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Mark Shuttleworth on the future of Ubuntu

Mark Shuttleworth on the future of Ubuntu

Posted Jun 4, 2008 16:42 UTC (Wed) by jdub (subscriber, #27)
In reply to: Mark Shuttleworth on the future of Ubuntu by glynmoody
Parent article: Mark Shuttleworth on the future of Ubuntu

But again, you're blaming GNOME for Mono. Miguel has done a lot of things that not everyone
agrees with -- why should GNOME be responsible for what he has chosen to do, just because his
experience with GNOME prompted it?

Please, don't confuse Mono (or Miguel) for GNOME and vice versa.

Also, you're suggesting that Mono has a relationship with Microsoft, which, to be completely
fair to the Mono folks, it doesn't. Yes, it's a Free Software implementation of a technology
designed by Microsoft, but that's where the "relationship" ends.

Say what you will about Microsoft/Novell and its impact on the viability of Mono (which
certainly didn't do it any favours in the GNOME world), but it's not like you're opting out of
all Novell-contributed code as a result.


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Mark Shuttleworth on the future of Ubuntu

Posted Jun 4, 2008 16:56 UTC (Wed) by glynmoody (guest, #34032) [Link]

I'm not blaming anyone, merely pointing out that there is a conceptual link between GNOME and
Mono, and Mono and Microsoft; those doesn't exist with KDE, say.  

The problem is the vague nature of those relationships - you say there isn't one, but that
rather depends what we mean by a "relationship" - financial, logical, conceptual, emotional,
technical, etc.   

Ill-defined boundaries mean that it's hard to tell what's going on when vendors base their
offerings on GNOME: does that include Mono technologies? And what about when users install
apps - something small and innocuous like Tomboy, say - which uses Mono? 

Mark Shuttleworth on the future of Ubuntu

Posted Jun 4, 2008 21:15 UTC (Wed) by ajross (guest, #4563) [Link]

Oh, stop it.  You might as well rail on about KDE's incestuous and *clearly* unethical
relationship with Nokia.  :)

Argue about the software.  Don't spin about the politics.  Mono is a language runtime based on
a Microsoft standard, and with a good deal of integration with the core GNOME libraries.  Is
there something specific you don't like?

Mark Shuttleworth on the future of Ubuntu

Posted Jun 4, 2008 22:19 UTC (Wed) by glynmoody (guest, #34032) [Link]

I'm talking about the concrete threat that technologies for which Microsoft claims patents (at
least in those jurisdictions that recognise them) could appear on GNOME-based systems via
Mono. I don't think that's an issue of "politics", but concretely about one of the few
remaining weapons that Microsoft can use against open source.  Wikipedia has some links on
these issues:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mono_(software)#Mono_and_Microsoft.E2.80.99s_patents

Mark Shuttleworth on the future of Ubuntu

Posted Jun 5, 2008 1:09 UTC (Thu) by jdub (subscriber, #27) [Link]

Despite the equivocation, even that article notes that the problems exist primarily for the
Windows API compatibility implementations, not so much the basic (ECMA-standardised, however
useful that might be) .NET platform. When writing a GNOME/Mono/C# application, you don't need
to use any of that stuff.

Given that other distributions have been comfortable enough to ship those pieces (for use with
a small number of GNOME/Mono/C# applications, only one of which is actually included with the
GNOME releases), and for OIN to include it among the software components it will protect, it
seems odd to focus on GNOME as a vector for Mono.

There is certainly no strategic adoption of Mono within the GNOME project (nor, it should be
pointed out, has there been of Java before or since it became usefully Free Software).

I'm not sure your blame attribution is correctly targeted. :-)

Mark Shuttleworth on the future of Ubuntu

Posted Jun 5, 2008 2:12 UTC (Thu) by felixfix (subscriber, #242) [Link]

No one is saying Gnome is in bed with Microsoft, but to say Gnome has no relationship with
Mono and Microsoft is disingenuous at best, and to compare that relationship to KDE and Nokia
is flat wrong.  Microsoft could bring a patent suit against Mono; they can change the API,
they can do any number of things to make Mono a poor country cousin to the city slicker from
Redmond, and that will all cascade into problems for Gnome.  There is no such problem for KDE,
least of all from Nokia.

Mark Shuttleworth on the future of Ubuntu

Posted Jun 5, 2008 6:15 UTC (Thu) by kripkenstein (guest, #43281) [Link]

Mono/GNOME and KDE/Nokia are very different, I agree, but I think not in the way you describe.

Nokia *owns* Qt, the foundation of KDE. This is a very close relationship therefore. And it
might have various consequences, for example, Nokia might decide not to allow Qt to be used to
create GPL4-licensed apps when that license comes out (speaking of which, does Qt allow AGPL
apps currently? I can't find a link). Also, Nokia might dramatically raise the cost of
programming proprietary apps in Qt, etc.

Mono has its issues (potential patent matters with Microsoft, copying another system instead
of innovating, etc.), but most of that is irrelevant to GNOME. Very few GNOME apps use Mono,
as I said elsewhere in this discussion, far more GNOME apps use Python for example. So, while
Mono is GNOME-focused (with GTK#, etc.), GNOME is not Mono-focused. Don't blame GNOME for Mono
having GNOME bindings.

