Novell produces lead pony for Silverlight

Moonlight isn't a Silverlight competitor. It's a companion program. If you have a Linux machine, it will let you run Silverlight files. Maybe. Someday. Sort of. Why don't you just get a Windows box?

Mutak with lead pony from Louisville Thoroughbred Club
Something has always bothered me about Novell's Mono project.

Those feelings came together this week with the release of Moonlight, Novell's implementation of Microsoft Silverlight for Linux.

It wasn't Miguel deIcaza's blog post on the software. This is not beta ware, he wrote. It's just the first public release of source code and it's not feature complete. (Download it here.)

What bothered me was the nature of the project. Novell isn't building anything competitive.

And on Preakness morning I finally figured out the analogy. Moonlight is a lead pony. (Shown is Mutak, a thoroughbred racing now at Keeneland, with its lead pony. From the Louisville Thoroughbred Club.)

A lead pony eats like a horse, lives around thoroughbreds but is not itself a competitor. Its main purpose is to ride in the post parade, calming the thoroughbreds down.

That's Mono's purpose, not to produce competitors but lead ponies. Moonlight isn't a Silverlight competitor. It's a companion program. If you have a Linux machine, it will let you run Silverlight files. Maybe. Someday. Sort of. Why don't you just get a Windows box?

And here's the point. You don't build a community around a program like Moonlight, any more than you go to the betting window and bet a lead pony. The source may be open, but to say such a program is open source is like calling a lead pony a thoroughbred.

This is a corporate project, a sideline, and of interest only if your shop is dependent on Microsoft but might have a recalcitrant Linux user somewhere on the back stretch.