Whee, More Mono!

by havoc

Seth did a nicer
job explaining the Mono issues than I ever did.

I would summarize as “any software could infringe
patents, so we should ignore patents until they become an issue, then
work around.” However, not all patents are the same. Some of the

  • Whether the patent is on an implementation technique or the
    functionality (e.g. you could have to break or remove ABI/features to
    work around)
  • Who owns the patent (some are more problematic than others, for
    example Microsoft is maximally problematic)
  • How many patents there are in a given area
  • How strong the patent is (how much prior art, etc.)
  • Perception issues: if you precisely copy someone else’s
    technology, it’s much easier to convince a jury your stuff
    is infringing than if you have something vaguely similar but with
    distinct heritage

The issue here is risk management. Sure, C/C++/Python could infringe
some patents. However, the risk is a heck of a lot lower. Those
technologies are not invented by and driven forward by the single
most powerful and open-source-hostile company in the tech industry

Miguel uses the Gnumeric analogy, of moving forward and ignoring the
hard problems for a while rather than letting them slow you
down. Great advice for technical problems. For legal and strategic
problems, sometimes but not always the best plan. Let’s find a
course of action where the big hard problem is technical, rather than
beyond our control.
Otherwise we’re rolling the dice. Rolling the
dice is a necessary part of life, but to be successful you have to
take the good bets, not the bad bets. Ideally the good bets where
one’s own actions (such as writing code) can affect the outcome.

One point I like that Seth makes is that Novell potentially gets a lot
of advantage vs. competitors in the short term from Mono, but then we
risk sinking the whole Linux boat in the long term. That’s why people
are “whining” as Miguel puts it. Novell is pressuring everyone to take
this huge risk, under threat of forking the Linux desktop. We have
every right to whine about that.

Let me be crystal clear about Red Hat: the technical advantages of
Mono sound great. But technology is not everything, and in my opinion
Mono is not yet a responsible choice all things considered. Maybe Java
is an alternative, maybe it isn’t; if it isn’t, that doesn’t make Mono
more viable.

(This post was originally found at http://log.ometer.com/2004-05.html#20.2)

My Twitter account is @havocp.
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