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Monkey Business Starts Its Fourth Year

A look back at Mono

This column begins its fourth year. In the past I haven't done any year-in-review articles mainly because there was always too much news. But now that the Mono project is half-way through its fifth year and nears its third major release, version 1.2, I think it's time to look back at some of the major milestones that the project has passed, and mention a couple of milestone that it should reach in the near future. I will start this month with the Top 3 and then finish up next month.

Novell Buys Ximian
In October 2003 Novell bought Ximian. This was such a big boost for the Mono project that I hardly know where to begin. Mono is now tightly connected with SUSE, one of the major Linux distributions. Although Novell bought SUSE several months after it bought Ximian, if my reading of court documents in the SCO v IBM case is correct, the Novell/SUSE deal was already well under way (see www.groklaw.net for all the legal papers and discussions).

The deal resulted in a lot of Mono-based applications. Novell not only started distributing Mono with SUSE Linux, it also started distributing some of the more popular Mono apps and started basing many of its own enterprise applications such as iFolder on Mono as well.

Joining with Novell gave Mono access to the ECMA .NET committees that Ximian could only dream of.

The number of full-time employees working on Mono went from a few to over a dozen. This gave Mono a big boost over all, but SWF (System.Windows.Forms) and the VB compiler benefited the most from the increased manpower.

Corporate Mono users could also get better support, such as the classes on Mono taught by Novell.

And it's just nice to have the backing of a corporation with millions in the bank.

Mono Releases Version 1.0
With this release, Mono became real. Before it was a project, but with rev 1.0, it became a product. There was a stable version, with an install package you could put on a CD and give away or ship with a .NET product. I remember packing this on a CD with OpenOffice and some other Open Source software and passing out "Freedom from Microsoft" CDs at a Fourth of July party.

Although this version lacked some key features, most importantly, SWF, there were a number of companies shipping Web, Web Services, and console-based applications at the time. Many Open Source projects stay in development or beta for long periods of time, it is to Miguel's credit that Mono avoided this tar pit and shipped a real live 1.0 product fairly early in its development.

Mono Hooks Up with Mainsoft
Another key corporate partner for the Mono project was Mainsoft. Although there's no binding connection between Mono and Mainsoft, the two have been great partners for each other. Mainsoft develops and markets a product that lets Windows products be ported to Unix and Linux. Its hottest current product is called Grasshopper. It lets .NET programs to run on J2EE servers by converting the .NET intermediate code to Java bytecode and porting the .NET runtime libraries from C# to Java.

Mainsoft makes use of a lot of Mono code to do this and has contributed a lot of related code back to the Mono project, most importantly, VB.NET libraries and test code for many libraries.

Odds and Ends
Novell has renamed the Novell Desktop the SUSE Desktop and has donated the code to the Open Source community. This includes the new XGL 3D interface, which can be seen here www.Novell.com/linux/xglrelease/. Want to try it yourself? The Kororaa project has a live demo CD based on Gentoo Linux. You can find it at http://getkororaa.com/.

Mono Version 1.1.13 has had four minor releases and is now at version 1.1.13.4.

Niels Kokholm, Peter Sestoft, and the IT University of Copenhagen have added the 1.0 release of the C5 generics library to the Mono repository. You can read their report on how the libraries were designed at www.itu.dk/research/c5/Release1.0/ITU-TR-2006-76.pdf. It is 254 pages long and a bit technical, but if you read it, you be that much smarter. (Did you know a deck of 52 cards can be shuffled 10^67 different ways and that only 10^9 can be generated using a 32-bit seed?). Documentation for the library is at www.itu.dk/research/c5/Release1.0/c5doc/frames.htm.

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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Most Recent Comments
SYS-CON Australia News desk 04/28/06 12:53:35 PM EDT

This column begins its fourth year. In the past I haven't done any year-in-review articles mainly because there was always too much news. But now that the Mono project is half-way through its fifth year and nears its third major release, version 1.2, I think it's time to look back at some of the major milestones that the project has passed, and mention a couple of milestone that it should reach in the near future. I will start this month with the Top 3 and then finish up next month.

SYS-CON India News Desk 04/26/06 12:11:01 PM EDT

This column begins its fourth year. In the past I haven't done any year-in-review articles mainly because there was always too much news. But now that the Mono project is half-way through its fifth year and nears its third major release, version 1.2, I think it's time to look back at some of the major milestones that the project has passed, and mention a couple of milestone that it should reach in the near future. I will start this month with the Top 3 and then finish up next month.

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