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Still Bringing Windows Developers Over to Linux, Mono Gathers Speed

Still Bringing Windows Developers Over to Linux, Mono Gathers Speed

The managing editor of XML.com, Edd Dumbill, has just published an account of a 2-day meeting held last week in Novell's offices in Boston under the auspices of its Ximian division in Boston, MA.

The focus of this meeting was on the development of the Mono runtime, which is an implementation of the Common Language Infrastructure standardized via ECMA for use of which Microsoft has granted a license under so-called "reasonable and non-discriminatory" terms. The meeting was open to anyone interested in meeting the Novell Mono team and interested in Mono, C#, Gtk#, ASP.NET on Unix, Dashboard and other related technologies. It was the first time that the entire Mono team of 12 core developers had actually met face to face, and was therefore a historic occasion. Fifty or so people attended in all.

Mono now has a completely new user interface, MonoDevelop, which "looks and feels like a GNOME application," writes Dumbill.

"Also," he adds, "it can't be ignored that the Mono compiler is blisteringly fast." 

Dumbill's report of the meeting ends with the following musings:

"Linux development is going to look very different if Mono succeeds in its goals. There's no doubt in de Icaza's mind: "To me C is dead. Except for the JIT!" Where does this place the future of the Linux desktop, and in particular, the project de Icaza himself founded five years ago, GNOME?

GNOME is currently pursuing a series of incremental point releases, with 2.6 due any moment now. The expectation for GNOME 3.0, however, is that a lot of the platform will use Mono, rather than the C implementation it has now. While no formal announcements have been made to this effect, it seems to be the strong hope of Ximian personnel."

"That will be an interesting journey," Dumbill adds, "as two other major backers of GNOME are IBM and Sun."

"The attitude of these companies to .NET is at the moment uncertain," he continues, "with both having a substantial interest in Java. The irony of Sun's successful (yet oddly-named) GNOME desktop - the 'Java Desktop System' - being based on .NET might be a little too much for them to swallow."


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Most Recent Comments
Tokugawa 03/14/04 05:40:07 AM EST

.NET != Java. Period. I have been sceptical too. But now ??
No.. I will not fallback. I'm writting a simle Gtk# app now...
in C# ?? no, in nemerle. And it's easy and clean...and fast..

Lloyd 03/12/04 05:33:23 PM EST

.NET is NOT like Java
it looks like Java, as much as Java looks like a clean C++
but there is the same GAP in differences ....

performance, easy (almost direct) (native) DLL call, a few keywords grammar enhancement, catch all for exception, a single API for the embeded and the desktop (while PJava is dying, J2ME has a completely different GUI and, BTW, PJava is so amazingly slow whereas the CompactFramework proved to be almost as fast as a native application)

on a personnal note while Java proves more productive than C it was always somewhat frustrating, whereas C# proved to be everyday better.

commmon try it instead of speaking out of ignorance

James 03/12/04 02:25:36 PM EST

More likely what will happen if Miguel and co. decide to base GNOME 3 on Mono is that the project will fork. Those of us who want speed and independence from Microsoft will use the "old" GNOME and those who are not concerned about performance or the threat of litigation from Microsoft can use the Mono one.

hayden 03/12/04 11:10:59 AM EST

RAND licencing usually means "reasonable and non-discriminatory" for business. What MS can (and probably will) do if Mono gets any traction is say, "We'll licence the right to use all these patents for 10 cents per install". Perfectly reasonable. Perfectly non-discriminatory. Kills any open source implementation dead.
Game over.

dmiller 03/12/04 10:49:10 AM EST

>for use of which Microsoft has granted a license under so-called
>"reasonable and non-discriminatory" terms.

I respect Miguel, but I think he seriously underestimates the risk posed by MSFT's patents in this area.

"Reasonable and non-discriminatory" (RAND) does not imply "free". RAND was the proposed licensing requirement for W3C patents that was howled down by the community.

Given that MSFT is willing to finance SCO to use arguably illegal tactics to destabilise and discredit free software, who would expect that they are above enforcing a small fee for every patent needed to implement Mono? They needn't do this immediately, in fact it is in their interest to wait until the technology is widely adopted, so they can slug everyone at the same time. Note that the usual legal defences against "submarine patents" won't work either if the terms have been disclosed to be RAND all along.

omicronish 03/12/04 05:48:47 AM EST

Mono is particularly interesting for people like me, who primarily do Windows coding using Microsoft technologies but are still interested in Linux. Sure, Java and C developers probably don't care about Mono, but I would love to see a Linux implementation of .NET simply because of the possibility of running my current Windows .NET applications on Linux with minimal changes.

ignavus 03/12/04 05:47:48 AM EST

Maybe SWT is the answer - it is fast, Java, and uses either Gtk or Motif on Linux, while also running on Win32 without a recompile. Swing sucks for speed, and AWT just plain sucks.

cryptoluddite 03/12/04 05:42:53 AM EST

There is almost no difference between C#/Mono/.NET and Java, but almost no Linux developers write in Java. Check out your distribution's packages and you'll almost see more JVMs than Java apps. And for some reason Linux developers avoid Java like the plague, even though it's got a gazillion features that make everything so much easier (garbage collection, huge consistent class library, security, etc). Put in a GTK or QT library interface instead of the slow and huge Swing (that Smalltalkers foisted on Java) and you're golden -- there's every reason to use Java, especially for applications.

The Linux culture has so far prevented Linux from taking the next step. Just look the (essentially) complete lack of interest in gcj (gcc open-source java). Just look at the slow pace of Mono. It isn't goind to happen anytime soon, unless the Linux app community wakes up and sees the future. Yeah, 10 years from now we'll still be doing manual memory management. Sure...

WombatConrol 03/12/04 05:41:04 AM EST

Mono suffers from the fact that they're trying to play follow the leader by following Microsoft's implementation rather than creating a system of libraries from scratch.

Microsoft has a history of pulling the old "embrace and extend" trick, and I fear something similar may happen here.

My guess is that Microsoft will significantly alter the .NET APIs for Longhorn, leaving Mono behind with older legacy libraries that are no longer interoperable with the Microsoft compiler and the rest of the Windows-using world. Needless to say, that would be bad for the Mono team.

Still, if Mono can remain independent, it could very well have a bright future. The Mono team has done a great job of implementing most of the 1.0 .NET API, and the mcs compiler is pretty fast. The GTK bindings are quite nice for such an early release.

Still, the cognitive dissonance of compiling a Linux program and getting a file with an .exe extension is rather difficult...

ContraryOpinion 03/12/04 05:38:40 AM EST

Miguel, C lives on.

.NET is much like Java, and C hasn't died from the adoption of Java.

miguel 03/12/04 05:34:54 AM EST

Readers might want to look at Nemerle (www.nemerle.org)
a nice functional language that runs on .NET and