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posted by Fnord666 on Tuesday March 24 2020, @06:45AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the Safari?-Brave?-Opera? dept.

Software developer Drew DeVault has written a post at his blog about the reckless, infinite scope of today's web browsers. His conclusion is that, given decades of feature creep, it is now impossible to build a new web browser due to the obscene complexity of the web.

I conclude that it is impossible to build a new web browser. The complexity of the web is obscene. The creation of a new web browser would be comparable in effort to the Apollo program or the Manhattan project.

It is impossible to:

  • Implement the web correctly
  • Implement the web securely
  • Implement the web at all

Starting a bespoke browser engine with the intention of competing with Google or Mozilla is a fool's errand. The last serious attempt to make a new browser, Servo, has become one part incubator for Firefox refactoring, one part playground for bored Mozilla engineers to mess with technology no one wants, and zero parts viable modern web browser. But WebVR is cool, right? Right?

The consequences of this are obvious. Browsers are the most expensive piece of software a typical consumer computer runs. They're infamous for using all of your RAM, pinning CPU and I/O, draining your battery, etc. Web browsers are responsible for more than 8,000 CVEs.3

The browser duopoly of Firefox and Chrome/Chromium has clearly harmed the World-Wide Web. However, a closer look at the membership of the W3C committes also reveals representation by classic villains which, perhaps coincidentally, showed up around the time the problems noted by Drew began to grow.

Previously:
An Open Letter to Web Developers (2020)
Google Now Bans Some Linux Web Browsers from their Services (2019)
HTML is the Web (2019)
The Future of Browsers (2019)
One Year Since the W3C Sold Out the Web with EME (2018)


Original Submission

Related Stories

One Year Since the W3C Sold Out the Web with EME 32 comments

Molly de Blanc writes at that it has been one year since the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) sold out. It was then they, including Tim Berners-Lee himself, decided to incorporate Encrypted Media Extensions (EME) into web standards signalling an end to the open Web. She covers how it happened, what has transpired during the last year in regards to EME, and what steps can be taken.

Digital Restrictions Management exists all over the world in all sorts of technologies. In addition to media files, like music and film, we can find DRM on the Web and enshrined in Web standards. As a Web standard, its use is recommended by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), making it not only easier, but expected for all media files on the Web to be locked down with DRM.

It's been a year since the the W3C voted to bring Encrypted Media Extensions (EME) into Web standards. They claimed to want to "lead the Web to its full potential," but in a secret vote, members of the W3C, with the blessing of Web creator Tim Berners-Lee, agreed to put "the copyright industry in control" of media access. The enshrinement of EME as an official recommendation is not how we envision the "full potential" of the Web at the Free Software Foundation (FSF).


Original Submission

The Future of Browsers 54 comments

Opera, Brave, Vivaldi to Ignore Chrome's Anti-Ad-Blocker Changes, Despite Shared Codebase

Despite sharing a common Chromium codebase, browser makers like Brave, Opera, and Vivaldi don't have plans on crippling support for ad blocker extensions in their products -- as Google is currently planning on doing within Chrome.

The three browsers makers have confirmed to ZDNet, or in public comments, of not intending to support a change to the extensions system that Google plans to add to Chromium, the open-source browser project on which Chrome, Brave, Opera, and Vivaldi are all based on.

A few hours after reading about Brave, Opera, and Vivaldi breaking with Google blocking ad-blockers, I find this story -
Firefox may introduce a paid version in order to reduce its reliance on Google revenue

Mozilla, the maker of open source browser Firefox, is by no means strapped for cash; although the said browser is offered free of charge, the foundation has a lucrative search deal with Google.

Some of the revenue also comes thanks to its controversially proprietary online bookmarking service Pocket, and some from sponsored content and donations.

But although the Google deal is sweet – Mozilla is very dependent on it and nervous about the prospect, however unlikely, of losing it. Therefore it always seems be on the lookout for new revenue streams.

Mozilla will reportedly launch a paid version of Firefox this fall

In an interview with German media outlet T3N, the company's CEO, Chris Beard, said that it's aiming to launch the new version by October, with features like a VPN and secure cloud storage.

The company's already experimented with a VPN service by partnering up with ProtonVPN and offering a $10 subscription. Now, the company's thinking of offering some amount of free VPN bandwidth to get you started, and then charge a premium for metered access in the form of a monthly subscription.

So - what is the future? Are browsers to be divided between "free" browsers, that play games with Google, and paid browsers, which thumb their noses at Google?

And, how will all of that affect those of us who routinely modify their browsers? Will we have to work harder, for the same effect - or will we just be shot down in flames? Surrender to Google, or pay to browse?


Original Submission #0Original Submission #1Original Submission #2

HTML is the Web 64 comments

"Front-end" developer, Pete Lambert, writes about why front-end "web" developers should start to learn HTML. More and more developers are using only pre-made frameworks and quite unfamiliar with the fundmentals of the technology they are using, such as semantic markup. He notes that the continued failure to pay attention to the basics of semantics is slowly breaking what's left of the World Wide Web and suggests reasons to correct that and has some pointers to learning resources.

I’m a ‘frontend of the frontend’ kind of guy. My expertise is in HTML and CSS, so it’s easy for me to wax lyrical about why everybody should learn what I already know (for the record, I don’t know it all - we still have heated debates in the office about what the best way to mark up a certain component might be). This isn’t about ‘my job’s more important than yours. If you’re writing code that renders things in a browser, this is your job.

