Ubuntu Drops Mono?

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Word is out that Ubuntu is removing all the Mono applications from Ubuntu 12.04, Precise Pangolin.

This is apparently not finalized. Those interested in following the discussion should click here. However since Mono is one of the flashpoints in the Free Software movement, this will probably start-up the war games again.

Some History

First, I want to cover some of the history, as I recorded it here. All of the articles have links to other articles on both sides of the issue at other sites.

As you can see, that’s a lot of words about one unimportant subject.

What’s Going On?

One thing you will notice from the above is that there is a huge amount of emotion invested in the issue from both sides. Emotional people don’t think straight. Let’s look at some of the issues.

  • Mono is a Free Software implementation of the Microsoft .NET programming environment.
  • Microsoft appears to have patents covering the technology, at least in the United States (in Canada software patents are not legal)
  • Mono is GPL licensed (meaning it is almost impossible to kill)
  • Mono uses a lot more space than C/C++
  • Mono requires more system resources to run than C/C++
  • Mono allows Microsoft .NET programmers to easily migrate to other operating systems

Why would Ubuntu decide to migrate away from Mono, after just moving to Banshee, the Mono powered Music Player? Probably for another reason altogether.

For years Novell was the money behind Mono. Novell provided a certain level of stability for a project that was controversial to many Linux users. The recent sale of Novell to Attachmate, removed that level of stability.

Miguel de Icaza, the man who started the Mono project, later started his own company, and signed a deal to take over support for Mono. Migeul has a solid track record. He has been involved in the Evolution and Gnome projects in addition to Mono.

His company is another issue. It has no track record, being less than a year old.

Canonical, the company that backs Ubuntu, and the Ubuntu team might have been happier if Mono had been taken over by an organization like The Document Foundation, which controls the LibreOffice project.

This admittedly is a guess. Ubuntu 12.04 Precise Pangolin is a Long Term Support release. By including Banshee, Tomboy Notes, and Mono, Canonical would be committing to supporting them.

Another possible problem is Canonical’s intention to support ARM processors, with the possibility of adding support for MIPS processors later. Porting can be a huge problem. I’m not certain of the status of ARM ports of Mono/Banshee/Tomboy.

And of course there’s Gnome 3. By replacing it with Unity, Ubuntu uncouples the projects which were based on Gnome. Thus Thunderbird as an email client instead of Evolution, and the disappearance of F-Sport.

I don’t like Gnome, so I’ve avoided Ubuntu. Instead I’ve usually used distros that run the Enlightenment and XFCE desktops. Of course Ubuntu now runs Unity…


Wayne Borean

Friday November 11, 2011


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