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Novell's Mono Gets Faster and More Visual

Novell is making it easier for a Microsoft .NET developer to deploy their applications on Linux, whether they develop their applications on Windows or on Linux, with the release of Mono 2.4.

Mono is a .NET on Linux implementation and the new version, released Monday, promises greater compatibility and better performance for deploying .NET apps on Linux. Also, Novell is also releasing MonoDevelop 2.0, an improved IDE for building .NET applications.

All told, the two new releases continue Novell's push to ensure that Linux remains a viable platform choice for .NET applications. The new releases come on the heels of Novell's SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 11 release, which includes for the first time commercial support for Mono.

"MonoDevelop 1.x was the basic foundation, but we knew it was missing too many features," Miguel de Icaza, vice president of development platforms at Novell (NASDAQ:NOVL) and leader of the Mono project told InternetNews.com. "The editing experience now is night and day."

De Icaza explained that his team rebuilt the editor from the ground up. MonoDevelop 2.0 now includes an integrated debugger, trackable changes and code templates. Additionally, MonoDevelop 2.0 now uses the same msbuild file format for project code that is used by Microsoft's Visual Studio.

"What that means is we no longer have our own file format for MonoDevelop," De Icaza said. "That means you can alternate with all the applications in the ecosystem that use the file format. Visual Studio is one, Microsoft Blend and Expression as well as MonoDevelop all use the same format. So basically we now have a universal file format that they all speak and you can move back and forth across tools."

He added that, for example, you could do Web design with Microsoft Expression and the changes could be picked up in MonoDevelop and vice versa. Having the same file format is something that De Icaza sees as being important for the collaborative development of .NET projects.

Visual Studio integration

While MonoDevelop offers Linux developers a way of natively developing .NET application on Linux, Windows developers tend to use Microsoft's Visual Studio. Making Mono a more attractive deployment target for Visual Studio developers is also part of De Icaza's plans.

He commented that for developers that are comfortable with Visual Studio today, they should keep using it and just publish to Linux for deployment instead of a Windows Server.

"Today's story for Visual Studio is pretty good, you just have to hit the publish button and it will give you a site that will run on Mono," De Icaza said. "But we want to do a lot more integration points. We are working on a Visual Studio plug-in but we're not announcing that today. That will do more than what we can do today."

The new plug-in when available will allow for more integrated Visual Studio to mono debugging and control than what is currently available.

Mono 2.4

Alongside the MonoDevelop 2.0 release, Novell is releasing Mono 2.4 which is the second point release in the 2.x series, which was first released in October of 2008.

The 2.4 release includes additional stability and performance improvements over its predecessors. For example, De Icaza claimed that Mono 2.2 on a particular benchmark load test could do 30 requests per second, while Mono 2.4 can do 120 requests per second on the same test. He added that additional improvement for multi-processor support and optimization were also rolled into Mono 2.4.

The 2.4 release is also the first Mono release ever to be backed by commercial support from Novell. Novell has been working on Mono since 2004.

De Icaza noted that the enterprise support means that the Mono 2.4 branch will undergo a more rigorous release cycle for testing and will be maintained for security fixes for several years to ensure stability.

"The message with Mono 2.4 is that enterprises should feel happy about adopting for enterprise use," De Icaza said. "It's all open source, the enterprise support kicks in when you have a problem."