Mono open source ECMA CLI, C# and .NET implementation.

Mono is a software platform designed to allow developers to easily create cross platform applications. It is an open source implementation of Microsoft’s .NET Framework based on the ECMA standards for C# and the Common Language Runtime.


  1. Compilation and Installation
  2. Using Mono
  3. Directory Roadmap
  4. Contributing to Mono
  5. Reporting bugs
  6. Configuration Options
  7. Working with Submodules

Build Status

Officially supported architectures:

debian-amd64 debian-i386 debian-armel debian-armhf windows-amd64
debian-amd64 debian-i386 debian-armel debian-armhf windows-amd64

Community supported architectures:


Compilation and Installation

Building the Software

Please see our guides for building Mono on Mac OS X, Linux and Windows.

Note that building from Git assumes that you already have Mono installed, so please download and install the latest Mono release before trying to build from Git. This is required because the Mono build relies on a working Mono C# compiler to compile itself (also known as bootstrapping)).

If you don’t have a working Mono installation

If you don’t have a working Mono installation, you can try a slightly more risky approach: getting the latest version of the ‘monolite’ distribution, which contains just enough to run the ‘mcs’ compiler. You do this with:

# Run the following line after ./
make get-monolite-latest

This will download and place the files appropriately so that you can then just run:


The build will then use the files downloaded by make get-monolite-latest.

Testing and Installation

You can run the mono and mcs test suites with the command: make check.

Expect to find a few test suite failures. As a sanity check, you can compare the failures you got with and

You can now install mono with: make install

You can verify your installation by using the mono-test-install script, it can diagnose some common problems with Mono’s install. Failure to follow these steps may result in a broken installation.

Using Mono

Once you have installed the software, you can run a few programs:

  • mono program.exe runtime engine

  • mcs program.cs C# compiler

  • monodis program.exe CIL Disassembler

See the man pages for mono(1), mcs(1) and monodis(1) for further details.

Directory Roadmap

  • data/ - Configuration files installed as part of the Mono runtime.

  • docs/ - Technical documents about the Mono runtime.

  • external/ - Git submodules for external libraries (Newtonsoft.Json, ikvm, etc).

  • man/ - Manual pages for the various Mono commands and programs.

  • mcs/ - The class libraries, compiler and tools

    • class/ - The class libraries (like System.*, Microsoft.Build, etc.)

    • mcs/ - The Mono C# compiler written in C#

    • tools/ - Tools like gacutil, ikdasm, mdoc, etc.

  • mono/ - The core of the Mono Runtime.

    • arch/ - Architecture specific portions.

    • cil/ - Common Intermediate Representation, XML definition of the CIL bytecodes.

    • dis/ - CIL executable Disassembler

    • io-layer/ - The I/O layer and system abstraction for emulating the .NET IO model.

    • metadata/ - The object system and metadata reader.

    • mini/ - The Just in Time Compiler.

  • runtime/ - A directory that contains the Makefiles that link the mono/ and mcs/ build systems.

  • samples/ -Some simple sample programs on uses of the Mono runtime as an embedded library.

  • scripts/ - Scripts used to invoke Mono and the corresponding program.

Contributing to Mono

Before submitting changes to Mono, please review the contribution guidelines. Please pay particular attention to the Important Rules section.

Reporting bugs

To submit bug reports, please use Xamarin’s Bugzilla

Please use the search facility to ensure the same bug hasn’t already been submitted and follow our guidelines on how to make a good bug report.

Configuration Options

The following are the configuration options that someone building Mono might want to use:

  • --with-sgen=yes,no - Generational GC support: Used to enable or disable the compilation of a Mono runtime with the SGen garbage collector.

    • On platforms that support it, after building Mono, you will have both a mono binary and a mono-sgen binary. mono uses Boehm, while mono-sgen uses the Simple Generational GC.
  • --with-gc=[included, boehm, none] - Selects the default Boehm garbage collector engine to use.

