Will Mono Become the Preferred Platform for Linux Development?


Getting Mono to its 1.0 release is the focus of the Mono team right now. This release is planned for June 2004, and will contain the .NET 1.0 and 1.1 APIs and an implementation of C# 1.0. By the end of the year, another release will add C# 2.0, .NET 1.2, and version 2.0 of Microsoft’s ASP.NET and XML technologies.

Further into the future, a planned Mono 1.4 release in August 2005 will include previews of Longhorn technologies Indigo and Avalon.

Linux development is going to look very different if Mono succeeds in its goals. There’s no doubt in de Icaza’s mind: “To me C is dead. Except for the JIT!” Where does this place the future of the Linux desktop, and in particular, the project de Icaza himself founded five years ago, GNOME?

GNOME is currently pursuing a series of incremental point releases, with 2.6 due any moment now. The expectation for GNOME 3.0, however, is that a lot of the platform will use Mono, rather than the C implementation it has now. While no formal announcements have been made to this effect, it seems to be the strong hope of Ximian personnel.

That will be an interesting journey, as two other major backers of GNOME are IBM and Sun. The attitude of these companies to .NET is at the moment uncertain, with both having a substantial interest in Java. The irony of Sun’s successful (yet oddly-named) GNOME desktop, the Java Desktop System, being based on .NET might be a little too much for them to swallow.