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Open Source Software Seeping Into the .NET Developer World 146

Posted by Soulskill
from the slowly-but-surely dept.
dp619 writes "In an interview, Microsoft Regional Director Patrick Hynds says that avoidance of open source components by a large part of the .NET developer population is abating. '...While some may still steer clear of the GPL, there are dozens of FOSS licenses that are compatible with Windows developers and their customers,' he said. Hynds cites NuGet, an open source package management system was originally built by Microsoft and now an Outercurve Foundation project, as an example of FOSS libraries that .NET developer are adopting for their applications. Microsoft itself has embraced open source — to a point. It has partnered with Hortonworks for a Windows port of Hadoop, allowed Linux to run on Windows Azure, and is itself a Hadoop user."
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Open Source Software Seeping Into the .NET Developer World

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  • Why should Google and Apple be the only ones that make gobs of money leveraging Open Source? Microsoft wants to join the party.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Penguinisto (415985)

      Perhaps, but the company that once called it a "cancer" is going to have a hard time reconciling its culture to it - especially since Microsoft relies on proprietary software for its very existence. Sure they do make (and mostly give away) some FOSS software, but it's very little and you really have to look for it.

      I suspect that the best Microsoft could do is to try and hijack existing FOSS projects and slather on a proprietary UI, or some sort of glue to tie to loosely to products they already make.

      Inciden

      • by LurkerXXX (667952) on Tuesday March 05, 2013 @11:52PM (#43088543)

        They called Linux a cancer, not open source software. They've used BSD software before. BSD folks are just fine with it, so there's no 'hijacking' involved.

        • It's sixes, given that OSS was the target for Ballmer's ire:

          "Ballmer was trying to articulate his concern, whether real or imagined, that limited recourse to the GNU GPL requires that all software be made open source.
          "The way the license is written, if you use any open-source software, you have to make the rest of your software open source,"

          ref: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2001/06/02/ballmer_linux_is_a_cancer/ [theregister.co.uk]

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Dr_Barnowl (709838)

            Which is of course a lie. Just because I have GPL software on my Windows machine, does not mean I have to make any software I write open source.

            I don't even have to make it so if I compile a C program with the gcc - a GPL compiler. It explicitly says this in the license. [gnu.org]

            The same applies to any GPL program - using it does not make the works you create with it GPL as well.

            Just a massive bit of FUD. Ballmer should be thankful that there have been open-source developers writing programs that work on Windows, in

        • by dbIII (701233) on Wednesday March 06, 2013 @03:08AM (#43089805)
          They've used GPL software such as gcc and delivered it complete with source and licence on Microsoft developer CDROMs. That was not long before the person near the top of the tree started screaming "developers, developers, developers!" and started undermining his own developers.
        • by DickBreath (207180) on Wednesday March 06, 2013 @11:55AM (#43093131) Homepage
          Jim Allchin, when he was the number four guy at Microsoft, more than a decade ago, at about the time of the DOJ vs Microsoft antitrust trial, said that Open Source was un-American and that the legislators needed to be educated to the danger. That is from memory. As much as I hate to provide citations, let me google that . . . oh here . . .

          Are Linux and Open Source Un-American? [linuxjournal.com]

          Here is a bit . . .

          According to the hive mind of Microsoft, open source should be made illegal. There's no way around it, this is the bottom line. Want to write your own code and release it into the community? Congratulations, come with us Sir/Madam, we have this nice little grey room for you. Don't worry about the bars on the windows, they are there for our protection in case you somehow manage to write a graphics viewer or a Perl script to terrorize the world.

          Ordinarily, a mere underling like Mr. Allchin wouldn't be taken too seriously, but Microsoft speaks with one voice, and we all know who he is channeling.

          As a member of the Linux and Open Source communities, I am appalled and outraged by his comments and wish to respond. The article shows Microsoft is scared. Very scared. So, will they build a better product? Nah, to hell with it, they'll just get the government to outlaw the competition.

          • BTW, I found that link by googling for: jim allchin open source un american legislators need to be educated
      • by shutdown -p now (807394) on Wednesday March 06, 2013 @12:11AM (#43088701) Journal

        Microsoft is not quite a single monolithic entity, and different product units can and do have very different perspectives on FOSS. Developer division, in particular, is pretty much forced to deal with it, just because of the wide acceptance of it in the customer base today. Which is precisely why most FOSS you see coming out of MS does come from DevDiv, and a good chunk of that are various frameworks (e.g. ASP.NET MVC or Entity Framework). It's also catching on somewhat for other products - Python Tools for Visual Studio is one prominent example there, and is probably a better example of what a FOSS MS project should really be, since it goes beyond just publishing the code (under Apache license), and also takes external contributions.