It’s about usability and accessibility. If you don’t think the semantic structure of your Web page or app is important then you’re essentially saying “Well, it works for me in my browser, ship it”. I don’t think you’d do that with your Javascript and you certainly shouldn’t be doing it with your CSS. Search engines need to read your content, not enjoy your swoopy animations or fancy gradients. Screen reader software needs to read your content. Keyboard users need to read your content. Who knows what technology will come next and how it will consume your app but I’ll bet my bottom Bitcoin it’ll work better if it can easily read, parse and traverse your content. The way these things read your content is that they know it’s actually content and not just strings of text wrapped in meaningless tags. They know what’s a table and how to present it, they know what’s a list and how to present it, they know what’s a button and what’s a checkbox. Make everything from divs and they’re going to have to work bloody hard to figure that out.

Earlier on SN:
How to Build and Host an Energy Efficient Web Site (2018)
Conservative Web Development (2018)
Dodgy Survey Shows 1 in 10 Believe HTML is an STD? (2014)


Original Submission

Google Now Bans Some Linux Web Browsers from their Services 46 comments

BleepingComputer recently published an article which says:

Google is now banning the popular Linux browsers named Konqueror, Falkon, and Qutebrowser from logging into Google services because they may not be secure.

[...] In tests conducted by BleepingComputer, we can confirm that we were unable to log in with Konqueror or Falkon on multiple machines. When attempting to do so, we were told to try a different browser as Konqueror or Falkon may not be secure.

[...] Even stranger, some users have reported that they could still login with Falkon [1, 2].

This has led people to offer a variety of theories for why this is happening including it being an A/B test being done by Google, related to the version of QtWebEngine installed, or maybe even an account setting such as 2FA being enabled.

Google does have discriminating tastes, does it not?


Original Submission

An Open Letter to Web Developers 68 comments

Moonchild, the lead developer of the Pale Moon browser writes:

"Dear Web Developer(s),

While, as a software developer ourselves, we understand very well that new features are exciting to use and integrate into your work, we ask that you please consider not adopting Google WebComponents in your designs. This is especially important if you are a web developer creating frameworks for websites to use.
With Google WebComponents here we mean the use of CustomElements and Shadow DOM, especially when used in combination, and in dynamically created document structures (e.g. using module loading/unloading and/or slotted elements).

Why is this important?

For several reasons, but primarily because it completely goes against the traditional structure of the web being an open and accessible place that isn't inherently locked down to opaque structures or a single client. WebComponents used "in full" (i.e. dynamically) inherently creates complex web page structures that cannot be saved, archived or even displayed outside of the designated targeted browsers (primarily Google Chrome).
One could even say that this is setting the web up for becoming fully content-controlled."

https://about.google/: "Our mission is to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful"

Useful to... whom?


Original Submission

A Pretty Dire Assessment of Mozilla 78 comments

Co-founder of Netscape (formerly Mosaic Communications Corporation) and of Mozilla.org, Jamie Zawinski, has some brief comments about the current situation with Mozilla and its browser.

Back to Mozilla -- in my humble but correct opinion, Mozilla should be doing two things and two things only:

  1. Building THE reference implementation web browser, and
  2. Being a jugular-snapping attack dog on standards committees.
  3. There is no 3.

And they just completely threw in the towel on standards when they grabbed their ankles and allowed W3C to add DRM. At this point, I assume Mozilla's voice on the standards committees has all the world-trembling gravitas of "EFF writes amicus brief."

By the way, one dynamic that the cited article missed is that a huge part of the reason for Google's "investment" in Mozilla was not just to drive search traffic -- it was antitrust insurance. Mozilla continuing to exist made Chrome not be the only remaining web browser, and that kept certain wolves at bay.

Google has decided that they don't need to buy antitrust insurance any more. Wonder why.

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  • (Score: 2, Touché) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 24 2020, @06:57AM (16 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 24 2020, @06:57AM (#974828)

    Safari isn't based on Firefox or Chrome, is it?

    I've been saying this whole web thing is just a fad. Soon we'll come to our senses and go back to Usenet and gopher. Then September will end.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 24 2020, @07:25AM (5 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 24 2020, @07:25AM (#974829)

      There's no Eternal September on the Dark Web. It's too scary there.

      • (Score: 4, Touché) by maxwell demon on Tuesday March 24 2020, @08:23AM (4 children)

        by maxwell demon (1608) on Tuesday March 24 2020, @08:23AM (#974847) Journal

        So it's Eternal Halloween instead?

        --
        The Tao of math: The numbers you can count are not the real numbers.
        • (Score: 2) by DannyB on Tuesday March 24 2020, @02:42PM (3 children)

          by DannyB (5839) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday March 24 2020, @02:42PM (#974990) Journal

          Despite efforts to "Microsoftize" the web, IE failed. Mighty Microsoft tried to build a new browser, Edge. But finally threw in the towel1 and used Chromium as the guts for Edge, while keeping the Edge "packaging", menus, configuration, etc.

          What became of Opera?

          1Contrary to Douglas Adams advice. [goodreads.com]

          --
          Biden must DO SOMETHING to stop bloggers using the wrong color schemes!
          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 25 2020, @12:07AM

            by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 25 2020, @12:07AM (#975261)

            Opera now makes predatory loans in third world nations.

          • (Score: 2) by toddestan on Thursday March 26 2020, @02:08AM (1 child)

            by toddestan (4982) on Thursday March 26 2020, @02:08AM (#975682)

            Actually, I would argue that Microsoft succeeded. They had over 90% marketshare in browsers for years, and there were no shortage of websites that were IE only.

            The problem is that Microsoft got complacent. One of the ways they won is they had a better browser than Netscape, but once they on top they completely stopped improving it. IE6 shipped with Windows XP and was the current version of Internet Explorer until IE7 shipped with Vista. That's over 5 years, which is an absolute eternity as browsers go. Considering IE wasn't all that great to begin with, that was more than enough time for some competition to crop up. By the time they started actually trying to improve IE, it was too late. Of course, that their efforts were also hamstrung with having to maintain compatibility with older versions of their browser which was intentionally designed to not be quite compatible just added to the hilarity. Creating a new skin around it (Edge) didn't help either, especially when it was made a Windows 10 exclusive. Convincing people to switch back to a Microsoft browser would be challenging enough, and if it involves a new operating system you can pretty much forget about it.

