Novell has lifted the lid on enhancements integrated into the next major release of Mono, its development platform for enabling Microsoft .Net applications to run unchanged on Linux.
The forthcoming version, due to ship next March, will implement a native Visual Basic (VB.Net) compiler and Windows Forms (WinForms).
Miguel de Icaza, Novell development vice president in charge of the Mono platform project, said: "Mono 2.0 will include native Visual Basic and WinForms and an update to the .Net application programming interfaces [APIs]."
De Icaza, who was a Ximian co-founder and Mono creator, claimed that with VB.Net support "a Windows shop can deploy all of their VisualStudio applications on a Linux server".
Mono runs code binaries unchanged on Linux irrespective of whether they have been created by Mono or .Net. According to de Icaza, there is little difference in performance between native .Net and Mono code. But he added that further performance improvements were under development.
"Computationally intensive applications are not as fast but that represents very few applications, like MP3 decoders for instance. Anything I-O bound is faster," he said.
Although Novell is providing 20 engineers for the project, Mono belongs to the open source community, with contributions from somewhere around 200 developers.
Mono 1.0, available since June, includes developer tools and the infrastructure to run .Net client and server applications. It has a C# compiler and just-in-time and ahead-of-time compilers.
The platform implements the European Computer Manufacturers Association standards for C#, class libraries and the .Net Common Language Infrastructure, submitted by Microsoft.
WinForms within .Net is Microsoft's recommended method for defining and generating graphical user interface (GUI) applications, which include such things as windows, dialogue boxes and buttons. Apart from ease of use and checks that prevent coding bugs, using this method for all GUI applications can ensure a consistent display format, said Novell.
According to de Icaza, the WinForms API will be implemented for Linux using the Gnome GUI libraries including Drawing.2D for graphics.
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