Viewing the inauguration in Moonlight

Microsoft, Novell extend live inauguration stream to Linux, Mac PPC users

When the Presidential Inauguration Committee (PIC) decided to stream President Barack Obama's inaugural address live via the Web, it went with the Microsoft Silverlight multimedia browser plug-in. Those with older Apple Macintosh computers, or Linux and other non-Microsoft Windows computers, wouldn't be able to view Tuesday's speech from the PIC site, however, because Silverlight wasn't available for those platforms.

A last minute fix, however, came from the team developing a Silverlight clone for Linux- and UNIX-based machines, called Moonlight. Microsoft Silverlight developers also pitched in.

Moonlight is an open-source version of Silverlight being developed by the Mono project team at Novell in collaboration with Microsoft, with the idea of bringing Silverlight multimedia play to Linux- and UNIX/X11-based computers. Moonlight, which was created using C++, came out as a beta version in December 2008.

Early on Tuesday, Miguel de Icaza, head of the Moonlight project, posted news that users of Linux and Mac Power Performance Computing-based computers could use Moonlight 1.0 to view the inauguration stream.

"Microsoft worked late last night to get us access to the code that will be used during the inauguration so we could test it with Moonlight," de Icaza wrote.

Moonlight 1.0 is now newly released and supports the older Silverlight 1.0 technology, with just pre-alpha-stage support for Silverlight 2. To get Moonlight to work with the Obama inauguration stream, the Mono team created a Silverlight 1.0-compatible Linux player that works with both Linux and Mac PowerPC machines.

"We kicked the project off this afternoon before the event, so pardon us if it's a little rough," wrote Ben Waggoner, a Microsoft technology evangelist on the codec team.

SL1 players were limited to a 500 kilobits/sec stream, he explained, because Moonlight 1.0 lacks managed code support.

Microsoft's Silverlight plug-in previously supported the heavily watched Olympic Games in Beijing, which might have set a record by supporting 70 million video streams, according to a Microsoft announcement.

The Mono team plans to release a Moonlight 2.0 beta in mid-April, with a final version planned for September, according to the team's roadmap. Moonlight 1.0 is a Firefox browser plug-in only and requires codecs from the Microsoft Media Pack to run.

About the Authors

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

Joab Jackson is the senior technology editor for Government Computer News.


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