            • (Score: 2) by DannyB on Thursday March 26 2020, @02:03PM

              by DannyB (5839) Subscriber Badge on Thursday March 26 2020, @02:03PM (#975864) Journal

              I would argue that Microsoft succeeded.

              Succeeded by failing?

              there were no shortage of websites that were IE only. [ . . . ] they won is they had a better browser than Netscape

              In typical fashion, Microsoft created something that was addicitively sweet for developers. A browser that made it easy to build rich powerful web sites and web applications -- that only ran on Windows. Which was their monopolistic goal. In order to "Microsoftize" the internet, they also created IIS (which did not come to dominate) and Front Page (what ever happened to that?).

              It took frustratingly long, but once Firefox appeared, on all platforms, it was clear to the non Microsoft fanboys that we had an IE killer. (eventually) It was now possible to build cross platform web applications. Although for an entire decade IE was the bane of web developers everywhere. Tools like (but not only) jQuery appeared to make life much easier on the browser front end.

              Microsoft had appeared to win. That's why they never made any more improvements to IE 6.

              All of a sudden, one day Firefox had more than 50 % market share. That and only that is why there ever was an IE 7. Which was still a major pain for developers.

              As IE 8, 9, etc became more and more standards compliant it showed the error of the short term thinking folks who had written their entire application to run on IE 6 only. That was now obviously dead end. I had chosen to go with web standards from the start, and in hindsight that was an excellent choice. The only real drawback to that was . . . IE 6. It had to be tested to ensure there were no snags. But other browsers universally worked great. And jQuery largely abstracted away the problem of IE 6.

              Television commercials for IE 11 openly admitted (jokingly) how bad IE had been.

              Edge was an admission of IE's failure. And that was a failure from the start . . . just not obvious to most people. Like the government printing free money for itself! Or a company laying off more batches of people every time it needs a boost in its stock price! A winning tragedy strategy.

              The fact that Edge finally got Chromium's guts is the biggest admission of this monopolist Ballmer/Gates era failure.

              --
              Biden must DO SOMETHING to stop bloggers using the wrong color schemes!
    • (Score: 4, Informative) by gtomorrow on Tuesday March 24 2020, @11:16AM (5 children)

      by gtomorrow (2230) on Tuesday March 24 2020, @11:16AM (#974901) Journal

      IIRC, Safari was based on KHTML, which Apple forked into WebKit, with which Google created Chrome/Chromium and later forked into...oh, the name escapes me!...ah, yes, Blink.

      Somebody correct me if I'm wrong.

      • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Freeman on Tuesday March 24 2020, @01:17PM

        by Freeman (732) on Tuesday March 24 2020, @01:17PM (#974949) Journal

        At this point, they're essentially two separate beasts.

        --
        Forced Microsoft Account for Windows Login → Switch to Linux.
      • (Score: 2) by DannyB on Tuesday March 24 2020, @02:49PM (3 children)

        by DannyB (5839) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday March 24 2020, @02:49PM (#974993) Journal

        As I point out here [soylentnews.org] . . .

        First comes the Navigator.
        Then comes the Explorer.
        Then comes the Konqueror.

        First there was Netscape Navigator. (Well, actually Mosaic, but we'll go with commercial web browsers here.)

        Then Internet Exploiter Exploder Explorer.

        Then back in the day of KDE 3 there was the Konqueror browser.

        Apple took the guts of Konqueror and made Safari. Safari and Konquerer code bases diverged (or so I understood it to be, corrections welcome). Eventually these were merged into a common code base WebKit.

        WebKit became the basis of Chromium, Chrome, Edge and probably others. IE is dead. So this now leaves us with only Mozilla (from the ashes of Netscape Navigator) and WebKit (as several different browsers). Mozilla's engine is no doubt the basis of several other browsers as well.

        --
        Biden must DO SOMETHING to stop bloggers using the wrong color schemes!
    • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 24 2020, @02:01PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 24 2020, @02:01PM (#974963)

      I'm up, I already check usenet regularly.

      So who is going to create alt.soylentnews?

    • (Score: 2) by DannyB on Tuesday March 24 2020, @02:51PM (1 child)

      by DannyB (5839) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday March 24 2020, @02:51PM (#974995) Journal

      I've been saying this whole web thing is just a fad.

      Do you mean "the internet"?

      Bill Gates, is that you?

      (pssssst . . . nobody mention that we've all upgrade way beyond 640K.)

      --
      Biden must DO SOMETHING to stop bloggers using the wrong color schemes!
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 24 2020, @08:28PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 24 2020, @08:28PM (#975178)

        Oh, come on now, you're just joking. You surely know that the internet was around long before that whole "world wide web" thing was invented, right?

        ... right?

        Next you'll be saying things like you don't know how to churn butter or you never learned how to drive a mule train. (god I'm so old)

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 24 2020, @11:17PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 24 2020, @11:17PM (#975248)

      Fanboi logic.

      No one cares about your shitty walled garden.

      Blink and Gecko are the only two that matter.

  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 24 2020, @07:43AM (19 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 24 2020, @07:43AM (#974833)

    Maybe start with the one with no scripting whatsoever. And stay that way.

    • (Score: 2) by gtomorrow on Tuesday March 24 2020, @11:12AM (1 child)

      by gtomorrow (2230) on Tuesday March 24 2020, @11:12AM (#974899) Journal

      You mean like Dillo [dillo.org]?

