Mono on the Nokia 770 2006 OS

by Miguel de Icaza

Paolo has completed the support for the new ABI on the Nokia 770 which was part of the OS upgrade earlier this year.

The code currently lives in SVN, and will be part of the upcoming Mono 1.2.1.

But now would be a good time to use the new dependency tracking system on the Nokia and package all the Mono components.

Posted on 16 Nov 2006


More Mono Games

by Miguel de Icaza

I read on the Unity web site that FreeVerse is shipping their first Unity-based game.

And we are of course very proud of it, because Mono is driving all of those effects.

Mono is 10 megs out of the 66 megs in the distribution. Now that our embeddable eglib has been completed, we can shrink down an extra megabyte from the game download.

Posted on 16 Nov 2006


Open Sourcing of Java

by Miguel de Icaza

Congratulations to the Sun guys for the open sourcing of Java, another great contribution of Sun to free software.

I blogged about this in the past, but it is worth linking to it again, as I raised what I think are some interesting points regarding the open source community and implementation of large bodies of code.

Also, from reading Slashdot today I get the impression that there is too much of zero-sum mindset, a feeling that those of us in the Mono community would not be happy about this development, which is nonsense. We are after all, free software developers. Maybe this is based on the assumption that we are competing for the same contributors, and hence a fear of scarcity prevails. I like to think that although there is some overlap, our communities are vastly different.

Or maybe it is not a zero-sum mindset, but merely a matter of rooting for the home team brought to the world of programming languages.

In any case, a big hug to all the folks involved in open sourcing Java, am sure there will be quite a lot to learn from it, and am sure distributions cant wait for the full SDK release next year.

Update: interesting post from Tim Bray and Sam Ruby on the subject.

Posted on 13 Nov 2006


HeapShot - New Memory Profiler

by Miguel de Icaza

Lluis checked-in last week a new memory profiler for Mono applications.

He originally created this profiler based on `heap-buddy', while trying to understand memory consumption in MonoDevelop. I used it last week to trim down 340k of Tomboy memory consumption (removed a Hashtable that contained bools).

If you are a Mono application developer, you will find this tool very helpful in finding where your memory is going. It will look your app look better (and Mono look better ;-)

Joe and Larry will hopefully be pleased.

The profiler lives in module `heap-shot' on SVN.

For more information see Lluis' Blog

Posted on 13 Nov 2006


Mono 1.2 is out

by Miguel de Icaza

After two years of brewing, we finally released Mono 1.2. The release notes are here.

I would have blogged a lot more details, but it has been a couple of busy weeks: the Mono meeting burned all my spare time for two weeks, last week events and this week in Barcelona at the TechEd have not given me much time to blog about it.

Next week: Baden-baden for the Prio .NET Conference in Germany where am doing a keynote to present Mono to the .NET audience, and a tutorial session on Mono.

Some press coverage is here.

Posted on 10 Nov 2006


Novell Answers Some Questions

by Miguel de Icaza

Thanks for sending your questions, some questions I could not answer myself, and I passed them on to Novell.

Novell has now posted the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions here

In particular, this covers the GPL section 7 questions, and our commitment to OIN (the patents listed today in OIN's site are Novell's contribution to the pool).

Posted on 07 Nov 2006


Mono in Barcelona, two talks

by Miguel de Icaza

In Spanish: Miguel de Icaza, on Wednesday November 8th at 19:30 in the Aula Magna at the Universitat de Barcelona at Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes, 585.

Topics: Mono, Desktop Development with Mono, Xgl and Compiz, Linux, Microsoft and Novell announcement,

In English: Miguel de Icaza (Novell) and Philippe Cohen (Mainsoft) On Thursday November 9th at 19:00 in the Barcelona Princess Hotel, next to the TechEd forum.

Topics: Porting .NET applications using Novell's Mono or Mainsoft's Grasshopper. Deployment of applications into J2EE application servers with Mainsoft's Grasshopper.

Posted on 07 Nov 2006


Microsoft and Novell Collaboration, follow

by Miguel de Icaza

Thanks to everyone that sent their comments and questions, there are a few questions that I would like to answer that have been a common theme.

These are my personal opinions, and do not represent in any way Novell's official position (its at the end of every page on my blog, but I figured its worth pointing out up front).

