The Mono Effect [Updated]

About 15 hours ago, I posted an article on how to remove Mono from Ubuntu Intrepid Ibex.

A similar thing happened the last time, when I did a piece on doing the same thing for Hardy heron.


is the Mono effect…

I know the traffic volumes aren’t that large – I get on average around 400-500 unique hits per day – but then unlike some other bloggers, I don’t write blog posts just for hits or revenue, nor am I particularly famous. I write blog posts because I want to.

Also, bear in mind I took that screen shot at about 10:30 in the morning UK time… There is still most of the day to go.


Well, actually this is the Mono effect for the whole day yesterday:

And who is it who thinks the world wants Mono?

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  • Jack Hughes says:

    >And who is it who thinks the world wants Mono?
    Me. I know we had a discussion last time you did a post about removing Mono. I still don’t understand what the problem is with Mono. The Mono contributors are doing some amazing work and it is a shame to dismiss it just because the standards first came out of Microsoft.

    Oh, I installed the latest version of Ubuntu in a VM the other day and must confess that it was very good. A considerable improvement over my last Linux desktop experience.

  • Alan Lord says:

    Hi Jack, for the readership here, it seems as though you are in the minority. I have been “helping” our server all day so far, too many hits and we run out of RAM. We have ordered a bigger VM with more memory but haven’t yet moved this and some other sites across.

    There is so much scepticism surrounding Mono and what it stands for. IANAL so I can’t categorically say there are patent issues with it or anything else, but I don’t want it.

    Mono’s sole purpose for existing is tied to Microsoft’s development platform and their strategy to embrace and extend and extinguish all competition. They may have “standardised” parts of it through the ECMA and ISO, but then they have done that with OOXML too and no-one wants or trusts that either.

    When I wrote the first one of these, for Hardy, I was really just scratching a personal itch. I had *no idea* how much interest there is in getting rid of Mono from Linux. They can keep .net on Windows by all means, but it will certainly stay off all of my computers.

  • Jack Hughes says:

    It constantly amazes me how worked up some people get about software licences… 🙂 I guess we’ll just have to agree to disagree on the Mono thing. There is a double standard though, nobody was moaning too much about Java in its pre open source days.

  • Alan Lord says:

    Clearly, if you have .net skills then Mono could be helpful to you. I do not have .net skills, surprisingly.

    There maybe some truth in the double standards thing re: Java, but then Sun have never really been such a hated and convicted monopolist as Microsoft have they? In fact, Sun have always bloody good hardware and Solaris is as solid as a rock. I remember my first exposure to HP OpenView running on a lovely looking Sparc machine, and it even had an optical mouse! And this was pre Windows 95 days…

    Sun now are walking-the-walk with FOSS and I wish them good luck. Times have been difficult for them as a company, and I hope this is ultimately a successful strategy for them. Personally I’d prefer them to do it as a private business; I don’t think the “markets” have the patience to be honest.

  • Jack Hughes says:

    I used to use a Sun 360 at college…god I loved that thing in all its 68020 goodness.

    Agree that MS are certainly an industry hate figure which is a shame because it does tend to blind people to the progress they are making. It’s always easier to love a loser though, Sun are a bit more warm and fuzzy. Some day we’ll probably get all nostalgic for Microsoft when Google starts throwing its weight around.

  • Alan Lord says:

    “Some day we’ll probably get all nostalgic for Microsoft when Google starts throwing its weight around.”

    What an interesting thought…

    Although I can’t see myself being nostalgic somehow. For me I think it would be more like reminiscing about the food my Primary School used to serve up! The soggy cabbage lovingly slopped on my plate and semolina puddings!!!! Bleeaarrrghhhh.

    In fact it’s quite a good analogy now I come to think of it:

    Just like many computer users now, I didn’t have any choice about it and I was forced to consume the muck.

  • monofan says:

    “And who is it who thinks the world wants Mono?”

    Me. I read the how to remove Mono article, but I like Mono and IronPython.

  • xplode says:

    @jack: the issue is not the license – mono has an open license as far as i know. gpl? that’s not the problem. the problem is patents – the invisible threat that microsoft likes to wield, vaguely suggesting every now and then that they have patents that are being infringed in linux. and the only “approved” linux is suse from novell. how is that free and open?

    why would you want to open your door for more of that? especially when there are perfectly viable alternatives? mono is just not warranted. it doesn’t matter that you have a valid license when there are patent issues…

  • Jack Hughes says:

    @xplode – the linux community is rather two faced about this. I bet Sun have got just as many patents on Java as Microsoft have with .NET. Why was Sun’s position on patents any better when Java was closed source? It wasn’t. But Sun isn’t the hate figure that Microsoft is. This has nothing to do with Mono or its licence. As a separate issue, I’d be surprised if as large and complex as Linux doesn’t infringe quite a lot of patents. That isn’t Microsoft’s fault. The problem lies with the bodies that give out patents.

