Will Microsoft promise split the open source movement

Will Microsoft promise split the open source movement

Summary: The split is over whether Microsoft's promise on C# and the CLI extends to Mono and whether the Mono version of .Net should be accepted as a standard part of Linux. If it is, then Microsoft may be embraced as an "open core" vendor like other enterprise open source companies.


When we last left "As the .Net Turns," Richard Stallman was promising that Microsoft would never, ever marry his open source daughter.

Now Microsoft has raised the tension in the room by giving that daughter a ring, to the cheers of the rest of her family.

We join our show already in progress.

Microsoft's announcement that it will invoke its community promise regarding C# and the Common Language Infrastructure may be causing a split between the Free Software Foundation and Ubuntu.

The promise was made to reinforce Ubuntu's decision to support Mono, an open source implementation of  Microsoft's .Net which includes the two technologies, in an  installation of Debian Linux, on which Ubuntu is based.

The move doesn't clearly put Mono under the Community Promise, however.

Stallman edited his anti-Mono screed last night, noting that the Debian supporting Mono is not the default version, but he has not yet backed down from his criticisms.

With Debian and Ubuntu now accepting Microsoft's word that Mono is truly open source and Stallman staying outside the tent, there is a growing political split at the heart of the free software movement.

The split is over whether Microsoft's promise on C# and the CLI extends to Mono and whether the Mono version of .Net should be accepted as a standard part of Linux.

If it is, then Microsoft may be embraced as an "open core" vendor like other enterprise open source companies.

If Stallman and the FSF stay outside the growing consensus that open source .Net is legitimate, on the other hand, they could find themselves isolated.

But if "open core" is a perfectly legitimate open source stance, users may always wonder what is inside the core and what outside, an ambiguity vendors (starting with Microsoft) could use to end the free software era.

Stay tuned.

But before you do, answer this. Will you TiVo past the commercials?

Topics: Microsoft, Open Source, Software Development

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  • Can't change the spots on a Leopard's back.

    Besides, I just checked my NYS Driver's License for my date of birth--I wasn't born yesterday.

    So Linux Folks, don't touch Mono with a barge pole!

    Sorry Miguel, you are a creative spirit, but you've made your bed.

    Sleep well.

    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

    Dietrich T. Schmitz
    • I just removed the 'Patent Trap' from my Ubuntu 9.04 system

      Thanks for the tip Dietrich, more people should know about this. Very useful!
      InAction Man
      • I'm thinking about purging Ubuntu and Gnome...

        ...if they get any closer to making Mono a dependency. I may consider going back to Fedora. What I'd really like to see is more effort put into bettering Java/Groovy and more applications built around that platform.
        • I'm thinking about that too

          In fact I'm already considering other options, preparing the way for a move away from Ubuntu. If they get any closer to making Mono a dependency I'll dump them in a split second.
          InAction Man
        • I have been considering giving Ubuntu the boot as well.

          Just do to the fact they keep radically changing so much that they wind up beaking things that worked with each version. The final straw was disabling CTRL-ALT-Backspace... their excuse "it will keep people from <b>accidentally</b> hitting it. How do you ACCIDENTALLY press those three keys at once????? Why not disable CTRL-LT-Delete then?<br><br>I'll likely stay with the Debian community but Ubuntu on my desktops is on borrowed time. Kubuntu has already been evicted when they forced KDE4 down our throats before even KDE would say it was ready for regular distribution.
    • Wait - the FLOSS Community Is Being Asked to Trust - Micro$haft?!?!?

      Is this a joke?

      I suppose you'll ask me to trust Faux Noize as a Gentle Purveyor of Truth, or Big Insurance as only having my best medical interests at heart, next...?
  • Irrelevant split, IMO

    Unless, of course, wacko Stallman will sue Debian/Ubuntu,
    or revoke their licenses. If not, this is just an
    innocuous battle of words
    • Legal reasoning behind that?

      What possible legal justification could RMS put forth for suing Debian or Canonical?

      Remember that this is basically an ethical divide between Free Software and Open Source Software. Just because the moniker FOSS is used by the press and the industry, doesn't mean that the Free world and the Open Source world see eye to eye. In fact, I'm surprised Dana didn't highlight that difference in the blog posting...

      And just why do you consider RMS to be "[b][i]wacko[/i][/b]"? Because his ethics tend to be a little different from yours? Think of RMS as an "ethics" lawyer - his job is to think of all the bad things which could happen, and relentlessly point them and their consequences out to you. The difference between law and "Free software ethics", if you will, is that strict adherence to existing laws doesn't guarantee you'll stay on the straight and narrow ethical path. RMS is basically preaching the Golden Rule...
      • Legal reasoning?

