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Google Businesses The Internet Technology

Interview With Google's V8 Author Lars Bak 111

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the under-the-bonnet dept.
Dr Pete writes "Financial Times has an interesting piece about Lars Bak and Kasper Lund the authors of the V8 virtual machine in Google's Chrome browser. 'Chrome attracted more than 10 million users in its first 100 days. Although that's an impressive number, it still only translates into about 1 per cent of browser usage online. It will be a while before it can compete with Firefox, Internet Explorer and others. In December last year, Google announced that Chrome was now out of its development, or Beta, phase and is ready to be shipped as a pre-installed browser on some PCs. This could rapidly increase the number of users. Moreover, the European Commission's antitrust battle with Microsoft over, among other things, how its own browser, Internet Explorer, is integrated into its Windows operating system may give competitors such as Google a chance to claim ground.'" Interestingly enough Google Chrome is currently fighting it out with Safari as the #3 web browser on Slashdot.
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Interview With Google's V8 Author Lars Bak

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  • How is this an "interview"?

  • by moniker127 (1290002) on Monday March 30, 2009 @06:21PM (#27394691)
    May actually be an option very soon. Internet explorer is completely uninstallable in the latest build of windows 7. (7022 & later)
    • by jperl (1453911)
      You mean you can completely uninstall IE now? Thats some new feature IE needed.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Nethead (1563)

        or did he mean that you couldn't install IE at all?

        • by dgatwood (11270)

          Can't it be both?

        • by moniker127 (1290002) on Monday March 30, 2009 @06:44PM (#27395037)
          No. IE 8 comes with windows 7, but you can remove it through programs and features.
          • I didn't know that, but it's perfect for me. I didn't know I had the option of keeping IE 8 and removing Windows 7 completely. Sweet!

            • Why would you want to keep IE at all when Firefox, Chrome (as soon as they get around to porting it), Konquerer, all the Gecko browsers besides Firefox, etc. are readily available? Why would you force yourself to undergo the sheer agony of using IE?

              • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

                by Anonymous Coward

                Woosh!

              • by wmac (1107843)
                Sheer agony?!! Could you please translate your troll in technical terms? How is Firefox that much better than IE (and we were speaking about IE8 btw).
                • "Sheer" is about 100 Libraries of Congress worth of agony. I also have a car metaphor if you think that'll help.

                • sheer agony == failure of Acid# tests for a much longer period of time than could possibly be reasonable.
                  See also: crappy interface (the tabs are huge!), imitator (IIRC Opera invented the tab), general slowness, and vendor lock-in by E.E.E. (not Eee).

                  • actually tabbed browsing appeared on a different version of IE about 2 years before Opera. It wasn't MS who introduced it of course -- it was an IE "shell" program, but it actually was a version of IE.

              • Sharepoint with office 2007 integration. There is no open source alternative.
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        In Windows 7 Beta build 7048 and later:

        Control Panel --> Programs and Features
        In a sidebar, there is something that says "Turn Windows features on or off". It is an administrative action, and marked as such, though the UAC doesn't nag you about it by default in build 7048.

        Just uncheck the "Internet Explorer 8" item, restart twice (really; no, I can't think of a good reason why), and iexplore.exe (at least) is gone.

        I dunno what it removes other than iexplore.exe, but it at least removes the application.

        • I dunno what it removes other than iexplore.exe, but it at least removes the application.

          Unfortunately, it can't remove mshtml.dll, because it's the basis of embedded IE, which has been available on Windows for the past decade.

          In other words, a number of programs rely on mshtml.dll, including things like Valve's Steam game distribution system and the various Symantec products.

          • In other other words, if you use Windows and expect things which need HTML-rendering to be even slightly secure, you're fucked.

          • Well, at least it removes the Internet Explorer application itself. Does turning off IE remove everything that IE needs that the OS doesn't, or is it just iexplore.exe that goes bye-bye?

