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Mono Coders Hack Linux Silverlight in 21 Days 409

Etrigoth writes "After the recent announcement of Silverlight by Microsoft at their Mix event in Vegas, Miguel de Icaza galvanised his team of developers in the Mono group at Novell to create a Linux implementation, a so-called 'Moonlight'. Remarkably, they achieved this in 21 Days. Although they were first introduced to Silverlight at the Las Vegas Mix, de Icaza was invited by a representative of Microsoft France for a 10 minute demonstration at the Paris Re-Mix 07 keynote conference, should they have anything to show.
Joshua, a blogger for Microsoft has confirmed that the Mono team did not know anything about Silverlight 1.1 before its launch. Other members of this team have blogged about this incredible achievement, Moonlight hack-a-thon. It's worth noting from a developer perspective that Moonlight is not Mono and doesn't require Mono to work"
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Mono Coders Hack Linux Silverlight in 21 Days

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  • Wonderful (Score:4, Interesting)

    by jshriverWVU ( 810740 ) on Monday June 25, 2007 @11:58AM (#19636817)
    Is Silverlight a public API or closed? Either way this is great news, as some sites might start utilizing it. Personally I think Adobe beat them to the market by a decade. Flash is already soaked in the mainstream, so it'll be tough for MS to uproot Adobe from that position.

    Regardless though, having a native solution is always good.

  • Re:Wonderful (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Red Flayer ( 890720 ) on Monday June 25, 2007 @12:09PM (#19636977) Journal

    All they have to do is yank iexplore32 and flash dies overnight.
    At which point every federal prosecutor and his brother will be jumping at the chance to head up the anti-trust suit -- never mind how quickly MS would be bitch-slapped in Europe.
  • by jeevesbond ( 1066726 ) on Monday June 25, 2007 @12:41PM (#19637417) Homepage

    Now that Moonlight is finished Miguel and his team should, having listened to customer demand (I believe that's the excuse Microsoft always uses), build some Free extensions on to Microsoft's work. Meaning the best experience can only be had by people running Moonlight under GNU/Linux and that some functionality will be unavailable to other platforms.

    Gosh, does that mean people will be locked-in to using GNU/Linux? Well Microsoft could use the GPL'ed code if they want to! We'll call it 'Freedom lockin'. :)

  • Re:The MS teams (Score:3, Interesting)

    by plover ( 150551 ) * on Monday June 25, 2007 @01:06PM (#19637769) Homepage Journal

    Ready to ship? More debugging? Certainly this is the point where MS would ship it...

    While that's funny 'round these parts, Microsoft is really pushing hard for quality code on the inside. They're implementing processes on top of processes to create new processes to improve the quality of their software (or so they think.) And they're succeeding in a lot of ways -- the code they ship now as "1.0" is far better than any of their previous 1.0 offerings.

    Internally they're killing off the cowboy coders that got them to where they are today. They've shifted the focus from brilliant coders to creative marketers and competent managers, and hire code monkeys to grind out exactly what the specs require. The cowboys who used to make giant leaps (like Miguel's leap here) are being neutered by best practices and architecture boards.

    Yes, it's the way of the industry. What it really means is that the innovative spirits are likely to continue jumping ship for effective positions in small companies, and that Microsoft will remain a "competent" choice, but never a "great" choice. But that's what the rest of industry wants, anyway.

  • Re:Wonderful (Score:2, Interesting)

    by AVIDJockey ( 816640 ) on Monday June 25, 2007 @01:21PM (#19637959)
    For one thing, Silverlight supports the VC-1 codec []. This would allow embedded HD video which Flash currently can't handle.

    With that being said, it'll be a rough road ahead for MS. It's hard to beat the ~98% penetration that Flash has.
  • Not good enough! (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 25, 2007 @01:39PM (#19638163)
    So Silverlight is a virtual machine that runs as a browser plugin?

    Alrighty. If it is a virtual machine, where can we find documentation about:
    1) the OPCODES of this vm
    2) the standard libraries and interbrowser API
    3) The format of silverlight compiled scripts

    I have been un-able to find this information from the silverlight website.

    Maybe this kind of information is what the MS/Novell deal meant when they said "exhange of technical information"?

