Run Linux in a Web Browser Using JavaScript

By HTMLGoodies Staff

Programmer Fabrice Bellard this week unvieled a project he's been working on that enables Linux to run inside a web browser window. Using JavaScript, his program emulates an x86 processor that is speedy enough to run the OS.

It may not be as fast as current processors, but the JavaScript PC Emulator does run at the same speed as an Intel 486 chip from the '90s. To make up for the lack of a built-in floating point unit that would normally handle numeric processing, the Linux OS itself takes up the slack.

Bellard's emulator runs a version of the Linux 2.6.20 core. Bellard discussed it on Saturday, stating that "I did it for fun, just because newer JavaScript engines are fast enough to do complicated things. I happen to be interested by the implementation of JavaScript engines these days--but I don't know yet if I will write my own any time soon! Anyway, this emulator was a way to learn how to write optimized code for recent JavaScript engines, in particular JaegerMonkey (forFirefox 4) and V8 (for Chrome)."

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