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by moniker127 (1290002)
      I'd like to note that google chrome on windows 7 is a ridiculously fast browser. Even faster than it is on xp or vista for some reason.
      • Unless you're running 64-bit Windows 7, where it doesn't run at all [google.com]

        • Nah you just have to run it with in process plugins, which requires modificaiton of the command line shortcut.
          Besides I'm pretty sure they fixed that problem in 2.0. Not 100% sure because i'm not on a 64 bit build right now.
    • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I find it interesting that the key developer is show with a Macintosh but chrome does not run on Macintosh (yet).

  • What about Iron? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 30, 2009 @06:29PM (#27394825)
    I've heard so much about Chrome on Slashdot, but nothing about Iron.

    According to the Wikipedia page on Google Chrome:

    SRWare Iron is a release of Chromium software that explicitly disables the collection and transmission of usage information.[30]

    The Wikipedia page further details the information collected by Chrome.

    Any comments?

    • I've heard so much about Chrome on Slashdot, but nothing about Iron.

      According to the Wikipedia page on Google Chrome:

      SRWare Iron is a release of Chromium software that explicitly disables the collection and transmission of usage information.[30]

      The Wikipedia page further details the information collected by Chrome.

      Any comments?

      Yes, Iron is great! I love that it has a built in adblocker too!! I am leaving the slowness of Firefox (seriously, why is Firefox so damn slow to render pages!!)

    • by headbulb (534102)

      What does iron do that the chromium builds don't?

    • by DrEasy (559739)

      I installed it a week or two ago to give it whirl. It has a VERY minimalistic interface (not necessarily a bad thing), it loads REALLY fast on my old P4, but the browser tended to freeze often on some of the busy pages I visited (could be due to Flash, not sure).

      Now mind you I haven't used Chrome, so I'm not sure if my observations would also be valid with Chrome. YMMV.

      • Well, I've had issues with Chrome being unresponsive, but I think its XP's swappieness that fucks it up, because it runs single pages beautifully.
        Sadly, I had to get back to Firefox. Maybe I'll try Chrome in WINE when I get around to installing a free-as-in-speech *NIX on this old laptop.

        Cheers!

  • Over six times less currently [statowl.com]. Of course, the general Slashdot usage trends may be different. I am sure Google can steal market share from others though - especially if they release viable Mac/Linux versions of Chrome.
    • by elijahu (1421)

      I'm betting that Chrome would easily surpass Safari here on Slashdot if Google ever gets around to coming out with the Mac and Linux versions.

      • I have a Linux version.  Alpha something or other.  It kinda works.  But, it still needs work.  In comparison, I've waited for years -LITERALLY years- for Java and Flash to create 64 bit Linux versions of their softare.  It looks like Chrome is moving a lot faster than either of those.  ;)
        • by indi0144 (1264518)

          Theres Flash 64bit version and theres even Moonligh 64bit version for Firefox. Don't know about Java.

          • <quote><p>Theres Flash 64bit version and theres even Moonligh 64bit version for Firefox. Don't know about Java.</p></quote>

            Yes, there is a Flash 64 bit for Linux - now. And, there is a 64 bit Sun Java for Linux - now. Neither of them are "final release" yet. And, I waited literally for years for them to come out. Moonlight? I installed that on a previous incarnation of Ubuntu, but never saw that it did much of anything. Maybe I need to visit more silverlight p
    • by AHuxley (892839)
      Slashdot people can read up on the joys of Mac Chrome here:
      http://arstechnica.com/apple/news/2009/03/chromium-for-os-x-state-of-the-browser.ars [arstechnica.com]

      "uncompressed source tarball occupies about 5GB of disk space"
      "From start to end, the process took about 8 hours and the compilation is best run overnight."
      "Make sure your directory path has no spaces."
      The good part seems to be
      "When you sync to the current build, you receive not only the latest OS X-specific updates but also those cross-platform ones that g
    • On my (low traffic site) Safari handily beats Chrome, but Chrome is rising.

      I like Chrome (and eagerly await the MacOSX version), but I am disappointed in a few areas. It has good support for web standards, but is missing a few things from webkit(like @font-face support) which I use on my site. The font and graphics rendering is also low-quality compared to Safari - jaggies everywhere.