        (disclaimer: I am a developer on the Python Tools team, so you may I assume that I am correspondingly biased)

        The other part of the company that has strong market pressure to be FOSS-friendly is Azure. If you want to compete with AWS and Google, you have let customers run things other than the usual 100% MS .NET/IIS/Windows stack, in various combinations - at the very least, people need Java and PHP (and more exotic stuff like Python and Node.js) for apps, and many also want Apache (or other server) rather than IIS, and Linux rather than Windows. Then they want the cloud service (storage etc) APIs to be available in those languages in client apps, as well.

        On the other hand, I would be surprised to see a FOSS version of Windows or Office anytime soon - simply because most people buying and using it don't really care one way or another, so there's no incentive to strongly consider it.

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by Dr_Barnowl (709838)

          Cringeley (I think) wrote a column once that opined that Microsoft should just make Windows into a desktop environment for Linux, thereby gaining the services of a huge community of excellent kernel developers. It made a kind of sense.

        • by AncientPC (951874)

          I think Azure needs to be FOSS-friendly to survive, but I'm surprised that you would consider Python / Node.js "exotic" as a web platform.

          Reddit and Django both came out in 2005.

          • It's exotic relative to Java and PHP in a sense that it has far fewer deployments in relative figures. Also, websites like Reddit are typically not the kind of people you see shopping for cloud services. It used to be targeted mainly at enterprises, and those guys usually do Java (because everyone does), .NET (because every MS shop does, and they're one), or PHP (because it's cheap).

            Times a-changing, though, and these days "cloud services" also includes simple web hosting, where a much broader audience come

        • MS Research released GRETA under an open source license back in 2003.
          DevDiv released WTL under an open source license back in 2004.

          • MSR is a whole different kettle of fish. And yes, they have been doing FOSS for a long time now, and contributing to it, too - GHC (the Haskell compiler) is one prominent example, with two lead developers being paid by MSR pretty much to work full time on it.

            WTL was the first non-MSR codebase so released, if I recall correctly. But it wasn't really a coherent project, more like a dump of the code that could be useful for others. Heck, it didn't even have documentation.

            • by Frankie70 (803801)

              WTL was actually a MS library which supposed to be released with Visual Studio 7.0. However, Visual Studio 7.0 became VS.NET. Native stuff like WTL was put on the backburner and DotNet stuff became priority. Hence WTL was scrapped from the release and Nenad (lead dev) convinced DevDiv to release it under a FOSS license.

              GRETA was developed by Eric Niebler who used to work for MSR. He then moved to DevDiv to work on Visual C++ libraries and at that time released GRETA under a FOSS license. Eric then quit Micr

      • by PhrostyMcByte (589271) <phrosty@gmail.com> on Wednesday March 06, 2013 @12:17AM (#43088759) Homepage

        Sure they do make (and mostly give away) some FOSS software, but it's very little and you really have to look for it.

        ASP.NET [codeplex.com], Entity Framework [codeplex.com], and Rx [codeplex.com] are all non-trivial Open Source projects by Microsoft which I use daily at work. They are all under the Apache License 2.0, not one of those ridiculous "shared source" licenses. They make use of existing third-party Open Source libraries. They manage the projects in the open and accept contributions from non-Microsofties.

        Additionally, Microsoft has embraced NuGet, a third-party dpkg/apt for .NET libraries which has thousands of projects in it. It's integrated into the latest Visual Studio, and Microsoft uses it as their primary distribution point for nearly all of their Open Source projects.

        Microsoft has a pretty shitty history when it comes to Open Source, but they really have turned over a new leaf on the subject. I think they've come to realize that it's better to foster than to dictate -- you're still using their product (.NET) in the end, after all. Some purists won't be happy with that, I guess.

        • by drinkypoo (153816)

          I think they've come to realize that it's better to foster than to dictate

          I think they've come to realize that absent a functional monopoly, they're going to have to manipulate rather than dictate.

      • This article, and the "viral" comments about open source, always remind me of this:

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vz-MepaJCM4 [youtube.com]

    • by gronofer (838299)
      Microsoft have been making money from open source for years - by shaking it down for patent royalties. Making money from open source and supporting it are not exactly the same thing in this case.
    • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

      Google makes money selling advertising. They spend money on open source project some of which are use to make awful emasculating mobile phones.
      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        Google makes money selling advertising. They spend money on open source project some of which are use to make awful emasculating mobile phones.

        I've never seen one of these, but I'll start up a collection to buy you one so that you don't breed...

    • Twenty years too late.

