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MS .net vs Mono, Open Source 243

Posted by timothy
from the mmmm-patents dept.
vinsci writes "Sometimes, reader comments to reporter-written stories are just as good as the stories themselves. Such as David Mohring's comment yesterday on ZDNet.com's story Mono & .Net: The odd couple. Since Microsoft are now using their licensing terms to stop GPL and LGPL free software, it would be a welcome sign of free software maturity at Microsoft if they actually resolved the Mono issue. The gist of his comment: 'Microsoft's CEOs have made it 'patently' clear that they intend to restrict competing .Net implementations by cultivating Microsoft's patents, [...] Mono also implements parts of .NET that have NOT been submitted to ECMA and ISO standards. Those parts of Mono lack even the protection for IP infringement with re-implementation that ISO documentation licensing implies. [...] There [are] those that claim that .NET is open to re-implementation, but until Microsoft make a simliar public legal declaration to Sun's JSPA, any .NET re-implementation represents a pending legal mindfield.' While on the subject of C# development, users of the GPL'd C# development environment SharpDevelop may also want to try Eclipse together with the Open Source Improve CSharp plugin for Eclipse. Eclipse also support C/C++ these days using GCC and GDB, thanks to the CDT. There are about two hundred add-on plugins available for Eclipse. Eclipse itself is available for many platforms, including Linux with native GTK 2 support."
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MS .net vs Mono, Open Source

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  • The Devil (Score:3, Informative)

    by the eric conspiracy (20178) on Wednesday December 25, 2002 @07:05PM (#4958234)
    .Net is MS proprietary. No way MS is going to let you run it in any useful way on non-MS operating systems.

    If you plan to sup with the devil, it is best to bring a long spoon

    • Re:The Devil (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Rik van Riel (4968)
      MS .Net (their implementation) is indeed the property of Microsoft. That doesn't mean they have a legal or moral right to stop other people from creating alternative implementations.

      If copyright owners could determine the law, they wouldn't need to spend millions lobbying in Washington. The fact that they're lobbying like crazy illustrates the fact that users are bound by the law, not by the wishes of copyright holders.

      Having said that, in this case software patents are a real threat to innovation by US programmers. This abuse of patents hurts the US public and is against the constitutional idea behind patents (the promotion of progress and innovation).

      However, the open source community can't change patent law, so the only way to win this game is to follow the rules by the letter but creating the opposite result from what other players are doing. Maybe through something like a GPL for patents ?
      • Re:The Devil (Score:2, Informative)

        MS .Net (their implementation) is indeed the property of Microsoft. That doesn't mean they have a legal or moral right to stop other people from creating alternative implementations.

        Microsoft has a number of patents on the technologies in .Net. This gives them both the legal and moral right to prevent alternative implementations that infringe on these patents.

        in this case software patents are a real threat to innovation by US programmers

        I don't see how copying .Net is innovation. People REALLY need to get away from the idea that IP laws that prevent you from copying somebody else's work inhibit innovation. Innovation is about making something new of your own, not reimplementing something that has already been done.

        • Re:The Devil (Score:3, Insightful)

          by rossifer (581396)
          People REALLY need to get away from the idea that IP laws that prevent you from copying somebody else's work inhibit innovation.
          Strawman.

          You apparently forgot that new technology is based on and interacts with existing technology. If someone patented the recording and playback of a signal that can be displayed as a visual image before the VCR was invented, is the VCR really innovative?

          If you don't think so then you need to check your premises.

          Bad IP laws prevent you from building on other people's work and that inhibits innovation.

          Regards, Ross

          • If someone patented the recording and playback of a signal that can be displayed as a visual image before the VCR was invented, is the VCR really innovative?

            Obviously you don't have any practical experience in this area.

            If you build something innovative and patentable as an extension to somebody else's work, you own the rights to that innovation. What you still don't get is the right to commercialize that innovation if it infringes on the base technology. In the real world of IP, there are any number of practical solutions to this issue including various types of mutually beneficial cross licensing.

            Bad IP laws prevent you from building on other people's work and that inhibits innovation.

            Current IP laws do NOT prevent you from doing this.

      • Maybe through something like a GPL for patents ?

        There are those of us that have one major issue with the GPL -- the amount of trust one is forced to put in the FSF. The FSF now has enormous intellectual property power by having the ability to revise the license on a very large amount of software.

        Now, maybe the FSF is "okay" for a couple years. Or maybe Stallman decides to give special favors to companies that donate large amounts of money to the FSF (the idea has already been batted around). Fifty years from now, unless the GPL flops, it will be enormously influential and powerful. Stallman will likely be dead, and a new generation or two will have passed through the organization. Do you trust the FSF to have that much power a few years down the road? Especially when it becomes *worth* it to bribe an FSF member with a few million dollars?

        The FSF is the single point of failure of the GPL. Sure, you can do what Linus does and use "GPL v2 only", but very, very few people do so.

        Anyway, patents would be even more nasty. If a viral-style license was produced, where you could use any FSF-owned patents as long as you also donate any other patents used on a project to the FSF, you have an *incredibly* quickly growing virus. It's *very* hard to avoid infrining a huge body of patents (unlike copyright, where you just avoid copying any GPLed code).

        I had no idea you read Slashdot, Rik.
    • Re:The Devil (Score:2, Interesting)

      by spybreak (636509)

      Actually there's a good discussion of this here [business2.com].

      It seems that Microsoft is quite encouraging of the Mono effort:

      "Hats off to Icaza for getting as far as he has," says John Montgomery, who oversees the .Net Framework at Microsoft. Indeed, he practically gushes every time he hears Icaza's name. "Miguel is an incredibly sharp guy, and he is a pragmatist," Montgomery says. "I would put him in the top five of open-source thought leaders."

      However the motives for this seem unclear... probably with all the bad press that MS has recieved lately they are frightened of appearing ani-competitive.