    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by bradley13 on Tuesday March 24 2020, @11:37AM (2 children)

      by bradley13 (3053) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday March 24 2020, @11:37AM (#974905) Homepage Journal

      No scripting, sure, but CSS is also a huge problem. CSS/3 is unendingly complex. You would have to revert to CSS/2 to have any chance of a successful new implementation.

      --
      Everyone is somebody else's weirdo.
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 24 2020, @12:59PM (1 child)

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 24 2020, @12:59PM (#974937)

        They are all separate modules now. Just cherry pick whatever feels reasonable above CSS2, one at a time.

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 26 2020, @07:12AM

          by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 26 2020, @07:12AM (#975766)

          Speaking of which, display: flow-root is a must.

    • (Score: 2) by mth on Tuesday March 24 2020, @12:31PM (5 children)

      by mth (2848) on Tuesday March 24 2020, @12:31PM (#974925) Homepage

      A website that is just pages with information can function without JavaScript just fine. But for web applications, no scripting really limits what is possible. As a Linux user, I really appreciate not needing native applications for accessing services from companies.

      • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 24 2020, @12:57PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 24 2020, @12:57PM (#974936)

        You don't need scripting for most services, though.

      • (Score: 2) by DannyB on Tuesday March 24 2020, @03:06PM (3 children)

        by DannyB (5839) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday March 24 2020, @03:06PM (#975007) Journal

        As a Linux user, I really appreciate not needing native applications for accessing services from companies.

        In the event that web scripting were to go away, let me wildly speculate.

        Java is already cross platform. And has not one but two cross platform desktop GUIs already. And it's open source. (GPL + Classpath) While not everyone likes Java [soylentnews.org], it is thoroughly modern. It has run on everything from flip phones, blue ray players, and in some form Android, smart cards, and monster servers.

        Big Boring Business Software is what makes the world go around. A great deal of this invisible software is written in Java (and runs on Linux!). Custom business applications are everywhere, but instead of custom GUIs that look like Windows 95, you see these all running in a web browser. (Next time you check out a library book, or get your oil changed, or your doctor orders lab blood work, or you check into a hotel, or . . . just look at the application they are using.)

        Platform portability is a huge part of this. Especially if it is portable at the binary application level.

        1. I could predict the rise (or return) of myriad Java desktop GUI applications -- installed at the client.

        2. To keep one of the major advantages of the web, these applications would be very self maintaining and updating (like Google Chrome).

        3. Maybe a generic application would emerge where the server sends Java binary classes (or JARs) to the client to be run within the generic application. This is another way for the application to be very self updating, but without nearly as many updates at the client end. Only when the generic client changes.

        On a completely different track . . .

        Maybe major players might get together and fork, then vastly simplify, an existing web browser. Just make it good as a "remote terminal" for web applications. (This probably also makes it suitable as a "browser" as a side effect.)

        The advantage of this approach over the previous, is that browsers are already more portable and exist on more platforms.

        Microsoft might view the demise of browsers as another way to gain worldwide domination over all software.

        --
        Biden must DO SOMETHING to stop bloggers using the wrong color schemes!
        • (Score: 2) by Pino P on Tuesday March 24 2020, @09:14PM

          by Pino P (4721) on Tuesday March 24 2020, @09:14PM (#975204) Journal

          Let's imagine for a moment the client were to switch from web applications written in JavaScript and/or WebAssembly to downloadable written in. Each application would still need to be written three times: once in JDK using a desktop framework, a second time using Android's nonstandard variant of the Java class library, and a third time for iOS and iPadOS in a completely different language because Apple bans JIT.

          As for the topic of the article: The Java platform isn't just too complex to reimplement; it's actually illegal. Last I checked, the license of the Java language and class library specification banned distributing a work-in-progress or otherwise incomplete implementation to the public, and Google got sued for this. So we'd end up in an OpenJDK monoculture on desktop.

        • (Score: 2) by toddestan on Thursday March 26 2020, @02:21AM (1 child)

          by toddestan (4982) on Thursday March 26 2020, @02:21AM (#975690)

          I would say the more likely scenario is that web technologies will continue to dominate. If you want a desktop application, especially a cross-platform application, then it'll just be the web application packaged up with its own copy of a web browser that's hard-coded to point just at the web application. Or basically the Electron framework which is popular nowadays, for better or for worse.

          • (Score: 2) by DannyB on Thursday March 26 2020, @02:14PM

            by DannyB (5839) Subscriber Badge on Thursday March 26 2020, @02:14PM (#975876) Journal

            That is one way to implement a desktop application.

            At present, web applications are superior because they are:
            1. zero maintenance
            but also . . .
            2. zero install

            The maintenance, updates, backups all happen at the server. To the end user, it all just works.

            Plus entire classes of support problems simply disappear. "Jane can't print!" Never had that problem in over a decade now. The web app previews, and then downloads a PDF. Even forms! (eg, checks, W2s, etc) Your desktop app doesn't need to support printing. The user prints the PDF using their favorite PDF viewer. If your PDF is crafted properly, all the boxes on forms line up on the paper, on EVERY printer. Regardless of margin settings.

            My employer originally offered the application I work on in a "customer self hosted" version where the customer could install the server on their own server. And that was a turnkey (Windows) setup.exe. Ultimately very few of those sold. Everyone almost universally wanted us to host it. Like it or not. That is the reality. Despite that they pay more for us to host it. (And the app is multi-tenant. One app instance services all customers. Each customer has separate database.)

            If web browsers suitable for running applications were to disappear, I would be looking at a way to implement a universal desktop client. And maybe a way to implement a tablet client on Android/iOS. And chromebooks.

            Because web applications from giant corporations are so many and so prevalent (yet generally invisible in society) I expect there would be some kind of industry effort to come up with an open replacement. Probably forking and simplifying current browser or browsers.

