It has been a while since the last update regarding the new web browser being developed for OS/2 and ArcaOS. For those people reading about this for the first time, here is a short summary.

BitWise Works GmbH (hereafter refered to as "BWW") and the Dutch OS/2 VOICE foundation decided in October 2017 that OS/2 and ArcaOS needed a web browser. BWW already ports and maintains a lot of open source projects; by now they maintain more then 260 DLL's which are used to compile and run open source applications on OS/2 and ArcaOS.

A lot of these DLLs have been ported to our operating system solely to keep the Firefox web browser running on OS/2 and ArcaOS. In fact, the last few years BWW has only been able to work on the Firefox browser and not much else. The main reason is that the Mozilla foundation kept making massive changes to the Mozilla products and it was difficult to keep up with them. In addition, in 2017 Mozilla switched to the RUST compiler to build Firefox; we do not have this compiler on OS/2 and it will most likely never exist on our platform.

For this reason the project was started to update the Qt framework on OS/2 and ArcaOS. Qt is a C++ framework that is used to create desktop programs, like an email client, an editor, a video player or a browser. Qt makes it easy to build applications on different platforms like Windows, Mac, Linux and of course OS/2. However, Qt itselfs needs to be ported to OS/2 first, and that is what BWW has been working on for the past 2 years. Currently we have version 5.13 available for OS/2 and ArcaOS (available through the Arca Noae Package Manager).

We need Qt 5 on OS/2 because of one component of the framework: Qt WebEngine. This large DLL contains the core code of any modern webbrowser and is essentially the same engine as used by open source Chromium, Google's Chrome and Microsoft's Edge webbrowser (no, this does not mean the Qt WebEngine sends data to Google or Microsoft; it is an open source project that does not have any vendor backdoors). We will use Qt WebEngine to bring the Falkon browser to OS/2.

An added bonus is that the Qt libraries also enables other developers to port more software to OS/2. For example, Gregg Young from the US uses Qt (see; Elbert Pol from the Netherlands also tests Qt and ports applictions to OS/2 and ArcaOS. However, a large project such as porting Qt cannot be done by volonteers alone; this needs paid developers, such as Dmitry Kuminov from BWW.

We had hoped that the Falkon browser for ArcaOS and OS/2 would be released in December of this year. Unfortunaly, we had some setbacks. In previous postings I explained how complex it can be to port software to OS/2 and ArcaOS; it is not just a matter of compiling the code on OS/2. In some cases new DLLs need to be ported to our platform or updated. This in turn required an upgrade of the available GCC compiler (the program that turns human readable code into machine language) from 4.9.2 to 9.2. BWW also ported this version to our operating system as it was needed for the Webkit DLL. So as an added bonus we have the latest GCC compiler for OS/2 as well. It is expected to take another 1 to 2 months before a beta of the Falkon browser can be released to the public.
(Edit 29th of December 2019: I forgot to mention the orginal ports of GCC are provided by Paul Smedley. BWW reported they tweaked some of the patches and recompiled GCC and tested it).

You should consider Seamonkey and Firefox technically dead on OS/2. More and more websites use the latest HTML techniques and have stopped working or will stop working on OS/2 and ArcaOS. You may already experience websites now that are broken or do not display at all, weird SSL error messages, et cetera.

We need the OS/2 community to contribute to this project. BWW is company based in Austria; only the main developer Dmitry is currently being paid. Silvan Scherrer and Herwig Bauernfeind work free of charge for the company and even put in extra money so Dmitry can work on the project full-time. That is why we need your continued support for this updated browser. It has been a long journey but soon you can use your favorite operating system again with a browser that will work a lot better simply because it is up to date.

While you may not understand all the technicall details you can visit the following page to see how many DLL's are being kept up to date by BWW here:

You can support this important project in two ways:

 * Buy sponsor units through the OS/2 VOICE Foundation at; all proceeding of these
   units will go towards the browser project.
 * Support BWW directly on a monthly basis via Patreon:

On behalf of the OS/2 VOICE board and BWW we would like to wish everybody a healthy and great 2020!

Roderick Klein

President OS/2 VOICE foundation