      I guess that the big risk for Mono is that it exists in the legal grey area between the ECMA C# and the proprietary .NET. In this twilight area they are very much in Microsoft's shadow and at their legal whim.

      • agreed (Score:4, Interesting)

        by exhilaration (587191) on Wednesday December 25, 2002 @08:51PM (#4958549)
        I was at a Microsoft demo of .Net in New York before it was released. The speaker (a Microsoft head developer), when praising .Net, said that it would allow your software to run on multiple platforms. He said that Mono would allow you to run .Net apps on Linux, implying that it was a Good Thing (tm).

        They're happy to see Mono progress. In the end, it'll help them sell more copies of Visual Studio and Windows XP Professional.

        But what I'm afraid of is that if someday Microsoft is in bad shape and its profits start to drop, they'll go on a legal rampage and take down anyone that built software even remotely "like" theirs.

    • FUD? (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Yeroc (125826)
      I often see complaints about Microsoft spreading FUD about open source but this appears to be the reverse...spreading FUD about Microsoft. There's no evidence at this point that Microsoft is going to try to prevent the completion of the Mono project. In all likelyhood Mono will do little to threaten Microsoft's dominance anyhow...
      • Re:FUD? (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Kunta Kinte (323399)
        There's no evidence at this point that Microsoft is going to try to prevent the completion of the Mono project.

        Yes true, but there's no evidence that they won't either. In business you don't start projects with "well, maybe they won't sue us...".

        With any .NET implementation, Microsoft holds the patent card, heck they hold the copyright card as well; a whole lot of them.

        Any .NET implemenation that is not officially sanctioned by Microsoft in a legally binding way is making a very risky bet.

        I say, Either Miguel knows something we don't, or he is being a bit callous with Ximian VC money in this case.

        • by TummyX (84871)

          Yes true, but there's no evidence that they won't either.


          What about these facts?

          - Mono has been around for over a year.
          - Mono has been featured on MSDN.
          - To the press, Microsoft has consistantly praised the Mono team.
          - .NET is an ECMA and soon to be ISO standard.

          Hmmmm
    • .Net is MS proprietary. No way MS is going to let you run it in any useful way on non-MS operating systems.
      Wow, this knee-jerk cliched reaction is what passes for +1 Insightful on Slashdot these days?

      How sad.

      • How about +2 Freaking Obvious You Idiot?

        Merry Xmas and tux bless us EVERY one ;)

  • I was amazed when I first discovered Eclipse about two weeks ago, not so much because it is an extremely powerful piece of software, not because they have written a Swing replacement which looks amazing on both Windows and Linux, but because I went for so long without discovering such a product.

    While Java is my main language, I have been doing some C# work recently using SharpDevelop, which is good, but still needs work. I can't wait to try out the C# plugin for Eclipse.

  • by ShatteredDream (636520) on Wednesday December 25, 2002 @07:26PM (#4958297) Homepage
    1. My college has a cd that is distributed to every campusnet (campus network/ISP) user and that would be the perfect place to distribute OpenOffice and Mozilla. The one catch is that OpenOffice needs about another 6 months-1 year before it is mass-marketted. It needs to be able to feel mostly as slick as MS Office to the average Joe and needs OSX compatability to keep from luring people to only one OS.
    2. Lobby the hell out of the US government to switch to OpenOffice and shoot for compatability with Mozilla in all of its websites. Losing the US government will do severe damage to them as there are probably around 1.5-2M federal computers capable of running MS Office that would now be running OO. Also, the defense contractors would retool for OO to keep up compatability with the USDoD.
    3. Get BeOS open source and up to date! There is only one shot to get a major open source desktop out there for most people. They'll give switching away from MS probably one shot. Most /. nerds seem to forget that the average joe is not adventurous and will not take us seriously if we say, "come on, try it again." BeOS is very slick and easy to use. BeOS DE 1.1 is what I use half the time now on my 1 year old PC and it works very well. Push Palm to release R4.5, R5 or R6.
    4. And now, the craziest proposal *drum roll* Encourage IBM to buy Sun and Macromedia. Push them to open source a fork of the JDK and JDK EE under the GPL as a reference copy, submit the specs to ISO for everything from the basic java packages to the EE specs. To further hurt MS on the desktop, they could open source Dreamweaver similar to how QT is open sourced.

    Just some thoughts. It's not impossible to take them down. I remember when one of our local guys got his cost analysis posted on slashdot (Rockingham County, Virgina). Start flashing those kinds of figures to the bean counters. You may not get many converts right away, but oh well. You have to start somewhere. I've gotten most of my technology-clueless relatives hooked on Mozilla because of its popup blocking ability. My neighbor across the street who is an accountant by trade loves OpenOffice and is looking into switching to RedHat 8. Again, it can be done. Just get them hooked on the Windows/Mac versions of OO, Mozilla, etc and switching to an open source platform will be easy.

    As for Mono, MS Legal can't fight if they don't have money :)

    • Star/Open Office in the U.S. government would be the death knell for Microsoft. The U.S. government is not only the largest software purchaser on the planet, but every other business in the U.S., and most of the businesses in the world have some contact with the U.S. government. If the U.S. government standardized on StarOffice formats then businesses around the world would be forced to use StarOffice to some extent. When the U.S. government asks you for a document in a particular format that's the format that you send them. The fact that OpenOffice is free certainly wouldn't hurt its adoption either.

      Microsoft would not only find itself losing marketshare, but it would also find itself increasingly on the wrong side of the "standards" fence. Instead of OpenOffice having to be 100% MS Office compatible, Microsoft would find that they would be forced to be 100% OpenOffice compatible. In short, Microsoft would soon find that one of their major cash cows was fighting a losing battle against a package that could be downloaded for free.

      Microsoft's revenues would drop, their stock price would take a beating, and companies would switch simply because Microsoft would look like they were "losing."

      The best part of this picture is that, to a certain extent, this is already happening overseas. When Microsoft finally does get cut down to size my guess is that StarOffice/OpenOffice is the primary culprit.

