Microsoft Licensing Changes for IronRuby and IronPython

by Miguel de Icaza

If you check the latest versions of IronRubyIronPython or the Dynamic Language Runtime you will see that Microsoft has now relicensed the code from the Microsoft Permissive License to the Apache 2 License.

Posted on 17 Jul 2010


Spaniard Anger Towards Mexicans

by Miguel de Icaza

It has been brought to my attention that the upcoming 200 year celebration of Mexico's independence from Spain on September 15th has lead to office unrest all across the country between teams that have both Mexicans and Spaniards working side-by-side.

Spain might have won the world cup, but Mexico upgraded from being a colony of Spain and being subject to the will of the Kings of Spain, to a democracy subject to the will of drug dealers.

To resolve this animosity, I propose we settle the score this September 15th with a cook-off between Spaniard food and Mexican food.

I propose the cook-off from the Novell/Cambridge team be held at my place the weekend before the festivities to settle the score before the celebrations take place. We will make delicious tacos. Gonzalo will be making a Paella.

Posted on 17 Jul 2010


New Mono Runtime Features

by Miguel de Icaza

With Mono 2.8 we want to make it very easy for developers to use the LLVM powered Mono engine and the new Mono Garbage Collector.

Previously users had to build Mono from source code and choose as part of their build whether they wanted the Mono VM to be powered by LLVM or not and whether they wanted to use the Boehm GC or the new Generational GC. Typically users would have to keep multiple parallel Mono installations.

This is no longer necessary.

Mono 2.8 by default behaves just like any other Mono, by default you get the regular fast Mono JIT with the Boehm GC.

You can then pass the --llvm flag to instruct the Mono runtime to use LLVM for code generation (much slower to JIT, but produces better code for long-running applications or compute intensive applications).

To use the new garbage collector you pass the --gc=sgen command line argument.

New MONO_ENV_OPTIONS

We wanted users to try LLVM, SGen or the LLVM/Sgen combination without having to modify all of their launch scripts or existing tools so we introduced a new environment variable that Mono parses on startup, the MONO_ENV_OPTIONS variable.

Mono will parse the contents of the MONO_ENV_OPTIONS variable as if the arguments had been passed in the command line, so you could do a full bootstrap of Mono's class libraries with both by doing:

	$ export MONO_ENV_OPTIONS="--llvm --gc=sgen"
	$ make
	

How to test LLVM and SGen

Update: Both the --gc=sgen and --llvm options depend on your architecture and operating system being supported by SGen and LLVM and depend on you compiling your runtime with these features.

SGen will be automatically enabled if your OS/architecture is supported when you run configure.

LLVM requires the installation of the LLVM libraries. We strongly recommend that you use our modified version of LLVM that has been extended to support various constructs required by .NET.

For more information on compiling LLVM and building your Mono with it, see our web page

Posted on 14 Jul 2010


GZip your downloads

by Miguel de Icaza

Gonzalo yesterday pointed me to a feature in the HTTP client stack for .NET that I did not know about.

If you want the server to gzip the response before sending it to you, set the AutomaticDecompression flag in your HttpWebRequest:

	var request = (HttpWebRequest) WebRequest.Create (uri);
	request.AutomaticDecompression = DecompressionMethods.GZip;
	

This will set the Accept-Encoding HTTP header to gzip when you make your connection and automatically decompress this for you when you get the response stream.

Update: on the comments there is a suggestion that Deflate is another option you can use, and you can combine both GZip + Deflate on the flags above.

Update2: Dennis Dietric emailed me to point out an important bit: if the server side does not support GZip or Deflate content, you will could get a 406 return code, so when dealing with third party web sites you need to be prepared to fall back and retry your request without compression in place. The relevant sections of rfc 2616 are 10.4.7, 14.1 and 14.3.

Posted on 09 Jul 2010


Microsoft MS-PL code in Mono

by Miguel de Icaza

Over the past couple of years Microsoft has been open sourcing some key .NET libraries under the MS-PL or Apache 2 license.

We are tremendously grateful to Microsoft for making these components open source. This has allowed us to distribute this in the past, and we are going to be bundling a lot more of it with Mono 2.8:

In Mono 2.8, the following assemblies and code come from Microsoft:

With Mono 2.8 we are going to default to the .NET 4.0 profile. So from the list above MEF, the DLR, OData and MVC2 become first class citizens in Mono-land, no longer third-party packages that you needed to install.

