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Potential native browser to adopt for SailFish

asked 2019-01-27 04:58:08 +0300

DrDweeb gravatar image

updated 2019-01-27 10:54:20 +0300

Filip K. gravatar image


I have used the PaleMoon browser on Windows, Linux and macOS for many years and it is my preferred browser.

There is an Android version that is no longer updated and has fallen behind, however it still works good enough to use for evaluation purposes on the current SFOS. I think it is a pretty good mobile implementation, and would make an excellent native browser for SFOS.

You can read all about it here at and download the various versions.

I am not a coder and have no idea the effort involved. Someone might want to investigate.

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Thank you, I was thinking of writig this from a long time. And BTW if you prefer you can also build current SFOS browser based on UXP repo (instead of using Pale Moon directly). UXP repo has support of latest web standards and is taken from the code before Mozilla jumped a silly train.

addydon ( 2019-01-27 05:51:28 +0300 )edit

The address is

rasmarc ( 2019-01-27 08:13:35 +0300 )edit

I think that any browser other than Firefox or Chrome would lead to a dead-end.

wosrediinanatour ( 2019-01-27 11:40:08 +0300 )edit

... and the current browser isn't? PM has been around a long time and forked before FF went off the reservation. The Android version looks OK and is probably a better browser than the default. Just my opinion

DrDweeb ( 2019-01-27 12:10:39 +0300 )edit

Thanks for fixing the link, brainfade on my part.

I do not have the skills necessary to build Basilisk or anything else for that matter. It should be pretty straight forward for Jolla's folks though.

DrDweeb ( 2019-01-27 12:13:24 +0300 )edit

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answered 2019-01-27 12:47:34 +0300

DaveRo gravatar image

The main problem, whether you use Palemoon, Firefox, or Chromium as a browser 'engine' is to make it work with the SFOS GUI. The current SFOS browser uses a long-discontinued Mozilla technology called 'embedlite' to interface Firefox's old gecko engine to QT. That approach might work with Pale Moon which is also gecko/ XUL based - I wouldn't be surprised if Jolla has considered it.

The PM4A (Pale Moon for Android) project was abandoned because it required too much effort to support a fast-moving target. SFOS isn't fast moving - perhaps PM4SFOS could work if Jolla supported it financially.

But it would be a risky strategy for Jolla to depend on the Pale Moon project for a browser engine. Unlike Firefox or Chromium the developers might just stop updating it - keeping up with browser standards is expensive. And the SFOS implementation of Firefox via embedlite has lost some features - such as XUL addons, which is what many people like about Pale Moon. (Even basic browser features like :visited pseuclasses don't work.) So I suspect it would require a lot of effort by Jolla to update embedlite.

So technically - maybe. But a risky strategy and another potential dead-end IMO.

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How much of PM/Android is actually Android dependent? The versions for OSX/Windoze/Linux are all remarkably similar while the smaller screen format dictates something different for a mobile device.

I am genuinely curious what made the PM/Android hard to maintain aside from manpower?

The current SFOS browser seems to have already achieved its use by date and has existed for how many years? Would a port of PM/Android have a similar life expectancy?

DrDweeb ( 2019-01-27 13:56:44 +0300 )edit

If you look that way, even SFOS is a dead end mobile OS. Projects like Sailfish and Pale Moon exist because of community and people willing to use them. And they will exist for longer if similar minded communities collaborate.

addydon ( 2019-01-27 14:35:59 +0300 )edit

@DrDweeb Here's what Moonchild wrote at the time:

Mozilla had to rewrite the Fennec GUI as native Android to make it fast enough. Don't underestimate the differences between a mobile browser and a desktop one - the 'engine' is only part of it.

@addydon True. Maybe by supporting SFOS the Pale Moon team will see a bright future - as an alternative mobile browser ;) And, yes, PM might well outlive SFOS - or Jolla, anyway.

DaveRo ( 2019-01-27 15:16:32 +0300 )edit

OK. I did some more reading over at PM forums. PM/Android interface is based on FF Android which is Java, I can see the issue for PM and why the Android version is not actively maintained. Last version is here for anyone who is curious.

DrDweeb ( 2019-01-29 14:46:54 +0300 )edit

Why not upgrading Qt and rely on QtWebEngineView for the next Sailfish browser? Qt version 5.12 is based on Chromium 69. Since Sailfish is already using Qt for applications, it makes sense to get an up to date engine. Chromium 69 is from Sep 2018.

ron282 ( 2019-02-10 19:02:30 +0300 )edit

answered 2019-01-27 12:57:11 +0300

Fuzzillogic gravatar image

I downvoted. Mozilla puts a lot of effort in hardware accelerated rendering, multithreading, security, wayland support, which I think is more important on mobile than having XUL/XPCOM support.

Also, and perhaps even more important, add-ons written for WebExtensions are cross-platform, whereas the older add-ons would have been adapted or written specifically for a platform if I'm not mistaken. Thanks to WebExtensions, despite their limitations, I can now use the same extensions on Firefox (for Android) on mobile as on desktop.

I'd also love to be able to use Sync, which does not seem to be available on Pale moon.

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You seem to be misguided. And yes, Pale Moon supports sync, that too a much more secure implementation than Mozilla's.

addydon ( 2019-01-27 13:49:01 +0300 )edit

@addydon, please elaborate. From the release notes I gather there indeed is a sync, but they are swappig Mozilla's for their own version. That would require Pale Moon on other devices as well? Also from the release notes: "Added notifications to inform users about WebExtensions not being supported if they try to install them".

I'm not against Pale Moon, I just rather see SailfishOS tracking Firefox development instead.

Fuzzillogic ( 2019-01-27 16:11:42 +0300 )edit

The PM code follows FF pretty closely where it matters, it differs on usability/UI areas mostly,

DrDweeb ( 2019-01-27 19:48:45 +0300 )edit

PM doesn't have Quantum, and I guess it won't have WebRender. I'm not sure if it even can follow Firefox closely.

Fuzzillogic ( 2019-01-27 20:30:59 +0300 )edit

You missed the point. Of course Firefox has a better engine and is a better browser in general, but that's not the point.

Firefox is moving way too fast for Jolla to keep up with it, hence we're stuck with outdated browser based on Firefox 38. Pale Moon is development process is much more conservative, so it would be easier to keep a browser based on it up to date.

xenu ( 2019-01-27 21:19:44 +0300 )edit
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Asked: 2019-01-27 04:58:08 +0300

Seen: 722 times

Last updated: Jan 27