Mono Doesn’t Get Enough Credit

Reading through the daily Techmeme headlines, there was a story that would make any Windows’ developers’ hearts stop: “Microsoft Hosts Demo of Silverlight on Linux”

Beat. Beat. Beat. Beeeeep. Beeeeep. Beeeeep. <click>. Beeeeep. <wait>. Beeeeep. <read>. Beat. <relax>. Beat. Beat.

OK, so maybe that’s a bit of an over-exaggeration, but not by much. Microsoft demoing Silverlight on Linux? What has the world come to?! But the subtitle on the PC World article cleared things up: Microsoft France invited the Mono team to demo their own version of Silverlight that runs on Linux. Now that makes more sense.

We’ve commented on Microsoft’s atrocious, constant, and never-ending denial that there is an operating system called Linux that exists and has a real userbase which .NET Developers would like to code “cross-platform” software for time and time again, but alas, it seemed no one would listen; so you can imagine our surprise at those headlines.

Mono is the GPL’d EMCA implementation of the .NET Framework for Linux. Moonlight is the new Silverlight-compatible runtime for the *nix world. Miguel de Icaza, head developer of the Mono Project was invited to demo Moonlight over at Microsoft France during a presentation. This is a surprising twist on Microsoft’s normal “ignore the Linux world” attitude when it comes to developers, “cross-platform,” and frameworks alike.

But the whole point is, almost no one gives Mono the credit it deserves. While we’re the first to point out its shortcomings and even complete failure at being a “drop-in” replacement for the .NET Library in its current condition, its developers deserve a lot more recognition for their work. Miguel and his team are addressing a particularly “turmoiled” sector of the computer market – Windows developers coding for Linux. Microsoft pretends these people don’t exist, and the rest of the Linux world frowns down and mutters things like “use Java instead,” “forget about Microsoft and .NET,” and “Why waste your time on a closed-source framework?” (forgetting, of course, that Java has only recently become open-source itself).

The Mono Project has done a hell of a job with the limited resources it has, the constant need for developers, the sheer size of the .NET Framework, the lack of cooperation on both sides of the Windows-Linux fence, and the fact that a large portion of the .NET Framework is just managed wrappers for Windows-only code.

Sure, the Mono Project isn’t anything you would actually consider to be a “Linux version” of the .NET Framework thanks to the rather-conspicuous yet well-hidden fact that it doesn’t have a compatible UI Library (well, not yet anyway) and that, in reality, it’s a port of the CLR and C#, not of the .NET Framework itself; but nevertheless, Mono is pretty amazing.

So why can’t companies like PC World and their ilk write proper well-attributed titles like “Mono Creates, Demoes Silverlight for Linux” rather than “Microsoft Hosts Demon of Silverlight on Linux?” Why is it so hard for these people that do Microsoft’s dirty work1 to get the recognition the deserve? Because acknowledgement is what powers the free software world. Microsoft isn’t paying the Mono Project to create these libraries and to put these years of work into making the .NET Framework something that is truly cross-platform, it’s the fact that they’re making a difference, fulfilling a need, and getting the proper credit that does.

But on a more positive note: Moonlight really is a “drop-in” Silverlight replacement for Linux!

Silverlight (and now, Moonlight as well) uses XAML to create the UI and make all those pretty little ponies dance around that computer screen. Silverlight and Moonlight’s jobs are to take that XAML code and render it on the screen. Unlike the .NET Framework on Windows where you use certain APIs to design the form, in Silverlight/Moonlight, everything is WPF and now, fully portable to Linux.

Well, to be fair, Moonlight isn’t ready yet. It’s really close, but not yet there. But what matters is, it does have a working C++ XAML parser, and the main UI interface/library will be truly cross-platform compatible with Windows.

Congratulations Mono Team, you really deserve it!

  1. seeing as Microsoft feels having a OS X and Windows implementation of anything suffices to consider it “cross platform” – whether it be Internet Explorer, .NET, MSN Messenger, or now, Silverlight 

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  • 13 thoughts on “Mono Doesn’t Get Enough Credit

    1. More like Microsoft’s framework doesn’t deserve to be used in the same sentence as. Linux.

       Linux >>>> M$

    2. With all due respect to the devs, this type of thing is bad news to Linux. A heavily-patented technology is behind this, so it’s not surprising that Novell stands behind it.


      Silverlight is about The Microsoft Web

      Silverlight is not about the World Wide Web. It?s about The Microsoft Web. It?s about getting fools to rally around Microsoft. After all of this time and experience with Microsoft, anybody with half a brain will be smart enough to avoid doing that. The last thing you want to be is dependent on Microsoft and set yourself up to be a DIRECT competitor with ?Microsoft Cloud Services? down the road. Dumb. Foolish. Stupid. Smart investors won?t invest one dime in your company and might even short your stock.

    3. This is fantastic news!

      In my opinion Silverlight is nothing but good news for the Linux community. Yes, the thought of Microsoft foisting its monopoly on the web is scary. But the web is already monopolized by Flash. The big difference between Silverlight and Flash is that there is no open source implementation of Flash. That is one of the reasons why running Linux on x86-64 or PPC is such a nightmare right now. It is also the reason why Linux users had to wait so long for Flash 9. Thanks to the Mono team’s awesome work, we now have a better option. Silverlight, combined with Moonlight, could give us better web applications than Flash does, with better Linux compatibilty!

    4. Why is it people hate things as soon as it has a single reference to Microsoft.
      It doesn’t matter if the technology or idea is superb, they hate it anyway…

      Narrow minded geeks, that’s what I’d call them.

       Mono is by far the best thing that ever happened to Linux over the last few year.
      Opening the world of Linux software development to a much broader range of developers
      and allowing them to build cross platform application without giving up support for the
      best features provided by the OS the applications are running on (unlike Java).

