Home Messages Index
[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next]
Author IndexDate IndexThread Index

Mono and RAND

  • Subject: Mono and RAND
  • From: Homer <usenet@xxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Tue, 27 May 2008 22:48:59 +0100
  • Cancel-lock: sha1:fy51r41MQu0JrpVzkJsVu9L/ELI=
  • Newsgroups: comp.os.linux.advocacy
  • Openpgp: id=BF436EC9; url=http://slated.org/files/GPG-KEY-SLATED.asc
  • Organization: Slated.org
  • User-agent: Mozilla/5.0 (X11; U; Linux i686; en-US; rv: Gecko/20080501 Fedora/ Thunderbird/ Mnenhy/
  • Xref: ellandroad.demon.co.uk comp.os.linux.advocacy:646278
As most people in the group probably already know, I am no fan of Mono -
not for technical reasons (mostly [3]), but simply for political ones.
Specifically, I'm talking about so-called Software Patents, and even
more importantly, precisely /who/ owns those patents. In this case, that
would be Microsoft, a convicted monopolist with a viciously anti-FOSS
agenda, that employs business methods remarkably similar to that of the

IMO the mere fact that .NET/Mono is Microsoft technology should be
enough to dissuade any Free Software advocate from going anywhere near
it [1], but there is a large contingent of Mono "fans" out there, lead
by people like Jeff Waugh and Miguel de Icaza, who (either through
ignorance; naivety; apathy or even malice) don't seem to give a damn
about whether or not Mono (or even OOXML) endangers the future of Free

Trying to convince people, and especially distro maintainers, that they
should stay away from Mono, is therefore extraordinarily difficult, and
usually goes something like this:

[P]oint | [C]ounterpoint

P: Don't use Mono
C: Why?
P: Because it is patented
C: So is a lot of other software
P: Yes, but this is patented by Microsoft
C: So?
P: Microsoft is a convicted monopolist
C: You're just biased against Microsoft
P: I believe I am justified given Microsoft's history
C: What history?
P: See [1]
C: What has that got to do with Mono?
P: Microsoft has a history of abusing their "IP" as a weapon to destroy
   others, and maintain a monopoly
C: But how do you know that Microsoft will try to do that to FOSS?
P: Because they have already made patent allegations against FOSS; have
   repeatedly expressed their contempt and hatred for FOSS; have
   established a protection racket for commercial Linux vendors; have
   admitted that Linux (they mean FOSS) is their number one competitor;
   and have a sociopathic tendency to violently attack anyone (read:
   competitor) who threatens Microsoft's monopoly, using the most
   unethical and underhand methods they think they can get away with

[At this point, some heavyweight like Waugh enters the debate]

C: Rubbish. Mono only implements the ECMA parts of the .NET framework,
   which are covered by a RAND covenant to not sue, so you're whining
   for no good reason
P: I don't trust RANDs, especially those underwritten by Microsoft
C: Why?
P: Because, define "reasonable" ... and then prove that Microsoft will
   never revoke their promises. In fact, prove that Microsoft has good
   intentions in this, or any other endeavour

[This is usually the end of the discussion, although sometimes it goes
off on one of the following tangents]


C: My country doesn't enforce software patents anyway, so I don't care
P: Maybe some day it will (see [2]). What then?


C: Probably every piece of software ever written violates /some/ patent
   or another. If FOSS developers were to abandon packages based on
   possible patents, then there wouldn't be any Free Software at all
P: How many of those patent holders have the immoral and aggressive
   tendencies that Microsoft has? How many of those patent holders would
   risk losing 30 Billion USD just to strike a blow against FOSS (see
   Microsoft's recent failed Yahoo takeover bid)? How many of those
   patent holders are convicted monopolists? How many of those patent
   holders have made actual infringement claims against Free Software?
   How many of those patent holders have described Linux as a "cancer"?
   How many of those patent holders have created a Linux protection
   racket that attempts to stifle Free Software and line Microsoft's
   pockets in the process? How many of those patent holders use bribery
   and corruption as a matter of standard procedure [1]? How many of
   those patent holders regularly and predictably stab their own
   customers and partners in the back whenever any given venture results
   in anything less than market domination (e.g. "PlaysForSure" and

[And here the debate always ends, but without any resolution]

Occasionally I might get a parting "you're just being paranoid", from
those too blind/naive/brainwashed to understand the truth.

Well I don't know if it'll help, but I recently discovered an article
that (I believe) exposes RAND for the sham that it really is (quoted in

So much quarreling about open standards. Jason Matusow advocates for a
document format with RAND licensing conditions for the patents. What
does he mean when he talks about RAND? RAND stands for "reasonable and
non-discriminatory". But Jason Matusow's company Microsoft lacks honesty
when it talks about "reasonable and non-discriminatory" conditions.

We need to be precise about what reasonable and non-discriminatory
actually means. A restaurant in apartheid South Africa said it allowed
both Boers and English, so was "not discriminatory". It even let some
Jews in. However it banned non-whites.

