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The future of the browser in SFOS

asked 2018-12-09 05:23:58 +0200

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updated 2018-12-10 09:31:08 +0200

jiit gravatar image

This question asks how the current bad situation of all native browsers in SFOS can or should be handled and describes the view on it of a returning user.

Current situation: (boring to most as we all know it)

All native browsers are unusable for more than browsing on really basic websites. It is generally very slow. The chance of some of the following problems is high (ordered by their bad impact ascending)

  • many elements are rendered wrong or are hidden.
  • sites showing a none passable error page pointing you to updated your browser.
  • the website does not load at all.
  • the website does not load at all and the whole OS restarts or has to be restarted.

I can just browse on like 50% of my regular websites without a major bad impact. I can't visit some at all and one crashes the whole OS every time.

My history with SFOS to understand my point of view (Just skip; boring for all ;))

I started with Jolla #1. Had much fun as well as bad headaches. For some time it was OK. But because I had problems with the hardware I tried to change to the Intex phone but didn't get it through the customs and never saw any hardware or refund (I knew the risk. I arranged with it). Out of reasons I don't know in detail anymore I changed to iOS. The biggest was obviously the lack of trustable hardware at that point.
I followed the progress of SFOS from a far position here and there.

Now it's already years later I bought Sailfish X and a Sony Xperia X two weeks ago and since then I use it as my only smartphone on daily basis.
I actively read the recent questions, blog posts and the log of the last Sailfish OS open source collaboration. I'll reference that later.

What is / could be the solution we are heading to ?

Most interesting for me was the log of the last Sailfish OS open source collaboration. The browser was the biggest topic which was a nice sign. As much as I liked the positive acting of many community developers I felt daunted about the conclusion of the Jolla statements or those statements that are missing.

Here to tell my current knowledge what will happen:

  • Jolla currently sticks to the gecko engine in the official browser.
  • A QT update to most likely version 5.9 will come at a unknown date. Hopefully in the next few month. It may come with a usable QTWebEngine but no one knows.

... Directly followed by the alarming questions I have:

  • I miss a major sign that the officials know that a mobile OS needs a usable native browser. The only statement I see is ... the browser is open source. Everyone can improve it.
  • If the official browser sticks to the gecko engine there seems to me the need of big improvements in this part.
  • I see a still fairly motivated webcat developer who could add an unofficial usable browser or even help on the stock browser with some changed sign. Where is the needed official help/groundwork. Wouldn't that be a win-win situation?


Regarding Jolla-Together and blog posts I wondered the most about the recent lack of transparency, enthusiastic mood, vehemence to a browser and browser-component everyone is able to use and new users won't be discouraged immediately. Both from community and officials.

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100% agree with you. Stock browser absolutely non functionality.

Ogust Biller ( 2018-12-09 08:12:16 +0200 )edit

We just need a firefox port. This will solve nearly all problems.

ApB ( 2018-12-09 11:52:47 +0200 )edit

We schould support firefox as bprowser engine. Even microsoft is moving his edgebrowser to chromium engine. Firefox support is a must!

Raymaen ( 2018-12-09 12:20:24 +0200 )edit

Quiet pleased with stock webbrowser, major dislikes are no indicator of waiting server answer just after clicking on a link, so it's not known if click was ok (before download is started and progess bar start filling in). Encounter very very few times a phone total frezze and reboot on few particular webpage.

to me browser is a key componant of SFOS as the better it is, the less we have to use theses #@& android apps (:-) !

clementb ( 2018-12-09 13:45:06 +0200 )edit

The browser is my most used app by far. However, I want a descent browsing experience, strongly protect my privacy and don't want to use a Google-dominated engine. Currently my only option is Firefox for Android, as it has a good set of privacy options built-in (block third party cookies, first party isolation), and has support for extensions (o.a. uBlock Origin, Smart Referrer). I use Firefox Sync, which is also private by design, and works very well.

I'd love to see Jolla manages to get a recent Gecko working, and provides at least support for installing add-ons and access to about:config. Power users can then tweak their own configuration.

It would of course be fantastic if Mozilla helps with a native Firefox.

Fuzzillogic ( 2018-12-09 14:25:44 +0200 )edit

6 Answers

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answered 2019-01-12 05:47:15 +0200

flywheel gravatar image

I really love the simple UI of the stock browser, but its handling of the more complex web pages is problematic. It needs an upgrade or a replacement

As I recall, Opera Software is a part of the Sailfish Alliance. Perhaps the answer is to bring in a specialist.

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Gecko 45.8 is coming like it looks from the rpm minimum requirements commit for Sailfish Browser. Still not ideal in terms of security though a lot better than Gecko 38.8. Some guys are working on QtWebEngine afaik. So if Qt 5.9 hits in SailfishOS maybe I am able to upgrade webcat to use WebEngine.

leszek ( 2019-01-12 18:16:01 +0200 )edit

answered 2019-01-11 00:19:31 +0200

tranten gravatar image

I'm not competely sure on the root cause, and if someone can verify I would appreciate. Recently I started running into webpages where I got the error that no common Tls cipher could be selected. It feels to me the native browser does not support new stronger ciphers, which will slowly kill the list of website browsable even more.

