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NetSurf running on RISC OS
Developer(s) The NetSurf Developers
Written in ANSI C
Operating system AmigaOS 4, BeOS/Haiku, MorphOS, RISC OS, Unix-like
Size 2.5 MB (RISC OS)
Development status Active
Type Web browser
License GNU GPL

NetSurf is an open source web browser which runs on a variety of platforms including RISC OS, AmigaOS and Unix-like systems. NetSurf has features that include tabbed browsing, text selection and PDF export.

The NetSurf project was started in April 2002 in response to a discussion of the deficiencies of the RISC OS platform's existing web browsers[1]. Shortly after the project's inception, development versions for RISC OS users were made available for download by the project's automated build system. NetSurf was voted "Best non-commercial software" four times in Drobe Launchpad's annual RISC OS awards between 2004 and 2008[2][3][4][5].

The NetSurf source code is available under the GNU General Public License. The current stable version is 2.1, released on 23 May 2009.



NetSurf's multi-platform core is written in ANSI C, and implements most of the HTML 4 and CSS 2.1 specifications using its own bespoke layout engine.[6] As of version 2.0, NetSurf uses Hubbub, an HTML parser that follows the work-in-progress HTML5 specification. As well as rendering GIF, JPEG, PNG and BMP images, the browser also supports formats native to RISC OS, including Sprite, Draw and ArtWorks files. As of 2009, NetSurf has no support for JavaScript.[7].


File:NetSurf screenshot ubuntu.png
GTK NetSurf running under Linux

Work on a GTK port began in June 2004[8] to aid development and debugging. It has since gained many of the user interface features present in the RISC OS version. The browser is packaged with several distributions including Ubuntu and NetBSD.

A native BeOS/Haiku port is being developed[9]. Since the GTK version was built for AmigaOS[10], using Cygnix which provides an X11 environment, a native AmigaOS port has also been developed[9]. In January 2009, NetSurf was made available on MorphOS, an operating system that is API-compatible with AmigaOS[11]. Work has started on a Windows port, but as of September 2009 no official releases have been made.[12]

A framebuffer port was created in September 2008.[6] Unlike the other ports, it does not use any GUI toolkit, but instead renders its own mouse pointer, scrollbars and other widgets. The framebuffer front end has been used to create a web kiosk on embedded systems.[13]

In January 2010, the NetSurf Developers announced the release of what they expect to be the last release for RISC OS.[14] This is at the Wakefield RISC OS show in April 2010. Team spokesman Michael Drake said at the time "Realistically, the people qualified to maintain the RISC OS port are up to their necks in other stuff."[15]


After five years of development, the first stable version of the browser was released on 19 May 2007 to coincide with the Wakefield RISC OS show. Version 1.0 was made available for download from the project's web site and the software was sold on CD at the show.[16] Since the release of NetSurf 1.0 there have been two point-releases, which have largely comprised bug fixes. In August 2007 and March 2008, these maintenance releases were made available for RISC OS and as a package in the Debian GNU/Linux repository on 15 August 2007.[17][18]

NetSurf 2.0 was released in April 2009 for RISC OS, Unix-likes (e.g. Linux), AmigaOS 4, BeOS and Haiku.[19][20] In May 2009 NetSurf 2.1 was released, with improvements to page layout and bug fixes.[21]

Google Summer of Code

NetSurf was accepted as a mentoring organisation into Google Summer of Code 2009[22]. The projects they ran included development of LibDOM, the project's Document Object Model, and improvement of NetSurf's user interface.[23] The interface work included moving previously RISC OS-only functionality to the multi-platform core, including bookmarks, global history, cookie management and page search features. A port to the Windows operating system was also started.[12]

NetSurf also participated in Google Summer of Code in 2008 as a mentoring organisation[24], running four projects. These included improving the GTK front end[25], adding paginated PDF export support[26] and developing the project's HTML 5 compliant parsing library, Hubbub[27]. All NetSurf development builds since 11 August 2008 have used Hubbub to parse HTML[28] and it is available for use in other projects under the MIT license[29].

See also


  1. "Web browsers". The Icon Bar forums. April 2002. 
  2. "Best of 2004 awards results". Drobe Launchpad. 31 December 2004. 
  3. "Best of 2006 awards results". Drobe Launchpad. 31 December 2006. 
  4. "Best of 2007 awards results". Drobe Launchpad. 31 December 2007. 
  5. "Drobe Awards 2008: The results". Drobe Launchpad. 31 December 2008. 
  6. 6.0 6.1 "About NetSurf". The NetSurf Developers. 
  7. "Development Progress". The NetSurf Developers. 
  8. Subversion revision 993, NetSurf Source Repository, 
  9. 9.0 9.1 "Announcement of AmigaOS and BeOS/Haiku ports". NetSurf Users mailing list. 
  10. "Could this Open Source Web Browser be easily ported for our needs?". - Forum. 
  11. "Announcement of MorphOS version of NetSurf". MorphZone: The MorphOS Portal. 
  12. 12.0 12.1 "Google Summer of Code Roundup". NetSurf Users mailing list. 
  13. "Tutorial: A web kiosk embeded system". LinuxDevices. 
  14. "NetSurf at Wakefield Show 2010". NetSurf Users mailing list. 14 January 2010. 
  15. "Last RISC OS version of NetSurf announced". The Icon Bar. 14 January 2010. 
  16. "NetSurf 1.0 is worth millions on paper". Drobe Launchpad. 
  17. "NetSurf 1.1 Announcement". NetSurf Users mailing list. 
  18. "NetSurf 1.2 announcement". NetSurf Users mailing list. 
  19. "RISC OS NetSurf Downloads". The NetSurf Developers. 
  20. "NetSurf Change Log". The NetSurf Developers. 
  21. "NetSurf News". The NetSurf Developers. 
  22. "List of accepted organisations". Google Summer of Code 2009. 
  23. "NetSurf - Google Summer of Code Projects". The NetSurf Developers. 
  24. "NetSurf Organization Information". Google Summer of Code 2008. 
  25. "GSoC project: Improved GTK front end". Google Summer of Code 2008. 
  26. "GSoC project: PDF plotter and printing improvements". Google Summer of Code 2008. 
  27. "GSoC project: Work on and integrate Hubbub". Google Summer of Code 2008. 
  28. "New HTML parser integrated into NetSurf". NetSurf Users mailing list. 
  29. "Hubbub project page". The NetSurf Developers. 

External links

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