Daily Archives: March 4, 2008

Howto: Test the WebKit engine in Fedora

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The Fedora repository contains a set of WebKit packages. Once installed they can give a first impression of WebKit’s abilities.

WebKit is a browser engine which was once forked from KHTML by Apple. Nowadays it is developed by the WebKit project where Apple still has quite some weight, but others are in the boat as well: Trolltech, Nokia, Adobe, some KDE developers, some GNOME developers, etc. Besides, WebKit will be part of the upcoming Qt 4.4, will play an important role in KDE’s Plasma and can also be used as a backend in GNOME’s Epiphany browser.

However, at the moment most of these developments are not here yet. But Fedora’s WebKit packages come along with basic WebKit browsers which can be used to test some websites against WebKit:

# rpm -qa|grep -i webkit
WebKit-doc-1.0.0-0.3.svn28482.fc8
WebKit-gtk-devel-1.0.0-0.3.svn28482.fc8
WebKit-qt-devel-1.0.0-0.3.svn28482.fc8
WebKit-qt-1.0.0-0.3.svn28482.fc8
WebKit-gtk-1.0.0-0.3.svn28482.fc8

# rpm -ql WebKit-qt
/usr/lib/libQtWebKit.so.1
/usr/lib/libQtWebKit.so.1.0
/usr/lib/libQtWebKit.so.1.0.0
/usr/libexec/WebKit
/usr/libexec/WebKit/QtLauncher

# ls /usr/libexec/WebKit/
DumpRenderTree  GtkLauncher  QtLauncher

The two executables QtLauncher and GtkLauncher are a simple browser based on Qt or Gtk, respectively. Since the path is usually not part of PATH the browsers must be started from the command line with the full path, /usr/libexec/WebKit/QtLauncher for example. After you’ve called that line via ALT+F2 the browser comes up.

But don’t expect too much: these are just basic browsers to show off the capabilities of the WebKit engine – nothing more. They are definitely not ready for production use – or any real use at all. The Qt version does not know how to handle addresses without the http://, usual shortcuts like Ctrl+L are not working, and plugins are not embedded at all. However, the Qt launcher has a nice effect of showing a link address when you hover over a link. The Gtk launcher is in a bit better shape: it does at least understand addresses, but than again it does not fill in the http:// after loading the page.

But nevertheless these two launchers can give you a first impression how this web engine works on a web page – in case you are a web developer this might come in handy. Also, if you are up for tests, you can check the current state of WebKit in regards to the Acid3-Test. Also, the first impression of the engine is rather nice: it seems to be rather quick and layouts web pages just nice. I’m looking forward to see new browsers based on WebKit.