January 07, 2014

Raspberry Pi Releases HTML5 Browser for Mini-computers

A new HTML5-capable browser was released by Raspberry Pi, a United Kingdom not-for-profit dedicated to providing small, inexpensive computers for children to learn computer programming.

It’s a big step for an organization already trying to shake up the computer education world with their $25-35 mini-computers, which are designed to plug into a TV and a keyboard.

While still in beta, the browser — called “Web” — reportedly supports multi-table surfing, ARMv6-optimized 2D rendering and accelerated image and HTML5 video decoding. Updated releases of the company’s Raspbian operating system will include the new browser.

“Most of the work that has been done so far, over and above porting Web to Raspbian, revolves around memory footprint optimizations to support a usable number of tabs on the 512MB device without swapping,” the organization said on its website. “We haven’t finished the various acceleration tasks yet, so you’ll have to wait until the New Year to see a version which uses OpenMAX pipelines for media decode and has additional Pixman and Cairo assembly language fastpaths.”

That’s pretty heady stuff for the organization’s credit-card sized motherboards, which were developed to teach the finer points of computer programming in schools.

The Raspberry Pi device itself can be used in electronics projects, and a quick search of the company’s blog reveals a slew of people using it to do everything from make robots to taking pictures from the stratosphere.

The simplicity of the device lends itself to creative applications that might spark the imaginations of young computer programmers, inspiring more of them to expand their skills. The new browser is another step towards that goal.

According to the organization, the devices are capable of performing basic computing functions of a PC, including spreadsheets, word-processing, games and high-definition video.

Raspberry Pi developed the browser over the last few months with the help of Collabora, a group of open source consultants.

Because the browser is in beta, Raspberry Pi recommends backing up your SD card before trying it out.

Edited by Cassandra Tucker


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