Reasonable and non-discriminatory in patent licensing means "we apply a
uniform fee". However with respect to Microsoft's legacy OOXML format,
one party controls the standard and the associated patents. All market
players need to license except the patent owner. For dominant standards
it is a tax on the market. It seems highly unreasonable that such
standards should become international standards, mandatory for
government users.

You may find it unreasonable for an ubiquitous standard. But there is a
more insidious aspect. RAND patent licensing conditions are a tool to
ban Free Software, which is entirely incompatible with RAND licensing
conditions. Now one side of the debate blames it on the patent licensing
conditions, the other side on the software licensing conditions.

    "The reason I agree with the statement about patents and Free
Software not mixing is that there have been terms written into GPL
licenses that explicitly conflict with software patents. Okay, that is
the choice of the authors and users of those licenses."

It sounds a bit like: well, you chose to marry an African woman, so we
cannot let you into the restaurant. Free choice, right?

Yes, Matusow calls his standards with RAND conditions "open standards"
and contradicts the commonly accepted definition of "open standards". We
should speak about shared standards. These shared standards appear to
discriminate less, but they still discriminate against the only real
competitor to Microsoft's hegemony.

It is true that ISO, driven by simple pragmatism, allows shared
standards. From the ISO/IEC directives:

    "14.1 If, in exceptional situations, technical reasons justify such
a step, there is no objection in principle to preparing an International
Standard in terms which include the use of items covered by patent
rights – defined as patents, utility models and other statutory rights
based on inventions, including any published applications for any of the
foregoing – even if the terms of the standard are such that there are no
alternative means of compliance."

Generally international standards and patents are like water and oil,
and RAND conditions are the soap that allow them to mix. But as the move
towards Open Standards evolves, shared standards get more and more
unacceptable. Shared standards do discriminate and do appear to be

It is time to adapt the legal definition of reasonable and
non-discriminatory to common sense.


I would also add that not only are ECMA/.NET patent terms /unreasonable/
(how can it be an Open Standard if you have to pay a fee?), but the
non-discriminatory terms have already been broken with Microsoft's
/exclusive/ agreement with Novell:

I read the agreement between Xandros and Microsoft, and one of the
excluded products was Mono, so Microsoft promises to not sue Xandros
over their distribution but excluding Mono and a few other products,
i.e. they reserve the right to sue over Mono. I wonder if this is an
interesting preview of on what basis they want to fight the free world.

Interestingly, the Novell deal seems to be different, Mono is not
excluded from the Novell deal. So Microsoft seems to be promising not to
sue Novell over Mono, but keeps the option open for Xandros. Weird but


All in all, it is clear that the ECMA/.Net/Mono patent conditions are
/far/ from either "reasonable" /or/ "non-discriminatory".

Meanwhile, I stumbled upon some old articles that reminded me of how
much de Icaza is in love with the Redmond gangsters, and how dearly he'd
love to mutate Gnome into the bastard son of Windows:

Gnome to be based on .NET – de Icaza

Learn to love The Beast
By Andrew Orlowski in New York

Published Friday 1st February 2002 17:56 GMT

How much do you love Microsoft's .NET? Enough to trust your Gnome
applications to its APIs in the future?

That's what Gnome leader Miguel de Icaza, believes should happen. Miguel
calls .NET the "natural upgrade" for the Gnome platform, and enthused
about the technology in an interview with us at LinuxWorld this week.
Basing Gnome on the .NET APIs will cut development time significantly,

He also had praise for the new Microsoft security model, dismissed the
notion that Redmond was employing embrace and extend to its web services
protocols, and put the message that the community should get over its
beef with The Beast.

"I'd like to see Gnome applications written in .NET in version 4.0 - no,
version 3.0. But Gnome 4.0 should be based on .NET," he told us. "A lot
of people just see .NET as a fantastic upgrade for the development
platform from Microsoft.


Read the whole article, it's most revealing.

Miguel loves ActiveX too:

At Microsoft I learned the truth about ActiveX and COM and I got very
interested in it inmediately(sic).


He shows extremely poor taste (in many things).

[1] For anyone still not convinced of Microsoft's ethical depravity,
please see the following:


[2] Proposed US ACTA multi-lateral intellectual property trade agreement


And finally:

[3] Why did Microsoft invent .NET (I'm assuming they invented it, rather
than their usual MO of simply assimilating it from another source) when
there is already Java? To answer this question, you may also like to
consider why they "(re)invented" OOXML, Moonlight, XPS and other
"fscking kill <vendor>" technologies.

Any supposedly Free Software advocate who can still defend or support
Mono at this point, is clearly either irredeemably corrupt or terminally
stupid (or possibly both). They are part of the problem, not part of the
solution. And yes, the "problem" is Microsoft.

De Icaza, are you listening?


| 'When it comes to knowledge, "ownership" just doesn't make sense'
|     ~ Cory Doctorow, The Guardian.  http://tinyurl.com/22bgx8

Fedora release 8 (Werewolf) on sky, running kernel
 22:48:26 up 158 days, 19:24,  6 users,  load average: 0.03, 0.33, 0.27

[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next]
Author IndexDate IndexThread Index