Open Ballot: Should we embrace Microsoft's open source work?


Want to contribute your views to our podcast? Sure you do, and here's your chance to have a say: do you think we should embrace Microsoft's new-found open source policies, or should we keep them at arm's length? Recently Microsoft has announced the CodePlex Foundation for supporting its own open source code, it has contributed code to the Linux kernel, it has announced that .NET is available under its community promise, and much more. Should we be afraid, or should be happy to take support and code from anywhere as long as it's open?

Our usual Open Ballot rules apply: please state either "yes" or "no" backed up by some sort of cogent reasoning, and give yourself a name that's a bit more original than Anonymous Penguin otherwise we're quite likely - no, very likely - to ignore your intellectual meanderings.

NB: our podcast will be coming out on Thursday this week rather than Wednesday. Can you hold out that long? Can you?

You should follow us on or Twitter

Your comments


Why would anyone work for a multinational company for free?

really though, who will benefit from this move the most?
will I? average Joe computer user get a better operating system out of it. will it add anything to my already great OS?

Maybe. I agree in principle

Maybe. I agree in principle that it shouldn't matter where good code comes from as long as it's all legally sound, but I just can't implicitly trust Microsoft. Only if we can be sure their code will be of a genuine benefit to users, rather than a political trick for their own benefit. We have to expect them to play dirty.

Absolutley Not

Not just no, but h*ll no! Redmond has long ago proven that they can't be trusted and over something this potentially fatal to linux, I would err on the side of caution. A thousand times NO.

The question is..


yes, no, it doesn't matter

I don't think the question is that intresting since MS hardly will do anything to contribute to the success of linux. Maybe they will oss some of their tech to get more developers into their stuff and they have all the right to do so. They are shifting and need to do so but it will take time, a lot of time but the fact is that their buisseness model is doomed.

I agree that ant code from them should be analyzed well but I can't find them more "evil" than other companies of that size (IBM).
It's funny that some people find MS evil and happily use apples stuff.
It's also intresting to see that Sun is supposed to be so good but are almost stopping progerss of Ooo to the degree that go-oo is now the standard.


Don't trust them. No! No! No!

It all comes down to licencing. If Microsoft were intending to go truly open source, other programs would have been released under GPL.
As long as one of their products is Licenced... they are all licenced where open sourced or not.

NO means NO

take a look at MS-java, MS-html, ... you knows that the MS guys has the completely opposite dictionary to normals, as we says "open" means "open", MS says "open" means "damn close"

NO means NO and i double that

No. We don't need Microsoft, we're fine without them. There's no reason to take the risk.

And just one more thing, we don't need Steve Ballmer the clown .


According to much legal analysis I have read, when the Supreme Court hears Bilski, there will be significant restrictions places on software patents. ( Meaning that legal analysts who have observed the court dealings with patents seem to feel that the court has anti software patent leanings. How the court will actually decide won't be known till they decide. )

Should Bilski, for example, completely ban software patents, then a lot of MS's anti linux strategy is blown out of the water. MS can then chose to slink away with it's tail between it's legs, or it can decide to get really nasty, Netscape style.

So when Bilski comes down, be prepared to reargue this whole topic.

When will we learn

You fool me once, damn you.
You fool me twice, damn me.

It will be absolute ignorance of evidence, if we choose to believe them, again.


No. To me it seems like another marketing ploy to expand it's audience. I would hate to see the Linux community become reliant on Microsoft. I know that's a long way off, but still....

Why mono?

A brief diversion from the debate into a very related subject.
I'll split this post up into two, a look why mono even exists in this part and a separate post with a suggested topic for a future podcast.

In this post I will focus on why mono was created.

1. Getting a language which has proprietary components accepted by a standards committee is hard. Sun tried but just couldn't give up enough control. So you have to believe that either MS was more willing to give up control than Sun, something unlikely at the time, or MS was expecting to get some kind of compensation, what was it?

