Miguel de Icaza, Microsoft MVP

Conrad Knauer atheoi at gmail.com
Mon Jan 18 09:13:25 GMT 2010


On Mon, Jan 18, 2010 at 1:49 AM, Samuel Thurston, III
<sam.thurston at gmail.com> wrote:

>>> are patent protections part of what you fear about Mono or aren't they?
>>
>> They're not my main concern; I consider software patents to generally
>> be bogus, but their real value to a company like Microsoft, besides
>> for defensive purposes, are for things like FUD, extortion and
>> SCO-type 3rd party attacks,
>
> Ok, what I'm saying is that by patting Miguel on the back, they're
> losing any legal standing they might have for threats and FUD with
> respect to Mono.

Oh no, certainly not; you have to remember that while de Icaza is not
a Microsoft employee, he is a Novell employee.  And Novell made a
deal:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Novell#Agreement_with_Microsoft

The patents made for good FUD against other distros (or rather distro;
most likely this was intended to be used against Red Hat) but the most
significant outcome was that SUSE became a Microsoft-approved Linux
distro, with Microsoft even issuing SUSE licenses:

http://www.microsoft-watch.com/content/corporate/microsoft_starts_handing_out_suse_linux_subscriptions.html

all under the banner of 'interoperability'.

It is quite clear what's going on here; Microsoft demands a monopoly.
But there are people who don't want to pay for Windows (or heaven
forbid, people who actually WANT to use something else) and so you get
Linux users.  Well, what if one of the major distros is willing to ink
a deal to become a Microsoft-approved Linux distro?  Microsoft can get
all sorts of Microsoft stuff into it (e.g. Mono, maybe remove Google
as the default search engine, etc.) and then when you have good
interoperability with MS products, you can always try to sell them on
Windows again (TCO argument, anyone?)

Plus if the distro becomes addicted* to MS tech or more likely MS
money, then can always be leaned on for further concessions.
Companies that don't subscribe to a MS-sanctioned distro can be leaned
on to switch.  Its all very behind-closed-doors arm-twisting ugly.

* "Although about 3 million computers get sold every year in China,
but people don't pay for the software ... Someday they will, though.
As long as they are going to steal it, we want them to steal ours.
They'll get sort of addicted, and then we'll somehow figure out how to
collect sometime in the next decade." -- Bill Gates, 1998
http://news.cnet.com/2100-1023-212942.html

So following the Novell deal, Microsoft continued "collecting the
losers in the Linux business" (to quote Bruce Perens:
http://www.pcworld.com/article/132977/microsoft_interoperability_team_bring_on_red_hat.html),
adding Xandros, Linspire (which would later get swallowed up by
Xandros) and Turbolinux...

...but that was the end of it.  Red Hat did not make a deal and
neither did Ubuntu.  I don't think Microsoft really cared about Ubuntu
back then, but they've started to take note since:

http://www.techflash.com/seattle/2009/08/Microsoft_filing_lists_Canonical_Red_Hat_as_PC_Windows_rivals_52370627.html

> I also think that SCO fiasco cost them a bundle
> right before a release cycle and they won't be trying it again any
> time soon, especially since the media attention seems to have
> increased rather than decreased corporate adoption of non-MS products.

SCO cost Microsoft a bundle?  Linux adoption surely went up after
SCO's case imploded, but Microsoft got how many years of hard FUD out
of it?  Do you think that the rise afterwards made up for the dip
during?

> But I was trying to clarify if there was some actual reason, other
> than specifically Microsoft's involvement.

There needs to be? O:)

> Understanding that we're not talking about a matter of justice, and so
> for this bit Ari may jump back in and rightly accuse me of
> strawmanning again, but there's a provision in the US Constitution
> that forbids making a law that targets an individual (or, it has been
> decided, a company).

Erm... non sequitur?

> So how do we structure the policy that pulls Mono out of consideration?
> Bear in mind, Mono is an LGPL runtime much like thousands of others on
> the install disc.  Assume "because it's based on something made by
> Microsoft" isn't a good enough reason to bar its inclusion.  On what
> grounds do we decide that the practical implications of Mono are
> unsuitable to something like Ubuntu,

Does including Mono make Ubuntu more of a 'Windows knock-off'?
(consider Shuttleworth quote from before)

If not, can include in default install (in main repo).
If yes, move into universe with Wine.

Note: AFAIK, there is no .NET support in Mac OS X itself (Mono can run
on it, but Apple is not including it... why?)

> and, what else might these grounds cost us?

Right now just a couple of apps on the Live CD that have alternatives.

There's also an argument based simply on file size that we could free
some MB on the Live CD by getting rid of the Mono-based apps on it and
replacing them with alternatives...

I would also like to see Evolution (Novell sponsored Outlook clone)
removed from the Live CD, though I don't know if the recently released
Thunderbird 3 is up to par for the corporate types that I seem to
recall it being selected for originally.  I always uninstalled that
one too :)

CK



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