March 24, 2006

Last Day at BrainShare 2006

Today is the last day of BrainShare. It has been a very satisfying experience for me. Many folks are aware of Mono now days. I had a chance to talk to Roger Levy, Vice President Open Platforms Solutions. Frank Rego and I spoke with Mr. Levy briefly, but we had an opportunity to tell him how important mono is for "all platforms". As our conversation ended I was left with a good feeling that BrainShare 2007 will be featuring mono is a very prominent way!

During the conference I became friends with Bill Stanfill, a gentleman that has business that caters to the education sector in the Colorado Springs, Colorado area. He does applications development and has been attending the mono booth and our sessions in the Developer's Den. Tuesday, Bill downloaded the Mono Combined Installer for Windows and began experimenting a little bit with it. Yesterday he went ahead and installed the SLED 10 Preview in a dual boot configuration with Windows XP on his laptop. This morning I found him at the Developer's Den trying to run the WinForms test app he had written earlier on Windows using Visual Studio .NET 2003 while at a gnome-terminal window. We discovered that SLED 10 Preview may not include (it does include I showed him how to edit /etc/mono/config and to adjust the entry for libX11. Problem fixed! The bottom line is that a lot of these folks are very new to Linux but their interest in .NET/Mono has made them very enthusiastic towards a new and exiting operating system (SLED 10) that comes standard with mono and all of its development goodness.

Take a look at these two tutorials:

Getting Started with Linux Desktop Development Using Mono

Getting Started with ASP.NET, ADO.NET and Web Service Development on Mono

While at the Developer Den, I got a chance to be introduced to a group of folks at Novell who's job it is to make a developer's life easier. They are the Strategic Partner Engineering group. Karl Bunnell the Manager of these guys encourage me to take a look at some of the programs that they are working on. Mono developers should keep handy a link to Novell's Linux University for Developers. This program aims to enhance developer educational resources by way of providing tutorials and materials that include:

  • Desktop Applications
  • Web Applications
  • Kernel and Driver Development
  • Development Tools
The Linux University nicely complements another of the great program called the Novell Developer Network. One of the key benefits of the DeveloperNet Program is to help coders get started by giving you access to all of the Novell Linux products including SUSE Linux Enterprise Server (SLES), SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop (SLED) as well as product SDKs, developer documentation, articles, tutorials and early access to beta products. From a developer's perspective there are two levels in the program: DeveloperNet Basic (Free) and DevelperNet Professional ($299).

I am not trying to tell you that the DevelperNet Professional ($299) is an exact match to any one particular level of the Microsoft Developer Network, but then again, here is an opportunity for you to get a hold of ALL of Novell's products and a number of other benefits at an incredibly low price!

The Linux University, needs your help. They need content on all the aspects they cover that shows how it is done with mono. This can be introductory, intermediate or advance level tutorials. They told me that they have great editors at their disposal so you should not worry about your language or writing skills. I can certainly us them! :-D

The Strategic Partner Engineering group is the folks behind Novell Forge. These guys are great facilitators and very approachable fellows. Richard Smith, the man behind Developer Content, Darren Davis and Paul Mckay made it all happen over at the Developer Den. Clint Carroll and Michael Cronquist made sure I would meet all the right people.

Finally, I want to share one of the most interesting encounters that I had while at BrainShare. Susanne Oberhauser, a Novell employee that came from Novell's acquisition of SUSE was always present at the Developer Den. She was always very attentive during Frank's Mono sessions. At one point, I was sitting next to her as she was completing a phone call. I noticed that she was speaking German. German people always brings some of the best memories of my life, so I decided to introduced my self and start a conversation. Soon I learned that she was a very intelligent and technical person with engineering and software programming experience. She asked me some questions about mono and Qt.

For a long time I have been waiting to strike an intelligent conversation with folks that like me, have a great deal of admiration and respect for the work that Trolltech has done with Qt and and the achievements of the KDE organization. A lot of people are under the impression that the mono community is somehow against Qt/KDE. The collection of mono developers made up by both Novell employees and external contributors is very vibrant and productive but also relatively small.

