Friday, February 23, 2024

New Ladybird web browser: what developer Andreas Kling is planning with his team


Andreas Kling is now planning big things with the free Ladybird browser and would like to expand it into a cross-platform project. In an interview with iX, he explains what he and his team plan to do with the new browser, why they don’t want to allow outside influences, and why it’s the front man for SerenityOS and Ladybird, but not the project itself. a man-I want to see the show understood.

Andreas Kling is the main developer of the Unix-like operating system SerenityOS. He has worked at Apple and Nokia in the past, but has been working full time on SerenityOS since May 2021. He recently live-coded a Linux GUI for Serenity’s LibWeb browser engine.

In our first Ladybird news, we described your browser as a competitor to Google’s de facto monopoly. That was, of course, an exaggeration, but is there anything you would like to do that is technically different than currently available web browsers?

In fact, today we are not competitive and we still have a long way to go. On the technical side, I wish that with Ladybird we focused more on simplicity than performance. Today’s major browsers are incredibly complicated, much more complicated than they need to be. Big companies have poured billions of dollars into their competition for prestigious JavaScript benchmarks that have nothing to do with what 99 percent of websites are actually doing. This has resulted in browser architectures that are complex, difficult to understand, and difficult to secure.

I know this because I’ve been a part of those performance wars myself: When I worked at Apple, I did a lot of stuff in WebKit that was complicated and messy just to improve some benchmarks.

In the Ladybird engine code (LibWeb and LibJS) we try to get as close as possible to the web specs, using the same terminology and replicating the spec algorithms step by step whenever possible. While performance is important to us (and we still have a lot of work to do on that front!), we’re not going to write millions of lines of code just to achieve a 20 percent improvement on some benchmark.

On the non-technical side, I think it would be nice if there was an open source browser engine that could display modern websites but wasn’t funded or controlled by big tech companies. I welcome small donations from some people, but I’m not interested in selling influence on Ladybird to anyone.

Ladybird is not the only alternative to Chrome & Co. Have you tried others like Epiphany, Dooble and qutebrowser? What do you think about them?

Sure, I’ve tried many browsers over the years. For someone primarily interested in rendering engines, all of these “alternative browsers” are basically the same: it’s just WebKit, Blink, or Gecko with a different GUI. I have nothing against these browsers, but they are not very exciting.

You now officially refer to Ladybird as a cross-platform project. What target group do you see for Ladybird in the future?

For the foreseeable future, the target group will be people who want to work at Ladybird. New developers join the project every week. We are not here to attract users or impress venture capitalists. We really just focused on developing the engine and making it work with real websites.

In our first interview you asked the question “Why?” simply with “Why not?” answered. Is that still the answer now that you see Ladybird as a bigger project?

Yes, believe it or not, we still do this for fun! The difference is that we are now taking compatibility with other systems a bit more seriously, so our developers can also use Ladybird on their own machines if they wish.

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Ebenezer Robbins
Ebenezer Robbins
Introvert. Beer guru. Communicator. Travel fanatic. Web advocate. Certified alcohol geek. Tv buff. Subtly charming internet aficionado.

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