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Catch Mono on Linux

Linux is brought into the .NET fold. Linux hed: Catch Mono on Linux dek: Linux is brought into the .NET fold.

Microsoft’s .NET efforts have captured the industry’s attention, and raised the specter of a new computing environment that leaves Linux users, and users of all operating systems other than Windows, out in the cold. Not content to let that happen, Linux developers have jumped into the fray. A new project called Mono is working to bring Linux into the .NET fold and allow Linux developers to program in Microsoft’s new programming language, C# (pronounced C sharp).

The Mono effort aims to produce a C# compiler, the Common Language Runtime engine, and a set of all the class libraries necessary to run .NET software on Linux.

The C# compiler will allow Linux developers to program in this new language from Microsoft. This goes a long ways toward making Linux a player in the .NET world. The user interface component of the C# applications will be handled by the GNOME interface on Linux, instead of Win32 on Windows.

The common runtime engine will allow Linux to run .NET applications created on Windows or Linux, providing a greater cross-platform capability. As Microsoft releases more and more .NET software, Linux will be able to run these applications. The class libraries will allow developers to make use of all the prebuilt software routines for developing .NET applications.

All of this together provides an exciting new route for Linux.

Left out in all of this, of course, is Java. Microsoft is clearly downplaying Java, and ironically, Java has never really caught on with Linux developers. Since a major focus of Java is to provide software that runs regardless of the operating system, you’d think that Linux would be a natural fit, but most Linux developers still program in C or C++. Part of this was the lack of available Java tools, but that issue has gone away.

The Mono effort is lead by Ximian Inc., a company that creates open-source software for the Linux GNOME desktop. You can find out more about the Mono project http://www.go-mono.com/., http://www.ximian.com. For a project that was just announced, I’m surprised at how much has been accomplished. According to the status page www.go-mono.com/status.html, the C# compiler is actually parsing program source files. A lot remains to be done, though. This software is not anywhere near complete.

In addition, the Free Software Foundation is supporting another, complementary effort called DotGNU, and described at www.gnu.org/projects/dotgnu/index.htm.

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