  • Alan Lord says:

    @Jack, I think a big difference is that Sun don’t generally go around stamping their feet and bashing their competitors over the head threatening them with patent infringement. The other company does. Regularly.

    I read a post somewhere the other day, where M$ apparently tell their developers never to go looking at patents to see if their idea might infringe something, and are told that they wouldn’t understand them anyway – it is the legal department’s area. If I get a mo, I’ll try to find it.

    But I think almost everyone agrees that Patents on software are a really bad idea. Especially now there are so many it virtually impossible for any piece of software to not infringe on something. The issue is how you use your arsenal…

  • Jack Hughes says:

    It seem odd that you don’t give Microsoft any credit for not enforcing their patents. It isn’t Microsoft’s fault there is a dumb patent system for software, so you couldn’t blame them if they wished to enforce their legal rights. You could argue that Microsoft effectively “owns” Linux because they could take Linux down any time they want if they had a mind to. Albeit with some collateral damage to their brand. Anyway, I look forward to the next how to remove mono from the next release of Ubuntu.

  • Alan Lord says:

    @Jack, I wouldn’t give Microsoft any credit, no.

    They are the ones who have regularly spouted off about Linux impinging on 235 (or so) patents. But the fact is that they have never used them because they know that either, or both, of following would almost certainly happen:

    * Their patents would be checked for Prior Art or obviousness and found wanting;
    * The community, by knowing which patents are being infringed, would very quickly remove the infringing code and replace it.

    Either way they would lose. What they have achieved so far is to get a few, of the not-so-popular, Linux distro vendors (and Novell of course who were probably about to go down) to sign-up to the potential threat. They have never stated which of their huge war-chest of patents Linux is supposed to infringe upon.

    No-one else has bitten and no-one else believes them.

    If you want to recall the events of last May, start at the bottom of this page:

  • Framp says:


    mono is too heavy and sloooow
    that’s why I don’t want it on my pc

  • […] people just yell at critics of Mono. But if it’s a non-issue, then not so many people would be concerned about it. has contributed the following informative analysis, so without further ado, here it […]

  • *I* want Mono, and I count for a visit to your blog. Why did I visit, then? Because I was curious to see what the goings-on were about this time around.

    There are two ways to do everything in life: in fear, or not. It seems that of the ~3,000 people that hit here, at least _some_ of them are probably completely unaware that they have this “crap” on their system (and, from a technical standpoint, let me tell you—crap it is not). So, they learn that they have this “crap” and they want to remove it. Of course they do! If it’s “crap”, then obviously it is of no value!

    “The Open Sourcer” and the advocacy to remove a quality open-source product from people’s systems is nothing more than a set of contradictory terms. If you fear patents and you fear anything that has even the smallest scent of proprietary nature to it, I’d suggest running something like gNewSense; then you’ve nothing to worry about, and nothing to try to stir up a commotion about, since there is a system that is tailored for you out there.

    But the post Hardy? I missed that one, and I am going to hazard a guess that I didn’t really miss much. FUD is so not my cup of tea; it is unprofessional, and I daresay rather embarrassing to see it coming from the open source/free software world in yet another direction. It is definitely not appropriate for aggregation on a web site whose goal it is to foster community—FUD does not create robust communities, just temporary ones made out of stacks of cards.

  • Alan Lord says:

    Hi Michael and thanks for commenting.

    I live in a [relatively] free country and all are entitled to their opinions. I don’t happen to agree with yours and I exercised my rights by removing Mono from my computer and telling others about it.

    For some reason, it seems to attract quite a lot of attention and many supportive comments. The minority supporters of Mono seem to be either employees of Novell/M$ or people who make [expect to make] a living from writing .net applications.

  • Alan,

    I am not sure what you disagree with.

    * Mono _is_ decent quality software, in the measurable terms of stability and speed.
    * Mono _is_ both open-source *and* free software.
    * Software patents *are* patents which cover mathematic operations in a particular order.
    * Software patents *are* losing relevance, including in the United States, because people in important places are finally beginning to see the previous point and understand it better.
    * One piece of software you seem to single out, Banshee, is really a *very* nice application—it’s solid, versatile, quick, functional, and the UI is quite elegant and easy-to-learn/use.
    * The comments here and even some of the “information” presented range from what could be seen as simple misunderstanding to outright falsehoods. For example, “Microsoft infested software” in reference to Mono is simply untrue. It’s GPL, free software. Fancy that. Bypassing the subsequent religious reference, and skipping ahead to where you describe Mono as “tainted”, this is another stretch of the truth, to say the very least. Lastly, talking about Microsoft’s tax situation is a strawman to the point, and has _nothing_ to do with Mono, and is (very indirectly) an argumentum ad hominem (in that you correlate Mono to Microsoft, when it never was about that in the first place).

