Browsix: Now Run A Unix-like Open Source Operating System In Your Browser


Short Bytes: A team of developers from University of Massachusetts, Amherst, has created a Unix-like operating system for your web browser. It uses a JavaScript-based kernel and extends the JS runtimes for  C, C++, Go, and Node.js programs. It also comes with a POSIX-like shell.

The modern web browsers are great for playing videos, reading blogs, or even building user interfaces. But they fail if you wish to use them as a platform to code-heavy applications. As the applications depend on standard OS APIs, something which browsers don’t support, compiling code to JS doesn’t work.

On the other hand, operating systems, including Unix, allow the user to build applications with ease. To overcome this limitation of web browsers, Browsix has been created as a research project from the PLASMA lab at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

What is Browsix? How does it work?

Browsix comprises of two core parts; a kernel written in TypeScript; and extended runtimes for C, C++, Go, and Node.jps. Let’s tell you more about it.

Browsix is a JavaScript-only framework that makes the core Unix features available to web apps and extends the JS runtimes for C++, C, Node.js, and Go programs. It also features a POSIX-like shell. You can try out the Browsix shell right here. It supports standard Unix utilities like ls, cat, echo, etc.browsix-shell

It bridges the conventional gap between your familiar operating systems and the web browser. “Browsix does this by mapping low-level Unix primitives, like processes and system calls, onto existing browser APIs, like Web Workers and postMessage,” the description on the Browsix website says.browsix-working

To know more about Browsix, read the peer-reviewed paper of the same. Grab its open source code on GitHub.

Did you find Browsix interesting? Don’t forget to share your views and feedback in the comments section below.

Also Read: Linux Lexicon — How Does Linux Kernel Work?

Adarsh Verma

Adarsh Verma

Fossbytes co-founder and an aspiring entrepreneur who keeps a close eye on open source, tech giants, and security. Get in touch with him by sending an email — [email protected]
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