[Top][All Lists]

[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

Re: Browsers and Gstreamer plugins

From: Maxim Cournoyer
Subject: Re: Browsers and Gstreamer plugins
Date: Sun, 26 Dec 2021 23:29:54 -0500
User-agent: Gnus/5.13 (Gnus v5.13) Emacs/27.2 (gnu/linux)

Hello Jack,

Thank you for posting this well written piece here.

Jack Hill <> writes:

> Hi Guix,
> While we have made progress on #52375 [0], the way forward remains
> unclear. In summary, WebKitGTK expects certain GStreamer plugins to be 
> available. Depending on which plugins are missing and the web page
> content, the process corresponding to a browser tab may even crash. 
> Currently, we expect folks to manually install the necessary plugins
> into their profile/environment.

That sucks; but it really is webkitgtk/browsers' fault; they should have
better reporting so that users know what is missing instead of obtusely
crashing a tab.

> Complicating matters, it is not clear to me which plugins WebKitGTK
> needs or optionally makes use of. At least some of the needed plugins
> are from gst-plugins-bad, which upstream considers to be of lesser
> (code) quality [1]. gst-plugins-bad is also a large dependency. Adding
> it would increase the closure size of browsers by almost 1GiB!
> [0]
> [1]

1 GiB for code deemed of even worst quality than even the 'ugly' plugins
(they're literally at the bottom of the chart, quality-wise) doesn't
sound too appealing :-) [0].


> I believe that what I have written above is more or less factual. Now
> for my opinion: I think that we should make browsers work out of the
> box on commonly-encountered web content.

How would you define "commonly-encountered" web content?  How will we
handle bug reports of "tab crashed on site X" because a plugin we
thought obscure is used by someone?  It's a bit of a slippery slope
where we may end up wrapping all/too many plugins, because of the issue
I raised in my preceding paragraph (bad reporting from webkitgtk

Plugins exist for the very reason to allow end users to extend
functionalities the way they see fit, so it seems a bit backward to me
to "wrap plugins in", which makes them non-optional onto users.  On
other systems, they are typically "recommended" but not wrapped in a way
that makes it difficult for users to opt out of them.

> To that end, I propose that
> we wrap WebKitGTK-powered browsers so that they can find the necessary
> plugins. I have attached a proof-of-concept patch that does just that
> for Vimb. I used the gst-plugins/selection procedure [2] to to add
> just one plugin from gst-plugins-bad that fixed the crash I was seeing
> in #52374.
> Size comparisons:
> Existing Vimb: 1397.5 MiB
> Vimb with my patch: 1409.9 MiB
> Vimb with all of gst-plugins-bad: 2298.6 MiB

This looks reasonable, space wise.

> Of course this is just the bare-minimum set of plugins. We may want to
> work with WebKitGTK upstream to determine any additional ones that we 
> should be including.
> [2] The patch depends on the fix for gst-plugins/selection that I
> submitted in
> A note on the approach of wrapping browsers rather than somehow
> including the plugins in WebKitGTK. It is much more obvious and
> straight forward (to me at least) to wrap the browser executable. Also
> WebKitGTK could in theory be used to render content that comes from a
> controlled environment, not the web, and therefore doesn't need the
> "web plugins". A downside to doing it this way is that each browser
> would need to be wrapped in the same set of plugins. Perhaps we can
> factor that out so that the plugin list only has to be maintained in
> one place.
> Questions and comments? How shall we move forward? Is it ok to wrap
> browsers in this way?

I sympathize with the goal of improving our users experience (by
shipping browsers that don't crash mysteriously left and right), but I'm
not satisfied with the solution of wrapping plugins.  Could we instead
try to fast-forward work that has happened in webkitgtk to produce
better diagnostics about missing plugins?  Such as [1], which has a
patch (with comments on).  It's not a panacea, but having errors about
missing plugins/functionality appear on stderr would be an improvement.
We should also create tickets upstream in webkitgtk-based browsers
requesting that they report missing plugins gracefully in their user


If all this is done and documented and in the waiting queue, then we
could proceed with wrap browsers with a minimal set of plugins as a
stopgap/temporary measure until the upstream issues get resolved.

What do you think?



reply via email to

[Prev in Thread] Current Thread [Next in Thread]