For .NET developers, Mono has long provided a bridge into the Linux and open-source world. Now it’s over. The official end of Mono at Attachmate came this past Friday, May 13, which was the last day of employment for the Novell’s Mono team, a move announced on May 2. Formerly, this team was an important part of Novell’s SUSE Linux staff, but now the entire project has been cast aside by Novell’s new owners.
What comes next? Miguel de Icaza, creator of Mono, has decided to strike out on his own, forming the company Xamarin to build Mono-based commercial products. The initial focus of the company will be the creation of commercial frameworks for running Mono applications on Android and iOS, while pushing the overall Mono project forward.
de Icaza said that work on the new company’s products began on May 16, focusing on completing the Mono stack for iOS, after which he’ll tackle Android. When both mobile platforms are covered, Xamarin will work on porting Moonlight, the Mono implementation of Microsoft Silverlight, to mobile platforms.
The Mono project had already begun to focus heavily on mobile development. Prior to the layoffs, MonoTouch and MonoDroid had both been released to help developers merge mobile with Mono. In fact, wrote de Icaza on his blog, he had been attempting to get Novell to spin off the Mono Project into its own company for almost a year now. But that didn’t happen.
“We had a couple exchanges about how I would like to take those products [MonoDroid and MonoTouch] from Attachmate, and avoid rebuilding it. The reality is they have other things right now on their plate,” said de Icaza.
Thus, the first few months of existence at Xamarin will be focused on rebuilding MonoDroid and MonoTouch from scratch without using any of the former Novell’s intellectual property. To do this, de Icaza has formed a team of around 14 people, whom he hopes to hire in a week or two.
Despite the sudden break with Attachmate, de Icaza insisted that he’s not bitter. “I think there’s no point in getting angrier when it comes to the business space,” he said. “They have an execution plan and that’s not the same plan Novell’s management had. I know some people were emotional about this, and there’s certainly a shock when they say, ‘We’re laying you off,’ but I think we’re better off being independent.
“Other than the shock value, this is better for Attachmate and better for us. We didn’t really market Mono at Novell. It was never a major part of Novell’s strategy. I have no animosity toward Attachmate.”
Xamarin’s marketing budget will be coming from a group of angel investors, gleaned from de Icaza’s personal connections. While acting as interim CEO, he will be seeking larger investments from actual venture capital firms, but he estimated that this effort should take a few months. Once that’s done, however, de Icaza plans on hiring a professional CEO so he can get back to coding.