Ok, I admit it. I love NBCOlympics.com! Now go make it work on Linux!

Ok, I admit it. I love NBCOlympics.com! Now go make it work on Linux!

Summary: It's not often when a piece of  technology impresses me enough that I do the "wow" thing when I'm using it. But the Silverlight streaming video implementation on NBCOlympics.



It's not often when a piece of  technology impresses me enough that I do the "wow" thing when I'm using it. But the Silverlight streaming video implementation on NBCOlympics.com is truly awesome, even if I am forced into using Internet Explorer to watch it (EDIT: It seems Firefox 3 support was rolled out 2 weeks after I installed the plugin for IE7 on my XP box, so go ahead and try it).

Click on the "Read the rest of this entry" link below for more.

Sure, streaming video with integrated interactive content is nothing new, and fundamentally Silverlight doesn't do a ton of things different that similar technologies such as Flash 10 aren't already capable of. But given how stable the software is, even it its current beta state, and how well the Limelight Networks and Akamai caching is working (no, the Internet didn't melt over the weekend but pageviews haven't peaked to levels where it could happen yet) I have to give Microsoft and its technology partners that pulled this off for the Olympics a huge round of applause.


Yeah, it would have been nice to be able to watch the Olympics event playbacks and live feeds on Linux using Moonlight.  But right now, Moonlight only supports Silverlight 1.0 apps, and NBCOlympics.com is implemented using 2.0. As Novell's chief Mono/Moonlight developer, Miguel de Icaza told me several weeks ago before the NBCOlympics content launch, "Work on this has started, but it will take a lot of work. And sadly, there are very few people willing to contribute to make this happen on time."


Now, one could get all huffy and puffy and blame Microsoft on this state of affairs, but in this case, I have to lay this problem strictly at the feet of the Open Source community. I know for a fact that De Icaza and Microsoft have pretty much a completely open relationship, they give him free flowing access to all the .NET API documentation and their developers, he spends a good amount of time on the Microsoft campus in Redmond, and Novell and Microsoft are committed to both making .NET run on Linux. However, Novell and Microsoft can only do so much to have the community contribute efforts to keep .NET development at pace on Linux with Windows. De Icaza is a brilliant programmer, but he needs help. One guy can only produce so much.


Silverlight is a cool technology, and Mono/Moonlight is Open Source. Yes, Flash 10 is better supported on Linux, and it comes from a company that has a vastly superior history in supporting multiple platforms and Open Source OSes, but I don't see Adobe opening the source code to Flash anytime soon -- if they did, maybe I would feel better about it as an industry dynamic content standard. In this case, despite the political correctness of  the situation and Novell's choice to support Microsoft's technology and standards it has hampered the adoption of what I feel is superior technology.

Got some C# skills and want to help Miguel get Moonlight up to 2.0 specs? Fire up your IRC chat client, go to IRC.GNOME.ORG and channel #moonlight, and chat with his merry band of developers. Or shoot Miguel an email at miguel AT ximian DOT com.

Do you want a fully functional Silverlight 2.0 browser plugin for your Open Source OS? Talk Back and let me know.

Topics: Operating Systems, Browser, Linux, Microsoft, Mobility, Open Source, Software, Software Development


Jason Perlow, Sr. Technology Editor at ZDNet, is a technologist with over two decades of experience integrating large heterogeneous multi-vendor computing environments in Fortune 500 companies. Jason is currently a Partner Technology Strategist with Microsoft Corp. His expressed views do not necessarily represent those of his employer.

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  • Sticks in the kraw of Open Source folks

    as they can't stand working with anything MS related.
    • Now make yourself like an upsidedown 'L'.

      I notice you didn't say why Open Source has difficulty working with Microsoft.
      • isn't it, in part, because popular open source license forbids it? <NT>

    • I Still Own You Bitty Boy

      Been months, still no sign of your apparent "revenge" on me for the Vista license pic I posted that showed the world you were a complete and utter fool that you are.

      Back to your cave loserboy.
      • I think there is a good answer for that., only you are unaware of <nt>

    • Don Rupert, prevaricating as usual...

      Don't you have something better to do than make ingenuous inflammatory sentences?

      Thought not.

      Microsoft deals positively with open source too and supports some projects, such as PHP on IIS, or Apache on Win32.
      • Yea...

        ...so they can attempt to lure everyone off their Linux base and then kill it.

        Now of course they could have learned that they could simply be the foundation if they would quit trying to compete at every level of the stack.
        • But...

