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BSD, General, Linux, MacOS, Windows

Cryptnos for Mac OS? Linux? BSD? Yes, please!

September 12th, 2013 | Comment?

Ever since I started working on Cryptnos nearly four years ago, it was always my hope that it would be useful to as many people as possible. Even if only a handful of people were interested in using it, I still wanted to give those people a chance. I started programming in C# for Microsoft .NET mostly as a creative, exploratory exercise; I was required to learn C# by my day job, and Cryptnos and its sibling projects were ways of teaching the language to myself without the benefit of formal classes. I never intended or wanted to exclude anyone from using it, but I eventually had to admit that .NET wasn’t the best framework for making the app as cross-platform as possible.

Thankfully, the Mono Project is here to save my bacon.

I happy to announce that we’re getting dangerously close to releasing Cryptnos for Windows 1.3.4, although there won’t be anything new for Windows folks to really see. In fact, calling it “for Windows” will soon be a bit of a misnomer, because beginning with version 1.3.4, we are officially adding Mono support to the app, meaning it will rapidly become Cryptnos for Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, various BSDs, and maybe eventually more.

While I can’t give a definitive ETA on the release just yet, I can say it will be “soonish”. I want to perform a lot more testing before leasing this into the wild. That said, my initial testing has been very promising, so I’m hoping the release will happen sometime in the next week or two.

While we’re excited to see Cryptnos open up onto other platforms, I’m sad to say it won’t come without a few caveats. Here’s a few early warning notes to share for the moment:

  • Running Cryptnos on non-Windows platforms will require Mono, which is an excellent “port” of .NET to other platforms. That said, we are limited to the platforms they currently support. If you’re not on one of those platforms, unfortunately you’re still out of luck. Please note that although Apple’s iOS is in the list on Mono’s site, there are still no immediate plans for getting Cryptnos on to iPhones, iPods, or iPads any time soon.
  • Cryptnos may not behave quite the same as native apps would on any give platform. Remember, Cryptnos was originally written with Windows in mind, so it’s going to look pretty foreign if you’re not familiar with that platform. That said, if you have a little bit of experience with Windows, perhaps just enough that you won’t get lost, you should be OK. There will be idiosyncrasies, but you should grow accustom to them eventually.
  • Installation of Cryptnos on non-Windows platforms will end up being a bit more manual, I’m afraid. In addition to the full-featured Windows installer, we’re going to start releasing a binaries-only archive that contains just the EXE and DLLs necessary to run the program. If you’re running on any system other than Windows, you’ll need to extract that archive into a directory/folder and execute Mono directly to launch the app. After that, it should function pretty much the same.
  • Upgrading will similarly being a manual process. While Cryptnos will continue to notify non-Windows users of new updates, the update notice will instead open a new browser window to the Cryptnos site where you can download the new binaries-only archive. Upgrading will then be the same process as installing the app as before, only overwriting the old files with the new ones.
  • Due to some poor UI planning our part (oops), we’re going to temporarily disable “daily use” mode whenever Cryptnos is run under Mono. We apologize for that inconvenience. Once we work out those kinks, we should be able to re-enable it in a future version. Note that this doesn’t affect Cryptnos’ functionality in any way; it just means you’ll have to use the clunkier full UI all the time, rather than “collapsing” it down to a smaller size for the day-to-day use.
  • Linux users: The feature to copy generated passwords to the clipboard technically works, but may be a bit clunky. Linux boxes with GUIs actually have two separate clipboards that don’t talk to each other, and Cryptnos only talks to one of them. Which clipboard that is may take some experimentation. I was able to paste generated passwords into GUI apps like gEdit and Firefox using a Control + V keyboard shortcut, but not using mouse-initiated context menus or into terminal windows. You may need a bit of trial and error to see what works best for you.
  • Technically, we have only been able to test Cryptnos under Windows and Linux. While it should work just fine on other platforms, be forewarned that it is officially untested on Mac OS X, the BSDs, or any other Mono-supported platform.
  • While Mono does support MS Windows, we still recommend that Windows users continue to use Microsoft’s own .NET implementation. Most of our non-Windows workarounds are based on the question of “Are we running under .NET or Mono?” without really testing to see if we’re still running on Windows. Thus, if you run Cryptnos under Mono on Windows, you may be artificially restricting yourself. Again, we hope to work around this eventually in a future version, but for now, just stick with .NET.

We’ll be posting more detailed notes on each platform later as we’re able to perform additional tests. Until then, thanks again for using Cryptnos!

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