      The much ballyhooed V8 engine is much better than current production browsers, but there does not seem to be much difference

      • by Joe Tie. (567096)
        I haven't benchmarked it on windows, but on my linux system nightlies of chromium are coming in at three times faster than the nightlies of firefox with jit enabled on sunspider.
        • You are right - I just ran sunspider (on Windows) with the latest nightly of Firefox: Chrome is 1.66 times as fast. On the other hand, Safari 4 even faster still.

          I don't mean to dump on V8, all I am saying is that it has some competition for the crown. It is great that we have the choice between so many capable browsers.

          • by rmav (1149097)

            You are right - I just ran sunspider (on Windows) with the latest nightly of Firefox: Chrome is 1.66 times as fast. On the other hand, Safari 4 even faster still.

            I don't mean to dump on V8, all I am saying is that it has some competition for the crown. It is great that we have the choice between so many capable browsers.

            Even more important, this may help people to understand what is obvious to us: Microsoft does not care about writing good software. Almost everybody is writing better Javascript engines and browsers (and to some extent operating systems) than Microsoft. In fact, Office is OK, but Microsoft knows where they have to invest money - improving microsoft browsers could make activeX and similar stuff obsolete, loosening their grip. If Office were written as IE is coded, then you would see people dumping it.

            Bu

  • Linux and osx (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Joe Tie. (567096) on Monday March 30, 2009 @06:44PM (#27395045)
    I've been playing around with the ongoing ports to linux and osx and have been really impressed so far. The linux port is now equivelent in speed to 2.0 on windows, tabs are functional by keyboard shortcut if not mouse yet, spellchecking is in, the startup time blows away all the other browsers on my system, and in general it's looking like a first class port instead of the afterthought I'd initially taken it to be. Obviously there's still a ton more to do on it, but the foundation's looking really solid.
    • by Jamamala (983884)
      The most annoying thing the linux port does at the moment is depend on msttcorefonts. I refuse to install them due to them being non-free and looking terrible at the same time. If they could fix this and depend on ttf-liberation or similar, I'd be halfway to sold.
      The other half depends on chromium receiving plugin support, or at the very least adblock and bookmark syncing.
      • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Just in case you didn't notice, typeface designs are NOT subject to copyright in the united states. So I'm not sure how msttcorefonts could be "non-free", given that they aren't copyrightable at all. If they are writing something else in their EULA, that's because they are lying / exercising wishful thinking.

        • Re:Linux and osx (Score:4, Informative)

          by Tacvek (948259) on Monday March 30, 2009 @08:06PM (#27395957) Journal

          Non-scalable fonts are not subject to copyright in the United States, but may be subject to design patents. Scalable fonts in the other hand, are subject to copyright. The output of these fonts are not, but the font files themselves are.

          If you want to think of it one way, scalable fonts are full blown computer programs, and are thereby subject to copyright, even if what they output is not. I can write a program that outputs the first million digits of pi, and the program can be subject to copyright protection, even though the output mist definitely is not. Same basic idea.

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward

          It's the hinting - an embedded program used to transform the glyph images at small sizes, so they don't look crap.

          That part definitely is copyrightable.

          However, Freetype doesn't use hinting in TrueType / OpenType font files by default, because the technique is patented (by Apple). Instead, it has an auto-hinting system, which works just great when you have anti-aliasing or subpixel rendering turned on. I suppose one could simply create some fonts with the same metrics and general appearance as the Microsoft

          • Instead, it has an auto-hinting system, which works just great when you have anti-aliasing or subpixel rendering turned on.

            Unfortunately, no, it does not. Subpixel font smoothing has been a long standing issue in Linux (and other systems that use FreeType) for me, as, unfortunately, it's nowhere near as good as Microsoft's ClearType. I recall there had been some patches for FT in more recent releases of Ubuntu that improve things (but might violate patents?), but the occasional letter still has a line so blurred out that it's nearly invisible (normally diagonal lines in "k" and "x" suffer), or another line that's way too thick.

        • by Jamamala (983884)
          The fonts are not recognised as free. From the EULA:

          1. GRANT OF LICENSE. This EULA grants you the following rights:
          * Installation and Use. You may install and use an unlimited number of copies of the SOFTWARE PRODUCT.