2. As everyone knows C# is just a MS rippoff of java, but MS did not just copy java and change something here and something there. They basically started over, rewriting java with significant changes which they say ( arguably ) make the language better. So why did De Icaza just *copy* C#. Why not start over and make even better improvements.

By not tying his CLI to MS's CLI, he could have had a head start by taking one of several OSS VMs out there. He had plenty to choose from: Perl,Python, Ruby ( though I'm not sure how solid these are as VMs independent of the language ), Squeak ( Smalltalk ), Gnu Smalltalk, CLisp, SBCL/CMULisp,
one of several thousand Scheme VMs ( after all at some Universities, it is virtual a requirement that your Master's Thesis includes a new Scheme compiler, most of those are GPLed ). Not only would he have a head start on the VM, but there would be fewer patent concerns. After all it's hard to argue it's not prior art if it's in the original VM!

Then take C#, rewrite it adding bits of Smalltalk, Eiffel,Lisp etc. pr4oduce a better language then C#. So why didn't he?

Why mono? Pt II

An idea for a topic,
Why mono?
More specifically.
What technical reasons lead you to chose mono as your programming language?

Learning C# has been something I've been debating for a while now. one of the biggest minuses has been the shadow of incurring legal problems, but the biggest question I have is: "do I gain anything?".

It takes a big investment to learn a language, so what technical reasons are there for using it,and please... I know the temptation to spout cliches, I fall into it myself. So please stay away from "it's a better language", or "Python uses underscores". ( I hate underscores myself, that's one reason why I use Ruby for my scripting needs. )

Also, why not chose another language, say Eiffel? ( Hey it's in your list of 100 great programs or whatever, sorry it's late ).

Thanks Guys

RE: Microsoft is no ... "legally-binding"ness

I see you put "legally-binding" in CAPITOL LETTERS. So I guess it must be legally binding. Ehh... maybe not.

You are a lawyer? You consulted a lawyer about this?
You found a web site where a lawyer gives his opinion that it is legally binding? What's the legal theory that makes it binding? The "liar liar pants on fire" theory?

All I found was Peter Galli announcing the CP and then claiming it was legally binding. Microsoft has a site with the promise claiming it is legally binding because they use the word "irrevocably". Right, that really reassures me.

I don't know that it is not legally binding, but until I see some legal opinion that says it is, I prefer to err on the side that definitely keeps me from getting sued by MS ie the
page is not legally binding.

Wow this discussion could last...

as long as my gestation period.

Regardless of Mono, Microsoft is no threat to FOSS

Here's a brief lesson in law that no one needs to be a lawyer to understand: In most jurisdictions, including American Law (which Microsoft is bound by), if you sign a document claiming you will do something, you have to do it. That's what a contract is - a document LEGALLY BINDING you to do something, or to not do something. And yes, I use capital letters for emphasis. It's not to pretend I know more, it's to EMPHASIZE THINGS.

It still stands that Microsoft is no threat to FOSS.

"As for OSS being a different animal. No not really. How popular has FreeBSD been? How about APL? Once software stops becoming popular it's very hard to regain it's popularity. "

Really? Because if you look at it that way, Microsoft already won. I hope I'm don't sound like I'm mocking you, but I think you're coming across as awfully pessimistic. Linux is not popular at all. We have nowhere to go but up!

"If linux were to suffer a major blow setting it back five years, it would take more than twenty to get back to the point it is now."
The reason why I don't agree with that is because has no basis in fact, only speculation. What constitutes setting Linux "back five years"? If you mean popularity, that wouldn't mean much. Linux has less than 1% of the entire desktop computing landscape. And why would it take twenty years to get back to that point? Once again, something entirely speculated. If Linux ever even comes CLOSE to the pathetic 9% or so that Apple has, it will be an amazing breakthrough.

