×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Canonical Unveils WebApps For Ubuntu

timothy posted about a year and a half ago | from the dislocation-dislocation-dislocation dept.

Software 61

nk497 writes "Canonical has revealed a system to make web apps behave more like native applications in Ubuntu. The Ubuntu WebApps feature will 'allow applications that normally run in the web browser to have some functionality outside that browser, within the Ubuntu desktop,' product manager Pete Goddall said. Basically, sites can be pinned to the launcher — which sounds a bit like IE9's pinning system, but WebApps can also interact with the OS, displaying notifications for new messages in Gmail, interacting with Last.FM via Ubuntu's sound controls, and when right clicking on photos, including Facebook as an upload option. WebApps will land in 12.10 in October, but there will also be an add-on version for people staying on long-term support version 12.04."

cancel ×
This is a preview of your comment

No Comment Title Entered

Anonymous Coward 1 minute ago

No Comment Entered

61 comments

What could possibly go wrong? (5, Interesting)

Animats (122034) | about a year and a half ago | (#40701857)

Did those guys just re-invent Active-X controls?

Re:What could possibly go wrong? (1)

Danzigism (881294) | about a year and a half ago | (#40701883)

It sure sounds like it. Sounds like an awesome way to make malware too.

Re:What could possibly go wrong? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40701949)

This is the way computers should work. It's just up to somebody to find a way to make it work without the malware.

Re:What could possibly go wrong? (1)

mcgrew (92797) | about a year and a half ago | (#40703519)

But it does sound like a good way to get me to switch from kubuntu to Mandriva.

Re:What could possibly go wrong? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40701923)

Yup,Back to the future all over again where your computer can be hijacked entirely through one web page and when it dies again it will simply rot and become a festering stangnant cesspool for malware. RIP Ubuntu you used to be cool, now your 90's Hipster Microsoft.

Re:What could possibly go wrong? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40702403)

Have you ever even used Ubuntu?

Re:What could possibly go wrong? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40701971)

As long as it can't change any file except from temporary storage and settings files of its own, everything is fine.

Read permissions. Well, yeah, that's another problem altogether.
But people make those same decisions every day when they install an extension that has possible access to all their history and so on.

Re:What could possibly go wrong? (5, Informative)

skippy13 (174383) | about a year and a half ago | (#40702027)

Did those guys just re-invent Active-X controls?

No. Whereas Active Desktop was a deep integration of the browser into the desktop shell, Ubuntu Web Apps is a collection of Firefox plugins. Each supported site requires its own plugin. Sure, there's still an opportunity for malware and exploitation, but the scope is significantly different than what Active Desktop offered.

Re:What could possibly go wrong? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40702401)

Sure, there's still an opportunity for malware and exploitation, but the scope is significantly different than what Active Desktop offered.

Sure--in much the same way that getting punched in the face is is a significantly different scope than getting punched in the balls. Regardless, both scopes are a bad idea.

Re:What could possibly go wrong? (1)

Decker-Mage (782424) | about a year and a half ago | (#40708383)

Actually this is far closer to Microsoft Windows Sidebar Gadgets, especially in the security arena. Watch where you get those plugins from!

Watch where you apt-get any software from (1)

tepples (727027) | about a year and a half ago | (#40712013)

Watch where you get those plugins from!

Watch where you apt-get any software from. This is the same whether the software is packaged as .deb, .apk, dmg, .msi, .exe, .rpm, or .tgz. But anything in the default repositories will have been vetted by at least the Masters of the Universe [ubuntu.com].

Re:What could possibly go wrong? (4, Informative)

MrEricSir (398214) | about a year and a half ago | (#40702031)

Did those guys just re-invent Active-X controls?

I'd ask "How did you come to that conclusion after reading the article," but we both know you didn't read it.

This feature doesn't let websites run native code on your machine. Try it yourself [omgubuntu.co.uk] and see.

Re:What could possibly go wrong? (1)

idontgno (624372) | about a year and a half ago | (#40704749)

This feature doesn't let websites run native code on your machine.

Well, that's CLEARLY enough. Because we all fully know and understand that non-native interpreted code can never EVER break out of its sandbox and run native shellcode. Never. [sans.edu]

How about.. (0)

goruka (1721094) | about a year and a half ago | (#40701885)

Announcing the removal of the global menu?

Re:How about.. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40702003)

How about getting the source and doing it yourself. If you're waiting for someone else to do it, it's already proprietary.