    • included: (slighty modified Boehm GC) This is the default value for the Boehm GC, and it’s the most feature complete, it will allow Mono to use typed allocations and support the debugger.

    • boehm: This is used to use a system-install Boehm GC, it is useful to test new features available in Boehm GC, but we do not recommend that people use this, as it disables a few features.

    • none: Disables the inclusion of a garbage collector.

    • This defaults to included.

  • --with-tls=__thread,pthread

    • Controls how Mono should access thread local storage, pthread forces Mono to use the pthread APIs, while __thread uses compiler-optimized access to it.

    • Although __thread is faster, it requires support from the compiler, kernel and libc. Old Linux systems do not support with __thread.

    • This value is typically pre-configured and there is no need to set it, unless you are trying to debug a problem.

  • --with-sigaltstack=yes,no

    • Experimental: Use at your own risk, it is known to cause problems with garbage collection and is hard to reproduce those bugs.

    • This controls whether Mono will install a special signal handler to handle stack overflows. If set to yes, it will turn stack overflows into the StackOverflowException. Otherwise when a stack overflow happens, your program will receive a segmentation fault.

    • The configure script will try to detect if your operating system supports this. Some older Linux systems do not support this feature, or you might want to override the auto-detection.

  • --with-static_mono=yes,no

    • This controls whether mono should link against a static library (libmono.a) or a shared library (

    • This defaults to yes, and will improve the performance of the mono program.

    • This only affects the `mono’ binary, the shared library will always be produced for developers that want to embed the runtime in their application.

  • --with-xen-opt=yes,no - Optimize code for Xen virtualization.

    • It makes Mono generate code which might be slightly slower on average systems, but the resulting executable will run faster under the Xen virtualization system.

    • This defaults to yes.

  • --with-large-heap=yes,no - Enable support for GC heaps larger than 3GB.

    • This defaults to no.
  • --enable-small-config=yes,no - Enable some tweaks to reduce memory usage and disk footprint at the expense of some capabilities.

    • Typically this means that the number of threads that can be created is limited (256), that the maximum heap size is also reduced (256 MB) and other such limitations that still make mono useful, but more suitable to embedded devices (like mobile phones).

    • This defaults to no.

  • --with-ikvm-native=yes,no - Controls whether the IKVM JNI interface library is built or not.

    • This is used if you are planning on using the IKVM Java Virtual machine with Mono.

    • This defaults to yes.

  • --with-profile4=yes,no - Whether you want to build the 4.x profile libraries and runtime.

    • This defaults to yes.
  • --with-libgdiplus=installed,sibling,<path> - Configure where Mono searches for libgdiplus when running System.Drawing tests.

    • It defaults to installed, which means that the library is available to Mono through the regular system setup.

    • sibling can be used to specify that a libgdiplus that resides as a sibling of this directory (mono) should be used.

    • Or you can specify a path to a libgdiplus.

  • --disable-shared-memory

    • Use this option to disable the use of shared memory in Mono (this is equivalent to setting the MONO_DISABLE_SHM environment variable, although this removes the feature completely).

    • Disabling the shared memory support will disable certain features like cross-process named mutexes.

  • --enable-minimal=LIST

    • Use this feature to specify optional runtime components that you might not want to include. This is only useful for developers embedding Mono that require a subset of Mono functionality.

    • The list is a comma-separated list of components that should be removed, these are:

    • aot: Disables support for the Ahead of Time compilation.

    • attach: Support for the Mono.Management assembly and the VMAttach API (allowing code to be injected into a target VM)

    • com: Disables COM support.

    • debug: Drop debugging support.

    • decimal: Disables support for System.Decimal.

    • full_messages: By default Mono comes with a full table of messages for error codes. This feature turns off uncommon error messages and reduces the runtime size.

    • generics: Generics support. Disabling this will not allow Mono to run any 2.0 libraries or code that contains generics.

