Well OK, it’s not a movie. But with all the excitement we’ve had lately about Mono I decided to do some research. to find out how it all started. Many links later, I think I’ve located the start of the current controversy, and a bit better understanding of it. This set of links is not exhaustive. I’ve no doubt missed many fascinating and well written articles. It is however what I was able to find by back linking from the articles I’ve read, and I think that it covers many of the important posts, along with some of the less important ones.
For historical reasons I’m starting with a post called Old mono rants from November 2006. I’ve included this because while it isn’t part of the current fuss, it does show that there were concerns that far back. And while this isn’t part of it either, there has been a number of posts over the years on how to remove Mono from Ubuntu. Ubuntu versions Hardy Heron and Intrpid Ibex were covered by the Open Sourcerer. He then wrote an article that he called The Mono Effect covering the surge in hits he got after each article. There was also an article at Boycott Novell titled Mono Watch: Where Is It All Coming From?.
But the reat start of the Firefight appears to be this post called ZOMG! TEH PATENTZ! from September 20, 2008 written by Jo “directhex” Shields. The post is an argument that patents aren’t dangerous to Mono, and starts:
Out there, clogged in the great wide intertubes, there is a veritable cornucopia of blogs, forum posts, and sites, where people like to discuss an important topic: how TEH PATENTZ will come and doom us all. This in itself is not a silly thing to think. For example, there are companies (so called patent trolls) who do not contribute anything to society, they simply buy others’ patents then make grandiose legal threats to earn cash. Or, in other cases, some companies like Sisvel literally send in the police to raid trade shows, sniffing about for those violating precious MP3 patents like pigs seeking truffles.
he’s written a well worded critique of the patent system, and why there are probably no dangers in Mono. Jo does reference earlier blog postings, but after having looked at them, I think his post is really the one that started the fur flying.
On October 28, 2008, Jo followed up with an excellent article on the importance of Standards, and how Mono follows them titled Life with Mono: Standards (good for me, good for you too).
The first major negative posting was on the Open Bytes blog, and was titled MONO 2.0 – Beware of a Novell bearing gifts on November 23rd. In it the author had a cartoon depicting Bill Gates of Borg
Things were relatively quiet until the new year, when Neptune235 posted [Mono-list] I need help with FUD to the Mono list at Ximian on January 16th. It was a plea for help, which ended in HELP ME STOP THE FUD! :). He got an answer from Adam Tauno Williams the same day, which said It can’t be stopped, it is vague blather. Just ignore it, any attempt to argue with trolls only feeds the flames. He also got an answer from Jonathan Pryor which said Software patents suck. Jonathan isn’t too bright. It isn’t that software patents don’t suck, they do. The problem is that ALL patents suck, and only a total shut down of the Patent System will fix the problem.
Jonathan later expanded on his original answer in a blog post titled How To Defend Against Software Patent FUD – You don’t. – Bwa-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha¹⁰⁰⁰. on January 19th.
Then someone submitted an idea to Ubuntu Brainstorm on March 30 – Idea #18932: Remove Rythmbox as library player. While all of the other posts are nice background, this is the one that really got the fire going. It was partially based on some comments by the developer of Rythmbox, Jonathan Matthew, which many people took to mean that Rythmbox development was ending. Jonathan posted that his original comments had been misunderstood, but a lot of people missed that.
Coincidently a day later the polar bear excrement hit the rotary oscillator. Yep, on April Fools Day, a programmer named Hubert Figuiere announced that In my attempts to fight my own boredom he’d decided to attempt to port Tomboy, a Mono application to C++ in his blog in an article titled porting to C++. Because of the date most people took his post for a prank. A couple of days later he released Gnote 0.1.0, and a day later Gnote 0.1.1, a bug fix, was released. And the on April 14th he posted to the Ubuntu Forums Ubuntu PPA for Gnote (C++ port of Tomboy). The first response to his post was short and to the point Thanks! Less Microsoft ‘intellectual property’ in our OS less worries for us!. Jo Shields also responded, and his response was less happy Still missing most of Tomboy’s features, and involving wholesale license & copyright violation. Jo never explained how a port could be a copyright or license violation. Possibly some day he will, I’d like to see his explanation. The thread ended up covering 18 pages worth of posts, ending only when a Ubuntu admin, cariboo907, posted The membership has spoken, this is not a democracy, this thread is closed. Please quit trying to push forward your own agenda. Exactly who this was addressed to wasn’t clear, as both pro and anti mono posters were involved.
On April 19th Jo decided to throw gasoline on the fire. In a post titled Fitting the kitchen sink onto a CD he argued that replacing the bloated C application Rythmbox with svelt mono application Banshee would save space. Those are his words, not mine. He got 122 comments as of when I last checked, so I guess he got people thinking.
