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Novell has released the first version of Mono, which brings Microsoft's .NET framework to non-Microsoft platforms. It's available pre-compiled for SuSE and Red Hat distributions of Linux, and for Mac OS X. It's almost exactly three years since it was announced by Miguel de Icaza. Novell acquired Ximian last year.

Mono is a run-time and C# compiler, but the team has included just-in-time support an IDE, and intriguingly, both a Visual Basic runtime and a Java VM. For a quick list of what's different from Microsoft's own .NET, consult this list. The biggest omissions in the initial release are lack of COM support - which may affect legacy applications - and no printing.

The project has been controversial since the start, and remains so. Today the debate is about patents: Microsoft has claims on many core aspects of .NET. (See MS patents .Everything). But simply getting there and providing a level of compatibility is no small achievement. And keeping compatible is a problem Microsoft has with itself. ®

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