  • by ajp (192328) on Wednesday December 25, 2002 @07:28PM (#4958300)
    Microsoft has already written .NET for another platform (Rotor, for BSD.) And Microsoft has communicated with Miguel many times with regards to Mono. An interview with him on the topic is hosted on MSDN! This does not appear to be a prelude to a lawsuit.

    What's the news item here? Fear-mongering about the Evil Microsoft? If you're worried about big companies with riduculous patents ruining society, worry about Amazon.
    • by Kunta Kinte (323399) on Wednesday December 25, 2002 @07:49PM (#4958360) Journal
      Microsoft has already written .NET for another platform (Rotor, for BSD.)

      Yeah, and there was also Internet Explorer for Solaris, look how long that was supported.

      And Microsoft has communicated with Miguel many times with regards to Mono

      Why not communicate to the rest of the industry as to their intentions?

      An interview with him on the topic is hosted on MSDN! This does not appear to be a prelude to a lawsuit.

      An interview does not make a legal contract either.

      Why send so much time and effort with no legal protections? All Mono has is the apparent "good will" of a company known for being overly aggressive to the point of breaking the law on occasion.

      And that's not much!

      • Its worth noting that IBM had Microsoft's "good will" too. Then they got burned on OS/2, not once but twice. Once when Microsoft stole the code to make NT, and once when Microsoft threatened to stop selling IBM Windows if they continued their development efforts on any completing software. And they didn't break the law "on occasion", they broke it every single chance they got.

        Sorry, but history shows that having Microsoft's "good will" is nothing more than a one-way ticket to an unpleasant death.

        • Hrmm. I feel like watching Antitrust again.
        • Once when Microsoft stole the code to make NT
          They really didn't do this. IBM and Microsoft were co-developers on OS/2, WinNT and they were supposed to be somewhat compatible. Well, we see how well that panned out. The best WinNT did was a half-assed compatiblity layer for OS/2 command line apps that technically fulfilled the letter of the agreement, but nothing close to the spirit.

          A better example would be how MS kept on screwing up OS/2 running Windows apps underneath. Anybody who remembers OS/2 when it first came out, they touted themselves as a better environment to run Win3.1 apps than either Win3.1 or Win95 (which was brand new at the time). MS played with stuff until it didn't work.

          I think one way of seeing how bad of a monopoly MS is that even though companies know that MS is gonna screw them, they still make deals with them. MS killed Stac and Spyglass, Spyglass in a beautiful move that crushed both NCSA commercial spinoffs (Spyglass and Netscape) It severely crippled both Citrix and Mainsoft. But with all that, companies feel they must deal with the devil because they hold all the cards.
    • Hmmm ... let's look at some history, shall we?

      Microsoft courted STAC, then killed them.
      Microsoft courted Netscape, then killed them.
      Micorsoft courted ... (fill in your own favorite now defunct company), then killed them.

      Microsoft has never in it's history courted a competitor without either destroying the company through monopolistic practices or by suing them into oblivion.

      The only survivor of a Microsoft attempt at technology murder is Java. And that was a close call.
      • ActiveState [activestate.com] started out porting Perl to windows for Microsoft to put on the Resource Kit CD. They've funded and helped quite a lot of ActiveState's development. They have not yet killed them, nor shown any sign that they wish to.
      • Microsoft has never in it's history courted a competitor without either destroying the company through monopolistic practices or by suing them into oblivion.

        IBM says "hi", and also "if it weren't for us you might only know Microsoft as the company that wrote BASIC for the 8-bit Atari computer you used as a kid."
    • So what, MS have communicated with Miguel? That doesn't mean they are going to play nice in the future. They might be leading him and the other Mono developers down the garden path, you know. Why? We already know MS and Gates and Balmer HATE open source software. Why not play a little cat and mouse, perhaps to teach all the industry that uses OSS a lesson?
    • ajp wrote:

      > Microsoft has already written .NET for another
      > platform (Rotor, for BSD.) And Microsoft has
      > communicated with Miguel many times with regards
      > to Mono. An interview with him on the topic is
      > hosted on MSDN! This does not appear to be a
      > prelude to a lawsuit.

      No it doesn't, not at the moment, anyway.

      But say Microsoft were to come out with a new version of their operating system based on the .Net framework (as Longhorn is rumored to be). If it ran on top of Mono, Microsoft could use Mono like asphault to pave right over Linux and run their new OS on top. They already have a .Net for OS X under development, so they could do the same to Apple. A full 100% monopoly would be possible for Microsoft (ever looking for new ways to grow). And in the beginning they could afford to be nice and let you have whatever you wanted underneath, just like they let you run any DOS you wanted under 3.x.

      Of course, you do remember what happened when you ran a non-Microsoft DOS under Windows, especially DR-DOS? How Microsoft put little tricks in their code to check for DR-DOS and spawn fake error messages? Do you really think they won't do that to Mono? They have done it before, and nothing, especially the government, is stopping them from doing it again. In the end, Linux and Apple (if not forced over to Intel and demoted to a mere Wintel OEM) would share the fate of DR-DOS, and Longhorn 95 would come along, with .Net's replacement bundled in, automatically installed on your PC assuming you have kept your subscription payments up. Microsoft would then have a 100% monopoly down to the metal.

      Actually, I don't see Microsoft succeeding in this anymore than I see them making their customers happy with Licensing 6. But that doesn't mean they won't try something as gradiose and stupid as the stunt I outlined above. If you must use .Net, do it on a wintel machine that can't be any further messed up by Microsoft than it already is. Don't let them use the hard work of open source programmers to Embrace, Extend, and Extinguish Linux and OS X.

