Novell Debuts Mono Beta To Challenge .NET

Novell this week released the first public beta version of its Mono 1.0 software — the company’s planned alternative to Microsoft’s .NET platform.

Novell took over the Mono project when it acquired open-source software vendor Ximian in August 2003, and the issues inherent in the merger were said to contribute to the delay in the release of the software, expected by some last year.

Mono lets Linux users run Microsoft ASP.NET and Web services applications without having to recompile their software. The first beta release also runs on Windows, Mac OS and Novell NetWare.

The software meets the definition of true open-source software.

Mono: True Open Source

“Open source is software that has the ability to see and modify the source code as long as the modifications are given back to the open source community,” Tommy Cathey, director of strategic relations for Blue Lance, told LinuxInsider in reference to the Novell Mono project. “Where closed software is just the opposite by the fact that you cannot modify the software.”

The beta software was posted to the Web site on Wednesday, where it was noted that a number of independent individuals have contributed to its design.

“Novell is proud to introduce the first beta release of Mono, an open-source implementation the .NET framework for use on Linux, Unix and Windows System,” the company said on its Web site.

The software includes a C# compiler, an implementation of the Common Language Infrastructure and two stacks of APIs: a Unix, Linux, Gnome Mono stack that takes advantage of Unix server and desktop capabilities; and a set of APIs compatible with the Microsoft .NET Framework 1.1 that provides support for ASP.NET Web services and Web forms, ADO.NET, and many other components.

Used Internally at Novell

The open-source software is currently being used internally at Novell to enhance several projects:

  • iFolder 3.0, a file system that provides synchronization, peer-to-peer sharing and metadata handling;
  • F-Spot, a photo-management application; and
  • Nautilus file manager, which the company plans to use to extend hooks into iFolder.

Other organizations are using Mono too, including SourceGear, which uses it to run its Vault application on Linux. OpenLink’s Virtuoso database uses it for its cross-platform .NET runtime hosting functionality.

Novell said the open-source software includes several benefits:

  • Mono provides a development environment for writing Linux applications with unprecedented productivity;
  • it allows developers to write rich-client, Web-services and server-side applications, and deploy them on Linux, Solaris, Mac OS X, Windows and various Unix systems on a variety of architectures; and
  • it delivers tools that facilitate the creation of product APIs and SDKs that are language independent across multiple operating systems.

One of Many New Linux Offerings

The array of new Linux-related products coming to market is generating enthusiasm in the computer industry.

“Many big businesses — that is, Microsoft, Sun, SCO and others — feel threatened by Linux. But many people in the industry believe that Linux — and other open-source programs — is the only way to battle Microsoft’s monopoly,” an academic observer of the Linux scene told LinuxInsider Friday.

According to Novell, Mono will open the way toward more cross-platform interoperability while allowing developers to write in higher-level, richer programming languages. The project is the brainchild of Miguel de Icaza, who joined Novell when it acquired his company, Ximian, last year.

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