Novell has announced availability of the first full-point release of Mono, an open-source development platform based on Microsoft’s .NET framework. The software is designed to help developers build cross-platform applications that are compatible with .NET services.
“Even as Linux grows on enterprise desktops, developing applications for the Linux desktop has been challenging because existing tools were extremely technical and complex,” said Miguel de Icaza, Novell’s vice president of development and founder of the Mono project. “Mono helps developers focus on what they are doing rather than the nitty-gritty details of the platform they are working with.”
The software, available in beta since May, includes a runtime environment for Microsoft .NET applications, a compiler for Microsoft’s C# language, and a development environment designed to give Linux programmers an alternative to their current range of development tools.
Promoting Easy Development
Mono basically contains two stacks of application code — a Mono stack designed for Linux servers and desktops, and a set of application programming interface (API) software tools designed for .NET.
Although Mono has been criticized by some in the Linux community as an ill-advised clone of Microsoft’s .NET platform, the fact that it follows Microsoft’s strategy of promoting easy developer tools means that Linux software development will become simpler and more productive, de Icaza said.
“In Linux, the tools that we’ve been using are fairly primitive,” he said.
Already Being Used
Mono is already being used by German consulting firm Voelcker Informatik AG to port a large number of server applications used by the City of Munich to Linux.
Munich, the third-largest city in Germany, is in the process of migrating the city’s entire network of 14,000 computers to Linux. Voelcker is using Mono to develop identity management, help desk, asset management and provisioning software that will run on 350 Linux servers in Munich, de Icaza said.
“They develop everything using Visual Studio, and some of their customers deploy with Windows, and some deploy on Linux and Mono,” he said.
In addition, Novell has used Mono internally to develop the iFolder software that it released in March, de Icaza said. “They went from prototype to the version we have in less than a year,” he said.
Since the May beta release, more than 50,000 copies of Mono have been downloaded, de Icaza said. In addition to Linux, the software runs on the Mac OS X, Windows and Unix operating systems.
Hundreds of Programmers Participating
According to Novell, hundreds of programmers are participating in the Mono project worldwide, providing a large base for building applications on Linux.
“Although the Mono Project promises to simplify the process of building cross-platform applications, Microsoft does not view Mono as a competitive threat to its own development tools business,” said John Montgomery, director of marketing for Microsoft’s product division.
“Microsoft’s .NET Framework, the runtime software needed to run and build .NET applications for Windows, is very thorough and can address many different application development needs,” he added.