Browsix brings UNIX to Web browsers

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To let de­vel­op­ers build ap­pli­ca­tions with­out in­stalling any bulky soft­ware, Browsix has emerged as a one-stop so­lu­tion. The frame­work of­fers the essence of UNIX to en­able Web app de­vel­op­ment on any com­pat­i­ble sys­tem, ir­re­spec­tive of a par­tic­u­lar build or ver­sion.

Browsix comes as a JavaScript-only frame­work to pro­vide de­vel­op­ers with ex­ten­sive JavaScript run­times for C, C++, Go and Node.js. There is also a POSIX-like shell that eases app de­vel­op­ment.

Ini­tially de­vel­oped as a re­search project by the PLASMA lab at the Uni­ver­sity of Mas­sachusetts, Browsix has the ca­pa­bil­i­ties to con­vert a client-server ap­pli­ca­tion to run com­pletely in a browser. It has a TypeScript ker­nel be­hind the scenes, along­side the run­times for open source lan­guages such as C, C++ and Go.

“The core of Browsix is a ker­nel that con­trols ac­cess to shared UNIX ser­vices, which in­clude the shared file sys­tem, pipes, sock­ets, and task struc­tures, live in­side the ker­nel, which run in the main browser thread,” the Mas­sachusetts Uni­ver­sity team com­pris­ing Boby Pow­ers, John Vilk and Emery D. Berger, wrote in a de­tailed re­search pa­per.

Browsix en­ables de­vel­op­ers to in­te­grate a Me­meGen­er­a­tor-like meme server into the browser with no code mod­i­fi­ca­tions. Ad­di­tion­ally, there is a need to mod­ify the ex­ist­ing HTML code to load and ini­tialise the Browsix JavaScript li­brary.

De­vel­op­ers can con­vert their ex­ist­ing Web ap­pli­ca­tions for Browsix us­ing a process that com­piles the code to JavaScript, stag­ing the files re­quired by the ap­pli­ca­tion to place in the in-browser file sys­tem, and then adding set-up code to the core HTML file.

The Browsix code can be ac­cessed di­rectly from a GitHub repos­i­tory. It also in­cludes the nec­es­sary li­cence files and doc­u­men­ta­tion.

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