Q: Which Patents Does Mono Infringe?

I do not know of any patents which Mono infringes.

Although Novell provides most of the work to develop Mono, Mono is still a community project with many constituents and collaborators from companies, universities, governments and individuals, and as such we will continue to work and operate as a community project.

This means that we will continue to follow the rules that we have set for ourselves when it comes to patents:

The Mono strategy for dealing with these technologies is as follows: (1) work around the patent by using a different implementation technique that retains the API, but changes the mechanism; if that is not possible, we would (2) remove the pieces of code that were covered by those patents, and also (3) find prior art that would render the patent useless.

This is what we would have done before the agreement, and that is what we will continue to do.

Not providing a patented capability would weaken the interoperability, but it would still provide the free software / open source software community with good development tools, which is the primary reason for developing Mono.

There is more information on the web site on the above link.

We will continue to develop Mono under the same restrictions that we had before the agreement.

Q: Is it now possible to integrate code that uses Microsoft patents today?

Although it is possible, we will not integrate such code, as Mono is a community project.

And we will also continue to keep the Microsoft and Mono stacks separated, as there is no need to add dependencies between them and also makes it easy to split out all the non-ECMA components of Mono out.

Why did you guys work this deal with Microsoft?

Although I did not take part of the actual negotiations, and was only told about this deal less than a week before the announcement, I had been calling for a long time for a collaboration between Microsoft and Open Source and Microsoft and Novell.

There are numerous interviews that touch on this topic and most recently my interview in Microsoft's Port25

In the past I had called for this same kind of cooperation with other companies. In 1999, we started talking to Sun and HP regarding GNOME; In particular in 2000 we had a meeting with Marco Boerries at Sun to discuss the desktop, and their adoption of GNOME as their new desktop. At that time we discussed the plans to have a combined desktop made up of components of StarOffice and GNOME (at that meeting, I conceded that I would no longer work on Gnumeric, and instead we would improve OpenOffice; Sun conceded that Evolution would be their default mailer instead of the StarOffice one).

Have you not learned from history? Microsoft has damaged all of their partners in the past!

I have gotten a few emails along those lines and folks asking for comment, and a lot of hate mail (more than usual). I find it hard to reply to this comment, because this is really going to come down to personal opinions and personal biases.

In my personal opinion, I think that we have to give it the benefit of the doubt, try to turn the hand that has been dealt into the best possible outcome for everyone. Or as Benjamin Zander would say, I will give them an A, and work from there.

Similar deals have been done in the past, in 1997 Microsoft signed a similar deal with Apple, and Apple used that agreement and the incoming monies to turn the company around.

Sun signed a similar agreement with Microsoft in 2004, which at the time I realized enabled Sun to ship Mono on Solaris (which we already supported at that time).

Now, I can not say that the crowd applauded Apple and Sun at the time, and both of them ship a lot of GPL code, not the Linux kernel, but a lot of GPL code, and the sky has yet to fall on our heads.

Back in April of 2004, I wrote about that deal:

I am counting the minutes for Sun to ship our Mono implementation for Solaris. Maybe we can still make it to the Solaris 10 release.

Just picture the benefits, out of the box free C# compiler on Solaris SPARC and Solaris Intel. Out of the box ASP.NET and ADO.NET on SPARC, and the Gtk# bindings for writing applications for the Java Desktop System.

Not to mention that they get the industry's most sexy JIT compiler for free.

I am walking with an extra cell phone battery in case McNealy or Schwartz decide to call me up over the weekend to discuss potential agreements (if I don't pick up, please leave a message, the wonders of ATT wireless).

Am afraid to report that neither Scott nor Jonathan emailed me or left a voice mail at the time. I think it would have been grand for Sun, but maybe Java emotions were too strong inside the company for this to be even considered.

Could a better deal been struck for the Open Source community?

Possibly. But I do not know what the latitude was inside the deal.

What I can personally say is that considering that Microsoft is 100 times larger than Novell (market cap wise alone) it was probably difficult.

Getting rid of patents completely would probably have to involve a few giants. Microsoft has a 282B market cap, so maybe a combination of IBM (138B), Google (143B), Oracle (92B) and even Sun (18B) would have to come together and enter a gigantic patent love-fest to make a better deal for everyone happen (By comparison Novell is at 2.2B).

