Jun 29
Free Software I note that the controversy of Mono in Debian which reached fever pitch with the inclusion of Tomboy as part of the default Gnome applications rages on, and now RMS has entered the fray.

I respect Stallman a lot. I'm a fellow of FSFE. His positions are usually well thought and argued, though I can't say I agree with him on all of them, and I don't agree with this one.

On the issue of the plain usefulness of Mono apps; well some of them are just excellent. I use f-spot for managing my photo collection and have to say no other application I've used comes close. Tomboy is itself a considerable improvement on the almost useless sticky notes applet that's been in Gnome for some time; though I've yet to work out what minimum I need for ssh synchronization (to be fair, I've hardly tried).

And I should declare an interest. I thought Gnome-Do was absolutely excellent when I stumbled upon it, and I helped in a modest way to initially package it for Debian (specifically I updated the Ubuntu stuff for the plugins package and prepared that for its initial import to the archive), albeit I haven't worked on it since. It's fairly clear to me that implementing this in, for example, C++ looks like it could be a lot more work. I can't say I've studied it in total depth, but that was my feeling when working with the code.

Anyway, never mind all the issues of sheer practicality; Jo Shields of the Debian Mono team, wrote an excellent rebuttal to some of the nonsense that was posted about Mono. It makes excellent reading. It is calmly delivered (with an undertone of quite justified and controlled anger), carefully argued and a cautionary tale about some of the nonsense we in the Free Software community can get wrapped up in, it's value extends well beyond the current debacle.

Posted by Colin Turner

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  1. Peter Adams says:

    Supporters and proponents of closed source and proprietary software love this sort of thing. It backs up their arguments that the open source movement is full of disparity and unprofessionalism.

    The whole anti-mono argument stems from and justifies the bullying tactics that Microsoft et al are using to keep FOSS down. All large corporations need to do these days is send some lawyers to hang around anything they don't like the look of and it scares users away.

    It's not how you go about beating bullies.

  2. Colin Turner says:

    Yes, quite. Microsoft must get much satisfaction of just how childish we (in the free software community) have been to each other over this issue.

  3. Philip Herron says:

    Yeah its a bit of a mad topic, for a while i was like ehhh mono.. gross but tbh i dont mind anymore some people really like it. I dont think i would use it for my projects bit lazy to learn it atm. But Bradly Khun did a great blog post on it, he supported RMS in a way but yeah:

    its a good article i think :-)

  4. Colin Turner says:

    I take the point in the article, but as as been alluded to elsewhere, C (and of course Unix) have non free histories too, and almost all the grassroots free languages and OSs are implemented in C.

    For me the big problem with the Mono debate has been the tone, which has often been, well, disgraceful. We should be past petty name calling in our own community, but we aren't obviously...

  5. Marie says:

    Gnotes, Shotwell--there are always other options, so why use Mono at all? 8-)

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