Dissent, I might add, is something that drives Linux. Some people think everything should be compiled from source for customization (Gentoo), others think everything should be entirely free, including source (gNewSense), and others still think that it should just be easy to use and don't care what it takes to do that (Ubuntu). The power of Open Source is that there doesn't ever have to be unanimous agreement. If Mono becomes a dangerous dependency, any intelligent distro-maker will ditch it, regardless of popularity. The top priority of a distro is to exist - that's an important thing to remember.

Lastly, Linux is not a business - at least not in the grand scheme of things. The GNU/Linux thing is a project, and no amount of corporate scheming by Microsoft can get rid of all Linux and/or FOSS developers. Like I said, Open Source means infinite developers.

However, in the interest of avoiding my possibly poorly-chosen words escalating a flame war, I think I'll withdraw from further discussion. I apologize if you have further rebuttal, but I think I've expressed all the opinions I need to express. I have no further interest in annoying you or others.

Why do we need to

Surely we should decide whether or not to use open source from a company because of whether or not it's good software. If Microsoft have genuinely released good open source software then why shouldn't we use it.

>If Microsoft have genuinely

>If Microsoft have genuinely released good open source software then why shouldn't we use it.

If they ever release genuinely good software (which C# isn't), and if they ever make something open source (which they haven't, with any technology related to C#) then this question will become relevant. Until then, _I_ think you can get ELEVEN angels to dance on that pin.

Embrace - no. But -

There will be no embracing their open source work, but it will be accepted as a contribution, because it is of use to us. There are two sides to embracing, and MS will never, not ever, be a part of the community.
But their contributions can be useful. Let's just accept them.


M$ is not gonna turn philanthropic corporate will for that matter and with M$ admitting Linux as a viable threat it will be a leap of faith....:p

RE: Regardless of Mono, ...

Before I begin, I think I owe Mike_IronFist an apology. I assumed that he knew that using capitalized words on the internet was *rude* and that my response was a mild rebuke, using sarcasm as a gentle way of calling him an obnoxious twit. Obviously he did not understand this. So Mike, I am sorry for overestimating your intelligence, I will try not to do it again.

Are you living in the US? If so I suggest you go to the nearest community college, university, law school etc... and take a course on remedial American law. Do this immediately before you accidentally break some law. If you are so dumb ( and I am sorry there is gentler way of putting this, but it is just plain dumb ), as to believe that "if you sign a document claiming you will do something, you have to do it".

So let me begin my list of times when the statement is not true. The first example, a cousin writes to me. In his letter he says he has almost saved up to start his own business, he just needs the last $20,000. So you write him a letter telling him you will loan him the money. You get sick, have huge hospital bills and simply no longer afford to loan him the money. There is no judge that will force you to do "something you claimed you would do".

But I don't really want to rely on an example, they often seem contrived in retrospect. So some times when your statement about "signed documents" is not true. The first that comes to is when the person is under age ( under 18 ). The second is when the person is suffering from some mental impairment. The third is when the person is drunk or high. ( OK. Technically that might fall under mental impairment but I want to distinguish this from physical impairments. ) Another is when a person is under duress.

Even if a judge decides that you were fit to sign the document, there are still conditions where "if you sign a document claiming you will do something, you have to do it" is not true. What if you claimed you never signed, that the signature is a phony, or that you were drunk at the time. A document has to at least be witnessed, and preferably notarized.

But all this discussion about whether "if you sign a document claiming you will do something, you have to do it" is true, is pointless. Why? Because no one has shown us a signed document. Have you seen it? Do you have a picture of it. If so put it up on some image site so we can all see it and rest a little easier. ( Never mind all the legal loopholes in the document ).