      Yeah, it’s based on an idea by Microsoft, so what?


    5. @Jesse Hallet: “The big difference between Silverlight and Flash is that there is no open source implementation of Flash.”

      Please note that Adobe released Flex under an Open Source license,
      just like Silverlight. You shouldn’t compare Flash ( IDE ) with Silverlight, compare it to the Flex framework.

      info about the open source license:

      info about the Flex framework (for people new to the Flex framework ):

      All I can say as a Flex developer: it kicks ass!
      People are writing (basic) mysql drivers in Actionscript as wel as
      (un)zip functionalities, old skool emulators, …
      The Flash platform is grown up and going ( very ) strong.

    6. Why do these talented developers choose to support MS’s clone of the open standard XML grammar SVG instead of supporting SVG?.  SVG rendering would be cool.  And open. 

    7. I just don’t like the idea of running .net technology on linux.

      So it’s of no interest to me – i won’t allow silverlight to run on any of my pc’s.

      I’m not going to say i like flash – it’s also useless technology.
      But msft is driven by fear & hatred – and it’s no good idea to port this to linux!

    8. But what about the (relatively) innocent developers who have chosen to use Microsoft technologies to create really good and free and damn useful applications/libraries and want Linux users to also join in the fun?

      It’s one thing to recommend Java over .NET and Flex over Silverlight – but for those who’ve already made the (apparently incorrect) decision to go with Microsoft technologies, is it that bad to provide them a bridge to the world of free software without requiring them to create a whole different port of their program on Linux?

      Look at Beagle, that’s powered by Mono and no one can deny it’s a damn nifty utility – and much faster than any Java-powered alternatives. Sure, maybe Java is more in-line with the FSF and free software in general, but is it that impossible for you to have applications running Mono?

      Mono is GPL. Whatever Microsoft does with the .NET Framework (and there is no limit to what they can/would do), Mono isn’t affected! Mono can continue to exist on and of its own, and even release new versions whether or not Microsoft kills .NET off tomorrow (not likely, but just making a point).

      Most major distros now ship with Mono – what is so wrong with that? Is it that bad to be able to tell your Windows-doomed friend “Hey, you can even run your favorite game, photo editor, word processor, and more under Linux, natively and without any trouble! Is that too hard to accept?

    9. C’mon guys… who needs .NET or Mono, if we have Qt? A great, simple, feature-rich, open-source, free and cross-platform framework? Qt is the answer. 

    10. Oh good grief. You guys are all the same, you never change. 90% of the world will follow Microsoft’s innovative lead, and you guys will be screaming and slobbering “proprietary!” and “use Java!” and “use Qt!” and “down with corporate Borg!” while these Mono dudes are getting some really great technology working on your incredibly, redicululously archaic, crappy operating system that is only open source because big-wig software companies (like Microsoft) saw that it was a big pile of dog crap at its foundations.

      No offense, Mono dudes, I’m sure your passion is Linux over .NET.

    11. I do not understand the hype over Silverlight any more than I understand why people are happy about it. Sure, Flash is ubiquitous and Adobe decided to stab web developers in the back rather than work with SVG. Now we have truly talented workers trying to dole out .NET and Silverlight? I’m sure I’m not alone as (a web developer) when I feel that Silverlight is a colossal waste of effort.

      If Microsoft had opted to implement standards-compliant things like SVG first, then move on to Silverlight, I would not complain. But they are clearly worried that Adobe have acquired Flash and want a piece of the action. And where are all these happy people when Safari’s WebKit now supports things like SVG and Canvas? It’s not big news, because crapware like Silverlight is more shiny and distracting.

      My question is this: gas anyone noticed that Internet Explorer is now the ONLY major browser that doesn’t support SVG? At least, without plugins (which makes life harder, not easier)? I congratulate the Mono team on a job well done, but if and Microsoft had spent this time on standards-related work then I’m sure that we’d have superior technology to Flash and Silverlight in all major browsers. Instead we have one more competing technology to worry about crashing our browsers.

    12. I agree with BTreeHugger.

      Miguel and all of the other good guys of Mono deserve respect for how little time took to them to arrive where they are with Silverlight, but now, really, who needed it?

      What really annoys me is that they’re doing a big, fat gift to someone who never ever gifted anything (I mean, open source) to the community, and who now can say “hey worldwide devs, you know that .NET is sooo multiplatform that runs on Linux”? They didn’t care about Linux at all, they provided their Win and Mac player, so now why do we have to help them, really?

      You say “what about those devs who chose .NET?” well really they should have known what choosing .NET mean.

      Yes, Java/Swing is fat and looks alien on every platform (even though this is not anymore, with 1.6), but at least it was and is *really* multiplatform, even though it was still not GPL at the time .NET was born.

      Yes, Flash has always been closed, but at least in the last year we saw a damn player for Linux from Adobe, and we had and have already our open source implementations, e.g. GNASH, because at least Macromedia/Adobe opened the specs, not it’s not the same if .NET where (as you said) many parts are directly related to WinAPIs, so go with the reverse engineering.

      What I really hope now is that AIR or JavaFX will spread more than (Silver|Moon)light (they will both be open IIRC).


    13. I am glad to see Moonlight or Silverlight as Flash?s competition; monopoly is never good, whether it is Microsoft, Adobe or anyone.

      We have seen much cool Flash based Video mashup web sites, check out this one. This seems to be the first site that I have come across which is based in Silverlight 2. is using Silverlight 2 / Moonlight 2 in their web based Ultra Mashup studio. Their Studio allows video, audio, images, polls, surveys to be mashed up and synced with PowerPoint or other presentations , add chapters, marker and search keywords.

      Web Site

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