once software patents come crumbling down this won’t be an issue at all. Until then it is wise to play safe..

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.

-c

The lizard and the snake

Looks like Novell’s Mono/.NET Linux Terminal Server Project graphical configuration tool, Easy-LSTP, is being re-written from C# into Python. The reason? It hasn’t been adopted on other distributions as Novell was hoping.

Easy-LTSP was designed to work on any distribution, but unfortunately it is not integrated anywhere other than openSUSE, discussing with the upstream LTSP developers suggested the slight reservation could be due to it being written in C#.. as it is anyway being written from scratch why not use something like Python which would be easier to attract more contributors and increase possibility that users of all distributions running LTSP server can benefit from it inclusion in their prefered distro.

Why not indeed.