I myself would not mind to look into taking an active role into contributing to a Qt# project. Unfortunately, I have my hands full. That said, I want to remind those Qt/KDE hackers that at mono, we are willing to help and embrace any good development tool-set that aims at offering a managed library that enriches the mono:: framework and expands the choices of the programmers that use it.

I am probably not the best person to communicate intelligently the technical challenges to create interoperability bindings with C++ compiled modules. As an old C++ programmer in Windows, I can tell you that even making imports from a dll compiled with Borland C++ or Microsoft C++ compiler would each present a different "name mangling" format. One could also site licensing differences between Trolltech's Qt and mono.

In the end, I venture to say that if Trolltech, who has all the code and the knowledgeable programmers wants to create a managed implementation of Qt they will be given the assistance by the mono community as other projects have already found out. After all, both choice and freedom are good things!

Posted by martinf at 01:09 PM | Comments (1)

March 22, 2006

Mono at BrainShare 2006

Wow! This is better than I had hoped for! Our mono booth and the daily mono presentation that Frank Rego (mono's new Program Manager) is giving has been creating a lot of interest.

At the booth, Wade Berrier has been demoing mono applications running on Windows, Linux and Mac OS X. He has been doing a great live demonstration using MonoDevelop and creating a Gtk# 2.0 app using the Widget palette brought by stetic that Lluis recently incorporated in MD. That has people's jaws dropping since most of them attending this conference are not developers and although had notions of what mono is, they had no idea of how advance it has become in the IDE field!

It has been terrific to see folks from all walks of life approach the booth and come carrying the applications that they are currently working on contained in an USB keydrive and having us run it on the different platforms. To most of them, they tend to be very dazzled when they see their WinForms projects run on Linux (SLED 10) often without modification. Some of the apps they have come talk about range from GroupWare clients, Decision Support Systems (DSS), Enterprise Information Systems (EIS) front ends (some web based others SmartClients), etc.

One of the most interesting conversations I had at the booth yesterday was with three High School teachers from the Salt Lake City school system. I attended a session given by no other than Niel Bornstein, on Novell Linux Desktop and 1:1 Computing in the School. This session was packed, and the great thing was to see - something that paco use to do in a previous life - folks that come from a K-12 system ops and administration background that knew about mono and were looking to see how much has mono progressed on the ASP.NET front so they could host their academic support .NET apps on Apache on SLES! However, back to the three SLC school teachers...

They were seeking my assistance to see how they "could find" mono on NLD 9. You see, folks like Apple and Microsoft have long supported the use of their products in the classroom. I guess they want to start them early. So guess what? These guys wanted to use mono and MonoDevelop to teach programming to their High School students!!!!!!!!! We need to talk a lot more about that!

It has been a great opportunity to meet with interesting folks from VMware, HP, Dell, AMD and Oracle. I always go to see if they know what is mono and how it takes advantage of AMD 64 CPUs and to also find out if folks like Dell and HP will ever deliver something along the lines of a Notebook that has an AMD 64 CPU, nVidia graphics chipset and a freaking wireless chipset that would be supported by SLED straight out of the box.

For all of my Microsoft centric readership and .NET Framework/Visual Studio programmers, I have one word for you:


If you already like MS .Net Framework and Visual Studio - like I do - then imagine your applications running on Linux thanks to mono but with the added insurance that AppArmour can provide! As you can tell, I am very impressed with it.

I have to get back to the trenches, but until my next entry, I leave you with some pics:

Frank over at the Developer's Den
Frank at the Dev Den
The Mono Booth in Action
Wade, Frank and I trying to answer all the questions
Paco, Attendee and Wade
Paco, Attendee and Wade
The iFolder Crew
iFolder team mates Brady and Calvin
Mono and AppArmour Novell employees and enthusiasts.
Wade and Dominic
Posted by martinf at 11:59 AM | Comments (0)

March 20, 2006

One More Year Without Him

This is the one year mark. Yesterday, Mrs. Carmen Hernandez, Paquito's mom, took part in an ati-war march that took place in Puerto Rico.

