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What's Mono?

  Date: Dec 03    Category: Unix / Linux / Ubuntu    Views: 430

I have noticed quite a few references to Mono in relation to gnome and
ubuntu... Including mention to not install it. Could someone direct me to a
link or explain exactly what mono is? Most of my net searches have resulted
in little info other than seeing some dependecies in gnome for mono.



11 Answers Found

Answer #1    Answered On: Dec 03    

Mono is Microsoft's .NET implementation on Linux. It came to us via Miguel
de Icaza who worked for GNOME, Novell and some say for Microsoft. He has
been called a visionary by some and a sell out or even traitor to free
software (Richard Stallman called him that). He has also given us Moonlight
or Silverlight for Linux. There is a theme here.

Mono apps are written in C#, but .NET apps don't work directly with Linux,
as far as I know. There is also a Mono version for the Mac in the works but
Steve Jobs does not want it. He has come out against Monotouch for the

Many Linux hardliners take exception to Mono on the grounds that it comes
from Microsoft and Microsoft alleges that Linux infinges on its IP. Mono's
license is extremely complicated, as it is actually released in parts under
various licenses. You need a law degree to understand if it is legal to use
Mono. All Microsoft will say on the subject is that Novell users are
protected due to their licensing arrangement with Microsoft. This is the
same agreement that made Novell a Linux pariah.

This is just too convenient for MS. If we use Mono it only gives them more
grounds for continuing their FUD campaign against Linux. It is very divisive
in the Linux community and as such it suits their purposes to keep us
sniping at one another. This is the main reason that I oppose Mono and see
it as a poison pill. Stallman urges developers to shun Mono because MS can
pull the rug under their feet at their whim. Even de Icaza has been critical
of Microsoft for not backing Mono and encouraging developers to use it.

Common Mono apps are Banshee, Beagle, Docky, Drapes, F-spot, Giver,
Gnome-Do, Monotouch, Muine, Pinta, Second Life, and Tomboy. Parts of
Evolution and several other programmes require Mono as well. They are mostly
part of GNOME because Miguel de Icaza was a GNOME co-founder. KDE is
Mono-free, although you can install it if you want. It is impossible to
install most GNOME distributions without having Mono installed. You can
remove it but it will be installed by default. That is like a vegetarian
being given a dish which has veggies and meat and being told that you can
remove the meat. That is just not acceptable to some, me included. That is
why I use KDE. I have GNOME on my netbook, but I installed Kubuntu and then
added GNOME but removed Mono before it downloaded. It is a roundabout way to
resolve the issue, but it is better than compromising one's values.

Several distributions have gone Mono-free or at least do not install it by
default. Fedora is the biggest name, but GnewSense and several smaller
distributions do not use Mono. I think that Debian makes it available but
does not install it by default, but I am unsure of that one.

Each user needs to make up his or her own mind. It is not something that we
should ignore. Be informed and do what you think is right.

Answer #2    Answered On: Dec 03    

I had no idea. I think I am
with you on getting rid of it. The only thing I actually use on the list
you mentioned is Tomboy notes... But surely there must be a replacement for

Answer #3    Answered On: Dec 03    

Gnote is a Tomboy fork written in GTK.

Use Mono if you want. It is a bug of mine not because it comes from
Microsoft but because Microsoft won't come clean on it. If it is legitimate
as de Icaza says then the solution is simple. Microsoft needs to say that it
is free for everyone to use and it should be released under one easy to
understand open source license. Both of these things are possible, but
instead we have uncertainty. This is intentional to my way of thinking
because they want to continue their accusations of IP infringement.

The other thing that many people would like is for Mono to be removed from
free to non-free in the repositories. That would place it in the same boat
as flash and other things that are proprietary or patent encumbered.

Give Gnote a try. It forked from Tomboy a couple of years ago and the
developers had high hopes that it would replace Tomboy in many


Answer #4    Answered On: Dec 03    

Gnote looks great and seems to include an import for existing Tomboy
notes... which hopefully I can figure out how to use tonight. I don't have
too much against Microsoft, other than the incessant desktop popups telling
me to update this and enable that and clean up something else (they make me
want to stick a fork in my hard drive). However, I must use MS at work. On
my own computers I use Linux now and prefer to stick with software that
supports the spirit of open source or at least has transparency with its
licensing agreements, as that just seems right. If it's legally gray, I'd
rather avoid it (the one exception for me being use of MS office on wine for
compatibility issues with some objects in 2007 power-point presentations).

Answer #5    Answered On: Dec 03    

It's my understanding that Microsoft has said that Mono is free for everyone to
use. It's not realistic to expect more from them.

Do you enjoy listening to MP3s? I think that is a bigger IP issue than Mono is.

Answer #6    Answered On: Dec 03    

If Microsoft had said that, wouldn't it be mentioned on the Mono-concerns
page? --> http://www.mono-project.com/MonoConcerns

Or were you referring to Monos claims that it only implements code that is
covered by Microsofts community promise (discussed on the Mono licensing
page)? --> http://www.microsoft.com/interop/cp/default.mspx

I'm just curious and trying to understand the issue a little better...

I also thought mp3s were only an issue if you sell them or build and
distribute a decoder...

Answer #7    Answered On: Dec 03    

Mono's website is biased because they would not be developing it if they
thought that it had any legal or patent problems.

As far as Microsoft is concerned they only need to allege that Linux
infringes on its IP without actually specifying anything in particular to
maintain their FUD campaign. As they did with Tom Tom they can then drag you
into court and under the threat of facing a long drawn out and expensive
case they can get their way. They do not have to be right. They only have to
put you into a situation where you lose even if you are successful in
proving that you are right. Most publicly traded companies cannot afford a)
the bad publicity b) competing with Microsoft's deep pockets. Most small
players cave in under the mere threat of litigation.

