Microsoft Brings Silverlight 2 to Linux

by Justin Ryan - Dec. 21, 2009Comments (14)

One of the difficulties open source software faces is in implementing support — where it is even possible to do so — for the wide variety of codecs, formats, and other proprietary technologies that users have come to rely on. One such technology is Microsoft's Silverlight framework, which until early this year, was a no-go for Linux users.

That changed in January, when the first version of the Moonlight project — a collaboration between the Novell-sponsored Mono project and Microsoft, begun in 2007 — was released, providing Linux users with Open Source Silverlight support. Also included, provided that Moonlight has been obtained via Novell and meets certain other conditions, is a license to Microsoft's free but closed-source Media Pack, containing codecs needed to decode audio and video streams.

With Silverlight 1.0 support out of the way, Moonlight developers began on Silverlight 2, and late last week, delivered the results of that effort with the release of Moonlight 2. The new release implements — as the version number suggests — support for Silverlight 2, complete with a new patent agreement from Microsoft that clarifies the applicability of the commitment to Moonlight implementations obtained from sources other than Novell. Users are now protected from patent litigation without regard to who supplied a user's version of Moonlight — use of the Microsoft Media Pack, however, continues to be restricted to versions of Moonlight provided by Novell.

In addition to support for Silverlight 2, the release implements a select number of features from Silverlight 3 — complete support is expected in Moonlight 3, a preview of which is to be released in the coming months, and after a brief interim, version 4. New features include: "support for Bitmap APIs, file dialogs, easing functions, pluggable media pipeline and custom Codecs...better streaming of multimedia content based on the quality of the user's connections...[and]...his release embeds Mono runtime functionality, which allows developers to target Linux with rich Internet applications using a wide variety of programming languages, including C#, Ruby, Python and Javascript."

Moonlight — and Mono in general — has not been without its share of controversy, however. The conditions placed by Microsoft on Moonlight use produced considerable confusion regarding its status — prompting the revised commitment included with Moonlight 2 — as did the restrictions regarding eligibility to use the Microsoft Media Pack. As one might expect, those who oppose the use of closed-source software entirely object to the need for proprietary codecs. Some have objected to the patent agreement between Novell and Microsoft on principle, while others believe the project is part of a conspiracy to undermine the Open Source community.

Moonlight 2 — including a license for the Microsoft Multimedia Pack — can be downloaded from Novell's Moonlight site. Additional information about Moonlight and the Mono project is available from the Mono Project website, as is information for those interested in joining in the project's development.

Image courtesy of Bruce Tuten

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Moonlight isn't written by microsoft; in fact microsoft's main involvement is to offer not to sue anyone using the technology.

I downloaded moonlight a while ago, but to be honest I was struggling to find any sites that

a) use silverlight at all

b) work with moonlight.

In fact the only ones I did find were demo sites pointed to by the moonlight website! Needless to say its now uninstalled, with no intention of re-installing it...

Moonlight is and always will be several steps behind silverlight; its principal use is as a microsoft marketing tool rather than have any useful application. Flash, although it has pretty annoyingly slow performance under linux, at least works.

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Same experience. Had a video site using it, Moonlight video player was failing hard. Even Windows users were having a ton of trouble.

In the end, they went back to Flash, who's Adobe does more for Linux than "promise not to sue you for propagating *our* technology".

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silverlight is irrelevant. its just MS playing catchup and trying to land grab a space that is already crowded.

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Microsoft has a chance to head off HTML 5 multimedia embedding capabilities, but only if they're willing to be more open - thus far, they're not.

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The reason this would be attractive to me is to use the NetFlix "Watch Instantly" service. Otherwise I haven't run across any Silverlight app I need.

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similar to mark hinkle here, all i want is to be able to watch March Madness on my linux machine. So, if moonlight 2 makes this happen, then great. otherwise, i don't care lol.

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Patent/legal protection is assured to ONLY moonlight provided by Novell to it's clients and users.

Verify by reading here:

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Oh no, more work on sight!

As to date I have removed Silverlight from over 200 computers tha got infected somehow. will I also have to start removing silverlight from Linux boxes?

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I downloaded and installed Moonlight 2. I wanted to be able to watch NFL Game Replay. I can't use ESPN, NFL, or Netflix watch instantly, because I don't have a supported operating system. If I were to guess, MS and Apple are trying to freeze Linux out. Netflix reply, when I asked why I had to have one or the other, was, "That's your choice, but it won't work on any other system".

Netflix at least answered the phone. Try to get through to either the NFL or ESPN, I can't even find a phone number. Can anyone tell me how to start a grass roots shake up on this idea?

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Do a fact check before publishing BS like this...

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Infecting the GNU/Linux world with this kind of garbage is not doing anyone any favors...except for Microsoft, of course. Avoid like the plague.

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@Andrew A;

You are linking to the an old document. They changed it on December 18 to cover Moonlight no matter who you get it from.

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They can change the main license for moonlight all they want, doesn't change the fact that they entered into a patent agreement in the first place which makes it clear what their intentions are, not to mention the fact that the codec agreement is still a offense to OSS.

So it doens't matter, its still proprietary and undesireable for most of us in the real world.

Microsoft has not changed one bit, they are stilll the monopolistic, take over company they always were, they are just trying to wrap it up in a pretty bow, but it still wreaks of their inability to truly offer crossplatform open tools ( You still can't get it from silverlight site, which speaks volumnes).

No one in the OSS world is fooled by this, except those very new to the scene and in time they will see it for what it is , because in part fedora one of the champions of OSS wont include moonlight/mono in their distro ( only repo ) because of this nonsense, even though Ubuntu has embraced it. I guess that says alot doesn't it, that one of the largest supporters of Linux on the desktop is embracing technologies with patents , working with the largest Monopoly on this planet.( and yes , no new update on patent agreement, and codecs are still patended and redistribution if still an issue therefore )

No thanks, qt/kde here we come, and pcbsd ( NIX , which has been embraced by apple at its 'core' ) thank goodness you default to kde which is clean of all said nonsense, and btw has a MUCH freer license in BSD.

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Until it supports Netflix, there is no reason to have any part of it.

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