Jul 032013
 

That’s what we all want to see – a functioning, lightning-fast modern browser on the Raspberry Pi.

Some resources I collected on the web look pretty promising.

XWayland server

The XWayland server has already been demoed, although not released to the broad public yet. We have seen Midori (or Chromium?) and LibreOffice running on top of it. Pretty smoothly, it seems.

This SHOULD be available soon and support all “classical” X software.

The future: Webkit

The company Igalia, amongst many others, is working to allow WebKitGTK+ run on a Wayland backend.

WebKit is the base of the most modern browsers (even Opera started to use it, AFAIK. One notable exception of course is Microsoft with it’s Trident engine. I bet we will grow old to see it arrive on the Raspberry, though).

Epiphany, the default web browser of GNOME, is based on WebKit. Chromium is also based on WebKit.

Igalia has a blog, in which these two entries seem the most interesting to me:

Briefly, this post outlines why it would be a good thing to have the Core IV GPU of the Raspberry do the heavy lifting of layer-composition, instead of the CPU (which could focus on JavaScript, for instance …)

The post explains some background, has a YouTube demo video of Epiphany running under Wayland (showing off some 3D effects) and goes on to outline the current state of the work. “GTK3 is already providing a Wayland backend, WebKitGTK+ needs to use GTK3 only”.

Most notably, full screen video playback (GStreamer) and plugins may be problematic. We all can / should live without Flash by now, which will probably never get ported to GTK3. Adobe’s phasing Flash out, too. HTML5 is the way to go!

As GNOME is betting huge on Wayland, and Epiphany is its flagship browser, it is only a matter of time until Webkit-based browsers (Midori, Chromium, …) WILL be available for the Raspberry Pi.

More Information

is one of the few good collections of the current state of Wayland support. Not everything applies to the Raspberry of course, but we can “feel, see and touch the future” here. GTK+ support seems to be complete – which is quite promising for many applications. It also lists the all-important browsers. Apparently Chromium removed Wayland support?? It was added back in in a fork / patch it seems, this is already one year old.

On the Wayland mailing list it was shared, that Midori has finished preliminary support for Wayland. This is news as of the end of April 2013, and will probably take some time to come to the Raspi. Will midori be the first browser we use with Wayland?

Webkit-clutter seems to be another possible approach to Weston. (Clutter is apparently another application toolkit, an alternative to GTK+). As we all know Collabora is the company behind the Weston/Wayland software on the Pi, we may expect something from this, too. Here’s some more background info on Clutter & Webkit.

Meanwhile:

This video shows a comparison of several browsers available on the Pi. Netsurf does not run JavaScript, this is where the huge performance gains when rendering arise from. Chromium was apparently no easy task to compile for a Raspberry, but it works now – albeit quite slow. We’re not taking it for granted Winking smile

 

Gomoto’s Browser

This is an interesting light-weight WebKit-based browser. Supporting JavaScript, CSS, etc – yet the code is so short you can easily read it, modify it, and recompile it. In fact I have experimented with it tonight.

Read the following thread to obtain more information

Or go directly to Google Code Homepage of “minimal-web-browser”. Download the browser package or the source.

Installation instructions:

  • wget the omxgtk package
  • aptitude install xterm
  • dpkg –i omxgtk_0.1_rc3_armhf.deb
  • wget the web package
  • dpkg –I web_1.0-6_rc3_armhf.deb

now you can start the browser from an X session with “web”.

This browser CAN ALSO SUPPORT YOUTUBE PLAYBACK! You need to create a shell script to support this, and install youtube-dl. The author also added Radio playback.

Guenter Kreidl has built a Minimal Kiosk Browser on the base of Gomoto’s browser. Look at this Raspberry Pi forum thread to find out more. It looks quite promising, incorporating some interesting features (have a look at the README he attached to a post).

FireFox OS for Raspberry Pi

A guy called Philipp Wagner has released a FireFox-based software stack for the Raspberry Pi, which operates without using the X server! It is a mixture of Linux and OpenGL which he runs on top of.

Apparently, right now, there is no input support for mouse / keyboard, but this could be great for digital signage-class systems.

If you like his work, you can get him something nice from his Amazon wishlist Winking smile

I’ll be testing the performance of the FireFox OS after I post this, and will report back in the comments.

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