Novell will start shipping its Mono software next month, which provides a Microsoft .Net application development environment for Linux.
The open source software, which Novell acquired with its purchase of Ximian last year, means that only one version of an application's source code needs to be maintained whether deployed on Linux, Windows or Mac OS X.
"There is huge interest in Mono," David Patrick, Ximian Group general manager and former chief executive, told vnunet.com.
"It will give us more commercial hosted applications on Linux and also suit enterprises with a mix of systems."
Novell will begin shipping Mono 1.0 in late July, but the software, which runs under the GNU General Public Licence, is already available as a download.
Microsoft has been quite supportive and has provided technical assistance, according to Patrick, who argued that the software giant stands to benefit from .Net becoming cross-platform through Mono.
"Java is cross-platform and [Mono] makes .Net cross-platform too," he told vnunet.com.
Mono was developed to comply with the European Computer Manufacturers Association (ECMA) specification for .Net, which Microsoft put in the public domain.
"Microsoft could diverge from the ECMA specification, but to date that has not happened. As long as it does not fork, Mono will remain compatible," said Patrick.
This is important because it should allow existing .Net-developed software to transfer into Mono without any source code changes.
Patrick said that, in the same way that Novell is migrating all its employees from Windows to its own Linux desktop, Mono will be used for Novell products that need to run on Windows and Linux.
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