The Linux on the Web project, which is not technically related to Linux, but shows the principles of the Unix philosophy online

The Linux on the Web project, which is not technically related to Linux, but shows the principles of the Unix philosophy online

Developer Dennis Kane introduced the Linux on the Web (LOTW) project, which is not technically related to Linux, but refers to the principles of the Unix computing philosophy. A test version of the project is available online at linuxontheweb.github.io.

According to the developer, Linux used to be interesting because the expectations were low and the possibilities were high. It was really nice to be part of the online communities that gathered around him. He hopes to bring the very feelings back into the context of web development.

Although this project includes a desktop environment, it is not primarily about that. The main point is that modern browsers now offer a software-accessible file system that exists in a domain-oriented sandbox.

The LOTW project is primarily a way to allow users to use their web browsers in the same way they used their computers before the Internet became commonplace in the early 1990s. Computers are called computers precisely because they allow us to perform general calculations. But due to the high resolution of modern displays and the endless variety of media content, it is sometimes difficult to realize the possibilities that ordinary computing machines offer us.

The author explained that LOTW is technically not related to Linux, which is a special piece of software called the kernel that mediates between application software and computer hardware. This development relates more to the basic principles of the Unix computing philosophy, which emphasizes text-based interfaces, the ability to configure and use small, easy-to-maintain utilities that “do one thing and do it well”, ensuring good interoperability and smooth workflows .

Kane explained that “this thing is a GUI written in JavaScript that allows the user to view and manipulate the contents of the browser’s native private file system (OPFS).”

“Perhaps the most important aspect of Linux is its ability to provide an interface between low-level files located on the hard disk and the application level (the C system call).

The main goal of this project right now is to be able to provide a reliable interface between low-level files located in an isolated programming environment managed by the browser and the application layer (JS call).

Once users start to get used to the idea that the files in their web browsers are as secure as the files on their own systems, we can begin to have a more serious discussion about the specific use cases of the project that might occur.

This should trigger a new evolutionary process, similar to the one that GNU/Linux itself went through in the 1990s,” explained Kane.

According to the developer’s explanation, the first goal of LOTW is to think of it as a very well-designed software layer that mediates between users and files stored in sandboxes supported by their browsers. Only after this goal is achieved, all other capabilities related to specific workflows or applications can be further implemented. Kane invites all developers to contribute to what he says is a great mission.

Currently, the LOTW site does not run in all browsers, it needs mandatory permission to run JS. A mobile version of the project is not planned yet. Regarding the browser inside LOTW, Kane said that the best concept in this direction might be to work on a web socket bridge (e.g. via Node.js) with the “outside world” to offer different kinds of services that might be complicated in a web context. browser through the CORS policy.

Users in the discussion of the project explained that the JSLinux project is suitable for those who want to run Linux in a browser.

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