Maria, Monica and I, have been talking this over for a long time now, and have decided that one of the best remembrance rituals that we can do would be to be at the lobby of the Embassy Suites in Salt Lake City at 8:00 PM mountain time. At that time, we will begin our 10 to 15 minute car ride through S State St. (89) to the same hotel where we are staying, the same one where I was a year ago. We want to be together as opposed to separated by 1,400 miles as we were a year ago.

Once at the hotel, we will spend our evening going over our favorite Paquito's poetry, music and art works.

Twenty one years ago I was in my first tour in college doing a History degree with a concentration in Latin American Studies. I was also undergoing courses to become a Commissioned Officer with the United States Army through the ROTC program in the University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras Campus. I used to read books like On War and the Pursuit of Power. I still believe that all civilized nations should have a defense force, the same way that everyone of us could see a need for a police force to keep the weaker safe and the strong from their own abuses. Breaks my heart how time and time again we resort to employing our military might before exhausting all diplomatic means.

Would I let my child join the military knowing they could die? I knew that then, it was also present in my mind though my own years of military service.

I want to take this opportunity to thank the hundreds of people that supported us the Martinez, after Paquito's passing. I also want to thank all the new messages of support and condolences expressed unsolicited by my many friends, specially the great expressions by Kevin Shockey and his family.

Posted by martinf at 03:00 PM | Comments (2)

March 18, 2006

Mono Booth at BrainShare!

Maria, Monica and I have finally arrived at Salt Lake City and we will make it our home for the next 7 days. Today we had the great pleasure of joining Wade Berrier, his wife and daughter for lunch at Provo.

Wade and I went over some ideas for some demos at the Mono booth. I am looking forward to meet Mr. Frank Rego, the Program Manager for Mono and App Armour. There are quite a few interesting sessions but now that I know that we are going to have a booth, well, that changes everything ;)

I will keep you all posted, and don't forget to drop by the booth if you are around.

Posted by martinf at 11:07 PM | Comments (0)

March 13, 2006

The Chicken or the Mono WinForms Egg

Many people are waiting for Mono 1.2 to be released so they can try out Mono's WinForms. Yet, if we can't get enough testing, interest and debugging efforts we won't make sufficient inroads on WinForms.

So here is what you should do:

Take your favorite WinForms app and run the executable using the Mono Runtime in Linux ( then do the same on Win32 if you are up to it).

File a detailed bug report with simple test cases. This will help the active developers of Mono WinForms.

This brings us to the next item. We need more active WinForms contributors. Novell's resources are finite and somewhat stretched for the time being. So what does this means to you?

Here is your chance to stardom and fame! You find that functionality your application needs and maybe begin taking a stab at implementing it. Submit a patch and see where it goes.

Keep in mind that the Mono Project can not accept contributions from blatantly disassemble libraries from the .NET Framework or anywhere else were the intellectual property may be in question or licensing terms may prohibit. So no ILDasm or .NET Reflector on that GACed assembly you know that holds the answer ;)

We are very close, but if we don't make a big push, we could have swam a long distance just to drawn at the shore.

Posted by martinf at 10:54 AM | Comments (2)

March 12, 2006

First Steps Towards Visual Studio 2005 Support

The good news is that I managed to do the preliminary work to retrofit my latest three installers so that they have a newer GTK+/GLib and GNOME versions. On the Gtk# installers for .NET framework, I have also made it OK for them to install on systems running only .NET Framework 2.0 redistributable (for our Runtime installer) or .NET Framework 2.0 SDK (for our Gtk# SDK version). Unfortunately I have not gotten around building a newer version of Gtk# (2.8.x) so I have just reused the existing Gtk# (2.7.1) that I have.

