Open Source

Moonlighting Microsoft's Silverlight

Jack Wallen questions the wisdom of open source developing a version of Microsoft's Silverlight, when Macromedia Flash is so dominant. Is open source just trying to keep up with the Balmers, even when it doesn't need to?

So this past week Miguel di Icaza (the overly caffeinated creator of GNOME) brought to us an open source version of Microsofts' Silverlight. The project? Moonlight.

And just what are these products? Well, I've heard Silverlight knocked around here and there but really, since I don't use Microsoft products, I don't know all that much about it. It turns out it's a browser plug-in to compete with Macromedia's Flash. Funny thing about that, though, is Microsofts' own Web site still uses Flash.

So we have a relatively unknown product, Silverlight, and a new, open source version of the relatively unknown product, Moonlight. Two products with similar intentions but, most likely, both will fail. Why? Flash. Flash is everywhere. Flash overtook Java with ease. And I don't see Flash going anywhere.

But that's not what this is about. What I would like to ask is why the open source community would even bother with this project? Sometimes I wonder if there are open source developers whose sole purpose is to make sure open source is walking, stride for stride, with Microsoft. Even if those strides take open source down paths they shouldn't tread.

I would like to think that instead of doing this, the open source community would focus on what they do best - innovate. Think about it...look at new releases of KDE and/or GNOME. They are nothing more than Vista and OS X knockoffs. Why? Linux doesn't need to play keep up with Microsoft. Linux needs to play keep up with the users and the users' needs and wants.

So to that end, I would ask that instead of focusing on a replacement for Flash, that open source developers help to improve Flash for Linux. There are so many areas that could use such area is not trying to create something new simply because MS is doing the same thing.

I can't imagine that Silverlight (or Moonlight) will usurp Flash. I can only imagine the next, best technology to knock down Flash will be a newer release of Flash. So, open source community, focus on Flash integration with Firefox, Flock, Opera, and Konqueror. Make what you have work 100% beore you try developing new technologies. That's way too Microsoftian.

Don't get me wrong, it's great to see innovation. But I don't see this as innovation. As I've already said, I see this as just keeping up with the Balmers. I'd rather not see the open source community following this lead. I'd much rather see everyone else following the open source lead. So instead of this, find something new and much needed to focus on.

Any ideas?


Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website


Great article, I couldn't agree more. I think the problem is we are told over and over that Linux can't compete with Windows on the desktop. Something that just isn't true and hasn't been for a long time. However it still comes up time and time again on forums, reviews and news posts. This makes developers and users think that we are still playing catchup and desperately need to implement all Windows (and Mac OSX) features before adding our own. Whilst I agree cross-platform compatibility is a good thing, it shouldn't be the first thing. Lets encourage developers and designers to break free from this oppression and move forward to a new era of desktop computing LED by open-source.


I agree. Everything I have seen of Silverlight is nothing special and offers nothing over Flash. As well, open source should get things working as well as possible (if not perfectly) and then innovate and do things neither Adobe or MS does. I already like my KDE driven Linuxes better than Vista. When there are enough tools for me to do what I need, I am ready to flip totally away from MS.


My experience of Flash in a 64 bit environment has been nothing short of a nightmare. It sort of works now - sometimes! So why bother with Moonlight?


Fact is, Linux cant compete on the desktop. I'm not saying its not a good Desktop OS for specific people, but it just doesnt compare to Windows for the average user. I'm not a fanboy of MS or anything, I just use things that work how I want them to, even with all the free distros of linux, the average user tends to use Windows.

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