            --
            Biden must DO SOMETHING to stop bloggers using the wrong color schemes!
    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by DannyB on Tuesday March 24 2020, @02:53PM

      by DannyB (5839) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday March 24 2020, @02:53PM (#974998) Journal

      Maybe start with the one with no scripting whatsoever. And stay that way.

      This may be a well intentioned idea. But look, advertisers are never going to go for this craziness.

      This would leave us condemned to a web without any advertising. So it will never fly. Oh the humanity!

      --
      Biden must DO SOMETHING to stop bloggers using the wrong color schemes!
    • (Score: 2) by Pino P on Tuesday March 24 2020, @09:06PM (6 children)

      by Pino P (4721) on Tuesday March 24 2020, @09:06PM (#975201) Journal

      In a web browser with only forms and no scripting, how would a web-based chat app such as Riot (the frontend to Matrix) work? Or would each web application instead need to be rewritten five times as a native application, once for each of Windows, macOS, X11/Linux, Android, and iOS?

      • (Score: 3, Touché) by Arik on Wednesday March 25 2020, @02:38AM (5 children)

        by Arik (4543) on Wednesday March 25 2020, @02:38AM (#975301) Journal
        It would need to be written once in a high level language. If you were bothering to optimize it for different platforms, which no one has bothered to do with this sort of application for many years, then you might rewrite a small portion 5 times, for each supported OS.
        --
        If laughter is the best medicine, who are the best doctors?
        • (Score: 2) by Pino P on Wednesday March 25 2020, @03:24AM (4 children)

          by Pino P (4721) on Wednesday March 25 2020, @03:24AM (#975314) Journal

          Which non-JavaScript high-level languages are most useful to write a chat client or another similar application that targets all five client platforms?

          • (Score: 2) by Arik on Wednesday March 25 2020, @03:48AM

            by Arik (4543) on Wednesday March 25 2020, @03:48AM (#975322) Journal
            I'm not the right person to ask that question, as I haven't programmed shit in over a decade.

            But I'm pretty sure C would work.

            *Runs off to *check**

            Oh yeah, it definitely works. http://www.bitchx.com/
            --
            If laughter is the best medicine, who are the best doctors?
          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 25 2020, @01:06PM (2 children)

            by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 25 2020, @01:06PM (#975434)

            Basically all of them. It's 2020. Most languages can either be directly run or can be compiled to run on all major platforms. Same is true for many GUI toolkits and other useful APIs and frameworks.

            The argument used to be that you couldn't respect the look and feel of the platform. The web said "FUCK THAT! We need to hire expensive media designers so we can force developers into using a viewing guideline DSL as a pixel perfect DSL", so anyone continuing to use the look-and-feel argument as a reason to rewrite an application for each platform is just bullshitting you.

            Client-server chat programs are things freshman write near the end of the first year, at least that's what we did in my Intro To CS 3 class (C++) in 2006. (FYI: C++ is not a good language for general application development due to its high bug rate and complexity.)

            • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 26 2020, @07:15AM (1 child)

              by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 26 2020, @07:15AM (#975767)

              > FYI: C++ is not a good language for general application development due to its high bug rate and complexity.

              Compared to C it's a godsend. C is nice and all but it's way too effective footgun for complex software.

              • (Score: 1) by Arik on Tuesday March 31 2020, @07:02AM

                by Arik (4543) on Tuesday March 31 2020, @07:02AM (#977542) Journal
                "C is nice and all but it's way too effective footgun for complex software. "

                Well some of the less obvious features can be footguns. But also opportunities.

                Complex software obviously is tricky because it has excessive number of failure points. But if you build it from less complex parts, each of the parts shrinks to the point that they can be reasonably tested and audited. In theory at least.

                Keeping it as simple as possible makes it easier to audit.

                --
                If laughter is the best medicine, who are the best doctors?
  • (Score: 4, Insightful) by aristarchus on Tuesday March 24 2020, @07:44AM (8 children)

    by aristarchus (2645) on Tuesday March 24 2020, @07:44AM (#974834) Journal

    You can do this. Just create a browser that disallows javascript. Non-compliant websites will not load, problem solved. Many of us are doing this already, with extentions like NoScript, where they have not been banished or prescribed, PaleMooned or Firefoxed. God save us all.

    --
    "Believe it or not, your opinion on this topic is really not necessary,"
    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by Mojibake Tengu on Tuesday March 24 2020, @08:34AM (1 child)

      by Mojibake Tengu (8598) on Tuesday March 24 2020, @08:34AM (#974851) Journal

      surf -s ...

      You can find surf in every distro for ages.
      https://surf.suckless.org/ [suckless.org]
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Surf_(web_browser) [wikipedia.org]

      --
      The edge of 太玄 cannot be defined, for it is beyond every aspect of design
      • (Score: 3, Touché) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 24 2020, @09:02AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 24 2020, @09:02AM (#974864)

        > The main functionality of the browser is implemented in third-party WebKitGTK+ library…

        Not sure that changes much.

    • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 24 2020, @09:06AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 24 2020, @09:06AM (#974865)

      I was basically forced into using noscript a few years back as webpages took forever to load and web browsing started to melt my i5 ,laptop.

      I
      I have no idea how mobiles are expected to survive all this is bullshit. Probably as it gets more and more out of hand, is will become the new flash, get banned from some line of iPhones, and we can go back to what works.

    • (Score: 5, Insightful) by driverless on Tuesday March 24 2020, @10:33AM (4 children)

      by driverless (4770) on Tuesday March 24 2020, @10:33AM (#974883)

      Problem is there are more or less essential web sites that are unusable without JS. Pretty much everything, utilities, banking, online shopping, pr0... uhh, news, all of it is encrusted with megabytes of JS that needs to run or you just get blank pages or an error message saying "Joo must use da Javascript or noooo web site for you, one year!". SoylentNews is one of the few regular-use sites I go to that works just fine without JS. Everything else, you need JS crap. There are stupid sites that could be done on a 3270 for which I can see all eight cores pegged at 100% for fifteen to thirty seconds just to load the page, but without that you can't use the web.

      • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 24 2020, @03:49PM (2 children)

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 24 2020, @03:49PM (#975036)

        How is that a problem? Don't frequent those sites.

        • (Score: -1, Flamebait) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 24 2020, @05:54PM (1 child)

          by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 24 2020, @05:54PM (#975121)

          And he'd collect his benefits how, then?

          • (Score: 1, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 24 2020, @08:38PM

            by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 24 2020, @08:38PM (#975188)

            Once-a-month problem solved, and the Chrome downloaded today will be far too old next month anyway.

      • (Score: 1) by Ron on Wednesday March 25 2020, @01:27PM

        by Ron (5774) on Wednesday March 25 2020, @01:27PM (#975442)

        I disagree 100%.
        My bank's web site works just fine with JS disabled. (it's a small, local bank. Say no to WF or BA or CB.)
        For news, well, I used to work in the Newspaper industry back before there even was a "web". We put ads right on the pages of the newspaper. I don't understand why modern-day "news" sites can't serve their own display ads instead of all the in-crap that's going on. Sure, I get it about the targeting and tracking and monitoring and measuring. The old joke about advertising was that 50% of your budget is wasted. The problem is that no one knew which 50%.

        And that's the way it should be. Look what all this targeting and tracking and monitoring and measuring capability did for our last election.

        So if a news site requires JS for me to read, I close the window and move on to something else. Like the old days. If I had to have a subscription to the paper edition of the NY Times, I probably didn't read that story either unless it was also covered in my home town paper.

        Utilities? I get a paper bill in the mail every month and pay it via my bank's non-JS capable web site. Easy-peasy.

        Shopping? I've been burned too many times with on-line scams. Mostly through Amazon. (used items sold as new, mis-measured, etc.) My local stores carry most everything I need or want, I can see the item, heft it, judge its quality, and I like the social interaction too (although on pause these days, and with a distance when it's necessary...) Rampant on-line shopping has amplified the consumerism in most people. It's not a good thing.

        Somehow, people survived and prospered in the days before "the web". Sure, it's a whole lot more convenient now, but convenience also comes with a price. Is it a price we're willing to pay? And maybe we should slow this bus down a bit and make sure the destination is somewhere we wanted to go.

  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Bot on Tuesday March 24 2020, @10:22AM (2 children)

    by Bot (3902) on Tuesday March 24 2020, @10:22AM (#974879) Journal

    If you can't close up the source and stay credible just make it expensive to fork/secure/reimplement.
    Free software started hitting in the 90s, the system has developed antibodies. Projects have been infiltrated, purges have purged, shit has become infrastructural. It's still feasible to be free, but it's work. Uh... as usual.

    --
    Account abandoned.
    • (Score: 2) by captain normal on Tuesday March 24 2020, @09:50PM (1 child)

      by captain normal (2205) on Tuesday March 24 2020, @09:50PM (#975214)

      Huh..."Free software started hitting in the 90s"? I had to go out and buy software, at first on floppy disks, then later on CDROMs. Unless of course someone slipped you a copy or let you copy theirs. God how I loved the CD R/W drive I scored and stuck in the spare bay on my tower.

      • (Score: 2) by Thexalon on Tuesday March 24 2020, @10:54PM

        by Thexalon (636) on Tuesday March 24 2020, @10:54PM (#975237)

        Free as in speech, not Free as in beer. They were always clear about that. By the late 1990's though, my first distro (SuSE) was a few bucks for 6 CDs worth of packages, and by the early 2000's there was lots of GPL'd and BSD stuff that was download as you like.

        And of course warez for those willing to brave the pirating sites of the time.

        --
        The inverse of "I told you so" is "Nobody could have predicted"
  • (Score: 5, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 24 2020, @11:50AM (4 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 24 2020, @11:50AM (#974910)

    More, it becomes even impossible to build a new web site. If someone remembers, web sites are discoverable by external hyperlinks. And what most big websites are doing? Forbidding external hyperlinking. What most small web sites cannot do? Obtain stable "permalinks" to other resources. This method is dead and it can be seen from the modern Internet: While some brilliant, practical knowledge disappears, it gives space to automatically generated content made only to push advertisements.
    This way, instead of a system which chooses solutions based on their usefulness (e.g. forwarding links in forum posts), it works 100% commercially - just pay to appear in search engine. So we're going to GAFAM-type companies monopoly here too.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 24 2020, @04:38PM (3 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 24 2020, @04:38PM (#975083)

      It's getting to be impossible to make a site. In the old days you would read the Apache docs, start Apache, pick either Postgres or MySQL for your backend and stick with it, and pick either Perl or PHP for your frontend and stick with it, and it would take a few months of study assuming that you already knew how to program and how to create static pages in HTML. Now in addition to all of that, to use any off-the-shelf product you also need a docker and a container and a CMS and a framework and a specific brand of each of them and you need to know what the hell each of these are and they all require external libraries, and THERE IS NO DOCUMENTATION for any of them. You have to know somebody who knows how to use all of these things and there is no help for the teenager who just wants to throw up a fucking bulletin board or image catalog which is how most of us started out. Or you could spend a few years reinventing the wheel by doing things the old way but you would always be behind the curve of the corporate-sponsored projects.

      And if you do get a site up and running, your web host bans you for some unstated violation of the terms of service with no evidence that you ever did anything wrong and no chance to apologise or fix the problem, and you also get banned from Paypal, Twitter, and Facebook at the same time so you lose any social media reach that you had and any chance to turn your website into a business. It's getting ridiculous.

