Two releases of Moonlight are available on the go-mono website. The first (0.8) supports Silverlight 1.0 and some 1.1 features. The second is an experimental version aimed at Silverlight 2.0. All you have to do to try it out is click on the download button to load the extension in Firefox. The next thing you'll want to do is visit some of the Silverlight demo sites to see what types of content you can create. There's a good list on the Mono Moonlight page under testing.
The biggest emphasis to this point has been on making it possible to view Silverlight content on Linux. Developing for Silverlight / Moonlight has not been very high on the priority list. Microsoft's tool offerings include Visual Studio for code development and debugging and Expression Blend for creating the user interface. This is a new programming paradigm for many old-school developers and requires a different way of thinking.
Monodevelop is the Mono project's answer to Microsoft's Visual Studio. While it's nowhere near the level of sophistication of the latest release of Visual Studio it does provide a reasonable alternative for building C# applications on Linux. The current release version does have some support for Moonlight at a very high level. Monodevelop 2.0 is in an early alpha release state and will include support for Mono 2.0 when it is released.
Now that they've proved it can be done there's really no reason not to continue following Microsoft's path with new Moonlight releases. In reality it means that support on Linux will always lag behind Windows for some time to come. Hopefully the Microsoft / Novell working relationship will reduce that lag to some tolerable amount.
In the final analysis there is really nothing to be gained if you have no interest in viewing sites built with Microsoft Silverlight. The number of sites is somewhat limited at this time and those commercial (read non-Microsoft) sites that do use Silverlight typically have an alternative site if you don't have it installed. For those that have an interest it's a relatively painless process to load the Firefox Moonlight plugin and give it a try. Go ahead, you know you want to.
This article was first published on LinuxPlanet.com.
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