I’ve been mildly intrigued as to why the volume of background noise and character assassination that has surrounded Mono has been on the wane over the last few months. Consequently, I started wondering if there were any obvious reasons for this outbreak of pacifism in what has sometimes seemed like a debating chamber for differing groups of religious fundamentalists.
Some of it is surely to do with Microsoft’s Community Promise made back in July 2009, but I doubt that is really the only reason for the attenuation. I do wonder if Mono might just simply be losing some of its lustre. In August Blackduck reported how the amount of code being written for FOSS projects using C# was pretty negligible at just 1.33% and that growth in C# usage over a 12 month period was virtually zero.
There were also some rather nasty and personal attacks which did nothing to help our community at large nor the reputation of the individuals’ concerned so maybe people have consciously, or subconsciously, decided to just shut-up for a while?
Quite recently Microsoft, along with Intel, announced that they will ship Silverlight on Linux as opposed to using the Microsoft/Novell sponsored Mono project called Moonlight. OK, admittedly this announcement was only for Moblin Linux, but hey, since when has Microsoft ever been transparent about it’s long term objectives or plans? Perhaps, Mono and Moonlight were just too heavyweight for Moblin devices (netbooks and smart-phones typically), or maybe there is more to it. It could be a very good start to a typical Microsoft "Embrace, Extend & Extinguish" strategy. Who knows? But it certainly isn’t exactly a ringing endorsement of Mono and Moonlight is it?
The awkward question: If it’s that easy to port Microsoft Silverlight to Linux, why does the Moonlight project exist at all?
“I’m really clear about our commitment to Moonlight. I see the work we’re doing with Miguel and Moonlight as core to our strategy for delivering implementations for Linux,” says Goldfarb, protesting, perhaps, a little too much. ®
Anyhow, my personal opinion of Mono hasn’t changed much. There are no Mono applications in Ubuntu that make me go weak at the knees and get all excited; far from it in fact:
- I’ve never really had any need for Tomboy at all and since discovering Getting Things Gnome my jotted notes and todos all go in this great little Python task keeping application anyway. If you have used, or ever wanted to use Tomboy in the past however there is now a clone written in C++ called Gnote. This is in the Karmic “universe” repository and can be installed either from Synaptic, the new Ubuntu Software Centre (now spelt correctly if you use an en_GB locale) or by typing
sudo apt-get install gnote.
- When I last used F-Spot, which was probably back in Gutsy or Hardy days I reckon, it annoyed me that the application wouldn’t automatically delete the pictures off my camera after importing. GThumb did and always has; so no big deal there then. There is also a new kid on the block called Solang that is in the Karmic repos too. I haven’t tried it in anger myself yet but I’ve heard good things from others.
- Media Players/Managers? “Banshee!” I hear you cry. Well, I’ve never tried it because I don’t have Mono on my Ubuntu desktop or laptops so I can’t say if I like or not as an application. On my Ubuntu machines, the only music player I have tried and actually really liked, is Songbird. There are still a few features missing, but the forthcoming 1.4 release is looking like it will plug some of these gaps. Songbird looks, feels and works fine for my needs.
On the 15th October a very important figure in our community penned his own contribution to this discussion. Jeremy Allison, of Samba fame, wrote a well considered letter essentially calling on the major GNU/Linux distributions to move Mono outside of their default and core repositories. It’s something others, including myself, have discussed before, but likely with a lot less weight than Jeremy’s comments will surely carry.
… I think it is time for the Mono implementation and applications that use it to be moved into the “risky” category, until the patent situation around it is deemed to be truly safe to use by default in Free Software.
Microsoft isn’t playing games any more by merely threatening to assert patents. Real lawsuits have now occurred and the gloves are off against Free Software. Moving Mono and its applications to the “restricted” repositories is now just plain common sense.
Anyway, back to the reason for this post.
In the latest, shiniest, bestest, release of Ubuntu to date, and it really is a cracking release, the desktop version of Karmic Koala (version 9.10) contains two Mono dependent applications in the default install along with the Mono VM and associated libraries etc.
Now, this time, we have 3 ways to go Mono free:
- Visit Jo Shield’s blog and get Chicken Little Remix (CLR). Chicken Little Remix (CLR) provides a solution for users who wish to use Ubuntu but would prefer it to not contain any Mono-based software. This 2nd release of CLR, based on Ubuntu 9.10, comes as a livecd with it’s own unique desktop wallpaper and also features replacement applications where appropriate.
