The rumors have been flying hot and heavy about the future of Mono, the portable version of Microsoft’s .NET platform since Novell has been purchased by Attachmate. While Mono was, and remains, open source, its development was driven primarily by a team at Novell led by the brilliant hacker Miguel De Icaza. The gist of the rumors seems to indicate that some/all of the Mono developers have been laid off and that further development of Mono by Novell/Attachmate is in jeopardy. If either is true, it is a shame.
Mono never got the support it deserved from Microsoft, who never seemed to appreciate its potential to increase Windows legitimacy and presence in the server room by increasing the number of folks using the .NET framework. This lack of support, combined with some concerns about certain patents that Microsoft has that could be problematic for OS vendors who bundled Mono, dramatically slowed its adoption rate. And although the Java programming language left “the window open,” falling behind Mono/.NET technically due to political battles about its direction, Mono was unable to gain ground.
However, despite the lack of support from the folks in Redmond, many companies (like ours) adopted and used Mono when a cross platform strategy was needed to better serve our customers who happened to live in the real world of heterogeneous operating environments. I know purists on both sides of the Linux vs. Windows and Open Source vs. Commercial software debate won’t get this, but I like to keep my religion and technology separate and focus on helping my customers.
For anyone that shares that focus, losing a high quality tool that helps to deliver great software is a tragedy and I hope Mono’s demise has been greatly exaggerated.
Regardless of how it all turns out – I would like to thank the Mono team and community for a great piece of work.