      • (Score: 1, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 24 2020, @05:16PM (2 children)

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 24 2020, @05:16PM (#975104)

        PHP and Perl in the old days?
        We're talking about different old days now. In my "old days", you bought a book or downloaded a course of HTML. In every country you will find a different course the most popular because they were in native language. Most people who had Internet provider accounts had few MBs (usually 4..8, sometimes 10) for a magic "public_html" directory. No programming needed except pure HTML.

        Now I have a static hobby site. I manage it with some 15-year-old WYSIWYG editor which has awful HTML output, so Perl script starting on the closing of wine (yes, edited on Linux with Windows program) cleans it up. The resulting HTML code is still smaller, faster and more compatible than most CMS output (at least with no PHP errors in CSS files, cheers WordPress).

        Now if someone at work pisses me off and pushes me to make an "web application" but in the agreement requires only a "computer program" (I do FE simulations and optimization so programs are "read input file -> calculate -> write output file to view in postprocessor") I write it in Perl taking care to have at least two regular expressions per code block :D.

        • (Score: 3, Informative) by Pino P on Tuesday March 24 2020, @09:24PM (1 child)

          by Pino P (4721) on Tuesday March 24 2020, @09:24PM (#975208) Journal

          Most people who had Internet provider accounts had few MBs (usually 4..8, sometimes 10) for a magic "public_html" directory.

          Since then, things have changed. Comcast discontinued included personal web hosting nearly five years ago. (Source [dbstalk.com]) As for what replaces it, despite the IndieWeb project's steps for getting started [indieweb.org], I don't see people migrating to buying a domain name and leasing hosting service from a VPS provider en masse. Should, and how should, this be changed?

          Now if someone at work pisses me off and pushes me to make an "web application" but in the agreement requires only a "computer program" (I do FE simulations and optimization so programs are "read input file -> calculate -> write output file to view in postprocessor") I write it in Perl taking care to have at least two regular expressions per code block :D.

          What would you do with an agreement that can be satisfied either A. through a web application that runs on all major browsers, or B. through five native applications, one for each of Windows, macOS, X11/Linux, Android, and iOS/iPadOS?

          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 25 2020, @02:05AM

            by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 25 2020, @02:05AM (#975299)

            This is a purely attention DDoS, and not much can be done. Except educating community but if the only bond keeping the community is common consumption of ads, like in "social media" it just won't work.

  • (Score: 2) by mth on Tuesday March 24 2020, @12:55PM (7 children)

    by mth (2848) on Tuesday March 24 2020, @12:55PM (#974935) Homepage

    The article seems to mix up two things: the complete application and rendering engine.

    Writing a rendering engine from scratch is probably indeed too much work for any group to tackle. But is that a bad thing? I have no fond memories of the time we had to work around different bugs in different browsers, especially when IE6 was still around. Developing for the web is much more pleasant today.

    If enough people are unhappy with Chrome and Firefox as applications, it is feasible to create a different web browser from the components of those browsers and drop the unwanted policies and features. And there are in fact several alternative browsers around that are very usable.

    The security risk of having such a complex application is a valid point. But I don't think that can be solved by cutting features. For example, not supporting video would reduce the attack surface quite a bit, but people like to be able to watch videos in their browsers. I think splitting the browsers into multiple processes and sandboxing them, as both Chrome and Firefox have been doing, is the only practical solution here.

    When mentioning Servo, I assume that with "technology no one wants" the author means Rust. I strongly disagree there: writing complex applications entirely in C++ is one of the reasons they're so full of vulnerabilities. We should accept the limitations of our human brain and stop pretending that being a better coder is the solution.

    • (Score: 4, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 24 2020, @01:07PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 24 2020, @01:07PM (#974940)

      > …is that a bad thing?

      It is. In such ecosystems standards go away, and the only things left are bug-compatibility and The Corp's will.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 24 2020, @02:32PM (3 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 24 2020, @02:32PM (#974983)

      I love Drew DeVault's work and agree with a lot of what he says. His Github/Gitlab/Gitea/Gogs/Kallithea/Allura alternative SourceHut is fantastic, and it only has a tiny bit of optional JS.

      But Drew hates Rust. https://drewdevault.com/2019/03/25/Rust-is-not-a-good-C-replacement.html [drewdevault.com]

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 24 2020, @11:32PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 24 2020, @11:32PM (#975253)

        yeah, and he's wrong. fuck memory bugs.

      • (Score: 2) by bzipitidoo on Wednesday March 25 2020, @11:32AM (1 child)

        by bzipitidoo (4388) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday March 25 2020, @11:32AM (#975403) Journal

        He has a lot of weird opinions. I'll always take C++ over C, but not because I want C++ style OOP. You don't have to use templates and operator overloading, which were in any case kludgy bandages to bolt some features of OOP onto C. I just want the basics of OOP, the classes. He, however, seems to prefer C, That's the sort of opinion I'd expect of a old systems programmer.

        But then he comes out against concurrency as being really hard and bug prone. Uh, there's a place for concurrency. OSes in particular really need concurrency. And there's a reason CPUs went multicore around 15 years ago. Speed! He evidently doesn't mind his single thread getting held up and stalled on every fricking blockage, because parallel is scary. A lot of the problems with concurrency turned out to have simple solutions.

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 26 2020, @01:32AM

          by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 26 2020, @01:32AM (#975667)

          I think he is using concurrency in a different sense than you are. I think he actually means parallelism. Not only does he use the usual "X^Y problems" people mention with multithreading and he specifically mentions the poll() call, which allows for concurrent operations on descriptors but not parallel ones. With a proper setup, many of the gains from concurrency can be done but without the downsides he mentions from parallelism.