- Use the KDE based Kubuntu instead of Ubuntu, which uses Gnome. (Thanks Mark for pointing out my omission in the comments below)
- Install the regular Ubuntu distribution and then remove the applications and their supporting packages*. The simple command required goes like this [Update] Thanks to Jo who mentioned the 3 libraries that should also be removed [/Update]:
sudo apt-get purge libmono* libgdiplus cli-common libsqlite0 libglitz-glx1 libglitz1
Which should reply with something similar to:
The following packages will be REMOVED
cli-common* f-spot* libart2.0-cil* libflickrnet2.2-cil* libgconf2.0-cil*
libgdiplus* libglade2.0-cil* libglib2.0-cil* libgmime2.2a-cil*
libgnome-keyring1.0-cil* libgnome-vfs2.0-cil* libgnome2.24-cil*
libgnomepanel2.24-cil* libgtk2.0-cil* libmono-addins-gui0.2-cil*
libmono-addins0.2-cil* libmono-cairo2.0-cil* libmono-corlib2.0-cil*
libmono-data-tds2.0-cil* libmono-i18n-west2.0-cil* libmono-posix2.0-cil*
libmono-security2.0-cil* libmono-sharpzip2.84-cil* libmono-sqlite2.0-cil*
libmono-system2.0-cil* libmono2.0-cil* libndesk-dbus-glib1.0-cil*
libndesk-dbus1.0-cil* mono-2.0-gac* mono-gac* mono-runtime* tomboy*
0 upgraded, 0 newly installed, 34 to remove and 0 not upgraded.
After this operation, 47.8MB disk space will be freed.
Do you want to continue [Y/n]?
NB: This command was tested on a default installation. The
purge switch is designed to remove configuration data too. If you have any important information on your system that might be dependent on these applications, please do your research and backup or copy it first. I test the command in a clean Virtual Machine build before using it on a live system: YMMV.
* If you are aware of any other packages that can, or should be removed, please let me know and I will update the post.
Depending on your vigilance or need, you may wish to install the package called Mononono which will keep a look out for you and alert you if an application tries to install any Mono components.
For those of you who do not happen to be scholars of ancient Egyptian history, the picture at the top of this article is of the Egyptian Pharaoh Akhenaten regarded by some as the first Monotheist:
Akhenaten tried to bring about a departure from traditional religion that in the end would not be accepted. After his death, traditional religious practice was gradually restored, and when some dozen years later rulers without clear rights of succession from the Eighteenth Dynasty founded a new dynasty, they discredited Akhenaten and his immediate successors, referring to Akhenaten himself as ‘the enemy’ in archival records.
Image courtesy of Wikimedia under several free licences.
Last night in bed I was reading some more of a novel (Not Novell) called “The suspicions of Mr Whicher“. It’s an interesting book, based on a true story about infanticide in the middle 1800s and one of our very first real “detectives”. But I am finding it a bit on the “dry” side truth be told…
Anyway, about 1/2 way through the book I discovered something amazing. A reference to a psychological condition called:
How on earth could a 19th century detective know about the long running saga of a rather large and bloated software stack designed, it seems, simply to drive a wedge into the FOSS community and act as a trojan horse for our most [ahem] loved convicted monopolist?
The Wikipedia informs us that:
Monomania (from Greek monos, one, and mania, mania) is a type of paranoia in which the patient has only one idea or type of ideas. Emotional monomania is that in which the patient is obsessed with only one emotion or several related to it; intellectual monomania is that which is related to only one kind of delirious idea or ideas.
In colloquial terms, the term monomania is often attached to subcultures that to the general public appear esoteric. However, the differences between monomania and passion can be very subtle and difficult to recognize.
Truth is, of course Mr Whicher couldn’t have known. No one could have written such a tale of intrigue, double-crossing and skulduggery. But then neither could one have imagined the horrific tale of poor little Saville Kent’s untimely demise.
I was minded to post this piece mainly because I had just read a rather well put together history of the Mono saga so far by The Mad Hatter.
If this story doesn’t contain any monomaniacs then I’m a March Hare!
I was going to write a bit about this MAJOR announcement myself today; but there’s not much point.
