Practical Technology

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Silverlight, via Moonlight, comes to Linux

f you’re like me, you don’t like proprietary video and audio codecs. Be that as it may, some sites, like NBC’s Olympics site, use Microsoft’s proprietary Silverlight streaming technology. Until recently, if you were using Linux that meant you couldn’t watch videos from these sites at all. Until now The Mono Project, a Novell sponsored open-source initiative to bring .NET code to Linux, has just released an open-source, Firefox add-in Moonlight 1.0 that enables Linux desktop users to view Moonlight content.

Moonlight not only brings Silverlight content to Linux users, though, it also brings Microsoft’s WMV (Windows Media Video), WMA (Windows Media Audio) and MP3 files to Linux via the Microsoft Media Pack. This is a Microsoft blessed set of Microsoft’s proprietary media codecs.

To get Moonlight, you download it as a Firefox add-on from the Go-Mono site. This is a straightforward operation and will be familiar to anyone who’s downloaded Firefox add-ons. The one possible mis-step is that you must be sure to give the site permission to download and install Moonlight on your browser.

Officially, Moonlight supports SLED (SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop) 10, the latest versions of openSUSE, Fedora and Ubuntu on 32-bit architectures and SLED and openSUSE on 64-bit chips. In practice, I’ve installed and used it without any trouble at all on not only those operating systems but on MEPIS 8, which is based on Debian 5, Lenny, and Mint 5, which is built on top of Ubuntu 8.10.

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