Is Mono dead? Is Novell dying?

Is Mono dead? Is Novell dying?

Summary: Attachmate has fired at least some of Novell's Mono, the open-source implementation of Windows' .NET, team. It appears at least 800 employees have been let go in total. Is this the end of Mono? Of Novell?

SHARE:

Well, that didn't take long. I had thought that after Attachmate bought Novell it would be keeping its open-source teams working. Indeed, Attachmate CEO Jeff Hawn had told me that, "Business will operate as usual." While Attachmate will be keeping SUSE Linux as a spin-off company, Mono, the open-source implementation of Windows' .NET, is being shut down and there have been hundreds of additional Novell layoffs. So much for business as usual.

In a statement, Hawn told me, "We have re-established Nuremburg [Germany] as the headquarters of our SUSE business unit and the prioritization and resourcing of certain development efforts--including Mono--will now be determined by the business unit leaders there. This change led to the release of some US based employees today. As previously stated, all technology road-maps remain intact with resources being added to those in a manner commensurate with customer demand."

At this time, I do not know what other development efforts are being put on the back-burner. Nor, do I know if Miguel de Icaza, the founder and driving engine of Mono, has been let go. I've send several requests for comments to him, but I haven't received a reply. De Icaza, who is usually very outspoken, has also not tweeted nor written on his blogs about the fate of Mono and his own future with Novell. My understanding is that all of the Mono team, approximately 30-individuals, have been let go.

The Salt Lake City KSL television station reports that, "Novell Inc. laid off hundreds of employees Monday from its Provo office, just days after the company was sold, according to employees." Under Attachmate's rule, Provo was to be Novell's headquarters.

The KSL Novell source said, "800 people lost their jobs company-wide, with most of those in Provo." The sales force, human resources, corporate operations and the legal department were particularly hard hit. Even before this, Novell's top brass had been shown the door. If the 800 number is correct, that would be about 25% of the company's worldwide workforce or 50% of its U.S. workers.

These firings at a lower-level though came as a shock to the Novell staff. The source continued that in the aftermath of the Novell sale, "We all expected something. Nobody expected what we got." He concluded that Attachmate/Novell plans to drop all but four of its product lines.

Mono, since its implementation of a proprietary Microsoft software stack and C# language, has always had its enemies in open-source circles. Frankly, I didn't like some of .NET's licensing ; I wasn't comfortable with how close it brought open-source programming to Microsoft; and, having nothing to with software development politics or licensing, I didn't like that Mono would forever be trying to catch up with its proprietary big-brother .NET.

On the other hand, there have been several great programs written in Mono. As far as I'm concerned, Banshee is the best open-source media player out there. I'm not the only one to think that since Canonical decided to make Banshee its new default media player in Ubuntu 11.04.

But, without its corporate backer, what happens now to Mono? I really hadn't expected this. Microsoft sponsored Attachmate's purchase of Novell. I had presumed they'd be happy to see Mono keep going. I was wrong.

While some people are happy about Mono's demise and the stormy weather ahead for Novell, other open-source figures aren't so sure that the end of Mono is really a good thing. Bradley M. Kuhn, Executive Directory and President of the Software Freedom Conservancy, wrote, that while "I have been critical of Mono … Mono should exist, for at least one important reason: some developers write lots and lots of new code on Microsoft systems in C#. If those developers decide they want to abandon Microsoft platforms tomorrow and switch to GNU/Linux, we don't want them to change their minds and decide to stay with Microsoft merely because GNU/Linux lacks a C# implementation."

But will Mono continue? I'm sure it will in one form or another. Open-source software, no matter how encumbered it may be with possible copyright or patent problems, is hard to kill.

Will it continue to be an important software development environment is another question entirely. I fear the answer is no. While some programs, such as Banshee and the F-Spot photo manager, will continue on, it's hard for me to see developers choosing to start significant new projects in Mono.

As for Novell? Well, I'm just glad its founder, the brilliant and cantankerous Ray Noorda is no longer to see the end of his company. It would have broken his heart.

Related Stories:

Novell Deals Done

Attachmate reveals Novell, SUSE, & Linux Plans

Microsoft gets Novell's Patents rights but must share them with Open-Source Software

OpenSUSE 11.4: SUSE Linux Revitalized

Topics: Open Source, Software, Software Development

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Talkback

148 comments
Log in or register to join the discussion
  • I ever only wrote C# Apps for Linux...

    That is a very bad news. Maybe the Mono chaps will be hired or will create their own company. Mono makes developing under Linux a pleasure rather than a pain... C++ is great... But it just takes 20 times as much effort to write even the simplest things.<br>As you say, developers are sticking with Microsoft Windows because of Visual Stucio, because of C#, because of the .Net Framework, because of ASP.Net, because of SQL Server, etc.<br>Otherwise we would have fled a long time ago. In this sense Mono is really an important project especially for the zillions of small dev companies.
    Drakkhen
    • RE: Is Mono dead? Is Novell dying?

      @Drakkhen I would imagine small dev companies use .NET not Mono for their product(s) implementations. That would explain general lack of Mono applications in Linux.
      statuskwo5
      • RE: Is Mono dead? Is Novell dying?

