The dangers of using Mono
Slashdot points to an article on Librenix that points out that Mono could be squashed like a bug by Microsoft at any time. Mono is often cited when advocates of .NET defend .NET's lack of cross platform support. The .NET advocates will say: “Go ahead and develop your .NET application and then deploy it on Windows, Linux or OS X.” Of course, if Microsoft ever decides to drastically change .NET or lay the hammer down by enforcing its patents on .NET, then you're screwed.

Miguel de Icaza, the founder of the Mono project and now a Novell employee, points out that Linux would not necessarily be doomed if Microsoft suddenly changes course with .NET and makes it incompatible with Mono. Miguel argues that Mono does maintain compatibility with .NET as best as it can, but it's not just a clone. He argues that while Mono might not still be compatible with .NET if Microsoft chooses to go that route, it will continue to serve as a viable development platform for Linux. This is only true if Microsoft chooses to break compatibility with Mono. What happens if Microsoft tries to shut Mono down by way of patent infringement? Yes, Mono was developed in a “clean lab evironment” meaning (in theory) it should be safe from any patent infringement lawsuits. But, is that protection enough against Microsoft's lawyers? I don't think so. Of course, all these doomsday predictions for Linux in relation to Mono make the assumption that Mono will be the development environment of a majority of Linux application developers. I don't think that will ever be the case, but you never know.

The bottom line on all this for me is that until Microsoft gives its blessing to projects like Mono, I wouldn't touch it. The project has many merits, but in its current state Mono is a sitting duck for Microsoft to blow away with a variety of its big guns.
Posted on 10/14/03 - Category: Technology

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