back to article Stallman: open-source .NET 'danger' for Debian

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 …


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  1. Anonymous Coward

    It's only a matter of time ...and success

    Hah, the C# is cross-platform myth.

    As the more avid Reg readers know, when C# on Mono become popular enough, Microsoft will do what it does best... Use its lawyers.

    History repeats it self and only fools do not know their history. You have been warned.

    Do you believe in the 'microsoft is pro open-source now' joke? Look what happened to TomTom.

    For those interested, there are other very good, equivalent (and/or superior depending on your context) languages out there, such as C++, Java, etc.

    If you're stuck with C#, that's fine, just don't go risking beyond Windows with Mono.

  2. E 2


    C++ should be good enough for anybody.

  3. W

    I can't be the only one who just wants to know:

    will we get to see Paint.NET* on Linux?

    That, AutoCAD, and Foobar2000 are just about the only reasons I've got for clinging onto a Windows partition like a big scaredy cat.

    *To the first person to mention GIMP: I know you mean well, but no.

  4. Colin Guthrie

    What's wrong with gnote?

    "Gnote is a port of Tomboy to C++.

    It is the same note taking application, including most of the add-ins (more are to come). Synchronization support is being worked on. "

  5. Nexox Enigma

    Ah, Stallman

    I love how Stallman always manages to sound completely crazy, while being mostly right at the same time. This, of course, gives me more things to shake in front of the face of whomever the next unfortunate soul to suggest C# at me might be.

    @W: I know it's not a good solution, but I've found that virtualization can work. Better than dual-booting any way. I used to be tied to Windows for Solidworks, but the newest VirtualBox 3.0 beta manages to make it run, and with OpenGL 2.0 and DirectX 9 acceleration, which is the only way it's even remotely usable. The seamless mode is roughly acceptable as well. Not optimal, but better than dualboot or a second computer. Also I'm told that VMWare Workstation supports a similar functionality.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Isn't C# a standard and so it can't be yanked...

    I was under the impression that C# had a standard (search search - ISO and ECMA). As such, can't people write any number of implementations for it and MS can't do a thing about it?

    .Net on the other hand...

  7. Anonymous Coward


    Stallman can sometimes be a major PITA zealot, but this time he seems to have a pretty sensible point.

    I don't think MS will slam the software with legal might, what they will do is wait until it cannot simply be removed then make it very, very uncomfortable and very didfficult to dettach the C# code from the distribution, so much so that it will be simpler and easier to pay MS to license the required bits.

  8. Toastan Buttar

    Does Stallman eat his own dog food ?

  9. Anonymous Hero

    Here we go again....

    Talk about being a true FUDmeister. No wonder Linux has less than 1% of the desktop market share.

    Mono could be Linux' saviour (fucked if I'm going back to writing C++ code again), but oh no the hairy fascist fucknut decree's that it's bad (seems to forget that C# is an ECMA standard and anyone can build their own C# compiler without fear of intimidation) and helps to nail yet another nail in the coffin of the Linux desktop.

    This kinda says it all:

    Worth a read for some actual facts about mono:

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    What ? Paint.NET ? I thought you're using Photoshop like the the rest of the Windows universe.

    Seriously now, instead of AutoCAD you should take a look at MEDUSA from CAD Schroer. I'm not affiliated with them, I don't even work in this field but it's refreshing to see real professionals having no complexes when it comes about running software on top of Linux. It's top notch German quality CAD software and it's multiplatform which will allow you to stay with Windows if that's what you desire or go with Linux if you learn to live with GIMP.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Debian forked

    Debian made a big stink over having to comply with trademarks with relating to Firefox that they repackaged it and called it Iceweasel. So putting this dinky little app into the main release will cause a massive shit fight at Debian. Expect to see the feathers fly at Debian then a new Debian fork soon.

  12. Jach

    Wrong Attitude, I think

    The quality of an application comes first (especially to non-coders), not what language it was written in, and not whether it might disappear in the future due to legal crap. If this is really at all worrying, the more logical thing to do I think would be use them now, and start porting the code over to a different language (if it's open source C#). I'm all for free software and Python and so on, I even use Gentoo Linux, but I'm not going to limit myself to crappy applications just because I don't like what language they good ones were written in, or because I'm scared Microsoft might try to do something I doubt it would get away with easily if at all. Remember, converters, that what the masses care about are good applications, not ideals about software.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Horns

    kettle, thou art black

    This is mere FUD.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Horns

    Mono & GIMP

    GIMP - I use it all the time - better than CorelDRAW (IMHO), which I used to use. You have to download all the extras, though.

