Microsoft .Net's execution engine goes open source

Microsoft opens up wider with the release of CoreCLR, the execution engine in .Net Core

Continuing with plans to open up its software development technologies, Microsoft this week open-sourced CoreCLR, the .Net execution engine in the .Net Core platform.

CoreCLR performs functions such as garbage collection and compilation to machine code, providing a modular implementation of .Net that can be used as the base stack for a variety of scenarios, the Microsoft .Net team said in a blog post on Tuesday. In turn, .Net Core can scale from console utilities to Web apps to the cloud. "We have released the complete and up-to-date CoreCLR implementation, which includes RyuJIT [compiler technology], the .Net GC, native interop and many other .Net runtime components." This move follows an earlier release of the .Net core libraries. CoreCLR is available on GitHub.

Microsoft first revealed plans to open-source its .Net Core stack in November, in hopes of attracting an expanded developer base and a broader ecosystem. Developers can use .Net Core to build applications such as ASP.Net Web apps and services, as well as console apps. While .Net Core currently runs on Windows, Microsoft plans to add Linux and Mac implementations of platform-specific components in coming months: "We already have some Linux-specific code in .Net Core, but we're really just getting started on our ports. We wanted to open up the code first so that we could all enjoy the cross-platform journey from the outset."

Microsoft has been preparing to release CoreCLR as open source for the last several months concurrent with new feature development. "You'll now see commits showing up in the CoreCLR repo on a daily basis, much like you have with CoreFX ." But the company cautioned there is still much work ahead with its open source and cross-platform .Net plan. Demos of Microsoft's efforts are planned for dotNetConf, a virtual conference, next month.

Late last week, Microsoft offered an update on its progress in open source, revealing that more than 1,000 forks of its .Net Core technology have launched. "Of course, this a total vanity metric and not indicative of the true number of engagements we have," said Immo Landwerth, program manager for Base Class Libraries at Microsoft. "But we're still totally humbled by the massive amount of interest we see from the community. And we're also a tiny bit proud."

He also lauded Microsoft's moves toward an "open" development model. "Code reviews are in the open and so are API reviews. And -- best of all -- we've a very active community which already outnumbers the contributions from our team. We couldn't have hoped for more."

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