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Novell ushers in Moonlight

By Chad Files on May 29, 2008 (4:00:00 PM)

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Earlier this month Novell quietly released Moonlight -- a Linux client for Microsoft's Silverlight technology. Silverlight is a .Net-based cross-browser, cross-platform plugin for delivering rich media to the Internet. In a nutshell, it is Microsoft's version of Adobe Flash.

To use Moonlight you need to make sure you have all of the current Mono packages installed. Ubuntu and Fedora come ready out of the box. On other distributions, check the package manager. You can also compile Mono from source.

Moonlight functions as a Firefox plugin -- but don't try it with Firefox 3, because support for that version of the browser is buggy, according to the developers. To install it, visit the Moonlight Web site with Firefox and click the appropriate button for your hardware platform to launch the install dialog. If you don't see the dialog, Firefox has more than likely blocked the installation, and a yellow bar will appear at the top of the screen. You have to click the Options button on the bar and add the domain to the allowed sites in order to lift the block. Once that is done, click the button again to open the Software Installation dialog, click Install Now, and restart Firefox to finish the process.

The Moonlight wiki lists sites you can visit to test the plugin. Weihong Hendricks' Asset Allocator is a nice example. It is an interactive graph for calculating asset risk. It displays grab bars that allow you to change the allocation values; as the values change, the graph is updated in real time.

The binary version of Moonlight does not have audio and video support built-in. If you want the audio and video features you have to build Moonlight from source using the instructions on the Mono wiki.

The Moonlight team has already started working on support for Silverlight 2.0. For the adventurous, there is already an alpha release.

There is a fierce debate brewing about the use of Moonlight and Mono on open systems such as Linux. Microsoft has granted users the ability to use the software without fear of litigation through their collaboration deal with Novell. Some users are fine with this, some are not.

No matter the licensing, without Moonlight, Linux users will be locked out of sites that utilize Silverlight, similar to the way things used to be with Flash -- and Silverlight appears to be here to stay, for better or for worse.

Chad Files, a software developer and writer, has been developing software applications for more than 10 years, and is a contributing developer to many open source projects.

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Novell ushers in Moonlight

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 83.100.172.48] on May 29, 2008 04:48 PM
I don't think Silverlight/Moonlight will last very long, I somehow don't see vast numbers of webmasters recoding their sites for the less-supported Silverlight platform.

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Re: Novell ushers in Moonlight

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 127.0.0.1] on May 29, 2008 09:13 PM
The biggest problem (for me) is mlb.com. I note, BTW, that MSNBC isn't using Silverlight - at least I haven't encountered it. With respect to MLB, I am getting mixed results with the 2.0 plugin.

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Novell ushers in Moonlight

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 80.195.34.10] on May 29, 2008 05:03 PM
Another Microsoft technology to avoid along with Mono. It's already bad enough with a proprietary flash but to add a (potentially) patent laden moonlight to the mix is a mistake. Stick to AJAX, avoid Moonlight and (probably have to) stick with Flash.

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Novell ushers in Moonlight

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 71.123.121.200] on May 29, 2008 05:03 PM
Not available for Opera and Koqueror therefore Moonlight doesn't get my vote. Does anyone use Silverlight? Should I, you or anyone really care?

And if you want multimedia you can compile from source, nothing like making it easy fo novices!!

PS - mono a technology that matters because?

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Re: Novell ushers in Moonlight

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 68.79.189.145] on May 29, 2008 05:59 PM
> Does anyone use Silverlight?

Yes, including the site for the upcoming Olympics website. So, immediately, there will be x million users with the plugin installed.

>Should I, you or anyone really care?

Yes, if you want a rich functionality web application; SIlverlight makes the creation of rich web application dramatically easier and increases performance by using the power available on the client - thus much of the latency introduced by round-trips to the server is eliminated. The code executing on the client has an easy to use cache of data ("isolated storage") and a reasonable framework of functionality.

>And if you want multimedia you can compile from source, nothing like making it easy fo novices!!

Moonlight is in alpha; expecting anything else is unrealistic.

>PS - mono a technology that matters because?

Because .NET matters, regardless of how you feel about M$.

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Re(1): Novell ushers in Moonlight

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 172.23.48.39] on May 29, 2008 06:07 PM
wow. did you just cut and paste that from a "Pimp SIlverlight" crib sheet?

the only reason the olypic site is in silverlight is because MS paid a crapload of money to ensure it. And if it is in silverlight, I'll be avoiding it and using whatever news agency's site (most likely CBC) that covers the games instead.

the other crap you wrote is just marketing cruft.

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Re(2): Novell ushers in Moonlight

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 59.183.43.226] on May 29, 2008 10:41 PM
whoever got the moeney should fund a linux distro....
if wishes were horses...

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Re(1): Novell ushers in Moonlight

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 205.208.133.250] on May 29, 2008 07:51 PM
You mean I won't be able to view a website that for all intents and purposes should be avoided because of human rights issues? Damn, whatever will I do?

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Novell ushers in Moonlight

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 199.164.56.5] on May 29, 2008 06:04 PM
Requires Mono.

Nuff said... yet another worthless turkey from the M$ sock puppets.

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Novell ushers in Moonlight

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 71.123.121.200] on May 29, 2008 06:22 PM
and mono matters because? when I use ms (very infrequently) the only net app I ever even heard of was paint.net. If you can use ms w/o .net why would you want mono in Linux?