      "At this moment, it has control of systems all over the world.
      And...we can't do a damn thing to stop it."
      Miyasaka, "Godzilla 2000 Millennium" (Japanese version)
      • If you must use .Net, do it on a wintel machine that can't be any further messed up by Microsoft than it already is.
        I'm an old fart, but it seems like every time I've heard that something can't get worse, it can and it does.
        Regardless of who has or has not made what promises, Java looks like a much safer proposition because both IBM and Sun are heavily involved. It's a "who watches the watcher" type of thingee and neither IBM nor Sun will be in any mood to let the other "get away" with much. (The customers of both will also have a say in the matter.) Add some Open Source to the brew and I don't think Java is stoppable in the long term.
  • by bman08 (239376) on Wednesday December 25, 2002 @07:29PM (#4958303)
    ...or so I thought. Turns out the hardworking mindfarmers were actually growing minds without a license. An illegal mindfield. Can you imagine?
  • Self assimilation (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jlrowe (69115) on Wednesday December 25, 2002 @07:37PM (#4958328)
    I still don't understand Mono. It didn't work for IBM to has OS/2 work for Windows programs, so why Mono?

    Microsoft's strategy is to embrace, extend, and assimilate.

    Isn't Mono just self assimilation? What does Microsoft have left to do if OSS just comits fratricide?

  • Seriously. ASP.Net running on Linux will be the best thing that could happen to .Net, from the developers, to the clients, to MS.
    If MS really wants to put the competition under, then .Net HAS to run on Linux.
  • by genkael (102983)
    One question that I have is, "Why don't Open Source developers spend more time with their own creations and killer apps as opposed to ripping off what commercial companies have already created?" We see in a few instance that Open Source developers can do just that. Look at Apache, PHP, and MySQL for examples of packages that are unique, or not totally ripped off. Imagine what could be produced if OS developers actually built something truely unique!
    • "Unique" isn't going to get linux where it needs to go - at least as a selling point. Linux needs to be able to "slip right in" so that users aren't forced to learn the idiosynchrasies associated with a different OS. The good thing about the way things are currently evolving is that Linux might be able to look and feel like 'doze as an out-of-the-box experience, but there's no reason that the unique stuff can't be available for those that dare (or even want) do stray from the beaten path. Forcing users into something "unique" as part of the overall Linux experience will probably drive more people away than it will help to convert.
  • by g4dget (579145) on Wednesday December 25, 2002 @07:59PM (#4958387)
    I have yet to see anybody identify Microsoft patents that are essential to ECMA C#, CLR, CLI, or .NET implementations. The one or two patents Microsoft likes to parade around are general patents pertaining to distributed systems. Even if they were to hold up in court, they would have no specific effect on C# implementations. And, given when ECMA C# was published, there can't be that much hidden in the pipeline. Furthermore, if, by some obscure legal twist they did threaten Mono, they'd also threaten every Java implementation in existence. An additional protection against patent issues with C#/CLR/CLI is that Microsoft was required to disclose patents that affect the implementability of the standard as part of the standardization process. And not only was Microsoft required to make such declarations as part of the standardization effort, so was every other ECMA member (which, I believe, includes Sun).

    Sun's patents are much more worrisome as far as I'm concerned. For example, patent number 6,477,702 [uspto.gov], held by Sun, would seem to be infringed by any conforming Java implementation. And Sun has pulled out of every and any process that would have required them to make a declaration or commitment on patent and IP issues related to Java. Furthermore, while Sun PR likes to talk a lot about openness, I have yet to see a legally binding declaration by Sun that would guarantee that third party implementations of Java may use Sun's patents.

    I don't trust Microsoft any further than I can throw the entire stack of printed MSDN documentation (which is to say, I don't trust them at all). But, all things considered, I think the risk of patent infringment claims from Microsoft over Mono are very slim indeed. All that hot air from Microsoft CEOs and Microsoft PR folks doesn't change that. Sun, on the other hand, holds known patents that could create real problems for any non-Sun Java implementation.

    If you are very worried about patent problems, there is a very easy solution: don't use either Mono or Java--there are plenty of other languages a round, many of them better. If you are slightly worried about patent problems, then Mono looks like a safer choice to me than Java. And probably, you don't really have to worry about patents with either of them.

    • (i) Sun has supported third party implentations to the point where they used a third party implementations themself. What's the original linux jvm a third party jvm ( name was black-something, I can't remember). IBM has had it's JVM for eons now. There are lots of embedded JVMs.

      (ii) Sun has tolerated those implementations for years now.

      (iii) In the past, Sun has never shown to be anti-competitive as microsoft. They don't defend or promote Solaris at any cost the way microsoft does.

      • you've been duped (Score:4, Informative)

        by g4dget (579145) on Wednesday December 25, 2002 @09:32PM (#4958666)
        (i) Sun has supported third party implentations to the point where they used a third party implementations themself. What's the original linux jvm a third party jvm ( name was black-something, I can't remember).

        It's Blackdown Java. It is not a third party implementation. Sun simply dumped their source code onto a bunch of people outside Sun who then fixed a bunch of bugs and ported it to Linux.

        IBM has had it's JVM for eons now. There are lots of embedded JVMs.

        IBM does not have its own Java implementation--they have a license to Sun's Java implementation, and they replace some of Sun's components with their own.

        (ii) Sun has tolerated those implementations for years now.

        Sun hasn't tolerated anything. As far as I can tell, anybody who is shipping anything remotely resembling a Java platform implementation has a contractual agreement with Sun. In fact, merely to claim that something is Java, you need a contractual agreement with Sun (because of their trademark).

        (iii) In the past, Sun has never shown to be anti-competitive as microsoft. They don't defend or promote Solaris at any cost the way microsoft does.

        I see no basis for that statement. Sun simply isn't leveraging their monopoly because they don't have one. As a 15 year Sun customer, all the indications I have seen are that Sun is worse than Microsoft when it comes to cut-throat competition and intellectual property, they are simply not as successful.

        • Re:you've been duped (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Kunta Kinte (323399)
          As far as I can tell, anybody who is shipping anything remotely resembling a Java platform implementation has a contractual agreement with Sun.

          If that's true it's only needed because certain companies, are greedy enough to try to pollute the language with their own platform dependent extensions for their own gain.

