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Xamarin and Attachmate's SUSE settle split-up, partner over Mono
Jul. 18, 2011

Attachmate's SUSE unit announced a partnership with Xamarin, which formed to support the "Mono" after Attachmate jettisoned the Mono team. The agreement grants Xamarin a license to all IP covering Mono products, and calls for Xamarin to provide technical support to SUSE customers using Mono-based products.

In November, Attachmate announced its intention to acquire Novell for $2.2 billion. Shortly after completing the acquisition in May, the company began letting Mono developers go. The dismissals were part of a larger round of layoffs at Novell, whose SUSE Linux operations were moved to Nuremberg.

Later that month, Miguel de Icaza (pictured at top), founder of the Mono Project, and GNOME co-founder launched a new venture called Xamarin. The company said it would develop products based on the open source, Linux-ready .NET clone Mono, including the latest Mono for Android application. Although de Icaza said the spin-off had been discussed by Novell for some time, the abrupt layoffs appear to have caught the Mono team by surprise. (See farther below for Mono background.)

It was unclear at the time just how far Attachmate/SUSE would distance itself from Mono. As it turns out, not so much, as the former teammates have apparently smoothed over any hard feelings regarding the Mono layoffs to form a broad partnership and licensing agreement.

In the agreement, Xamarin gains a broad, perpetual license to all IP covering Mono products, according to SUSE, which continues to maintain SUSE Enterprise Linux, among other products, while supporting the community-based OpenSUSE project. Cited applications include Mono, MonoTouch, Mono for Android, and Mono Tools for Visual Studio. In addition, Xamarin is said to now assume full stewardship of the Mono open source community project.

The agreement also calls for Xamarin to provide technical support to SUSE customers using Mono-based products, says the Attachmate business unit. The agreement is said to ensure that current and future SUSE customers hosting applications on SUSE Linux Enterprise Mono Extension application server will continue to receive full commercial support from SUSE, backed by Xamarin.

Current SUSE customers using Mono developer tools will receive support and updates directly from Xamarin for the remainder of their subscription periods, says SUSE.

More on Mono

Mono is a free and open source project -- formerly sponsored by Novell and prior to that by Ximian, which was acquired by Novell in 2003. Mono is an Ecma standard-compliant .NET-compatible set of tools, including a C# compiler and a Common Language Runtime.

The stated purpose of Mono is not only to be able to run Microsoft .NET applications cross-platform, but also to bring better development tools to Linux developers. Although Mono has become an important asset to enterprise open source developers, many in the open source community are wary of using the software, due to fears that its .NET foundation could lead to Microsoft patent issues.

In May, de Icaza announced that Xamarin would continue to build a new commercial .NET offering for Android and iOS, as well as contribute, maintain, and develop Mono and Moonlight -- a Microsoft Silverlight multimedia clone -- under open source license. Xamarin will first deliver the iPhone stack, followed by the Android stack, and then the Moonlight ports to both platforms. The new versions of .NET for the iPhone and Android will be source-compatible with MonoTouch and Mono for Android, and will similarly be commercial products built on top of Mono, according to de Icaza back in May.

The new partnership deal between SUSE and Attachmate was led by Nat Friedman, who was named Xamarin founder and CEO a week after Xamarin was announced by de Icaza. The two co-founded Ximian in 1999, and at Novell, Friedman was responsible for the highly acclaimed SUSE Studio, according to de Icaza.

Stated Xamarin's Friedman, "Xamarin was founded with a mission to delight developers with the world's best platform for mobile development. We're excited about the possibilities enabled by our partnership with SUSE and committed to helping current and future customers, our partners and the open source community."

Stated Nils Brauckmann, president and general manager of SUSE, "This partnership is a triple win -- a win for SUSE, a win for Xamarin, but most importantly, a win for our customers, users and community."

-- Eric Brown

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