    Classic FUD—one of the weapons that free software writers and advocates should never use. Well, if you want to remove all things Novell from your system, that’s your right.

    Just don’t forget GNOME, which was largely driven by Novell’s VP of DP.

    And, FYI, I only came across Mono around the time I started using Ubuntu (well, I’d heard of it before then, but never actually used it). I was very interested in the C# language after seeing it, and some of the software written in it. My decision had everything to do with the utility of the framework, and nothing to do with the inventor of it. If we decide to do things based on who is involved in them, I don’t think we’d be anywhere productive.

  • Alan Lord says:


    I’m not sure what you find so difficult to understand.

    Microsoft, who are the originators for several of the public standards that Mono supports (and who lest not forget, totally fscked the ISO with their puppets ECMA and OOXML) and some that are not public standards and *are* protected by patents (Windows.Forms and ASP.NET and ADO.NET), regularly use their arsenal of IP to threaten their customers, partners and squash competitors.

    I have no need for 60Mb of a Microsoft derived application framework which gives me just two applications on Ubuntu: F-Spot and Tomboy. There are better alternatives frankly, and two of the previous Mono based that shipped with earlier versions of Ubuntu have since been dropped: Beagle and Banshee. So I get a camera manager and a note pad. Big deal.

    I also do not wish to encourage the creation of any new applications that will be glued into Microsoft’s IP. They are a convicted monopolist and a company that myself and, seemingly, most of the readers of this Blog seem to want nothing to do with.

  • I don’t think you’re understanding what I am saying, then.

    Mono is _not_ derived from Microsoft’s product. It is a fully independent implementation.

    Do you also have a problem with GNU Portable.NET?

    I am not sure what patents you’re referring to. But, the United States Supreme Court ruled that software patents must not cover only an algorithm, but also a particular means of implementing that algorithm. See Diamond v. Diehr (1981).

    It still sounds to me like you’re fundamentally opposed to the technology simply due to its origin. That’s your right, of course. But, that really has very little to do with any technical argument for or against Mono (or any implementation of the CLR or CLI).

    I have problems with Windows.Forms and ASP.NET, but for sound technical reasons. ASP.NET is a very bloated mechanism for doing the work of a Web application, and Web applications can be implemented far more efficiently using only the facilities from the core CLR and class libraries. Windows.Forms is awkward, from what I have seen of it, and I’d much rather use Gtk# or a wrapper around something like WxWidgets as opposed to program in something like WinForms.

    I also have a major problem with Java: it’s memory consumption is _very_ large, and it isn’t nearly as efficient in its JITting processes as Mono is, for example. At the end of the day though, it’s another virtual machine and language environment, is what it amounts to. And development is likely to generally head in the direction of VM-based systems even moreso in the next 10 years than it has in the past 10. We’ll see native code for some time yet, of course, but I don’t think that we’ll still be seeing it throughout the entire duration of my life, either. And I certainly wouldn’t want to see Java come out as the winner. We’ll probably see another framework and environment come out in the next decade that will host multiple languages on a hopefully even more efficient framework than Mono or the .NET CLR—there is the Parrot project, which if it accomplishes its goals, will be a very nice system for languages such as C# to run on top of.

    And, of the three technologies which you claim are patented, I don’t think that F-Spot, Tomboy, Banshee, or Beagle use any of them; I could be wrong, though I am relatively certain that they don’t.

    FWIW, I happen to think that Tomboy and Banshee are _excellent_ applications, as well—and I think that many GUI-oriented programs on many different systems could use them as excellent examples of what a GUI program should be like. This is, of course, just my opinion. Obviously, I’m not alone in that opinion since the applications are available and absolutely _thriving_ with a great deal of support behind them. Furthermore, Banshee and friends aren’t glued to Microsoft’s “intellectual property,” and since law in the United States favors software interoperability, and the USTPO’s stance on software patents is changing for the better, fear of software patents from Microsoft is getting to be less and less justified.

    In many cases, Microsoft can be a bully. But you know what? Bullies always lose, in the end—and fearing them only helps to contribute to their power.

  • neighborlee says:

    There is no fear involved, that is fear mongering Michael.

    Fear is something healthy as it helps you ‘avoid’ dangers.