          There are ton's of JVMs out there, many of the opensource or done by small groups of individuals. I doubt ( but I can't be sure ) that they all have agreements with Sun. http://java-virtual-machine.net/other.html [java-virtual-machine.net]

          PS. I've also worked with Sun professionally, but my experience is that I've never seen them try half the stuff I see MS try to pull.

          • If that's true it's only needed because certain companies, are greedy enough to try to pollute the language with their own platform dependent extensions for their own gain.

            Whatever the reason, it means that Java is not free, and it means that any open source effort that "pollutes" the language might end up in Sun's cross-hairs as well.

            There are ton's of JVMs out there, many of the opensource or done by small groups of individuals. I doubt ( but I can't be sure ) that they all have agreements with Sun. http://java-virtual-machine.net/other.html

            Yup, there are many JVMs, but those are not independent Java implementations. A Java implementation consists of JVMs together with a complete set of libraries.

            There might be independent J2ME implementations somewhere from some small outfit, but there don't seem to be independent J2SE or J2EE implementations, either open source or commercial.

            If you think that there are indepdent, open source Java platform implementations, please point me at the non-Sun source code for the part of the implementation that implements Swing.

            I've also worked with Sun professionally, but my experience is that I've never seen them try half the stuff I see MS try to pull.

            It's only "pulling" with MS because MS has a monopoly. Sun doesn't, so it's legally OK and reasonably accepted for them to do certain things. If MS had 20% of the market, little of what they have done would cause any legal problems.

            I'm just saying: you can't rely on Sun's PR statements. Sun is a publically traded company, and if their prior promises were not legally binding, they can reneg on their promises. And they have, in a big way in the past, for example, with Java standardization.

        • As a 15 year Sun customer, all the indications I have seen are that Sun is worse than Microsoft when it comes to cut-throat competition and intellectual property, they are simply not as successful.

          Care to be specific? As a 17-year Sun customer/user (the group I was in at UCB got one of the early Sun 1's) I have not witnessed anything you allude to.

          • Well, look at Sun's "contamination clauses" for Java sources, the way their business is built on taking open source software proprietary, McNealy's and Gosling's apparent disdain for open source, their broken promises over Java and Java's future, among others. Also, when talking to Sun as a customer, coming from UCB, you probably didn't get an entirely normal customer experience.

            In any case, I'm not saying that anything Sun has done has been wrong. I am saying, however, that you are kidding yourself if you think that you can trust Sun to stick to promises of "openness" any more than you can trust Microsoft. Sun has the same kind of lawyers, PR people, and stock holders. They will say anything that's legal, defensible, and doesn't damage their PR too badly as long as it makes more profit or gets the stock price up; that's not just common sense, it's the fiduciary duty of its officers. And, if anything, Sun has demonstrated that they can't be trusted by pulling out of standardization efforts and failing to pull through on other Java-related promises.

            • >
              their business is built on taking open source software proprietary

              Just as everyone else, including MS. This at worst makes Sun as bad as MS, not worse. Anyway this was truer at the SunOS = 5, AKA Solaris >= 2, is based on AT&T Unix), and they also contributed a lot with NFS, NIS and other such stuff.

              >
              their broken promises over Java and Java's future

              Never assign to ill faith what can be explained by incompetence (Napoleon). But what do you have in mind?

        • Re:you've been duped (Score:3, Informative)

          by GeorgieBoy (6120)
          IBM has had it's JVM for eons now. There are lots of embedded JVMs. IBM does not have its own Java implementation--they have a license to Sun's Java implementation, and they replace some of Sun's components with their own.

          -----------

          What you're saying isn't really true. IBM has 2 JVM implementations, the JDKs (J2SE) as well as J9, a whole separate Sun-code-free VM which implements J2ME and other custom class libraries.
          • What you're saying isn't really true.

            Oh, yes, it is.

            IBM has 2 JVM implementations

            And your point is what? We aren't talking about "JVM implementations" we are talking about Java platform implementations.

            Furthermore, IBM is a licensee no matter what they implement it or how they implement it, so they are not an example of how Sun lets third parties implement Java freely.

    • > If you are very worried about patent problems, there is a very easy solution: don't use either Mono or Java--there are plenty of other languages a round, many of them better.

      Can you say Python [python.org]? It has everything expected from Java: cross-platform (interpreted or bytecode), pure object orientation, lots of great libraries included. Plus it's Free and the syntax is very intuitive and powerful, it's arguably the fastest language when it comes to development time.

      • it's arguably the fastest language when it comes to development time.

        Um, no. Try Ruby. Cleaner OO, too.
      • Python is a decent language. But it has a number of problems:
        • It does not have a clear cross-platform GUI (Tkinter doesn't work on OS X, wxPython isn't a standard part of the platform binary distributions).
        • Many packages rely on native code in shared libraries.
        • Python byte code is orders of magnitude slower than Java or C# code.
        • Python does not have optional static type checking.
        • It is hard to make standalone, self-contained applications out of it.
        • Python does not have a well-defined language standard, nor does it have multiple independent implementations.
        Python could be more of a contender if someone built a good native code compiler for it. None of the current attempts are very good or result in much speedup.

        The way it is, Python is good for many scripting and prototyping applications. But for a general-purpose, high-quality programming language, we still have to look elsewhere.

        • Python byte code is orders of magnitude slower than Java or C# code.

          You must try psyco [sourceforge.net], the specializing compiler for Python. I've benchmarked it, it's amazing, it speeds Python up to within a factor of two of C/C++, and it's seamless.
        • Python is a decent language. But it has a number of problems

          Python is a great language. It has problems, but not those you mention.

          It does not have a clear cross-platform GUI (Tkinter doesn't work on OS X, wxPython isn't a standard part of the platform binary distributions).

          Those that actually care about client GUI libs can install their own. In this respect, Python is no different from C, and in fact, has more GUI bindings than C!

          Many packages rely on native code in shared libraries.

          And your point is...? That's like saying "many parts of my house rely on the shared frame".