Update: as of July 17th 2010, the DLR, IronPython and IronRuby changed their licenses from MS-PL to Apache2.

Posted on 07 Jul 2010


First MonoTouch Book is out

by Miguel de Icaza

I am very excited to see the first MonoTouch book published.

You could not ask for a better team of authors to explain the MonoTouch and the iPhone platform. Chris, Craig, Martin, Rory, and Wally.

This book was a team effort by various active members of the MonoTouch community. They nurtured the community from the start by exploring MonoTouch, by reporting bugs and missing functionality in MonoTouch and by guiding .NET developers through the new world of building iPhone applications.

Congratulations on the book release guys!

You can find them here:

Posted on 06 Jul 2010


Pinta 0.4 Released

by Miguel de Icaza

Jonathan Pobst has released a new version of his paint program, Pinta, a lightweight app that runs on Linux, OSX and Windows and is built entirely using Gtk#.

In this version, Jonathan added the MonoDevelop docking library to allow users to reorder the editing tools to match their workflow:

There are ready-to-run packages available for Windows, OSX, Ubuntu and OpenSUSE.

Posted on 06 Jul 2010


TweetStation: Elevating the Discourse

by Miguel de Icaza

(See below for Updates).

TweetStation is my first native iPhone app (as opposed to my award-winning HTML5-app iCoaster). More screenshots can be seen here

Just like Rails, TweetStation is an opinionated Tweeting client, it contains my personal blend of features that I enjoy from other twitter clients, but also tries to do something about changing the world.

TweetStation has been designed to elevate the level of discourse on Twitter.

At a conceptual level, this is achieved by applying the cardinal rule of not taking anything too seriously, specially any interactions you might have online.

At a practical level this is achieved with two features. The first feature plays back chicken noises whenever you request more Tweets (this is bound to the Tweetie-like "Pull to Refresh" feature). These chicken noises have been engineered to remind you that no matter how important an argument appears to be in Twitter, you should not take it too seriously.

Additionally, the chicken-noise-on-refresh serves as a cue to other people talking to you that you rather see what @jacksonh, or @Mickey__Rourke have to say than hear them parrot back the physics of clouds wikipedia page that they just read twenty minutes ago.

When you compose a message with TweetStation music starts playing back in the background. This music was specially selected to elicit in you the desire to write a witty and clever response as opposed to the usual "well, fuck you too" response seen too often on social media sites. The result will be the kind of tweet that your local newspaper would publish in the front page, or in their "Social Media Expert" column.

But there is an elephant in the room, and I want to speak directly about it. Many Twitteristas are concerned about the Tweetpocalypse and Twitter's transition to use some bizarro world non-feature called OAuth.

Tweetstation is feature packed and does not suffer from either problem. You can trust that Tweetstation was developed using the best engineering techniques available today, and that you will never be the victim of the Tweetpocalypse and be left incommunicado due to some silly programming mistake. Not in this 32-bit century, not in the next, and not under my watch. If my years of experience taught me one thing is and one thing only, it is when to use a 32-bit integer data type and when to use a 64-bit one. Do not fear dear user, I also master many other data types, but I digress.

But you might be wondering, why another Twitter client, and why now? As a twitterista you know that there is a special bond, an intimate bond if you will, between the twitterista and his twitter client. This bond can exist as long as both the twitterista and the twitter client grow hand in hand, if they co-develop. And I found myself at odds with the design decisions and paths that other twitter clients were taking. In a metaphorical way, I felt uncomfortable, like a Woody Allen character under pressure. But a character that lacked Woody Allen's command of the language.

And this is how TweetStation was born, it was a labor of love, but mostly of social awkwardness when my friends mocked my Twitter client for lacking a chicken noise, or when they suggested things at dinner like "would it not be cool if...". I decided to change all that, and make sure that other twitteristas in the future did not feel the social scorn that I had gone through, and this is why TweetStation's source code is on github.

Getting TweetStation

You can get TweetStation from iTunes.

Activating the Chicken Noises

By default, the chicken noises are off. To turn on this features, go to "Settings" and in the "Poultry" section set "Chicken Noises" to the "ON" position.

