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Nokia N800 gains a Mozilla-based browser

Jul 19, 2007 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 6 views

A Mozilla-based web browser is available for Nokia's Linux-based N800 Internet tablet. The “MicroB” browser was released last night, by the Nokia-sponsored Maemo community that maintains open source software stacks for Nokia's tablets.

(Click for screenshot of MicroB browser rendering its own project homepage)

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The MicroB browser is based on Gecko 1.9, the same fairly hefty rendering engine that will power Firefox 3.0, when it is released. Thus, MicroB could work with some complex web page features that the lightweight Opera browser does not support– Google maps, for example, according to the project's website.

Standards supported by MicroB reportedly include:

  • HTML 4.01
  • XHTML 1.0/1.1
  • CSS 1.x/2.x and parts of CSS 3.x
  • DOM 1.x/2.x and parts of DOM 3.x
  • Javascript 1.7
  • XML 1.0
  • XSLT 1.0
  • XPath 1.0
  • NPAPI and XPCOM plugin installation
Additionally, the browser is said to support AJAX, modal dialog boxes, mouse-over events, hover styles, tooltips, Flash9, and custom x.509 certificates. Scalable vector graphics (SVG) and XUL were stripped out, however, due to performance and size limitations.

In addition to support for more Web standards, the MicroB release could bring a viable free browser to the Maemo stack. This could help the stack gain traction on hardware platforms for which the Opera browser has not been licensed — Nokia's older 770 Internet tablet comes to mind here, since “Hacker” releases of newer Maemo stacks for the 770 have not included a browser.

The MicroB browser is a 7.8MB download. Once installed, the N800's browser interface, bookmarks, and preference settings remain the same. However, the Gecko engine is used behind the scenes to render pages. A new “engine” menu option lets users easily switch back to the Opera engine.

N800 users now have a choice of rendering engines
(Click to enlarge)

Easily switching browser engines is possible thanks to a new “EAL” (engine abstraction layer). Yet another emerging browser option for the N800 is the community-driven WebCore port, which also supports EAL.

EAL architecture diagram

Along with EAL and the Gecko engine, the MicroB browser comprises:

  • New GtkMozEmbed library
  • Mobile extensions
  • Mozilla components
  • Mozilla optimization
  • Mozilla engine configuration Gtk

GtkMozEmbed function block diagram
(Click to enlarge)

The MicroB browser is available on the maemo project site, here. It requires an upgrade to the 4.2007.26-8 firmware, released last month.

Nokia has long sponsored the MiniMo project aimed at developing a stripped-down, embeddable version of Mozilla.

Henry Kingman

This article was originally published on and has been donated to the open source community by QuinStreet Inc. Please visit for up-to-date news and articles about Linux and open source.

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