[Mono-list] Thanks to all for your replies, here's mine.

neptune235 muchomuse at gmail.com
Fri Jan 16 19:44:39 EST 2009

First, to those who say I should worry about code and documentation rather
than FUD, rest assured that I think this project is cool and intend to
contribute, probably in terms of documentation before I can contribute code.
But I can't over emphasize the importance of the FUD. Its not about ME and
what I think. I personally basically believe Microsoft submitted this stuff
as standards so it could: 
1) Have the latest cool OSS app run on Windows too so people aren't lured to
2) Increase the size of its developer base by getting OSS guys trained in
its languages
3) Temp the OSS guys with a bigger cooler implentation of .NET than Mono can
Which as far as I am concerned is a win win. However that doesn't mean I
don't have to worry about the FUD, I know it can take on a life of its own.
For instance, I heard lately that the Windowing stuff doesn't work in
Leopard when it worked in Tiger. I also noticed that the OS X installer
doesn't work. This is stuff that could happen with any OSS project, but
because of the FUD, I have to ask if Apple is deliberatly breaking these
things to prevent the MS Mono "virus" from "infecting" its developers (Yes,
that's the language that's actually being used out there) and that sort of
thing. The point is that it creates a barrier for new developers to this
project, because we have to start worrying about politics rather than code.
I wonder how many potential members of this project have turned away for
that very reason.  

And its understandable, I don't want my client's software breaking all the
time because the target OS or free software comumity wants to "quarantine"
the codebase its written on.

So I believe at some level, we have to fight the FUD. I'm not talking about
going out and wasting time arguing with trolls, but rather positive stuff
that could make this project better. For instance one of the major problems
I have is this: I know that SOME part of Mono is totally free and based on
open standards, while some other parts are questionable (ADO and
Windows.Forms?) You probably all know exactly which these are, but me, like
other devs coming in fresh to start with Mono, has no idea what's what. Is
there some way we could clearly demarcate that? Maybe even color coding in
the API documention or something? I was thinking if that was done, there
could be a sticker or seal (like the W3 compliant XHTML images you see on
certain sites) that says the project is based on totally open and free open
standards based Mono (rather than anything people think is "questionable").
This would create a quick reference point for changing the conversation when
the FUD comes up, to whether the "orange code" (or whatever) in the Mono API
is trustworthy or a Microsoft plot, rather than whether the Mono project
*itself* is a Microsoft plot. Because right now the vagueness between what's
truly free and what's questionable is playing into the FUDsters hands,
especially in the ADHD world of Internet forums. I feel like we need to be
able to show that there is an absolutely "safe" core of Mono that they can
trust, whatever the hell happens with ADO.net and so forth.

Anyway, just some thoughts I wanted to share with you all. Now, back to the
studying! :)

Jonathan Pryor wrote:
> On Fri, 2009-01-16 at 01:58 -0800, neptune235 wrote:
>> So I've been studying and reading up on Mono, and in the course of this I
>> came upon articles saying that Mono should be quarantined from Gnome, its
>> not free software etc. But in reading these articles, I'm having a hard
>> time
>> seeing the core issues clearly.
> The problems are multifold:
> Software patents suck.
> Software patents *really* suck.
> Software patents *really*, *really* suck.  (Yes, so important that it
> deserves to be mentioned three times.)
> Last, but not least, the FUDsters can't see the forest for the trees.
> Specifically, they spend so much time on Microsoft (a tree) that they
> miss the entire forest of *actual* patent problems, patent trolls, etc.
> Case in point: A long time ago Wang patented, in effect, remote
> procedure calls (or some variation on the theme).  Microsoft licensed
> said patent from Wang (for DCOM).  Sun didn't.  Later, Kodak bought the
> patent off Wang and sued Sun, as Java infringed on the patent.  Kodak
> won, to the tune of $92 million.
> Thus, the FUD-leading question: what are the patent licensing terms
> here?  Does Sun's payoff to Kodak make Java fully, legally clear on this
> patent?  Is Java, now GPL'd, *actually* free (given that we *know* it
> treads on this patent)?  Or does every Java distributor need to worry
> about future patent lawsuits from Kodak?
> The answer: I'm not a lawyer, so I have no idea.  (I would assume that
> some large patent cross-licensing deal occurred, so we don't actually
> need to worry about Kodak suing Red Hat.)
> But the point is that IT DOESN'T MATTER.  *ANYONE* can hold a patent,
> for ANYTHING, and sue ANYONE at ANY TIME.  Ergo, Gnome is not free of
> patent issues, KDE is not free of patents issues, Linux is not free of
> patent issues, Python is not free of patent issues, Ruby is not free of
> patent issues...NOTHING is free of patent issues (except software that
> is older than 20 years old, which is (1) ~useless, and (2) might still
> be covered by patents because of submarine patents, etc.)
> (See also all the lawsuits by small/independent companies against
> Microsoft, Novell, Sun, etc.)
> It's usually not the large companies you need to worry about.  It's
> usually the small ones, as there's no harm in suing (especially patent
> holding companies, as they don't make any products so patent
> cross-licensing isn't even something they care about).
> Thus, the FUD is *extremely* hard to fight, as the first three points
> are quite valid (software patents suck), and then the FUDsters
> mis-represent the fourth fact ("we only need to worry about teh 
> Micro$osft!!!") without noting that EVERY alternative they propose faces
> Which means their entire argument falls down to: Microsoft is evil,
> everything they touch is evil, let's all go use something else.
> Which is intellectually vapid, misses the point, and overlooks the fact
> that Microsoft has done a great amount of good (and also owns patents on
> a number of technologies that the FUDsters seem quite OK with, such as
> HTML, CSS, C++, XML....).
> To be intellectually "pure," they should argue for the use of software
> which CANNOT have any patents on it.  Alas, as mentioned earlier, this
> would require using software no one wants to use, assuming any such
> software actually exists.
>> And if that is correct, how can I show to people exactly what that
>> totally
>> free part of Mono is? The FUD is so vague, I get the impression that the
>> entirety of this project is patented by Microsoft, but when I look for
>> details I'm not seeing it. Is there some way I can show people that this
>> isn't the case? 
> You can't.  The FUD is deliberately vague because they don't want anyone
> looking at Mono for any purpose, because they really just don't like it.
> I'm sure they'd say mono causes cancer if they wouldn't get laughed at
> for it.  Furthermore, vague assertions can't be fought with facts, as
> there isn't enough substance in vague assertions to argue against.
> It's a losing battle, and will be "won" just as soon as one particular
> religion "wins" over all others (i.e. "never").
>  - Jon
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