FESCo Meeting Summary - 2009-03-06

Adam Williamson awilliam at redhat.com
Mon Mar 9 17:22:05 UTC 2009

On Sat, 2009-03-07 at 00:56 +0100, David Nielsen wrote:

> I did this, out of the desire to make Fedora better. The sign on my
> door says Fedora volunteer. It does so for a reason. I am frankly
> disgusted by this whole affair, especially since my honesty and
> motives were brought into question.

I'm sure this is true, and I hope you won't take this the wrong way.
Additionally, it's entirely my personal advice, not anything officially
Red Hat-ish.

On a practical level, I'm afraid you're going to have to prepare
yourself for this whenever you propose anything remotely Mono-related to
a general F/OSS audience. Mono is, like it or not, a very
Microsoft-driven project. .NET is a Microsoft-created project, and those
who work on Mono - including its main cheerleader, Miguel - cheerfully
explain that they work on it in close collaboration with Microsoft.

Microsoft has a proven history of using FUD tactics and oblique legal
threats against F/OSS. There is a coherent theory which argues that .NET
and Mono exist, in part, in order to provide a tangible legal
(patent-based) threat against Linux (and, more specifically, Red Hat).
Whether this is in fact the case isn't proven either way, but as long as
the argument exists and is plausible, it doesn't matter.

Those who support Mono and evangelize it tend to either completely
ignore this issue (as you did) or pooh-pooh it as being patently
ridiculous and just not true. Neither approach reassures the sceptics.
Consequently, if you bring up a proposal which involves the spread of
Mono, and you don't address these issues, you're very likely to get a
rather charged response from those who consider Mono a legal threat, and
- to those people - it will seem entirely logical to call your motives
into question. Even though, as you say, you're not coming from that
angle at all and you're only proposing Banshee as you believe it's
better code than what we have already, you really have to understand
these issues and be prepared to address them, otherwise you are always
going to get this kind of response. I'm not saying that it's necessarily
reasonable or justified for people to attack you personally or call your
motives into question, I'm just saying that anyone aware of the whole
issue should expect it to happen, and - as a matter of sheer
practicality - the best way to shield yourself from this is to address
the issues explicitly rather than just pretend they don't exist in your
initial proposal (the word 'Mono' does not actually occur a single time
in the initial version of the Wiki page you posted).
Adam Williamson
Fedora QA Community Monkey
IRC: adamw | Fedora Talk: adamwill AT fedoraproject DOT org

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