    I'm with Stallman on the C#/Mono problem. Methinks Ballmer has a carefully constructed "Tojan" strategy. I think his tactics go so far as to include paying people off to lobby for Mono use in various Linux distros (most successfully in Novell's OpenSUSE) and also to promote Mono use through Linux articles (have you read the ones that 'spin' the issue and basically lie about legal status of Mono, Moonlight et al. - I say lie because what they sometimes write is strongly contradicted by articles from GrokLaw and the Software Freedom Law Center and I can't believe that knowledgeable authors aren't aware of the issues).

    There's no way in hell that I'm using Mono or Moonlight, especially when there are better, free alternatives available.

  15. Maksim Rukov

    Not only C#...

    All those Linux types are going to miss out on Visual Basic.NET.

    I'm sure they're very distraught.

    I'll get Me.Coat.

  16. Paul 135
    Big Brother

    Stallman is a Commie b*stard

    Can we please have an icon for Tux the Penguin in communist regalia? It really is time for Stallman to stop spouting his nonsense, get his c# compiler out and come into the 21st century!

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I love the use of the word ‘probably’ – is it just me that thinks this has shades of the same logic used to justify ID cards and detention without trial – the possibility of bad things happening – ‘we must plan, now, for the worst possible thing to happen’.

    Granted, part of the issue is that we’re talking about Debian, rather than a more pragmatic Linux distribution, but . . . porting the app to C++??? It’s a good language for developing operating systems, or tuning performance critical parts of apps - but by now we really shouldn’t be developing GUI-based apps in it - not because it's a bad language, or that it's not capable of doing it, but because it's not the most effective for the job.

    At least the pro-Mono crowd are trying to drag app development somewhat out of the dark ages (although of course there are other choices – Java, PyQt, QtRuby, Shoes, etc – oh wait, isn’t Qt a problem package too?).

  18. Geoff Johnson


    To use on-line banking I had to install the user agent switcher plugin. The Debian bunch seem to like to put barriers in the way of mass adoption. But on the other hand it's about the most stable platform I've tried.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ah, rms, how we miss you

    and your insane zealotry.

    The bearded one may be right (I have doubts, but hey no-one's perfect) but he is just so fruity that he does the cause far more harm than good.

  20. northern monkey

    Oh come on!

    I'm as anti-MS as the next linux user, but as several people have pointed out C# is an open standard!

    Yes, microsoft can create their own flavour (as they did with C++ :P ) but the current version will remain - that's not going to affect tomboy, and mono will still work for legacy apps (indeed perhaps it could become the only platform on which legacy .NET apps will run).

    And personally I'm a C++ programmer most of the time but I've dabbled in C# (including .NET on mono) and I've not found it an unpleasant experience - in fact I've found it particularly easy!

  21. FJTA

    The mistake of anti-microsoft people

    I wonder on why linux people see a lot of hide intentions and a lot of problems in .NET and C# that are IEEE open submitted standards and don't see any problem in Java that is a SUN Microsystems (may be Oracle) propietary standard and that in fact is putting his lawyers against the OpenJava comunity.

    This seems an irrational campaign against the competitors of Java and it could have obscure hiden intentions.

    ¿Why don't you let anyone use whatever they want? because, in my opinion, the risk are much more higher in the SUN/Oracle/Java side than in the .NET side.

  22. Francis Irving

    Blackmail and patent pools

    Why is Stallman letting the open source community be blackmailed by Microsoft - shouldn't an open source patent pool be defending us against this kind of threat by now?

    Meanwhile, everyone continues to migrate to proprietary applications on the web (how many hackers do you know who would never use closed-source Outlook, but love closed-source GMail?), and basic features like suspend/resume continue not to be certified for Linux on common laptops (the Unix geeks I know seem to be slowly but surely fleeing to OSX).

    I guess on the plus side the claim is that Google Wave is going to be open source, and perhaps we can all use open source Android on our laptops soon.

  23. James Hughes 1

    I'm with AC

    C# is a published standard - so you can write something like mono with out fear of MS stomping. However, Stallman talks about patents so presumably there are a number of MS patents that prevent anyone from writing something like Mono without contravention of said patents.

    So, the question people should be asking is. WHICH PATENTS IS HE TALKING ABOUT?