        @statuskwo5
        MonoTouch and MonoDroid are really good for total Microsoft shops with a lot of .NET libraries and inventory and want to have mobile presence with Native Apps for iOS and Android quickly. Miguel de Icaza can quickly float a company again and start his Mono business.
        Ram U
      • RE: Is Mono dead? Is Novell dying?

        @statuskwo5 The thing is that if Mono is not there then C# dev will simply never write any app for Linux... Every time I had to write an internal app for Linux I just used Mono... It is a no brainer when cost/time is considered vs C++. So if you stop Mono you close the doors to 1000's of dev who will simply never switch. Those dev just keep developing for the windows platform and that is the point of the article and I agree is a real concern.
        Drakkhen
      • RE: Is Mono dead? Is Novell dying?

        @statuskwo5 Err, there are plenty of Mono apps running on Linux systems. Tomboy, Growl and Beagle are all examples.
        jeremychappell
      • Yep, they are dying

        The next corpse will be "Open/Libre/Silly Office", and then GNome, followed by Ubuntu. Anything related with Linsucks and Opensucks on the desktop side is doomed.
        nomorebs
      • RE: Is Mono dead? Is Novell dying?

        @statuskwo5 The two links are about the future of technology and have nothing to do with people or people's jobs. Talen<a href="http://www.tran33m.com/vb/">t</a>ed people will find new jobs, either laid off Nokia employees or laid off Mono employees.
        alasiri6
      • RE: Is Mono dead? Is Novell dying?

        @statuskwo5 Cold co<a href="http://vb.maas1.com/">m</a>fort when you've just been "simplified" right out of a job. Now it appears that the shoe is on the o<a href="http://www.tran33m.com/vb/">t</a>her foot, and heaven forbid de Icaza or his acolytes should face a sneer or two on the way out the door.
        alasiri6
      • RE: Is Mono dead? Is Novell dying?

        @statuskwo5
        I agree with statuskwo5 that dev companies tend to use .NET
        <a href="http://www.clinique-bonus-time.us/">clinique bonus time</a>
        gabwilliams
      • RE: Is Mono dead? Is Novell dying?

        @statuskwo5 thanks for sharing. <a href="http://www.silver-price-today.com">silver price today</a>
        kbilal79
      • RE: Is Mono dead? Is Novell dying?

        @statuskwo5
        Agreed; most companies use .NET nowadays, so that explains this problem with Mono. Really sad, if you ask me. <a href="http://gasgrills-onsale.net/">gas grills on sale</a>
        JunwenHu
      • RE: Is Mono dead? Is Novell dying?

        @statuskwo5
        Agreed, most companies use .NET nowadays, so that really explains the lack of popularity with Mono. Pretty sad if you ask me. Thanks for sharing, anyway. <a href="http://gasgrills-onsale.net">gas grills on sale</a>
        JunwenHu
      • RE: Is Mono dead? Is Novell dying?

        @statuskwo5
        I admire the way you express yourself through writing. Your post is such a refreshing one to read and this is such an interesting and informative article to share with others.
        <a href="http://www.leedsinjurysolicitors.co.uk">Personal injury solicitors Leeds</a>
        <a href="http://www.leedsinjurysolicitors.co.uk">Accident solicitors Leeds</a>
        mitakoli
      • RE: Is Mono dead? Is Novell dying?

        @statuskwo5
        MonoTouch and MonoDroid are really good for total Microsoft shops with a lot of. Bookmarkable website.. Thanks-
        <a href="http://www.cardiffsportsnutrition.co.uk">affordable supplements</a>
        iqbal62
      • RE: Is Mono dead? Is Novell dying?

        @statuskwo5
        Hi, thank you for the information concerning Novell. I have been searchin for this.
        [url=http://acaiberry-products.com]acai[/url]
        gabwilliams
    • Is that not more of an assumption, then fact?

      @Drakkhen
      [i] developers are sticking with Microsoft Windows because of Visual Stucio, because of C#, because of the .Net Framework, because of ASP.Net, because of SQL Server, etc.
      Otherwise we would have fled a long time ago[/i]

      Why would people flee from good products doing good things?

      Many will not, as there is no need.
      Tim Cook
      • RE: Is Mono dead? Is Novell dying?

        @Mister Spock

        Cost, complexity, and reliability. Microsoft tools have the highest cost, highest complexity and lowest reliability.....
        itguy08
      • RE: Is Mono dead? Is Novell dying?

        @ itguy08 - evidently, your ignorance is manifest.

        Visual Studio is, hands down, the most powerful development environment available today. Period.

        While Mono, Eclipse, NetBeans, XCode etc. all have their strengths, they don't offer anything like the power, flexibility, extensibility and productivity that Visual Studio offers.
        bitcrazed
      • RE: Is Mono dead? Is Novell dying?

        Great design, don?t care what anyone says. There could be something more stand-out-ish about The Spaceman, I get the martian thing though. <a rel="dofollow" href="http://www.qoutz.com/good-quotes" rel="nofollow">Good Quotes</a> || <a rel="dofollow" href="http://www.qoutz.com/get-well-soon-quotes" rel="nofollow">Get Well Soon Quotes</a>
        alannajobly
      • RE: Is Mono dead? Is Novell dying?

        @Mister Spock thanks for sharing.
        <a href="http://www.sfbayarealowcostdatarecovery.com">Hard Drive Data Recovery</a>
        kbilal79