Why Otter Browser status updates were not published over the last couple of months

Let me first of all say that it has taken too long to send the OS/2 community an update informing you what the status is of the new Qt WebKit based Otter browser.

Updates to the OS/2 community have not been sent out for a number of reasons.

The first is because only three people work at  bww bitwise works.  Silvan Scherrer runs 2 other companies next to bww bitwise works and does the OS/2 work as a labour of love. Herwig has not been able to contribute for personal reasons for a long time. Dmitriy is employed full time and does just about all the development. Silvan Scherrer helps where possible, but has limited time.

The second is that at OS/2 VOICE the funding campaign and writing the newsletters is done by me (Roderick). I perform all OS/2 VOICE work next to my full time job. I have had things happening in my personal life over the last couple of months in 2021 that have prevented me from putting in the time needed to send out timely updates.

When it comes to the development of new Otter Browser, since about August 2021 all funding had dried up at bww bitwise works and OS/2 VOICE.   As a result development of the browser stalled in September 2021.

Current status of the Otter Browser

The current Otter Browser build has been distributed to a limited group of testers. The current build is not sufficiently stable to allow it to be more widely distributed.

A small group of testers got access to the Otter Browser and are collecting the crashes reports.  These are being reported to bww bitwise works via the otter-os2 issues tracker at github.

I have collected some funding from a few loyal sponsors to get the development going again. But we will need more funding to fully stabilize the browser.

Testing indicates that the Otter Browser can access a number of websites that can no longer be accessed with the available Firefox and Seamonkey builds for OS/2 and ArcaOS.

Current expectation is that we will need 1 to 2 months to stabilize the browser so that it is stable enough to release to community.  This is an estimate based on the known issues.   We will have better estimates once debugging resumes.

Development Assistance

I would like to thank everybody who has donated to make the Otter Browser reality. However I would also like to thank Steven Levine for his assistance with providing me and Dmitriy with his advise (Steven is BTW not paid for this work). Steven works for example on the Open Watcom compiler for OS/2 and helps other people to analyze complex OS/2 issues. I have worked with Steven now for close to 20 years. Steven has over 50 years experience in the ICT sector.

People have asked why the development browser has taken so long. Here is his viewpoint on how the development of Qt 5.15 and the new Otter Browser has gone so far:

"Like everyone else, I would have liked for the Otter browser to be available sooner.  However, the Qt5 and Otter browser ports have basically been a one man project, with help other bww bitwise works employees and from the community.  What Dmitriy is doing is porting two large, complex projects that were never designed to run on a 32-bit platform and were never designed to run on OS/2.  IMO, there are few developers that could have accomplished what he has done in the same timeframe.    From what I can see, the browser is close to being usable on a daily basis.  There are already a number of sites, that matter to me, that I can now access with Otter, rather than having to work on another platform."

Dmitriy Kuminov has some comments on the size of the project.

"I would also mention here that Chromium, the web engine used by Otter which is a part of Qt5, contains around 75,000 C++ source files and around 35 million lines of source code.  Then there is the rest of Qt5 which is comparable in size."
The good news is that a lot of this code builds without modifications on OS/2.  The rest needs to be adapted and this takes time to get right.

Need for more sponsorship

Please consider making a contribution on our donation page

Please note currently credit cards are not accepted. Paypal has stopped offering this service in the Netherlands.

Access to the Otter Browser when it's released for public usage

The current plan is that once the Otter Browser is sufficiently stable, it will be released in two versions - a Donation version and a Public version.

The Public version of the browser will display a nag screen on startup and for each tab you open, requesting that you consider making a donation and upgrading to the Donation version.  The Donation version will have no nag screen or other limitations.

Updates to the Donation version will be accessible when they are released by bww bitwise works.  Updates to the Public version may be delayed, depending on available resources.

Until such time as the Donation version of the browser is considered sufficiently stable, the browser will be released as a Preview version.  The first available Preview version will include a variant of the nag screen and it will be set to stop working on May 31, 2022.  Updated versions of the Preview version may change the timeout date. It is expected that this Preview version will be released the general public the in last week of February of the first week of March.

Bug reports will be accepted for the Preview, Donation or Public version until the Donation version is considered sufficiently stable.

Once the Donation version is considered sufficiently stable, bug reports will only be accepted for the Donation version.  This is similar to how bug reporting is handled for other bww bitwise work's ports, such as Apache Open Office.

The Otter Browser port and Qt5 are Open Source projects.  The source code will be publicly available under the terms of the applicable licenses.  The donation pays for access to the Donation version binary or any other available versions of the binary.  The donation funds bww bitwise works continued support of the port.

The donation amount determines how long access will be available.

The current plan is that a 30 Euro donation will provide 12 months of access. This is subject to change.  The goal is for the donations to provide sufficient funding for ongoing development and support.

People who have donated in the past will get immediate access to any available version.   Since the donation amounts have varied, a table will be published indicating how long a given donation will provide access.

Future enhancements to the browser

Currently bww bitwise works is working on porting and enhancing webcam support libraries.  Once these libraries are available and working, if sufficient funding available, it's possible that OS/2 users might get to to use some of the popular web meeting services with audio and video.


This text has been written in cooperation with Dmitriy Kuminov from bww bitwise works and Steven Levine.
If you have any questions please send email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

1. How often are you still able to use OS/2 or ArcaOS to visit websites with your web browser ?
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What web browser are you using on OS/2 or ArcaOS ?
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