          Python byte code is orders of magnitude slower than Java or C# code.

          For real-world tasks, Python execution speed is more than fast enough. When it's not, the bottlenecks can be easily identified and moved to C, or optimized away by the machine using Psyco. Using Psyco, my neural net code ran 5x faster. But the real thing you're missing here is this: developer time is more valuable than machine time, as machine time can be saved using other methods.

          Python does not have optional static type checking.

          And I thank God it does not! Static type checking solves a very narrow programming problem and requires a tremendous amount of coding for the developer.

          It is hard to make standalone, self-contained applications out of it.

          No, it's not hard to make stand-alone, or to embed it in other applications. There are multiple proven techniques to bundle the interpreter with a parts of the standard library and third-party code. That you don't know this makes me believe you don't really know python, either.

          Python does not have a well-defined language standard, nor does it have multiple independent implementations.

          Oh, my! The language definition is quite well-defined and very consistent. And there are two open-source implementations on separate platforms: python in C [python.org] and python on Java [jython.org]

          Python could be more of a contender if someone built a good native code compiler for it. None of the current attempts are very good or result in much speedup.

          Psyco [sf.net] speeds up python by optimizing chunks of code at run time. The neat thing is that it does this against python code, so python becomes faster by more of it being written in python.

          The way it is, Python is good for many scripting and prototyping applications. But for a general-purpose, high-quality programming language, we still have to look elsewhere.

          NASA. ILM. Google. Please.

    • by Eric Damron (553630) on Wednesday December 25, 2002 @10:31PM (#4958831)
      From the article:

      Mono also implements parts of .NET that have NOT been submitted to ECMA and ISO standards. Those parts of Mono lack even the protection for IP infringement with re-implementation that ISO documentation licensing implies.

      In comparison, Sun has granted the Apache and all open source developers FULL access to the specs, test kits and granted the full rights to develop competing products under the JSPA . Sun has also fully pened up the Java development standards process under the new Java Community Process (JCP) . Even to the point of granting full open source re-implentations of J2EE such as JBoss ...
      JBoss received the green light last week, after Sun told ComputerWire that it would allow all of the APIs contained in J2EE 1.4 to be open sourced. Fleury had expressed concern that certain critical APIs, including Enterprise Java Beans (EJB) 2.1, would be not be made available to open source organizations.

      However, Java Community Process director Onno Kluyt said: "Sun's plan with 1.4 is that although it started before JCP 2.5, by the time it ships it will allow the creation of independent implementations. I don't think the APIs are that interesting, because the license that sits on top of J2EE will allow that [independent implementations]".

      • Mono also implements parts of .NET that have NOT been submitted to ECMA and ISO standards. Those parts of Mono lack even the protection for IP infringement with re-implementation that ISO documentation licensing implies.

        That objection is irrelevant, for several reasons. First, we pretty much know what the related Microsoft's and Sun's patents are. Microsoft does not appear to hold any key patents necessary for any parts of .NET that most people would care about, and they almost certainly don't hold any patents on the core C#/CLR language and runtime. Second, since .NET is not a well-defined platform, even if small parts of it cannot be reimplemented due to patent issues, it doesn't affect much of anything.

        For Sun, in contrast, we know that they hold key patents on core Java technology. Furthermore, Sun has made no legally binding commitments to letting others use those patents in their implementations. And, if you fail to implement parts of the Java 2 platform, you basically fail to implement Java.

        However, Java Community Process director Onno Kluyt said: [...]

        That's all a bunch of hot air, nothing legally binding. We know that Sun holds key patents on core technologies required to implement a conforming JVM. Sun has made no commitment to allowing commercial third party implementations, and even for open source implementations, it's all a bunch of inferences and promises. Anybody who actually wants to create a third party Java implementation has to get something from Sun in writing or forever live at risk of a lawsuit. And that will be true until Sun's patents enter the public domain.

        It's pretty clear at this point that Microsoft holds no patents on core C#/CLR technology, and we can presume that they designed C#/CLR to avoid running afoul of any Sun patents. Whatever patents Microsoft may hold are at best tangential. Overall, that leaves us with a significantly better situation for C#/CLR than Java/JVM: with Java/JVM, we have to trust Sun's promises, with C#/CLR, we don't have to trust anybody.

        • I find this absolutely astounding. Steve Ballmer has been quoted about having IP in .NET and wanting to protect it. If you bothered to read the post by Mr. Mohring that started this you would see links about Mr. Ballmer's statement and a patent application filed by Microsoft.

          You however, blithely dismiss all of this and claim to know better, eh?

          Meanwhile, Sun is actively working on supporting groups for open implementations of Java and you attempt to disclaim it as "hot air". Please tell us what particular patents we "all know that Sun holds". Be specific as David was.

          Then, finally, we troll off on a tangent by talking about C# and CLR. We all know that MS has submitted these two tiny portions of .NET to ECMA so they have to be relatively unencumbered by patents.

          This, however, isn't the issue. The issue is .NET in its entirety. David has repeatedly pointed out the potential legal traps just waiting for anyone trying to fully implement .NET.
    • If you look at the JCP, you'll note that any use of a patented technology in a JSR means that the submitter grants everyone else a royalty free use of that technology, forever. Just check out the documents you have to sign to become a member. Your argument has no grounds, unless you care to name examples that apply to Java?

      Thanks the the JCP, you don't have to worry about patented ideas polluting additions. That's what I call a standards body, not a puppet show.
  • by KAMiKAZOW (455500) <kamikazow@hotmail.com> on Wednesday December 25, 2002 @08:11PM (#4958429)
    And de Icaza says he has unofficial word that in the coming weeks Microsoft plans to share .Net-related intellectual property. Pending review by Microsoft lawyers, he says, "Microsoft patents on technology developed specifically for .Net will be granted royalty-free to those trying to implement the spec."

