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Pnet Ported to the Simputer; Google's Summer of Code

Portable.NET has released version 0.7.2

Video of Portable.NET on the Simputer
Portable.NET has released version 0.7.2; it is primarily a bug fix release for version 0.7.0, but also contains some new features. New versions of the libffi and libcg libraries are supported, the Debian build build/platform files have been updated, the Basic compiler includes some previously missing String functions, System.Windows.Forms and System.Drawing get improved color handling and general fixes and improvements; also improved DB2 support has been imported from the Mono project.

Here is some old news that I missed. Back in December at the Linux/Bangalore 2004 conference, Encore Software released their Simputer, a low-cost computer based on open source software, meant for developing countries where getting the lowest price possible is critical. During a demo, Atul Chitnis, as a joke, offered a cup of coffee to the first person to port Protable.NET to the new computer. The infamous Gopal borrowed a PC to do the port, then borrowed a Simputer for test and debug, and completed the port in fewer than three days. When Gopal came to claim his coffee on the third day, Atul was so surprised that it took him a few seconds to realize what Gopal was talking about. Take a look at the video that shows Winforms running on the Simputer, and see if you think Atul got a great deal for his cup of coffee. The video can be seen at http://t3.dotgnu.info/code/Dotgnu_Simputer.avi.

Mono now has a new Unicode implementation. Mono started using ICU from IBM in late 2003 (see MB in DNDJ, Vol 2, iss 2). This was a big boost at the time that gave Mono access to a good implementation of Unicode without having to divert resources to it. However there were limitations. First, it was a separate C library that needed a C# wrapper, and the IBM implementation differed from the Microsoft .NET implementation in a number of places. The differences were handled by the C# wrapper. By the middle of 2004, Mono was using its own Unicode implementation, except when collation was being used (see MB in DNDJ, Vol 2, iss 7). Atsushi Enomoto has written a complete managed Unicode library for Mono. The task took about four months; about half of that time was spent looking for places where the Microsoft implementation is incompatible with the standard.

Mono is also gaining some new ports. A new port for Arm processors is missing only exceptions, and partial support for reflection. It is also missing a few specialized opcodes. A complete IA64 port has been checked in.

It turns out that the students working on the Mono projects for the Goggle Summer of Code project have been filing weekly status reports at http://groups.google.com/group/mono-soc?start=0. I moved back to the beginning and read the reports in the order they were submitted. It was an interesting exercise, and I learned a lot. Also starting in November, "Doctor Dobbs Journal" will be running four half-page articles per issue on Summer of Code projects written by the students themselves. The Summer of Code ends September 1 (after this goes to print), but next month I will cover the results of the projects.

Odds and Ends
Atsushi has also written a set of guidelines for the efficient use of XML under .NET. His list can be found at http://monkey.workarea.jp/lb/archive/2005/8-08.html.

A major new version of GTK+ (2.8) has been released. GTK+ is the tool kit used as a base for the Gnome Desktop. The major advance is that Cairo is now used as the core drawing library. This version will be included in version 2.12 of the Gnome desktop. Basing GTK+ on Cario makes it much easier to create complex forms for applications because the API relieves the programmer of much of the work that was previously required. It also includes anti-aliased controls and shapes. Cario is also the library on which Mono bases its System.Windows.Forms.

SharpDevelop has released another refresh of their 1.1 beta. They say it focuses on stability and has no major new features. Even so, there are several new features that I like. The supported version of Wix has been upgraded to version 2.0.3116.0, and Task View is now sortable. My favorite new feature is Netmodules; these are similar to object files in that several can be "linked" into a .NET assembly. This is new feature for .NET 2.0. The new version is downloadable from www.icsharpcode.net/OpenSource/SD/Download/.

Ben Maurer has written a browser for MSDN - it is only 220 lines long. You can see a screen shot of it at http://bmaurer.blogspot.com/2005/08/msdn-browser.html. Code is a click away. It uses GTK# 2.0 and C# 2.0 features. Ben starts college soon, where he will be forced to learn Java; he is trying to figure out a way to use the MainSoft Grasshopper project to write in C# and claim it really is Java. Such a joker!

More Stories By Dennis Hayes

Dennis Hayes is a programmer at Georgia Tech in Atlanta Georgia where he writes software for the Adult Cognition Lab in the Psychology Department. He has been involved with the Mono project for over six years, and has been writing the Monkey Business column for over five years.

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