    • (Score: 2, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 24 2020, @09:22PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 24 2020, @09:22PM (#975207)

      A language which can hide arbitrary complexity in one innocuous-looking operator sign, is a disaster waiting to happen, period.

      The thing personifying that disaster to me, is one old (but possibly still unfixed) crash bug in OpenOffice. It was crashing when copying stuff, and was doing it only on slow machines. The thing with it, was that one thread was deleting an object before another was done with it; a classic case of insufficient locking BUT... the action in question was ONE assignment operator, a lowly "=", expanded into a chain of 8 costly function calls doing various conversions. A nice landmine to step on and go up in flames, isn't it?
      http://icu-project.org/docs/papers/cpp_report/the_anatomy_of_the_assignment_operator.html [icu-project.org]
      Single characters should NOT be having "anatomy". Complex thing should LOOK complex. It is as simple as that.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 24 2020, @11:35PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 24 2020, @11:35PM (#975255)

      i agree with your assessment and i look forward to servo. Maybe i can even write a stripped down web browser in Rust to go with it.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 24 2020, @01:04PM (1 child)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 24 2020, @01:04PM (#974939)

    Whatever gave you the idea that there is such a thing?

    Browsers have been breaking compatability with new features since NCSA sued Mark Anderseen for improving his own product.

    I think what you are trying to say here is that browsers are no longer communications technology, but have instead become a system for aggregating marketing channels. We really should all just accept it and move on. That happens when things are successful. The point is that eventually it becomes more productive to cut loose and start from scratch.

    And people are doing that if you look around. It isn't just the browser. The whole OSI model is broken.

    The Internet is in a contracting stage right now, and will continue to be for a while. In some ways this is good, because it is going to take a lot more broken-ness to get to a point where people start adopting the next generation of technology.

    In any case. Yeah, http is fucked. But it has been since 1.0. Part of this is becuase it was perhaps too extensible. Multiplexing has the advantage of being able to authenticate at layer 3 or 4. A lot of the security problems derive from doing things at layer 7, that should be done at lower layers. And that derives from the ease with which one can develop one-off solutions for the web.

    The OSI stack is a rickety ladder to be sure. It would be nice if all the profit didn't derive from hanging anvils at the very top.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 24 2020, @04:26PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 24 2020, @04:26PM (#975070)

      Somewhat my sentiment, this.

      The need to implement everything exists only in the minds of people.

      Choose the subset of features (from 0 to everything), implement it, use it.
      Call it a browser or don't, if it has a function it will be used.
      Who cares what standard it follows, as long as its protocol level compatible and features can be removed.

      Following standards of people who can't program/don't like programming and would rather prefer fashion if anyone let them, is a terrible idea.
      OSI model... its an abstraction, it was somewhat useful sometime, but reality is a bit messy and its all bits anyway on the inside, so imo not a terrible loss, it has outlived its usefulness.

      Yea, http's fucked. Human nature wasn't accounted for in its design.
      Yup, profit. There was a reason Ixous threw the marketeers out of the Temple.
      If only someone would throw them out of the Internet too... :)

  • (Score: 2, Interesting) by oumuamua on Tuesday March 24 2020, @02:57PM

    by oumuamua (8401) on Tuesday March 24 2020, @02:57PM (#975001)

    Markets are mature and it is a news-worthy event if some company changes the status-quo. There are very few niches in the market for startups to grab. Finally, even if you did develop a new browser (new anything) the rule of thumb is it has to be 10 times better than the existing solution to get people to switch. This has always been true, a feature of new,middle and late capitalism.

  • (Score: 1) by pTamok on Tuesday March 24 2020, @08:00PM (2 children)

    by pTamok (3042) on Tuesday March 24 2020, @08:00PM (#975171)

    If the websites want that amount of control over what I see, why don't they implement server-based rendering, with a lightweight protocol carrying the image: like VNC.

    The benefits to the website operators is that the end user can't filter out the adverts, as the script is running on the server. They also get to choose the User Interface Experience.

    So browsers become relatively simple VNC clients.

    What's not to like?

    • (Score: 2) by Pino P on Tuesday March 24 2020, @09:31PM (1 child)

      by Pino P (4721) on Tuesday March 24 2020, @09:31PM (#975211) Journal

      What I know about VNC sounds like it would impose accessibility problems. How does VNC accommodate speech- or Braille-based access to documents? Deliberately making things inaccessible to users with disabilities could open a company to a discrimination claim. Or how does VNC accommodate viewers in rural or otherwise remote areas who might be behind tight monthly data transfer quotas?

      • (Score: 1) by pTamok on Wednesday March 25 2020, @08:40PM

        by pTamok (3042) on Wednesday March 25 2020, @08:40PM (#975594)

        Well, I wasn't being entirely serious.

        The point being that at present we all pay to download software (scripts) we don't want, to run on our computers using our power and cpus and memory. If the rendering were all done server side, the sender would be paying that price, and we would only get the pixels they want to send.

        It would be entirely up to the website operator to provide accessible services - and in fact it could make accessible clients simpler, as it would be up to the server to provide the appropriate voice-overs and/or pop ups. As for data transfer quotas, I suspect modern scripts send far more data that a well compressed screen image.

        Of course, it will never happen, as it imposes costs and obligations on website purveyors, and pushes their resource requirements higher. They prefer to parasitize our computers instead.

        But, if one were building an alternative web, it could be an approach. Clients become very, very simple compared to a modern browser. The downside is you can't block scripts and adverts as they are all rendered on the server. An AI on the client might be able to identify screen regions to blank out. I am sure there are other good reasons why it wouldn't work, but at the moment, I can see a lot of advantages.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 24 2020, @11:05PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 24 2020, @11:05PM (#975242)

    Can't be that hard.. right? Considering some of the moronic things the Chrome devs do.. the bar is pretty low.

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