Re:How about.. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40702151)

It seems you wouldn't be able to google your way out of a paper bag, there's easy tweaks to disable the global menu that could probably be turned into a one liner.
Anyways I like the global menu, and the launcher after turning it on autohide. No sacrifice in screen real estate and all of the features.

Re:How about.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40704353)

Apparently it saves screen space. At least for the morons that can't maximize their app, and like methodically looking for disjoint UI elements. Personally I think it's the non-idea of a brain-dead mac user.

Anyway, try this [howtogeek.com], if you must use Ubuntu, and not, for example, Linux Mint [linuxmint.com].

Re:How about.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40707549)

More importantly it encourage Applications not to be stupid and remove their menubars.

Cool! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40702009)

Interaction with Facebook? Naw, I can't see any way *that* might go wrong....

The slashdot web app (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40702129)

Will be hijacked by the last measure app.

apps are for applefags.

Interesting (4, Interesting)

MonsterTrimble (1205334) | about a year and a half ago | (#40702213)

My thought is that they just cloned a lot of what gets done on Android. The contacts are hooked into facebook & google, as well as numerous email and other things. Once you have it set up it's quite slick.

The downside, of course, is that everyone gets a sniff of what you are *actually* doing with your computer and compiling info on the users. I have come to the conclusion that the future of the internet is that it will be dominated by information aggregators who will sell analyzed data to whomever has the money. Not actual information on individuals, but large statistics and the like.

Re:Interesting (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40702461)

My thought is that they just cloned a lot of what gets done on Android.

That was my initial thought too and the main reason I'm so excited about it. I love the way my phone integrates web apps with the main OS and have been looking forward to getting this functionality on a real desktop OS. Finally, Canonical is coming through.

Re:Interesting (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40702677)

I guess I'm just an old out-of-touch fogey with no clue how users want to user their computers these days.
None of this makes any sense to me. I have no idea why anyone would want any of this functionality.
And it's not like I'm some Linux command-line elitist or something. I use Kubuntu.

Re:Interesting (1)

Toad-san (64810) | about a year and a half ago | (#40711037)

This is not good. Haven't the Ubuntu boys been watching how so many Windows applications [cough]Adobe[/cough] have tried to take over the world, do all things, and opened HUGE vulnerabilities for viruses, malware, exploitation? Yeah, the browsers too. Why do you think I have NoScript running on my Firefox browser even as we speak. And why NO Adobe programs are on my PC whatsoever (outside of Flash, which I haven't found a substitute for .. yet)?

But noooo ...

Morons.

HTML 5 Notification API (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40702219)

Article is a little light on technical details. I wonder if the W3C Web Notification thingy is part of this. Google Chrome already supports it, or something like it.

Not again (2, Funny)

JDG1980 (2438906) | about a year and a half ago | (#40702235)

Ubuntu: slavishly copying every bad idea that originates anywhere else!

Re:Not again (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40702491)

Kind of like you slavishly copy every anti-Ubuntu troll that originates anywhere else? When are you people going to come up with some new material?

Re:Not again (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40702663)

False.

They have yet to copy Red Hat's patent on requiring a reboot every time you update your system.

Yet to.

Re:Not again (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40704173)

As you stated, there's a patent on that. However, Ubuntu has managed to implement a "reboot with most updates" and avoided lawsuit by having one non-restart update every year.

Re:Not again (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40702899)

As someone who gets pissed off every time I try to use the play/pause button on my laptop for a youtube video and it doesn't work, your face is a bad idea.

gtk (1)

101percent (589072) | about a year and a half ago | (#40702263)

Wasn't this already a feature of the newer GTK+ releases?

Re:gtk (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40702523)

It's a webkit 'feature' I think. It is already used in epiphany?

Re:gtk (1)

gbjbaanb (229885) | about a year and a half ago | (#40704827)

kinda makes sense really - Microsoft's latest GUI system uses XML formatted markup with some source "code behind" the controls to provide interaction. Sounds a lot like HTML markup with javascript behind to provide interaction.

At least with HTML+JS you can take the majority of your code and run it on a website. Now if only it could all be compiled down to native code, we'd have a great system for programmer productivity (as we wouldn't have to code everything twice - once for the web side of things, once for the desktop). Of course, we could use a different GUI mechanism, but we're stuck with HTML for the web.

There goes security.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40702531)

This sounds like it's gonna be a security hole big enough to drive a tractor-trailer through. Data leeches, keyloggers... you may as well announce your debit card number/PIN and SSN to the world.

