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Getting started with C# on Linux

I’ve heard lots of good things about C# but I’ve never tried it. I saw some codes and thought “fine, it’s like Java”. As I also have Linux on my primary machine, I was not interested in Microsoft technologies. However, a few years ago .NET Core was open sourced and it reached version 1.0 (now it’s 1.1). It’s a cross platform framework and it works well under Linux too, so I thought it was time to try it. Project Mono has also existed for a long time but .NET Core comes directly from Microsoft.

Under Manjaro, install these packages with yaourt: dotnet, dotnet-cli, dotnet-sdk. We will also try Mono, so install the package mono too. For Ubuntu, see the instructions here: https://www.microsoft.com/net/core#linuxubuntu .

Create a project

Create a folder for holding your C# projects, e.g. ~/CSharpProjects (optional), and create a folder for a sample project (e.g. ~/CSharpProjects/Sample). Enter it, and create a source file called hello.cs with the following content:

using System;
using static System.Console;
using System.Linq;

namespace SampleApp
    class MainClass
        public static void Main(string[] args)
            WriteLine("Hello World!");

Compile with Mono

If you installed Mono, you have the command “csc” (C Sharp Compiler).

$ csc hello.cs
$ mono hello.exe 
Hello World!
$ chmod u+x hello.exe
$ ./hello.exe 
Hello World!

Compile with dotnet

Now let’s use the official command-line tools. You can also delete the file “hello.exe”. I suppose you are in the project’s folder. Issue the following command:

$ dotnet new console

It creates a project file (with extension .csproj), and a sample file called Program.cs . As we already have hello.cs, Program.cs is not needed so simply delete it (leave only one source file, but it doesn’t matter which one). Then,

$ dotnet restore    # installs some necessary packages, using the .csproj project file
Restoring packages for /home/jabba/Dropbox/csharp/Sample/Sample.csproj...
$ dotnet run        # compile and run
Hello World!

The binary output is here: bin/Debug/netcoreapp1.1/Sample.dll . If you use the command “dotnet”, you get a .dll, not an .exe . However, it can be executed:

$ cd bin/Debug/netcoreapp1.1
$ ./Sample.dll 
Hello World!
$ dotnet Sample.dll 
Hello World!

When you are ready with the development and ready for deployment, issue this command:

$ dotnet publish
Microsoft (R) Build Engine version 15.1.1012.6693
Copyright (C) Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.

  Sample -> /home/jabba/Dropbox/csharp/Sample/bin/Debug/netcoreapp1.1/Sample.dll

According to the docs, “dotnet publish compiles the application, reads through its dependencies specified in the project file, and publishes the resulting set of files to a directory. The dotnet publish command’s output is ready for deployment to a hosting system (for example, a server, PC, Mac, laptop) for execution and is the only officially supported way to prepare the application for deployment.”


Mono ships a REPL too called “csharp”.

$ csharp 
Mono C# Shell, type "help;" for help

Enter statements below.
csharp> 1+1

Visual Studio Code support

Programming C# with VS Code is a joy. When you open a .cs file, the editor offers immediately to install the official C# extension. In order to execute a program, install the Code Runner extension. Then, add the following lines to your user settings:

    "code-runner.executorMap": {
        // "python": "python3",
        // "csharp": "echo '# calling mono\n' && cd $dir && csc /nologo $fileName && mono $dir$fileNameWithoutExt.exe",
        "csharp": "echo '# calling dotnet run\n' && dotnet run"

Choose either Mono or dotnet.


If you have Linux, no problem, you can try C#. I started to play with it yesterday, but I like it. It seems a saner language than Java :)



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