Valentine's Day Call to Action

by Miguel de Icaza

Everyone knows that in this day an age a software product is not complete until it offers a Desktop UI, a Web UI, and a front-end on the Appstore.

We access beautiful web sites, we purchase 0.99 apps on our phones and install gorgeous native software on our desktops.

The sysadmin community, once the backbone of Linux adoption, keeps asking "but what about me?". Indeed. What about them?

What are we doing about these heroes? The heroes that ssh in the middle of the night to a remote server to fix a database; The heroes that remove a chubby log file clogging the web server arteries; The very same heroes that restore a backup after we drag and dropped the /bin directory into the trashcan?

They are a rare breed in danger of extinction, unable to transition into a GUI/web world. Trapped in a vt100 where they are forced to by conditions to a small 80x24 window (or 474 by 188 with 6 pixel fonts on a 21 inch flat screen display).

These fragile creatures need our attention.

Today I am doing my part, my 25 cents to help improve their lives.

I am releasing Mono Curses 0.4 a toolkit to create text-based applications using C# or your favorite CLR language.

The combination of C#'s high-level features, Mono's libraries, Mono/.NET third party library ecosystem and the beautifully designed gui.cs, we can bring both hope and change to this community. Hope and change in the form of innovative text-based applications that run comfortably in 80x24 columns.

What is gui.cs

We know that hardcore sysadmins will want full control over what gets placed on the screen, so at the core of mono-curses we expose a C# curses binding.

On top of this, we provide a widget set called "gui.cs". gui.cs was introduced in 2007 enjoying unprecedented public acclaim among a circle of five friends of mine. Eight months after its introduction, it experienced an outstanding 100% growth when a second application was written using it.

Today, gui.cs is the cornerstone of great work-in-progress applications that any decade now will see the light of day. Including a new and riveting version of the Midnight Commander:

With only 3% of features implemented progress is clearly unstoppable!

I believe in dogfooding my own software before I unleash it to the world:

On a typical 21" sysadmin setup: 474x188 with the "Sysadmin Choice" award winning 6 pixel font.

Valentine's Day

So in this Valentine's Day, after you are tired of spending quality time with your grandmother, making out with your significant other or a stranger you just met at the checkout line in Costco, consider donating. Donate some of your time towards building some nice applications for your favorite sysadmin. God knows that he spent the whole day monitoring the dmesg output, looking for a SATA controller failure and keeping an eye on /var/log/secure, waiting for your ex to deface your wordpress installation.

And you have a choice, you can use Boo, IronRuby, IronPython, F# for building your app. VB.NET is also available if you want to teach your sysadmin a lesson in humility.

Get inspired today with some of the old screenshots.

Posted on 14 Feb 2010

Winter Olympics on Linux

by Miguel de Icaza

The amazing Moonlight Team lead by Chris Toshok just released Preview 2 of Moonlight 3 just in time for the Winter Olympics' broadcast:

The player has some nice features like live streaming, Tivo-like "jump-back", accelerated playback and slow motion and it does this using Smooth Streaming which adjusts the quality of your video feed based on your bandwidth availability.

Thanks to Tom Taylor, Brian Goldfarb and the rest of the team at Microsoft for assisting us with test suites and early access to some of the technologies in use at NBC Olympics. With their help we were able to make sure that Moonlight 3 would work on time for the event (with full 24 hours and 14 minutes still to burn!).

As usual, the team did a great job, considering that we had to implement in record time plenty of Silverlight 3 features for Moonlight.

  • Release notes for Preview 2
  • List of Known Issues with the Olympics Player.

    Firefox 3.7 runs this code better than 3.5, and you can improve the performance by disabling the pixel shaders in Moonlight, like this:

    	MOONLIGHT_OVERRIDES=effects=no firefox
  • Posted on 11 Feb 2010

    Moonlight 3.0 Preview 1

    by Miguel de Icaza

    We have just released our first preview of Moonlight 3.0.

    This release contains many updates to our 3.0 support, mostly on the infrastructure level necessary to support the rest of the features.

    In the release:

    • MP4 demuxer support. The demuxer is in place but there are no codecs for it yet (unless you build from source code and configure Moonlight to pick up the codecs from ffmpeg).
    • Initial work on UI Virtualization.
    • Platform Abstraction Layer: the Moonlight core is now separated from the windowing system engine. This should make it possible for developers to port Moonligh to other windowing/graphics systems that are not X11/Gtk+ centric.
    • The new 3.0 Binding/BindingExpression support is in.
    • Many updates to the 3.0 APIs

    The above is in addition to some of the Silverlight 3.0 features that we shipped with Moonlight 2.0.

    For the adventurous among you, our SVN version of Moonlight contains David Reveman's pixel shader support:

    From Silverlight Parametric Pixel Shader.

    Posted on 03 Feb 2010

    Mono at FOSDEM

    by Miguel de Icaza

    I will be arriving in Brussels on Saturday Morning for the FOSDEM conference. We have an activity-packed day on Sunday of all-things-mono.

    This is the current schedule, pretty awesome!

    Feedback requested: My plan is to do a state-of-the-union kind of presentation on Mono, but if you have a specific topic that you would like me to present on, please leave a comment, I will try to prepare for that.

    See you in Brussels!