I’m in complete agreement with Glyn here. This is a really big deal. Perhaps not today or tomorrow, but it is making a HUGE statement to the business community at large that there are credible alternatives to M$, and, with IBM’s help they can choose from Novell, Red Hat or Canonical for their desktop IT.
Of course, we [ the enlightened ones 😉 ] have known this for sometime. But the dark-grey-suit brigade didn’t really have a clue. They simply believed what they were told.
Now they are being told something new.
I have had a long-time problem with Mono and the Mono-based applications that, for reasons I do not understand, come installed by default with Ubuntu.
For those who don’t know about it, Mono:
provides the necessary software to develop and run .NET client and server applications on Linux, Solaris, Mac OS X, Windows, and Unix.
That sounds pretty innocuous on the face of it. But Mono has a potentially fatal sting-in-the-tail for some, and leaves a rather nasty taste in the mouths of many others…
The potential sting is because Mono is developed and supported largely by Novell who are, as we all know so well, in a patent-protection deal with Microsoft. This caused a huge storm when they signed the deal – basically because it gave some “credence” to Ballmer’s “Linux/OSS breaches 235+ patents” line. So, it’s O.K. for Novell to do stuff that implements helps M$’s stuff because they have “protection” from being sued [yeah right – who really believes that one!]. But what about everyone else???
The nasty taste which has always ‘ever-so-slightly’ tainted my use of Ubuntu is that Mono is there only to support applications written in languages and for platforms which are basically Microsoft’s. It encourages software development using systems that are based on technologies almost certainly encumbered by a whole raft of M$ patents. To my mind, there are many great non M$ languages and architectures out there which are almost part-and-parcel of Linux programming and I see no need to bring .NET, ASP or even Visual Basic to my desktop. If I want to write an application, I could use PHP, Python, PERL, C, C++, Java and, of course, many others. Why do I need to endorse and encourage the proliferation of non-free software by relying on M$’s IP and the smell of their stinky patents?
Well, I figured I don’t. So, I thought I’d see what happened if I removed Mono from Ubuntu.
As a test I typed the following (but I didn’t accept the Y/n question before doing some further research):
sudo apt-get remove --purge mono-common
The following packages will be REMOVED
banshee f-spot libart2.0-cil libavahi1.0-cil libboo2.0-cil libflickrnet2.1.5-cil libgconf2.0-cil libglade2.0-cil
libglib2.0-cil libgmime2.2-cil libgnome-vfs2.0-cil libgnome2.0-cil libgtk2.0-cil libgtkhtml3.16-cil
libmono-addins-gui0.2-cil libmono-addins0.2-cil libmono-cairo1.0-cil libmono-cairo2.0-cil libmono-corlib1.0-cil
libmono-corlib2.0-cil libmono-data-tds1.0-cil libmono-data-tds2.0-cil libmono-security1.0-cil libmono-security2.0-cil
libmono-sharpzip0.84-cil libmono-sharpzip2.84-cil libmono-sqlite2.0-cil libmono-system-data1.0-cil
libmono-system-data2.0-cil libmono-system-web1.0-cil libmono-system-web2.0-cil libmono-system1.0-cil libmono-system2.0-cil
libmono-zeroconf1.0-cil libmono1.0-cil libmono2.0-cil libndesk-dbus-glib1.0-cil libndesk-dbus1.0-cil libtaglib2.0-cil
mono-common mono-gac mono-jit mono-runtime tomboy
This lot removes just three applications from Ubuntu 8.04: Tomboy, F-Spot and Banshee. And they aren’t exactly desktop behemoths either.
The long list of libraries and things that just might break something else looked pretty scary to simply accept without question. So I built a quick Ubuntu Hardy 8.04 VM using Virtualbox and tried it in there first. It seemed to be fine. Nothing else I tried broke. I rebooted the VM and tried loading several applications and it all worked as expected.
So here we go then; to get rid of Mono, Tomboy, Banshee and F-Spot, simply type the following.
sudo apt-get remove --purge mono-common libmono0
--purge switch removes the old packages from the package manager’s cache so you actually get the disk space freed up too)
Now I must confess to having used Tomboy in the past. But after a bit of research some time ago I found what I think is actually a better alternative called Zim. It is basically a desktop Wiki application:
Zim is a WYSIWYG text editor written in Gtk2-Perl which aims to bring the concept of a wiki to your desktop. Every page is saved as a text file with wiki markup. Pages can contain links to other pages, and are saved automatically. Creating a new page is as easy as linking to a non-existing page. Pages are ordered in a hierarchical structure that gives it the look and feel of an outliner. This tool is intended to keep track of TODO lists or to serve as a personal scratch book.
