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Novell Buys Ximian, Mono Drafts Road Map

Novell Buys Ximian, Mono Drafts Road Map

August was Mono's biggest news month ever: the Mono Project's sponsor, Ximian, was bought by Novell, a draft road map to the version 1.0 release was drawn, and Mono version 0.26 was released. In other news of open source, DotGNU plans to release version 0.1 of Portable.NET at the end of September.

Novel Buys Ximian
When I heard the news, I sent Miguel a congratulatory e-mail; he replied that it was fantastic news. Indeed, it does look like a fantastic merger. Novell historically has not been a player in open source, but in the past year or so has committed to open source. By porting all their NetWare services to Linux, and giving them a priority at least equal to the NetWare versions, I think Novell is "betting the company" on Linux more than any other company. Although a newfound friend to open source, by challenging SCO intellectual property claims in Linux, and denying SCO the right to revoke IBM's AIX licenses, Novell has been a good friend to the open source community at a critical time.

In addition to moving their products (Directory Services, GroupWise, etc.) to Linux, Novell also hopes to become more of a services company. Gaining access to Ximian products - such as Evolution and Connector for Microsoft Exchange and Outlook functionality and compatibility, the open source GNOME desktop (Miguel founded GNOME, another open source project supported by Ximian), Ximian Desktop 2 (a bundle of products to make Linux more friendly to Windows users), and Mono for the .NET Framework - will go a long way toward helping Novell succeed in this market. (Competing in services is a big undertaking, and I suspect Novell will need to build and buy a number of other pieces to complete the services puzzle.)

Mono, other Ximian products, Linux, and open source in general should also receive a boost. Mono gains a sponsor with deep pockets and a long history in the computer industry. Mono and GNOME will continue as open source projects, and should only expand as a result of the merger. Ximian's other products will gain from Novell's presence and reputation in enterprise-level corporations.

Mono 0.26 Release
Mono has just released version 0.26 with so many improvements that I can only list the highlights here. Go to www.go-mono.com/archive/mono-0.26.html for the complete list.

Taking advantage of the new build system added to the last release, Mono 0.26 has builds for version 1.0 and 1.1 compatibility, plus a build that includes the start of version 2.0 extensions such as generics and anonymous methods. There have been a lot of general changes; the assembler now has support for generics, and passes the entire test from Rotor (the Microsoft implementation of .NET for BSD). The top 88 C# bugs have all been fixed; the class library is much closer to being signature compatible with the Microsoft libraries; and the runtime is better optimized.

SourceGear, maker of the Vault source control system, continues to help with improvements in networking, Web services, and the core of Mono. The Xr graphics library has been renamed as the Cairo graphics library. Cairo is an open source library, but is not a part of Mono or Portable.NET. Mono now has a VB CodeDOM (code document object model), a key piece of software for the Visual Basic compiler. System.Windows.Forms continues to mature and improve: common dialog boxes, standard controls, and better Wine integration have been worked on in the past month. Everything related to XML or Web services has been improved, including XSLT, XPath, XPathNavigator, XML serialization, and DTD - all have seen big improvements. Remoting, security, and JScript continue to progress.

Road Map
For most of its existence, the Mono project has released new versions "when enough things had changed, and someone found time to make a package." For the past six months, Mono has been releasing a new version about every month, and is getting better at putting the packages together. As a result, Mono is working on a road map (now in draft form) that schedules a new version every month, with a true release 1.0 coming in early 2004, then 1.1.0, and 1.1.1 (including a preview version of System.Windows. Forms) around midsummer 2004. I will pass on more details as they become available.

Portable.NET
DotGNU has set the end of September as the release date for version 0.1 of Portable.NET. DotGNU is working on completing basic functionality in the PnetC compiler, fixing System.Xml bugs, and getting the core widgets in System.Windows.Forms working. I will write more on this in the next few months, but by the time you read this, it may already be available; check www.dotgnu.org for announcements.

More Stories By Dennis Hayes

Dennis Hayes is a programmer at Georgia Tech in Atlanta Georgia where he writes software for the Adult Cognition Lab in the Psychology Department. He has been involved with the Mono project for over six years, and has been writing the Monkey Business column for over five years.

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