Feeds

Explain yourself Miguel, demands RMS

.NETification of GNOME - latest

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Security for virtualized datacentres

A surprised and dismayed Richard M Stallman says Gnome project founder Miguel de Icaza owes the community an explanation for comments made to The Register, last week, in which de Icaza advocated basing the project on Microsoft.NET APIs.

"I can't believe it's Gnome you're talking about but if it is, I wouldn't like that," Stallman told an audience at the World Social Forum in Porto Alegre, Brazil last week.

Stallman only learned of de Icaza's intentions to slip the Mono project - based on Microsoft's .NET framework - into Gnome as "the natural technology upgrade" when asked by the audience.

Gnome - the GNU Object Model - is the part of the GNU Project, started by Stallman in 1985.

"I didn't know he was doing that, I find that very hard to believe," he said.

"We would like him to come to the free software community and explain himself to us about it."

Brazilian tech site HotBits has more details here, with a number of other snippets of RMS on globalization, and GNU matters, accessible from the current edition's front page. We're grateful to Renata Aquino for providing us with a translation.

Outraged Gnome users were mailing us over the weekend vowing to abandon the platform, and GnomeVFS maintainer Ian McKellar (who we inexplicably missed when we called in on Danger the other week) took a swipe at Miguel on the Gnome hackers mailing list: "You don't speak for me and you don't speak for most of the Gnome developers I know". (He also takes a sideswipe at us - we're "usually full of FUD and lies," apparently).

However , Miguel has been entirely consistent. From our own interview at the time of the Mono announcement, to this recent Q&A, he's justified Mono primarily is a better technology infrastructure for Gnome.

So if you didn't see this one coming, you simply haven't been paying attention.

Nor has Miguel made any secret of his ambitions to enrich the software libre desktop with more sophisticated infrastructure, using Microsoft Windows as the model. The Bonobo technology was designed to provide a lightweight compound architecture inspired by The Beast's COM, and there was even a Gnome Basic scripting language mooted at one point.

Miguel has told reporters that only an immigration technicality prevented him from becoming a Microsoft employee four years ago - the small print of the H1-B Visa process disqualifies students who haven't completed their degree course.

Sheep in wolf's cloning

With the community gathering at LinuxToday, to discuss the wisdom of the suggestion, a couple of interesting areas have emerged.

One of the justifications offered for Mono cloning the .NET APIs is that other open source projects do too. Don't WINE and Samba clone the Microsoft protocols or interfaces? Isn't it really all OK? The difference, however, is that Win32 and SMB are dominant standards, and producing a workalike, particularly in the case of Samba, provides an interoperability technology that doesn't entrench the monopoly; Samba is in effect a great big device driver that lets a non-Windows machine access Windows network hardware. .NET is different, in that it the .NET framework has precisely zero users right now, if you discount the more nebulous services such as Hotmail, which have been dragooned into the markitecture.

More worrying for any open source project - particularly one as broad and pervasive as Gnome - is the wisdom of committing to a single vendor's semi-open specifications.

As de Icaza acknowledged last week, "few, very few" of the .NET classes have been submitted to ECMA. And Microsoft has hinted that it would make sure .NET clones pay for using Microsoft technology. How, we'll have to see. It may be worth noting that The Beast typically doesn't view patent infringements in the simple, hand-over-the-money style of a Qualcomm or a Rambus, and is actually more frequently the recipient rather than the initiator of patent infringement lawsuits. But rather, it looks for downstream opportunities it can leverage with business partners.

And in any case, does de Icaza have the personal capital to influence such a decision? Well he might, but in theory it should only go so far. The industry-sponsored GNOME Foundation, has an elected board, which meets fortnightly, and where agenda items such as "8.b. Proposal to sell our souls to The Satan of Redmond in perpetuity" can be postponed until after tea and biscuits.

One of the sponsors of the Foundation is Sun. As we pointed out on Friday, the prospect of selling boxes with the sticker "Solaris - Powered by .NET" might persuade Sun to start taking an active interest in the Foundation. Like, really, really active. ®

Related Story

Gnome to be based on .NET - de Icaza

Website security in corporate America

More from The Register

next story
New 'Cosmos' browser surfs the net by TXT alone
No data plan? No WiFi? No worries ... except sluggish download speed
'Windows 9' LEAK: Microsoft's playing catchup with Linux
Multiple desktops and live tiles in restored Start button star in new vids
iOS 8 release: WebGL now runs everywhere. Hurrah for 3D graphics!
HTML 5's pretty neat ... when your browser supports it
'People have forgotten just how late the first iPhone arrived ...'
Plus: 'Google's IDEALISM is an injudicious justification for inappropriate biz practices'
Mathematica hits the Web
Wolfram embraces the cloud, promies private cloud cut of its number-cruncher
Mozilla shutters Labs, tells nobody it's been dead for five months
Staffer's blog reveals all as projects languish on GitHub
SUSE Linux owner Attachmate gobbled by Micro Focus for $2.3bn
Merger will lead to mainframe and COBOL powerhouse
iOS 8 Healthkit gets a bug SO Apple KILLS it. That's real healthcare!
Not fit for purpose on day of launch, says Cupertino
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.