While Miguel de Icaza is mostly responsible for Mono, he hasn’t made many comments that I could find about the controversy (I expect to be inundated with Miguel quotes now – GRIN) except this one, where he references Jo Shield’s post about CD space – Banshee and Tomboy over the weekend.
Then we get into the really fun stuff. What can you say about a post titled I eat FUD like you for breakfast from the ‘KILL THEM ALL AND LET A NORSE GOD SORT EM OUT’ blog. He references the infamous Tomboy 0.14.1, the future, and a word about Gnote which says:
Some people have started asking about Gnote, Hubert Figuiere’s line-for-line port of Tomboy to C++. Our stance on Gnote is that it is counterproductive to maintain identical software in two languages. It will be harmful to the community, especially as these two apps inevitably diverge. It will result in duplication of effort, duplication of bugs, and a lot of wasted time for those who are trying to add value to the user experience, which statement was considered hilarious by those who were arguing that Mono was a waste of effort, being a port of a Microsoft program/technology, that it would be harmful the community and counter productive.
James Westby wrote a response the next day to Jo’s suggestion about replacing Rythmbox with Banshee – Banshee as the default mediaplayer?. James wasn’t happy about the idea.
Meantime Hubert was soldiering on, an April 22nd he announced Gnote 0.2.0.
The lastest set of instructions for how to remove Mono from Ubuntu was published April 23 – How to remove Mono from Ubuntu 9.04 Jaunty Jackalope.
On the 27th, Jo published the rather strangely titled Deconstruction of Falling Stars where he analysed his traffic. I almost ignored this post, I thought it was about Babylon 5.
And Hubert keeps soldiering on, and announces the release of Gnote 0.3.0.
The first major site to notice anything was happening was LWN on May 1st – Tomboy, Gnote, and the limits of forks. The author didn’t seem to understand some of the concepts though.
Jo got back into the act the same day with Don’t gloat about bloat. He raises some good points – though I disagree with him on Evolution and other email clients. I think that they should all be dumped, the majority of people read email online in the 21st century.
And Hubert keeps soldiering on, and announces the release of Gnote 0.3.1. Is this guy a bot?
I like Sam Varghese. He digs and finds out things that other people miss. His The elusive, royalty-free patent licence for Mono published on May 25 was a beauty. If you haven’t read it, I’d suggest you do so.
Monobuntu Developer Summit notes from the indefatigable Jo Shields.
And Hubert keeps soldiering on, and announces the release of Gnote 0.4.0. Maybe he’s a Dalek?
Someone put in a Brainstorm suggestion – Idea #20016: Keep Rhythmbox don’t move to worse alternatives. Brainstorm doesn’t show how many people voted, so it’s hard to tell whether 28 votes is a significant number or not.
The Me and Ubuntu blog decided to try to cover the controversy in Disinformation Disinfected, Pt. 1.
Sam Varghese wrote an article called How GNU/Linux users can keep Mono at bay on June 1st about the Mononono package.
Linux Journal posted the results of it’s annual Readers’ Choice Awards 2009 on the same day. The only Mono application which was mentioned was F-Spot, and it didn’t win it’s category.
The Me and Ubuntu blog’s second post was published on June 1st – Disinformation Disinfected, Pt. 2: The False Dilemma. Also, rather quietly a new project was announced, Solang which later in the month would add to the fire.
Ars covered Tomboy in Tomboy note app gains Web sync, showcases power of open Web.
Roy at Boycott Novell published Mono: An Infectious Disease — An Article by Chris Smart on June 2. The name of the article was definitely noticeable.
On June 4, Sam Varghese published Fedora casts Mono into outer darkness. Is Sam a Mormon?
The announcement on June 6 that Banshee 1.5.0 had been released!.
Boycott Novell reported that Ubuntu is Censoring Opposition to Mono by Default on June 6th. Damning if true.
On June 9th Linux Canuck reports Ubuntu is Driving Me Away.
Carla Schroeder published Open Invitation to Mono Proponents to Set the Record Straight on June 11.
Me and Ubuntu published his third part Disinformation Disinfected, pt. 3: Banshee in Ubuntu.
Boycott Novell reports that Real-time Linux Hacker Bill Huey Called the Mono Plan ‘Misguided’.
On the 13th Linux Today published Mono in the Default Debian Install.
A Brainstorm idea was published – Idea #20257: Change Tomboy for Gnote.
In the Ubuntu forums questions were asked question about the banshee switch…..
On the 13th Me and Ubuntu announced that I give up.
There was further coverage at Boycott Novell Fedora “Concerned” About Mono for Legal Reasons, Ubuntu Debate Carries on.
And if you care about flame wars read The very best of anti-Mono zealots.
The on the 14th we get Mono, here we go again.
On the 15th Signs of Mono Unrest, Legal Issues.
On the 16th things for real exciting. Mono, Here We Go Again started the day, and then we had Debian may include Mono in default install, which is clear of grammatically inaccurate, then we had Debian is Not Including Mono by Default, Yet, which is nice and unclear, and then the classic Disappeared Thread. Also someone finally noticed Solang. One commentator (not listed, as it’s in Italian) even claimed it was an F-Spot port. Hot day.
