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[DotGNU]DotGNU Manifesto - first draft

From: Norbert Bollow
Subject: [DotGNU]DotGNU Manifesto - first draft
Date: Fri, 12 Apr 2002 06:22:26 +0200

Silvernerd (Peter Minten) wrote:
> S11001001 wrote:
>> I would like to see a unifying document that explains the
>> goals and values of the DotGNU project in a practical (and
>> inspiring :) manner. If some people would like to do this, it
>> would be greatly appreciated. Think modeling after the GNU Manifesto ;)
> My thoughts exactly. Maybe it is possible to write a small Philosophy
> file that contains only the most important points and ship it with the
> programs and have a DotGNU manifesto that goes into the stuff at full
> length on the website.

Here's a first attempt...

The DotGNU Manifesto

The GNU project has taken a stand for the freedom of computer
users, by making a complete operating system available where
every component is Free Software, so that its users can freely
modify and share it.

To many people this goal has seemed impossibly ambitious, and
yet it has been reached.  In combination with the operating
system kernel called Linux, the GNU system now has millions
of users.  An alternative kernel named Hurd is still under

The GNU project has achieved its goal, but with this the work
of GNU is not finished.  It is often said that the price of
freedom is eternal vigilance.  This truth was popularized by
Thomas Jefferson (1743 - 1826).  The original source seems to be
a speech by John Philpot Curran, who said:

   "It is the common fate of the indolent to see their rights
   become a prey to the active. The condition upon which God
   hath given liberty to man is eternal vigilance; which
   condition if he break, servitude is at once the consequence
   of his crime and the punishment of his guilt."

   -- John Philpot Curran: Speech upon the Right of Election, 1790.
      (Speeches. Dublin, 1808.)

One important element in defending the freedom of Free Software
is to use a so-called "copyleft" license, such as the GNU
General Public License (GPL) and the GNU Lesser General Public
License (LGPL).  These licenses grant the user of the software
very significant rights to redistribute the software, in
original or modified form, but only under the condition that
the recipient will also have these rights.

The significance of copyleft is that it prevents a company from
just taking the software, making some changes, and then selling
it in a way that denies the users essential freedom rights.

So copyleft is a major defense of Free Software against
unscrupulous software companies.

Any company which wants to make a major attack against Free
Software will attack this defense first, and try to destroy
it, or make it ineffective.

Microsoft Corporation is now making such an attack.  

This DotGNU Manifesto calls Free Software developers and Free
Software users worldwide to understand the strategy behind this
attack, and to help preventing it from being successful.

The following two sections explain the strategy of Microsoft's
attack, and how you can help defend the freedom of the internet.

The Strategy of Microsoft's Attack Against Free Software

Software patents are a centerpiece of Microsoft's attack plan
against Free Software.  Any program that uses a patented
algorithm cannot be Free Software unless it is somehow made
sure that the patent is in some way licensed so that everyone
who receives a copy of the program will have rights to
run it for any purpose, and to redistribute it in orginial or
modified form.

Here is one way how Microsoft uses patents to specifically
attack copyleft Free Software licenses, such as the GNU General
Public License (GPL):  In the recently-published "Royalty-Free
CIFS Technical Reference License Agreement", Microsoft
defines the GNU GPL (and any other copyleft license) as an "IPR
Impairing License" and requires companies not to distribute
their implementations of the CIFS specification "in any manner
that would subject such Company Implementation to the terms of
an IPR Impairing License."

This attack is clearly aimed at the successful GPL'ed CIFS
implementation, Samba, and it is based on Microsoft having
rights to some patents that will necessarily be infringed by any
implementation of CIFS.

A similar attack against Free Software applications in general
is possible if and only if those application programs are in
some way locked into using some technology on which Microsoft
holds patent rights.

For this reason, we need to be vigilant to prevent Microsoft
from being successful with establishing the .NET platform as
a de facto standard for internet-based applications.  That
would for example allow them to establish a patented protocol
as the de facto standard for authentication, and then Microsoft
would be able to control what kinds of licenses can be used for
programs which use the internet for anything that requires such

Now how can Microsoft be prevented from taking control of the
internet, especially commercial use of the internet which
invariably requires some form of authentication?

How You Can Help Defend the Freedom of the Internet

The DotGNU project seeks to build a complete and fully
Free Software replacement for the .NET webservices platform.
It will be compatible to popular software platforms by allowing
to run .NET applications written in C#, as well as Java
applications.  At the same time, we want to provide innovative
development tools, libraries, webservice components, and server
software, so that DotGNU will be clearly better than its
proprietary competitors.

Please help us with making this software so good, and building
it so quickly, that it will prevent Microsoft from successfully
establishing their .NET platform, or any patent-encumbered
protocols, as a de facto standard for internet-based

Contributions to the DotGNU project can be in the form of
volunteer work or in the form of donations to the Free Software
Foundation.  For larger amounts it is possible to set up a
"restricted grant" that gives you more control on how your
financial contribution will be used.

Please help us by taking a stand for Free Software in general,
informing people about the ethical objections against creating
or using proprietary software.

Please help us by letting others know why the DotGNU project is
important, and how they can help.

Please help us with activism against software patents.

Questions and Answers
What questions do people actually have after reading the above
text?  They should be answered here.  Most questions can
probably be answered with a link to a page on

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