Recent Novell Open Source Hires

by Miguel de Icaza

Novell just hired Niels Bornstein, the co-author of Mono: A Developer's Notebook. The O'Reilly best-seller. Niel will be working on the Linux and Open Source practice group.

Also Tor Lilqvist, the developers who brought GIMP and Gtk+ to Windows has been hired to work full time on Gtk+ on Windows and to assist us porting various Gtk+ based applications to Windows. Nat's blog has more details.

Tor will initially be helping Frederik port our new Desktop Search tool Beagle to Windows:

Later he will take on the final step to make the world a safer place: bring Evolution (our email and calendar client) to Windows. Even Windows users deserve an email program instead of a petri dish of worms and viruses.

David Reveman one of two developers behind Glitz also joined Novell. He will be working full-time on completing and tuning Glitz as well as contributing to the Cairo imaging library (the framework that will become the foundation for most open source projects to do graphics rendering).

Glitz brings OpenGL-based acceleration to Cairo rendering (Cairo is Mono's substrate for implementing the System.Drawing namespace). Screenshots of Glitz rendering are availble here.

And finally Robert O'Callahan has joined the Novell desktop team to work full time on various Mozilla improvements. Robert is working on some pretty exciting things: Multi-column layout for web pages, improving Mozilla's SVG support and continuing Mike Shaver's work on MonoConnect.

Commondreams favorites

A few of my favorite articles from CommonDreams in the last few days:

Mono News

Tracking Performance: Tomas's team in Charles University has published the results from speed benchmarking on Mono to track potential performance regressions. On the graph you can clearly see Lluis' fix to the remoting channels (the large drop in the Tcp tests). These have caused quite a lot of excitement in the Mono team:


Following up on Zac's port of Gecko# to Windows (which is now used in the Windows Beagle port), we now have patches to run Monodoc with Gecko# instead of GtkHTML.

By Mono 1.2 I want to switch Monodoc to use Gecko, to let us use CSS instead of tables in our documentation rendering.

Mono Windows.Forms implementation is rapidly advancing, it is now capable of running Winforms NPlot, as opposed to my Gtk# port:

The Windows.Forms team has started a blog to track the major developments, it is available here.

DotRay: A ray tracer written in C# for .NET and Mono was recently announced. It will become a nice test for the performance tuning going into Mono (Mono's Arrays Bounds Check Elimination code was recently updated to eliminate some checks it was missing and the AMD64 bit port has support for the SSE instructions set, which we are going to backport to the x86 backend):

In the last couple of days people have been using Ben Maurer's Mono heap profiler:

Various improvements have been based on the tool: from System.XML memory reduction (1.5 megabytes shaved with a relatively small patch when loading a 25 megabyte file) to improvements to F-Spot memory usage.

Paolo also did some micro-tuning for P/Invoke hungry libraries; It shaved about 50k-60k of memory for Gtk# based applications on startup.

F-Spot also went through some performance tuning optimizations: Larry greatly improved the rendering speed when switching pictures and in particular when rotating photographies (F-Spot automatically rotates pictures based on the EXIF metadata of the image).

Robert Love's new Linux Kernel Book

Robert Love (here shown in his natural habitat) just got the second edition of his book "Linux Kernel Development" published. It now comes with a cute Novell cover. Get your copy today.

Companion to Pity the Nation

I keep churning through Chomsky's Fateful Triangle book (he now has a blog!)

Partly the book is a good complement to "Pity the Nation". Pity the Nation tells the story from Robert Fisk's standpoint a journalist in Beirut that covers the events on a daily basis. Chomsky's book on the other hand breaks up the various elements of the civil war by topic, so the actors and events are easier to identify in his book. Chomky's book lacks the sense of a story that Pity the Nation has though.


Keith Packard has a Blog. And I love it!

Posted on 19 Jan 2005

Mandatory Video

by Miguel de Icaza

I like to watch this video every six months, Larry Lessig's presentation at OSCON.

A trascript is available: here

One of my favorite quotes from this presentation is this:

In an interview two days ago, Watts said, Here's the problem with Washington: "If you are explaining, you are losing." If you are explaining, you're losing. It's a bumper sticker culture. People have to get it like that, and if they don't, if it takes three seconds to make them understand, you're off their radar screen. Three seconds to understand, or you lose. This is our problem. Six years after this battle began, we're still explaining. We're still explaining and we are losing.

