Firefox port is '95 percent complete'By Chris Williams. Published: 15th Apr 2005, 13:20:11 | Permalink | Printable
Opinions of port's public demonstrationOn Monday night, Peter Naulls revealed the progress of his Firefox web browser RISC OS port to a Cambridge user group. Punters from as far away as Northampton and Surrey attended the talk, in which Peter assured his audience that a ported Firefox would be publicly released sometime in 2005. It was understood that Peter is about 95% of the way to producing an initial beta version release.
The evening began with a run down of web browsers released for RISC OS, from WebsterXL to Browse to the Oreganos, to illustrate the web technologies currently available to RISC OS users. After demonstrating his Dillo port, a simple but capable web browser for X Windows, Peter moved onto unveiling his work on Firefox. According to those present, the browser took around 20 seconds to start up and appear on the iconbar, on a StrongARM RiscPC. It was understood that if Firefox can run at an acceptable pace on a 200MHz RiscPC, it should certainly be usable on a 600MHz XScale powered Iyonix. According to Peter, users will need 64M of free RAM to use Firefox.
Due to the lack of an Internet connection at the meeting, Peter used a WebJames web server to serve local copies of example websites to the Firefox web browser.
"Rendering speed of pages was quite reasonable, considering that it was a Risc PC, but the user interface seemed a little sluggish," said James Byrne, who attended the meeting (now back from Japan).
"Peter explained that there was still a lot of work to be done improving the libraries used for the RISC OS port, and that he expected performance to improve quite a bit before the browser was released."
Another attendee, Dr. Dave Lane felt the page rendering speed was "slow". He commented, "Much of the user interface of the Firefox window was 'Microsoft style' with drop down menus along the bar at the top of the window." According to Dave, Peter will initially concentrate on fixing the bugs in the port and increasing the application's performance, before making the user interface more RISC OS consistent.
Peter also faced questions about web browser plugins, such as Flash and Real media players. The simple answer was that it's not the web browser's job to provide such functionality, although a Flash port (from the open source client) already exists and a Real media one could in theory be produced once an NDA with Real is signed.
"As far as I could tell, the web pages [rendered by Firefox] were presented correctly. Judging by some of the questions asked, there were several technical experts present, presumably programmers, and they seemed satisfied with Peter's answers. My only further thought is that I really hope Peter succeeds, as Firefox would be a major step forwards for our platform."
James added: "There is clearly plenty of work still to be done before Firefox is ready for general use, but getting it to its current state is a major achievement. This is a significant project which, when released, will fill an important gap in RISC OS applications. It will give the platform an up-to-date browser, and one that can be kept up-to-date so we don't fall behind again."
Of course, we can't forget the 80:20 rule of projects.
Firefox port announced
Peter Naulls is a drobe.co.uk editor
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