While planning has not begun, it appears the decision already has been made to do the port.
"It's a natural extension to what we're doing," said Miguel de Icaza, one of the more prominent authors of the Mono project, which provides an implementation of the Microsoft .Net Framework to run on Linux and other systems.
"It's almost a next logical step for us," said de Icaza, who also is vice president of the developer platform at Novell.
Silverlight, he said, is basically the .Net virtual machine with a couple of extra libraries. In particular, one library does the graphics rendering. The other piece of Silverlight is a host that can be placed inside the Web browser, said de Icaza.
The intention is to enable Silverlight content to run on the Linux desktop. As far as application development, Mono users either could use a text editor or develop on Windows, he said.
"What we're interested in doing is ensuring that the Linux desktop continues to be able to consume content posted on the Web," whether it is Silverlight, Flash, or another variety of content, de Icaza said.
"We have to develop the plug-in for the browser. We have to develop the graphics engine," he said. Microsoft has published the specifications for the Silverlight programming interface, so the Mono team must get a good grasp of how it works and write an implementation, de Icaza said.
"We're hoping to have a preview by the end of the year," he said. The team is targeting deployment with Silverlight 1.1, which is just in an early, alpha stage. The 1.1 release features the .Net CLR (Common Language Runtime), de Icaza noted.
Release of Silverlight for Mono will depend on Microsoft's own schedule for Silverlight 1.1.
One sticking point is that the Mono group may have to license the VC-1 codec needed for Silverlight. The codec likely will not be open source, but Mono backers may be able to ensure volume licensing terms from a European-based company, de Icaza said.