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By GCN Staff

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Mono: Good for the Novell desktop

One of the early sessions at LinuxWorld, being held in Boston this week, brought some interesting insights about Mono, a Novell-sponsored open-source implementation of Microsoft's .NET platform.

.NET, as you may know, allows programs written in any of a number of languages to work with one another on one runtime platform, allowing developers to pick and choose their best languages for different aspects of a project,

Miguel De Icaza, who is heading up the Mono project, spoke at a panel on platforms. You may have heard of De Icaza. He created Evolution, an Outlook-style Linux e-mail client. He now works on Mono for Novell.

One of the advantages of running Mono is that you can take applications written for .NET--ones written in Microsoft Visual Studio--and actually run them on a Linux machine. Mono is binary compatible with .NET, so any programs that run under .NET should be able to run under Mono as well.

De Icaza mentioned that about half the outside developers using Mono actually use Visual Basic to build their Linux apps. Others use C#, Microsoft's object-oriented C language. Neither is a language commonly associated with Linux.

Surprisingly, Novell itself uses C# to write many of the applications for its own desktop Linux distribution, De Icaza said. 'Our focus has been mostly in desktop applications. We can also run the server components on .NET. To be honest I'm not too excited with the server side. I've always been a desktop person and that is where my passion is,' he said.

He demonstrated a photo management program that ran through Mono. The Mono platform allowed De Icaza to easily add functions from other applications to the menu of the photo program, such as an option for burning CDs. This program can also interface with the Flickr online photo repository, through standards-based Web services calls.

Another interesting tidbit De Icaza added was that in many cases, a program running on the .NET or Mono platform could actually be faster than one running natively. This is surprising news for those used to the lag caused by the Java virtual machine, which allows code written in that language to run anywhere.

But .NET's virtual machine (the component that actually runs the program code) itself has been shown to run Python faster than running Python natively.

He said the Mono VM is not as fast as .NET ('They have more engineers' he said of Microsoft), but it can still run most languages faster than they would perform in their native implementations. 'We have high hopes for PHP and other languages running on Mono,' he said.

If Mono takes off, the lines between Windows and Linux will blur even further...

Posted by Joab Jackson

Posted by Brad Grimes, Joab Jackson on Apr 04, 2006 at 9:39 AM


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