  24. Doug Glass

    @Anonymous Hero

    Holy frakk AH (nothing similar implied) you actually did your home work, stated your position and cited references. Even if one disagrees with your position (I don't) you put down all the right pieces. Rare these days when ranters and ravers seem to prevail and articles are written by largely uninformed and poorly [journalistically] educated web authors.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Horns


    "Mono could be Linux' saviour"

    This is a joke right?

    In case you haven't noticed, Linux doesn't need a saviour!!!

    It doesn't need to make sense to you, or make headway on the desktop market, or anything like that. It has already achieved and surpassed its original goals by light years. Now it is your choice, without which you could have been stuck with a £500 Vista Home edition and an inferior to today's C# language. Don't you get it?

  26. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge

    Standards CAN be encumbered with patents

    An ECMA or ISO standard can certainly be encumbered with patents, although there is a demand for fair and equal licencing terms (from Microsoft (??): track record, anyone )

  27. Neil C Smith

    @Paul 135

    Whatever your opinion of RMS, calling him Communist is just plain wrong. I'm fed up of hearing this argument about free software - these ideals have more in common with Liberalism (the proper European kind, not what Amercans think it means!) and Libertarianism. Me thinks you're barking up the wrong side of the political tree!

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Open standard !=> patent free

    > C# is an open standard!

    The fact that something is an open standard does not mean that it is patent free. Look for example at MPEG4: it is a standard codified by ISO, yet anyone implementing it must license numerous patents from the MPEG licensing authority.

    (There are some standards bodies that insist that contributions are not patent-encumbered. I think W3C is one. But even that does not guarantee that a 3rd party does not hold a "submarine" patent.)

    Debian has lots of peculiar software, and I don't mind them having Mono and Tomboy available. But I really don't want to find that Mono is installed in any sort of default configuration, or is a dependency for e.g. Gnome.

    Here's some more in-depth coverage:

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ Maksim Rukov

    "All those Linux types are going to miss out on Visual Basic.NET."

    Actually there is already a very feature complete VB.Net compiler for Linux under Mono (it works surprisingly well, too). Supports all the usual guff including the winforms interface (ugh), GtK, Glade and ADO.

    Although, like you, I don't know why anyone would choose it in absolute preference over C#. In comparing the two, C# definitely results in less code verbosity. Line for line, there's no speed difference between them though, of course.

  30. Greg J Preece

    @Geoff Johnson

    You not being able to use Iceweasel for online banking without a user-agent switcher is not the fault of Debian - it's the fault of your bank. If they had techies that weren't so incompetent, you'd be able to access it in anything.

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Michael H.F. Wilkinson

    "Standards CAN be encumbered with patents"

    If so, do they have to say that in the standard?

  32. David Webb
    Gates Halo

    I'm a title

    I think the issue with patents is basically a Windows only problem. .NET on windows does use propriatary technology in the dll's and, which are all Windows based and not really applicable to Linux, yep?

    If MS does have patents with Mono and allow it to become an open standard (which by the looks of it, they are) then they cannot suddenly say "ok, its a patent, pay us!" because it isn't allowed to develop a standard with the intention of later on, pouncing (see Qualcomm was it? And their attempt to have their own patents shoved into an open standard so they could troll it later)

    Personally I like C#, its very easy to use, easy to learn, versatile and works with Visual Studio 2008. If people do not wish to use mono on Linux, then that is their choice, and it shouldn't be forced on them, so yeah, maybe it shouldn't be installed by default, but by user choice.

  33. Fred 24

    If in doubt - Delete:

    sudo apt-get remove mono-common

    followed by:

    rm -fr mono

    To completely remove mono and the packages that depend on it;


    sudo apt-get remove --purge mono-common libmono0

    sudo apt-get --purge autoremove

    Job done, time for a brew!

  34. Dazed and Confused

    Standard you say? Rambus I respond

    Since the Obama administration has recently decided that it is OK for a company to secretly insert IP they've patented into an "open standard" and then turn around and sue everyones arses off. I can't see RMS swallowing that one.

  35. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge

    @ Maksim Rukov, Re VB.Net

    No, I doubt many Linux users will be distraught about missing out on VB.Net, but Linux users will be missing out on using VB.Net applications of which some may be useful.

    I know it's compulsory to knock VB.Net for any number of reasons but, as already noted, end-users who aren't geeks and want pre-build binaries which are install-and-go really don't care about what language is used by the developers, they only care that it runs and does the job its advertised for.

    For historical reasons I've got many VB and VB.Net apps which work just fine for the majority of users in my market and would run fine on Linux and Mac if those platforms supported execution. I'll be buggered though if I'm going to spend any time re-writing code, debugging and testing just to gain an extra few percent market share for tools which are mostly provided free to users.

