Mono makes headway on the Linux desktop

David Worthington
July 15, 2009 —  (Page 1 of 3)
Mono—the open-source runtime for .NET applications—is stealing some of the thunder from Java applications for the Linux desktop. Recent Linux distros have featured new .NET consumer applications that run under Mono. Part of the reason is that the distributions contain up-to-date Mono development tools, while their Java tools are obsolete.

"We have seen a real spike in Mono [application] development for the Linux desktop over the last two to three years," said RedMonk analyst Stephen O'Grady. He cited Mono applications, including the Banshee music player, the GNOME Do desktop search tool, and the Tomboy note-taking application as examples of Mono applications that have no Java counterpart equivalent in popularity.

The Mono project is an open-source implementation of the Common Language Infrastructure (CLI), a technology that was created by Microsoft and subsequently standardized by ECMA and ISO International. Microsoft supports the Mono effort with technological assistance.

When it comes to desktop Linux applications, "Mono is clearly more popular than Java. I've been using desktop Linux as my primary desktop for three to four years, and use just a handful of Java apps day to day," O’Grady said.

If Mono is succeeding, its success appears to be limited to the Linux desktop. "While it's certainly true that Mono has been used to write some nice applications, I have seen very little usage of it among independent developers outside the Linux desktop community. It's also worth noting that many of the high-profile Mono applications are written and maintained by Novell," said Ian Murdock, Debian founder and vice president of emerging platforms at Sun Microsystems.

"That's a pretty classic platform strategy: Try to get your platform broader distribution (in this case, integrated into the GNOME desktop) by creating compelling applications that require it," he added.

There’s no good data on how many consumers or developers have installed Mono. The software project team collects some data about package installations on Debian and Ubuntu, but Mono project leader and Novell vice president Miguel de Icaza believes that the data is skewed because tracking is opt-in only. "We publish the source code, and then people redistribute it in packaged form, and we have no way of tracking its use."

Related Search Term(s): Java, Linux, Mono

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07/15/2009 02:58:38 PM EST

this article is *so* much better than the original. thanks for listening to the criticism of the previous one. by the way, a very effective use of mono outside of the Linux environment is for unity3d, an exceptional 3d games development system. they use mono to run on windows and macosx, and they can cross-target the wii and iphone also using mono.

United KingdomAndrew McVeigh

07/15/2009 11:53:00 PM EST

Linux Desktop is not GNOME and also includes others like KDE, XFCE, LXDE, IceWM etc. Your article is highly misleading when it says that Mono makes its way on the "Linux Desktop". I challenge you to come up with *any* Mono app in these desktop environments. The best programming framework for Linux is Qt/C++. Try comparing Mono/.NET with Qt/C++ and you're gonna see that Mono/.NET/C# falls flat on its face. I believe you can also look up and to know on what constituents the "Linux Desktop". Besides, you seem to compare Java and Mono...however majority of the newer applications written for the GNOME desktop happen to be on Python.

IndiaAnshul Jain

07/19/2009 04:24:07 AM EST

It would be good to see competition for Java from a vendor that's committed to supporting Linux/Unix. I am not sure if mono is getting real traction or is just noise. A search for jobs asking for the following skills shows mixed results, except for c# and mono with Linux. (Just being in the same job description doesn't mean the language will be used on Linux) on (meta job search) linux AND mono - 0 linux AND c# - 414 linux AND python - 528 linux AND c++ - 1,717 linux AND java - 1,537 linux AND sql - 2,387 on linux AND mono - 0 linux AND c# - 53 linux AND python - 152 linux AND c++ - 382 linux AND sql - 409 linux AND java - 532 on linux AND mono - 0 linux AND c# - 8 linux AND java - 47 linux AND sql - 73 linux AND python - 281 linux AND c++ - 490 on linux AND mono - 0 linux AND c# - 18 linux AND python - 21 linux AND sql - 74 linux AND java - 81 linux AND c++- 87

United KingdomPeter Lawrey

07/22/2009 11:55:47 AM EST

Flat out wrong. Out-of-date tools? You point out that the official repo version of Eclipse is way out of date, which is true, but you fail to mention that most Eclipse users just use the manual download/install version like they do on Windows/Mac, which has always been 100% mainted, supported, and up-to-date. Also NetBeans has very recent versions in the repo plus bleeding edge manual download/install versions. The premiere Mono apps you can come up with are Banshee and Tomboy? A rinky-dink note taking app and a dime-a-dozen music player?

