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Google To Replace GTK+ With Its Own Aura In Chrome 240

Posted by timothy
from the your-aura-is-always-with-you dept.
sfcrazy writes "Google's Chromium team is working on an alternative of Gtk+ for the browser, called Aura. Elliot Glaysher, a Google developer explains, 'We aim to launch the Aura graphics stack on Linux in M35. Aura is a cross-platform graphics system, and the Aura frontend will replace the current GTK+ frontend.' The Free Software community is debating: is Google trying to do Canonical? Couldn't Google just switch to Qt, which is becoming an industry standard?"
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Google To Replace GTK+ With Its Own Aura In Chrome

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    Atleast Gtk+ isn't gaining.

  • by LordLimecat (1103839) on Wednesday March 12, 2014 @02:25AM (#46461315)

    Why it really matters whether Google uses QT or GTK or their own stack. I mean for a GDE or distro like Ubuntu, I can see that "make another one" matters because it impacts all sorts of other projects. For Chrome, though, it doesnt really affect anyone else that I can see, and its really just Gnome folks being upset that Google didnt want to use their stack. At the end of the day, isnt it just more work for Google? If theyre happy to do it, who cares?

    And-- though Im not privy to all of the politics-- Ive gotten the impression that the GTK3 folks werent terribly interested in hearing other people's thoughts.

    • Double-post, but why is this in the news now? All of the linked design docs are from Dec 2011. This stuff is 2 years old.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 12, 2014 @02:48AM (#46461385)

        Double-post, but why is this in the news now? All of the linked design docs are from Dec 2011. This stuff is 2 years old.

        It's going live now. The stuff has been experimental for that time, it's just now being pushed into Release builds.

        Fun fact is that Aura is already enabled on Windows, this is why scrollbars, buttons, combos and everything else now looks like shit and are missing usability features that every other scrollbar on the system has.

        • by brunes69 (86786)

          "Looks like shit" is subjective. Personally I feel like Chrome "looks like shit" on Linux compared to Windows and Mac OSX where it has a consistent look. I am looking very much forward to this move. Like many nowadays I live in the browser and spend 95% of my time there. The more it is consistent across platforms the better. It doesn't matter nearly as much that my browser on Linux looks like my Eclipse as it does that my browser on Linux looks and behaves like my browser on Android or Windows or Mac.

          • Really?

            I think that most people don't care about how Chrome works on multiple OS's because they only use one. And for that one, they prefer that app looks and works like apps for that platform.

            And even the people that say, using Windows at work and MacOSX at home, probably would like the two versions to work similarly, but still look and feel like other apps for each specific platform, and not do shit like Adobe and try to make an AdobeOS app that happens to run on Mac or Windows.

    • by williamhb (758070) on Wednesday March 12, 2014 @04:28AM (#46461657) Journal

      Why it really matters whether Google uses QT or GTK or their own stack. I mean for a GDE or distro like Ubuntu, I can see that "make another one" matters because it impacts all sorts of other projects. For Chrome, though, it doesnt really affect anyone else that I can see, and its really just Gnome folks being upset that Google didnt want to use their stack. At the end of the day, isnt it just more work for Google?

      I guess it depends whether their interest in it is limited to "we need something to write Chrome using, and GTK isn't doing it for us any more" or whether they will later be saying "come write apps for Chrome and ChromeOS using NaCl and Aura". Google has taken on their own UI stack -- is their only interest in it really to write just one application? If it is instead another step in the direction of encouraging developers to write apps that only work in Google's browser, that would be interesting to hear.

      But I haven't looked into it closely.

  • It's gonna be fine (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jones_supa (887896) on Wednesday March 12, 2014 @02:37AM (#46461339)
    Qt is my golden standard too, but in case of Chrome, it does not matter much. Go with "Aura" if it makes them happy. I mean, how many UI widgets do you see in Chrome anyway? There's the tab bar, pop-up menu, and some little popup thingies here and there. Everything else is a web page, which is rendered with its own engine.
  • Do Canonical? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by peppepz (1311345) on Wednesday March 12, 2014 @02:39AM (#46461353)
    By saying that, do "the Free Software Community" mean making Linux accessible to many users that wouldn't have dreamt of using it before? Being the first ones to provide a distribution that you can actually recommend to a computer illiterate?

