Fresh Moonlight

Dec 04, 2008

Moonlight is the name of Novell's Linux implementation of Microsoft's Silverlight 1.0 technology. Moonlight is now available in a Beta version for 32 and 64 Bit Linux systems, albeit only for Firefox users.

With Silverlight, Microsoft aims to compete with the widely used Flash from Adobe, at present with little success. But if few web pages are as yet using Silverlight, Moonlight has one distinct advantage over Flash: the simple plugin installation via the customary Firefox add-on, whereas the Flash installation is still somewhat laborious.

The Beta brings improvements in performance, fixes memory leaks and also supports the "Microsoft Media Pack" which contains the Microsoft Media Codec from Windows, that meanwhile, is also available for Linux. The Moonlight plug-in loads the codecs automatically when a page calls for it. In addition, Moonlight supports adaptive streaming. This means that the server regulates the compression of video data regardless of the connection flow-rate. If the bandwidth shrinks, the server sends the video at a lower Bit rate.

Whereby Moonlight 1.0 is based on the Silverlight 1.0, it comes with a 2.0 Media Stack, although the DRM parts are missing. This enables Moonlight to support all media codes from Silverlight 2.0, but doesn't mean that the browser can handle all of Silverlight's applications. Moonlight recognizes the video codecs WMV1 to WMV3, WMVA and WVMC1 and the audio codecs WMA7 to WMA10 and MP3. In the meantime, Microsoft are automatically redirecting Linux users who want to watch videos or films on Silverlight to the Moonlight page, but the Firefox plug-in can also be downloaded from the website. Further browsers (Opera, Konqueror), along with various systems (OpenSolaris, BSD) are to be supported in future. A list of pages that Moonlight more or less supports is available here.

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