Fedora embraces Mono

But Red Hat says it has no plans to include the open source .Net implementation in its commercial distribution

The next version of Fedora, Red Hat's community distribution, will include the cross-platform .Net implementation Mono for the first time.

The Mono project provides software that allows .Net client and server applications to be developed and run on various platforms including Linux, Mac OS X, Windows, and Unix.

Fedora already offers support for a number programming languages such as Java, Python and C++, but has held off from adding .Net support via Mono, despite the widespread adoption of the technology by other Linux distributions. But on Monday, Christopher Blizzard, a systems engineer at Red Hat, said that Mono was being added to Rawhide, the development tree for the Fedora Core distribution.

"Tonight Mono lands in rawhide, and will be included in FC5 [Fedora Core 5]. We're happy to enable another convenient method to use our core desktop platform," said Blizzard in his blog.

He admitted that Fedora had dragged its feet over including Mono and claimed this was for "business" and "strategic" reasons. Although he did not specify the precise reasons, the fact that the Mono project is sponsored by Novell, Red Hat's main competitor in the Linux market, and that the project implements a Microsoft technology, probably had a significant impact on the decision.

Brian Green, the direction of solutions management at Novell, said on Wednesday that it was "delighted" with this move and claimed that Mono is "one of the most interesting Linux projects around".

"Red Hat's decision to include Mono reinforces Novell's role as an innovator in the Linux market," said Green.

A Red Hat spokesperson said the decision to include Mono was made by the community and that it has no plans to include the product in its commercial products.

"The Fedora Foundation is a community of users who have a common interest in many technologies. Mono is a technology of interest to this community and the group has decided to include Mono in Fedora Core 5," said the spokesperson. "At this time, Red Hat has no plans for the endorsement or productisation [sic] of Mono."

It is also possible that legal worries delayed adoption on Red Hat's part. Microsoft holds a number of patents around the .Net framework, which Mono could potentially infringe. Miguel de Icaza, the founder of the Mono project, said in an interview in 2004 that although the project team do not think the product infringes any Microsoft patents, it is difficult to be fully sure due to the number of patents held by Microsoft and the complexity of their claims.

Fedora Core 5 is currently scheduled for release on 15 March, 2006, according to the Fedora Project Web site.