    And then again, why should anyone have a say on what toolkit Google decide to use for their own browser? Did "the Free Software Community" have anything to say when it was slang vs ncurses, emacs vs vim, gtk vs qt, gnome vs kde? No, because exploring alternate solutions is good for the whole community in the long run. Please stop this poisonous attitude of finding "enemies of the people" among people who dare write free software.

    • no, no one has ever had anything to say about emacs vs. vim.

      I am all for exploring solutions and like the linux community as a whole but let us not pretend that flame wars in FSF lands haven't started over less.

  • by msh104 (620136) on Wednesday March 12, 2014 @03:44AM (#46461545)

    To be honest i see this more as a feature than as a problem.
    This will very likely improve the quality of the linux build making it more complete and compatible with the windows build and features.

    Just compare the linux and windows versions of firefox for example.
    They look far from the same.
    And for a big part this is caused by the difference in toolkits used beneath the skin.

    Now i am a big fan of QT.
    But even if they port their own: one toolkit everywhere can only make things better.

    • Re:Why care? (Score:4, Informative)

      by BitZtream (692029) on Wednesday March 12, 2014 @09:02AM (#46462649)

      Firefox is an app that runs on XULRunner. XULRunner uses no native widgets, it has its own widget set and its own interface definition language, XUL. Firefox's entire user interface is written in XUL. The widget set in code is the same for OSX, Windows, Linux, Solaris, and whatever else it runs on.

      The interface only looks different between windows and linux or mac because the default CSS theme for the application is auto detected and selected at startup so the widgets 'look and feel' native, but again - they aren't.

      You can make the widgets look like any OS you want, make it act a lot like most other OSes as well, though some functionality is different such as the file open dialogs and such, which I guess you can count as 'widgets', which are actually native depending on OS/features.

      At Mozilla, there is only XUL - http://www.mozilla.org/keymast... [mozilla.org]

      Seriously though - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/X... [wikipedia.org]

  • Qt? (Score:4, Informative)

    by unwesen (241906) on Wednesday March 12, 2014 @03:52AM (#46461563) Homepage

    "Couldn't Google just switch to Qt, which is becoming an industry standard?"

    It is? I haven't seen evidence of that. Trolltech/Digia have been working on that for a long time, and have in fact gained significant market share, but I don't see many projects outside of the KDE sphere of influence or very specific embedded platforms adopting Qt. In fact, the popularity of entirely new mobile platforms that did not adopt Qt is a great counter-argument (i.e. iOS, Android, ChromeOS).

    Mind you, that's no argument against using Qt - I just don't see evidence of it becoming an industry standard.

    • Re:Qt? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by chaboud (231590) on Wednesday March 12, 2014 @04:07AM (#46461607) Homepage Journal

      I came here to say this.

      I'm quite the fan of Qt, but it's far from an industry standard. HTML5 + wrapper probably has as much, if not more, adoption.

      And, once you use iOS or Android to dev GUI, some modern, convenient, and well-crafted patterns begin to emerge. They're not perfect, but they're nice to use. Honestly, if Google wants to use their own toolkit and publish it as open source, why should anyone complain about that? Some very interesting ideas may come out of it and be brought into other projects. Just as Mozilla's XUL was clearly aped for Microsoft's XAML, open source contributes to the field as a whole, not just one particular project. There's no need to lick the pizza with open source.

      Only the ever-trolling slashdot community could turn Google releasing and dog-fooding an open source project into a bad thing.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        HTML5 + wrapper probably has as much, if not more, adoption.

        Qt does provide a very convenient HTML5 wrapper, though. So that's not mutually exclusive.

      • by gbjbaanb (229885)

        choice is good, but too much choice is bad - imagine if every project rolled its own GUI toolkit :(

      • Mathematica use QT.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Go look what industry software is written in, not just mobile crapware.

      All the big player proprietary softwares are shipped with QT4 anymore. Automotive is also embracing it finally along with QNX... which I suspect will bleed back into smartphones if the market forces allow.

    • Perhaps not "industry standard", but it IS used by several proyects that dominate in their area, and several quite large (lage as in "with a large userbase") projects:

      Skype, Vlc, Teamspeak, Origin, and lots more:
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

    • by T.E.D. (34228)

      "Couldn't Google just switch to Qt, which is becoming an industry standard?" It is? I haven't seen evidence of that.

      On Windows, yes it is.