          * Reproduction and Distribution. You may reproduce and distribute an unlimited number of copies of the SOFTWARE PRODUCT; provided that each copy shall be a true and complete copy, including all copyright and trademark notices, and shall be accompanied by a copy of this EULA.
          Copies of the SOFTWARE PRODUCT may not be distributed for profit either on a standalone basis or included as part of your own product.

          2. DESCRIPTION OF OTHER RIGHTS AND LIMITATIONS.
          * Limitations on Reverse Engineering, Decompilation, and Disassembly. You may not reverse engineer, decompile, or disassemble the SOFTWARE PRODUCT, except and only to the extent that such activity is expressly permitted by applicable law notwithstanding this limitation.

          * Restrictions on Alteration. You may not rename, edit or create any derivative works from the SOFTWARE PRODUCT, other than subsetting when embedding them in documents.

          * Software Transfer. You may permanently transfer all of your rights under this EULA, provided the recipient agrees to the terms of this EULA.

          * Termination. Without prejudice to any other rights, Microsoft may terminate this EULA if you fail to comply with the terms and conditions of this EULA. In such event, you must destroy all copies of the SOFTWARE PRODUCT and all of its component parts.

          3. COPYRIGHT.
          * All title and copyrights in and to the SOFTWARE PRODUCT (including but not limited to any images, text, and "applets" incorporated into the SOFTWARE PRODUCT), the accompanying printed materials, and any copies of the SOFTWARE PRODUCT are owned by Microsoft or its suppliers. The SOFTWARE PRODUCT is protected by copyright laws and international treaty provisions. Therefore, you must treat the SOFTWARE PRODUCT like any other copyrighted material.

    • Is the osx version available for download yet? The website says it is still in development.

      • by Joe Tie. (567096)
        Not officially, but someone's been putting together frequently updated builds at http://diego.caravana.to/software/google-chrome-mac-builds/ [caravana.to] It seems to be a bit ahead of the linux version, but that also means it breaks more often. Though you can also just build it from source. Standard disclaimers that it's 'really' not ready for full use yet. But it gives a really good look at how things are coming along.
        • I have built the linux version from source (using whatever is under the hood of depot_tools/gclient sync - git I think).

          Just to check the speed claims as I found it hard to believe - but they appear to be true. Default is debug build was at about 9 secs on SunSpider (with most of the difference in the strings section) vs release build 1.4sec and this was about a week ago.

          Usable kind of but noticeably improving with each build I do.

    • by ljw1004 (764174)

      the startup time blows away all the other browsers on my system

      What kind of startup times are we talking?

      I'd never imagined browser startup times to be an issue. IE8 on my two-year-old laptop (running Windows7 x64) goes from "click to launch cold" through to "fully-rendered home page" quicker than I can time it, probably about half a second.

  • Is this the drummer from Metallica?
  • by jeffstar (134407) on Monday March 30, 2009 @06:52PM (#27395153) Journal

    Maybe I have imagined this, but I thought there used to be a slashbox which displayed OS and or browser stats.

    I think it got to be a bit depressing to see the % of linux users dropping as /. attracted bigger and bigger crowds so that slashbox disappeared.

    I doubt there is another website which has more linux users so the /. stats probably represent a best case number for linux market penetration.

    • Wonder how I would show up?  I switch freely between Ubuntu host operating system to the WinXP guest system, and I might have as many as 7 or 8 browsers open between them.  I probably screw up stats with every switch, lol
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Take this with as bigger grain of salt as you should with any AC post. But I run a couple of medium-size sites, technical in nature, but not exclusively for GNU/Linux users: the percentage of our visitors using GNU/Linux is at approx. 10%. My educated guess is that Slashdot's would be between 10-20%, given that it's aimed a little more at GNU/Linux users than either of the sites I run. Note: the second figure was pulled from my arse, the first figure was based on months of statistics for two Web sites.

