Moonlight 2.0 – Help wanted

Jason Perlow of ZDNet wrote a very supporting article of Silverlight and its handling of the NBC Olympics website, but that’s not the reason why I bring it up here. Jason points out something perhaps less obvious but far more interesting that bears repeating:

We need Silverlight on Linux – and we need your help to make it happen.

Jason writes:

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.”

That’s incredibly disappointing to hear, because here’s just a sample of the type of feedback I’ve been seeing from Linux users regarding NBC’s use of Silverlight:

“It’s infuriating to be summarily left out just because I choose to use a superior OS, Linux, instead of the crap M$ puts out. Oh well, I guess NBC doesn’t care how many viewers–and, yes, we ARE viewers as well, not just people online–they’re alienating by their idiotic decision to go with a Micro$oft only application.”  – from a comment on an LA Times blog

“I triple boot. XP, Vista and Ubuntu. I refuse to boot into XP or Vista to watch this online. If they don’t care about Linux users then I will return the favor and find alternatives.” – from a comment on Digg

“Nevertheless, NBC’s official stance is to support Internet Explorer and Firefox for Windows and the Mac, but there is no Linux support. This seems absolutely foolish. How hard is it cater to users of Firefox on Linux?” – from a blog post on OStatic

So on one hand we have Linux users who are infuriated because they feel left out, and on the other hand we have a statement from Moonlight project leader indicating there is not enough interest and support in the OSS community to deliver a solution. What’s going on here? Some might say it’s just a case of Linux users growing too complacent, or use this as an example of a counterproductive anti-Microsoft bias in the OSS community – but an article on the not-very-subtly named Boycott Novell site hints there might be more to it than meets the eye. As it turns out, the OSS community doesn’t seem to like Novell very much either.

My own opinion is: if you want it, help make it happen. Miguel is waiting for your e-mail. 

I’d love to hear everyone’s opinion on this, especially from Linux users and active OSS contributors.

About Alex Zambelli

Alex is a Principal Product Manager at Hulu in Seattle, WA. Prior to his current job he was a Product Manager at iStreamPlanet (Turner) and Technical Evangelist for Microsoft Media Platform at Microsoft Corporation. He specializes in video streaming, adaptive HTTP streaming, video compression, and video processing best practices.
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