Monday, October 12, 2009

Mono, Tomboy, .NET and my mistake

My Mother told me something a long time ago, if you are wrong and you made a mistake this is not something to be ashamed of as long as you admit you did.

So maybe it is time to admit it for some parts. I am talking about my post on Mono/TomBoy and how it tangles in .NET into mainstream Linux. After posting this blogpost it took some time for Google to pick it up and tell people the page was out in the open. However after it did I was contacted via a comment by the lead developer from the Tomboy project.

Sandy had to state some things about my post and I am glad to have received this update. It might changes my opinion on some parts however not in all. Sandy stated the following:

1) Mono does not depend on any .NET or any Microsoft code. It is a free software *reimplementation* of the .NET runtime, framework, and languages. All of the code you need to run Tomboy (for example) is 100% open source and free software, and totally compatible with the GNU GPL. Richard Stallman agrees with this and has stated it before. So you are more than welcome to download the Mono source, and tweak the runtime or change the C# language or do anything you want! :-)

Agreed, you are completely right and I was wrongly informed that some parts of Mono where closed. I did already know that the complete sourcecode of Tomboy was opensource and could be changed however I was under the impression that some parts of Mono where still closed and under control by Microsoft. So I have to change my opinion on this based upon the information from Sandy.


2) Richard Stallman's main complaints about Mono that I have heard are the following:
a) Because Mono is a reimplementation of .NET, and Microsoft decides what is in .NET, you could say that Microsoft indirectly influences what ends up happening in Mono.
b) Microsoft has a lot of patents on a lot of things, and Stallman is concerned that there might be patents that affect Mono.

So, Stallman's argument against Mono is not about having the source, or it not being free software, or anything like that. It's more of a political and philosophical thing.

Lets not keep us at the statement given by Stallman. My own opinion is that as a patent might (read might) be end up in mono it can influence Tomboy so one should not take this risk. Maybe I am a purist like Stallman that might be the case. However this is my opinion. So as I stated in my previous post I would like to be able to pack my stuff and go to a island and be able to do whatever I like. So even if I have all the sourcecode I can still end up in a situation where a ship comes to my island and tells me I am doing illegal things because I am tinkering with patents by Microsoft. To prevent this one should pick a language in which this will never happen.

It might be a political and philosophical discussion however I think we have to have this discussion to be able to think about what we do allow in mainstream Linux and what not. Currently I am under the impression that we should prevent this wherever we can to protect the purity of Linux. In my humble opinion we should try to prevent it from happing that anything which potentially can harm the free form of linux ends up in a Linux distribution.

So I might have made some mistakes and I hope I have corrected them in this post, I might have been not to clear on some points and I hope I have corrected them in this post and I hope some people would like to comment on this post so we might be able to start a discussion on it. This is because I have the feeling this is a discussion we will have to have to decide what to do with those political and philosophical implications of opensource.

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