After much, much development, the developers behind AmigaOS 4 have released the first alpha of Timberwolf, the AmigaOS 4 port of the Firefox web browser. I tried it out on my Amiga, and indeed confirmed that this is very much alpha material.
Thomas and Hans-Joerg Frieden have been working on this one for a while now, and relatively regular screenshot updates have been posted to keep the Amiga community up to speed on development. The time has finally come for every Amigan to try out Firefox.
“We’re finally able to make the first binary release of Timberwolf,” the Friedens detail, “This is going to be an Alpha version, meaning it will be prone to crashing and misbehavior, it will be slow, and not all functionality is implemented yet.”
“Future plans include an update to the latest baseline source code of Firefox (3.7 beta), an Amiga-specific theme, as well as a major rewrite of the rendering code,” they add, “The current version of the rendering code (did we mention it’s an alpha release?) has some conceptual problems that will lead to misrenderings, and massive overdraw (some webpages might be rendered 2 to 8 times, you may notice the window will turn black several times during page buildup).”
I hooked up “my” sam440ep machine (it’s actually ACube’s) running AmigaOS 4.1 Update 2, and downloaded the alpha to try it out. Installation took its sweet time, and especially launching it for the first time took forever. It loaded OSNews just fine, but it crashed all the time. There are graphical remnants too, as you can see in the screenshot.
As you can see, Firefox doesn’t look like an Amiga application at all, but the proposed theme will hopefully improve the integration. Still, I’m not entirely sure why the Frieden brother invested in porting Firefox to the AmigaOS. While I was trying to use the browser, I had painful flashbacks to the days of yore when you were forced to use the terrible Firefox BeOS port. Wouldn’t it have made more sense to invest all this time and effort into improving OWB?
Still, it’s an impressive effort, and everybody is free to do whatever they want, of course. Firefox on Amiga is actually a bounty, so it would appear not every Amigan shares my view.