Mono: Is it Useful?

Or: “Re-fueling the mono debate.” Or: “I’m bored so I want to see people flame.”

No, but seriously, I did have a few thoughts about the usefulness of mono, and also the openness of it. So, I’ll take some points that have cropped up in the origional mono debate, and tell you what I think about them.

Yes it is. What is open??? Seriously, if implementing something closed in an open way is not open, then we are in a sad sad way. Does that mean that samba isn’t open-source? What about wine? Noone ever says they are closed source. As far as I know, mono is a completely open source language that is compatable with .net. Don’t tell me that mono is not open.

DISCLAIMER: None of this is total facts. I am not a lawyer, and some of this is just my opinion and not fact. It is what I believe to be correct, but there may be something that isn’t.

Do you care about mp3s because of patents? If so, thats fine feel free to moan about mono. If not, then what is the difference? In many countries patents aren’t valid anyway. For example, as far as I know, in Europe, software patents do not count. So, if you aren’t in a country that has software patents then this is a non-argument.

If you are in the US, however, then you might be worried about this. Well, first of all, as far as I know the patents have never been proved. It is one of these patents that Microsoft say they have, but noone outside the company has seen them to prove they exist. Also, Microsoft have said that they won’t sue anyone that does anything with mono. Granted, this is not a legal agreement, but if they then go and sue someone, it won’t exactly look good in court. “So, you say that Microsoft said it was ok that you could use it? But now they are sueing you? How odd.” Patents are all about use. If you don’t work correctly with them they are unlikely to work.

True. Mono is very large in the sense that it takes a lot of disk space. But, it doesn’t use much ram as far as I can tell. It is not a lightweight programming language, but noone is telling you that you must use it. Most computers nowadays can handle bulky things anyway. Your computer can run firefox, openoffice and compiz but you don’t want to run mono on it? That is a bit silly. What is the difference? The applications themselves don’t take up much space, it is just the language that takes up all the space.

Gnome-do. Thats all I need to say to be honest.

Tell me 1 application that has been ported to mono. Oh wait, you can’t? I can’t either. Now, I think it would be a fantastic thing to get people to port their applications to mono, for example mathcad would be great on linux, evernote would be fantastic. But, as far as I know nothing big has been ported. Its all very well and good saying that it is really easy to port applications to mono, but until someone big does it, it is not a reason to use mono.

In the end, I would love mono to be the go-to thing to port your .net application over to linux. I would love to have evernote on linux (don’t tell me it runs in wine, the new version doesn’t) and it would really put linux on the map.

Windows user: “I would love to use Linux but I can’t run ‘application x’ on it, it is written in .net”    Linux user: “Yes you can, it has been ported to mono.”     Windows user: “Ok, I’ll use Linux then.”