Linux distributor Novell has announced the official release of Mono 1.2. The latest version of Novell’s increasingly popular open source .NET implementation features performance and stability improvements, improved Java functionality, and support for Microsoft’s WinForms API.
An important milestone leading up to Novell’s goal of .NET 2.0 support, the inclusion of the WinForms API in Mono 1.2 significantly simplifies the process of porting .NET applications from Windows to Linux and other supported platforms. Developers can now use WinForms to produce cross-platform compatible user interfaces for .NET applications. Mono 1.2 could potentially facilitate broader deployment of existing .NET applications, and reduce development overhead associated with cross-platform compatible desktop software. Here at Ars, we have been watching the progress of Mono WinForms development for several months. Mono has come a long way since some of the first GDI examples where demonstrated early this year.
Relatively high memory consumption and performance bottlenecks are commonly perceived as being amongst Mono’s most significant weaknesses. Some critics frequently refer to various performance issues to support arguments against broader adoption of Mono technology in open source projects, most notably within the GNOME community. The performance improvements in Mono 1.2 could potentially address such criticisms, but it is likely that a lot more work will be required before the problems are completely resolved.
Mono—which is used in a number of high-profile open source desktop applications like Beagle, F-Spot, and Banshee—is rapidly becoming an integral part of the Linux desktop. Mono is also being adopted by some proprietary software vendors that wish to incorporate integrated .NET scripting support into cross-platform desktop applications. Developers of Second Life, for instance, have considered using Mono to provide a more sophisticated scripting system for the popular virtual world software.
Although Mono technology has been adopted with great enthusiasm by many users and developers, Novell’s recent agreement with Microsoft has created some uncertainty within the open source community, and some fear that the software infringes on Microsoft’s intellectual property, creating the risk of potential litigation. In response to concerns voiced by the community, Mono developer Miguel de Icaza wrote a blog entry to clarify several issues. According to de Icaza, Mono currently does not infringe on any of Microsoft’s patents, and infringing code will not be added in the future.