    Yeah, it says "unofficial", but don't spread FUD until there's some updated (the Ballmer quote is from March) official information.
  • by samael (12612) <Andrew@Ducker.org.uk> on Wednesday December 25, 2002 @08:21PM (#4958469) Homepage
    I'd like to point you at an article I wrote for kuro5hin on the subject of .net here [kuro5hin.org].

    Microsoft's introduction is here [microsoft.com].

    Mono's information is here [go-mono.org].
  • by sheldon (2322)
    I could sleep off Christmas dinner, or relax in my chair reading slashdot.

    Sleeping would have been more intellectually stimulating than reading this nonsense. I'll remember that next year.
    • Sleeping would have been more intellectually stimulating than reading this nonsense. I'll remember that next year.

      amen, brother. the amount of noise on this site has become mind boggling. thought-out messages don't get posted here very often anymore.

      there are days when i'm tempted to just change my password to some random string, and log off forever. and yet i don't, though i'm not sure why. maybe it's nostalgia. :)
  • by manyoso (260664) on Wednesday December 25, 2002 @08:30PM (#4958486) Homepage
    Really folks, patents are a problem to Free Software in every project. No Free Software project is immune to these kind of concerns as well as other complicated interactions with corporations. Look at Samba which is every bit as susceptible to MS patents as Mono. Or how about OpenGL which has problems with corporate concerns. Sun has patents on Java. At least Microsoft is bound to the ECMA patent policy which is basically RAND with required disclosure.

    Another important thing to understand is Mono isn't the only Free Software project out there that is implementing the ECMA standards. DotGNU/Portable.NET [dotgnu.org] has a large par t of the ECMA specs implemented and the design goal of PNet is ECMA not the rest of MS's .NET infrastructure ie, System.Windows.Forms, ASP.NET, ADO.NET. The wine project is another area with every bit the risk that Mono faces.

    So the conclusion to draw from this is: Patents are a danger to Free Software in every direction! Not just this one particular project...
  • by Lysol (11150) on Wednesday December 25, 2002 @08:38PM (#4958507)
    I'm sure that'll get the RMS haters eyes rolling, but, dotGNU also deserves a mention. I know, cuz I'm a recent contributor to it. These guys have done a lot with fewer PR and resources than Ximian/Mono, but they're not as far along either.

    They've actually done some stuff much different than Mono. For starters, their compiler is in C not C#. And it's able to general IL as well as Java bytecode and hs some other interesting approaches; not huge, but still very cool. One thing I find interesting with various OS vs. closed source projects - their approach.

    From the code perspective, we read the Ecma spec and then crank out some code. If M$ has the entire spec patented as various 'processes' then I guess they could take the authors of Mono and dotGNU to court. It would be complicated tho and I'm sure there's already prior art out there for Strings, Input Buffers, Webservices, etc..

    Frankly, I joined dotGNU because the Java tools are very mature and after working with them for the past 5 years, I'm really bored doing 'enterprise web apps'. There's much more fun, for me, in getting the foundation built; seeing how and if it will actually work. For me, all the top most layers are just fluff.

    As far as ASP.NET goes, I'm actually thinking of something along the lines of a C# version of Java Servlets and JSPs. I've done ASP and I personally think it's pretty filthy. JSP can be just as much, but there are definitely more patterns applied to Servlets/JSPs than ASP. A C# implementation of the Servlet/JSP spec would be an interesting thing; and possible too! Altho, I obviously wouldn't be 'compliant', but could work the same with just a little different syntax.

    Anyway, I finally realized that .NET can't be ignored. So if it's gonna be as big as J2EE (and it will) then there might as well be a some OS implementations out there for anyone and everyone to use. That will not really help M$ so much as it will make them work harder to justify using Windows as a platform when it can run just as well or better on others. Hats off to the Mono and dotGNU team for realizing this early on.
  • by NZheretic (23872) on Wednesday December 25, 2002 @08:43PM (#4958522) Homepage Journal
    Yes, David Mohring is [google.com] NZheretic [slashdot.org] and I have posted that comment at least a couple of times before. [slashdot.org]

    Also, I am not alone in my concerns about Microsoft's patent threat, even Red Hat Chairman and CEO Matthew Szulik has said [crn.com] that Microsoft's legal efforts to challenge open source by employing patent infringement law represent a big threat.

    Microsoft could settle this issue by making a simliar public legal declaration to Sun's JSPA.

  • add to this a bit of "Microsoft to Buy Rational and/or Borland? [slashdot.org]" (more informative article article [yahoo.com] - javatips (66293) [slashdot.org] ) and you get a better view of the options MS are working on.

    Borland are developing their own architectural solution for .NET [borland.com] and remember Rotor already runs on FreeBSD [ondotnet.com] so borgifiying any of Borlands tools into a XP Visual Studio for Linux [microsoft.com] gives MS means to kill any competition - (Open source Mono classes [go-mono.org]). Remember MS's MO is to set and 'own the standard'. Nails get hammered and Mono [go-mono.org] is a target.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 25, 2002 @09:22PM (#4958647)
    from http://swpat.ffii.org/players/microsoft/index.en.h tml [ffii.org]:

    Asked by CollabNet CTO Brian Behlendorf whether Microsoft will enforce its patents against open source projects, Mundie replied, "Yes, absolutely." An audience member pointed out that many open source projects aren't funded and so can't afford legal representation to rival Microsoft's. "Oh well," said Mundie. "Get your money, and let's go to court."
    and
    "Heise report about Steve Ballmer's talk at CeBit. At a speech event together with chancellor Schroeder, Ballmer says that Microsoft owns lots of patents which cover its new DotNet standard and that it aims to use them to prevent opensource implementations of DotNet. The key phrases read, in translation:"
  • ...for almost all of my Java development, on both Linux and Windows systems -- and I ship the entire project to my client, who runs Eclipse on his Macs. The same projects work across all three platforms. Why so many systems? Well, let's just say that Java is a "Write once, test everywhere..." language.