The problem with Mono is that Microsoft is being tight lipped. This is no
accident. They can keep on bullying and threatening without actually having
a case. They have forced a number of companies into signing agreements and
even paying them extortion to not sue. The case against Tom Tom was over the
use of "long file names" over which Microsoft has a patent. At the end of
the day Tom Tom could not afford to go to court and a pay off was simpler.

MP3 is owned by a German company. MP3 player companies pay Fraunhofer to use
the format. MP3 players in Linux should do the same in order to comply with
the law because they use a codec that Fraunhofer developed. Users do not
have to pay because they have purchased an MP3 player from a company that
pays to use the technology. Technically that is not transferable. Because
you are covered with your MP3 player that is not blanket coverage that
applies to your computer.

Ogg on the other hand is an open source format that you can use freely. The
problem is that piracy enabled the Fraunhofer format to grow to the point
where it became the de facto standard and it is hard to find a music player
than can handle ogg vorbis. Most users do not think about licensing, but
developers do. This is why Ubuntu does not install it by default. It is a
proprietary format and the user is accepting responsibility.

I don't think that we are going to get a clear answer on Mono. Mono folks
say it is okay. That does not make it so. Microsoft is playing games with us
and it suits their purpose to keep us on the hook. My position is why bother
when you don't have to be on the hook in the first place. It isn't like we
don't have a choice. If we all avoided Mono we may be able to force
Microsoft's hand and have then take a position or maybe they would just go
away and leave us alone.

Answer #8    Answered On: Dec 03    

I admit I do not follow this very closely, it's just not important to me.
However, I think the "community promise" was the key part of what I read

MP3 decoding is covered by a US patent, so anyone in the USA, or in a country
which has a reciprocal patent agreement with the US, must pay a royalty for the
software to play MP3s. It's my understanding that some versions of Windows are
covered, since Microsoft has paid the royalty and buried that in the cost of
Windows. (The same applies to DVD playback.)

Answer #9    Answered On: Dec 03    

Microsoft has not said this to my knowledge and I follow the issue closely.
They have said that Novell users are free to use it due to their agreement
not to sue each other and it protects Novell users only. If you have info to
the contrary please post it as I would like to see it.


This is a direct answer by Microsoft about Mono:

"No, Microsoft does not support the Mono product, nor has it licensed
anything to Novell/Ximian. Mono is an attempt by Novell to reverse engineer
parts of Microsoft's .NET Framework. It is not an extension of the .NET
Framework and it should not be considered as such."

Recently Miguel de Icaza said that he faulted Microsoft for not getting
behind Mono. This has stunted Mono's growth in his opinion and he calls it a
lost opportunity for Microsoft and .NET. This was published in the San Diego
Times and later pulled.

This is a quote from Wikipedia: "Microsoft holds software
patents<en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Software_patents>over some of the
technologies in Mono."

Answer #10    Answered On: Dec 03    

My opinion of Microsoft has not changed;

Looks like they found the crack that I was taking about. Even if we don't want
it, it will be hard to verify the dependency list every time you install a
package to make sure it does not include Mono. Its use will increase even as we
resist. This is a problem.

Answer #11    Answered On: Dec 03    

Life is too short to be anti-anything. I have seen people poisoned by being
against things. They become bitter and resentful. It is better to be
proactive and live your life as best you can IMO. For me that means not
using Mono but don't get in a tizzy if others do.

Microsoft is what it is. We can't change them. We can change FOSS and keep
it positive and strong. For me the strength in Linux is in our diversity.
This is what frustrates Microsoft. For the first time they have run up
against a competitor that they can't buy or put out of business. Slowly they
are starting to embrace open source. I say that with caution. I would not be
surprised to see them pull an Apple and base their next version of Windows
on Linux as Apple did with BSD. They could even buy Novell, although they
are not flush with cash as they once were.

Unfortunately Microsoft has not made wise decisions in the past few years,
except perhaps to jump off the sinking ship that was Vista. They are no
longer predictable. They were at one time the top corporate logo in terms of
respect, but they have faded badly. They are doing everything half heartedly
and nothing well. They are into cloud computing, but it is reluctant as they
have not moved away from the old paradigm. They still believe in the
desktop. They are late getting into new endeavours and when they do they
often muck it up, like with the Zune and Blu Ray. Windows 7 Series 7 mobile
appears to be its latest loser. Their bread and butter is in selling OSes.
Even Office was struck a blow in the courts. So try as they might they need
for some successes.

Windows 7 is a success but it can't carry them forever. The desktop and even
laptop market will dry up as young people are more into embedded devices.
Microsoft is desperately trying to recreate itself but does not know what to
become. A little of this and that does not work. They need to be all in on
something in order to ride the wave to my way of thinking and i don't see

I wish them luck. Lots of people are depending on them and that is too bad
for them. Microsoft has created a dependency that they may not be able to
deliver on. That is an opportunity for new players. That is why Apple is so
successful. They know how to read the market and innovate. I seldom think of
Microsoft anymore. That is how irrelevant they have become to me and many
others. I say that with some sadness because while Apple (II) was my first
OS, DOS and Windows were my second. But Linux is where I see the future.

If I was in IT or programming then I would be either working in servers and
small devices in a big way. Those two extremes seem to be where we are
headed. I remember an argument between Bill Gates and Larry Ellison (Oracle)
about fifteen years ago. Gates was king of the desktop, but Ellison said the
future is in cloud computing (not called that then). Gates made his billions
but so did Ellison. Now Gates' company is trying to survive and Ellison's
vision is proving true. The devices that we use are becoming smaller and
more powerful, but they are also mere portals to delivering services on the

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