    I call it pragmatism; 90%+ of my potential users do or can run my programs. I'd use Linux if it supported VB.Net and support my code for those users too. If 'Linux' wants to run my code as is then fine by me, if Linux users want to pay for my development effort to port the code that's equally fine. If neither happens that's also fine, it's their choice. Welcome to the real world.

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Mono is just not liked in Linux

    It is clunky, and there is not much that useful that uses .NET.

    I think the people behind Mono were some startup ISP who thought people might wish to run .Net web apps, but come on, those are the worse lot on the web.

  37. Mark 65

    A title is required.

    I know many have stated they don't like .Net, or Mono, or C#, or that Linux doesn't need to make it on the desktop but if (and it's doubtless a big if) C# and Mono can be implemented in Linux free of IP claims from MS then Linux will have yet another string to it's bow in displacing Windows. Corporates tend to write their clients in .Net although the server side may well be Java or anything else.

    I started off coding Java but over recent years moved to C# and can't fault it - bizarre considering where it came from but there you go.

  38. Anonymous Coward


    It'd only be a danger if Mono was actually useful. As of now it runs jack shit. Well, OK, you can run a simple "Hello World" application. But how useful is that?

    Quite why Debian would want to include this utter abortion of a project is beyond me. It's a royal pain in the ass to set-up (assuming, like me, you are stupid enough to try) and after a day or so of figuring out how it handles registry settings (badly, as it happens) you'll find out that as your application is actually functional, Mono cannot support it.

    Mono is (like Linux) a niche for geeks and not practical for the real world.

  39. Steve Bush

    long term c# is another distraction, like java

    C++ is on a roll these days with a truly usable free cross platform IDE from Nokia/Qt creator. Java is a fat pig, lost its thrust a while ago is just coasting up in a parabola now soon to start its downward decline just like cobol did in the days of yore. C is the unchangable rock and C++ looking like its unshakable coating that makes it usable by ordinary mortals. The idea of teaching C++ programmers to stay away from the C bits makes C++ a usable language. If something doesnt have multiple implementations then it will NOT stand the test of time. Invest your time in C++. It will be around for 50 years.

  40. Neil Stansbury

    So use JavaScript....

  41. W

    @AC re: MEDUSA from CAD Schroer

    Cheers - thanks for the heads up. Looks interesting, so I'll be having a play with that later on.

  42. Peter Bradley

    There is a reason

    Yep, there is a reason why many places choose Java and/or .NET over C++.

    I write mainly Web applications using ASP.NET as the front end and .NET Remoting using the Web server as the client and an application server as the server. The database server is pretty much always somewhere else again. These applications don't care whether the Web server is IIS or Apache compiled with mod_mono: nor do they care whether the app server is running Windows 2003 or Linux - just as long as there is a suitable VM installed. So far, I've had no problems with that - although we're now moving to WCF and I don't think mono's caught up to that yet.

    The same applies to Java. As long as there's a suitable JVM, the application will run.

    Now it is admittedly a long time since I did any C++, but I hate to t hink what I would have had to do to build similar applications in that language. Perhaps things have moved on, but I've not heard anyone talk about C++ remoting frameworks or serialisers and so on. And I'm not aware of C++ being capable of transfer to other platforms where it will just run without recompilation.

    Supporting multiple versions of a product for different platforms is expensive.

    And finally, there are some very fine .NET byte-code to Java byte-code translators out there. I don't see why these couldn't be used to port .NET programs to Java should MS ever come on strong over patents.

    Just some random and perhaps not very well thought out musings: but I thought I ought to enter them into the arena, at least.


    Peredur ab Efrawg

  43. ElReg!comments!Pierre

    @ Francis Irving -and others

    Your comment is fail upon fail upon fail

    "Why is Stallman letting the open source community be blackmailed by Microsoft - shouldn't an open source patent pool be defending us against this kind of threat by now?"

    Hey, let's take the chance of being sued to oblivion, we might be able to retaliate? What kind of logic is that?

    "Meanwhile, everyone continues to migrate to proprietary applications on the web (how many hackers do you know who would never use closed-source Outlook, but love closed-source GMail?)"

    I think you made a typo somewhere, but I get the idea. You're comparing a proprietary "cloud" application built on open software with a proprietary desktop client (which is dreadful, btw) built on proprietary software. How can you draw the conclusion you seem to draw, the mind boggles. And no tech-literate person in their right mind would use Outlook. GMail is not advised, but almost OK for the most mundane stuff (no, I don't use it). So to your question ("how many hackers wouldn't touch Outlook with a bargepole but would consider using GMail"), the answer is: plenty. A metric fuckton, I would say. Most of them actually.