      Maybe

  • GoogleUpdate (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Ritz_Just_Ritz (883997) on Monday March 30, 2009 @06:53PM (#27395161)

    I'd be a lot more inclined to use Chrome if I could do so without it installing the GoogleUpdate service and then turning it back on after I've explicitly disabled it. Windows is bloated enough without me being "tricked" into running additional services that I don't want or need.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Just use either portable chrome or portable chromium then, replacing the app folder with nearly-hourly builds from http://build.chromium.org/buildbot/snapshots/chromium-rel-xp/LATEST [chromium.org] (delete rlz.dll). But no auto-updates this way.

    • Re:GoogleUpdate (Score:4, Insightful)

      by DrEldarion (114072) on Monday March 30, 2009 @09:05PM (#27396519)

      For the vast, vast majority of people, forcing updates on them is by far the best way to go. How many computers could be virus-free right now if everything were always automatically patched?

      That said, there SHOULD be a way to disable it without having to jump through hoops.

      • by countach (534280)

        No, wrong. Making updates trivially easy to install is the best way to go for most users. Forcing the update on the user is always the wrong way to go.

      • by reashlin (1370169)
        If MS would just open windows update up a little and allow other program developers to use it then it could work pretty well.
    • by josath (460165)
      Check out SRWare's Iron [srware.net]...they basically took the Chrome source code, stripped out all the features that report back to google (including the GoogleUpdate.exe service), and actually added an AdBlock clone, something every firefox user has been missing from Chrome! I'm not sure why this hasn't gotten more press, I know every time there's a slashdot story about Chrome, a bunch of people pop up to whine about the lack of an ad blocker.
  • I was looking at using v8 in our open source soft-switch/pbx/telephony application server FreeSWITCH http://www.freeswitch.org/ [freeswitch.org]

    We currently are using spidermonkey from Mozilla and it has it's ups and downs in the scalability department since it was not designed for thousands of concurrent sessions in a single process. The documentation for v8 was impressive but sadly, 64 bit is not supported. It would be nice to get 64 bit supported so we could experiment further with it because it looks really well writt

    • since it's open source, you can add 64-bit yourself. That's the whole point of open source.
      • by anthm (894202)

        since it's open source, you can add 64-bit yourself. That's the whole point of open source.

        The whole point of open source is for projects to work together and combine their efforts to make better software. As I said I am the author of an open source software. It has over 300,000 lines of code of it's own then a large list of dependency libs that added up account for about 2.5 million lines of code see: http://fisheye.freeswitch.org/browse/FreeSWITCH [freeswitch.org] A library developer makes a library for other people to use. Adding 64 bit support to someone else's library is an exercise best left to the lead

    • Everything on my Ubuntu installation is 64 bit.  Every single application.  Since I'm using Chromium, I guess that I have V8 in 64 bit.  Just add the Chromium repository to Apt, then apt-get the source.  You don't even have to know how to compile.  (I do know how to, sort of, but I'm certainly not proficient - just let your installer do the work!)
      • by snemarch (1086057)

        ...or perhaps chrome reverts to a non-JIT javascript vm on 64bit arch?

      • by drewness (85694)

        Everything on my Ubuntu installation is 64 bit. Every single application. Since I'm using Chromium, I guess that I have V8 in 64 bit. Just add the Chromium repository to Apt, then apt-get the source. You don't even have to know how to compile. (I do know how to, sort of, but I'm certainly not proficient - just let your installer do the work!)

        I suspect it's using ia32-libs and not actually 64 bit. I have two reasons for suspecting this.

        1) Chrome does not support 64 bit builds [chromium.org]

        2) The Ubuntu Chrome Daily PPA page [launchpad.net] says "no native 64bit debs planed for now. The amd64 package is using ia32-libs."

        • by anthm (894202)

          Everything on my Ubuntu installation is 64 bit. Every single application. Since I'm using Chromium, I guess that I have V8 in 64 bit. Just add the Chromium repository to Apt, then apt-get the source. You don't even have to know how to compile. (I do know how to, sort of, but I'm certainly not proficient - just let your installer do the work!)

          I suspect it's using ia32-libs and not actually 64 bit. I have two reasons for suspecting this.