          Just about anyone with any brains in the FOSS world kmows that's what MS is up to and knowledge is power.

          Ain't gonna happen.

          The major concern is when MS whipped out the tired, tried and failed patent nonsense again, which Jason failed to note or that Moonlight licensing is only good for SUSE which Jason also failed to note.

          (Miguel keeps skating around that one too, so Jason isn't alone there.)


    • kraw

      I say, I say, shouldn't that be Craw ?
  • RE: Ok, I admit it. I love NBCOlympics.com! Now go make it work on Linux!

    [url=http://www.dtschmitz.com/dts/2008/08/nbcolympicscom-linux-users-sol.html]Hate it.[/url]
    D T Schmitz
    • Have some milk and cookies...

      Everyone knows every time you post to a MS related blog it's going to be link to your biased and ignorant rhetoric on your site (that needs some serious work...better get on that). <br><br>
      You seriously have nothing better to do than trolling MS blogs putting down products you could only dream of creating? <br><br>
      Why don't you grow up and get a life that isn't so small it only sees the <1% of linux apologists.
  • What OS were you using?

    I was watching it in FireFox 3 under Windows 2003 server. I don't think IE is a must.
    • This has to be a new development

      I know that when I intalled the Silverlight plugin 2 weeks ago on my XP box, it said "Firefox support coming" but it wasn't ready when I had it up.
      • Installation is a bit tricky

        SilverLight has 1.0, 2.0 Beta1 and 2.0 Beta2 out there. You gotta pick the beta2, and it probably requires a browser reload. Oh btw, I heard there might be a windows update for beta2 as well. :-)

        On the other hand, my IE8 beta1 is not supported at NbcOlympics web site so I have to use FireFox to watch it. What an irony.
    • The next one you'll be using... and liking it.

      He was using an OS that doesn't break things on purpose in order to enhance stockholder value. It's an OS that works to create publicly owned standards so everybody is included. It is an OS that values technical excellence over total market dominance.

      I'm not surprised Microsoft chose to exclude Linux users from viewing the Olympics. Microsoft is just showing us the kind of world we would live in if they were in total control of our computers. Enjoy your gloat while you can, for although Microsoft's days may be many, they are numbered.
      • Did you read the article?

        It sounds like the Linux user who wrote it said you Linux fans need more bodies to help writing some code.
        So why don't you stop pointing the finger at those who are not responsible and put your money where your mouth is.
        • time-limited application

          C'mon folks. The 2008 Olympics is a one-time thing. It's occurring in August, 2008, and if NBC wanted it to be universally accessible, they'd have used a technology that's available in that time frame.

          Apparently Flash fits the bill, and Silverlight doesn't. It's silly to expect a community project to be ready in such a timeframe. I assume Microsoft only recently got Silverlight 2.0 up to snuff itself.

          At very least, NBC should've supported both Silverlight *and* Flash.
          • That is not the point

            More and more websites are going to use Silverlight and the same .NET implementation for video streaming content. So even if they can't get it working for the Olympics, they can work on getting it to run for whatever comes next.
          • More to the point, Jason, is...

            The deal Miguel and Novell cut for Silverlight/Moonlight covers exactly one distro and no more and that distro would be SUSE.

            Of course, every once in a while Microsoft makes ominous noises about patent threats regarding other distros and platforms using Mono which Miguel keeps skating around.

            He'd make a damned fine lower level figure skater. :-)

            In that regard I'd suggest that .NET isn't a robust enough framework to do what you suggest nor is C# (aka Java for Dummies).

            Nor do I see Adobe standing idly by while MS eats their lunch.

            Oh, and once again, the code behind .NET, C# and Silverlight have not been opened up. To some extent they've been reverse engineered and in some cases licensed with deals exclusive to Novel and SUSE.

            And more and more Adobe stuff is showing up with Apache licenses.

            PS: Just for the record I'm not at all as impressed with Silverlight as you are. It brings nothing to the table that Flash didn't have a couple of revs back.


          • Because it's a Microsoft controlled technology...

            Due to this, not many developers (I wish I could say NONE) are interested in using it.

            Truth is, there is no technical merit behind it. I agree, many shops will deploy it, but many shops employ MCSE-types that wouldn't know about any alternative technology anyway. (AKA: Softies)

            NBC is at fault for using this technology, not the FOSS group for ignoring it. Give them credit, for they at least recognized it for what it is: as crap. Nobody needs to perpetuate crap. Oh - and there's a very easy way to test for crap. If Microsoft is pushing it, it's crap.