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Mozilla's Servo Browser Now Available Nightly

| by David Iffland Follow 4 Followers on Jul 07, 2016. Estimated reading time: 1 minute |

The team behind the experimental browser project, Servo, announced that nightly builds are now available.

Until now, Servo was only available to developers that downloaded and compiled the source. The team hopes that the nightly builds (available at download.servo.org) will broaden the audience, ultimately improving the browser's web compatibility and performance. Currently, only the Mac OS X and Linux builds are available, as issues with the Windows and Android builds are getting worked out. The nightly builds are still very rough.

The new browser has been in development for years. It was built from scratch with the goal of building a new, parallelized browser engine that could take better advantage of a device's hardware. Existing browser engines, for the most part, build up a web page in a single flow. While efforts such as Web Workers are meant to offload part of a browser's work to other threads, the onus is on the web page developer to handle the complications.

Servo is supposed to improve the amount of concurrent work happening to render a web page.

The future of Servo is unknown. Answering a question on Hacker News, Servo engineer Manish Goregaokar said only time will tell:

The plan seems to be to let Servo continue to evolve as a testbed for new ideas (like WebRender), and share components with Firefox whenever ready. An independent Servo product is not likely in the near future, since there's a lot of work to make it fully web compat. In the far future ... well, we can't tell :)

Parts of Servo may make it into Firefox. For example, Servo's style engine, Stylo, has advanced to the point that parts of it will be integrated into Gecko nightly builds later this year. This is part of a process Mozilla calls "Oxidation" — named so because of the integration of Rust code into Firefox. Servo is written in Rust, another Mozilla Research project.

Mozilla has a video introduction to Servo available that talks more about their motivations and how it achieves intra-page parallelism.

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