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Open-Source Mono effort gains support

Three software companies -- OpenLink Software, Winfessor and Tipic -- recently weighed in with their support for Mono, an open-source implementation of the .NET Development Framework.

The Mono Project was launched in July 2001 by open-source software firm Ximian Inc., the Free Software Foundation and open-source communities. Mono today consists of a compiler for the C# language, a runtime for the Common Language Infrastructure (also referred as the CLR, or Common Language Runtime), and a set of class libraries.

''We have a community of 130 developers and growing,'' said Miguel de Icaza, co-founder and chief technical officer at Boston-based Ximian, as well as the founder and leader of the GNOME Foundation. ''These companies are using Mono as a runtime engine; it allows a .NET application to run on a different operating system, such as Linux and Unix.''

Burlington, Mass.-based OpenLink, which develops and deploys Universal Data Access and Web services middleware, uses Mono in the development of Virtuoso 3.0, its latest Universal Server release. New York City-based Tipic, a provider of Windows-based Jabber instant messaging servers, will use Mono to build a multiplatform server that works on Linux, Unix and Microsoft Windows servers. And Sacramento, Calif.-based Winfessor, a maker of universal collaboration tools, has brought out a .NET Jabber SDK for Mono that the firm says can enable developers to build cross-platform instant messaging applications. (Jabber is an open XML protocol for the real-time exchange of messages and presence between any two points on the Internet. The IETF is currently reviewing Jabber.)

Ximian's de Icaza said his company launched the Mono Project for several reasons. ''It is a very big alignment with the vision we had for the GNOME project [GNOME is a Windows-like interface for Unix and Unix-like systems] -- multiple language support, the ability to develop APIs once and a component architecture.'' At the same time, he said, Microsoft submitted C# and the CLI to the international standardization organization ECMA (which subsequently submitted them to the ISO), and is making them available on the FreeBSD platform under a ''shared source'' license. However, said de Icaza, the ''shared source'' license restricts use to educational purposes. Mono, he said, enables the deployment of commercial .NET applications for any platform.

According to de Icaza, there is no formal relationship between Ximian and Microsoft. However, he said, ''we have met a lot of the engineers working on .NET, and we have collaboration at an engineering level; it's more personal relationships.'' In addition, he said, Ximian was invited to participate in the ECMA committee meetings for C# and the CLI. ''So we're working through the ECMA level with a number of other companies, including Microsoft,'' he said. ''In January, we'll be working on new features added to .NET, so we won't be just catching up.'' Ximian receives no compensation for the Mono Project, he said, but does plan consulting engagements around Mono implementations.

About the Author

Colleen Frye is a freelance writer based in Bridgewater, Mass.

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