    I don't use IBM's SWT -- my app needs to be portable, and Swing is working just fine under Eclipse. Don't believe the ignorati who say the Eclipse forces you to write SWT apps -- it doesn't. Eclipse is part of IBM's attempt to control Java -- but considering the piss-poor job Sun does at times, I think they need a little competition.

    As for Mono -- anyone who relies on it for the portability of their applications is fooling themselves. I've used .Net since it's beta days; it is a blatant move by Microsoft to lock people into an architecture they control. MS learned the value of a VM-based language when they started implementing Java; when they couldn't "embrace and extend" Java, MS created a semi-clone. I recognize .Net's prupose and goals; it has value in certain situations, but it is not an open standard that guarantees portability.

  • DotGNU ? (Score:2, Informative)

    by Gopal.V (532678)
    Ever heard about DotGNU [dotgnu.org] ?
  • Well... (Score:2, Funny)

    by Dirtside (91468)
    ...I'd personally rather get mono than use .net.

    Oh, that Mono. Nevermind.
  • by jfisherwa (323744)
    Even if Microsoft were to attempt to pull Mono, they would wait until it is deeply entrenched into the Linux community and knowledge of C#/.NET itself is widespread among us before doing so.

    They could look at this as free marketing, because I didn't give a damn about .NET until word of Linux/Mono came around.

    Jason Fisher
  • by cascadingstylesheet (140919) on Thursday December 26, 2002 @08:21AM (#4959924)

    ... but until Microsoft make a simliar public legal declaration to Sun's JSPA, any .NET re-implementation represents a pending legal mindfield.

    Hey, anyone can make spelling mistakes. But this sounds like a great idea for a sci-fi novel ... our intrepid heroes carefully make their way through a mindfield, using an, er, mindsweeper ...

  • I call it, "Just say no."

    KFG
  • ISO etc. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by jav1231 (539129)
    I think MS needs Mono to legitimize itself in the standards department. I also feel that eventually, they (MS) will pull the patent and copyright reigns to curb the extent to which Mono and other competing entities can compete. Look, if Miguel thinks this won't happen, he's an idiot at most and naïve at least. Someone said "there is no evidence MS will do this." I wonder how many people thought they wouldn't bastardize Java? Or give their browser away to kill Netscape? Or gobble up competing innovations just to kill them? MS is the single most destructive entity in technology today. They are not going to be happy unless they dominate. They've bought all the players they need and now they are getting patents on as many plays as they can. The rest are reduced to running single plays and offensively just cannot score. Open Source has found a way to compete via numbers. Now we're going to throw much of our team away because MS has decided to let us "borrow" some formations from their playbook? When this all goes down, I hope Miguel posts a HUGE apology on Slashdot. Frankly, anyone working on Mono is wasting valuable time, but hey it's a free country (depending on where they live). Until we're willing to take an US/Them approach we'll be pissing traces of the MS cool-aide from now on. >
  • by pvera (250260) <pedro.vera@gmail.com> on Thursday December 26, 2002 @12:20PM (#4960591) Homepage Journal
    Yes, that is what I am. I have been doing asp on both SQL Server and Oracle for a few years and managed to ship one asp.net product while Visual Studio was still in beta. Then things changed.

    It is easy to support Microsoft-based initiatives when you work for a company large enough to qualify for Microsoft partner discounts on development software. A $2500/year subscription/blackmail fee pretty much gives you access to any and all commercial software sold by Microsoft. You get used to have all the cool stuff arrive on CD or DVD every month or so and nothing stops you from building one more development box just to test Whatever.net. Who cares if you got a room with 20+ development servers on a 100+ employee company anyway?

    Things change once you move to the small business field. Suddenly you don't have a shitload of cash to burn, and the $2500/year can probably pay one or two PCs for coworkers. You barely manage to afford one lousy development server, and your production schedule is so hectic that you cannot afford to drop development on asp (dirt cheap, you can pick asp programmers literally everywhere) to make the jump to asp.net, which means you will need Visual Studio and eventually more expensive windows.net server licenses.

    I was put in that position when I switched jobs and joined an 11-employee firm to be their techno geek (I got so tired of explaining to people my job that I just tell them my job is to isolate the CEO and President from technical stuff). Then the soul searching started?

    1. Do I commit my company to a $2500/year MSDN subscription? We are not a software shop, all our development is internal.

    2. Do I make the jump to .net? I love c#, it is a hell of a technology but even if the asp.net sdk is free the only decent tool to build asp.net solutions quickly costs thousands. I would rather use that money to buy more PCs for the 2-3 new employees we hire every quarter.

    3. Do I keep the current solution as asp and wait for the end-of-life of asp before I try to move up to .net? Will this ever happen? What if they suddenly drop asp?

    4. What about php? I have run a phpnuke website successfully for a long time and I am sure I can rewrite my company's solution to php.

    5. What about SQL Server? I absolutely love SQL Server 2000, but how much will I have to relearn when the new one comes out? And will I have odbc connectivity to php in case I want to jump out?

    6. What about mySQL? A couple years ago mySQL was nowhere close to ACID, but right now it is almost there. And my mySQL install runs as stable as my SQL Server. When can I trust mySQL with corporate data?

    The list of questions goes forever. I finally decided to do nothing. The current toolset in asp runs itself and does not make me waste a lot of time in code maintenance. Performance is acceptable for our usage. I am not going to move us up to asp.net just so I can say it runs on .net. I am happy that Ximian decided to build their own .net solution, but I am hoping this does not harm the php movement.

    I would like to be able to buy a $1500 Compaq 1U rack drawer and know I only have to put freeBSD, Apache, mySQL and php and I am set, instead of having to go thru the stupid requisitioning process to get Windows server licenses and CALs every time I deploy a windows server.

    When people ask me why I am on a mac (switched in September 2002) but I still use Microsoft products (IE, Ms Office v.X and the xbox) I tell them my beef with Microsoft is not about monopoly this or predatory that. I have valid business concerns and complaints, and .net has the potential to bring me, my company and my colleagues a lot of heartburn.

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