Standards? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40702689)

Hasn't this already been tried in a gazillion of incompatible ways? Widgets, Gadgets, WebRunner, CTX, Web Intents,... If they don't come up with a standardized API soon, this will fail like all the others. Ubuntu doesn't even have a major corporation or browser behind it, and as an OS it's still marginal.

Ubuntu specific? (2)

IAmR007 (2539972) | about a year and a half ago | (#40702697)

My main problem with this is that it sounds too Ubuntu specific. It seems Canonical is trying to slowly build a separate branded desktop environment rather than contributing programs and patches to existing projects. The same goes for the Ubuntu app store. I wish Canonical would build more open and documented APIs so that other distros could easily plug in to them. Too many of Canonicals improvements seem to benefit just them. Linux is a group project.

Hell, I'll go beyond thinking this should be more than distro specific. Functionality like this should be an actual standard so that developers only have to write for one API for all desktop integration.

Re:Ubuntu specific? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40702949)

Everything you've mentioned is free software and has APIs, some people/distros just choose not to distribute/integrate with them.

Re:Ubuntu specific? (1)

IAmR007 (2539972) | about a year and a half ago | (#40703131)

Yes, but it's written distro specifically when it doesn't need to be, which means reimplementing for other distros creates a lot of wasteful redundancy when Canonical could have easily just written it to use multiple backends.

Re:Ubuntu specific? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40703195)

Which backends are you referring to?

Re:Ubuntu specific? (1)

IAmR007 (2539972) | about a year and a half ago | (#40703547)

non-debian package managers.

Re:Ubuntu specific? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40703685)

If someone wants to write a backend for it they can, all the software and APIs are there.

You were just pointing out wasteful redundancy, it doesn't make sense for anyone to support every obscure package manager out there. All the hooks and stuff are there, if your distribution isn't shipping it then ask them why they don't integrate it.

But first you will need to... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40702747)

Remove all previously installed Java versions, then download and compile the installer for a new Java version. Type out the path you want the installer to run from, decipher incoherent error messages which may or may not mean the process failed. Attempt to run said web application and start over when you are unsuccessful. Thank you Ubuntu - sounds like a blast.

Doesn't This Defeat the Purpose of WebApps? (2)

organgtool (966989) | about a year and a half ago | (#40702765)

I thought the primary benefit of WebApps is that they are mostly platform-independent. So what benefit is there to introducing a platform-dependent API?

Re:Doesn't This Defeat the Purpose of WebApps? (1)

Githaron (2462596) | about a year and a half ago | (#40703085)

All the OS creators really need to get together and create a freely available specification for this kind of thing so that these types of APIs are not platform dependent.

Re:Doesn't This Defeat the Purpose of WebApps? (1)

tibman (623933) | about a year and a half ago | (#40703829)

The WebApps can be platform-independent but something has to sit on linux to handle the api calls. THAT part (unless it is also written in something platform independent) must be platform-dependent.

Re:Doesn't This Defeat the Purpose of WebApps? (2)

organgtool (966989) | about a year and a half ago | (#40704867)

The WebApps can be platform-independent but something has to sit on linux to handle the api calls.

I understand that - my point is that you're tainting code that was platform-independent with code that only works on one platform.

THAT part (unless it is also written in something platform independent) must be platform-dependent.

Why does that part need to be written at all? Why does a WebApp need access to anything at the OS level? I'm not trying to be a Luddite, but I do not understand why you wouldn't write the entire program in a native language and provide better integration into the supported platform if you depend on such low-level access to the OS. This whole thing reeks of technologies that came out of Microsoft during the Nineties, such as Active-X, that provided unnecessary privileges to questionable applications. The technology was rarely necessary for legitimate applications but was exploited like crazy by developers of malicious code.

Re:Doesn't This Defeat the Purpose of WebApps? (1)

TheSeatOfMyPants (2645007) | about a year and a half ago | (#40705267)

This whole thing reeks of technologies that came out of Microsoft during the Nineties, such as Active-X, that provided unnecessary privileges to questionable applications. The technology was rarely necessary for legitimate applications but was exploited like crazy by developers of malicious code.

Great, so when the Ubuntu users get slammed by malware, those of us using all of the other distros out there will get to put up with tons of smirking from the Win/Mac crowd about how "Linux" (read: Ubuntu) isn't at all secure. Just imagine how much fun it will be to explain this one to tech-clueless friends/family/clients after they see the Wired headlines...

Re:Doesn't This Defeat the Purpose of WebApps? (1)

tibman (623933) | about a year and a half ago | (#40705805)

The reason the webapp needs access beyond the webpage is so that is can become an "app" and not just a web page. For example, you can install a webapp that integrates into your systray or taskbar or right-click context menus. If you never want your apps to exist outside of your browser then you can simply use web sites and bypass the whole idea of webapps.

