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Gtk 3.2 Will Let You Run Applications In a Browser 184

Posted by timothy
from the never-get-off-the-merry-go-'round dept.
An anonymous reader submits this intriguing tidbit: "Gtk+ 3.2 will let you run any application in a browser thanks to the new HTML5 gdk backend. That means you'll be able to run GIMP, Gedit, a video editor or whatever, remotely (or on the same computer), using a web browser. Just imagine the possibilities!" At this point, says the article, it's only possible with Firefox 4.
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Gtk 3.2 Will Let You Run Applications In a Browser

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  • If it only works with Firefox, then they're not clearly using HTML5 standards. Opera, Chrome and Internet Explorer 9 all have a great support for HTML5. Why is it not working with them? And this is open source project, which should have even more standard support than proprietary software. Or is Microsoft actually better? Do it correctly!
    • Re:Standards people! (Score:5, Informative)

      by francium de neobie (590783) on Thursday March 17, 2011 @02:35PM (#35520076)
      HTML5 is still a draft standard and in common usage it usually refers to a bunch of stuff like an in-browser video codec, WebGL, DOM data storage, canvas, geo location data support, etc. - almost all of which are not uniformly supported across all "HTML5" browsers - and that's especially true for IE9.
      • Exactly. The guy in charge doesn't think that HTML 5 will be a real standard [techrepublic.com] with two complete, interoperable implementations until 2022.
        • by tyrione (134248)
          Ian's the Secretary for the Specification. He's the mediator. The people in charge are the corporations implementing the specification. The spec will be done by 2014. This 2022 is absurd.
          • by gsnedders (928327)

            Up-front disclosure: I've been involved with HTML5 since 2006, and worked for Opera Software since 2009, and (among other things) am QA for HTML/DOM/etc. implementation.

            2022 is far from insane: CSS 2.1 has been under development since 1998, and is yet to reach REC (though hopefully will this year) â" and CSS 2.1 is just a minor update to CSS 2.

            Yes, for most practical purposes the spec will be done long before it reaches REC, but writing a testsuite that is considered complete enough is massively-time c

    • If it only works with Firefox, then they're not clearly using HTML5 standards. Opera, Chrome and Internet Explorer 9 all have a great support for HTML5. Why is it not working with them? And this is open source project, which should have even more standard support than proprietary software. Or is Microsoft actually better? Do it correctly!

      Maybe Mozilla, Apple, Google, and Opera implement different subsets of the "standard" (HTML5 is not what I'd call a standard) and functionality this needs is implemented on

    • by MrEricSir (398214)

      It also requires Websockets, which isn't available in IE (yet?) and is disabled by default in Opera and Firefox.

  • Why exactly? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by vux984 (928602) on Thursday March 17, 2011 @02:30PM (#35520026)

    Why exactly do I want do this?

    And more importantly, can I run firefox 4 in firefox 4 in firefox 4 in firefox 4?

    • by Tiger Smile (78220) <james&dornan,com> on Thursday March 17, 2011 @02:38PM (#35520124) Homepage

      You have answered your first question with your seconds question.

    • by maxume (22995)

      A migration path for simple apps (in either direction, from web to desktop or from desktop to web)?

      • Or using traditional application development tools to build a web app?

        I like the Web, but I have to admit, GUI toolkits tend to be quite a bit better. I don't know how well this would actually work, but it would be nice to develop a web frontend using tools like glade [gnome.org] or QtDesigner [nokia.com] rather than what I do now with Haml [haml-lang.com] and jQuery [jquery.com].

        I'm very skeptical, though -- there are ways the Web is currently better than many desktop apps. Even ignoring issues like bandwidth and performance, would this give me an app which

    • by Anonymous Coward

      I would run the emacs operating system inside firefox 4, and then load firefox 4 again within emacs. Using the inner firefox 4 I would run vim. This is finally a way to give emacs a decent text editor!

    • Why exactly do I want do this?

      Simple really. This is for those of us who run applications remotely for one reason or another. I personally like being able to run GEdit remotely since my server doubles as my homework computer. If this would let me do the same thing from a web browser, so that I don't have to use a separate SSH application then I'm all for it.

    • Does it ever get old stifling peoples creativity?
      I can think of lots of reasons I would like this.
      I have a server at home.
      I would like to edit something at home, from work. That's one trivial example.
      Do you ever get tired of shooting down somebody else's idea just because it doesn't immediately fit whatever is in your head RIGHT NOW?
      Give it a second. Stop to think before you call somebody else crap and maybe just bite your F'ing tongue.
      • by vux984 (928602)

        I have a server at home.
        I would like to edit something at home, from work. That's one trivial example.

        Me too.

        But I already have several remote access solutions. (Remote desktop services, vnc, etc) I'm not sure what advantage this give me.

        I'm not stifling creativity. I'm just not sure what the point is.

        • Yes, you are.
          There's a slight but incredible difference between

          Why exactly do I want do this?

          and "What could I use this for?"
          It's like the difference between "That's crap" and "I think there's a better way."
          You don't think so, but it comes off as block-headed.
          It's negative and derogatory. I'm so sick of negative responses I can barely stand it.

