Moonlight 3.0 preview offered for rich Internet apps on Linux and Unix

Moonlight 3.0, which puts Microsoft's Silverlight rich Internet plug-in software on Linux and Unix platforms, is now being offered in an alpha release, according to Web pages from the Mono project, which has jurisdiction over Moonlight.

The release features infrastructural capabilities designed to move Moonlight closer to the capabilities of Silverlight 3, said Novell, which sponsors Mono.

[ InfoWorld's Paul Krill reported last week on how Novell is positioning Mono technology as a mechanism for developing Apple iPad applications using Microsoft .Net platform technologies. ]

In a blog post this week, Novell Vice President Miguel de Icaza, who has been in charge of Moonlight and Mono projects, described the release as the first preview of Moonlight 3.0.

Capabilities include MP4 demuxer support, although there are no codecs for it yet unless a developer builds them from source code and configures Moonlight to pick up codecs from ffmpeg.

Also featured is initial work on UI virtualization and a platform abstraction layer. "The Moonlight core is now separated from the windowing system engine. This should make it possible for developers to port Moonlight that are not X11/Gtk+-centric," de Icaza said.

The alpha release features 3.0 Binding/BindingExpression support and updates to APIs. An SVN (Subversion) of Silverlight 3.0 offers pixel shader support from developer David Reveman.

A beta version of Moonlight 3.0 is due this summer, followed by a final release in the fall, Novell said.

A download page for Moonlight 3.0 stresses that the project is only in an alpha stage and offers caution.

"This release should be considered alpha quality. There are various new subsystems in Silverlight 3 (e.g. pixel shaders, local messaging, the client http stack) which expose new and different attack vectors, and the implementations of these subsystems have not yet been exercised or audited," the page said.

"As such, we recommend that you should only use this plugin on trusted sites (e.g. internal or well-known Web sites) on non-production computers. This situation will gradually evolve over the beta releases. An up- to-date overview of Moonlight security features status can be found on Moonlight Security Status wiki page," according to the page.

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