Microsoft removes a hurdle for Mono

Microsoft removes a hurdle for Mono

Summary: On July 6, Microsoft removed a seeming licensing hurdle for Mono by putting the licensing of the CLI (Common Language Infrastructure) and the C# programmng language under its "Community Promise."

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As reported recently by OSNews, a number of Linux vendors have been on the fence as to what to to with Mono, Novell's open-source implementation of a C# compiler and a Common Language Runtime (CLR). Rightly or wrongly, some open source backers have been worried about the possible legal ramifications of deploying a technology with roots in the closed-source, Microsoft world.

But on July 6, Microsoft removed a seeming licensing hurdle for Mono by putting the licensing of the CLI (Common Language Infrastructure) and the C# programming language under its "Community Promise." Via that promise, Microsoft agrees not to "assert its Necessary Claims against anyone who makes, uses, sells, offers for sale, imports, or distributes any Covered Implementation under any type of development or distribution model, including open-source licensing models such as the LGPL or GPL."

(In short, Microsoft is less likely to sue a company for patent infringement over technology that is implemented under the Promise.)

It will be interesting to see how and if Microsoft's guarantee will affect the perception of Mono inside the open-source community.

Mono's leader, Novell vice president for developer platforms Miguel de Icaza, blogged that he was gratified by Microsoft's move. And he hinted about what Microsoft's licensing change might mean for the future of Mono:

"In the next few months we will be working towards splitting the jumbo Mono source code that includes ECMA + A lot more into two separate source code distributions. One will be ECMA, the other will contain our implementation of ASP.NET, ADO.NET, Winforms and others.

"Depending on how you get Mono today, you might already have the this split in house or not."

Does Micosoft's latest licening move around C# and the CLI affect you and your organization? Does it change your feelings or opinion of Mono?

Topics: Linux, Microsoft, Open Source, Operating Systems, Software, Software Development

About

Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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18 comments
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  • Does it?

    Licensing changes to C# and the CLI mean little. It would be surprising if
    MS has much enforceable IP in these areas.

    Without the supporting libraries C# is of little interest, it is just another
    language that was a poor copy of others (still laugh at it's switch
    implementation and the popularity of goto). Most notably these
    components aren't covered by the change conditions, surprised?

    Why would anyone trust people that are so sly? Why would people report
    a hurdle removed?
    Richard Flude
  • RE: Microsoft removes a hurdle for Mono

    Mary Jo, this is certainly a very interesting topic. I fail
    to see why so many people in the industry don't know
    about this project, and of the implications of dealing
    with Microsoft at this level. From my perspective, it is
    no likely that ISVs would be willing to jump into the
    Mono bandwagon just yet, even in light of this
    announcement; simply because they just don't trust
    Microsoft, I sure don't. I just don't know there is
    anyone capable, certainly without a team of attorneys
    in their back pocket, could decipher the implications of
    running a Windows-built commercial product from
    Microsoft on a Linux platform, even if it's under Mono.
    roque@...
  • Wait a minute while I check something Mary Jo....

    ....nope. I just checked my date of birth on my NYS Drivers License and I wasn't born yesterday.

    Linux Folks, Don't touch Mono with a barge pole.

    [b]P.S.
    To remove the 'Patent Trap' from your Ubuntu 9.04 Jaunty Jackelope edition open a terminal window and type:

    $sudo apt-get purge libmono0 mono-common libgdiplus
    [/b]
    Dietrich T. Schmitz
    • I have read

      I have read the "community promise" text, and it seems reasonable. I'm not too certain about the "partial implementation" part, however. The only "argument" i could see beyond that is if the developer/user intends to sue microsoft for patent infringement concerning c#
      medezark@...
    • Exactly Dietrich!

      So while this free's up C# and the CLI the rest of mono is still in potential jeopardy.

      So if/when a trap is sprung the code is still OK it just must be run on .NET.

      No mono whatsoever on my lenny/KDE4 boxes.
      Tim Patterson
      • How's my driving? ;)

        nt
        Dietrich T. Schmitz
      • The argument that kills me...

