Posted on 22 Sep 2023

Tagged with:

[ rust, programming, browsers

This blogpost starts with me switching of my car radio, and ends with me writing a browser. There is some stuff
in between as well.

Some ten years ago, I used to travel a lot by car to customers. I listened to news radio to keep myself occupied during the daily commute. In the Netherlands, I would listen to Business News Radio (BNR)
and/or Radio 1. I liked having people talk and discuss the daily news and not being interrupted by the latest music I didn’t like anyway. I think I still had a car with MP3 CDs.

All was well until one day, I decided to switch off my radio. I didn’t want to hear the news anymore. And that evening on the way back, the radio stayed off. I still didn’t want to listen to the news. In fact, I didn’t want to listen to the news like ever again!

Why? I don’t know exactly, but I don’t think it’s a coincidence that this was also around the time my wife
got pregnant (although I cannot say for sure if this was before or after we knew). But when I thought about it, the
more apparent it got: the ONLY thing you hear on the news.. any news.. are bad things(tm). War, corruption, you name it.
We still should be thankful we still call these things news because often it feels like it would be more newsworthy if
politicians weren’t corrupt, or not kept their promises, or screwed another group of people over. And the problem is
that I – as a single person – have no ways or means to do anything about it. Nothing. Not even if I tried.

Basically, my thinking was: if listening to the news makes me feel bad, I should stop listening to the news. Makes sense
I guess. But I went a bit further: i do not listen to the news, I also do not watch the news or browse
the internet for news. But I also actively try to get the news out of the way. We don’t watch news channels; we switch
channels when the 8 o’clock news starts (that was a thing before streaming), and I leave a room where there is news on
which I cannot control.

Fast forward to almost the present: I still do not watch, listen or browse the news, but I read Reddit for some subreddits that
sometimes posts news facts here and there. Any “important” news that I should need to know (do I really?) comes to me anyway because
of people. So all is well. I’m not getting saddened by the news. Job done.

That was until a year ago, but it’s probably way earlier that the next thing started. So although I don’t follow the classic world and political news, I do like to follow tech news, and for me, this is done 98% through Ycombinator’s hacker news. But I started to get the same feeling I had ten years ago: it’s all negative.
Companies are pushing unwanted updates, breaking all promises, raising subscriptions, and buying up companies while doing
everything in their power to figure out how much more personal data they can take (away) from us. Governments are banning
encryption because of child molesters (they also use vans and candy. Let’s also ban them!). People in power with
absolutely no idea of how the modern world works and people in power who DO know how it works, want to make it even worse for everybody else. Meanwhile, the enshitification keeps speeding up, and I’m afraid
to update my printer drivers in case my printer tells me it doesn’t like my ink and stops printing. And then there is the golden goose: the internet browser. The one place where almost everybody in the world spend their time. How long will it be until browser developers decide that ads could also shown by the browser itself, rather than from the
rendered sites that adblockers can block? We already had those.. they WILL come back. And how about browser-specific extensions that make sites unusable from other browsers (sorry, you cannot view your gmail with Firefox. Please install google chrome)? This has happened, and as soon as lawyers find a way out of monopoly issues, it will happen
again. Things like this make me sad, and again, I’m just one person out of many with little to no influence.

But that’s not quite right this time. This time, I DO have some influence because I am a programmer. I can develop software and I can share this software and code with others so they do not need to use it from companies that only serve their shareholders and pockets.

So we come to the point that I’ve decided that I am going to write a browser. For two reasons: I want this to be a way to push back. Just a tiny amount. And reason two is that I always wanted to write a browser.

I do not expect ANYTHING to come from this project. I do not
expect to finish this project. And I do expect that – if nobody will follow me into helping the project – the project will be dead quite soon. I do not expect this project to become the dominant browser that will topple all the big players in the market. But I do want the project to be open for non-commercial purposes. I want others to be inspired by it and make their project. And those projects will inspire others, and so on, until we DO reach a point where we have a browser that can topple the big players.
I can’t fly. I don’t have x-ray eyes. I don’t have a heavy hammer. But I can develop software. And I can share with as many people that I can. Either as an inspiration for others to write their own code, or as an example on how not to write code.

I’m not an idyllic person. I’m not an activist fighting for a better world or anything. But I get angry about the corporations screwing over people, software, planets. I’m not in a position to solve that. I’m just a
developer that will attempt to write a browser.

Details about the progress of the project can be found here:

The project itself can be found on GitHub:

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