The status of the new QtWebEngine/Chromium based browser, update 12

Bitwise works GmbH ( "Bitwise") and the Dutch OS/2 VOICE foundation decided in October 2017 that OS/2 and ArcaOS needed a new web browser. Bitwise already ports and maintains a lot of open source projects; by now they maintain more than 260 DLLs which are used to compile and run open source applications on OS/2 and ArcaOS.

This screenshot is from the 27st of July 2020 from BWW developer Dmitry on his development system:



While this is not the targeted Falkon web browser yet, what this screenshot shows is that the QtWebEngine DLL is loaded by a Qt Web Browser demo application. The new QtWebEngine DLL that the Falkon browser will be using can be found here: http://rpm.netlabs.org/test/Qt5WebCd.7z , unzipped its 350 MB big!

So the DLL is not displaying data via the browser yet. The primary reason this is not yet working is unforseen issues with the toolchain on OS/2.  Our tools are old. With this we mean the GCC compiler and the wlink.exe.  The following issues in 2020 so far had to be addressed to get this new QtWebEngine DLL compiled on OS/2/ArcaOS:

* Needed GCC 9.2.x compiler, QtWebEngine DLL needed the new GCC compiler features (this alone took about 2 months extra). 
* Significant updates to LIBCn DLL, wide character support needed to be added for example.
* More DLLs ported to OS/2/updated to get the QtWebEngine to compile (ffmpeg, icu, libxml, etc).
* Open Watcom Linker WL.EXE had to be updated (and more updates to follow).
* AOUT to OMF converter EMXOMF.EXE used to compile with GCC needed updates (more to follow).

Portions of our toolchain: The GCC compiler and the Open Watcom Linker have never been used on OS/2 for compiling such large DLLs (hundreds of megabytes). The QtWebEngine DLL on a high end system with an Intel i7 CPU and with an SSD takes 12 to 16 hours to compile. The project is huge but also it takes that long because the tool chain needs updating. Compiling the same code on MacBook with a similar CPU takes about 4 hours, updates tools.

Paul Smedley had provided a base line of patches for GCC and Dmitry has expanded and improved these further. Currently Steve Levine is working on updating the WLINK from Open Watcom and other portions of the toolchain to speedup compiling.

As was explained in the Warpstock Europe 2020 presentation done by Dmitry and me (Roderick). Compiling programs on OS/2 is not plug and play like it is on other platforms. The video can be found here, goto 4 hours and 25 minutes, the  BWW presentation starts at this porint.

Once the QtWebEngine DLL is working and displaying the rendered data the new browser will not take long. The reason for this is because the vast mayority of the code of the browser uses is in the Qt DLLs and the QtWebEngine DLL.

These updated tools will now make maitenance of OS/2 ports easier in the future.  But with webkit working we will get access to new applications such as possibly the Teletegram Desktop application and possibly adding webcam video call support to OS/2. And a new mail client long term! But for now we expect Thunderbird to remain functional enough on ArcaOS.  Once we are current with QT we want to stay current also with porting new versions of QT and the QtWebEngine DLL.

Anothe reason this taking so long is because QT had not been worked on on OS/2 for a couple of years! It has taken a lot of work to catch up on the backlog! One projects that proves *if* you keep your port current is the Open Office project!  We as a community can keep our browser then current in the future!

We however need your donations to move forward with this big task!
 * Buy sponsor units through the OS/2 VOICE Foundation at
   http://www.os2voice.org/membership.html#bww; all proceeding of these
   units will go towards the browser project.
* Support BWW directly on a monthly basis via Patreon:

   https://www.patreon.com/bwwbitwiseworks.

We are also selling some unqiue OS/2 items on ebay. Alle money from these sales will be donated to the new browser project. More items will be added tomorow so keep on on this ebay link!

Thank you,

Roderick Klein
President OS/2 VOICE foundation

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