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Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Mono for .NET applications on Linux, Solaris, Mac OS X, Windows, and Unix.

Mono is an open-source project providing the necessary software to develop and run .NET client and server applications on Linux, Solaris, Mac OS X, Windows, and Unix.

What is Mono™ exactly?

The Mono Project is an open development initiative sponsored by Novell to develop an open source, UNIX version of the Microsoft .NET development platform. Its objective is to enable UNIX developers to build and deploy cross-platform .NET Applications. The project implements various technologies developed by Microsoft that have now been submitted to the ECMA for standardization.

The Mono Project has also sparked a lot of interest in developing C#-based components, libraries and frameworks. The most important ones, some of which were developed by the Mono team, are:

  • Gtk# (http://gtk-sharp.sf.net): Bindings for the popular Gtk+ GUI toolkit for UNIX and Windows systems. Other bindings are available: Diacanvas-Sharp and MrProject.
  • #ZipLib (http://www.icsharpcode.net/OpenSource/SharpZipLib/Default.aspx): A library to manipulate various kinds of compressed files and archives (Zip and tar).
  • Mono.Directory.LDAP / Novell.Directory.LDAP: LDAP access for .NET apps.
  • Mono.Data: We ship support for PostgreSQL, MySql, Sybase, DB2, SqlLite, Tds (SQL server protocol) and Oracle databases.
  • Mono.Cairo: Bindings for the Cairo (http://www.cairographics.org) rendering engine (Our System.Drawing is implemented on top of this).
  • Mono.Posix / Mono.UNIX: Bindings for building POSIX applications using C#.
  • Mono.Remoting.Channels.Unix: Unix socket based remoting
  • Mono.Security: Enhanced security and crypto framework
  • Mono.Math: BigInteger and Prime number generation
  • Mono.Http: Support for creating custom, embedded HTTP servers and common HTTP handlers for your applications.
  • Mono.XML: Extended support for XML
  • Managed.Windows.Forms (aka System.Windows.Forms): A complete and cross platform, System.Drawing based Winforms implementation.
  • Remoting.CORBA (http://remoting-corba.sourceforge.net/): A CORBA implementation for Mono.
  • Ginzu: An implementation on top of Remoting for the ICE (http://www.zeroc.com) stack

What is the difference between Mono and the .NET Initiative?

The ".NET Initiative" is a somewhat nebulous company-wide effort by Microsoft, one part of which is a cross-platform development framework. Mono is an implementation of the development framework, but not an implementation of anything else related to the .NET Initiative, such as Passport or software-as-a-service.

What technologies are included in Mono?

Mono contains a number of components useful for building new software:

  • A Common Language Infrastructure (CLI) virtual machine that contains a class loader, Just-in-time compiler, and a garbage collecting runtime.
  • A class library that can work with any language which works on the CLR. Both .NET compatible class libraries as well as Mono-provided class libraries are included.
  • A compiler for the C# language. In the future we might work on other compilers that target the Common Language Runtime.

Windows has compilers that target the virtual machine from a number of languages: (http://msdn.microsoft.com/net/thirdparty/default.asp#lang) Managed C++, Java Script, Eiffel, Component Pascal, APL, Cobol, Perl, Python, Scheme, Smalltalk, Standard ML, Haskell, Mercury and Oberon.

The CLR and the Common Type System (CTS) enables applications and libraries to be written in a collection of different languages that target the byte code This means for example that if you define a class to do algebraic manipulation in C#, that class can be reused from any other language that supports the CLI. You could create a class in C#, subclass it in C++ and instantiate it in an Eiffel program. A single object system, threading system, class libraries, and garbage collection system can be shared across all these languages.

Cotinue from Mono…

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