Home opinion-and-analysis Open Sauce .Net is now open so what will Miguel de Icaza do?

.Net is now open so what will Miguel de Icaza do?

As Linux continues to spread its tentacles deeper and deeper into the enterprise, the chief of the Linux Foundation, Jim Zemlin, would no doubt have had many days when he had reason to quaff a glass of champagne.

But there has been no bigger day for the man who manages the organisation that serves to promote the kernel created by Linus Torvalds, than Wednesday, when Microsoft announced that it would be open sourcing the server side .NET stack and expanding it to run on Linux and Mac OS platforms.

It is an open admission by the company once considered the 800-kg gorilla of the software industry that it has no choice but to get with the prevailing trend and cater to the growing use of open source.

What Zemlin had to say about it wasn't in any way smug, but I have no doubt that he would have been grinning from ear to ear as he wrote this blog entry.

As he put it, very diplomatically, "We do not agree with everything Microsoft does and certainly many open source projects compete directly with Microsoft products. However, the new Microsoft we are seeing today is certainly a different organisation when it comes to open source."

While Zemlin is enjoying the development, another prominent man in the open source world will be wondering what he will do next. For years, Miguel de Icaza, the co-founder of the GNOME Desktop project, has been tailgating APIs from Redmond, and building software like Mono and Moonlight to clone parts of .NET and Silverlight, the latter a technology that Microsoft vowed would be a Flash killer.

Alas, some time back, Microsoft announced that Silverlight development would effectively end and De Icaza was left with a lot of code that was of no use. There was no beacon left to follow, no light in the sky to guide his way.

Now what will De Icaza do with Mono? He always said he was working overtime on developing Mono because he wanted Linux developers to work on .NET which he lauded as a development framework. From now on, people do not need the copy – they have access to the original.

There have been countless spats and lots of bad blood generated by what De Icaza did and that will not go away. One does not need to go into detail, there is evidence aplenty of this on the internet.

Overall, it is a pity that De Icaza wasted so much of his own time – he is a talented developer – and that of other coders whom he led down the Mono garden path. Developer time is the scarcest resource in free and open source software projects and all the effort that went into Mono and Moonlight could well have been used elsewhere.

One thing that De Icaza failed to realise was that Microsoft would do what it considered good for its business. There is no room for sentiment at a proprietary software company.


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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.