On the Gtk# Installer for .NET Framework SDK, I have added some early support for Visual Studio 2005 (C# only for now). This means that if at run time VS 2005 is detected two new project template types will appear for C# projects -- Gtk# and Glade# applications. If you only have VS .NET 2003 you will still get the two C# project types and an experimental Glade# project template for VB.NET. Should a user have both VS 2003 and 2005 it will install/uninstall in both.

I hope this makes life a little easier for some folks. As usual you can find the work in the locations below:

Mono Experimental Combined Installer

Gtk# Installer for .NET Framework SDK

Gtk# Runtime Installer for .NET Framework

Posted by martinf at 06:36 PM | Comments (0)

March 07, 2006

Mono and Medsphere

Last week I spent some time at the Medsphere offices in Aliso Viejo California. Medsphere has been one of the corporations that has been using the Gtk# Installers for .NET Framework that I produce as part of the Windows version of one of their flagship products. The purpose of my trip was to get to know the company's management, the development team and to gain a better understanding of how they are using Mono/Gtk# in their product development strategy.

Wow! I was blown away from what I saw and learned. Keep in mind that I just spent close to three years working for a company that specializes on creating Internet based solutions for the health care industry. Medsphere has taken the Veterans Administration VistA, a complete clinical application software system, and have produced a totally hot product line that should make health care, hospital and clinical operations easier and better for interested participants anywhere in the US as well as internationally. The client side software is completely written with Mono and there are other pieces between their server side services that are written with Mono as well. It is not up to me to tell the detailed Medsphere story but trust me when I tell you that they have a sweet thing going!

I want to thank Steve Shreeve, Ben Mehling, and Feyzi Fatehi for their invitation and for their hospitality. From their development team, I met Anthony, Brad, John, Art, Robert and Chris. Great talented fellows that I hope I can stay in contact with -- specially Brad, Anthony and Chris.

Then there is Peter Johanson (latexter)! Peter and I have collaborated over IRC for quite some time now, so being able to see him at work and spend time after hours visiting some of the Costa Mesa scene was one of the highlights of my trip. Peter is also a member of the Medsphere software development team were he puts a lot of the Mono/Gtk# magic to work.

We even managed to hook up with Jackson Harper. Jackson, Peter and I spend my last night over in Orange County touring fine dinning places like Haus of Pizza and followed by visits to a few cool pubs. I understand that there is a picture of me sitting in the now famous Horse chair in Peter's apartment, but no, I did not seat in both of Pete's couches.

My only regret is that I did not manged to meet with Todd Berman, but I have a feeling that I will have more opportunities to travel to California in a not too distant future.

Thank you very much Steve and best regards to you and your family!

Posted by martinf at 10:30 AM | Comments (0)

March 06, 2006

Mono on Windows Update

What a great trip I had to Cambridge. Gonzalo, Loida, Miguel, y Maria Laura treated me so good. What hospitality! While at Cambridge, I had a chance to shake hands with Nat Friedman and almost managed to talk to Dan Winship, although Dan left for the day before I realized it was him (saw him briefly at the break room). I also managed to spend some time with Duncan.

As far as Mono in Windows, Miguel said a lot on his blog entry on the subject. The little todo list shown below, will be my focus during the weeks leading to my trip to BrainShare later this month:

* Create a new Gtk# 2.8.x Installers for .NET that will introduce support to .NET Framework 2.0 and VS 2005.

* Enhanced the functionality of the VSPrj2make Mono Add-in for Visual Studio .NET 2003 and introduce support for VS 2005.

* Will attempt work on prj2make and add preliminary/experimental support for VS 2005 C# projects.

Some important mono:: on Windows topics that Miguel and I discussed were the creation of a mono runitme installer and the relocation of many of the projects that I have been working on over the past year to the main mono SVN repository.

Finally, a big and exiting subject is the kick-off of a planning stage for the second Mono Development Conference that may be held in the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex later this year. More on the conference on the weeks to come.

Posted by martinf at 02:28 PM | Comments (0)