          • by vux984 (928602)

            incredible difference between "Why exactly do I want do this?" and "What could I use this for?"

            I disagree that there is any difference at all. You might have read some sort of negativity there, but take a closer look with an open mind to the idea that there was none. There really was none.

            It's like the difference between "That's crap" and "I think there's a better way."

            I see the difference there, and understand what your complaint is. I just don't think my statement has the negativity you saw in it. Sure

        • But I already have several remote access solutions. (Remote desktop services, vnc, etc) I'm not sure what advantage this give me.

          I'm not stifling creativity. I'm just not sure what the point is.

          The point is that VNC/RDP-like functionality is now accessible to everyone, which is a good thing. When was the last time Six Pack Joe had a properly configured VNC client?

          • by vux984 (928602)

            The point is that VNC/RDP-like functionality is now accessible to everyone, which is a good thing. When was the last time Six Pack Joe had a properly configured VNC client?

            joe six pack would "Windows Remote Desktop" by clicking it in the start menu, and entering the ip address to connect to.

            The reason most joe-sixpacks don't is because they need to enable the RDP server, tweak the firewall rules to let the incoming connection, and know a bit about tcpip to find their address and/or register dynamic-dns name

            • Short-sightedness doesn't get old in Slashdot, does it?

              Jose Sixpack can easily connect to a remote server, regardless of who set it up. This means that this can be commercialized to provide remote services (i.e., teh cloud) to Joe Sixpack. Imagine being able to connect to a real Libre Office app instead of the severely limited Google Docs.

              If you think about it, connection via RDP is already commercialized (i.e., Amazon EC2) but it still requires the user to set up a client. Being able to connect via
        • by Tumbleweed (3706) *

          I'm not stifling creativity. I'm just not sure what the point is.

          And everyone knows rock attained perfection in 1974. You're messing with his Zen thing, man.

      • by epyT-R (613989)

        just because something can be done doesn't mean it should be. in this case, a 'cloud' centric computing future does NOT look like this utopia you speak of solely out of YOUR convenience.

    • by tlhIngan (30335)

      And more importantly, can I run firefox 4 in firefox 4 in firefox 4 in firefox 4?

      You can already, though I haven't tried it on 4.

      Just use the following URL:

      chrome://browser/content/browser.xul

      Do it in a new tab and that tab will act like a new Firefox window (in a tab) with its own tabs and your plugins.

      It works because Firefox is really just a XUL runtime...

    • by hey! (33014)

      Well, it looks to me like one of those situations where you apply the DRY principle to your design, and suddenly realize that the uncoupling of assumptions has created some surprising, oddball ways of using your code. Whether or not actually doing those things is sensible, you've got to code up some demonstrations just to show how successful your refactoring is.

      Another way of saying this is that some people ask, "Why should the system be designed to make this possible?" Others ask, "Why should the system

  • by radtea (464814) on Thursday March 17, 2011 @02:31PM (#35520040)

    Can't... I'm too busy imagining the performance...

    • by Spritzer (950539) *
      Yeah. I can't wait to run AutoCAD Mechanical in Firefox over a 256kb/s connection from a hotel in Malaysia. That's going to be amazing. Why, I won't need anything but a XOOM for all of my mobile computing needs.
  • by dodobh (65811) on Thursday March 17, 2011 @02:39PM (#35520146) Homepage

    X over HTTP?

    If you thought remote X was slow, imagine the performance.

    • by skids (119237)

      Save your breath. Inventing new standards and then running emulations of old standards over the new standard, or emulating the new standard over the old standard, is the bread and butter of 90% of the programming workforce. The more the new standards suck, actually, the better -- more work to do. It's a jobs program, I tell ya. And so much less challenging then actually learning the math needed to make something truly innovative.

      That aside, this particular hack is actually potentially useful going forwar

      • by epyT-R (613989)

        still a bloated mess. X11/vnc/ms remote desktop et al are far superior for this than some stupid html/gtk wrapper. what will they think of next? oh wait, I know, they'll use some trendy half-interpreted half compiled language to code this in, increasing the bloat and slowness by multiple factors.. yuck. the stacks the industry is building these days are disgustingly obtuse... and all for the sake of moving execution control away from the consumer (so he can be charged over and over).

        • You seem to think this is some kind of X server implemented in the browser. It is not. You *could* read up a bit on what it is before evaluating the technology... What you wrote only shows you have no idea what this is, really.
    • By posting that you have only proved that you simply have no idea how this works, or even what the architecture is.
      • by dodobh (65811)

        In terms of effect, what's the difference?

        Running applications remotely with the display local? That's what X *does*.

  • by roman_mir (125474) on Thursday March 17, 2011 @02:51PM (#35520314) Homepage Journal

    this opens a possibility that even the modern, newest computers, with gigabytes of RAM and multiple processors/cores won't be enough to do a basic thing without nearly hanging the entire machine.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Whats hardware innovation if you can't make ludicrously inefficient use of it?

