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When I heard about Novell’s new MonoTouch platform for bringing software written using C# (and evidently other .NET-centered languages) to Apple’s iPhone, I was naturally excited and glad to hear it. But looking closer you see that it has almost entirely avoided any semblance of coherence with the usual Mono Project (or open source, in general) principles. The platform is in fact proprietary, offers no source, makes no attempt to broaden OS platform support (it is not unfeasible to make it possible to do basic app development without the iPhone SDK in this context), and above all adds a huge tax on top of the already expensive iPhone development costs. I remember when we were working on SharpOS and Miguel (the leader-guy from Mono; also of GNOME fame) suggested that we use the MIT license. As you may remember, our work revolved chiefly around AOT technology which is very similar to what MonoTouch uses.

Well, I bet he would have liked the SharpOS AOT under the MIT license, because he could’ve integrated that right into MonoTouch and then sold the basic version for $400 a pop. I don’t think Chriss (the main dev of our AOT engine) would’ve seen a penny of that.

I’m glad we never took that advice, and I think it’s just cold that something so attractive to the community and so heavily based on the community’s work would be quite this closed. This is why I don’t use the MIT license.

I can only hope that once Novell feels they’ve recouped their losses and made a nice chunk of change that they will consider letting us FOSS peons take a crack with it.

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2 Comments

    • Miguel de Icaza
    • Posted September 16, 2009 at 11:42 AM
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    • Reply

    The source for Mono’s runtime and class libraries are used on MonoTouch is available in a branch (where we build it from);

    http://anonsvn.mono-project.com/viewvc/branches/monotouch-1-0/

    This includes both the Mono runtime and their class libraries. The MonoDevelop Add-In is also open source and it is part of MonoDevelop’s source code distribution.

    That being said, the iPhone specific tools, and the MonoTouch.dll (the binding for the iPhone APIs) is proprietary, that is all new code that was written just for the iPhone.

    Additionally, since you must link your software with the LGPL Mono runtime, you also get a license to Mono’s runtime under a different license (since LGPL would be too cumbersome to satisfy). This is possible because Novell owns the copyright to the LGPL components that we ship and we have been dual-licensing this code since the beginning of the project.

    Embedded systems where the LGPL is not suitable (like the iPhone) is one of the few avenues that Mono is monetized. Every other use: desktop, server, portable device is entirely free.

    best wishes,
    Miguel.

    • I don’t agree with Miguels reasoning of it is only paid on Iphone and free everywhere else.

      This just destroys the credibility of Open source initiatives.

      Shows very clearly why developers do open source

      The space is too competetive – > Not enough money to get in. – > Piggy back on open source – > Once competitive enough start monetizing..

      very hypocritical …

      I love Open source as long as everything is open, and it is used an a means for sharing information and technology and used as an enabler, not as a tool to gain product maturity or market share..

      I am of the thought stream that you are either an Open source guy or a closed source supporter.

      Miguel.. you cannot be both at the same time


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