    And the Mono team was able to pull this of from this? Given these info, maybe someone else can implement Silverlight in 18 days in perl, 15 days in Ruby and 11 days in Python!
  • by HardWoodWorker ( 1032490 ) on Monday June 25, 2007 @01:53PM (#19638355)
    Flash doesn't run on Linux x86_64. As a software engineer, I can do everything on my Athlon linux box but play (most) video games and run Flash. I hate Adobe for their lack of Linux support and hope to see them either shape up or get destroyed by Microsoft. Let's not also forget that the vast majority of Flash websites are obnoxious eyesores and extremely tedious browsing experiences. I despise sites that rely on Flash for navigation or form handling. Some are nervous about MS controlling rich media websites. I ask. How can it get any worse than what Macromedia has done? The performance is poor, the linux support is poor, the experience is terrible. There's nothing positive about a site coded in Flash. As this article points out, I'll have a better chance at viewing Silverlight on my Ubuntu workstation than any Flash monstrosity.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 25, 2007 @02:01PM (#19638481)

    Lots of web content is made for Flash, which is in a dominant position on the web today. Flash is not an open web stndard, and its future development is always controlled by Adobe.

    The difference? Thanks to Miguel and his team, there's a free and open-source implementation of Silverlight. There is not a free and open-source implementation of Flash; the only usable Flash implementations are and remain the locked-down, closed-source ones produced by Adobe themselves, and they use horribly restrictive EULAs to ensure that nobody who has ever looked at any Flash documentation is ever allowed to write a free competitor. Microsoft is actually being MORE free and MORE open than Adobe here. Haters take note.

    Whether Silverlight succeeds or not, our dominant rich-web-content technology is going to be a closed technology controlled by a corporation with a chequered history. Given that fact, you know, I think I'll go with the one with a free implementation.
  • by HalAtWork ( 926717 ) on Monday June 25, 2007 @02:06PM (#19638551)
    Having a competing implementation, used by many people, will mean that they cannot "embrace and extend" and cannot lock people into their products. After all, if they try to change the Silverlight standard, who is to say whether the MS implementation or the FOSS implementation will become the defacto standard?

    Then we need to port Moonlight to Windows (and every other platform), so that the MS implementation isn't hte one that's mostly used. Otherwise, MS can just extend their own version in whatever way and have a large impact on those using Moonlight. If instead Moonlight and Silverlight have 50/50 market share, if Silverlight has a new feature, it won't be used by most until Moonlight catches up, or vice versa.
  • Re:Wonderful (Score:3, Interesting)

    by 0racle ( 667029 ) on Monday June 25, 2007 @02:19PM (#19638713)
    So shipping a browser with the OS is anticompetitive and not shipping that browser with the os is anticompetitive?

    MS could drop IE 32 and no one could do anything about it. They are not required to ship a product just so a plugin by another company can continue to exist. Not shipping IE 32 does not stop Adobe from making 64bit flash for IE 64
  • Re:Wonderful (Score:3, Interesting)

    by WilliamSChips ( 793741 ) <> on Monday June 25, 2007 @02:39PM (#19639019) Journal
    Actually, what happened was that the judge was about to hammer down on Microsoft, but the administration changed. And as part of the political maneuverings of the new Administration the judges working on the case were flipped around.
  • Re:The MS teams (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jimicus ( 737525 ) on Monday June 25, 2007 @03:03PM (#19639325)
    When you word it like that, it sounds like Microsoft are turning into IBM.
  • Re:Wonderful (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Jugalator ( 259273 ) on Monday June 25, 2007 @03:23PM (#19639641) Journal
    One is missing a large part of the point if assuming it's about the technology, when it's in reality about the platform.

    - Silverlight is gravy for VB and C# developers, and the .NET devs taken together are becoming a very large community. Silverlight integrates itself more closely with .NET than anything else on the market of its kind, which is only to be expected, with both platforms being products of Microsoft.
    - Microsoft will offer very appealing Silverlight hosting plans for the multimedia content -- what's more often than not quickly becoming the bottleneck at least for media heavy web sites. Free storage of up to 4 GB and delivery at 700 kbps in max 1 million minutes per month, alternatively unlimited streaming if you allow them to tack on some ads, alternatively unlimited streaming with a "nominal fee".
  • Re:Wonderful (Score:2, Interesting)

    by WhiteFluffyChest ( 1101403 ) on Monday June 25, 2007 @03:40PM (#19639859)
    I'm thinking, what a waste of valuable time. I have never seen a web site that uses Silverlight yet and I really don't think it will take off.

