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Wednesday, 23 September 2009 05:13

CodePlex Foundation will help spread use of Mono

The appointment of Novell vice-president Miguel de Icaza to the board of Microsoft's CodePlex Foundation has been done for one reason - the Foundation will serve as a handy vehicle to increase the use of Mono.

The aim of the Foundation has been stated rather simply: to enable "the exchange of code and understanding among software companies and open source communities."

To convince people of its open source credentials, it even has the press conference which Sam Ramji used to launch the organisation available for download as an Ogg Vorbis file, among others. (Windows Media is still first). For once, you can also download documents from the site in PDF format! A Microsoft site without .doc files!!!

The Foundation is still in its nascent stages and is probably waiting to see how it is received before setting things down in stone. The website says: "Our governance documents are deliberately sparse, because we expect them to change. The most important document, the Codeplex Foundation Charter, doesn't even exist in draft form yet."

Before I go any further, let me advise you, gentle reader, that these are my opinions, something for which I expect the usual "compliments".

The need for more people to get involved in free and open source software projects is often stressed by leaders of the community - and they couldn't be more right. There is a dearth of people and it is growing - one only needs to look at the number of orphaned packages in the Debian project to get an idea of the magnitude of the problem.

One of the stated objectives of the Foundation is to get more companies contributing to open source

But the reverse if also true - the Foundation/Microsoft is planning to get FOSS projects to focus on writing software that runs on Windows.

Wouldn't that mean less time can be devoted to developing applications for Linux? After all, the same developers are writing the code for both ports, aren't they?

Bingo, the magician arrives, Miguel with his magic Mono wand. No problem, says de Icaza, just switch to Mono. Then you can code just once and it will run on both Windows and Linux.


For a long time, de Icaza and his supporters have been praising C# and pushing it as a language that makes developing applications easier and faster. His views are often contested by other equally, and more, technically qualified people.

Now comes his big chance to push Mono - the CodePlex Foundation will ensure that there are sufficient incentives for free and open source foftware developers who come on board.

I wouldn't be surprised if the Foundation quietly provides tools and assistance to move from other languages to C#. And Miguel will provide the way to please both sides - Mono. It's going to be the salvation of us all.

The Foundation's help would be a boon to those developers who have difficulty finding a means of adequate support. And, yes, there are free and open source software developers who do it tough and anything that eases the burden would be welcomed.

One would not blame them, either, for accepting any help which is on offer. Code doesn't fill empty bellies.

The devious side of Microsoft is evident in the way the Foundation has been structured. Nobody else can become a member - for if the Foundation did start turning a profit, then those members would also want their slice of the pie.

And remember, the Foundation is not a non-profit - even though it resides at a .org address. That's the usual Microsoft spin.

The one thing that still puzzles me about the Foundation is why it was set up in such a hurry. About its nature, the FAQ says:

"While the Codeplex Foundation may eventually evolve into a charitable non-profit, the requirements for a charitable non-profit are more stringent. The set-up time for such an organization (sic) would have been longer, and the planning process considerably more complex. Given that we wanted much of the planning for the Foundation to take place in an open, transparent manner, it made more sense to launch quickly but minimally, and then begin the dialog with industry partners and open source community members that will ultimately shape the Foundation."

I have no doubt, however, that in the coming weeks and months we will come to know why this organisation was born in something of a premature state.

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Sam Varghese

Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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