The Mono project was first conceived by GNOME cofounder Miguel de Icaza as a means of accelerating desktop Linux application development and enabling Windows developers to bring some of their existing skills and code to the Linux platform. Although the Mono project has generated some controversy and has received criticism from a small but vocal cadre of Linux users, the development framework has been enthusiastically embraced by a rapidly growing number of application developers.
This release includes compilers for C# 3.0 and Visual Basic 8. It comes with a comprehensive set of Microsoft-compatible APIs, including a cross-platform implementation of Windows.Forms 2.0 for desktop application development. Mono 2.0 also includes its own desktop API stack based around open-source technologies like GTK+ and Cairo.
Mono is also being adopted increasingly by major software companies that want to bring the power of an embedded multi-language runtime to their cross-platform applications. One such adopter is Linden Labs, the company behind the Second Life virtual reality system. Integrating Mono into the Second Life platform as its primary scripting engine has dramatically improved the performance and reliability of script execution.
Mono is licensed under a combination of the permissive MIT/X11 license and the Free Software Foundation’s Lesser General Public License (LGPL). The source code is available for download from the Mono web site. For more information, check out the detailed release notes and a blog entry published this morning by de Icaza.