Mono isn't dead, and SUSE isn't giving up on it entirely either. Attachmate's SUSE Linux division today officially announced a deal with startup Xamarin for support and ongoing development of Mono.
Xamarin is a company founded by former Novell employees including Nat Friedman and Mono founder Miguel de Icaza. The pair founded the company after Attachmate laid off an undisclosed number of Mono developers in May, following their acquisition of Novell.
"What we're announcing is that SUSE and Xamarin have entered into a partnering agreement, which will make sure that we are able to effectively support customers using Mono-based products," Holger Dyroff VP Product Management at SUSE told InternetNews.com. "As part of the partnership we are granting Xamarin a broad intellectual property license."
Mono is an open source implementation of Microsoft's .NET framework. In recent years, Mono has expanded beyond its desktop and server roots with the MonoTouch product, which enables mobile developers to bring their applications to iOS and Android devices.
In addition to the intellectual property license, SUSE is also partnering with Xamarin to provide customer support. SUSE's parent company Novell had been selling commercial MonoTouch as well as the SUSE Linux Enterprise Mono Extension.
"Xamarin will now take the stewardship of the Mono open source community project and deliver technical support to SUSE customers using Mono based products," Dyroff said.
As to why SUSE has decided to partner with Xamarin, as opposed to just keeping the staff or hire new staff, Dyroff noted that it was a question of focus. The focus of SUSE within its new parent company Attachmate is around Linux infrastructure. In contrast, Dyroff said that Mono's success in the last year has come as a mobile development platform.
"For us it's fantastic, since we now have a company that is focused on Mono as a platform specifically in the mobile world," Nat Friedman, CEO of Xamarin told InternetNews.com. "So we're able to pursue our direction while still providing support to all the SUSE customers that depend Mono."
It's unclear at this point, precisely how much money the Mono business is worth. Dyroff and Friedman were unable to comment on an exact financial amount that is related to the intellectual property grant, or the value of services that could be provided by Xamarin.
"That's the trade, we're providing the support services to SUSE customers that want to use Mono-based product and in return we're getting the broad intellectual property grant," Friedman said. "There are thousands of people that have purchased these products, so we can take the products and move them forward."
Friedman noted that for mobile customers that have already bought MonoTouch from Novell, those customers have purchased one year of support. For the remainder of the year of support, Xamarin will directly provide the support for updates.
"When it comes time to update or buy a new license, they'll do that from us," Friedman said.
Though Xamarin is focused on Mono's mobile future, Mono also remains an important component of both desktop and server deployments for some users. The Moonlight project is one such effort. Moonlight is an open source implementation of Microsoft's Silverlight media framework and was also previously a Novell sponsored mono-powered project. Friedman noted that Moonlight development will be continuing and that some of the same APIs are important to mobile developers.
Friedman added that just because Xamarin is focused on mobile that doesn't mean that other uses of Mono will fade away.
"We are very focused on mobile, though of course we're supportive of all uses of Mono," Friedman said. "We don't have any specific desktop or server plans for Mono, but the Mono community is quite large, so there is no question about whether it will be supported."