Open-source .Net takes shape

An update to the Mono open-source software development project brings programmers one step closer to writing Microsoft .Net applications for Linux and Unix.

Martin LaMonica Former Staff writer, CNET News
Martin LaMonica is a senior writer covering green tech and cutting-edge technologies. He joined CNET in 2002 to cover enterprise IT and Web development and was previously executive editor of IT publication InfoWorld.
Martin LaMonica
Builders of the Mono open-source development project released an update on Tuesday that will let programmers write Microsoft .Net applications for Linux and Unix operating systems.

The goal of the Mono Project, spearheaded by open-source desktop software company Ximian, is to create an open-source version of Microsoft's .Net development software. .Net encompasses development tools, online services and software that allows applications to run on any version of the Windows operating system.

Once the Mono Project is completed next year, developers will be able to build .Net applications that run on Linux and Unix. As part of the ongoing work, contributors to Mono are creating extensions to the Gnome development software for Microsoft's C# language, which should enable Linux programmers to write .Net-compatible applications.

In its latest release, Mono has introduced a "run-time" server that will let Linux developers create applications that are compatible with Microsoft's ASP.Net format, said Miguel de Icaza, the chief technology officer of ="http: www.ximian.com"="">Ximian and leader of the Mono Project.

ASP.Net is a set of programming interfaces used to build applications that serve database information to Web browsers. The ASP.Netserver within Mono can connect to several databases, including Oracle, Microsoft SQL Server, Sybase, MySQL, Postgres and databases that are compatible with Microsoft's Open Database Connectivity (ODBC) and OLE DB application programming interfaces.

Microsoft has submitted its C# language and other run-time software to the ECMA and the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) standards bodies. However, the founders of the Mono Project think that Microsoft's software licenses are too restrictive. Under the Mono Project's license, developers can write and freely distribute commercial .Net applications.

One independent software provider, OpenLink, is embedding Mono in its own product to allow companies to build XML-based Web services and database access programs for a range of operating systems.

Another software maker, Tipic, is expected to announce plans Monday to use the crossplatform version of .Net to build editions of its Windows instant messaging software for Linux and Unix.

The update is available for download from the Mono Project ="http: www.go-mono.com="" index.html"="">Web site.