  • by CodeBuster (516420) on Tuesday March 05, 2013 @11:40PM (#43088445)
    The .NET developer community has long favored open source code, even though Microsoft hasn't always done much to encourage it. However, it seems that .NET developers never get even grudging respect from the likes of Stallman and other Linux hardliners out there. Ironically, this hostility towards .NET has played into the hands of those at Microsoft who sought to discourage the use of .NET outside of Microsoft's control. Yes, the patent laws are a problem but Microsoft has already made legally binding promises not to litigate their patents on core technologies and to be honest the whole patent system is so messed up that you're pretty much damned if you do and damned if you don't whether you use .NET or not. So, if you're worried about patents you should do what every sensible startup does and simply ignore them because (a) patents contain zero useful information for coders (they're written by attorneys for attorneys) and (b) knowing that a patent exists means willful infringement which is treble damages.
    • by ADRA (37398) on Tuesday March 05, 2013 @11:52PM (#43088549)

      Long favored? Most people that I've known doing .NET work are wired into the frameworks Microsoft developed, glued on thier own proprietary bits and called it a day. Can you please leave some feedback on these very popular community driven OSS efforts in the .NET umbrella (outside of Mono which is a re-implementation of Microsoft's API's), becase quite frankly, I've never heard of any.

      • NHibernate is probably the single most popular community-driven FOSS project specifically targeting .NET.

        Generally speaking, most people will use whatever comes in the standard library, proprietary or not - just because it's less of a hassle to begin with. That said, some standard frameworks have gone FOSS themselves - ASP.NET MVC, for example, and Entity Framework.

      • by CodeBuster (516420) on Wednesday March 06, 2013 @12:18AM (#43088785)

        How about these to name just a few?

        Plus tons more available on:

        • What does TortoiseSVN have to do with .NET?
          • Not sure if anyone has gotten the TortoiseSVN project to build in Mono, but it seems that at the very least you would need the .NET Framework 4.0 tools, or Visual C++, to build the project from source.
            • It's C++. The .NET Framework doesn't come into it, nor does Mono.
              • I'll take your word for it being that I don't actually use that one, but TortoiseSVN not withstanding there are still many fine open source projects written on top of the .NET Framework as well as a vast corpus of articles, code samples and minor projects all using .NET. So to suggest that .NET just isn't popular in open source, as some seem determined to do, strains credulity at the very least.
        • by radish (98371)

          As a long time Java & .NET dev I can attest to the quality of some of those projects. NUnit for one is better that the Java version it was originally based on. I'd also add Moq which is a great mocking library.

      • by Yaur (1069446)
        log4net [apache.org] and Json.Net [codeplex.com] are two prime examples. We are also using a bunch of open source media libraries (e.g. ffmpeg and opencv) on my current project and have been for years. The only resistance is that we are shipping closed source software so anything that is GPLed is out, but if the business reality changed to where we could a GPLed product there wouldn't be a second thought about using code under the GPL.
      • Dapper, Json.net, NancyFX, Nhibernate, Automapper, Ninject, Castle, PetaPoco, Lucene.Net, Nlog, log4net, Elmah...

        You obviously don't look all that hard.

      • Long favored? Most people that I've known doing .NET work are wired into the frameworks Microsoft developed, glued on thier own proprietary bits and called it a day. Can you please leave some feedback on these very popular community driven OSS efforts in the .NET umbrella (outside of Mono which is a re-implementation of Microsoft's API's), becase quite frankly, I've never heard of any.

        Go check out codeplex. As a .NET developer, we've been using lots and lots of open source .NET libraries from there for many years. The .NET open-source community is very active and it has always been so.

    • by Microlith (54737)

      it seems that .NET developers never get even grudging respect from the likes of Stallman and other Linux hardliners out there

      Hardliners aren't going to show respect to an audience that uses tools fundamentally centered on non-Free platforms. What led you to think otherwise?

      Ironically, this hostility towards .NET has played into the hands of those at Microsoft who sought to discourage the use of .NET outside of Microsoft's control.

      Has it? It's done a marvelous job of killing integration of .NET technologies

    • by Mawen (317927)

      I have been a .NET developer for about 9 years, and I am a little dumbfounded by this article as I have integrated opensource whenever I could, whether from codeplex (or github) or codeproject. Of course, if you are developing an application, you are not going to incorporate one of the few libraries that suicidally licenses itself as GPL, forcing you to do the same with your entire application -- you are going to stick to LGPL and BSD type licenses. This is not .NET specific -- any real app developer doin

    • by jbolden (176878)

      Obviously there is some .NET open source. But I have to say I'm hard pressed to think of many (any) open source projects that came out of the .NET community and then spread from there. For example F# is cool but that is fundamentally a port to .NET permanently tied to Visual Studio. Most of Microsoft's rather excellent open source initiatives that aren't specifically exclusively for the Windows stack don't use .NET.