    Why don't they do something for Linux instead of cloning a dead MS proprietary technology. Let MS port it to Linux!

    They may be good at coding fast, but are they really being strategic for Linux, I don't think so.

    I bet that they have wasted their effort. What a shame.

    Next time, be more strategic. Do something truly amazing in 21 days.
  • Stupid Microsoft (Score:3, Interesting)

    by toriver ( 11308 ) on Monday June 25, 2007 @04:27PM (#19640399)
    I tried installing Silverlight on my Mac, but the install exited with a message that I needed Mac OS X 10.4.8 or higher.

    I have Mac OS X 10.4.10 - like most people who installed the latest patches.

    I guess the six-character string "10.4.1" is less than the string "10.4.8"...
  • by Qbertino ( 265505 ) <> on Monday June 25, 2007 @04:31PM (#19640433)
    The Gnash (Gnu-Flash) [] team will take another 5 years to get their shit together, despite having declared a Flash 7 compliant Gnash player top priority. Whatever that means. Maybe they'll finish their website this year.

    If only our OSS Microsoft Fanboy Midguel would galvanize his team to implement an entire pipeline of Flash tools, generators and Players. If MS doesn't kill this one off and a viable Kit of OSS tools & players for Silverlight comes to life I might even drop Flash RIA for it.
    But no way, for as long as I live, will I support an non-open RIA standard that MS has total control over. I'd rather mess with Adobes crappy Flash IDE for another 10 years.
  • I work on the codec team at Microsoft, and have been working with Silverlight for a while. Silverlight actually comes out of the gate with extremely mature tools.

    It's video experience is Windows Media, which has been shipping for years and is more widely available than good .flv encoders. WMV is also a better codec (encodes faster, looks better). And Windows Media Services in Windows 2003 Server is much more scalable and cost effective than the equivalent Flash server.

    For tools, there's the Expression suite for design, and Visual Studio for code. And unlike Flash, there's a really good workflow for designers, developers, and video folks to collaborate together without having a single person who runs the Flash app to integrate all the elements.
  • Re:Wonderful (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Locutus ( 9039 ) on Monday June 25, 2007 @06:40PM (#19642351)
    considering that Microsoft has for 20+ years used changing API's and pre-load advantages to slowly kill off each and every competitor it decided it wanted killed, I would say that using a copy of a Microsoft patented technology is asking for trouble. FYI, Microsoft has patents wrapped all around .Net and the reason it goes to the ECMA instead of ISO is because the ECMA allows patented IP in it's 'standards'.

    IMO, Miguel is just leading his followers to slaughter. History tells me this is the how Microsoft does business and GNU/Linux along with OSS are targets. And the latest Microsoft payoffs to those GNU/Linux distros who've signed up for their IP patent protection scam are the 2nd phase of the attack. SCO was the 1st. You probably don't understand that either so here goes, Microsoft help fund SCO via direct financial licensing 'deals' and by backroom negotiations to get a large Canadian company( Baystar and a Canadian bank ) to also fund SCO.

    So use mono and anything else Miguel puts out AT YOUR OWN RISK. There ARE strings attached. IMO

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 25, 2007 @06:55PM (#19642569)
    This doesn't have to be the case, given that Mono is now a standard on Linux (and is still available on other platforms). This means that the Mono developers can add things not present in Microsoft's implementation, like GTK#, and developers can be assured that it will be available. For instance, the Beagle developers don't have to worry about compatibility with Microsoft's implementation of .NET because Mono is the standard on Free Software systems. Plus, developers can always bundle Mono with their application if they want to (as in DLL form, which makes it transparent to the user, rather than setup.exe form).

    To use the German translation of English works example, the German version of Wikipedia doesn't have to wait for an English article to already exist and translate it. They can write their own, whilst they may also translate some of the English articles. This makes sense as long as there are enough German-speaking users to bother doing it, just as making GTK# (or any other Mono extension of .NET) applications makes sense as long as enough people have Mono. As I said above, the advantage of Mono over German in this example is that Mono can be bundled, whereas the German Wikipedia doesn't yet come with Star Trek's universal translator.

