Monday, February 18, 2008

A distro based entirely on Firefox derivatives?

About six weeks ago I was on vacation, lamenting gOS 1.0's impotence, and playing around with the idea of a distro based entirely on Firefox derivatives as a decent alternative ... since there are so many spin-offs these days. Just as a test, I fired up a virtual machine and put up a minimal installation of Ubuntu, added XFCE 4.4, trimmed it down, then set about trying to get all my bases covered with browsers. The application choice ended up looking like this:

  • Internet
    • Firefox
    • Flock, the social browser
    • Miro, as default torrent client
  • Graphics
    • Miro, as a browser for many photo-sharing services
    • Flikr Uploadr
  • Office
    • Google Apps
    • Thunderbird
    • The Lightning extension for Thunderbird
    • Possibly Sunbird if Lightning didn't work out
  • Sound and Video
    • Songbird, the music player
    • Miro, as default video player
On the surface, this looked like a workable system for a normal user, but the programs are each using their own XUL and XPCOM libraries at this point. Once FF3 comes out and the applications catch up to it, we should have a single set of shared libraries for the programs, making the system have much lower requirements. If I can get the SymphonyOS2007b code, which uses FF as the actual desktop, from Ryan Quinn and get that backend on FF3, there may really be something there. We'll see.



Never thought about before. But most of them aren't Firefox derivatives but based on the runtime environment that Firefox runs on (XULRunner). Wiki it. :)

Also, there's Joost for streaming video and Instantbird for IM, but it doesn't seem very far along.


Yeah. I'm familiar with XUL, having tried to learn it some six years ago, but the API was so unstable that none of documentation was correct. This was before there was Phoenix (a.k.a. Firebird, a.k.a. Firefox).

Whether the Mozilla projects took Seamonkey (with XUL interface) or Firefox (forked from Seamonkey and with interace written in XUL) hardly seems to matter. They all use the same language and renderinglibrary, which will soon be split out ind sharable.

Once that happens, the memory footprint will be fairly small.

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