Floating Point

Havoc and Elijah, you might be interested in What Every Computer Scientist Should Know About Floating Point.

Love, Miguel.

Posted on 15 Jan 2005

Visiting Seattle

by Miguel de Icaza

I will be in Seattle from the 23rd to the 28th of January. If you are in the area and would like to meet, have dinner, discuss free software, Mono, Gnome or debate interesting topics, drop me an email (

iPod and iTunes

Today a friend of mine asked me if I bought music from the Apple iTunes Store and whether she should. I explained to her that the music she purchases will be locked into the iPod and iTunes and she wont be able to play it on other MP3 players unless she hacks her music.

As for myself, I have been using FairKeys to copy the music to my Linux running laptop.

Today a timely article from the Register discusses some of the details.

As Cory Doctorow likes to point out about Digital Rights Management: Its not about what you can do today, its about they will allow you to do tomorrow.

Armed Spyware

Joe points to an article on spyware that exploits security holes to install itself on people's computers. An interesting read.

I have recommended my friends to use Macs or Linux in the past (If she can use Linux so can you). The only downside of Apple is that it creates a powerful distortion field.

Posted on 14 Jan 2005


by Miguel de Icaza

This coming March I will be at the Free Software and Open Source days in Istanbul.

Once I have traveled that far, the question is whether I should visit something else while am that far. The options are doing a technical stop in Paris, or doing more middle-eastish trips.

After reading Pity the NationI am left with a desire to visit Lebanon. Most likely I will have little time to spend in the Middle East though.

Mono Presentation in Dallas

Paco from the Mono team will be doing a presentation on January 18th at the Dallas Forth Worth .NET users group, details are here

Gnome LaunchBox

Lovely tool for starting apps in Gnome from the fine folks at Imendio: LauncBox.

Posted on 13 Jan 2005

Cecil on Mono SVN

by Miguel de Icaza

Jb Evain check his Cecil library into the Mono SVN repository (module name `cecil').

Cecil is a library that can be used to consume and produce CIL libraries. We are planning on using it for writing a "diet" program that will act as a "garbage collector" for assemblies (Paolo has written one already with the low-level C interface), allowing developers to create arbitrary profiles of the Mono class libraries given a starting root set. This will be handy addition to our bundles

In addition to that, there are various other things that we have in mind for Cecil: writing a new verifier, writing a bug-finder, writing a CLS and style compliance tool (like FxCop) and Jb's own work on his Aspect weaver.

Posted on 10 Jan 2005

Confessions of an Economic Hit Man

by Miguel de Icaza

I first found out about "Confessions of an Economic Hit Man" from this article on CommonDreams.

My copy of the book arrived yesterday and I have not been able to put it down. The book tells the story of a man that is trained to convince third-world countries to accept large loans for developing infrastructure. This is done by creating models and projections of the prosperity that such projects would bring to their countries.

The book tells a story of money being funneled from the World Bank loans into various corporations in the United States as well as the resulting unpayable debt that remains in the country. This debt can never be canceled and it is later exchanged by land, military bases, or favoring votes in the UN. In exchange politicians who accept these terms get a popularity boost from bringing infrastructure into the country.

The trick is to predict growth in terms of the gross national product. Even if the benefit goes to a single individual and the rest of the country is impoverished as a result.

There are three stages described in the book to ensure that a country gets the debt. The first step is to convince the country leaders of the benefits that it will bring to the population and the economic growth of the country. If the leaders refuse, then a second team referred to as "the jackals" perform targeted assassinations and if this fails, then the army is sent.

Any latin american has been a witness of these loans, the constructions and the special favors going to a few companies in the past twenty years. This book offers an insight into the inner workings of this process.

John Perkins tried to write this book four times, and four times he was convinced not to. This book is the fifth encarnation.

You always suspect something is fishy when living in Latin America, and the opposition typically blames large corporations for the sketchy deals. Sometimes the stories are so incredible that you can not believe them until you find documents like The Church Report.

Gnome Artwork and Software Piracy

Jakub points out that a company who is heavily borrowing GNOME's GPLed icons for its products and its web page has some strongs words about software piracy.

