Home opinion-and-analysis Open Sauce More Mono apps for next Ubuntu release?

More Mono apps for next Ubuntu release?

Much has been written about the fact that the next version of Ubuntu, Natty Narwhal, will switch its interface from GNOME to Canonical's own Unity interface.

Little has been said about the plan to introduce a Mono-dependent application, Banshee, as the default music player.

This is yet to be finalised; it is dependent on the application fitting into a single CD, along with the rest of the distribution.

Mono is an attempt to reproduce some parts of Microsoft's .NET development environment as an open source offering. It has been said more than once, and by more than one authority, that it may could well pose patent dangers to developers as it is core technology from Microsoft.

The man behind it, Miguel de Icaza, a co-founder of the GNOME desktop project and a vice-president of Novell, has been trying very hard for the last nine years to make it an acceptable alternative. Yet it has won few followers.

Last year, de Icaza admitted to having developed portions of .NET, which were not submitted to ECMA by Microsoft, as part of his open source project.

He promised to separately release the Mono source code for those portions which comply with specifications submitted to the standards organisation, ECMA. He is yet to do so.

It has often been claimed that it is easy to obtain a royalty-free licence to use code which has been written using these specifications. This is not the case.

Why Mark Shuttleworth and his company, which are behind the Ubuntu phenomenon, do not take a lead in keeping out shifty technology like Mono is open to question.

There were two Mono-dependent applications in earlier versions of Ubuntu - F-Spot, which handles images, and Tomboy, which is used for note-taking.

The Fedora GNU/Linux distribution, which is a community effort supported by Red Hat, jettisoned Mono sometime back and now uses Gnote as its note-taking application.

In the last Ubuntu release, Maverick Meerkat, F-Spot was replaced by an application known as Shotwell which is not Mono-dependent. However, a game called gbrainy was included.

If Banshee is part of Natty Narwhal, that would make three applications in all.

If Banshee is included, it would be the culmination of a long campaign by Mono proponents - to the extent of rallying people to vote in polls run by Ubuntu fan sites! If that does not smack of desperation, I don't know what does.

The push for Banshee began in April with a long post by Mono advocate and developer, Jo Shields. As pointed out on an Ubuntu fan site, while there were claims that Banshee would take up less space than the current default media player, Rhythmbox,

This was the entire argument for Banshee - but was later denied by the author of that very post!



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Sam Varghese

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A professional journalist with decades of experience, Sam for nine years used DOS and then Windows, which led him to start experimenting with GNU/Linux in 1998. Since then he has written widely about the use of both free and open source software, and the people behind the code. His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.