      My employer, traditionally a very dedicated Microsoft toolchain Windows shop, is currently transitioning to Qt for GUIs. The only option MS really supports these days is .NET based, which means a closed-source vendor is forced to buy some expensive bytecode munging utility if they don't want their code reverse-engineerable back to its sources. Its also damned inconvenient if there's some reason your application needs to be "unmanaged".

      Our alternatives are to go with way obsolete MFC

  • by erroneus (253617) on Wednesday March 12, 2014 @03:59AM (#46461587) Homepage

    Every use of GTK outside of GIMP is a problem. Try running the latest CentOS with GNOME and see if you can run a newer GIMP. You can't. You will have to do all manner of things and you still will not get 100%.

    I have discussed this topic with GTK, GIMP and GNOME projects and at the end of the day it comes back to GIMP/GTK developers. They say GTK is for GIMP. So every developer out there would be well advised not to use GTK any longer.

    • by kthreadd (1558445)

      Every use of GTK outside of GIMP is a problem. Try running the latest CentOS with GNOME and see if you can run a newer GIMP. You can't. You will have to do all manner of things and you still will not get 100%.

      I don't see how this is specific to GTK. If a program depends on newer versions of libraries, then you obviously need the newer libraries.

      I have discussed this topic with GTK, GIMP and GNOME projects and at the end of the day it comes back to GIMP/GTK developers. They say GTK is for GIMP. So every developer out there would be well advised not to use GTK any longer.

      But it's also for a lot of other projects. Gnome is largely based on GTK, and it's commonly used outside the Gnome project as well.

      • by dbIII (701233)

        I don't see how this is specific to GTK. If a program depends on newer versions of libraries, then you obviously need the newer libraries.

        It's far worse than that because they deliberately broke their own naming convention to prevent the older software from running on a newer system and vice versa. They brought something like DLL Hell to linux for the first time.

        • by BitZtream (692029)

          dllhell has always been a problem, you just don't realize it because you hide the process behind a package manager and you update all of your software at once most of the time. Since the repos at the package manager get all the software working together and built, you don't see the problem. Its there. Someone else does it for you.

          Generally doesn't work when you start using closed source apps on Linux, which people in the real world do.

          Or when you need to use an old version of some software and the new ve

    • by dbIII (701233)
      That one is deliberate to try to kill gnome2. Personally I think it should have been implemented differently, and I've got some very rude words and accusations of incompetence ready if I ever meet any of the current gnome team.
      Those donkey fuckers managed to create something resembling DLL Hell on linux for the first time and made us all look bad.
  • It's logical that google wants to use Aura, they want about every technology used to be from their labs, and people bitched at MS for straying away from so called 'industry standards' but Google is much worse at that... And yes, they put it into opensource, but just look how they really keep control over the projects, if you deviate as a company you'll get slapped on the wrist (just look at android)..
    • People complain about Microsoft because they used closed proprietary non-standards software to cement a monopoly position that held back the industry for years. This is still causing problems now with the difficulty of ditching IE6/7/8 and XP and the fact that IE isn't compatible with their own software half the time. Google are nowhere near as bad.

      • by hairyfeet (841228)
        You DO know its possible, even easy, to pull a "EEE" on a project despite it being open source, yes? That being open source isn't a magical "get out of jail free" card, yes? If you haven't read it you might want to start here [arstechnica.com] and please note that despite the fact there is a FOSS fork (ASOP) its quickly reaching the point where the FOSS part will be about as useful as the FOSS on a TiVo since none of the applications will actually run without major rewrites, which of course nobody is gonna do.
  • by DrR0b (3574155) on Wednesday March 12, 2014 @05:41AM (#46461811)
    Why do they need a GUI toolkit at all? Why don't they build the Chrome UI in HTML/JS/CSS?
    • by Chrisq (894406)

      Why do they need a GUI toolkit at all? Why don't they build the Chrome UI in HTML/JS/CSS?

      I wish I had funny mod points!

    • by BitZtream (692029)

      Most of it is going forward, if you read some of the links you'll see that very thing discussed, converting native widgets to WebUI where possible.

  • by lkcl (517947) <lkcl@lkcl.net> on Wednesday March 12, 2014 @06:05AM (#46461855) Homepage

    i've worked with webkit a *lot*. for example, i helped denis with the port of webkit to directfb. in doing the python-webkit (direct) bindings http://www.gnu.org/software/py... [gnu.org] i covered a *lot* of different ports of webkit. here's the summary:

    * when compiling the standard webkit to run on a 400mhz ARM9, the gtk port started up in around... i think it was somewhere around 8 seconds. this was tolerable. it used about 130mb of memory to load a single basic page.