Oh and by the way, as to your statement "That's what a contract is ". Let's be clear, whatever the CP is it is *not* a contract. A contract is an agreement between two people. This is some sort of unilateral declaration. Shoot it doesn't even have an "I agree" button. ( OK. That's sarcasm. )

As for your really, really stupid claim that Linux has "nowhere to go but up!". Well I've used linux since the 0.9 kernel ( I think, I would have to check my Walnut Creek CDs which I have somewhere ). I bet you have never modified your XFree86.conf ( is that what it was called? I forget.) file by hand. You have never spent countless hours doing dejanews searches to find the patch to one of the network card drivers that you needed to get it to work. You have never had to use anything like olwm as you window manager. You've probably always had kde,gnome and xfce. Well I've seen where Linux comes from, and I know that there is a long, long way down.

And if ever Linux falls, yes the pieces will all be there, but who will put them back together? Like it or not, Linux is a business. It is a business to Canonical, Google, IBM, Intel, Novell, Redhat and countless more. They have put in a lot of time, and money expecting to make it back. The majority of developers are paid by these companies to develop Linux, and Linux benefits greatly from their contribution.

What do you think will happen to Android if suddenly cell phone makers decide not to use it because they are scared of being sued? Do you think Google will still pay to maintain it? And if they don't, what do you think will happen to Android when new cell phone hardware comes out and the stuff Android runs on will become obsolete?

Do you think Canonical will still develop Ubuntu if companies will not install it because they are scared of being sued? If they don't what will happen when new graphics cards, sound cards, network cards and mobos replace old ones. Will people still maintain and use linux in ten years time if the only way to run linux is on five year old computers?

Finally, I don't think that it is pessimistic at all to consider ways that MS might screw Linux. No more then it is pessimistic to not leave your children alone with a convicted child molester, or to place a camera to record the register of an employee who has been convicted of stealing from their employer. It is a part of the question of trusting Microsoft, especial when senior executives have publicly stated that it is part of their goal to destroy Linux

To the guys.

Good luck with your podcast. It should be an interesting one ( But then when are they not? )

I hope that the debate over what is a minor point, namely whether or not the CP is legally binding, does not distract you from my point about Bilski, or the points I brought up in my first post. I also hope you take up my suggestion to have a podcast discussing technical reasons for and against using Mono ( rather then legal arguments or statements like "it's cool" ).

I think one thing that is become clearer is that age plays a great role in your willingness to trust MS, and that those who are older have seen not only what MS can do, but also seen the beliefs of the people who set the policy at MS.
It occurs to me that many of the people willing to trust MS have not seen it's behavior when it was not under the consent decree.

MS did not like being sued, and it really, really didn't like the order to break it up. Most take it for granted that when MS comes out from the consent decree, it will not be sued by the US government for a long, long time, but you can bet that while they are under that consent decree, MS is going to do it's best to get out from under it. So these people have only seen MS at it's best behavior. When the consent decree runs out, we may see a leaner meaner MS, and we should be prepared for it.

In the last few days, between Mark Shuttleworth's "sexist" speech and this discussion, I have seen how far Linux has come and gotten a brief glimpse of how far it can go, and people are right, there are some fundamental differences between Linux and previous threats to MS's existence. But those differences are not enough to prevent the destruction of Linux if MS decides to kill it and we are not alert to that fact. To paraphrase the US Founding Fathers, " the price of existence is eternal vigilence".

PS, sorry

i forgot to add that it's time for me to get away for a short while, before the feministics come along and get bother with me calling you guys "the guys" instead of "The guys and women". oh and never "the guys and girls".


Not embrace - tolerate and see what is in for us. Never ever rely on MS - use them but don't expect anything good. They are out to kill open source!


One word: No.


I'm voting YES. As mentioned before, it's not like EVERYONE over at MS is evil. It's the PR guys who might be, but any helpful open-source contribution from anyone is appreciated.

Extend and embrace or whatever isn't possible. If MS is going to sue over code "that was stolen from them" when they themselves contributed it, it's easily proven or at least easily removed from the codebase.

"Why would anyone work for a multinational company for free?"
There are plenty of paid open-source developers.

(Heh, my Captcha tells me to "get ripsaws".)

