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Stallman: open-source .NET 'danger' for Debian

Microsoft patent warning

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Richard Stallman, founder of the GNU project and a General Public License author, has slammed plans to include Mono in Debian's default install as a "dangerous" risk for the open-source community.

In a statement published on the Free Software Foundation site, Stallman says the move is being taken "for the sake of Tomboy which is an application written in C#."

"The danger is that Microsoft is probably planning to force all free C# implementations underground some day using software patents," Stallman said. "This is a serious danger, and only fools would ignore it until the day it actually happens. We need to take precautions now to protect ourselves from future danger."

The Debian GNU/Linux project has plans to include Tomboy, a note-taking application in its next release. This would include implementing Mono, the open-source implementation of Microsoft's .NET backed by Novell.

"The problem is not in the C# implementations, but rather in Tomboy and other applications written in C#," he continued. "If we lose the use of C#, we will lose them too. That doesn't make them unethical, but it means that writing them and using them is taking a gratuitous risk."

Stallman warned that a Microsoft threat should steer the open-source community to discourage people from writing programs in C# and depend on the free C# implementations as little as possible.

Although Stallman frequently speaks about the dangers of software patents on open-source, trust for Microsoft has run particularly thin recently because of the company's legal attack on TomTom over a FAT patent dispute.

Stallman urged the community to instead distribute and recommend non-C# applications whenever possible to avoid Redmond lawyers from being able to disable major OS functions on a whim. ®

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