Install the Moonlight Plugin for Firefox in Linux

Since 2007, Microsoft Silverlight has been an option for developers looking to create and present rich content on the Web.  It’s used for games, videos, embedded players, and more.  Unfortunately for Linux users, there is no official Linux version of Silverlight.

However, Novell and others are working on a Linux port, called Moonlight.  Moonlight is in constant development (and Silverlight seems to reach a new version every year or so), so maintaining and up-to-date installation, especially via your distribution’s package manager, isn’t always easy.

If you use Ubuntu, for instance, there is are plugins available for Mozilla-based browsers, but it is only at version 2.3, while Silverlight is currently at version 4, and even Moonlight itself is releasing preview versions of version 4 for Linux.

What to do?  Simple.  Get it from the source.

Note: if you are running a version of Firefox prior to version 4, and don’t mind running an older version of Moonlight, you can install it with the following command (in Ubuntu):

sudo apt-get install moonlight-plugin-mozilla

This will add a couple of requirements, and should procede as shown:

Install Moonlight Plugin Via APT

However, here’s how to get the newest version.  The first step is to open your browser and navigate to the Moonlight downloads page.

Moonlight Downloads Page

By default, you are installing the Moonlight 4 Preview version for 32-bit computers.  if you’re using a 64-bit operating system, change that accordingly.

32 Bit Or 64 Bit

Once you’ve done this, simply hit the big green arrow to download.

Download Button

You’ll receive a warning similar to this, as we’re attempting to download an extension from an “unauthorized” site.

Accept Warning

A window similar to this will appear.  Go ahead and click to install.

Install Window

When the installation has finished, go ahead and restart Firefox.

But wait… we’re not quite done!  Unlike most extensions that provide multimedia playback capabilities, installing Moonlight isn’t quite enough to allow us to play video and listen to audio.

That’s because Microsoft won’t allow Novell to ship the media codecs; to get them, you have to go to a website that requires them.  A good example is the Silverlight Smooth Streaming website.

Smooth Streaming

Go ahead and click the Play button.  When you do, the system will realize you don’t have the proper codecs, and will offer to install them for you.

Moonlight Codecs Installer

Go ahead and click the Install Codecs button.  You’ll now be asked to agree to Microsoft’s license agreement.

End User License Agreement

Once you’ve accepted the license, the codecs will begin downloading.

Downloading Codecs

This should be fairly quick (it’s only 4.4 MB, compared to more than three times that much for the extension itself), and when it does, you’ll see verification that the codecs downloaded and installed successfully.

Installation Successful

Now the only thing left to do is refresh your browser page, to double-check that everything is working.

Big Buck Bunny

If all is as it should see, you should be able to watch a bit of “Big Buck Bunny” (the movie being used to showcase Silverlight’s streaming abilities).  Once you’ve verified this, you’re finished.  Go ahead and close up, knowing that if you come across another website requiring Silverlight, you should be good to go.

Note: this still doesn’t allow Linux users to stream TV shows and movies via Netflix, sadly, as Netflix requires DRM that has not been licensed for use on Linux computers.

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