BOSTON—Novell opened the LinuxWorld Conference here with the introduction April 3 of the beta program for Mono 1.2, its open-source implementation of the Microsoft .Net Framework designed to help corporate IT and ISV developers migrate existing .NET applications to Linux and build new Linux and cross-platform applications.
Novell also announced it is developing a new Linux build service framework and disclosed details about the availability of SUSE Linux 10.1, the newest version of its community Linux distribution.
The OpenSUSE build service is a new Linux build service framework that will simplify the creation of Linux packages for not only SUSE Linux but for any other Linux distribution, and which will become the development platform for future SUSE Linux distributions.
It contains a server back-end and a client front-end.
The server back-end will host sources, the build infrastructure, package download and mirroring tools, and communication infrastructures.
The client front-end will include the tools and interfaces needed to organize and build packages from source code, including a command line and a Web-based interface, said Eric Anderson, vice president of Linux engineering at Novell.
Many server and all client components of the OpenSUSE build service are open-source tools with a public application programming interface so they can be easily integrated with existing build tools, he added.
When complete, the build service will allow community Linux engineers to easily create, for the first time, executable Linux packages from community source code that will be installable on Novell's SUSE Linux or other Linux distributions, hastening innovation and getting useful software into users' hands more rapidly.
The OpenSUSE build service is currently only available to a small set of initial testers for community inspection and bug fixing, but a more robust hardware infrastructure is expected to be introduced during the second quarter.
At the same time, it will give developer access to SUSE Linux core packages, allowing the creation of entirely new SUSE Linux-based distributions that are optimized for specific tasks, Andersen said.
Full public access to the build service is expected to be available later this year, but a preview is now available.
Novell is demonstrating the first components of this build service at LinuxWorld this week.
"Open-source developers need more and better ways to streamline the routine and mechanical process of creating installable Linux packages from their own source code. Now community engineers will be able to go to one site and have free access to the tools and services they need to build their applications for SUSE Linux-based distributions," Anderson said.
Novell planned to extend this build service into a one-stop Linux development center by supporting SUSE Linux-based distributions as well as other popular distributions like Red Hat, Debian and others, he said.
Tony Iams, vice president of System Software Research at Ideas International, welcomed the move, saying in a prepared statement that Novell was implementing open-source technology that "will truly simplify the way Linux packages are created. Linux engineers everywhere should look closely at what Novell has done to make Linux development easy."
The Mono 1.2 beta includes support for Microsoft Windows Forms APIs (Application Program Interfaces) to allow .Net client-side applications to be more easily ported to Linux.
This will give corporate IT and ISV developers operating system alternatives for hosting existing .NET applications, but also opens up the possibility of new desktop applications on Linux, said Miguel de Icaza, vice president of developer platforms at Novell and maintainer of the Mono Project.
Mono was used to develop a number of new desktop Linux applications that will be found in Novell's SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop 10 when it ships later this year, including the Banshee music player, F-spot photo management tool, iFolder and Beagle desktop search, he said.
Other enhancements in this beta release include additional platform and hardware support, virtual machine upgrades and enhanced Java support, as well as significant performance, memory consumption and stability improvements.
Novell also used LinuxWorld to announce that developer builds of SUSE Linux 10.1 are now available, while the finished version for standard 32-bit, AMD Athlon 64, Intel EM64T and IBM PowerPC processors will be released for free download at www.openSUSE.org later this month.
The retail edition of SUSE Linux 10.1, which supports 32-bit, AMD Athlon 64 and Intel EM64T processors, will follow, delivering the same packages at a suggested price of $59.95.
In addition, the retail box includes an installable DVD and CDs, a user manual, and 90 days of installation support.
SUSE Linux 10 is the first version of SUSE Linux created in full partnership with the open-source community.
Version 10.1 features more than 1,500 software packages that include technologies like the new OpenOffice.org office suite, Firefox Web browser and multimedia tools, delivered to users in a single stabilized distribution.
"SUSE Linux 10.1 is a watershed accomplishment for Novell and the members of the OpenSUSE community. Working with the community, we have extended and improved every element of the distribution to give the best possible desktop experience to first-time Linux users, while continuing to stabilize, integrate and provide the latest open source packages for experienced engineers," said Andreas Jaeger, Novell's chief maintainer of SUSE Linux.