|Developer(s)||The NetSurf Developers|
|Initial release||May 19, 2007|
3.10 / 24 May 2020
|Preview release||Public Autobuilder (n/a)|
|Written in||ANSI C|
|Operating system||Official: RISC OS, AmigaOS 4, Windows; Linux/Unix-like, BeOS/Haiku, Atari TOS, macOS|
3rd party ports: AmigaOS 3, Caanoo, MorphOS, Samsung TVs, Redox OS, Plan 9; KolibriOS port in development
|Size||4.0 MB (RISC OS)|
6.9 MB (AmigaOS)
NetSurf is an open-source web browser which uses its own layout engine. Its design goal is to be lightweight and portable. NetSurf provides features including tabbed browsing, bookmarks and page thumbnailing.
The NetSurf project was started in April 2002 in response to a discussion of the deficiencies of the RISC OS platform's existing web browsers. Shortly after the project's inception, development versions for RISC OS users were made available for download by the project's automated build system. NetSurf was voted "Best non-commercial software" four times in Drobe Launchpad's annual RISC OS awards between 2004 and 2008.
NetSurf supports both mainstream systems (e.g. macOS and Unix-like) and older or uncommon platforms (e.g. AmigaOS, Haiku, Atari TOS, RISC OS, and Redox).
The browser was ranked in 2011 as number 8 in an article highlighting 10 browsers for Linux published in TechRepublic and ZDNet. It was referred to in 2010 as a superior CLI browser to w3m.
NetSurf's multi-platform core is written in ANSI C, and implements most of the HTML 4 and CSS 2.1 specifications using its own bespoke layout engine. As of version 2.0, NetSurf uses Hubbub, an HTML parser that follows the HTML5 specification. As well as rendering GIF, JPEG, PNG and BMP images, the browser also supports formats native to RISC OS, including Sprite, Draw and ArtWorks files.
NetSurf began in April 2002 as a web browser for the RISC OS platform. Work on a GTK port began in June 2004 to aid development and debugging. It has since gained many of the user interface features present in the RISC OS version. The browser is packaged with several distributions including Ubuntu, NetBSD, and OpenBSD.
After five years of development, the first stable version of the browser was released on 19 May 2007 to coincide with the Wakefield RISC OS show. Version 1.0 was made available for download from the project's web site and the software was sold on CD at the show. After the release of NetSurf 1.0 there were two point-releases, which largely comprised bug fixes. NetSurf 1.1 was released in August 2007 and in March 2008 the NetSurf 1.2 release was made available.
NetSurf participated in Google Summer of Code in 2008 as a mentoring organisation, running four projects. These included improving the GTK front end, adding paginated PDF export support and developing the project's HTML 5 compliant parsing library, Hubbub. All NetSurf development builds since 11 August 2008 have used Hubbub to parse HTML and it is available for use in other projects under the MIT license.
NetSurf was again accepted as a mentoring organisation into Google Summer of Code 2009. The projects they ran included development of LibDOM, the project's Document Object Model, and improvement of NetSurf's user interface. The interface work included moving previously RISC OS-only functionality to the multi-platform core, including bookmarks, global history, cookie management and page search features. A port to the Windows operating system was also started. In 2010 the NetSurf project did not apply to participate in Google Summer of Code due to the developers having other commitments.
A native BeOS/Haiku port has been developed. Since the GTK version was built for AmigaOS, using Cygnix which provides an X11 environment, a native AmigaOS port has also been developed. In January 2009, NetSurf was made available on MorphOS, an operating system that is API-compatible with AmigaOS. A Windows port is also available for download.
A framebuffer port was created in September 2008. Unlike the other ports, it does not use any GUI toolkit, but instead renders its own mouse pointer, scrollbars and other widgets. The framebuffer frontend has been used to create a web kiosk on embedded systems. The Plan 9 port is also based on it.
In January 2010, the NetSurf Developers announced the release of what they expected at the time to be the last release for RISC OS. Lead developer John-Mark Bell said at the time "Realistically, the people qualified to maintain the RISC OS port are up to their necks in other stuff." Subsequently, Steve Fryatt volunteered himself as maintainer.
January 2011 saw the announcement of a Mac OS X port. A port to Atari 16-bit and 32-bit computers was also started in January 2011.
visurf is a fork of NetSurf led by Drew DeVault. It has vi-inspired key bindings and Wayland-only UI.
Steve [Fryatt] maintains the RISC OS port of NetSurf, having rashly volunteered himself in an attempt to stop the platform losing yet another web browser.