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Will new ARM mobile platform boost RISC OS?

Published: 14th Oct 2007, 23:38:37 | Permalink | Printable

Firefox and plugins aimed at low-power ultra-portable gadgets

PDA! ^_^ARM has launched a new project to bring Mozilla Firefox and a bevy of browser plugins to next-generation hand-held gadgets - and has teamed up with a gang of chip manufacturers and GNU/Linux developers to make it happen. The project could benefit the RISC OS platform if the work, expected to be released under an open source licence, can be smoothly ported from ARM Linux.

Chip design outfit ARM and its partners hope to bring a mobile version of the Gnome desktop, the Firefox web browser and various plugins to the latest ARM-powered gadgets. So-called ultra-mobile devices, such as the one pictured, are expected to soar in popularity, and ARM wants to have Internet and multimedia software ready for them. The project's source code could be released as early as January, allowing RISC OS developers to get their hands on the blueprints.

As the applications are aimed at embedded devices where processing power and memory are scare resources, they could be suitable for RISC OS computers. Separate to this latest project, Nokia has already ported Mozilla and a Flash 9 player to its N800 Internet tablet, which is powered by a 320MHz ARM11-based Texas Instruments OMAP2420 processor. This chip includes math and graphics coprocessors.

Nokia, ARM and Adobe are still trying to work out how to distribute the ARM Flash port to a wider range of users. If Flash-compatible players and similar plugins are made available through ARM's latest project, they could be ported to RISC OS.

ARM's 'Linux Mobile Computing Platform' is said to have come about after Intel claimed the ARM architecture was too weak to meet consumers' demands for modern multimedia playback.

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Discussion

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I'm not really sure this will help with the browser port. Having FireFox running on ARM Linux/Gnome isn't much closer to running on x86 Linux/Gnome, the main part of the work isn't which processor the code is compiled for, but the compatibility layer between the window toolkit FireFox uses and the RISC OS window manager. That is the area that makes the current port less than fully usable. There could be a few ARM optimisations that could be made use of though.

However, an ARM optimised port of Flash, particularly with the Flash video codec's which are used by popular sites such as youtube, if placed in open source would be extremely useful, and could be used by a number of RISC OS browsers.

 is a RISC OS Userdruck on 15/10/07 9:23AM
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Interestingly the web browser for the N95 and E61 is based on a port of mozilla, and is nice and fast.

 is a RISC OS Userpiemmm on 15/10/07 3:21PM
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In regards to FLASH what happened to the earlier announcements some time ago regarding porting Gnash to RISC OS, in general any FLASH would be really great.

 is a RISC OS UserHairy on 16/10/07 5:07PM
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Hairy: For a start, Gnash is too slow on modern PCs, let alone RISC OS kit. Plus, it requires interested developers who have spare time. These are few and far between.

 is a RISC OS Userrjek on 16/10/07 5:39PM
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