Been thinking more about the Mono stuff and I think that my post yesterday probably didn’t really hit the nail on the head in the sense that it didn’t really address the issue that needed addressing.
The basic issue is that we simply shouldn’t be having this argument today. Most of the senior members of the GNOME community has known each other and had a good relationship/been friends for many years know. Based on that there should be a level of trust present that I currently feel is being ignored. But let say there is such a basic trust present behind all the arguments being thrown around, then why are we currently enganging in what can only be described as fence building activities.
If we try looking honestly at the situation I think we can all agree that the community has never been in a better position to actually take these issues of the table. Today we have resourceful companies behind us which allows us to actually sort of such legal issues in a way that would have been impossible just a few years ago. Starting with Mono, Miguel and Nat has repeatedly stated that they are working on doing a patent review, that they have a letter promising RAND+Royalty free and that they will publish this letter and the results of their review when its done. I am also sure they will aim at clearing away any uncertainty about any GPL imcompatible clauses in the RAND agreement. We should remember that it is not only Microsoft who has a hand on the steering wheel here, Intel and HP, two companies which has a clear interest in our success also have a say, which might make it harder to M$ to create a saboting RAND agreement even if they want to. So I think the sane thing to do is simply trust that Migueal and Nat who we have known for a long time and such trust the motivations of to; have Novell work getting us clear answers to the legal uncertainties. Until that happens we try to keep the ‘dark cloud of doom’ editorials to a minimum.
On the Java side I think Red Hat should engange in a dialog to get Sun to write a binding document promising terms on their Java related patents etc., which would protect us from any change of heart on Sun’s side. While I currently don’t think Sun would consider going after us I think we want guarantees that we are legally safe even if Sun gets huge financial problems in the future, and starts looking for new sources of income. It is clear to me that until Sun makes such a document or relicense/dual-license the official implementation under the LGPL there is also a cloud of uncertainty hanging over Java, albeit smaller than the cloud hanging over Mono.
In the meantime I guess we should continue focusing on the stuff we feel confident about, like improving the things we have already and working on partnerships like the one we started exploring with the Mozilla team. GNOME hackers at companies with big wallets should probably also encourage said companies to donate money to efforts like Public Patent Foundation and Public knowledge, because the success of these efforts is the long term fix for these issues.