And Hubert keeps soldiering on, and announces the release of Gnote 0.5.0. Think about this. It’s only been 68 days since he started. I’m really not sure if this guy is human. Maybe he’s a Cyberman.
Also on the 17th we get New Push for Gnote in Ubuntu by Default.
On the 20th it’s reported that there are Whisper Campaigns Against Gnote.
Now we get to the fun stuff. Should I include my own posts? The one is an earlier version of this article, which doesn’t do justice to the complexity of the issue, but here it is anyway – Monotremes and Monotrolls. As you may have gathered, I’m not a fan of Mono.
On the same day, the 21st Stefano Forenza write >a href=”http://www.stefanoforenza.com/hands-off-the-gimp/”>Hands off the Gimp, and Boycott Novell covered the same issue with Please Don’t Replace the GIMP with F-Spot (Mono).
Linux Insider wrote Is Linux Suffering From Mono? Of course they couldn’t answer the question. Right now know one knows for sure, except possibly Steve Ballmer. But people are opiniated, as in Praise the Mono and Pass the Ammo.
And of course someone had to have fun with Jo Shield’s name – Mono: Shielding the facts.
The Nixed Report published Why Mono is a Red Herring.
Stefano announced that Solang is in Ubuntu repositories now.
Only one entry on the 24th – Roy posted about Potential Future Replacement for F-Spot Enters Ubuntu. Quiet day. But we know it can’t last!
Sam Varghese reports Ubuntu may increase Mono-dependent apps on June 25th.
There there’s this idea awaiting moderation at Brainstorm Idea #20425: Evolution causes hassle when de-install(ed/ing). I don’t know how quickly ideas are moderated, but this one has been sitting since June 26th.
Roy covers more in Latest Lies and Denials from Mono Advocates, Microsoft.
And then the big guns fire. Richard Stallman issues a statement, Why free software shouldn’t depend on Mono or C#. I think this was posted on the 27th, the FSF site does some weird things.
Sam covers Mono again with Ubuntu tech board plays down Mono IP concerns on the 27th.
Jo, the only pledge I can think of is the one you take when you join AA. The Pledge.
OK, so I’m quoting myself again. Got to admit I sure can write (G). Stallman’s statement on Mono. I posted this on June 28th. Roy also commented on Stallman’s statement with Responses to Richard Stallman’s Verdict on Mono. Learning Ubuntu posted on How to Completely Remove Mono on Ubuntu.
The next day Sam announced GNOME 3.0 may have more Mono apps. Roy at Boycott Novell wrote Microsoft and Novell Still Fight for .NET Inside GNU/Linux, and also GNOME’s Evolution Proceeds as Planned?.
On the 30th Gray Geek posted Why? questioning why there was such a heavy push to get Mono into Linux? On the same day someone submitted an idea to Brainstorm titled Idea #20473: Mono is not as necessary as wine, which is still awaiting moderation. Roy at Boycott Novell wrote More People Say “No” to Mono, Including the Software Freedom Law Center (SFLC). ZDnet wondered whether Will Stallman C# Warning Fall Flat. Then poor Sanjeev weighed in. Yes, I’m calling him poor Sanjeev, he didn’t know what he was saying, and said something that he shouldn’t. I replied to him in detail A Response to: Fuck you, Richard Stallman and other GNU/Trolls. Sanjeev and I talked in IRC after that, and quite frankly he’s a real nice guy, who I’d like to meet someday.
Debian felt compelled to state that Mono is not in our default install. I almost missed this on, I was working on my Microsoft Financials post. July First was a busy day, considering it’s our national holiday, I didn’t get a lot of rest in! Roy wrote Poll: 62% Don’t Trust Microsoft on Mono. Last time I checked it had gone up to 64%. Roy also wrote Who Promotes Mono? Microsoft and Novell, and Sam wrote Ubuntu says yes to Mono, SFLC says no. Oh, and I missed this one until after I’d published this post – My take on the Mono/C# debate. The author is pro-mono.
On the second Debian claims Mono not part of default install.
OK, so what does it all mean?
Well there are issues around Mono, including patents. This means that some people, myself included now refuse to use it. Those that are pro-mono don’t seem to understand exactly why everyone isn’t shouting hosannas over their projects. Indeed one of them classified Tomboy as ‘An Exciting Program’, which stunned me. Tomboy? Exciting? I didn’t think so.
Since neither side is likely to move, to combat has moved to the Distribution level. Fedora is going to get rid of Mono. Ubuntu is going to keep it. It’s possible that Mono could be the issue that dethrones Ubuntu from the top of the Distrowatch listing. Fedora has been gaining on Ubuntu for over a year now, and while it’s well back, who knows where it will be a year from now.