        ...is when you bring up the fact that after everyone is so happy that their apps run on .Net and Mono cross platform MS will introduce some proprietary feature that always makes .Net the real deal and Mono a wanna-be the Mono crowd says "that would be stupid...it would hurt MS's cross platform offerings". What cross platform offerings??? If they wanted a cross platform framework they would be no need for Mono. MS doesn't want their apps running on Linux. That fact alone should make you question their motives behind allowing this cross platform implementation of their framework. Anyone thinking that somehow Linux is going to come out on top with .Net/Mono you have GOT to be nuts. All it will do is get developers used to C# no matter what OS they are targeting and then pull them in when they offer some feature that Mono can't have.
        storm14k
  • GPL v3.0 it - then I'll use it (nt)

    Nuff said.
    BanjoPaterson
  • Not so fast Goldfarb

    This promise only cover two small parts of the mono implementation.

    Brian Goldfarb of MS told us in a <a href="http://talkback.zdnet.com/5208-10535-0.html?forumID=1&threadID=47762&messageID=889966">past talkback</a> that only "Novell's implementation is covered".
    Tim Patterson
    • Why is this ignored?

      There is clearly alot of haze around Mono but some people just ignore it all and claim Mono is safe for use everywhere. And the reasons they give for taking the risk fall pretty short.
      storm14k
  • ECMA components only

    ECMA components only thus makes Mono completely useless once you get rid of those components.
    Macintoshtoffy
  • Frustrating as it is...

    The other posters here have a point.

    While the fact remains that Microsoft has yet to sue anyone or even threaten to sue anyone over the use of Mono, or even sue the Mono team directly, and that Microsoft itself has commissioned the Mono team to port a core product like Silverlight to Mono (aka Moonlight), the tacit potential threat is seriously hampering the ability for Mono both to get more widely distributed, and even just in terms of development.

    One insight though - when the Visual Studio team announced that they were moving to release the entire source base for .Net's libraries into a Reference License in order to integrate it into VS's debugging system, the first question that got ask was 'what happens to Mono?'

    They didn't answer so I kept at it and kept bugging them until I got one... and the thing that surprised me was: it appears that no one in the VS group had even *thought* of the implications and impact of their 'gift' on Mono. And it certainly does have impact. The license does relieve the user from legal impact - but ONLY if the products derived run exclusively on Windows systems, which leaves out the Mono people.

    Which means that the good news is that from what I can tell, Microsoft isn't actually anti-Mono, per se, but rather they're pro-Windows.

    That, of course is cold comfort because we know that if there are two salient traits of Microsoft they are an almost unpredictable ability to change direction - in any direction - on a moment's notice and for no logical reason, and a somewhat wolverine-like mentality which is passive until poked, then insanely ferocious.

    That almost schizophrenic personality switch makes trusting them too much a very dangerous thing to do.

    .Net is, in my opinion, one of the most powerful development architectures I've seen. But if Microsoft wants it to truely take off - it has to be opened up. Unfortunately, to Microsoft, everything they come up with only makes it to product if it either IS a hit, or if it makes buying Windows or Office more desirable.

    To them (wrongly), an open source .Net wouldn't do that.
    TheWerewolf
    • Great news!

      Microsoft isn't AGAINST anyone ..... they're just FOR Microsoft and to hell with everybody else.

      Very comforting!

      Phew.... gotta take me a shower... this sarcasm stinks to high heaven.
      Ole Man
      • OMG

        A company is FOR themselves!???? How dare they!? This is infuriating...

        "Ole Man" needs to grow up and learn a thing or two about business.
        LiquidLearner
        • They can be for themselves...

          ...but as with every company...if it weren't for everyone else they'd be nothing.
          storm14k
    • J2EE vs .NET battle

      If Microsoft wants to win the J2EE vs .NET battle at the corporate enterprise level. Then they MUST allow .NET to run on platforms other than Windows. .NET is so good and follows open standarda that the ONLY remaining valid argument for favoring Java over .NET is the fact that corporations can run Java code on JBoss, Linux, WebSphere, etc. .NET only runs on Windows and this is looked at by architectural planners in large corporations as a huge deficiency. Even though programmers are infininitle more productive in .NET and the overall operating costs are lower with .NET than Java. Mono is, at the corporate level Microsofts savior, and they might be finally recognizing that. We can only hope, because I code in both but prefer .NET by a mile over Java. .NET just has so much already built in that the Java world makes you go out and find in open source, and the .NET Framework namespaces are much more logical and deep.

      Windcrest
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