September 02, 2014

Raspberry Pi Announces Vastly Improved Browser for Raspbian

The Raspberry Pi Foundation, creators of a credit card-sized computer that plugs in to a TV and keyboard, has announced a new browser called Epiphany. To be included on future versions of the company’s Raspbian operating system, this browser is based on one that already exists in the development community, simply called “Web”, from the GNOME open source desktop project. It replaces the “rather venerable” Midori browser with many improvements and additions.

One of the most significant advances is much better HTML5 compatibility. HTML5 is an increasingly important aspect of web pages and thus it is essential that it works well on any browser one chooses to use. The UI is much more intuitive and responsive, with smoother scrolling and improved page load techniques that fix many of the problems the previous browser had under heavy load.

Video playback is another important aspect developers focused on. YouTube (NewsAlert) support has been improved with on-demand loading of embedded videos, which allows the page to load much faster. Videos are now decoded and scaled through gst-omx hardware. The number of memory copies necessary has been reduced and fullscreen playback is much faster through the use of dispmanx (however, a company representative stated that this is still a work in progress).

Various other techniques allow the browser to run much more smoothly. Epiphany has been developed to avoid useless image format conversions and provide tools for better tab management with less detriment to memory and CPU, and startup time is a full three times faster. Also included are JavaScript JIT fixes for ARMv6, a disk image cache and memory pressure handler support.

Raspberry Pi founder and CEO Eben Upton is proud of the intense eight months it took to develop the new browser, saying: “Epiphany on Pi is now a plausible alternative to a desktop browser for all but the most JavaScript-heavy sites.”

The company says Epiphany will be included as the default browser in all future releases of Raspbian, but those who can’t wait can type a few lines of code and get it ahead of time. Details are available within a blog post from Upton on the Raspberry Pi website.

Edited by Maurice Nagle


HTML 5 Demos and Examples

HTML 5 experimentation and demos I've hacked together. Click on the browser support icon or the technology tag to filter the demos.... Learn More

HTML5 GAMES is the largest and most comprehensive directory of HTML5 games on the internet... Learn More

The HTML5 test

How well does your browser support HTML5?... Learn More

Working Draft (WHATWG)

This is the Editor’s Draft from WHATWG. You can use it online or print the available PDF version... Learn More

HTML5 Flip Book

Free jQuery and HTML5 flip book maker for PDF to online page turning book conversion... Learn More