[svlug] OMG! MS Goes Open Source

Rick Moen rick at svlug.org
Sat Nov 15 09:07:41 PST 2014

Scott wrote:

> If it wasn't spread all over LinkedIN and at my university, I probably
> would have missed it. Summing responses show many Microsoft fans are up
> in arms as if life is over as they know it and some Linux community are
> sketchy about what the catch is.
> http://www.linux.com/news/featured-blogs/158-jim-zemlin/795282-microsoft-appeals-to-developers-developers-developers
> http://www.linux.com/news/software/applications/795366-what-does-microsofts-love-mean-for-linux

Filling in some missing/vague details:

1.  The code drop consist at the moment of a few libraries related to 
server-side .NET ('.NET Core'), though the runtime and more libs will
follow soon.

2.  Licence applied to the code drop is the MIT X11 Licence, a simple, 
classic permissive licence with no patent language.  It should be noted that 
Mono (the pre-existing independent re-implementation of .NET for Linux and
other *ixes) is dual-licensed with some odd bits:  The Mono C# compiler and
tools are GPLv2 and MIT X11.  The Mono class libraries are MIT X11, and the
Mono runtime libraries are LGPL.  The code as currently released builds only
on MS-Windows, though this presumably will change over time.

3.  They say they're not _just_ doing a one-time code drop of a codebase, 
but rather will be using the public git repo as their main code repository
on an ongoing basis.  Time will tell about how open they are to outside 
contributions, particularly from unrelated parties.

4.  Patents are addressed in a separate 'patent promise', here:
Interested parties should read this document _very_ carefully to 
note what it addresses, and equally what it does not.

Patents are a big problem these days, and that's not largely not MIcrosoft
Corporation's fault, but people need to wary about the problem anyway.

At a quick glance, looks like a promise of patent peace towards reuse of
their code in _compliant_ .NET implementations, ones that pass whatever 
tests Microsoft specifies for a compatibility suite.  So, most particularly, 
variant forms of .NET or .NET-like things such as a hypothetical runtime
pared down for embedded use and deliberately omitting some functionality, 
would NOT be immunised against patent enforcement.  (This was of course the
hitch with Java and the Java Community Process, which set of restrictions
Google attempted to sidestep by creating Dalvik -- so the situation with
.NET Core is similar.)

> My word, then I would be you!
> (except follically challenged)

I'm sort of a franchise, anyway, rather like Dread Pirate Roberts.

(At the risk of mixing fictional worlds, I wonder what licence the Pirate
Code is issued under, and whether it includes a patent grant?  It might not
matter, as I hear the Code is morei of a series of guidelines, really.)

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