Friday, June 5, 2009

Get Your Microsoft Out of My Linux

This week's article was going to be about Gnome-Do & Docky, but those programs are dead to me, as well as Banshee, Tomboy and Beagle. This is sad because I really liked Gnome-Do, Banshee and Beagle. The problem is that they use Mono, an open source implementation of the .NET development framework.

Christopher Smart has written an excellent article, Mono: An Infectious Disease about the dangers of using Mono. I encourage everyone to take the time to read this article. There are very serious consequences with allowing Mono to infiltrate GNU/Linux. Novell and Miguel de Icaza have been pushing Mono dependency into Gnome, giving Microsoft a foothold into Linux's most popular desktop environment.

An excerpt from the article:
Through the recent TomTom case it is clear that Microsoft is using patents to leverage power over open source. Microsoft knows that if they do nothing, free software will eventually destroy their bottom line. They have to do something, which they certainly are. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer admitted, "Linux is a serious competitor" and promised that the company will outsmart open source. So what’s their game plan?

One of the ways they are trying to gain the upper hand is by introducing their own proprietary programming framework into free software, which is called ‘.NET‘. While some parts of the .NET framework such as CLI and C# have been submitted to Ecma for standardisation, others have not. Even so, Microsoft still holds patents in relation to these standards, although the company grants “licenses on reasonable terms and conditions”, but only so long as the corresponding Ecma standard remains valid. The non-standard components also pose a risk.

Microsoft has ulterior motives for wanting support for .NET under Linux. They might not be able to destroy free software, but they sure want to control it. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said: "I would love to see all open source innovation happen on top of Windows".
Mono will be the trojan horse that will add a ‘Microsoft tax’ to your GNU/Linux. I agree, Mono poses a real threat to free software. Richard Stallman said it best,
Microsoft has declared itself our enemy and we know that Microsoft is getting patents on some features of C#. So I think it's dangerous to use C#, and it may be dangerous to use Mono. There's nothing wrong with Mono. Mono is a free implementation of a language that users use. It's good to provide free implementations. We should have free implementations of every language. But, depending on it is dangerous, and we better not do that.
This is why more projects like Gnote, a port of Tomboy written in C++, need to be started and maintained. Free and proprietary software can co-exist and should, but free software doesn't need Microsoft's backhanded help.

Mono: An Infectious Disease excerpt was used with permission by the author Christopher Smart / CC BY 2.5

Have a question or problem that this article doesn't cover?
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Anonymous said...

It's sad to see that there are so many sheep in our community, this is the real infectious disease, people who lack critical thinking skills, and the ability to seperate lies from the truth.

Let's ignore the question of whether or not mono is actually dangerous, neither of us are lawyers, and therefore neither of us are really the least bit qualified to answer that question.

So you love GNOME Do and Docky, same with Banshee and Beagle. SO USE THEM! Let's say MS comes knocking and tells us we can't use Mono anymore, so what. We lose a media player, a launcher app, and a note taking app. Big whoop. Right now there's no problem, and these apps are awesome. Just because a bunch of anti-ms zealots write half researched blog posts, doesn't mean you should listen.

You like GNOME Do, use it. if MS comes knocking, stop using it. Who cares, you didn't really lose anything serious. It's not like we're rewriting the kernel.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this. After reading your article as well as the ones supporting it I have uninstalled Gnome-do and Beagle from my Dell mini.It is not worth the risk to be dependent on Microsoft's whims.

Anonymous said...


The article makes a number of false claims to make his point and the conclusions are based on false premises.

Microsoft has never been very happy about Mono in the first place, so to claim that they are "introducing the .NET framework to Linux" is a lie.

Mono emerged out of the open source world wanting to get .NET into Linux.

.NET was so interesting, and so popular when it came out that there were *three* separate efforts to bring it to Linux.

One was called "Portable.NET" from SouthernStorm Software. Another was called "DotGNU" and the third was called Mono.

Mono got most of the attention as at the time, the company behind it, Ximian, was a popular name brand and they had delivered other important products like Evolution and in general improved the state of the GNOME Desktop.

Portable.NET and DotGNU joined efforts a few months into the process.

But there was barely any support from Microsoft in the early days, and to this day, the only support from Microsoft comes from Microsoft open sourcing code that is reused by these projects.

As for the anti-Mono crowd, they are usually very quick to point two things out: C# is a clone of Java and it is ridden with patents.

In patent law, if something existed *before* it is called "prior art" and you can not obtain a patent for it.

So to the extent that C# is a clone of Java and a clone of plenty of other ideas, those ideas can not be patented.

Oddly enough, some of the innovative ideas in C# actually went back to the open source world, ideas that did not exist before landed in various places, places beyond Mono.

The attacks on Mono on the grounds of patents is typically dishonest. We have more serious problems with patents, with software that has more reach and much of an economic impact into Microsoft's bottom line than Mono does.

Samba, OpenOffice's "embedding" support for embedding a chart in a spreadsheet/document is patented; So is the foundation on which OpenOffice and Mozilla are built (both contain clone implementations of COM, the technology that Microsoft used before .NET).

Anonymous said...

FUD!! Stop spreading it :)

Anonymous said...

Don't forget to remove Firefox, Thunderbird, OpenOffice, the GNOME panel, Pidgin, GStreamer, and the kernel, if you want to be truly safe from MS patents!

To keep myself the safest, I just turned off my computer and started spending more time outside.

Anonymous said...

.Net is a piece of crap.

.Net Programmers are inexperienced sheep who don't know anything about programming or MS shills.

Microsoft continues to suck.

But that's just my opinion.

Ron said...

From what I understand (I'm not a developer), Mono is NOT .NET. .Net is not Mono.

I don't see a real problem with Mono. This appears to be more of a problem with Mono being modeled after .NET, which happens to be developed by MS, which is like the AntiChrist in regards to Linux. Mono appears to be caught up in some type of Holy War because it is an open-source version of .NET. Are we going to stop using good tools because the open-source coding was modeled after proprietary framework? I think that's taking things a bit too far...but that's just me, though.