Miguel de Icaza, Microsoft MVP

Samuel Thurston, III sam.thurston at gmail.com
Mon Jan 18 17:49:35 GMT 2010

On Mon, Jan 18, 2010 at 3:13 AM, Conrad Knauer <atheoi at gmail.com> wrote:
> 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:

Regardless of Novell making a deal or not, the recognition makes it
clear that MS 1) is aware of the software and 2) is aware of its
release under the GPL.
Laches doctrine says that, as a patent holder, if you know about
infringement and you don't do anything about it for a period of years,
that you've lulled your competitor into a false sense of security and
therefore foregone your claims.


A patent claim brought against Ubuntu or Red Hat for Mono distribution
would most likely be dismissed before trial on these grounds.

> 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:

Microsoft can mill FUD whether they have applicable patents or not,
and whether Mono is included on the install CD or not. That's what
they do. I'm talking about actual legal protection.

> 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?)

Well, by all means, lets take out the kernel drivers that permit fat
and ntfs support, remove samba, and eliminate any other means of
interoperability, because clearly Microsoft is sneaking in all this
software designed to make your computer useful in the real world for
something more than a glorified typewriter.

Quite the contrary, means of interoperability like those I've listed
above have done more to foster migration from Windows than the other
way around.

> 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

Understanding how your market works and exploiting that understanding
is not particularly underhanded.   That decade has come and gone and I
don't know to what degree MS has made good on Bill's promise to

>> 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?

I would guess so, but don't have any hard data to back this up.  Linux
adoption numbers are as strong as they ever have been.

>> But I was trying to clarify if there was some actual reason, other
>> than specifically Microsoft's involvement.
> There needs to be? O:)

I think so, in the sense that if you start barring software purely on
the basis of its *tenuous* connection with another company, it's a
dangerous road to go down.  Why not remove software that has
connection to any company that anyone considers shady?  That would
leave us with a pretty light install disc!

>> 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.

Interesting that you define your test in terms of Windows when I
specifically asked you to define it in other terms.  You yourself said
that we ought to quit playing the game by Microsoft's rules.  Why let
them define what Ubuntu is, or in this case is not?

Including Gnome, with it's graphical file browser, "start"-like
application menu, recycle bin and task bars make Ubuntu, in a sense,
"more of a windows knock-off."
NTFS support, samba support, java (and its rdeps as well), a default
media player and IM client (oh no it's compatible with MSN/Live too).
Don't get me started on Ubuntu One... they didn't even bother naming
it much different from OneCare.  This is just what I could think of
off the top of my head.  Researching would probably pull an amazing
list of things that could be construed as making Ubuntu "windows-like"

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

Because Apple has a complete line of core user applications that don't
rely on .NET, so they have no need to.  If we had something as good as
iPhoto that didn't
rely on Mono, I suspect mono would be out.  Yes I keep coming back to
F-Spot because it's a pretty good app.  Does anyone actually use

>> and, what else might these grounds cost us?
> Right now just a couple of apps on the Live CD that have alternatives.

Not unless you rewrite your criteria.

> 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...

We would save a lot more space on the live CD by replacing OpenOffice
with abiword and gnumeric, and sacking firefox in favor of epiphany.
All at the minor cost of lower functionality for the end users.  Plus
OpenOffice is sponsored by that nasty Sun Microsystems and I don't
like the cut of their jib. :)

> 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 :)

Now this just plain doesn't make sense to me.  Evolution is an Outlook
clone in much the same sense that openoffice is an MS-office clone.
Should we ditch that one while we're at it?  IIRC, Evolution on disc
doesn't have exchange server support (although it is available as an
addon from universe)

Why do you want to strip *any* end-user functionality from the disc on
the basis of a perceived set of events and circumstances that hasn't
yet happened, and may never come to pass?

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