And this is why I find it surprising that Sun's Simon Phipps had forgotten that Sun entered a similar agreement a few years ago, and had this to say about the Microsoft/Novell deal:

It's a remarkable reversal of opportunity, all the more remarkable that the Novell participants smiled the whole way through what had clearly become a Microsoft event. They went in seeking a huge payout, and emerged with the payout, yes - but also with a commitment to pay it back in royalties on open source software they sell.

A larger opportunity could probably happen with a setup like the one I described previously. But whether this could actually be done, is left as an exercise to the reader (or alternative approaches that would completely eradicate software patents from the map).

Let me point out that McNeily seemed to be all smiles at the equivalent event a few years ago; Nothing bad about that, but Simon probably should notice that Sun is eight times larger than Novell, and if anything, his company is 8.18 in a better position that Novell is to take advantage of these opportunities.

Posted on 04 Nov 2006


Microsoft and Novell Collaborate

by Miguel de Icaza

The big new of the day: Microsoft and Novell are set to collaborate. You can read all about it here, you can also go straight to:

But the question on everyone's mind regarding today's announcement is what is the position regarding Mono, from the Q&A:

Q: What are you announcing?

...

Under a patent cooperation agreement, Microsoft and Novell provide patent coverage for each others customers, giving customers peace of mind regarding patent issues.

Q: What does the patent agreement cover with regard to Mono and OpenOffice?

Yes, under the patent agreement, customers will receive coverage for Mono, Samba, and OpenOffice as well as .NET and Windows Server. All of these technologies will be improved upon during the five years of the agreement and there are some limits on the coverage that would be provided for future technologies added to these offerings. The collaboration framework we have put in place allows us to work on complex subjects such as this where intellectual property and innovation are important parts of the conversation.

And from our joint letter:

Mono, OpenOffice and Samba:

  • Under the patent agreement, customers will receive coverage for Mono, Samba, and OpenOffice as well as .NET and Windows Server.
  • All of these technologies will be improved upon during the 5 years of the agreement and there are some limits on the coverage that would be provided for future technologies added to these offerings.
  • The collaboration framework we have put in place allows us to work on complex subjects such as this where intellectual property and innovation are important parts of the conversation.
  • Novell customers can use these technologies, secure in the knowledge that Microsoft and Novell are working together to offer the best possible joint solution.

So today we have secured a peace of mind for Novell customers that might have been worried about possible patent infringements open source deployments. This matters in particular for Mono, because for a long time its been the favorite conversation starter for folks that find dates on Slashdot.

Anyways, now that we got that out of the way, I wanted to point to Michael Meeks' blog entry on the OfficeXML collaboration, which one of the major areas of collaboration, his blog entry is here, regarding the general question around why support Office XML, Michael says:

This should not be a surprise - Jody Goldberg (on my team) has been working hard for months with Microsoft and others on the ECMA process. At one stage there around 1/2 the open 'issues' wrt. improving disclosure (and hence the spec.) came from Jody. I for one am proud of the job that he did there, an (ongoing) investment that will yield better interoperability for years to come.

Anecdotally, I would like to point out that the work that happened through the ECMA TC45 has proved very fruitful, as things that were completely left out of the Oasis specification and in the original TC45 submission were put in there because Jody and Michael that have previously worked on Gnumeric and OpenOffice managed to get these things into the spec.

Read Michael's blog for more details, as he has many nice things to say about Open Office and Office XML.

I have a longer blog entry in the works, I promise I will post later more of the details on the various areas of collaboration on the business angle, and the technical angle

If you have some questions about this, please email me at miguel@novell.com and I will include answers to your questions on my updated blog entry.

Posted on 02 Nov 2006


Open Source XNA

by Miguel de Icaza

XNA is a new set of tools for assisting in game design, development and mangement (see the XNA Wikipedia page).

One of the components is the "XNA Framework" a set of .NET APIs for actually building the applications. It does not expose DirectX which makes it simpler to be ported to other platforms.

Rob Loach has started a project to do an open source implementation using the TaoFramework (Tao provides bindings for all things OpenGL and a few other media libraries).

Rob's implementation is being developed here. Currently most of the development is happening on Windows, but the project on SVN has support for building this on Linux with Mono as well.

Posted on 01 Nov 2006


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