The Novell-sponsored Mono Project on Tuesday will offer a beta version of Moonlight 4, an open source Linux implementation of Microsoft's Silverlight rich Internet application plug-in that tracks the most recent Microsoft release, Silverlight 4.
Built for Firefox and Chrome browser users, Moonlight 4 adds some capabilities for running applications outside of a browser and supports the control toolkit Microsoft offers for Silverlight, said Joseph Hill, Novell product manager for Mono. "The control toolkit provides the kind of UI widgets, the visual elements that particular application developers like to take advantage of [when building enterprise applications]," Hill said. Other features include backing for hardware-accelerated 3D graphics and support for the H.264 video codec. Silverlight 3 and 4 APIs can be used to leverage the codec, Novell said.
While the volume of Linux desktops pales in comparison to that of Windows, Hill stressed that there is a market. "There's the netbooks and there's plenty of [Linux] distributions shipping desktop support these days and Moonlight will run in Firefox and Chrome," on those desktops, Hill said.
The preview is not yet feature-complete. It still lacks such capabilities as printing, drag-and-drop, and microphone capture. Future beta and release candidate versions of Moonlight 4 are expected. Hill could not give an estimate on when the final version of Moonlight 4 would ship. With the preview, available at the Moonlight website, Microsoft is looking for developers to test their applications and file bug reports.
Developers can use Microsoft's Visual Studio IDE and Expression Blend design tool to build Moonlight applications. Novell offers its MonoDevelop IDE for Moonlight development, but the tool lacks visual design capabilities, Hill said.