    Posted on 02 Feb 2010

    iPad - Inspirational Hardware

    by Miguel de Icaza

    iPad - Inspirational Hardware

    As a software developer, I find the iPad inspirational.

    Apple's iPad is not a new idea. They are not the first ones to think of a tablet and as many blogs have pointed out the Apple iPad is not everyone's dream machine, the hardware is lacking gadgets and the software is not that amazing.

    Five elements come together to revolutionize software:

    1. Price
    2. Multi-touch centric development
    3. Standard hardware available for consumers
    4. Apple's AppStore
    5. Large form factor.

    The iPhoneOS is a multi-touch centric operating system. For years application developers have been subjected to the tyranny of the mouse and keyboard. This has been the only input technology that developers could reliably depend on and expect to be available on the user's system. Any software that requires different input mechanism sees its potential market reduced.

    The mouse is a great device for certain class of desktop applications. But it has also led to applications that are incredibly frustrating to use. Software for editing music and audio is cumbersome. Find the target, drag it, move it, find the other button, click it, scroll, drag, click. Anyone that has used Garage Band to try to play along knows this. The same applies to software to paint or draw. The mouse and keyboard are poor substitutes for using your hands.

    On the iPhone, and now the iPad, the situation is reversed. Multi-touch is the only input mechanism that developers can depend on. Apple's iPhone helped create a community of developers that think in terms of taps, pinches and twirls instead of clicks, double-clicks and right-clicks. It is no longer an after thought. It is no longer a feature that is added if there is enough time in the schedule or enough budget. It is the only option available.

    Taps, pinches and twirls allow us to use the full expression of our hands to drive an application. And it is not just any multi-touch, it is multi-touch over the same surface where the application is providing feedback to the user. Software that respond to user input in the same way that a physical object responds to our physical contact is the key to create new user experiences.

    This is a whole new space in which we can research, a new space that we can explore and where we can create a whole new class of computer/user interactions. With the new form factor, we can now create applications that just made no sense on the iPhone.

    It is fascinating.

    The standardized hardware means that software developers do not have face testing their software with dozens of combinatorial options. There are only a handful types of systems. If the software works on the core systems, they will work on all consumer devices. Standardized hardware is at the core of the success of the console gaming market, developers test and develop against a uniform platform. Price is the cherry on top of the cake, this device will be mass produced and the affordable price means that it will have a deep reach.

    The possibilities for new computer/user interactions are no longer dampened by this market reality. As developers, a new door to invention and innovation has been opened for us. No longer will software developers have to cripple their user experiences based on the mouse and keyboard.

    For the past couple of years I have had some ideas for some software that I wanted to build on a touch-based computer, but the specter of having a small user base for my experiments always discouraged me. Ever since I heard the rumors about Apple producing a tablet computer I have not cared about what the device looked like, or what the software stack for it was going to be. I wanted to try new touch-based UI ideas, I have dozens of ideas that I want to try out. And with Mono, I get to do it in my favorite language.

    Posted on 29 Jan 2010

    iPad Support for MonoTouch!

    by Miguel de Icaza

    We did it!   MonoTouch for iPad!

    24 hours after we got the iPad SDK we completed the support for the iPad for MonoTouch!

    To get started with iPad development, go to and follow the instructions.

    Let the iPad# hacking begin!

    Posted on 28 Jan 2010


    by Miguel de Icaza

    Nice new releases of software that I use in the last few days.

    Banshee 1.5

    A new Banshee release, now supports new device syncing options, audiobooks, eMusic and GIO for non-local files. Gabriel has more details as well.

    Now with a fully self-contained Mono and Gtk+ stacks on OSX. On the OSX note, I recommend Michael Hutchinson's blog entries on how to package your Gtk# app for use in OSX as well as his article on how to make your Gtk# app integrate with OSX. Both based on the lessons of bringing MonoDevelop and MonoDoc to OSX.

    Jeroen Frijters released his IKVM.Reflection API. His API could be very useful for Reflection-Emit compiler writers, perhaps we could even use it in Mono's C# compiler to solve our long standing issues with Reflection. More research is needed on this area.

    Maurits Rijk has published a new version of GIMP# his Mono-based plugin engine that lets you write plugins in any Mono supported language. There are samples in C# 3, F#, Boo, Nemerle, Oxygene, IronPython, Java/IKVM and Visual Basic.

    Sandy released a new version of Tomboy, now supports exporting data in HTML format to the clipboard and jump Lists on Windows 7.

    Posted on 28 Jan 2010

    24 hour race

    by Miguel de Icaza

    Another Mono-race, in 24 hours we are aiming to:

    • Support the iPad SDK from Apple (freshly baked and published).
    • Add MonoDevelop support for it.

    Posted on 27 Jan 2010

    Preordering the Apple Tablet

    by Miguel de Icaza

    Posted on 25 Jan 2010

    MVP Award

    by Miguel de Icaza

    Thanks to everyone that participated in the campaign to nominate me for a C# MVP award, when I got back to Boston I found on my piles of email that I am now part of the program.

    This is Pretty Sweet(tm). This will be a great opportunity to build more bridges with Windows developers and show them that there is an ECMA CLI life in the other side of the OS spectrum.

    Looking forward to the group picture!

    Posted on 11 Jan 2010

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