      So what has the .NET open source community done in your opinion for which they are being u

      • So what has the .NET open source community done in your opinion for which they are being under rewarded?

        How about ASP.NET MVC, Web API and Razor [codeplex.com]? The ASP.NET MVC framework is a modern and high quality web development framework with excellent support for test driven development, dependency injection and fine grained control over handling of requests and responses at every level of the stack. Combine this with clean separation of concerns, easy integration with client side javascript and RESTful handling of URLs and you have a top tier web development platform to rival anything offered by the competition.

        • All of these are Microsoft projects, though. They did not come out of the community.

          • They did not come out of the community.

            The grand parent asked, "what has the open source community done", not "what originated completely from within the community". I mentioned the ASP.NET MVC project because the team at Microsoft benefited substantially from community input and even directly from the contrib branch of the project and I believe that the quality of the work is largely under appreciated outside the .NET world. If you look through the code you can see that many contributions, or code based upon ideas and concepts that first appe

        • by jbolden (176878)

          It misses the criteria I listed above about coming out of the community. If that were to go the next step and say be available for Apache then yes it would meet the criteria.

          That being said, I agree it is nice to see some .NET open source.

          • It misses the criteria I listed above about coming out of the community.

            I remind you that the question was originally phrased as, "what has the open source community done" not "what originated completely from within the community". Making contributions to improve an existing project, regardless of where it originated from, is a time honored tradition in open source and ASP.NET MVC has definitely benefited from community contributions. See previous reply for examples of projects that did originate from within the community, especially the dependency injection frameworks.

            • by jbolden (176878)

              The original was me, "But I have to say I'm hard pressed to think of many (any) open source projects that came out of the .NET community and then spread from there." I specifically there was open source .NET but that the .NET community hadn't played a large role, certainly not consistent with their size, in the wider open source community. And this came in response to the idea that the open source community wasn't strongly supportive of .NET.

              Your example is a Microsoft driven product which has 0 impact o

      • For example F# is cool but that is fundamentally a port to .NET permanently tied to Visual Studio.

        FYI, not only F# runs on and can target Mono, but it's an officially supported platform for them by design - and they actually test against it.

        If you want one large .NET project that came from the community and is fairly widely used, it would probably be NHibernate.

        • by jbolden (176878)

          Did NHiberante come out of the .NET community is used outside?

          As far as F# and mono that's good. A strong target app for mono where people on both sides are supportive is useful.

          • Did NHiberante come out of the .NET community is used outside?

            To be honest, I'm not even sure what the "is used outside" requirement even means. It definitely did come out of the .NET developer community, and it is used in it. It would be tricky for it to be used outside of the .NET community, because it's a .NET library...

            • by jbolden (176878)

              That's what I figured. To get used outside people would need to build another library based on its interfaces... it that was used with a different technology. Hibernate becoming NHiberante might be an example of this in the other direction.

    • How many open source libraries does the typical .NET web project use?

    • Yes, the patent laws are a problem but Microsoft has already made legally binding promises not to litigate their patents on core technologies...

      Legally binding promises? How can you tell their promises are legally binding?

      Microsoft has an history of using proxy corporations to do its dirty work, so it can insulate itself from direct legal reprisals. Do you have some proof that they closed down that possible avenue for themselves?

      • Legally binding promises? How can you tell their promises are legally binding?

        The Microsoft Open Specification Promise [wikipedia.org] is what's called a "covenant not to sue". Such covenants have legal precedent here in the United States and have been held as binding by the courts.

        Microsoft has an history of using proxy corporations to do its dirty work, so it can insulate itself from direct legal reprisals. Do you have some proof that they closed down that possible avenue for themselves?

        Anyone can sue anyone at anytime and for anything, simply by paying the filing fees of the court. Nobody can guarantee that third parties, patent trolls especially, wont jump out of nowhere and sue you. However, it's a bit of a stretch to lay the blame for the limitations of our legal system here in the United States at M

        • by drinkypoo (153816)

          Anyone can sue anyone at anytime and for anything, simply by paying the filing fees of the court. Nobody can guarantee that third parties, patent trolls especially, wont jump out of nowhere and sue you. However, it's a bit of a stretch to lay the blame for the limitations of our legal system here in the United States at Microsoft's feet.

          No one has done that, and you are clearly being disingenuous because you cannot possibly not know about Microsoft's repeated use of puppets to attack their targets, most famously having bankrolled the SCO lawsuits.

