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Open source .NET set to become reality

It's been a year since Project Mono was initiated with the aim of developing an open source version of the .NET development platform and now IT-Director checks in on its progress.

News Analysis
Open source .NET set to become reality

The project to develop an open source version of Microsoft's .NET will report progress at this week's O'Reilly Open Source Convention (OSCON) in San Diego. Project Mono was initiated last year with the aim of developing an open source version of the .NET development platform and is led by Ximian, one of the leading open source development companies. Twelve months on and its time to check on progress.

The main driver behind Project Mono was that it would enable developers to rapidly deliver .NET compatible software on Linux platforms. The Mono framework includes a C# compiler, class libraries compatible with Microsoft's CLI that enable developers to build end user applications and Web services. At the core of the framework is a Common Language Run Time "just in time" run time engine which allows Linux based systems to run .NET applications that have been built on Linux, Unix or Windows platforms.

Since the project was announced at last year's OSCON about 10 Ximian developers have been working on the framework and there have been nearly 100 contributions from outside developers. So far over half a million lines of code have been cut.

The first deliverable will be "Mono Core", pencilled in for later this year, which will mimic the .NET Framework for the Linux and Unix operating systems. There is still much work to be done, but so far the team have completed a JIT (Just In Time) run-time engine and a self hosting C# compiler, both of these products will be demonstrated by Ximian's Chief Technology Officer, Miguel de Icaza, at OSCON this week.

So far, the Web services market is still warming up with every vendor having some form of Web services pitch with which to try and entice end users. Ximian's main business is to enhance and develop the Linux platform for the end user and its move into the .NET fray is a welcome diversion to the Redmond giant's usual attempted dominance at anything it touches.

The task is not easy. There are some aspects of .NET that are difficult to implement on other platforms such as Windows Forms, which are Microsoft APIs. The Project Mono group is not daunted by the scale of its task and must be commended for taking Bill et al head on in an area that Microsoft hopes to use to control the world's applications.

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