iPhone & HTML5 bring "streaming Silverlight content" to Linux

Posted by hkwint on Nov 26, 2009 1:32 PM EDT
LXer Linux News; By H.Kwint
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LXer Feature: 26-Nov-2009

Here's a quick blog, because I'm really in hurry, so please forgive any mistakes.

Microsoft worked together with Apple to bring Silverlight video to the iPhone. What this solution basically does is take a video at the server side, cut it in parts and convert the parts to separate H.264 streams. Then stream those files to end users with IIS Media services. These have .ts extensions, a format mplayer understands.

On the server, links to those short .ts H.264-files are collected in an M3U8 file, which basically is a playlist for videos. Playing the playlist recreates the original video. Devices like the iPhone can play these playlists. But Linux already can play the separate parts: You can test their showcase example here. Note this will only play the first file in the playlist.

This solution will be enabled server side, if the content provider chooses so. I think they will, because it's currently the only way to make the content available for the iPhone. This content will be embedded using the HMTL5 video tag, Microsoft proposes. If so, it would be rather trivial to make an FF-extension that would play those m3u8 playlist-files using mplayer, or maybe mplayer or vlc will support this file format.

Funny thing to mention is they chose the Big Buck Bunny video to showcase their solution, a movie made using Linux and Free Software excusively. Anyway, I'm glad because this probably means to watch Silverlight-videos from broadcasting companies in my country I may not need to install Moonlight or Mono. And in contrary to Flash, I'm able to watch this video in full screen (scaling works!) without crashing Firefox.

What do you think? Let us know and post a reply to this story if you wish. For now, happy watching - a Free Software movie provided to you by Microsoft!

Update 27-11-09 / 0:20 CET: I accidentally assumed it was MPEG2, but it turns out to be H.264, so I corrected it. Someone on the Dutch forum Tweakers.net helped me a bit, as I'm not that familiar with media streaming: The video is cut in chunks for different bitrates. Then, depending on the available bandwith and if and how well the chunks arrive, the client can choose the best bitrate to download the next chunks. Especially for slow connections, this provides great opportunities, and this might be the reason to use Silverlight instead of 'plain old streaming'.

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An interesting thing about Flash and Firefox. tracyanne 8 1,358 Nov 28, 2009 2:19 AM

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