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Novell Unites SUSE and Mono

Portable.NET 0.1 ships

There are several big events to report on this month. Novell has bought SUSE, the Linux distributor. DotGNU has released the version 0.1 CD, and Mono has released two roadmaps (one for developers, one for users). Finally, Microsoft has put up grant money to support experiments with Rotor, the Microsoft open source version of .NET.

Novell Buys SUSE
Just a couple of months after buying Ximian (the sponsor of Mono), Novell bought SUSE, the German Linux distributor and key member of United Linux. SUSE is second only to Red Hat as the largest Linux distributor. You may remember back in my October column I mentioned that if Novell wanted to play in the services market, Mono would help, but it would need to build or buy a number of other pieces to complete the puzzle. Well, buying SUSE goes a long way toward completing the Novell package. However, Novell wants to play with the big boys, so I think they will continue to "fatten up" (although probably at a slower rate).

What effect the purchase of SUSE will have on Mono is not clear, but it should be positive. Mono supports a wide range of both processors and operating systems (as does Portable.NET), so I do not think Mono will be bent too unfairly to the advantage of SUSE/Novell. That being said, Novell buying SUSE - and Red Hat spinning off their non-enterprise Linux to the Fedora open source project - will change the landscape in the Linux world. Red Hat has probably been the most popular Linux distribution with Mono developers, as it has been with the general public, but I suspect the advantage will shift to SUSE. But certainly Mono will continue to run on everything from iPAQs to mainframes, including Red Hat/Fedora. One issue is that Miguel de Icaza started the GNOME project while working at the University of Mexico, and Ximian has long supported the project; SUSE, by default, uses KDE. It will be interesting to see how that plays out in the future.

The purchase of Ximian has been good for Mono thus far, as the number of programmers working on Mono as their primary jobs has increased from about 5 to 15.

DotGNU Ships the 0.1 CD
DotGNU has shipped the 0.1 CD, which is available at http://cart.cheapbytes.com/cgi-bin/cart/0070010950.html for $4.99. It can also be downloaded using BitTorrent, an open source peer-to-peer program. Basic information on the CD, including a view of the jacket cover, is available at www.gnu.org/projects/dotgnu/release.html. I will look at this in more detail next month.

Microsoft Offers Grants for Rotor Work
For the second time, Microsoft is offering grants for work on Rotor, their open source version of .NET. Grant proposals can be submitted by just about anyone for doing things such as creating educational material based on Rotor, adding experimental features to the compiler(s) and runtime, and supporting the community by maintaining branches of the source tree or helping out on the mailing list. The first sets of grants were for projects that ended back in September; over 40 projects received grants of up to $25,000. A sample of the projects included using Rotor to enhance a compiler course, several studies on garbage collection, and adding support for assertions to the CIL (.NET intermediate bytecode). Most of the grants were to universities, but I did notice a couple of commercial entities on the list.

The deadline for this round of grants is January 15, so hurry on over to Deadline of Grants to get the details. You can see the list of grants that were awarded in the first batch at Grants Awarded. I will try to give more warning when future grants come up.

Mono Roadmaps Released
Mono version 1.0 is expected to be released in the first quarter of 2004, and will reflect the Microsoft versions 1.0 and 1.1. This release will have full support for the C# compiler/runtime package and core libraries, as well as solid ASP.NET and ADO.NET support. In addition, going beyond Microsoft it will also include access to some standard open source libraries such as gtk#, and database connectivity for MySQL. It looks like System. Drawing will make the cut, but System.Windows.Forms will appear only for experimental purposes.

The late 2004 release of version 1.2 will mirror the Microsoft "Whidbey" version by including generics and as many other "Whidbey" features as possible (open source typically uses odd version numbers for development and even numbers for public releases). Some of these features will have experimental versions in the 1.0 release. System.Windows.Forms may also make its official debut in this release. Releases are planned to continue, one about every nine months.

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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