Posted on 08 Jan 2005

CommonDreams links

by Miguel de Icaza

An interesting an succint look at administration mistakes

Gecko# working on Windows

Thanks to the work of Zac Bowling the Mozilla bindings for Mono and Gtk# (Gecko#) are now working on Windows, see screenshot here.

This is using the standard Mozilla DLLs. His code is available here

Mono updates

There are plenty of updates from the land of Mono, I will write about those later. The most important things is that the new Windows.Forms implementation has replaced the old version on our repository, and that Geoff has implemented native MacOS X support for it.

On the JIT world Zoltan has completed the work to produce Position independent code (PIC) for our ahead-of-time compiled programs which will reduce the memory usage for long-running Mono applications.

In the meantime Massi continues to improve our SSAPRE and is going to be adding elements from GVNPRE to SSAPRE which in a single pass will give us some nice performance numbers for computationally intensive tasks.

Best Book in Years

I finished reading Robert Fisk's Pity The Nation a book that recounts the last 20 years of the story of Lebanon from the point of view of a war journalist. The book is gripping and its hard to put it down. Robert Fisk weaves plenty of different stories, anecdotes and interviews to produce a detailed tale of life in Lebanond during the civil war.

I have not read fiction for a long time, partially because books like this one tell a more vivid and interesting story than fiction does.

This book goes into the living standards, the traditions and the sources of various conflicts as well as covering the mistakes that every army makes in their search for conquest or liberation.

Of particular interest was watching the news with the reports from Iraq by the time I was reading the second half of the book, as it seems that the more we live and the more documented humanity mistakes are, the less we learn from them. Those who planned the latest war would have benefitted tremendously from reading Robert's account of the Lebanese conflict as they repeated the same mistakes the large armies did twenty years ago.

Its only 12 dollars for 700 pages of stories.

Posted on 07 Jan 2005

Documenting your Libraries with Monodoc

by Miguel de Icaza

Christian Hergert has written a tutorial on how to use the Monodoc tools to maintain the documentation for your Mono/.NET-based library.


On Saturday we will go for a week to Cancun on vacations. We are flying tomorrow to Mexico City and will be working from there for a couple of days and will take a chance to visit some friends.


Linux and Open Source

An article talking about Low Bug Counts on Linux. Another take on the same announcement.

A new Study on Linux vs Windows TCO by CyberSource.

Posted on 14 Dec 2004

Exposing Mono Libraries to C

by Miguel de Icaza

Alp has updated the Mono C binding generator cilc to support Gtk#.

The cilc tool is used to produce C bindings from Mono and .NET assemblies. The new Gtk+ support extends this to provide object inheritance of Gtk#-based widgets. So it is now possible to consume Gtk# widgets from C easily.

The code lives in CVS as part of mcs/tools/cilc

Back in November, 2001

Nat used to sleep a lot on airplanes.

Posted on 13 Dec 2004

Developing OpenOffice

by Miguel de Icaza

Michael Meeks has been contributing to OpenOffice for a couple of years now. Initially he made it simple to start contributing to the effort, and wrote the OpenOfficeOrg Hacking guide, and setup a site at Ximian to get open source developers to contribute, you can see it here:

With all the tools for newcomers to contribute to OpenOffice: Source Code Cross Reference, Bug Tracking System, Tinderbox Status and ready-to-hack source packages.

One of the best features is the Hackers Guide.

Yesterday he posted his slides on OpenOffice hacking here, I found some of them fascinating:


Edd, I agree that there is not much action on the IronPython development front, and we would be willing to host a hackable repository for maintaining IronPython.

We could then provide all these patches to Jim for when he has the cycles to do its upcoming release.

Logistically-wise, my hands are tied until January as Cancun is taking precedence over hacking in the upcoming weeks, but the new year is a good time to pick this up.

Mono Updates

We released the latest two versions of Mono 1.0.5 (production) and 1.1.3 (development) both with a long list of goodies.

In the Windows.Forms world, Geoff wrote a native Quartz driver for our Windows.Forms implementation, which you can see here. Geoff reports that we have feature parity with Windows.Forms

Also, ran into IronPHP the same concept of IronPython, but for PHP.

Also Duncan learned today that the University of California Irvine is teaching one of its compiler classes with Mono on MacOS X.

Posted on 09 Dec 2004

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