Mono's Future Clears: Xamarin Partners with Attachmate

Attachmate, the company that acquired Novell earlier this year and then laid off virtually all members of the company's Mono team, is now partnering with Xamarin, the startup created by members of that team to continue commercial support of the Mono Project.

Implemented through Attachmate's SUSE division, the deal grants Xamarin a broad, perpetual license to all intellectual property covering Mono, MonoTouch, Mono for Android and Mono Tools for Visual Studio. Xamarin will provide technical support to SUSE customers that use Mono-based products, and it will assume formal stewardship of the open source Mono Project and lead the community.

Xamarin co-founder and Mono Project originator Miguel de Icaza announced the partnership Monday on his blog. "We are a young company, but we are completely dedicated to these mobile products and we cannot wait to bring smiles to every one of our customers," de Icaza wrote.

Mono is an open source implementation of the .NET Framework based on C# and the Common Language Runtime (CLR). Novell had been the main commercial supporter of Mono since it acquired Ximian, a company founded by de Icaza and Xamarin co-founder Nat Friedman.

Attachmate, a maker of terminal emulation software, legacy modernization systems, managed file transfer apps and enterprise fraud management solutions, completed its acquisition of Novell in April. The company now operates Novell's assets as two separately branded business units: SUSE, which includes the SUSE distribution of the Linux operating system, and Novell, which comprises the rest of the company's assets.

Among other things, the partnership aims to reassure customers using Mono Enterprise products on SUSE Linux Enterprise Servers (SLES) and SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop (SLED) systems will continue to receive "great support backed by the engineering team at Xamarin," de Icaza wrote. "Current SUSE customers using Mono developer tools, including MonoTouch, Mono for Android and Mono Tools for Visual Studio, will receive support and updates directly from Xamarin for the remainder of their subscription period," the two companies said in a statement.

Under Novell, the Mono team created MonoTouch, which allows developers to create C# and .NET apps for iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch devices, and Mono for Android for developers creating apps for devices running that OS. Novell owned both of those technologies, which would have meant that Xamarin would be building some of its initial products from scratch.

MonoTouch for iOS and Mono for Android are available now from the Xamarin store.

Xamarin is also continuing development of the Moonlight Project, an open source implementation of Microsoft's Silverlight media framework.

Nils Brauckmann, president and general manager of Attachmate's SUSE business unit, characterized the partnership as a "triple win."

"[It's] a win for SUSE, a win for Xamarin but, most importantly, a win for our customers, users and community," he said in a statement. "Our partnership ensures SUSE customers continue to get the best support possible, enables the bright team at Xamarin to achieve success in their promising new venture, and provides continuity of stewardship for the Mono open source community project in the very capable hands of its most passionate evangelists."

Xamarin's Mono stewardship will include "the larger Mono ecosystem of applications," de Icaza said, including MonoDevelop and other Mono-centric projects on the GitHub Web site.

About the Author

John K. Waters is the editor in chief of a number of sites, with a focus on high-end development, AI and future tech. He's been writing about cutting-edge technologies and culture of Silicon Valley for more than two decades, and he's written more than a dozen books. He also co-scripted the documentary film Silicon Valley: A 100 Year Renaissance, which aired on PBS.  He can be reached at [email protected].