    • jit: Removes the JIT engine from the build, this reduces the executable size, and requires that all code executed by the virtual machine be compiled with Full AOT before execution.

    • large_code: Disables support for large assemblies.

    • logging: Disables support for debug logging.

    • pinvoke: Support for Platform Invocation services, disabling this will drop support for any libraries using DllImport.

    • portability: Removes support for MONO_IOMAP, the environment variables for simplifying porting applications that are case-insensitive and that mix the Unix and Windows path separators.

    • profiler: Disables support for the default profiler.

    • reflection_emit: Drop System.Reflection.Emit support

    • reflection_emit_save: Drop support for saving dynamically created assemblies (AssemblyBuilderAccess.Save) in System.Reflection.Emit.

    • shadow_copy: Disables support for AppDomain’s shadow copies (you can disable this if you do not plan on using appdomains).

    • simd: Disables support for the Mono.SIMD intrinsics library.

    • ssa: Disables compilation for the SSA optimization framework, and the various SSA-based optimizations.

  • --enable-llvm

  • --enable-loadedllvm

    • This enables the use of LLVM as a code generation engine for Mono. The LLVM code generator and optimizer will be used instead of Mono’s built-in code generator for both Just in Time and Ahead of Time compilations.

    • See for the full details and up-to-date information on this feature.

    • You will need to have an LLVM built that Mono can link against.

    • The --enable-loadedllvm variant will make the LLVM backend into a runtime-loadable module instead of linking it directly into the main mono binary.

  • --enable-big-arrays - Enable use of arrays with indexes larger than Int32.MaxValue.

    • By default Mono has the same limitation as .NET on Win32 and Win64 and limits array indexes to 32-bit values (even on 64-bit systems).

    • In certain scenarios where large arrays are required, you can pass this flag and Mono will be built to support 64-bit arrays.

    • This is not the default as it breaks the C embedding ABI that we have exposed through the Mono development cycle.

  • --enable-parallel-mark

    • Use this option to enable the garbage collector to use multiple CPUs to do its work. This helps performance on multi-CPU machines as the work is divided across CPUS.

    • This option is not currently the default as we have not done much testing with Mono.

  • --enable-dtrace

    • On Solaris and MacOS X builds a version of the Mono runtime that contains DTrace probes and can participate in the system profiling using DTrace.
  • --disable-dev-random

    • Mono uses /dev/random to obtain good random data for any source that requires random numbers. If your system does not support this, you might want to disable it.

    • There are a number of runtime options to control this also, see the man page.

  • --enable-nacl

    • This configures the Mono compiler to generate code suitable to be used by Google’s Native Client:

    • Currently this is used with Mono’s AOT engine as Native Client does not support JIT engines yet.

Working With Submodules

Mono references several external git submodules, for example a fork of Microsoft’s reference source code that has been altered to be suitable for use with the Mono runtime.

This section describes how to use it.

An initial clone should be done recursively so all submodules will also be cloned in a single pass:

$ git clone --recursive [email protected]:mono/mono

Once cloned, submodules can be updated to pull down the latest changes. This can also be done after an initial non-recursive clone:

$ git submodule update --init --recursive

To pull external changes into a submodule:

$ cd <submodule>
$ git pull origin <branch>
$ cd <top-level>
$ git add <submodule>
$ git commit

By default, submodules are detached because they point to a specific commit. Use git checkout to move back to a branch before making changes:

$ cd <submodule>
$ git checkout <branch>
# work as normal; the submodule is a normal repo
$ git commit/push new changes to the repo (submodule)

$ cd <top-level>
$ git add <submodule> # this will record the new commits to the submodule
$ git commit

To switch the repo of a submodule (this should not be a common or normal thing to do at all), first edit .gitmodules to point to the new location, then:

$ git submodule sync -- <path of the submodule>
$ git submodule update --recursive
$ git checkout <desired new hash or branch>

The desired output diff is a change in .gitmodules to reflect the change in the remote URL, and a change in / where you see the desired change in the commit hash.

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