Mark Shuttleworth on the future of Ubuntu

Posted Jun 5, 2008 7:14 UTC (Thu) by jdub (subscriber, #27) [Link]

Please, don't be deceptive: There is no organisational relationship between GNOME and
Microsoft or GNOME and the Mono project (that said, the principal development entity behind
Mono, Novell, is a member of the GNOME Foundation Advisory Board, but this does not involve or
imply technical influence).

GNOME includes only the Mono bindings and Tomboy in its official release set. New Mono-based
modules and dependencies in existing modules are special-cased in the release team inclusion
policies. This very clearly demonstrates that the GNOME community has not bought into Mono at
a strategic level, and that at any point we could cease shipping any Mono related software in
our regular six-month releases without great concern.

If it became clear through desire or force that the GNOME community could no longer ship the
very small amount Mono related software included in our official releases, we could. Tomorrow.

But right now, it's not clear, no matter what the non-practitioning extremists might want you
to think (note that I'm not including Glyn in that set, but I am disappointed that the
ill-researched and nuance-free ideas of those extremists have spread to bastions of sanity
such as LWN).

Unlike the other poster, I don't believe the KDE/Nokia situation is useful or relevant to this
discussion.

A bit harsh...

Posted Jun 5, 2008 17:27 UTC (Thu) by grantingram (guest, #18390) [Link]

Well although it is true that there might be no organisational relationship between GNOME and
$ORGANISATION.  As far as I can see GNOME (and I've been wrong many times before :-( ) is the
only major desktop shipping Mono applications.  

Now I'm a big fan of GNOME and suspect that the patent problems are the usual load of hot air.
But the fact that GNOME is shipping Mono based software seems to me as an outside observer
that GNOME has in fact "bought into" Mono at some level...  

Glyn's question didn't strike me as unreasonable and Shuttleworth's answer was quite
illuminating and I think the flak he is taking reflects more the sensitivity over this issue
rather than anything objectionable about the interview.  

Of course my contribution to the free software world has been to program as little as
possible, thereby significantly raising the average standard of code produced so what do I
know!  

Throwing out the baby with the bathwater.

Posted Jun 10, 2008 21:42 UTC (Tue) by Kamujin (guest, #52482) [Link]

I find it funny how close minded people are being about the benefits of C# and Mono just
because of its source.

I understand skepticism. I don't understand irrational fear.

I understand engagement. I don't understand isolationism.

Which camp are you in?

Throwing out the baby with the bathwater.

Posted Jun 10, 2008 23:54 UTC (Tue) by felixfix (subscriber, #242) [Link]

When one company has spent decades building up their reputation as someone not to be trusted,
it is only surprising that gullible people pop up now and again to trust them.

It isn't Mono and C# that are the questionable items, it is the company behind them, who have
made plenty of noise about enforcing their patents on those items.  Address that issue, and
perhaps then you will have some cred.

Throwing out the baby with the bathwater.

Posted Jun 11, 2008 12:55 UTC (Wed) by Kamujin (guest, #52482) [Link]

I agree that MS has earned its bad reputation.

I think your response proves my point though. I am not aware of any real patent issues that
exist with Mono and C#. If there are issues, then there should be debate and action taken to
correct them. I don't hear real issues being raised. I just hear a lot of anti-MS rhetoric.

If your just going to dismiss a really good technology because you don't like who invented it,
I think your making a mistake.

Throwing out the baby with the bathwater.

Posted Jun 16, 2008 12:31 UTC (Mon) by occ (guest, #38482) [Link]

>"Which camp are you in?"

I'm in the anti- "false dichotomy fallacy" camp. (1)


"I find it funny how close minded people are being about the benefits of C# and Mono just
because of its source."

I find it sad how gold-fish-memory like people are being about the said 'source'. Heck the
recent story of another of their ECMA so-called-standard  - pushed down ISO with corruption,
pressures, ballot stuffing and plain smear campaigns - should alone give any rational person
pause.(2)



(1) "you are either with me or against me" (a brilliant early 21th century philosopher circa
2001.)
(2) "Fool me once, shame on ... shame on you, fool me twice ... euh. fool me I can't get
fooled again" (same brilliant early 21th century mind, circa 2006)

Throwing out the baby with the bathwater.

Posted Jun 16, 2008 16:12 UTC (Mon) by Kamujin (guest, #52482) [Link]

I think your being extreme.

"Trust but verify" is what I am advocating. Not blind acceptance. And certainly not the "I'm
smarter then the world" attitude that is the logical implication of your disengaged viewpoint.

Mark Shuttleworth on the future of Ubuntu

Posted Jun 5, 2008 3:26 UTC (Thu) by elanthis (guest, #6227) [Link]

Why did you leave out OpenGL, for which Microsoft has some patents thanks to acquisitions from
SGI?

Why did you leave out Samba, which is clearly just a reimplementation of Microsoft's obviously
patented protocols?

Why did you leave out FAT file system support we all use on memory cards, which is a Microsoft
technology?