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I'd suggest posting this as separate question. Also, could you provide some example addresses to check against?

rozgwi ( 2019-01-11 02:37:57 +0200 )edit

To test the native browser's encryption support, visit sites like and . (I would do this myself, but don't yet own a Sailfish phone. The lack of TLS > 1.0 has killed the usefulness of the stock browser on my Symbian phone by over 50%, so this is a real concern.)

tao101 ( 2019-01-11 04:45:06 +0200 )edit

Interesting: the first site reports TSL 1.2, the 2nd does not.

wosrediinanatour ( 2019-01-11 07:46:53 +0200 )edit

I've also realized it's easy to test. So from the test it does not seem to be a problem. Just thought this might contribute to get a solution to the browser problem, but apparently not.

tranten ( 2019-01-11 12:31:18 +0200 )edit

@wosrediinanatour: In my case both report TLS 1.2, SFOS on Jolla Phone.

Pohli ( 2019-01-12 06:17:42 +0200 )edit

answered 2018-12-27 11:00:42 +0200

2kanaa gravatar image

Note: What ever it would be, useful WebRTC functionality with

would be more than essential nowadays where WebRTC coverage is growing fast.

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answered 2018-12-23 11:36:03 +0200

chappi gravatar image

Just to mention: the Android based Firefox app works very well (also on a old trusty Jolla 1 device). This includes 'all essential add ons' (hehe), search engine config (i.e. kick out google) and synchronization (for e.g. bookmarks).

I agree, that it would be nice to have a better native browser, I also experience broken sites which is frustrating. On the other hand, building a browser is a major affair - just think of the budget of Google/Apple/Mozilla. The limited funds of Jolla are most likely better spent elsewhere.

With this 'answer' my intention is to point out that there is a reasonably good browser alternative now. While I don't like it too much, it works well when I need it, and it is independent of Google (i.e. Play Store is not needed).

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The brave browser also works very well, if somebody fancies a reasonably safe chromium-based browser.

Spark ( 2018-12-23 13:31:27 +0200 )edit

This is great to get a workaround but it remains a workaround. If you cannot get rid of Android why using SailfishOS? Better to look at solutions such as LineageOS.

ron282 ( 2018-12-28 09:12:59 +0200 )edit

hi @ron282: I'm using SailfishOS because a.o. I like its elegance and the (Finnish) producers. For me it's a better workaround to use Alien Dalvik than to switch to LineageOS. But maybe this is so b/c I reduced my 'smartphone consumption' in favor of kindle and notebook and suffer rarely from browser (and other) imperfections.

chappi ( 2018-12-28 14:18:54 +0200 )edit

My weapon of choice is Opera. I really love the Force Zoom option (screw you, web site designers) and automatically fitting the zoomed text to screen width. Firefox works well, too, but I have the feeling that Opera is ever so slightly leaner.

But neither of them are native browsers...

Direc ( 2019-01-12 11:29:39 +0200 )edit

Which one, Opera or Opera Mini?

Pohli ( 2019-01-12 21:19:52 +0200 )edit

answered 2018-12-20 12:14:10 +0200

this post is marked as community wiki

This post is a wiki. Anyone with karma >75 is welcome to improve it.

updated 2018-12-20 16:21:52 +0200

rhodos gravatar image

Just keep in mind!

(I actually think this is an absolute MUST!)

Whatever Jolla picks, it should support WebAssembly. This way C/C++/Rust people can jump on the train and we will have properly running Web Apps. In the not so distant future this can further reduce the impact of not having enough native apps.

Currently supported browsers

And with the current situation it means either:

  • New stock browser port with WebAssembly support
  • Proper Android layer and therefore properly working up-to-date browsers. I can't comment on the implications of running browsers on top of the Android layer and the performance hit.
  • Qt WebEngine 5.12 (since it's LTS) . Not verified, probably supported since 5.10, which is based on chromium v61. Check Status

Few Qt applications with WebAssembly

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answered 2018-12-10 01:05:39 +0200

clementb gravatar image

My phone browsing history is microb which was good at beging due to flash support and was terrible at the end due to no update. I have been using Xperia' android during one month and for one year SFOS. I'm don't remenber a much better experience with android, it was always asking to install apps which i m not doing! so i'm pleased with SFOS as soundcloud, paybyphone ... can be browsed. For now i have managed to not install android app which need google play services.

Browsing experience is for sur not like with a regular pc, in my mind was mainly due to screen size. But i can't say i m not looking for better as have tried other Jolla store browser and had to use a friend phone to book a train ticket once. Thanks to Fuzzillogic, i m now triing Firefox for Android despite all access requested .. to check if it make me change my mind ... would you recommande any website ?

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1 Even though that's an old one and probably not anymore up-to-date, I'd bet that you can spot sites that cause the native browser(s) to crash or misbehave. Just yesterday one site complained that the SFOS stock browser was not compatible with recaptcha, and while Webcat was able to show me the captcha pics, tapping on them had no effect. Sadly it's not that hard to run into a site with problems.

zagrimsan ( 2018-12-10 05:57:27 +0200 )edit

It's true though that some sites are just too heavy for mobile use, and that's not really the fault of a crashing browser.

zagrimsan ( 2018-12-10 05:58:29 +0200 )edit

Captcha seems to be another problem, too. Quite a lot of those non-scientific leisure-reader sites that i.e. FB is well-known for use captchas where the user is asked to copy and paste a long combination of letters within 2 minutes which we cannot achieve because of a missing mark-copy-paste functionality here.

Lutwolf ( 2018-12-21 08:34:39 +0200 )edit
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Asked: 2018-12-09 05:23:58 +0200

Seen: 19,503 times

Last updated: Jan 12