        Ask that to Stallman, I was simply pointing out
        that a REAL divide could happen IF he takes a
        legal action

        Regarding the wacko thing, could you point out
        what are his "ethics"? and what do you mean by
        "ethical" path?
      • Stallman is a wacko

        Stallman is a wacko with a perverse sense of right and wrong. Defending him by saying that his 'ethics tend to be a little different from yours' is like saying Ron L Hubbard simply has ethics different than yours.

        To quote Stallman:


        Open source is a development methodology; free software is a social movement. For the free software movement, free software is an ethical imperative, because only free software respects the users' freedom. By contrast, the philosophy of open source considers issues in terms of how to make software ?better??in a practical sense only. It says that non-free software is a suboptimal solution. For the free software movement, however, [b]non-free software is a social problem, and moving to free software is the solution.

        We in the free software movement don't think of the open source camp as an enemy; [b]the enemy is proprietary (non-free) software.[/b] But we want people to know we stand for freedom, so we do not accept being misidentified as open source supporters.
        • So he's a "wacko" because...

          So he's a "wacko" because he'd like for the user/consumer of software to have control of their computer, rather than a proprietary software vendor like Microsoft call the shots? Or worse, someone like the RIAA and the MPAA? Forcing you into a "subscription" model where they essentially resell you the same thing, over and over, and you have no control over how you use the things you bought?

          You must be a software developer or involved in the proprietary world in order to not see any value in that - from the customer's point of view.
        • Label 'stallman' any way you like, but...

          Let's not forget that without Richard Stallman (or, RMS), we wouldn't have the free and open source software that know and love today. He has been instrumental in making open source software (OSS) what it is. He helped inspire many other developers to join and/or contribute to the open source movement.
          You may call him a <b> wacko</b>, but just be thankful that a wacko put OSS on the map.
          • Actually

            Actually, RMS put the Free Software Movement on the map and started decades ago. Bruce Perens and Eric S. Raymond started Open Source in 1998 in order to make Free Software more palatable to businesses.
  • Since when was the open source movement united?

    There have been these kinds of disagreements from the very beginning of the open source story. KDE v Gnome ironically was sort of the flip side of this thing. Back then Miguel was promoting Gnome as the deliverer in the face of the advance of KDE which had potential "incompatibilities" with open source. KDE was viewed as a sort of proprietary trojan horse back in those days. Now Miguel is on the other side of the equation promoting MS's .net approach. Everything worked out OK in the case of KDE, but we have no guarantee that such will be the case with mono. But open source is effectively playing both sides simultaneously with the Novell contingent ready to exploit the potential of .net and the Red Hat contingent developing in a different but somewhat parallel direction just in case. I see little risk as long as we don't become DEPENDENT on .net. That would be very dangerous. - George
    George Mitchell
    • Amen...

      Open Source by its nature has always been highly fragmented.
      • And yet...

        it's always maintained interoperability and has always kept the momentum going forward despite all that fragmentation. Where in the past fragmentation has led to lack of interoperability, it now helps to maintain competitive choice.

        Mono is just a library. There are plenty of others.
        Michael Kelly
        • You contradict yourself

          You opened your statement by saying that despite fragmentation, Open Source has "always maintained interoperability": and then in the following sentence stated that "Where in the past fragmentation has led to lack of interoperability ..."

          Which is it?

          OSS does not, in any way, shape or form, guarantee any form of interop, nor compatability. In just the same way as Gnome chose not to implement KDE compat (and vice-versa), many, MANY OSS projects choose not to implement a rival's API's and structures.

          Compatability and interop are concious decisions that have a not insignificant cost .
          • Re: Compatibility ...

            "OSS does not, in any way, shape or form, guarantee any form of interop, nor compatability. In just the same way as Gnome chose not to implement KDE compat (and vice-versa), many, MANY OSS projects choose not to implement a rival's API's and structures."

            Thats a mouthful. Please give an example of a Gnome app that does not work under KDE OR a KDE app that does not work under Gnome. I have never seen such a situation except in cases where it was an acknowledged bug. I have used Linux exclusively for ten years now. Are you a Linux user? How do you know these things? Or are you just repeating things that you have heard. - George
            George Mitchell
  • Microsoft is admired for knowing when to let competitors feel at ease...

    and get them in the best place to deliver the <i>coup de gr&acirc;ce</i>.

    InAction Man