Why the hell do you think that a KDE-based distribution can't have Mono?  Or an XFCE one?  Or
one that doesn't even have a GUI?

Just own up to being a bigot and quit trying to cover your ass with generality and assumptions
stated as facts.  Your clear copying of Microsoft's FUD technology might open you up to a
patent lawsuit, you know.

Mark Shuttleworth on the future of Ubuntu

Posted Jun 5, 2008 4:36 UTC (Thu) by lysse (guest, #3190) [Link]

Perhaps, in between the "preview comment" button and the "submit" button, there is an
occasional need - one I've fallen foul of myself at times - for a "have a cup of peppermint
tea and chill out a bit" button...?

Mark Shuttleworth on the future of Ubuntu

Posted Jun 6, 2008 12:37 UTC (Fri) by filipjoelsson (guest, #2622) [Link]

I hereby nominate the parent comment to the (as yet non-existing) award: Reader comment of the
week!

Anyway, I'd really like such i feature... :)

Mark Shuttleworth on the future of Ubuntu

Posted Jun 6, 2008 21:33 UTC (Fri) by amazingblair (guest, #2789) [Link]

I second the nomination, and hereby suggest that LWN adopt a
"Reader Comment of the Week" Award
for meritorious verbality. (ooh! "meritorious verbality" -- that was good right there!) :-)

-Amazing Blair

Mark Shuttleworth on the future of Ubuntu

Posted Jun 5, 2008 8:46 UTC (Thu) by glynmoody (guest, #34032) [Link]

As for Samba, see the comment lower down.  I'm not quite sure which OpenGL patents you're
referring to: if you could please specify, I'll try to comment.  The FAT patents look likely
to be thrown out (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File_allocation_table#Appeal).

Other non-GNOME distributions could certainly have Mono, but it wouldn't be very natural.
Part of my point about the relationship between GNOME and Mono is that it *is* very natural to
install the latter, even if there is no formal link between the projects.

As for bigotry, I'm not quite sure where my obstinacy or intolerance lies.  It's certainly not
in my attitude to GNOME, which I use on all my main machines.  I'm just pointing out that
there are issues that are worth exploring in this area, which is what I tried to do with Mark
Shuttleworth, since his perspective would obviously be interesting and important.  I don't
think that's bigotry.

Mark Shuttleworth on the future of Ubuntu

Posted Jun 5, 2008 7:46 UTC (Thu) by jschrod (subscriber, #1646) [Link]

So, how do you think about a distribution that includes Samba?

You know, Samba, that reverse-engineered implementation of Microsoft's patent-encumbered
network file system protocol stack? Including parts of its proprietary directory technology?

Please note that I use neither GNOME nor Mono. I'm just responding because I find your
comments about Mono hypocritical.

Mark Shuttleworth on the future of Ubuntu

Posted Jun 5, 2008 8:29 UTC (Thu) by glynmoody (guest, #34032) [Link]

Samba reverse-engineers for the sake of interoperability, in order to work in a world where
Microsoft's protocols are widely used, not because it's great technology; it's a moot point
whether that's really infringing on Microsoft's patents, leaving aside that such patents
aren't even valid in certain jurisdictions.  Mono reverse-engineers Microsoft technology in
order to use it because the Mono team think it's useful to do so, and that the technology is
worth porting.

I don't think my comments about Mono are hypocritical.  I focussed on GNOME and Mono because I
was interviewing the man behind Ubuntu, which uses the former.  I think it was important to
explore the potential problems with software patents, albeit indirect ones, given Ubuntu's
growing success.  The question was really about whether Ubuntu was so committed to GNOME that
it would be implicated in any such problems; Shuttleworth has indicated that if –
hypothetically – such a situation arose, Ubuntu could switch to KDE.

Mark Shuttleworth on the future of Ubuntu

Posted Jun 5, 2008 8:41 UTC (Thu) by jschrod (subscriber, #1646) [Link]

> The question was really about whether Ubuntu was so committed to GNOME
> that it would be implicated in any such problems

Well, that's actually a very good and interesting question. But I'll have to say that, for me,
the question came not across with that semantic. So you might have a communication problem in
your article. :-)

Concerning your 1st paragraph: For risk assessment of patent dangers, it is not relevant why a
technology is cloned. That it is cloned is all that matters. FTR, I actually think that patent
attacks against both technologies don't have any practical chance to arrive, it's more fudder
for FUD than for actual law suits. My reasons for this opinion are neither legal nor
technological, but from a business viewpoint. Patent attacks just don't make business sense
for MS, but patent FUD does. And we in the OSS community should not increase the FUD that
emanates from MS, IMHO.

But then, I live in one of those jurisdictions where software patents are (still) not allowed,
so maybe I can be more relaxed than others on the American side of the pond.

Mark Shuttleworth on the future of Ubuntu

Posted Jun 5, 2008 19:29 UTC (Thu) by oak (guest, #2786) [Link]

Once you can interact with www-services only through MS Silverlight[1], 
like some services currently can be used only with Flash, your 
interoperability argument becomes moot...

[1] e.g. Nokia has announced that its S60 phones are going to support it, 
so it seems to be spreading.


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