          • most famously having bankrolled the SCO lawsuits.

            No, the investors behind BayStar did that, to the tune of $106 million. Microsoft paid a paltry $6 million for a "license" to settle the matter and sit out the main engagement between SCO and IBM. It was a business decision by Microsoft to not lose any more money than they had to. It probably cost IBM more than $6 million to ultimately win the case. Everyone involved in the SCO lawsuits, with the exception of the attorneys, lost money. The investors at BayStar lost money, although it's hard to feel sorry fo

        • Nobody can guarantee that third parties, patent trolls especially, wont jump out of nowhere and sue you.

          That's not what I was talking about.

          I'm talking about non-practicing entities that sue everyone using patents they get from Microsoft. And/or corporate entities that sue everyone, but that depend solely on Microsoft (or Ballmer, or Gates) for most of their funding, or revenue.

          • I'm talking about non-practicing entities that sue everyone

            Which is the definition of "patent troll". If you want to blame someone for the present legal situation surrounding patents, blame the US government for running a broken system and the attorneys who take advantage of it.

            using patents they get from Microsoft.

            You do realize that Microsoft has a very paltry number of patents as compared to say IBM or now Google, right? I'm not sure, but if I had to guess I would bet that very few of the patents that end up in the hands of non-practicing entities were originally granted to Microsoft or passed throu

  • In Hynds' cite this is a good thing.
  • by MobyDisk (75490) on Wednesday March 06, 2013 @12:27AM (#43088847) Homepage

    I see no evidence that .NET developers have an avoidance of open source. The linked article actually seems to present evidence to the contrary. Paraphrasing here:

    Q: Why have .NET developers been slow to adopt open source??
    PH: The open source movement is not incompatible with the Microsoft development world...commercial software developers represent a big constituency among the .NET Framework community and based on my experience these shops are very cautious about incorporating open source libraries because the licensing...

    So what they are really saying is that *commercial software developers* are hesitant to use open source because of licensing issues. That is probably true. That problem is not specific to Microsoft .NET developers, but spans languages and operating systems. That is very different from saying that .NET developers have not been averse to using open source. They use open source far more than their VB and C++/Windows API wielding predecessors. Here is a short list of open source projects I have used at commercial software companies off the top of my head:

    log4net, sharpdevelop, nhibernate, nunit, nant, cruise control.net, all the Microsoft Patterns & Practices stuff, ninject, ...

    • by Shados (741919)

      The article completely misunderstands the ecosystem.

      No more people avoid open source in the .NET world than in other ecosystems. The difference is that in the .NET world, people avoid third party tools in general. If its built in, its ok. If its not built in and it doesn't come from Telerik, forget it.

      The main difference here is that the standard .NET distribution now includes a ton of third party tools, and for the most part they're free, so for the most part they're open source.

      I mean, the list you gave a

      • by MobyDisk (75490)

        The difference is that in the .NET world, people avoid third party tools in general. If its built in, its ok. If its not built in and it doesn't come from Telerik, forget it.

        Well put. That makes me thing about the Entity-Framework versus NHibernate:

        ..but very very very small minority wil use nhibernate over Entity Framework, even though nhibernate is vastly superior (part of it is its harder to use, but the main thing is, its not built in...)

        And you conveniently mentioned that same thing. Here's our story on this:

        It is the quintessential example of the Microsoft open-source ecosystem. My team evaluated NHibernate but some team members were concerned about using open source. So years later, I then evaluated the EF and sold the team on using it specifically because it came with Visual Studio. It turned out to be a mistake. While the EF is a great product, it has bas

        • by Shados (741919)

          Thats why the best option is to shell out for LLBLGEN. It costs money, but you have your cake and can eat it too. Its honestly superior to Nhibernate (but you can use Nhibernate with it at worse, it has support for it), and you get commercial support.

          But yeah, NHibernate is better than EF. The only issue is junior devs have problems with learning it... and the community (especially the guy that manage the project) is extremely abrasive. So had you gone for it originally, someone in your team would have poin

  • FOSS is easier to deal with than GPL. I would have thought that it was the opposite.
  • I generally avoid ALL 3rd party code and libraries, free or not, due to relatively poor quality. I find most 3rd party stuff to work well for the specific intent it was designed for, but most 3rd party libraries fall over the moment you need to customize something. I've struggled to "fix" retail 3rd party code just as much as open source code, and find in general that the time "saved" by fixing someone else's code could be better used to create a optimized and direct component specific to your needs.

    Also,

(1) Never draw what you can copy. (2) Never copy what you can trace. (3) Never trace what you can cut out and paste down.

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