BubbaT is a Troll

Well, thank you for your rational, respectable, non-ad-hominem attacks, your level-headed responses, and your complete respect for the person you are talking to!

Let me just say, it's rare to find someone on the internet who respects an opinion contrary to theirs with as much emphasis on being levelheaded and mature as you!

Thank you for NOT flaming me, for NOT attacking me on a personal level, and most of all, and your complete usage of what I said, in context!

Of course I'm being sarcastic, you were a total you-know-what right now and you should learn a thing or two about manners.

I'm sorry my singular capitalized words seems to count as shouting to you, when in their context they clearly aren't.

As for all of your flametard B.S. about "You never had to live life without XFCE or GNOME or KDE or blahblahblah". I was talking about Linux popularity, and you were talking about Linux technology. You completely mashed my arguments together, quote-mined me, and outright ignored the REAL POINT that I was making.

You may think differently than me, but does that give you the right to assault my person? Me, a person you have never met before? I think not.

Oh wait! I forgot! I "corrected" you about one thing! I called the agreement "Legally binding". And you threw a fit about it! You're such an arrogant little child! You can't take being contradicted by someone else! And so you respond by calling me an obnoxious twit? Referring to my feelings about Linux user ratio as "really really stupid"?

All of my attempts to be levelheaded and rational with you destroyed in one fell swoop of you freaking out because I said something contrary to what you believed. Wow.

What kind of shallow life do you lead to continue feeding on conflict even after the opposing party backs down? Do you NEED to feel better than others by insulting them and bragging about how you used to use buggy, difficult software? If so, you're a pathetic excuse for a human being.

You're also far too old to be flaming the comment section of a Linux podcast site. Good Day.


Not while Ballmer is in charge. His views on the Linux "cancer" are well known.

Greatest Trick

The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he doesn't exist.

That's not to say he does though.

Mix n' Match!

No! Because in the past (Yesterday onwards...) M/soft offered the hand of friendship only to bite the hand it grasped and try to slap a patent clause or injunction onto an unwary 'Open Source' colleague.

May I draw your attention to a saying I use occasionally:

"Judge not the Serpent by the lustre of his skin, only the beauty shows without, the danger hides within! (M.Shepherd)

Anonymous Penguin.

Dont' through out the baby with the bath water.

Open source is good regardless of who is making the contribution. If I were to endorse the comments against accepting Microsoft's contribution, it would have nothing to do with the fact that the contribution was being made by Microsoft.

I am confident that the powers that be in Linuxdom are competent to assess the contribution, so if they have no problem with it, neither do I.


Many people see this as some kind of break through or Microsoft trying to play nice or even help open source software. But the truth of the matter is Microsoft are just covering their own rear.

The open source efforts Microsoft have made to date are all about staying relevant. In particular Microsoft needs to stop it's Windows platform from becoming irrelevant. If the future is open source for ISVs then Microsoft wants that open source software running on it's closed source Windows platform.

That is the simple truth of the matter. Microsofts open source foundation is a business tool. Nothing more. It's not a kind gesture or a break through or anything else. It's just a business tool to maintain Microsoft Windows lock-in.

Remember if people and businesses abandon Windows for Linux, then they'll also likely abandon Microsofts other big cash cow. Office. Office doesn't run natively on Linux and has mixed results running via compatibility layers like WINE or Lin4Win.

It's no exaggeration to say a serious shift away from Windows, which is happening in some parts of the world, is a serious threat to the Microsoft business model.

BTW, I don't think Microsoft are evil. I certainly don't like their business practices. But that's not why I switched to Linux. I switched because I got sick of BSODs in XP and really didn't want to sacrifice my PC to Vista. And then there was the whole activation issue. I moved basically because I get a much better, easier, hassle free service with Ubuntu. And I'm not treated like a criminal by default.

Past Experience

From having worked with MS in the past, I get the creepy feeling that they are out for any advantage they can get and use over the competition. They have been heavy handed with customers and want big profits at any expense.

