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  • 2 Post By Misj'
  1.    #1  
    This is a thread to discuss updating webkit for Legacy webOS. This subject will also be discussed at the September meeting of the webOS User Group.

    webOS was so named as it was intended to be a 'web-native' operating system. In many ways, it is simply a web browser and many of it's apps are basically HTML and javascript (plus the ability to interact with the device hardware). It's possible that updating webkit would be a significant improvement in the usability of webOS - especially in complying with current web standards, though the successful porting of Qt5 to webOS has already brought some solutions to that issue.

    Given enough time/money/commitment/skilled people almost anything is possible, but any effort to update webkit would need to decide on the benefits and the work required before starting the process.

    I guess the questions are:
    1. What would be the benefits of an updated webkit?
    2. What work would be required?
    3. Can the effort be justified?
    4. Is anyone willing and able to do it?
    5. Is there a better option?

    Feel free to suggest other relevant questions if you think I haven't covered them all.
    Last edited by Preemptive; 08/24/2018 at 09:58 AM.
  2.    #2  
    I don't know the answer to 1 beyond a general, "webOS will work better" - at least the browser will display newer sites correctly and have less errors.
    From the Qt browser thread, one additional advantage is suggested:
    Quote Originally Posted by mazzinia View Post
    At the same time , instead, having a newer webkit would allow to get back the captive portal functionality, probably.
    On question 2, here is a link to the webkit project: https://webkit.org/ It appears that it is still being updated, so in theory could simply be built for webOS (in theory).
    Quote Originally Posted by dkirker View Post
    I've thought about upgrading the main browser (and am still exploring it). However, there is one major downside (especially for Pre3 users), and that is memory. Without upgrading the WebKit that LunaSysMgr uses you run in to the same issue with things being slow with running a separate browser app because two (different) versions of WebKit exist in memory at the same time.
    So rather than adding an update, webkit may need to be completely replaced to avoid clogging up the limited memory. But perhaps simply installing a newer webkit is not sufficient:
    Quote Originally Posted by Grabber5.0 View Post
    Unfortunately they forked webkit for webOS use, and it would probably be a monumental effort to make their changes work in the later webkit versions. Some might not even be possible.
    I can't answer 3 or 4. For Question 5, there is the already ported Qt5. This already allows newer, HTML5 compliant browsers to run, though the interfaces and speed do not (yet?) match the speed and ease of the original app. It's worth noting that LuneOS uses Qt5 for it's interface. It should allow Qt apps to run and could be a way to develop Legacy webOS so it converges with the newer project. Possibly, the memory issue above is part of the reason Qt5 isn't fast and it maybe that won't change - unless perhaps webkit was removed and fully replaced with Qt5. But I imagine it would be a huge amount of work to prevent many if not all webOS apps from ceasing to work.

    An extreme move might be to upgrade all of webOS from the kernel up, but some of the system is proprietary code and this would almost certainly be replicating the effort put into LuneOS which is already up to date and open-source. Were this practical, it's likely that webOS Ports would have attempted it (possibly they tried) and it's reasonable to assume that it would require the same amount of time and effort that has been expended there. Those able and willing are most likely to work on LuneOS.
    Last edited by Preemptive; 08/24/2018 at 09:55 AM.
  3. #3  
    I think that one big question is : are the changes the webos team made to webkit "needed" , with the current updated version ?
    We could use a guinea pig to see if it works without "hp" patches implemented, the worst that can happen is a doctoring ..
  4. #4  
    Don't give HP credit for that, it was Palm's work.
  5.    #5  
    Quote Originally Posted by mazzinia View Post
    I think that one big question is : are the changes the webos team made to webkit "needed" , with the current updated version ?
    We could use a guinea pig to see if it works without "hp" patches implemented, the worst that can happen is a doctoring ..
    If we assume webOS is basically a web browser running on Linux, then I guess the changes made are mainly to do with hardware calls that allow the browser to act more like an Operating System. I know Palm modified the Linux kernel. It may have simply been to account for the specifics of the H/W or it could have been to allow the browser-H/W functionality or both (or also something else?).

    If webkit was modified, I'd guess it was either to make the H/W calls or to access that capability elsewhere in the system. I have no idea, but I wrote that to see if anyone will comment / correct me.

    Based on that, I'd guess that you'd get a card and could surf the web. Apps might work but any H/W access (e.g. saving data) might fail. If webkit is tied into the OS itself, perhaps even the card interface would fail. Also, you'd probably have to install the Mojo and Enyo frameworks on top. What javascript version is current and would that mean the frameworks have to be updated? Some version of Enyo will probably work - maybe both still comply with the standard.

    My guess is that unless HTML5 enhancements for web apps are 'the same' as webOS / webOS apps, then something will fail. It might be enough to rewrite every app, but that will never happen, so modifications that mimic what Palm did are very likely necessary.

    Or very optimistically, perhaps it would mostly work, but would only run modern web apps.

    Running modern, unmodified webkit on webOS might be an interesting experiment, but it might save time to establish what modifications were originally made. Does anyone know or at least have an idea?
  6. #6  
    I suspect some of the changes made in the old WebKit would not be needed. However, I don't recall what they were and it would depend on that. That said, if they would be needed, they would have to be completely re-written. The important item would be the API part of WebKit.

    I think it can be doable. I had started down this path for just the browser.

    My biggest concern has always been, and will be, memory requirements. But I think if the built in WebKit is outright replaced, it will be fine.
    Did you know:

    webOS ran on a Treo 800 during initial development.
  7. #7  
    I know that on the phones there was an optimization for scrolling lists. And it's likely that something similar is true for webOS 3.0 (as we can assume that it was also intended for future phones in some incarnation or another). I also know that Canvas-drawing was at the time the fastest implementation on mobile devices. And if I remember correctly I once read that there were some memory optimizations. Question is, whether either of these are still relevant compared to WebKit's current incarnation (though to be honest, I know very few applications that have gotten leaner (and less memory- or CPU-hungry) over the years). One thing to remember is, that WebKit isn't just WebKit. You have the rendering engine, the javascript engine, etc. Also, one has to determine whether to use WebKit or Google's Blink (which is a fork of WebKit)...and this decision will also depend on which javascript-engine you prefer.

    One thing to take into consideration is, that if the default rendering and javascript engines are substituted, this will affect existing apps as well. Ideally only for the better (better/more correct and faster rendering, more features like web-fonts, icon-fonts, svg, etc.), but it's something to take into consideration.
    Grabber5.0 and Preemptive like this.

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