Born in Mexico City, Miguel de Icaza was
the driving force behind the creation of the Gnome free
software desktop, and co-founded the open source company Ximian, bought last August
by Novell. In July 2001, he helped start another ambitious
project, Mono: a free implementation for GNU/Linux of
Microsoft's .Net framework. He talks to
Glyn Moody about Mono's progress, how Ximian was bought by Novell, and why he is so scared
of Microsoft's Longhorn.
Q. How has your vision of Mono changed since you began the project, and what
are the main aims of Mono today?
A. A lot of the things that Microsoft was addressing with .Net were touching on
existing pain points for us. We've been using C and C++ way too much - they're nice, but they're
very close to the machine and what we wanted was to empower regular users to build applications
for Linux. Windows has a lot of tools that address a particular problem but on Linux we're kind of
on our own in terms of development So when Microsoft came out with this [.Net] thing, initially
what we saw was very interesting, and that's how the project got started. But as people got
together and started to work and collaborate on this effort, a couple of things happened.
The first one is that there was more and more momentum behind building APIs that were
compatible with the Microsoft ones. Novell and Ximian were focused just on the core and C#; a lot of the people
who came and contributed software to the project were interested in Windows Forms, or ASP.Net or Web services or
databases, which were part of the Microsoft stack.
And at the same time we have grown organically a stack completely independent of the
Microsoft stack, which we call the Mono stack but it includes things like tools for doing GUI
development for Linux - that was one thing that we were very interested in and we actually
invested a lot of effort into that.
So today at the core we still have Mono, which is what we wanted to do, and now we've got
two very healthy independent stacks: the Microsoft-compatible stack for people who want to bring their
applications from Windows to Linux, and also this completely new and fresh stack of things that in
some cases are portable from Linux to Windows, and in some cases are very, very Linux
Q. Microsoft doesn't seem to be making so much noise about .Net these days:
what's your view of .Net's progress at the moment: how is it shaping up as a platform for writing