[Dev] summary of the chromium/electtron/webengine controversy

bill-auger bill-auger at peers.community
Tue Mar 29 21:03:00 GMT 2022

On Tue, 29 Mar 2022 16:01:01 -0400 bill-auger wrote:
> "what to do about jami?"

i suppose i should have answered that for the mailing list - the
answer is not elusive - it has been discussed on the parabola
bug tracker since 9 months ago, when jami-qt first appeared in
arch, and i invited a jami dev into the conversation, hoping to
avoid this eventuality - i also discussed it at length this week
in the #jami IRC channel

the simplest thing to do for now, is to adopt jami-gnome into
PCR, and use it for as long as it is viable, or until the jami
devs allow the QT port to be un-googled

webengine is used only to offer a popup web page preview, when
the mouse passes over a URL in chat - a feature which horrifies
privacy-conscious people (ironically IMHO, because those people
are jami's target audience) - many people, especially in the
libre community, consider any such feature to be a privacy risk
- it is too easy to accidentally pass the mouse over one of
those URLs - simply moving the mouse, may expose the user to an
IP leak, unsavory images, and so on

IMHO, that is a completely useless feature - the preview has no
interaction, and is so small, that the text is illegible - the
only useful information it presents, is whether or not the
remote server is responding (but you know, eye-candy, yay!) - if
that is all it is used for, the fix should be relatively simple
(a few hours tops, to patch-out the web preview feature and
re-package it); but i will not be the one to do it

quassel has the same feature; and i had to address it when
quassel started using webengine - however the quassel
developers, fully recognizing that it was an unnecessary
feature, which many people would not want at all, made it
optional - quassel allows webengine to be replaced by webkit for
that feature, or for the feature to be compiled-out entirely

IIRC, it does not even need a compile-time option to disable it
- if webengine is not found at build time, it falls-back on
webkit; and if webkit is not found at build time, the build
simply does not compile that feature (in that case IIRC, the
runtime checkbox is either not present, or can not be toggled to
the "ON" state) - i could be remembering wrong; probably becaue
it was so easy to accomplish

if all dev teams were so considerate as quassel (ie: "in-tune"
with their user-base), very few of the #1167 sub-tasks would
have remained open for very long

WRT chromium, as far as i am concerned, the fact that the
original upstream bug report is still open after 13 years, is
enough reason to assume that it has licensing issues, which will
never be resolved, nor even identified upstream

forgive me if i seem uninterested in discussing it more - i was
completely fed-up with discussing this issue three years ago -
today, it is ancient history to me - an ugly period from my
past, when i wasted a lot of time, and engaged in some rather
unfriendly and unproductive disagreements - personally, i would
prefer to forget it

if the FSDG recommendation is ever to be changed, it will need
to be done by people who care about both of ...:

  A) whether those programs are included in FSDG distros


  B) whether inclusion can be justified/reconciled with the FSDG

some people care about A, and some care about B; but no one who
cares about both has yet volunteered - im not sure of any such
person exists

i am definitely not in the 'A' group - quassel is the only
program i use, which has ever been affected by this; and it was
fixed easily - in any case, we have no shortage of IRC clients
to choose from - AFAIAC, jami is the only one of the lot, which
has any unique value to parabola; so my motivation is very low -
life's too short - i have moved on :)

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