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Mainsoft, Novell Give Mono a Push

Portable.NET makes progress on WinForms

Novell and Mainsoft have committed programming resources to Mono; Mono has released version 0.29, adding Unicode support from IBM. Portable.NET has made progress on WinForms, including multidocument interface (MDI) applications using the XWindows library.

Not Exactly True
An Associated Press story claimed Novell has hired 40 programmers in India to work on Mono. The facts are that Novell has long had about 350 programmers working in India; they have transferred 40 of those to work full time on open source projects. Of those 40, between 5 and 10 are now working on Mono. The new Mono coders will work on all parts of the Mono project.

Mono and DotGNU have always been international projects, and a number of corporations have committed to parts of Mono. Combining both, Mono is getting a boost from Mainsoft's commitment of a group of programmers in Israel to work on the Mono implementation of ADO.NET and ASP.NET. Mono has had a working ADO.NET implementation for a while, including native connectors to more databases than Microsoft. Although the Mono ADO.NET implementation has a lot of functionality, ADO.NET is a big project and can use help, especially in implementing high-end features and making them scalable and robust. This could be a big boost for enterprise-level Mono. Mono has also had ASP.NET running for a while, and indeed has just declared its ASP.NET feature complete. This is in part due to the recent push from Mainsoft, but there are still bugs to fix, and lots of performance tuning to keep Mainsoft busy. One interesting point is that Mainsoft has for years licensed the source code for Microsoft operating systems, and specializes in tools and services for porting Windows software to Unix.

Also, a group of Novell programmers has donated a fully managed implementation of LDAP to Mono. This will also be used as the base for System.DirectoryServices.

Novell continues to be a pain in the side of SCO as they attempt to charge license fees to Linux users. Recently Novell claimed they did not sell SCO the copyright to the Unix source code. For up-to-date information and expert opinions on SCO versus IBM and related lawsuits, check out www.groklaw.net.

Mono 0.29 Released
With the 0.29 release, Mono is beginning to focus on the core pieces of the 1.0 release. Although there are still a number of 0.xx releases before the 1.0 release in Q2 2004, the distant rumbling has begun.

Support for Mac OS X and for 64-bit CPUs continues, but is still sketchy. The ahead-of-time compilers can now compile all of Mono with about a 20% improvement over the just-in-time compiler. Support for internationalization has made a big leap forward with the inclusion of the IBM International Components for Unicode, a complete set of Unicode libraries implemented under the X11 license, which allows nearly unrestricted use. For more details see http://oss.software.ibm.com/icu/index.html.

SWF (System.Windows.Forms) takes a step back. The recent changes to the SWF and System.Drawing (use of a GDI+ layer on top of Wine, Gtk#, etc. [see .NETDJ, Vol. 1, issue 12]) will enable us to move forward faster, but have temporarily broken a number of functions that were working. Currently, SWF works on Windows, but is broken on Unix. Hopefully, someone will step up and fix this. Web services and remoting continue to improve. The cryptographic libraries are basically complete but continue to be tweaked. In fact, the cryptographic libraries are already compatible with most of the .NET 1.2 specifications.

Overall, about 70 developers have made just over 3,000 commits and 300 bug fixes since the 0.28 release.

Portable.NET
Rhys Weatherley and Portable.NET continue to make great progress on WinForms, with new screen shots of graphics applications at http://pnet.homelinux.org/screenShots.htm. These screen shots are from the sample application included with the DotGNU 0.1 CD. Other good news is that Portable.NET can now run MDI applications on Windows. This may not seem like much, but it is done using XWindows, which makes this quite a feat. The above link is off the new news page at Portable.NET (http://pnet.homelinux.org/news.htm). An interesting screen shot at www.gnu.org/projects/dotgnu/screenshot13.html is a new version of the old snake game.

The screen shot, up since November, is a console application written in the Whidbey version of .NET running under Portable.NET. Critics of open source .NET have harped on how Microsoft could make changes to .NET so fast that open source would not be able to keep up. Thus far I would say that both Mono and DotGNU have done admirable jobs of keeping up, and in some cases even getting code out before Microsoft. This may change with the Longhorn release, but that will be due more to OS limitations (Linux/Wine) than new .NET functions (Mono and DotGNU). But this is already being looked at, and Longhorn is not due, even from Microsoft, for a long time; the deep pockets of Novell may be of help here. Note also that Novell now owns both Suse and Ximian/Mono. Nice synergy, guys.

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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