The Mono software package includes a C# compiler, a runtime for .Net applications, and an integrated development environment. It also includes two API stacks: One set compatible with Unix server and desktop platforms, and the other compatible with version 1.1 of the Microsoft .Net Framework, including ASP.Net and ADO.Net components. The software is designed to enable developers to create Web services and server-based applications for multiple platforms without having to rewrite or recompile their code.
In addition to running on Linux systems, Mono runs on other versions of Unix, Mac OS X and Windows operating systems.
Some analysts and open source developers have criticized the Mono project for pursuing a Linux- and Unix-compatible .Net implementation in spite of significant technical challenges. In addition, some open source advocates have predicted that Mono would run afoul of Microsoft software patents, potentially endangering its status as an open source project.
However, Miguel de Icaza, Novell vice president of development and Mono founder, has defended the project as a necessary step to create more effective Linux development tools. "Even as Linux grows on enterprise desktops, developing applications for the Linux desktop has been challenging because existing tools were extremely technical and complex," de Icaza said in a statement. "Mono is an extremely usable, commercial-grade development platform for Linux desktops and servers, with a complete set of tools and APIs.
According to Novell, more than 50,000 copies of the Mono software have been downloaded since the first beta was released in May.
The Mono software is available for download at mono-project.com.