Re:Doesn't This Defeat the Purpose of WebApps? (1)

js_sebastian (946118) | about a year and a half ago | (#40709459)

The WebApps can be platform-independent but something has to sit on linux to handle the api calls.

I understand that - my point is that you're tainting code that was platform-independent with code that only works on one platform.

That's a good point. The APIs are open and standard, so the hope is that different platforms can have their own native implementation.

THAT part (unless it is also written in something platform independent) must be platform-dependent.

Why does that part need to be written at all? Why does a WebApp need access to anything at the OS level? I'm not trying to be a Luddite, but I do not understand why you wouldn't write the entire program in a native language and provide better integration into the supported platform if you depend on such low-level access to the OS.(...)

You don't necessarily need so much low level access or very tight integration: you just want to be neatly integrated into the GUI, so that a user barely needs to know that this is a web app rather than a real application. Gmail, for instance, is probably already in many ways the best email client available, but to use it i would want notifications arriving in the notification indicator together with those from other programs, and I would like to be able to access its menus just like a real application with whatever functionality the os provides (global menu and HUD included, if you are in ubuntu). Google hangout will never fully replace skype until I can receive "calls" without having a browser tab open on google+, etc.

Kernel vs. operating environment (1)

tepples (727027) | about a year and a half ago | (#40712177)

Why does a WebApp need access to anything at the OS level?

You haven't yet defined "operating system" to mean "kernel" or "operating environment"; this definition is a perennial debate. To avoid collapse of the discussion due to definition disagreement [c2.com], I'll address both meanings: A web application doesn't need access to anything at the kernel level, but I can explain why it would need access to something at the operating environment level. Say the operating system has a list of applications that are playing audio. A web application that plays audio needs to somehow register itself as an application that plays audio so that when you have Pandora running, it'll show up as "Pandora (web)" and not "one of your 100 open Firefox tabs; good luck guessing which one".

Re:Doesn't This Defeat the Purpose of WebApps? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40733763)

Since no one ever answered you, I'm going to. This system allows a user to install a WebApp package for the site which is basically a GreaseMonkey script (nothing is really done on the site's side at this point). The script creates HUD, menu, and notification support for the web app. The user doesn't really have to be concerned whether the application is local or not (and therefore use completely different methods to access it).

This was all in TFA, however.

Re:Doesn't This Defeat the Purpose of WebApps? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40704273)

I think that's the point - Apple has its lockin, Microsoft will get its locking on ARM devices (UEFI secure boot mode there, with no ability to turn it off - and before somebody finds the spec., ONLY the x86 mode lets the user turn off secure boot mode to install a different OS), I think it's only fair that Linux gets its own lockin. It's open source, after all, it's not like Apple or Microsoft couldn't integrate the same API. But knowing both of them, I doubt that will happen. They are more interested in locking users into their products than playing nice with other OSes.

Re:Doesn't This Defeat the Purpose of WebApps? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40705939)

Other platforms could also implement the API. This is fine. Better webapp integration into OSs would mean we could replace our default native word processing application with something like google-docs so when you click to open a *.doc file it would launch google docs in the browser to open the document.

This was the purpose of HTML5 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40703147)

This is the same being able to put web browser tabs in your task, and using javascript to make the tab flash or a window pop up to get your attention, but at least this time it keeps the notification area the same. In fact I bet you could redirect all webbrowser app notifications to the task bar with ease, making the web and your OS behave as one.

"which sounds a bit like IE9's pinning system" (1)

l3v1 (787564) | about a year and a half ago | (#40708137)

"which sounds a bit like IE9's pinning system"

Really? Creating webapp shortcuts on the desktop or taskbar, and the first analogy that comes to mind is IE9? Seriously? Especially since IE's pinning just puts a link on your taskbar, nothing close to Chrome's app shortcuts' feel/behavior (or previously the doomed Firefox's Prism/Webrunner/Chromeless stuff).

What other Debian-based distros are useable? (1)

allo (1728082) | about a year and a half ago | (#40714313)

Ubuntu goes more and more into the wrong direction.
I use KDE anyway, but i still have their patched gtk-libs and other stuff ... mint and other ubuntu forks are not an option, as they use the same packages. debian is slow with releases and only slowly adopting new tech.

What other debian-forks are usable, which did not change to ubuntu as the base of their packets?

Check for New Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Sign up for Slashdot Newsletters
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...