Novell's de Icaza: Project not Mono-tonous
Porting .Net to Linux, one application at a time
Computerworld Australia - Miguel de Icaza has led the Mono Project, which implements Microsoft's .Net development platform on Linux and Unix-like platforms, since it was announced in 2001. In that time, de Icaza's enthusiasm for the project has remained fervent. He blogs regularly on Mono and related development tools, attends many development conferences promoting Mono, was a keen supporter of the recent Race to Linux 2.0 developer project and is again mentoring young developers in Google's Summer of Code. De Icaza, who is vice president of developer platforms at Novell, took time out of his busy schedule to talk with Computerworld.
You have said that you can port an application in ASP.Net from Windows to Linux in less time than it takes to keep bidding on eBay for a game console and the controls. Why is it so easy?
We have a compatible implementation of the system. In the majority of the cases, the porting issues are really about the differences in the underlying operating system (Linux vs. Windows) than with our ASP.Net implementation (although there are still some minor differences between them).
Developers that are familiar with developing on Windows and deploying on Unix are already familiar with these issues so it is not much of a new thing for them. But .Net developers have to learn a few new things.
The recently held developer challenge Race to Linux 2.0 encouraged Visual Studio developers to port existing ASP.Net-based applications to Linux (using their cross-platform tool of choice (such as Mono, Grasshopper 2.0 Technology Preview, PHP and Ruby). What was the main goal of the project for you? What has Mono gained from this?
It is a useful external validation that what we are claiming actually is correct.
Sometimes when you are this close to the technology, you might be drinking your own Kool-Aid and might not keep an eye on the actual problems that developers are running into.
So the validation of our claims was there, but most importantly, it is interesting to read what the challenges that these developers had: what was easy and what was difficult, it is a bit of a "usability test" for developers. There is much to learn from this experience, and we hope to simplify this process more in the future.
You are mentoring a few people as part of Google's Summer of Code. How is that going so far? And how do you think Mono will benefit from these developer projects?
Students have not officially started work (they will in a couple of weeks), but already some of them have started to write some code and submit some patches to the project.
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