I have been using Zim for several months now and am very happy with it.
F-Spot is easily replaced by gthumb which, for me at least, does exactly the same thing: it gets photos from my camera.
I never used Banshee after looking at the UI once. I found Rhythmbox much more obvious and easy to use, and it is already installed as well.
So, to replace the 44 packages (and 3 apps) above with non-encumbered alternatives, simply type:
sudo apt-get install gthumb zim
Of course please check your own system before blindly following my instructions. I checked carefully before removing Mono to make sure nothing was going to break. I would recommend you do the same, and, of course, back up your Tomboy notes first 😉
Novell start to discuss the implications of the legal victory they achieved against SCO on the 10th August.
In a decent summing up of opinion on infoworld by Elizabeth Montalbano, we get:
“We’re not interested in suing people over Unix,” Novell spokesman Bruce Lowry said. “We’re not even in the Unix business any more.”
And Novell’s own CMO John Dragoon gives a neat and concise diary of events that led to Friday’s momentous decision:
“This is a great outcome for Linux and the open source community. A big cloud has been lifted. Customers and developers can deploy and develop on Linux with increased confidence that SCO’s copyright allegations around Linux will be put to rest. “
Checking SCO’s stock quote tells us what the market really thinks: http://finance.google.com/finance?q=scox. Down to just 37c when I looked. That’s a fall of over 75% since market close on Friday and a market capitalisation of about $8m (or approx. £4m in Sterling).
I can’t see how SCO can remain a viable business for much longer. As an anonymous commentator wrote on a mailing list – Novell could buy them with spare change and that would be the end of that. Although it’s a bit of a waste of $8m I guess. There are plenty of other companies out there with that sort of cash to burn…
- Microsoft Corporation: $268.14B
- International Business Machines Corp. : $151.90B
- Hewlett-Packard Company: $122.69B
- Red Hat, Inc. : $4.12B
- Novell, Inc. : $2.26B
- Sun Microsystems, Inc.: $16.74B
- Oracle Corporation : $99.96B
“May we live in interesting times…”
On Friday last, the judge in the extraordinarily long court case brought by SCO (The SCO Group Inc. formerly the Santa Cruz Operation) against Novell gave his judgement. SCO lost.
The basics of the case, which is both complex and long-winded as only the American legal system can, was that SCO claimed they owned the copyright for UNIX and that Novell didn’t. The implications of this fairly simple claim went much deeper however. If SCO had won it could have opened the door for massive litigation against IBM and other vendors of UNIX and also had serious implications for Linux as they also claimed that Linux contained copyrighted UNIX code…
And more succinctly put by the Washington Post…
Software company Novell owns the copyrights covering the Unix computer operating system, a federal judge ruled, deciding against the company that bought certain rights to Unix from Novell 12 years ago. “The bill of sale is clear: all copyrights were excluded from the transfer,” U.S. District Judge Dale A. Kimball wrote in his 102-page ruling. SCO Group Inc. is seeking billions of dollars in royalty payments from hundreds of companies that use the Linux computer operating system, which is modelled on Unix. The ruling means SCO probably cannot successfully sue Linux users for copyright violations.
The ruling given last week should now clear the way for the legally challenged/scared corporations of the US to use OSS/Linux with much less fear about potential law suits. This can only increase the pace of growth and adoption of these disruptive technologies.
Here’s my Recommended Reading list for this story.
- Groklaw – This is where the in-depth coverage all started and remains,
- Dana Gardner – Good summing up
- The Inquirer – Clear overview of implications
- New York Times – Brief, clear, articulate
- Novell’s PR Blog – Short but sweet!
Well – this looks like the main legal barriers for adoption of Linux (especially in the USA) have been removed, the SCO v IBM lawsuit is groundless and SCO will probably go bust as they will have some very BIG bills to pay.
Following note added 20:30pm (15:30 EDT) 13/08/2007:
Just before the USA markets closed I thought I’d see what the investors made of the judge’s decision. Not good. SCO (NASDAQ: SCOX) was down by a whopping 73% from $1.56 on the close Friday. It opened this morning at 0.45c and dipped during trading to a low of $0.35. Ouch….