    Simply saying someone is opposed to something because it comes from a convicted moonopolist, does not remove the burden of said monopolist to prove to those who might use its services that its all of a sudden trust worthy of services and products it puts out, not to mention the fact that some of those products we all know full well are tied to only SLED. ( see 1)

    THose 3 apps you mention, fspot tomboy yadda are hardly ‘thriving’, I dont know where you are seeing that, and if there is any indication of what support something has, you can look here amoung many places to verify that:

    ^ There is the power of your support for mono, and again given who its coming from, you will understand those whom are very slow, if ever to support it fully 😉

    It’s also a fact that moonlight is not a done < ahem, GONE) deal with no support for it in debian & fedora nor are mono apps installed by default in either of those distributions and for good reason, – as if you want to ‘take the risk’ yourself, your more than welcome to, but most of us have long given up , ‘forcing’ people to do something just because they think its righteous. Nvidia is a ‘choice’ for users in ubuntu, so why not mono and its restricted apps as well ?

    The easiest route away from the mono intrusion is using apps that dont depend on the dangerous mono , and instead going with already working and superior apps like gthumb and zim, unless of course you have some reason to want to stay with a patent encumbered, monopolistic, OOXML peddling, linux threat sounding company ? If so, fine go for it , but it will be a lonely road you walk on your own because most foss supporters understand why free is worth protecting.

    ….they are not licensed by Microsoft to run anywhere but in SLED. Not in OpenSuSe, not in Ubuntu, not in Fedora, not in Debian, not in Slackware, not in Gentoo, not anywhere but SLED.

    ….When you install Mono 2 on any Linux system, you are installing software which includes Microsot proprietary technologies without having a license from Microsoft to do so (unless you run SLED).

    ….What is worse, if you use Mono to port to Linux programs originally written in .NET for Windows, then any such ported programs on your Linux system will include and rely upon the unlicensed Mono libraries on your system.

  • There is nothing healthy about FUD—Microsoft employs this very tactic, stating that it has patents which apply to the Linux kernel, to GNOME, to KDE, to, and to other software in general, including non-Microsoft proprietary software and Free software. If this is your argument for removing Mono, then you must also remove Linux, for Microsoft has made the claim that it infringes upon its patents. Interestingly enough, I don’t see Microsoft suing all of Red Hat’s customers, or suing all of Ubuntu’s users within the United States, for royalties.

    For advocating the position of not taking tools out of Microsoft’s toolbox, you are taking the worst one, and the one most effective on the general population. People _cling_ to FUD. This is why it is an effective tool that Microsoft uses on its customers. Have you seen the “Get The Facts” campaign? You have generated this FUD by throwing many (unsubstantiated) dysphemisms at Mono, instead of talking about it from a technical standpoint—whether that technical standpoint is on legal issues, whether that technical standpoint is on implementation issues, or whether that technical standpoint is on some other facet of Mono.

    I call you on your argument that Mono is “dangerous” and therefore call on you to submit proof—hard, irrefutable proof for your statement. A patent which does not become invalidated under the current (e.g., today, not three or six months ago) legal climate. At present, I can find no such patent. Any patent I can find that pertains to it does not satisfy the current legal test of being tied to a particular machine which is not a general-purpose computing device, nor does it satisfy the test of modifying something tangible in the physical world.

    A few quick minutes of Google searches should provide the information you need to read about the current state of patent law in the U.S., including statements made by the USPTO and United States federal courts. The most current of the combination of these are what has established these tests. Particularly of note is in re Bilski, the case heard in the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, which was ruled on 30-Oct-2008 and clarifies the situations upon which a patent claim is to be deemed valid under United States patent law and the Court’s previous affirmations that abstract ideas—which are the root of *all* software—are held unpatentable.

    Mono does not represent a violation of copyright. This is because it is an _independent_ implementation. This is not a matter of debate. Mono is an independent software creation, started by Miguel de Icaza (the same person who started GNOME, and the same person who wrote the Midnight Commander software). His work then carried through with his company’s acquisition by Novell.

    Now, Novell _did_ make some sort of agreement with Microsoft regarding patent protection. Novell figured it to be cheaper to do that, since at the time, there was nothing to say that software patents here in the United States were illegal. (Note that there was nothing to say that they necessarily were, either; the in re Bilski decision made that clarification for us upon the Court’s evaluation of patent laws.)

    As there are presently no (valid, enforceable) patents on the framework that can be found, and the Mono implementation of the framework is not copyrightable by Microsoft Corporation, it becomes quite clear that no license is necessary from Microsoft Corporation to use the Mono implementation of the framework. Should you maintain your claim to the contrary, the burden of proof is quite clearly on your shoulders, particularly since I have provided mine (see the aforementioned court case decision in particular; the court cases referenced by that case may also be helpful to read).

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