Free software advocates support options to .Net

The Free Software Foundation announced Monday it will support two new free software alternatives to Microsoft Corp.'s .Net platform, called the Mono and DotGNU projects.

While Mono and DotGNU will offer different components to .Net, they will be complementary, the Free Software Foundation said in a statement.

Open source software maker Ximian Inc. is heading up the development of the Mono project, which is aiming to be a GNU/Linux-based version of the Microsoft .Net development platform, and will include such .Net compliant components as a C# compiler, a Common Language Runtime just-in-time compiler and a full suite of class libraries, the Free Software Foundation said.

Any .Net applications that are developed on the Mono software could be run on Windows or any Mono-supported platform, including GNU/Linux and Unix, the Free Software Foundation said.

As for DotGNU, the project will be led by David Sugar, the chief technology officer of FreeDevelopers.net and it will seek to develop free software for enabling decentralized services and authentication, the Free Software Foundation said.

Microsoft is known for its criticism of the open source movement, especially the GNU General Public License (GPL). But at the same time, the company has been publishing source code under that license for one of its own products -- Interix -- for the past two years. Microsoft's Interix is used by customers to port Unix applications to its Windows operating systems and includes a software compiler called the GCC (GNU Compiler Collection), a product first developed by Free Software Foundation founder Richard Stallman that is covered by the GPL. A compiler is a piece of software that allows code written in a programming language to be turned into a format that a processor or operating system understands.

The GCC is free software, in that the terms of the program's licensing agreement are free. The software can be purchased or distributed openly without cost. The compiler is released under the GPL, a widely-used licensing scheme in the open source, free software and Linux movements, in which the source code to the program is made freely available to its users, so they can inspect or change it.

Last month, the Free Software Foundation released version 3.0 of the GCC, adding support for Java and Intel Corp.'s IA-64 processor, allowing the code generated by the compiler to run faster and on a broader range of chips, the Free Software Foundation said. [See "Updated GNU compiler adds Java, IA-64 support," June 18.]More information on the Mono project can be found at http://www.go-mono.net while more information on DotGNU can be found at http://savannah.gnu.org.

The GCC is available at http://www.gnu.org/software/gcc/releases.html.

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