  • "Just imagine the vulnerabilities !"
    This seems like the same sort of thing that gets Windows into trouble all the time (Flash in Excel for example).
  • Why would I want to run something like Gimp in a browser, when I can just run it regularly?
    • Some reasons that come to mind:

      1) Your'e not at home/wheever the app is running. You're someplace else and wanr to run it remotely. Think home security applications, programming your DVR, etc).

      2) You can't run it regularly because you don't have access to the computer it's running on. Maybe it's running in the cloud.

      3) This is just another way of building highly interactive web pages. Beats the crap out of AJAX. Google could rewrite GMail as a linux app rather than using web technologies, and you'd not know

    • by lennier (44736)

      Why would I want to run something like Gimp in a browser, when I can just run it regularly?

      Because if you embed anything in a browser it automatically becomes a "web app" and you can charge for it, hold the data hostage, raise the prices whenevery you want, and yank access if the users complain.

      Search your feelings. You know it to be true.

  • So the app is generating an HTML5 based web page that you serve to the remote browser? I'm not up-to speed on HTML5, so how does this handle the application "pushing" screen updates to the browser?

    • by robmv (855035)

      WebSockets: allows any web application to open a direct connection to a server (by default following the same origin restrictions) and it works only in Firefox because it is a nice hack/experiment and it is not targeting to be released on GTK 3.2. For those asking, it only works on Firefox NOW because the developer is just experimenting at the moment, using disabled by default WebSockets implementation in Firefox 4 (disabled on Opera too until the spec is more mature).

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 17, 2011 @03:10PM (#35520602)

    More accurately, GTK 3.2 will let you take a GTK program running /outside/ the browser and, assuming it does not use anything X11-specific, forward drawing as gzipped data: URIs to your browser which then assembles things in a element. It's basically a poor reimplementation of a VNC that only works in GTK. Significantly more interesting would be a GTK that draws with PPAPI and runs in NaCl, which would allow you to develop a web app using GTK, deploy it on the web, and run it (safely) within your browser.

    • by tyrione (134248)

      More accurately, GTK 3.2 will let you take a GTK program running /outside/ the browser and, assuming it does not use anything X11-specific, forward drawing as gzipped data: URIs to your browser which then assembles things in a element. It's basically a poor reimplementation of a VNC that only works in GTK. Significantly more interesting would be a GTK that draws with PPAPI and runs in NaCl, which would allow you to develop a web app using GTK, deploy it on the web, and run it (safely) within your browser.

      Two thumbs up for being knowledgeable on the subject.

    • Yeah, someone doesn't understand the difference between a GUI toolkit and a browser. I doubt Gtk+ 3.2 includes a C->HTML5 transcoder.

      Anyone want to write a Gaussian Blur filter in ECMAScript, and run it on a four-million-pixel, 4-channel raster image?

    • Significantly more interesting would be a GTK that draws with PPAPI and runs in NaCl, which would allow you to develop a web app using GTK, deploy it on the web, and run it (safely) within your browser.

      I agree that running a GTK app entirely clientside would be very interesting. There is another way to do that: Compile a GTK app from C to JavaScript using Emscripten [emscripten.org]. (I wrote Emscripten, sorry to plug my own project, but I'd be thrilled if someone used it to do something like this!)

  • I would really enjoy having a "screen" tool for my GUIs sessions.

  • Java applets!
    • by robmv (855035)

      WRONG, it is a web based VNC like utility, done at the GUI toolkit level. the apps runs on the server. Probably not useful for many people, but a modern replacement of the X protocol that can be made efficient at the toolkit instead of sending bitmaps all time like VNC do, and web enabled is something cool for remote administration for example (if done securely)

  • Sounds good and all, but this just sounds like it will enable more "Software as a Service [bluehome.net]", or at the least make a quick and dirty kludgey GUI. I would rather see it done better myself. But I guess to each his own, unfortunately.

  • Oh how wonderful to see this technology foretold so long ago [michaelv.org].

    Hmmm, there used to be the same thing for Window Maker, but I can't find it anymore.

  • http://www.qdb.us/305324
    <Pomax> 20 years from now, someone is going to have the radical idea to give users access to the underlying OS, rather than to the browser API, and he will be heralded a revolutionary.
    <Pomax> All manner of programming languages will pop up that work outside "the browser", giving access to "offline" applications, storing files in "user space", even perhaps running in something called "kernel mode".
    <Pomax> It'll be a brave new world.
    <Mirell> It's scary that's be
    • That has already happened, at least on the mobile front. Take a look at PhoneGap [phonegap.com].

      You can expect the APIs on this kind of thing to become standardized in a few years.
    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      ...and then Apple will abandon the idea of forcing people to write all phone apps as a web app, and then Android will feature an NDK designed to make it as easy as possible to get your code running right under the kernel... ...except it didn't take two years, let alone 20, it was more like two months. So that actually never came to pass and that particular wag was amusing but nothing more.

  • Just as I thought my computer was running basic office and email tasks too quickly, more abstraction layers \o/ Thanks, generation of developers who don't know about ports other than 80~
  • It said 'please upgrade to a modern HTML5 compliant browser', (I'm using firefox 4 RC) then it linked to safari. For fuck's sake, why does the site not detect that I have no 264 support and automatically start the webm video, which is available?

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