Pretty much the only mono apps are those sponsored by Novell and that's because it came with their purchase of Xamian (and Miguel de Icaza).

And other than ms who uses silverlight? ok, other than those bribed by ms (like the Olympics)

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Novell ushers in Moonlight

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 96.228.149.153] on May 29, 2008 06:51 PM
Novell = major MicroSlut of the world I used to use Suse for years but when they became Bill's butt buddy I decided to never use Suse again and as far as I am concerned Novell is not a part of my vocabulary. They are only significant if we the users make them that way.

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Novell ushers in Moonlight

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 71.227.134.244] on May 29, 2008 06:58 PM
Interesting post covering some of the wording in the Novell/MS agreement on Moonlight: http://www.freegrok.com/content/article/groklaw-breakdown-moonlight-agreement

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Novell ushers in Moonlight

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 75.145.180.221] on May 29, 2008 07:09 PM
Yeah, I'm trying hard to understand the whole Silverlight thing...what advatanges does it have over Flash a/o Ajax?

I'm all for competition, but Flash pretty much has the...um...Flash....market wrapped up.

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Re: Novell ushers in Moonlight

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 71.123.121.200] on May 29, 2008 07:48 PM
that which MS doesn't own must be destroyed and taken over by than which MS owns - it's a Borg kinda thing

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Silverlight / Moonlight Block Out Yet?

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 208.101.170.77] on May 29, 2008 07:12 PM
If this really does take off, it'll be just like Flash -- an annoying technology that's used by banner ads and annoying web sites and little else. If Flash Block didn't exist, I'd probably uninstall Flash altogether and live without it. The same will be true for Silverlight/Moonlight, I expect.

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Novell ushers in Moonlight

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 59.183.43.226] on May 29, 2008 10:39 PM
May I humbly add that if M$ tries the patent stunts it touted, they could sink spectacularly - the GPLv3 wins, and they know it. The crime is committed. Novell trapped M$. Do you think Steve Ballmer would let this big a "crime against the empire" go unpunished?
His legal eagle - maybe Preston Gates - has told him clearly :
"Steve, you fool! You shouldn't have done the deal. These guys write better legalese than Linus writes Kernel code." So, that's why Microsoft is trying to innovate as a last form of defense. If they do, they survive. If they do not, they perish.
Simple: MS distributed Linux - and there's hard cash and receipts lying around to prove that in court. Case over.

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Novell ushers in Moonlight

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 150.50.10.61] on May 30, 2008 10:19 AM
Look it's easy for us Microsoft haters to say avoid Silverlight and Moonlight but when my mother visits a website and can't use it what am I supposed to say?

Microsoft has more than enough money to throw at the big corporations to get them to use Silverlight - already Major League Baseball and ITV (Major British Television network) are using it - two websites I use everyday. Frankly I don't give a crap about patents - I want to view what is on those sites!!

Now I'm sure that if I sent an email to the chairmen of those companies telling them Microsoft are as evil as can be and they shouldn't be talking their money and using their products they would just laugh at me - so what am I to do? I live in the real world.

Ideally when HTML5 comes along there will be no need for Flash or Silverlight but I severely doubt anything will change - Adobe and Microsoft have lots and lots of money to *COUGH* Encourage *COUGH* developers to use their technology. They are not going to go away.

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Novell ushers in Moonlight

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 165.21.155.16] on May 30, 2008 12:46 PM
http://beranger.org/index.php?page=diary&2008/05/29/17/08/18-mono-the-road-to-hell-final-proo

a good article on moonlight .... just replace mono with moonlight

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Novell ushers in Moonlight

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 68.179.116.85] on May 30, 2008 03:40 PM
Support JavaFX!

Unfortunately RIA is the next big thing, rich content, plugins video etc etc... The only company that has shown any understanding of open source in any way shape or manor is Sun, and JavaFX is their solution to Silverlight and Flash.

Hopefully it will take off, the new Java plugin will be GPL open source and so is the JavaFX technology, as well as Java itself is now GPL open source. The only issue is the video codecs which will be available to JavaFX, but they will only be provided as a binary plugin.

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Re: Novell ushers in Moonlight

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 155.212.34.122] on June 02, 2008 08:39 PM
Sun had a pretty ugly, bumpy track record with Java for a while -- there are few licensing issues today, but that wasn't always the case. Flash remains fairly proprietary and Gnash (together with Adobe's recent attempt to properly open the standard) is just catching up.

MS is leveraging Mono's existence to create a competing runtime that has a working open-source implementation "out of the box." (It did take Moonlight a while to develop, but from the looks of things it wasn't especially painful for a complex project.) While we do have to keep our eyes open re: patents, security flaws, and any attempts to extend the standard beyond Moonlight's reach, this smells less like something to fear than an active demonstration of how FOSS can be beneficial and profitable, even for a severely backwards and paranoid company like Microsoft.

On platforms without Flash binaries or perfect builds of the official Sun JRE, it should actually be easier to get Moonlight working. I expect the real showdown will be between each and every of these plugin-based 'RIA' platforms and good old JavaScript/AJAX, which has a devoted following and (as developers have slowly discovered) can provide its own fairly standard VM environment. And we'll still get stuck needing each and every one to be able to enjoy the entire 'web.'

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Novell ushers in Moonlight

Posted by: Beckfield on May 30, 2008 04:41 PM
Correction: Earlier this month Novell quietly released BETA Moonlight.

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