Today the Raspberry Pi Foundation announced a new model of the Raspberry Pi!
While the new Raspberry Pi looks almost identical to the previous one, it’s much more powerful (and with four cores instead of one) and costs just $35.
Here at Collabora we have worked together with the Raspberry Pi Foundation on optimising WebKit for the first Raspberry Pi, achieving a good browsing experience (notwithstanding hardware limitations) with smooth 720 videos, good responsivity, etc.
Despite this work, a lot of web sites are just incredibly heavy and don’t run too well on the RPi1, so the extra CPU power is very useful. Just look at this video to see the difference in performances between the two Pis.
As I previously mentioned, Collabora has been working with the Raspberry Pi Foundation on various projects including a web browser optimised for the Raspberry Pi.
The browser is based on Gnome Web (Epiphany) using WebKit 1 (i.e. the non-multi-process version of WebKit).
Our main achievements are:
More responsive UI and scrolling, even under heavy load (like when loading a page)
Progressive tiled rendering for smoother scrolling (as mobile browsers do)
Startup is three times faster
Avoid useless image format conversions
Better YouTube support, including on-demand load of embedded YouTube videos to make page load much faster
Thanks to all the people at Collabora that, at some point or another, helped on this project: Julien Isorce, Emanuele Aina, ChangSeok Oh, Tomeu Vizoso, Pekka Paalanen, André Moreira Magalhaes, Derek Foreman, Gustavo Noronha, Danilo Cesar, Emilio Pozuelo Monfort and Jonny Lamb (I hope I haven’t forgotten anybody!).
Also thanks to the Raspberry Pi Foundation, and in particular to Eben Upton, for their commitment to making browsing on the Pi better, and to Ben Avison for his work on optimising pixman and libav for ARMv6.
Update: people have reported a few bugs since the release, in particular a problem with Raspbian configured to use 24-bit or 32-bit mode for graphics. We should be able to fix this in a week or so.
Another problem is that Vimeo videos stopped working. This seems to be due to a change made by Vimeo that broke playback also on other browsers and on Android.
In the last year or so, Collabora has been working with the Raspberry Pi Foundation on a web browser and on Wayland. See Daniel’s and Pekka’s blog posts about their Wayland work.
To make Wayland on the Raspberry Pi actually usable, we needed a shell, but lightweight desktop environments (like LXDE) don’t support Wayland and normal desktops (like Gnome and KDE) are just too heavy.
This meant we ended up writing our own shell based on Tiago Vignatti’s gtk-shell, so Maynard was born!
Maynard is far from complete, but it’s already starting to take shape nicely. Its goals are to be functional, light and pretty, so it will never see some of the features one might expect from Gnome or KDE for instance.
The main current limitations are:
No XWayland support, so non-Wayland applications cannot run (issue #1).
GTK applications take too long to start (issue #2).
Active apps are not shown in the panel (issue #3).
No configurability (issue #7). I hope you like the background from kdewallpapers we use as you cannot change it for now 😉