TrollStation Pro vs TweetStation

Since this is going to become a FAQ, I wanted to address this here.

I have two sets of keys that I got from Twitter to access the service using OAuth. One set of keys is the regular set of keys that anyone can get, and I attached the name "TrollStation Pro" to that one. This set of keys is what I placed on the public code on GitHub, so anyone can try and anyone can use. I reserve the right to change that name on a day-by-day basis depending on what I consider to be funny that particular day.

The second set of keys are labeled as "TweetStation" and that one is used for the actual application on the AppStore. These keys are special because Twitter was kind enough to give me access to their service using "xAuth" which improves the login experience (no web browser is involved).

Retina Display

TweetStation was submitted to Apple before I could get my hands on an iPhone4, so it is missing the high-resolution artwork. I just submitted a build that contains high-resolution icons for the iPhone4.

Updates

Login bug: There is a login bug if your password contains any special characters. I have submitted a bug fix to Apple (including the Retina display update). For now you can work around this issue by changing your password to use letters and numbers.

Posted on 01 Jul 2010


Guadec this year.

by Miguel de Icaza

This year I will be skipping the Guadec conference. Like Ted Gould we are expecting our first baby this year around the same time that Guadec will take place.

The good news is that next year any of you attending my talk at Guadec 2011 will get to enjoy a presentation packed with baby pictures.

I wish a happy Guadec to all the Gnomers attending!

Posted on 30 Jun 2010


What I would do if I was in charge of Windows 8

by Miguel de Icaza

Apple and its AppStore did for software programmers what Google's AdWord did for bloggers and writers: it provided a mechanism for people to make money while doing what they love.

The AppStore takes a big weight from the shoulders of software developers by taking care of the distribution and billing system.

If I was in charge of the Windows 8 future (or MacOS for that matter), I would try to reproduce that formula on my mainstream operating system. And it seems from the leaked presentations that this is where Microsoft's head is.

The leaked mockups for the AppStore are creative, but the entire slide deck misses the fundamental point that people are scared of installing software on Windows.

Everyone is scared of installing applications on Windows either because they break the system or because you might be accidentally installing malware. In either case, the end result is countless wasted hours backing data up, reinstalling the operating sytem and all the applications.

An AppStore wont fix this.

For a Windows appstore to work, they need to guarantee that installing software wont ever break the system.

They need to produce an appliance that allows users to install and remove software in seconds, and yet, guarantee that installing and removing apps will never break the system. This is not a problem that can be solved by hiring an army of curators and people that just sit all day rejecting apps.

To solve the problem, Microsoft needs to both alter their kernel to ensure the safety of the host OS and come up with a new way of distributing applications. They need:

  • A sandboxed execution system.
  • Self contained applications, fully embedded in a single directory that require no installation.
  • A set of supported APIs that will run in the Sandbox execution system.
  • A public contract for extension points.

The Sandboxed Execution System: would prevent applications from touching the registry, installing any drivers, any hooks, any visualizers or any other deep integration features that applications typically use to integrate with the OS.

The sandboxed execution system would prevent applications from looking at the file system, except for locations that have been predetermined for sharing.

The kernel would have to enforce what files they get access to, what devices and what components they get access to. And should be set to a bare minimum.

Self Contained Applications would be required to install software from the network, or from their appstore. These applications would get absolutely no rights to modify anything outside their directory. Any extension points that they could register with the system ("open with") would have to be registered with the public extension point contract.

Public Contract for Extension Points Any extension points like "open with", or handlers for mime-types would be self contained in a manifest in the application directory.

Instead of having every app poking at the system registry and dumping their junk everywhere, applications would list all of their requirements from the operating system on the manifest and the OS would rebuild its internal data from all of the application manifests available from a user.

Limited APIs: File access APIs, display access APIs would have to be altered to give applications limited access to the host operating system, and to give them as little access to anything that most applications do not need.

The above obviously does not apply to frameworks like the .NET framework, Java or Adobe's AIR. But beyond frameworks, there are very few cases where an application really should have legitimate access to all of the features in the OS. Video games certainly do not need it, and even applications like Visual Studio would not need it.

Posted on 28 Jun 2010


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