The Linux-compatible version of Microsoft's Silverlight, a plug-in for playing rich web media, has been released as a public beta.
Moonlight, which is being developed under the auspices of the Novell-led Mono project, was made available for download on Tuesday. It was first demonstrated in the middle of 2007, shortly after Microsoft announced Silverlight as its answer to Adobe's ubiquitous Flash runtime. Flash content already runs on Linux computers, but, until Tuesday's announcement of Moonlight 1.0 Beta 1, there was no similar alternative for Silverlight content.
Mono project leader Miguel de Icaza wrote in a blog post on Tuesday that Moonlight 1.0, which tracks the Silverlight 1.0 application programming interface (API), supports the Microsoft Media Pack codec. Distributions of Moonlight do not, however, include that media codec or any others. That means a user will be prompted to download the Microsoft Media Pack the first time they try viewing Silverlight content using the Moonlight plug-in.
"Although Moonlight 1.0 exposes... Silverlight 1.0, Moonlight 1.0 ships a 2.0 media stack (minus the DRM pieces)," de Icaza wrote. "This means that Moonlight ships with support for the media codecs that are part of Silverlight 2.0 and supports adaptive streaming." Silverlight 2.0 was released in October.
Moonlight 1.0 can be used to play Windows Media Video (up to version 9), Windows Media Audio (up to version 10) and MP3. Supported Linux distributions include Suse Linux Exterprise Desktop, OpenSuse 11, Ubuntu 8.04 and Fedora Core 9.
According to Mono's roadmap for Moonlight, the final version of Moonlight 1.0 will be made available on 20 January, 2009. Moonlight 2.0 should go into its alpha phase on 18 March, with a final release pencilled in for September.