    Flash is currently a game of catch-up because the majority of Flash files won't run properly in Free Software players like Gnash (I keep a close eye on these projects, and no they are not usable yet. Unless you like waiting 5 minutes for anything more complicated than a stick man to render), so thus it is either Gnash (as an example) or Adobe, and Adobe's supports everything Gnash does and more. If (when?) Gnash is able to handle, display and run the majority of Flash files in a way indistinguishable from Adobe's player then it may start to become a standard on Free Software systems. If it becomes such a standard, and Free Software development tools exist (which is of course true for Mono, but not so for Flash in any significant way) then Gnash could easily add its own functionality without any trouble. People developing games (for example) for Linux systems could then use the Flash format with Gnash extras knowing that it is a fast, platform-independant format. So what if the widely used Adobe player is so pervasive in the Windows world and doesn't support the extras? The developer is making a game for Linux, where Gnash is a standard. If he wants to release it for Windows then he can just stick a Gnash executable and a script to launch it with the right file in the archive.

    The same can happen for Moonlight. Whilst it may not become the most widely used implementation (which is still in question, since both implementations are new, but Microsoft's marketing will probably make this a foregone conclusion) it doesn't matter as long as it is widely used within certain target audiences, and catering to the others would be a matter of including it as a library.

    Basically what Free Software can do for standards and implementations is make them transparent and cross platform. This is important, because choosing a development platform is then not dependant on install base, it is dependant on whatever you want to use. Package management (if done properly, with a standard cross-distro naming scheme) sort of makes this possible, since I can write an app in Python, C, Objective Caml or whatever else I want, and I can just set whatever is needed as a dependancy. If the storage overhead isn't a concern then I could just bundle it all together with my app. This then makes pushing efforts from Microsoft, Adobe, whoever a waste of money, since they're trying to market air. Everyone already has it, or can get it from anyone for no cost. Then there is no point using a proprietary system which you aren't allowed to bundle at the OS or application level, since it would just create confusion for the user who shouldn't have to know it exists (I know I know, it's long-winded, but I HATE the term "commoditised").

    Well, I think my brain is empty now so I'll stop.
  • Whatever (Score:3, Interesting)

    by KwKSilver ( 857599 ) on Monday June 25, 2007 @07:12PM (#19642741)
    Use what you want to use. However, its not like Ballmer hasn't very publicly and clearly indicated MS's intent to sue Linux developers and users over the use of MS-patented technology. Actually, even if MS promsed not to sue, I'd disbelieve it, and the corrupt courts in the US wouldn't hold MS to such a promise. Wanna use mono & Sliverlight? Good luck! Hope you don't cut your throat with them. The mono infection in Ubuntu is why I've switched to Sidux. If neccessary, I'll switch to Debian. Screw MS, Ballmer, MS technology (including mono), and their worshippers.
  • Re:Wonderful (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ozmanjusri ( 601766 ) <aussie_bob@[ ] ['hot' in gap]> on Monday June 25, 2007 @10:49PM (#19644711) Journal
    So shipping a browser with the OS is anticompetitive and not shipping that browser with the os is anticompetitive?

    No, but using your monopoly power to suffocate another company's product in a different market is.

    Microsoft sees themselves as being under attack from companies trying move userland away from the OS as a key platform, Google with their AJAX apps, Sun with Java, Adobe with Flash, and so on. If any or all of these succeed, Microsoft's control, and therefore their ability to make those 85% profit margins, diminishes.

    In Vista search, Silverlight and .Net, they're responding to each of these threats by diluting mindshare, direct competition, their classic "embrace, extend, extinguish" etc, etc. These products don't make Microsoft any money directly, but they protect the OS platform Microsoft derives so much of it's income from. Many of these tactics are largely (legally) acceptable in normal circumstances. It is illegal however, for Microsoft to use it's desktop monopoly to drive adoption at the expense of their competitors.

    They're sailing very close to the wind with many of those products.

A verbal contract isn't worth the paper it's written on. -- Samuel Goldwyn