    * when compiling the DirectFB port to run on the same system, it started up in about 3 to 4 seconds, and used about 1 or 2mb less memory. this was great!

    * when compiling the Qt4 port to run on the same system, it took NINETY SECONDS to start up, consumed DOUBLE the amount of memory, and was basically completely intolerable.

    the directfb port basically used an older (revision 1.2) version of the lite toolkit. to say it's light-weight would be an understatement: it's absolutely awesome. qt4 has unfortunately turned into a bit of a monster. gtk by comparison has remained reasonably level-headed, and when it (finally!) has the equivalence of COM's co-classes added to the gobject introspection layer gtk will become highly significant, strategically.

    the only thing that the directfb-lite port lacked (at the time i was involved) was a window manager. this basically meant that you could only have one browser window open, and you had a callback for dealing with console alerts, which you had to then deal with yourself. i _thought_ about doing the same trick that mozilla does (which is most clearly demonstrated in b2g) - namely to implement the windowing system *in* webkit itself, in a high-level language: that would be cool. not many people are aware that firefox's menus including the toolbars and tabs are actually implemented *in javascript* (!), and the main browser "window" is merely a (secure) frame. b2g is an extension of that.

    so anyway, the point is: there are lots of ways this can be achieved. you can implement the window manager externally and treat the browser as an isolated "component". you can go the other route and implement the window manager *using* the browser engine. but the main point is that either way, gtk and qt4 are to be honest complete overkill. it's only when you have things like co-classes built-in to the underlying infrastructure (like COM has) that you get any _real_ flexible benefit from the widget set, and as neither gtk nor qt4 have those, there's honestly really no point having them around.

    • by scorp1us (235526)

      Which version of Qt did you use? There were a few releases that focused on load-time speedups.
      Have you tried it against Qt5? It should be 99% identical, the only change I know you need is to add widgets to the QT line, as Widgets are no longer the default application environment.

      • by lkcl (517947)

        Which version of Qt did you use? There were a few releases that focused on load-time speedups.
        Have you tried it against Qt5? It should be 99% identical

        it was qt4.3 or thereabouts. the problem is that qt does far too much. when you think that lite 1.2 is around an 86k binary and qt4 and qt5 are several tens of *megabytes* you start to understand the extent of the problem. libQtCore is 3mbytes. libQtGui is 11mbytes.

        now bear in mind that when you're doing something like a web browser, all you really need is a font and pixel drawing system (cairo, pango), an input box (liblite), a way to read the keyboard and mouse, and err... it really ain't that complic

        • by lkcl (517947)

          ls -altr /usr/local/lib/*lite*
          lrwxrwxrwx 1 root staff 16 Dec 7 2010 /usr/local/lib/liblite.so.3 -> liblite.so.3.0.5
          lrwxrwxrwx 1 root staff 16 Dec 7 2010 /usr/local/lib/liblite.so -> liblite.so.3.0.5
          -rwxr-xr-x 1 root staff 928 Dec 7 2010 /usr/local/lib/liblite.la
          -rwxr-xr-x 1 root staff 48848 May 3 2011 /usr/local/lib/liblite.so.3.0.5

          i'm sorry - that's 48k not 86k!! liblite is *tiny*.

      • by dkf (304284)

        Which version of Qt did you use? There were a few releases that focused on load-time speedups.

        Compared with the startup time reported (90s!) even a 10x speedup would leave it being SLOW.

        Actually, it sounds like something is critically misconfigured; I can't imagine any situation where a 90s startup is acceptable. Well, not in the last 20 years. (I remember using LispWorks when I started waaay back, and that had that sort of startup time. I dropped that commercial system for a lightweight open source solution and never looked back.)

    • by Teunis (678244)
      Oh that explains a lot!
      Thank you :)
    • by Arker (91948)
      Pardon what may be a stupid question, but does the FB port need X-Windows at all?

      If not just run multiple browser windows using multiple virtual consoles, Alt-F1 Alt-F2 etc switches back and forth. You could have chrome in one terminal, bitchX in the next, editor of choice in the third, and so on.
  • ... there's a fine line between going your own way and jumping the shark.

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