    "and basic features like suspend/resume continue not to be certified for Linux on common laptops"

    I don't understand what you mean by "certified", but hibernate and suspend work well in Linux on every laptop I've come by.

    "(the Unix geeks I know seem to be slowly but surely fleeing to OSX)."

    You know UNIX geeks that are not very representative of the UNIX geeks community then. Especially if they are fleeing because they can't get hibernate to work on their Linux laptop. But maybe by "UNIX geek" you really mean "Windows user who fled Vista and used Ubuntu once"?

    And (to others) yes, published standards apparently can still be patented. Everyone can build a compiler, but MS can pull the plug at any time. It can be in 2 month or in 20 years (see TomTom), but they can. Actually the problem is not monetary. It's just that despite what MS tries to make you believe, C# is not, and will never be, an "open" thing. It is open as long as MS lets it open, which is the very definition of "proprietary". As such, no C# compiler should be included in free software packages. I don't see a problem with Mono going in the "non-free" Debian repositories, but I would certainly not code open source stuff in C#.

  44. OkKTY8KK5U

    In the end, does it matter?

    Whether or not C# is a Microsoft trap, the impression I get is that it's just generally an easier language to program in than many of the available alternatives. And although I do think Richard Stallman is usually right, in a technical sense, he also doesn't live in the real world and, unlike most of us who work for a living, has no actual responsibilities. So he can afford to be technically right in an intellectual vacuum.

    Back in the real world, people are going to do whatever seems to provide the best result for the least effort. I'm a linux user myself. But I don't kid myself into thinking that most people would want to put up with the annoyances necessary to get basic things working; a casual stroll through the Ubuntu support forums really ought to be sufficient proof. Many people use Windows because it gets enough done for sufficiently minimal effort, irrespective of how much Windows sucks.

    And the linux community as a whole needs to understand that real people have different priorities from geeks whose idea of a good time is spending a weekend solving command-line riddles or optimizing loops. I personally avoid anything that has been touched by C#, but again back in the real world, people are going to use it because, from their perspective, it's a better solution to their problems and arcane hypothetical patent issues simply aren't going to be deemed relevant. And like it or not, that's just how it is...

  45. Ed Blackshaw Silver badge

    @Nexox Enigma

    It's not helped by the fact that the man also looks more than a little crazy, bless him. He is, of course, entirely correct however.

  46. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Isn't this in some ways an opportunity to effectively take C# away from Microsoft?

  47. Martin Usher

    Its the libraries....

    The language is nothing, its just a language. The critical part - and why someone would want to write in 'X' rather than 'Y' - is the library support. This is where the trap will be -- if you recall back when Microsoft was trying to take over Java it wasn't the language they messed with, they just added extensions that made writing for Windows machines a bit easier....

  48. CoderX

    Stallman needs to join the real world

    Stallman needs to get a grip on reality. He has been out of touch for so long that he's become a joke. Personally I think that the GPL is the worst software license ever written. I'm all in favor of open-source, but GPL is viral-source.

    But I diverge. Let's examine the C#/Mono situation for a moment shall we?

    Ever heard of this little project called Silverlight Stallman? MS is putting a lot of horses on that wagon. And do you know how they are supporting the *nix community? By putting their full stamp of approval and backing on the Moonlight project. Do you know what the heart of Moonlight is? Yup, Mono and C#. If MS decided to pull the plug on Mono/C# they would be cutting their own throat. That is not going to happen.

    Stallman, you need to realize that the culture at MS is changing, and support for open source is part of that change. By posting this nonsense you just egg MS on to do the wrong thing and pull the plug. Don't be an idiot!

  49. Francis Fish

    C# is ripped-off Java

    Remember those interminable lawsuits between Sun and MS?

    So why not just use Java?

    If Java sucks (for endless reasons of being low level and only having half an object model blah blah) so does C# - same basic design, same flaws, same bloat.

  50. Aitor 1


    Most users really don't care about the programming language. And they shouldn't.

    As for it being a danger to Debian, it really is. You would not include a pillar in your building if you are not sure you own it, and maybe you should stop using it, as you will certainly build on it.. and the same goes to C#. But it is a really good idea to include it as a "non-free" part, and kudos for the mono project builders.

    As for WCF, I am sorry to report that last time I checked, there was no support, and no near timeframe for it..

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