          1) Chrome does not support 64 bit builds [chromium.org]

          2) The Ubuntu Chrome Daily PPA page [launchpad.net] says "no native 64bit debs planed for now. The amd64 package is using ia32-libs."

          Yep, like i said, it's a shame, The idea is that we would use it in our project which is a telephony server that runs much better on 64bit, that's really the only show stopper from our being able to try it instead of the spidermonkey library we use now.

        • Ah-ha.  You got me.  Yes, it is using ia32-libs.  I looked at everything installed, but didn't look real hard at all the dependencies, lol.  Stuck my foot in my mouth, didn't I?  Oh well, stuff happens.  Whatever, I am much, much closer to a pure 64 bit machine than I was only 3 months ago.  Now that I'm aware of the ia32-libs, I'll have to dig a little deeper. 
      • Everything on my Ubuntu installation is 64 bit. Every single application. Since I'm using Chromium, I guess that I have V8 in 64 bit.

        Wrong. If you're using Chromium, it's 32-bit. Try the following commands on /bin/rm and /usr/bin/chromium-browser (or whatever):

        $ readelf -h /bin/rm | grep Machine
        Machine: Intel 80386
        $ readelf -h /usr/bin/chromium-browser | grep Machine
        Machine: Intel 80386

        If you're on a 64-bit install, the first will say "Advanced Micro Devices X86-64"; the second will remain "Intel 80386", indicating that Chromium is in fact 32-bit.

        (By the way, Slashdot: long runs of spaces do not constitute "too many junk c

  • Interestingly enough Google Chrome is currently fighting it out with Safari as the #3 web browser on Slashdot.

    According to who? Everyone has different numbers. I can pull some out my ass that make Firefox #1, or Firefox #4.

    Who is the authority on browser percentages?

    Aero

    • by kv9 (697238)

      Who is the authority on browser percentages? [...] I can pull some out my ass that make Firefox #1, or Firefox #4.

      in this case, the editor who posted the story? unless you can pull Slashdot logs out of your ass, I dont care what you do back there.

  • by Weaselmancer (533834) on Monday March 30, 2009 @07:06PM (#27395289)
    • by Cam42 (1459387)
      Oh come on. Okay, Okay, I admit I was gonna pull the same thing. you beat me to it.
    • by V50 (248015) *

      Heh. That looks quite similar to my grandma's computer before I despyware'd it. Browser wasn't that clogged up, but it wasn't that far off.

      OTOH, she'd managed to get some program that replaced the start button windows logo with some other company's logo. It's sad when the windows start button becomes just another ad.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 30, 2009 @07:15PM (#27395389)
    I know Google is a python shop, but geez, every product having:

    .

    A virtual machine.

    JIT.

    sandboxing

    frameworks

    cross-platform capability

    bytecode (at least for Android)

    .

    Might as well buy Sun, use their IP and re-implement everything in Scala.Then they'll be ready to take over the world.

  • by drolli (522659) on Monday March 30, 2009 @08:27PM (#27396173) Journal

    if an anti-monopoly ruling of some court would help the biggest search engine to bundle their browser preinstalled to consumer PCs.

    • i would find it highly ironic if an anti-monopoly ruling of some court would help the biggest search engine to bundle their browser preinstalled to consumer PCs.

      Why? Antitrust law only applies to bundling that undermines a free market. Even the largest competitor in a given market can bundle without necessarily undermining a second market, if they lack sufficient influence in the market. Google bundling a browser (where they obviously don't have a monopoly) with PC's (where they also obviously don't have a market since they don't even sell them) has little or nothing to do with antitrust law.

    • by reashlin (1370169)
      Welcome to the well thought out world of politics.
  • It *might* have made sense when browsers weren't free, but now that they are, how is bundling a browser with your OS an antitrust issue? Why don't they go after Apple? Why don't they force Microsoft to stop bundling Notepad?

  • TFA only affirms: nothing good can ever come out of corporate environment...
    everything worthwhile is done on a farm, in a galaxy far far away, e.g. V8, Doom, Luke Skywalker...
    On professional side, V8 sucks googles comparing to some other VMs.

  • That stuff is delicious!

1 + 1 = 3, for large values of 1.

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