Since starting the SerenityOS project in 2018, my goal has been “to build a complete desktop operating system to eventually use as my daily driver”.
What started as a little therapy project for myself has blossomed into a huge OSS community with hundreds of people working on it all over the world. We’ve gone from nothing to a capable system with its own browser stack in the last 4 years.
Throughout this incredible expansion, my own goals have remained the same. Today I’m updating them a little bit: in addition to building a new OS for myself, I’m also going to build a cross-platform web browser.
If there is one person who can pull off making a web browser and turning it into a successful-enough open source application, it’s Andreas Kling. His work on SerenityOS is simply stunning and inspirational, attracting hundreds of people to work on a ’90s-inspired alternative desktop operating system. If he can organise the same amount of enthusiasm for Ladybird, it has a real shot at becoming a successful, but niche, browser.
For now, it’s very early days, and Kling is open and honest about how much work is still left to do. Since all the code is new – this isn’t a fork or Blink, WebKit, or Gecko – you can imagine this isn’t exactly going to be an easy ride. It’s currently running on Linux, Windows through WSL, macOS, and Android, and Kling states the Linux version if the best tested one.
I’m definitely excited for this one.
Not only has Andreas started the SerenityOS and Jakt programming language projects but he used to work on WebKit / Safari for Apple. He has shown that he can be successful building communities around his initiatives but also he certainly knows what he is getting himself into building a browser and is likely to have a few years of “someday” ideas about it kicking around his head.
There are really only two “usable” browser engines out there and, for whatever reasons, only Chromium is really successfully serving as the base for other projects projects. In addition, neither Google nor Mozilla at this point are the perfect stewards of the perfect Open Source implementation ( in my view ). The world could really use another pragmatic browser implementation. This would be my favourite one in terms of the stewardship model. In general, I am pretty excited for the prospects of this initiative.
Being basically just a reskin on the browser engine used in SerenityOS, this project is guaranteed to have a strong enough base to stay viable with its core technology. It seems like likely that Ladybird will expose the core LibWeb and LibJS ( and other ) Serenity libraries to much wider testing and adoption by a much larger audience. Overall, this is just a really smart move by Andreas ( which is entirely unsurprising given what I have seen of him ).
Ladybird also runs on Haiku.