Firefox and Moonlight (Mono) "Free Software" Status?

Keith G. Robertson-Turner fedora at
Tue Jun 3 05:28:31 UTC 2008

Verily I say unto thee, that Rahul Sundaram spake thusly:

> You seem to misunderstand how OIN works. OIN doesn't need any patents
>  related to Mono.

Ah, I get it now - "If you attack us, our OIN soldiers will attack you."

That works if your resources can outlast your enemy's, or if your enemy
is bluffing.

Still, this seems like an odd basis upon which to make the deliberate
and voluntary decision to wheel the enemy's Trojan Horse through the
gates of the city.

BTW, I've fully reviewed the archive now, and this is pretty much all
the information I could find:

1. The decision to allow Mono to enter the tree seems to have been made
   arbitrarily by Red Hat, with no community consultation, and in spite
   of protests (including some by high profile Red Hat personnel -
   mostly expressed as a rejection of Mono before the announcement).

2. There has only ever been one public announcement on the subject, and
   that was made (with some dismay, it seems) by Tom Callaway:

3. There has only ever been one, extremely reserved, explanation given
   for this decision, in a blog post by Greg DeKoenigsberg:

   "Business considerations that prevented certain Mono components from
    being included in Fedora previously have now been resolved."

   The specific nature of this resolution is not given.

4. There is precious little concrete information about precisely who
   made these arbitrary decisions that also affected the Fedora
   community distro, but as best as I can deduce, the key players seem
   to be Greg DeKoenigsberg (as above) and Christopher Blizzard,
   although it may be that these were simply the only people discussing
   it publicly:

5. The nearest thing to an actual justification for this acceptance of
   Mono, is that the OIN offers a kind of Mexican Stand-Off protection
   to those who implement it:

My final conclusion is that Fedora includes encumbered, non-Free
software, that is covered by patents owned by Microsoft, and assured by
a patent covenant that is not worth the (metaphorical) paper it's
written on, since Moonlight, which is also covered by this same type of
covenant by the same company, has recently been exposed by Groklaw as
undistributable (I'm advised that PJ is currently investigating Mono as
well). The announcement and justification for this inclusion is
extremely sparse, and there has been almost no community consultation on
the subject, either before or after the fact.

I hope I don't seem judgmental, I'm just trying to establish the facts.

OK, this really is my final post on the subject, and I apologise for
being off-topic.

If anyone still wishes to continue this off-topic conversation with me,
please feel free to Email me at fedora[at]


Keith G. Robertson-Turner

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