For those who think they are wonderful, I give only a "good luck wish" as it is only a matter of time before they will show their true colors. Open source will never be their true colors.


All this continued bantering about Microsoft and the evil empire is getting quite old, quite fast and is really a major turn off where consideration of Linux is concerned. Why do you nut-cases constantly shoot Linux in the foot and hamper its acceptance with such comments? Don't you think its about time you grow up?

Please edit

This thread is unrestricted. The last comment though needs to be edited even the the poster is entitled to his opinion.

In Some Cases...

This is both a yes and a no.

While it's great that Microsoft is helping Linux out by contributing to it in many ways, it seems more of a scheme rather than a commitment.

When Novell made a partnership with them to allow their root certificates to be used in Linux what appeared in SUSE was true, but some sources claim there's a deal within the partnership to stop Novell from throwing aggressive patents and things against them and windows.

while Red hat had made and signed a legally binding pact with Microsoft to improve and expand sever virtualisation interoperability between windows and Linux, red hat is occasionally fighting back against Microsoft (e.g. red hat developer summit they said not to be dragged in by Microsoft's azure cloud network)

Canonical Still thinks Microsoft is up to tricks with mark shuttleworth saying that (quote) 'We have declined to discuss any agreement with Microsoft under the threat of unspecified patent infringements.'

Either We do A) let Microsoft help, because the freedom we follow and believe in permits this. or B) We exclude Microsoft from using open source and treat them like the vile arch-nemesis we see them as.

Way To Much Paranoia In Penguin Land

That other poster was right. You ARE nut-cases and your continual paranoia with Microsoft proves it. No wonder Linux gets a bum rap with the likes of you folks making such paranoid and asinine comments about Microsoft every chance you get. He's right! You DO need to grow up!

my head says yes

But my heart says no...
I don't trust Microparp but if Linus and co say yes, who am I to argue


No. Microsoft systems... just LOOK at them. They're buggy, they're slow, they're giving loads of errors. I would be unhappy if my Linux'd act like zat.

Uhh... No...

While the very spirit of "open" means just that;
- open to change,
- open to opportunities,
- open to anyone,
- ...
I would have to be a bit skeptical of a company that has traditionally had a reputation for being less-than-open,
- defining (or redefining) things to their liking (read: advantage), and for trying to take control of all they touch.

We will simply have to wait and see what happens, be short-term;
- what they bring to the mix,
- the value it actually brings,
- ...
and long-term;
- what impact their actions have on others (direct or indirect), be it positive or negative,
- what "twists" come up (i.e. MS's definition of "open" may not be ours...)
- ...

Additional Comment...

Here is a thought... Take the "Windows 7 Sins" list to MS, and ask whatthey can do to address them. (or to put it another way; If MS wants to be part of the open world, then BE PART OF THE _OPEN_ WORLD...)

If MS is willing to make changes in their business practices/policies to show they are willing to accept what the open world has to offer, well then the open world needs to be willing to accept MS has to offer.

If, however, MS is NOT willing to make changes in their business practices/policies to show they are willing to accept what the open world has to offer, well then they should not be surprised if the open world is equally UNWILLING to accept what MS has to offer.

Either way, that would show how much - or little - they they really are serious about accepting open ideals, which may be the best indication of how willing the open world should be to accept MS.

BTW: My vote would be they can start with 3, since 3 is the one that would be most visible, and be seen almost immediately. All the others would take time to see proof of a real change.
My second vote would be 5, since that one seems to be the biggest "sin" against openness. However, as I said, 5 would be very hard to prove, since it will take a very long time to see the proof (or more to the point, see the proof that they really intend to STAY on the open track by doing so...).

Yes, and...

...after doing that, take the pants down, bend over and whisper to Steve Ballmer: "I'm all yours".

C'mon! Only a complete *IDIOT* would trust Microsoft!

Is it Greeks or Geeks?

beware of greeks bearing gifts

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.

Username:   Password: