Jan 18, 2016

Phoenix OS - Android for x86 Desktop PC with Stardust Browser

While everybody is talking about Remix OS, there is another free Chinese Android distribution for a desktop PC based on Android-x86 called Phoenix OS. It is still in the beta stage, although it should run on most of 64-bit x86-compatible machines. Just write the downloaded ZIP file to a USB drive using USBMaker and boot a PC from it. There is also an ARM version of Phoenix OS and a 32-bit version should be available soon.

Phoenix OS is based on Android Lollipop 5.1.1 and Linux kernel 4.0.9 with support for OpenGL ES 3.0. It runs Android packages (APK) and it has a few of them pre-installed, like Stardust Browser based on Chromium 45 and WPS Office. The rest you can download from Google Play Store, F-Droid, Mobogenie or Aptoide.

Here are some screenshots from Phoenix OS 1.0 Beta:



Main Menu 
Stardust Browser scores 495 points in HTML5 Test

Stardust Browser scores 18035 points in Octane Benchmark

My Computer

Notifications Center

WPS Office

Terminal Emulator
Keep in mind that Phoenix OS is made in China, so be careful with providing your sensitive data. The support forum is in Chinese, but there is a dedicated subreddit in English.

Download Phoenix OS 1.0 beta from EU server

May 21, 2015

Slack is so slow! Here are 5 lightweight open source alternatives

Slack is a popular communication soft bloatware for teams. It allows you to chat with other users, groups and in channels (rooms), like good old IRC. However, the main issue with Slack is that is it way too bloated and loads too slowly. It takes 105 requests, 18 MB of data and 30 seconds to load!

So if you are concerned about your data plan, performance, or security of your business correspondence stored on third party servers, you should consider one of the lightweight open source web alternatives for Slack:

Let's Chat - loads in ~5 seconds:

JabbR - loads in ~8 seconds:

Candy - loads in ~5 seconds:

Echoplexus - loads in ~6 seconds:

Shout - finally a web IRC client, loads in ~5 seconds:

Each of them is open source, so you can install it for free on your private server and keep your internal business communication secure.

UPDATE: There is a new project called Mattermost - check it out!

Feb 19, 2015

Run desktop apps, WebKit and Chromium web browser on Firefox OS!

Firefox OS is a fully open source mobile platform, but it lacks many full-featured apps. Starting from today, RollApp provides full desktop apps for Firefox OS, including LibreOffice, OpenOffice.org, Tomboy, KeePassX and File Roller. The apps are loaded on RollApp cloud servers and are streamed using WebSockets, which make them run smoothly.

You can even run the Web browser, powered by WebKit, which you can start by typing any URL in Tomboy and clicking on it.

The Web browser is really fast, it gets 6568 points in the Octane benchmark.

UPDATE: Now you can run Chromium web browser in Firefox OS! It scores 9677 points in the Octane benchmark.

All RollApp apps can be found in the Firefox Marketplace.

Dec 19, 2014

Google Chrome Data Saver extension leaked

Google Chrome for iOS and Android have been using Data Compression Proxy for a while. This feature has been brought to desktop thanks to the open source Data Compression Proxy extension by niu tech. Now Google is developing its own extension entitled Data Saver (codenamed Flywheel Desktop), screenshot of which has recently leaked:

UPDATE: The official extension is now available in Chrome Web Store.

You can also compare Chrome Compression Proxy with Opera Turbo and Mozilla Janus.

Source: crbug.com

Sep 11, 2014

Chrome Data Compression Proxy vs Mozilla Janus vs Opera Turbo

Most of web browser vendors provide a way to speed up browsing by using compression proxy. Opera has long been known for its Turbo/Off-road mode, Google Chrome has the Data Compression Proxy and Mozilla has recently introduced the Janus Proxy, which you can access system-wide using a PAC file at http://janus.allizom.org.

I have tested onload event times of various web pages using all three compression proxies and a direct 5 Mb/s connection over WiFi on my PC. Total times as well as Numion YourSpeed results are shown below:

Chrome DCP Mozilla Janus Opera Turbo Direct
ZDNet 11.5 s 24.5 s 11.4 s 11.1 s
CNN 14.3 s 20.0 s 12.2 s 10.7 s
BBC 7.3 s 27.3 s 11.7 s 6.6 s
NYtimes 6.5 s 10.7 s 6.1 s 5.6 s
eBay 8.7 s 14.5 s 7.8 s 8.1 s
Amazon 5.3 s 10.6 s 3 s 5 s
Pinterest 7.4 s 12 s 9.2 s 7.3 s
Wikipedia 3.8 s 6.3 s 3 s 3 s
Total 64.8 s 125.9 s 64.4 s 57.4 s
Numion YourSpeed 218 kb/s 119 kb/s 216 kb/s 308 kb/s

Surprisingly, the fastest is a direct Internet connection, but this would depend on your local bandwidth. Opera Turbo and Chrome Compression Proxy go head to head, both using WebP image format. The slowest is Janus, using MozJPEG instead.

Jun 23, 2014

Download Chrome Dev Editor developer pre-release

Chrome Dev Editor is a web development environment running as a packaged app inside Google Chrome. It is based on the open source project Spark developed by Google since November 2013 using the Dart language and Polymer elements. Chrome Dev Editor supports building JavaScript & Dart web apps, Chrome apps, Polymer elements and widgets. It is going to be officially announced at Google I/O 2014, but you can download the developer pre-release version 0.13 below. Keep in mind, that you use it at your own risk.

To install Chrome Dev Editor, you would probably need a developer channel of Google Chrome. Go to chrome://extensions, drag and drop the CRX file there. You will be asked to install the packaged app.

On the first run, the app could hang at a splash screen for a while:

 In the main window, you can click the wrench icon to check the settings:

You can create your new project, deploy it or clone the Git repository using the hamburger icon:

You can run the HTML file using the context menu or the play icon:

Chrome Dev Editor provides code autocompletion and highlighting:

It even provides an integrated web server and supports Web Starter Kit out of the box:

Download Chrome Dev Editor packaged app (CRX)

Disclaimer: This is an unofficial developer pre-release. I am not affiliated with Google.

Feb 26, 2014

Opera 21 features Off-Road mode version 2 with video compression

Opera 21.0.1419.0 web browser for Mac and Windows, based on Chromium 34.0.1825.4, has just been released. This Developer release provides many new features: Aura, a hardware-accelerated window manager, an option to show full URL in address bar, full keyboard support for web apps, and so on.

But the most exciting experimental features are hidden under opera://flags page, namely:
  • Off-Road mode, version 2 - a.k.a. Opera Turbo 2, which uses next-generation servers and protocols such as WebP and SPDY for faster web browsing.
  • Video compression in Off-Road mode - which optimizes video in version 2 of Off-Road mode, using Skyfire Rocket Optimizer aquired by Opera.
  • Speed Dial extensions compositing - which enables hardware accelerated compositing for Speed Dial extensions.
  • Enable lazy session loading - which loads only the active tab when restoring browser session. Remaining tabs will be loaded when activated.
  • Extended lazy session loading - which changes mode of operation of lazy session loading so that all tabs are gradually loaded in the background.
  • Synchronization - a.k.a. Opera Link.
  • Tab hibernation - which tells idle background tabs to hibernate.
  • DirectWrite - which enables smooth font rendering (finally!).
  • Experimental QUIC protocol - which speeds up web browsing on supported servers.
  • HTTPS over experimental QUIC protocol - which enables QUIC for HTTPS.
  • SPDY/4 alpha 2 - which is more up-to-date than SPDY/3.
  • HTTP/2 draft 04 - which is a next-generation protocol based on SPDY.
  • Built-in Asynchronous DNS - which is an internal non-blocking DNS client.
  • Enable Experimental JavaScript - a.k.a. ECMAScript Harmony features, such as proxies, weak maps, sets, maps, typeof semantics and block scoping.
  • Enable experimental Web Platform features - such as CSS Shapes, Canvas Blend modes, Canvas Paths and CSS Clip Paths.
As to performance, Off-Road mode version 2 is faster than version 1. The average measured speed in Numion YourSpeed was 375 kbps vs 301 kbps on a slow network. The video compression works by serving files with content type video/skyfire or video/mp4 from Opera Mini servers.

Download Opera Developer