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Will Microsoft promise split the open source 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.
Written by Dana Blankenhorn, Inactive on

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.


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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?

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