Having become inspired by the recent TTLUG activity in finally setting up the new TTLUG website, as the group’s Trustee I found myself ashamed that I did not even have a Linux machine readily available to hack anymore. My work took me so far into the C#, ASP.Net, and now ASP.Net MVC worlds, that I had little time for Linux or Linux-based Open Source software. Thankfully, fate stepped in.
I saw my coworker about to throw away several old IBM T23 Thinkpads. Now if you know and love classic hardware like I do, the words “throw away” and Thinkpad just don’t come in the same sentence, those babies are beasts. I managed to get two of them, and 2 spare batteries.
On bootup at home one of these machine’s hard disks failed while Ubuntu was installing to its hard disk, however the other took the Ubuntu 8.04 CD installation with quite a surprising speed for a lowly Pentium 3 with 256MB RAM. After doing the expected setup without hassles and updating the distribution via the Internet (using a network cable since there is no built-in wireless in the T23) I rebooted and now had a full Ubuntu desktop system ready to go.
The first thing I was curious to see if I could do was build and run a traditional ASP.Net web page and get it running on Linux. I had tried several years ago and the process was painful and I ended up giving up before I succeeded in resolving all the issues. I was pleasantly surprised then by the *almost* painless experience this time around.
Launching Synaptic Package Manager, a quick search in it for Mono revealed the package I needed to install, and I saw the results also included the package for MonoDevelop, a RAD tool I used in my first experience all those years ago. I instantly clicked on it, not only because I had liked the tool, but because of a rule of thumb I learnt when dealing with smart installation tools like apt and its GUI-frontend Synaptic Package Manager i.e. when not knowing exactly what to install in Linux to get developing with a language, installing an IDE for that language should ensure all the dependency installation packages were also checked.
After clicking apply, and the downloads had installed I ran MonoDevelop, and used the menus to create a new ASP.Net Web Application in C#. A little browsing through the buttons at the top menu revealed the Run button (the one with the cogs), and this is where my first hurdle was hit. The build failed, reporting that “Build failed: Executable not found: /usr/bin/gmcs”. Undaunted, I did a quick Google search for the error, which resulted in a link to this Ubuntu forum thread, which indicated if I installed the package manually it would take care of the issue. Another answer in this thread recommended I also install automake.
After starting a bash Terminal and running the commands
sudo apt-get install mono-gmcs sudo apt-get install automake
I went back into MonoDevelop and tried to run my web application again. This time the application compiled, however when it tried to run I was hit with an error window stating ‘xsp2 server not found’. Learning immediately from the previous error that it was probably a missing dependency I went back to my Terminal and typed the command
sudo apt-get install xsp2
which installed the xsp2 server and its dependencies. Again in MonoDevelop I clicked Run, and was quite happy to now see my test default page open up in Firefox, with xsp2 hosting it at localhost:8080.
Now that I’m up and running, I’ll probably be browsing the Mono project site a little more often for tips and hacks I can use with my new Ubuntu system using my experience as an ASP.Net developer. Hopefully by the next Ubuntu release someone who knows how to will have fixed the bug that left out these few important files from the present installation and iron out the current kinks in the system.