Mono's Not Just a Vehicle for Passport

by Brian Jepson

Linux Today has a link to Nicholas Petreley's "GNOME gets Mono" article, in which he blasts Mono and GNOME. There has been a lively discussion.

Petreley turns the heat up in this weblog entry.

His concern about Passport being tied to the .NET Framework is certainly justified. Microsoft could (and probably will) integrate Passport authentication at the class loader level.

What would that mean? A software developer could integrate passport into an application as easily as a web developer could integrate passport into a web site. Even if Mono has the capability to authenticate and load Passport-enabled assemblies, it does not force every developer to adopt Passport.

I like the idea of a single sign-on, but I don't think Microsoft should have sole control over it. It's my hope that several compatible alternatives are available to Passport. AOL/Time Warner is already working on one, Magic Carpet. I'm not all that crazy about AOL/Time Warner and Microsoft being the two parties with control over identity and authentication. There should be open alternatives.

It's probably only wishful thinking on my part that we can expect compatibility between Magic Carpet, Passport, and whatever else appears (such as the free and open DotGNU). I know one thing: having an open source implementation of .NET at least makes it possible to connect a Passport-bound class loader to a non-Microsoft implementation. Perhaps Mono will unify these authentication mechanisms in the same way that Jabber has unified incompatible instant messaging systems.