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Re: Bug#501190: ITP: moonlight -- open source implementation of Microsoft Silverlight


On Mon, 2008-10-06 at 15:24 +0200, Robert Millan wrote:
> Hi,
> The description is misleading.  This is (AFAICT) not an implementation of a
> standard but a clone product, like wine, and much like wine it lags behind to
> the real one.  Please make that clear in the description to avoid leading users
> (and specially web developers) to believe Silverlight is cross-platform.  For
> example, the wine description reads:
>   "This is still a work in progress and many applications may still not work."

You're absolutely right, it's a clone, albeit one officially endorsed by
those being cloned. My package description is sourced from a
debian-multimedia package, I'll post a replacement to the ITP shortly.

I'll alter the package description to reflect it. However, one
observation - official Silverlight *does* run on multiple platforms
(Windows or Mac), just not on Linux or other *nixes. Moonlight is
officially endorsed & help given to Moonlight developers to help get
more platforms supported.

> Also, this program depends heavily on codecs, and you didn't specify which ones
> you plan to use:

FFmpeg from Debian Main. The binary codecs aren't up for consideration -
they'd hamstring the package and remove not only cross-platform
capability, but software freedom. Oh, and the binary codecs don't
actually exist yet.

>   - If those are the binary codecs from Microsoft, make it clear you plan to
>     upload to contrib (not Debian).

Nope, FFmpeg-only, and like other FFmpeg-depending packages in Debian,
I'm aiming for Main.

>   - If you want to use ffmpeg, please clarify the legal situation wrt license
>     incompatibility mentioned by Moonlight's authors in:
>       http://tirania.org/blog/archive/2007/Sep-05.html
>     which appears to have prevented them from using ffmpeg, and forced them
>     into licensing blobs from Microsoft.  Unfortunately they aren't very
>     explicit about what the problem is, but it is certain there is one, so
>     please find that out, and have it discussed in debian-legal.

Novell don't want to distribute a Moonlight linked against FFmpeg, and
make themselves targets for patent trolls like the MPEG-LA. That's fair
enough really - some distributions have no MP3 or MPEG2  playback
support (due to fear of Thompson etc), whilst Debian ships things like libmad 
and faad2 in Main.

Here's the licensing rundown:
There are four license at play here:
* Ms-PL, used for Managed (CIL) widgets in the Silverlight 2.0 profile
we aren't yet using
* MIT, used for Managed (CIL) widgets in the Silverlight 2.0 profile we
aren't yet using
* LGPL2-only, used for the plugin (i.e. libmoon.so.0 and
libmoonplugin.so et al)
* GPL2+, used for the Debian FFmpeg packaging (via the --enable-gpl flag
used in FFmpeg compilation).

The distinction between the managed and unmanaged sections is important
here. The managed components are libraries, independent libraries, with
entirely compatible licenses (Ms-PL is basically Expat with a patent
grant, none of those libraries link to or use any incompatible
licenses). They're also not even built right now (they require Mono 2.0,
which we haven't finished working on yet).

The remaining sections, Moonlight's Silverlight 1.0 profile (src/* and
plugin/*) and FFmpeg (for the multimedia capabilities), are trivially
combined, the way thousands of other packages on Debian combine LGPL2
with GPL2.

Nothing to see here :)

On Mon, 2008-10-06 at 15:33 +0200, Robert Millan wrote:
> According to the authors of Moonlight [1], this software is covered by
> patents
> owned by Microsoft, which has rules specificaly forbidding
> re-distribution
> to parties that are "Downstream recipients" [2].
> This seems to indicate it would be illegal for Debian developers in
> the US
> to:
> - Use Moonlight in their browsers (thereby becoming "downstream
> recipients").
> - Upload new versions of the package.
> at the same time (though apparently they can do either of these
> activities
> as long as they don't do both at the same time).
> Please have this discussed/clarified in debian-legal as well.
> [1] In
> http://groups.google.com/group/tiraniaorg-blog-comments/browse_thread/thread/2a07b8b50038d8c8/d582162af2d63d57
> de Icaza states that you need to "get/download Moonlight from Novell
> which will include patent coverage"
> [2] http://www.microsoft.com/interop/msnovellcollab/moonlight.mspx

I don't see how possible but unclaimed patents would make moonlight in
Debian more dangerous than any software such as wine, linux, samba, OOo,
ntfs-3g, etc.

On Mon, 2008-10-06 at 15:46 +0200, Robert Millan wrote:
> Moreover, the word "implementation of Silverlight" doesn't seem
> accurate
> when referring to a product instead of a standard. You probably meant
> to
> say this is a "clone of Silverlight".

Yep, like I said, you're right, my fault for not double-checking the
text from the debian-multimedia package. Will fix.

It's a team-maintained package, and we're trying to keep track of any 
problems or potential problems - keep an eye on 
http://wiki.debian.org/Teams/DebianMonoGroup/Moonlight if you want to 
track progress. Upstream are also aware of any concerns we have, and 
are trying to clear things up where possible.

Thanks for your work on the topic, and I'll be sure to update our Wiki 
page to reflect the points you've raised!

--Jo Shields
[member of Debian Mono Group]

** Note, apologies to debian-devel@ for the offtopic nature of these
messages, my reply is aimed at debian-devel only for mailing list
archive purposes **

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