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

neptune235 muchomuse at gmail.com
Fri Jan 16 22:08:23 EST 2009


You may very well be right, all of you. And maybe what we are talking about
is managing public perceptions here - regardless the problem remains. The
bottom line is that the free software community trusts John Smith in Narnia
to not have a big lawsuit against free software much more than they will
ever trust Microsoft not to have the same lawsuit. And that's the problem
here, the public perception (perpetuated by FUDsters) that this whole
project relies on us trusting Microsoft will not do such and such, rather
than being on solid legal ground. Even the page on the Mono license
contributes to this perception:


(2) remove the pieces of code that were covered by those patents, and also
(3) find prior art that would render the patent useless. 

If this were a browser and we were talking about removing features, that
would be one thing. But with an API, my perception is that we are talking
about shutting down all the projects written in Mono which require those
libraries to run (in the case of step 2) unless they are running on Windows.
And that feels like very shaky ground for any project to be on. 

Anyway, whatever. I'm moving ahead with Mono myself, I'm just saying that if
some of these public perception things could get hammered out, I'll bet this
project would feel a lot more accessible to OSS folks, and that would truly
be a good thing for all involved. Again, thanks for responding.

Alan McGovern-2 wrote:
> Hi,
> right now the vagueness between what's
>> truly free and what's questionable is playing into the FUDsters hands
> What's the entire point of Jonathans post saying that nothing is truly
> free?
> That's what the FUDsters fail to realise. John Smith living in his mothers
> basement in narnia could realise tomorrow that he holds a patent on
> concept
> 'X' which has been used in the .NET framework, the linux kernel and also
> *insert name of your favourite OSS application here*. He can then
> (possibly
> successfully) sue MS, Novell and god knows who else for infringing on that
> patent. The kodak case is a very good example of this.
> The moral of the story, nothing is safe.
> Alan.
> 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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>> > http://lists.ximian.com/mailman/listinfo/mono-list
>> >
>> >
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