Daily Archives: May 27, 2008

Arora, a WebKit browser in Qt

The release of Qt 4.4 came along with the WebKit browser engine which could be tested with an included demo browser. This demo browser is now developed independent under the name Arora and is already, while in early development a cross platform Qt browser.

WebKit is a browser engine which was originally forked from KHTML and is now developed further by Apple, Nokia, Adobe, Trolltech and others. Up to a certain point there is also cooperation going on between KHTML and WebKit.

With Qt 4.4 WebKit is officially part of Qt, and therefore every Qt app can take advantage of WebKit (this is also true for every KDE app, but they can use KHTML for quite some time now anyway). The demo browser of Qt 4.4 was shipped with the release to show what the engine is actually capable off. Since it was already a (basically) working browser its own code repository under the name Arora. The WebKit code used is the one of Qt which is directly developd in the WebKit trunk.

Arora main window

Arora preferences

The browser is currently under heavy development and is still in an early phase, so it can hardly be compared against the “old” ones like Firefox or Konqueror/KHTML. However, the browser already has a nicely working Rich Text Editor support which for example works with WordPress blogs:

Arora support for the WordPress Rich Text Editor

Also, there special private browsing mode which makes it possible to deactivate the history and cookies just for a short time:

Private browsing mode Arora

Besides, recently the support for flash plugins was included, and Arora can restore closed tabs. Currently planned features include the support for password store mechanisms in the form of plugins which will make it possible to connect Arora to kwalletmanager and therefore integrate it seamless with KDE – or to connect it with the Gnome keyring and integrate it with Gnome.

But it can also be seen that Arora is still in development: in the version tested on this machine there were some issues with the scroll bar and also with the line-edit field and the buttons on the Google home page:

Arora display errors

Additionally, there are some things missing: especially web shortcuts which I really got used to should be added at some point in the future. Also, the preferences dialog does not list options which are normal for other browsers (always display tabs, always open in a new tab, etc.).

However, given that the development continues at the current speed these features should be available soon. In the long term Arora could become a real competitor to Firefox: while it is also cross platform like Firefox it could actually adapt the native design of each platform thanks to Qt. Additionally, with intelligent chosen plugins it should be easy to integrate it into the platform (password storage, favourites, desktop search, etc.). Last but not least thanks to its origins it features a much smaller memory foot print and is simply faster than Firefox.

For KDE users it could be an interesting alternative to Konqueror to have a look at WebKit and simply as a stand alone browser inside KDE.

In case you want to give Arora a first test the easiest is to run Ubuntu (probably in a virtual machine) and install the precompiled binary. Since Arora does require quite recent Qt packages it can’t be compiled in Fedora 8, and even Fedora 9 might not be sufficient at the moment.

Microsoft: good guy here, bad guy there

Recently a Microsoft director mentioned that MS Office 2007 will get native ODF support with the next Service Pack. Additionally, future versions of Office will also support ODF. While this is exciting news, at the same time Microsoft acts just like it was used to do in Romania.

Microsoft’s director of corporate standards, Jason Matusow, mentioned in a recent interview with BetaNews that ODF support will be included with the next Service Pack for Microsoft Office 2007. Additionally, future versions of Microsoft Office will be shipped with ODF support right from the beginning. The support will be that strong that ODF can even be used as the standard format within Microsoft Office. The same is true for PDF support, btw.. Previous to that announcement Microsoft provided ODF support only in form of a 3rd party plugin which had to be installed manually.

While this is very good news for the ODF supporters and might give the formal a real boost in the near future, the question is how honest this announcement is. The European Union is one of the most important and most pressing factors behind many of Microsoft recent decisions to become more open. They do have quite a lot of experience with Microsoft regarding such statements – and they are usually very reserved regarding such announcements. With this announcement the EU just stated that they are generally welcome any effort towards any further interoperability, and that they will test if it really leads there.

While Microsoft tries to be more open regarding Office software formats there are again signs of the old Microsoft. A recent example is an educational software presentation event held in Cluj (Romania). According to a blog post Microsoft used its market force and the fact that they are a co-sponsor to prohibit a presentation about Free Software because it would be “unfair”.

Unfortunately the university seems to boil down to the pressure – although the university is the main sponsor of the event, which is generally about educational software and not only about Microsoft’s software. And the fact that Microsoft now says others are unfair somehow turns the world upside down, given that Microsoft in the past much too often used illegal methods for which they were sentenced several times.

There are many people out there hoping that Microsoft indeed turns into a “good” player (which means nothing more or less than using only legal tricks), but even if that is true the process will take quite some time – and that parts of the old Microsoft will stay active until the entire corporation has finished the transformation.

KDE4Daily – testing KDE 4.1 with daily updates

KDE4Daily, a virtual machine image of KDE 4 with daily updates was released for KDE 4.1. This gives anyone the opportunity to test the newest KDE 4.1 sanely inside a virtual machine.

KDE4Daily had its debut in November 2007 when SSJ announced a virtual machine image with daily updates for the still in development KDE 4. Today it was announced that once again the KDE4Daily project will provide a daily snapshot of the current KDE development in form of a virtual machine image.

The image itself is a some 660 MB large qemu image. It can be run directly within qemu, but it is also possible to transform the image into for example a VirtualBox image.

Once launched the Ubuntu based Linux starts up and simply works. It can be used to have a look at the new features of the upcoming KDE 4.1. But it can also be used to find bugs. However, in case you find a bug always state that the bug was found inside KDE4Daily – it could also be that a bug is specific to this special environment.

In any way, KDE4Daily already shows that KDE 4.1 will indeed be an appealing Desktop Environment. The following image gallery is just a random set of images I shot having a look at the virtual machine.

KDE4Daily - loginKDE4Daily - startup

Logging in, starting up…

The new Plasma runnerThe new Plasma panel configuration dialog

New things from the Plasma world: a new runner and a panel configuration tool.

Konqueror\'s support for recently closed tabsKonqueror\'s session manager

Konqueror now offers session management and support for closed tabs.

Dolphin\'s new selection featureGwenview\'s full screen diashow tools

This shows the file selector in Dolphin to select several files without the keyboard. Next to it the Gwenview diashow mode can be seen.

Kontact in KDE 4Kinfocenter, reworked for KDE 4

KDE 4.1 ships the first KDE 4 version of KDE-PIM apps. They are still not based on Akonadi, but they are at least ported to KDE 4. In other news, the KInfocenter was also ported and got a face lift.

The Kubrick gameDesktop globe marble with mercator projection

Among the new games is Kubrick – the image speaks for itself. Marble of course got a new projection: Mercator.