United StatesM

07/23/2009 08:13:37 PM EST

Tracker? Tomboy? and what's the other one, Banshee? That's all what you got? A desktop application without real use? The last time I use Tracker, it crashed. And that was only yesterday. Want to see a sample of a real USEFUL desktop application developed in Java? Try JDiskReport. I wonder if Mono can beat that. By the way, JDiskReport isn't that popular because it isn't bundled with Gnome and it lacks marketing strategy (unlike Mono).


07/24/2009 01:20:35 AM EST

What total nonsense. I have been programming in Java for 10 years now and .NET for the last three years. I just installed Ubuntu 9.04 and I was eager to check out Mono and MonoDevelop to see how they compare to the Visual Studio on Windows and also if the CLR implementations were compatible. What I found to my horror was the Mono implementation on Linux uses a completely different GUI library with considerable differences in widgets and how they are used. I also found differences in the .NET libraries. This is in stark contrast to Java which maintains the exact same tools, libraries, and code across all platforms. I know because I have written more Swing than I care to mention on Windows, OS X, Linux, and Solaris and guess what they all work exactly the same. I can open a project in Netbeans on any platform and it works exactly the same way. That is power of Java and something .NET lacks. Swing is Swing no matter what platform. Don't get me wrong I like .NET actually as well it just is not truly cross platform. If it was it would be all over the place. You can find a Java JVM for pretty much every operating system and device in existence today. That is true market reach. Secondly, your assertion that the Java tools are not up to date is absurd. Netbeans 6.7 the latest version and Eclipse Galileo are both available and easily installed on Linux, Windows, OS X, and Solaris. I have both running on Ubuntu right now and Netbeans blows MonoDevelop away in every category, there is absolutely no comparison. What I would like to see is the Linux community begin to write more and more apps in Swing and work harder on providing tighter integration into the desktop for Java apps. Especially seeing how Java is open source now. There is no reason not too. The tools are there and they are awesome. Mono on the other hand has a ways to go and especially MonoDevelop. It doesn't come close to Visual Studio yet, but it doesn't hurt to have it in development that is for sure.

United Statesrick

07/28/2009 05:41:22 AM EST

I wonder whether Linux programmers use these two languages Java (OpenJDK) and C#(mono) ! I mostly find applications in C and Python may be picking up (hearsay). I wish developers use more of Java and C# on desktop. Because the lower readability of C/C++ code is causing other problems. I think Java/C# have better readability and its easier to read code written in them, this can help to reduce fragmentation of open source effort. "Reading code is hard" and C/C++ don't help it for projects other than kernel and drivers. This problem got discussed in another place. []

IndiaSuresh Shukla

08/06/2009 02:35:27 PM EST

M and Otan are spot on. This is disinformation. I'm not sure who's propogating it or why, but I've used Linux for years and have never just used the default installed software (browsers, IDEs. etc). There has been a lot of competition in the free Java development tools space in the past few years, so they are among the best around. The fact that they are not included in certain Linux distros just tells me which distros to avoid using. Also, as long as MS develops .NET for Windows only, any other implementation is going to lag behind and probably won't be 100% compatible. As a Java developer, I like to be able to download the latest and greatest (even unreleased beta) JDK for any platform.

United StatesTony

08/14/2009 09:06:06 AM EST

@rick I completely agree with you (I'm doing a alot of work on c# on ms .NET framework). The comparison of Java and .NET/Mono is kind of difficult. But I have to say I hate visual studio :-). And I don't exactly understand why an "outdated" IDE should be a problem? Is there kind of a developer that installs a fresh copy of Linux, starts Eclipse and says "hell no, old version, I can't develop anymore"? Why bother?


11/03/2009 07:33:59 PM EST

When an article (in this case a very poor article) is replaced, I would like to see a retraction or some note that the original article was replaced.

United StatesScott Melton

10/08/2011 09:22:19 AM EST

@rick I completely agree with you (I'm doing a alot of work on c# on ms .NET framework). The comparison of Java and .NET/Mono is kind of difficult. But I have to say I hate visual studio :-). And I don't exactly understand why an "outdated" IDE should be a problem? Is there kind of a developer that installs a fresh copy of Linux, starts Eclipse and says "hell no, old version, I can't develop anymore"? Why bother?

IndiaAvishek kr suryavanshi

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