Novell Updates Moonlight for Siliverlight 4

Tuesday Feb 15th 2011 by Sean Kerner
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Novell updates open source implementation of Microsoft Silverlight for Linux.

Want to run any type of Microsoft Silverlight 3 media on your Linux computer? Now you can.

Novell is out this week with Moonlight 4 Preview, which is an open source implementation of the Silverlight media framework. Moonlight 4 Preview is the first major release of the open source media framework since Moonlight 2 was released in 2009.

"We're finished with 3.0 APIs for Silverlight 3 and the preview is also showcasing half the APIs we need for Silverlight 4.0," Miguel de Icaza, Novell Moonlight's project leader, told InternetNews.com. "We probably have the most important 4.0 APIs, so people should be able to use it for day-to-day use."

De Icaza added that there are still some things missing in terms of Silverlight 4.0 compatibility, but the intention is to have users start testing and trying it out. When it comes to Silverlight 3.0, he stressed that Moonlight is now feature complete.

"We're banking on the fact that adoption of the latest Silverlight APIs doesn't happen overnight," De Icaza said. "So we think that this will give people that are running Silverlight apps, a good foundation to start with."

With Moonlight 4 Preview, support is also being extended to Google's Chrome browser in addition to Mozilla Firefox. De Icaza noted that his development team had to overcome a few hurdles to get Moonlight to run in Chrome. Among them is the fact that Moonlight runs out-of-process in Chrome, while Moonlight still depends on running in the same process space as the browser.

Moonlight 4 Preview also enables Linux users to run Silverlight or Moonlight applications outside of the browser, directly on the desktop. De Icaza noted that Moonlight includes a subset of the Mono runtime, which is an open source implementation of Microsoft's .NET framework.

As part of Moonlight 4 Preview, there is a separate codec download that provides users with the H.264 codec.

"Microsoft is providing the Microsoft codec pack to end users so it's not actually Novell that is distributing h.264," De Icaza said.

Novell is skipping past having a Moonlight 3 release and moving to version 4 for a number of reasons. De Icaza noted that most notably, most contributors have already moved to working on Silverlight 4.0 API compatibility at this point. As well, Moonlight 4 Preview already has half of the Silverlight 4.0 APIs in place.

Achieving full compatibility with Silverlight is something that Microsoft is helping Novell to enable for Moonlight. Microsoft has complete test suites which have been provided to Novell to ensure that Moonlight is fully compatible with Silverlight.

While Moonlight is wrapping its code around the Silverlight 4 APIs, Microsoft is already looking beyond Silverlight 4 and has provided an early peek at Silverlight 5. From De Icaza's perspective, it's still too early for Moonlight to look at Silverlight 5. The plan is to wait until Silverlight 5 is considered to be feature complete. In the meantime work will continue on finalizing Moonlight 4 which could be completed by the end of the year.

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