Novell introduces Mono 1.0 platform

Novell has announced the availability of Mono 1.0, an open source development platform based on the .Net framework. The vendor encourages cross-platform development with the introduction of an open source platform that allows users with .Net knowledge to work in a Unix environment.

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By  Maddy Reddy Published  July 29, 2004

|~||~||~|Novell has announced the availability of Mono 1.0, an open source development platform based on the .Net framework. The Novell sponsored community initiative promises to make it easier to develop Linux and cross-platform applications. The non-commercial Mono project started in 2001 as an effort to port the .Net Framework to Unix. It takes elements from both the Common Language Infrastructure (CLI) and Microsoft’s C#, and should help developers apply their Windows knowledge in the Unix environment. “There are millions of .Net developers around the world. We do not want to make their skills redundant, we want them to continue to develop apps in the way they currently work. We want to give them [developers] an easy way, so they only have develop [applications] once and their software works on Windows and Linux,” says Martin Smith, director of operations, Novell EMEA. “We see a lot of customers in the Middle East evaluating Linux on the server and desktop. By 2005, Linux adoption will accelerate as governments and enterprises start the move to Linux. A lot of them currently use Windows .Net applications and we wish to enable them to move to Linux,” he adds. Since its beta launch in May this year, Mono has registered more than 50,000 downloads from Mono however, is not a full-fledged development suite like Microsoft’s Visual Studio 2003. Instead, it is a collection of porting tools. It includes a C# (pronounced C Hash) compiler, a .Net-compatible runtime and two stacks of application programming interfaces (API) that work with the Microsoft .Net Framework 1.1. It also offers libraries of prewritten code that allow developers to combine code written in different languages such as Visual Basic, Python, JScript and Java in a single app. Mono, which stands for Monkey in Spanish, could be the answer to the curtailed growth of Linux in the Middle East. With customers waiting for Linux applications and the independent software vendors (ISV) waiting for Linux customer references, the open source OS has been forced into a chicken-egg situation. Novell’s Smith believes that the application vendors, with some help from Mono, will now set the ball rolling. “All the major vendors have ported their apps to run natively on Linux, but they are not our targets and we do not see them as Mono users. Instead, there are thousands of smaller ISVs who develop customised and specialised apps with skills on .Net. The smaller ISVs do not have the resources of large enterprise app vendors. Once all the major apps are running Linux, the smaller ISVs will follow. We want to help them expand their business into the Linux market very easily, without having to re-skill or retrain,” he explains. Microsoft’s Middle East office is yet to get fully up to speed on Mono. However, when the platform does arrive, the Redmond giant believes it will be complementary to its own .Net efforts. “Novell’s introduction of Mono shows the value of .Net — they [Novell] are trying to emulate our .Net strategy,” says Haider Salloum, marketing manager, Microsoft South Gulf. “Unlike [Novell] we do not support multiple platforms… because the cost of development escalates when you do, [therefore] making it very expensive. Hence we have decided to stick to one platform, instead of supporting the lowest denominator,” he adds. The desire to solve compatibility issues for developers is a key issue for many vendors at the moment. Even prior to the launch of Mono, Microsoft signed an agreement with Sun Microsystems to put aside their differences and work towards better interoperability. “Our recent agreement with Microsoft ensures that when developers build Java apps for Windows platform, Microsoft doesn’t need to change the goal post the week after. Customers should be able to make the choice, without worrying about technical compatibility,” says James Bliss, software solutions sales manager for Sun Microsystems in the MENA region. Sun’s plan for openness extends beyond making friends with Microsoft and the vendor reportedly has plans to open source Java. This initiative, coupled with Mono, could eventually give customers more choice than ever to run any application on any platform they wish. ||**||

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