What about an embedded web server?

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TheNameOfTheGame
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What about an embedded web server?

Postby TheNameOfTheGame » Thu Mar 17, 2016 5:17 am

I always find myself thinking that the one thing lacking for normal STs is the ability to browse modern web pages fully.

Of course our humble STs just can't process a good bit of modern web content, but with hardware such as Raspberry Pi could a embedded web server sit in something like the CosmosEx or on a Rom cartridge and just act as a processor of web content and feed it to simple browser GEM window?

It seems the Pi is able to do so much in so little a package. Something along these lines could sit between the Atari and the network and do the heavy lifting so to speak.

I don't know if the idea is even feasible...just kind of a thought exercise really.

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Re: What about an embedded web server?

Postby joska » Thu Mar 17, 2016 7:20 am

It's a good idea. The web page could be completely rendered by a Pi (or even on any PC on your local network) and the ST would only have to blit an image to the screen. Clicks and keypresses are sent back to the server for processing.
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Re: What about an embedded web server?

Postby jvas » Thu Mar 17, 2016 7:22 am

I would buy a cosmoSEX, then....

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Re: What about an embedded web server?

Postby diamondspringwater » Thu Mar 17, 2016 3:33 pm

That would be awesome for the cosmos ex, if it could do youtubeand unzip files I could get rid of my Windows pc.

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Re: What about an embedded web server?

Postby jvas » Thu Mar 17, 2016 3:48 pm

I think youtube would be a little bit too much for it...

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Re: What about an embedded web server?

Postby diamondspringwater » Thu Mar 17, 2016 3:50 pm

Maybe but with some adjustments to the video the falcon can play youtube video pretty well.

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Re: What about an embedded web server?

Postby mjvans » Thu Mar 17, 2016 4:00 pm

lol can you imagine the jawdropping and unbelief when you play a java or flash game on a ST.

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Re: What about an embedded web server?

Postby Eero Tamminen » Thu Mar 17, 2016 4:20 pm

Simplest solution would be an optimizing / filtering proxy, for example Ziproxy and Polipo:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ziproxy
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polipo

They could remove stuff like advertisements from the pages, scale down images [1] and optimize HTML code. Both of these are available as packages in Debian, so they might be available also in Raspian.

[1] I've come across www-pages which contain images that take in uncompressed 32-bit format (that desktop browsers use to show them) hundreds of MBs, so scaling images down to reasonable sizes is really necessary. And on the most popular www-pages, it's the advertisements that make the page slow, not the content you're interested about (advertisements pay for the content though).

Because web is nowadays transitioning to https for security reasons, a proxy that would request https pages, but serve them as http could also be useful. I'm not sure whether there's anything that can do that, and things like login screen might not work through the proxy then.

As to Java, Flash and Videos... First two disappear soon from web because their plugins are such huge security holes and video is moving to HTML5. They're best viewed on PC.

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Re: What about an embedded web server?

Postby simonsunnyboy » Thu Mar 17, 2016 6:26 pm

It also helps to use mobile optimized pages when surfing with Ataris. Those are normally much more simple in presentation and yet achieve the same effect.

Adding a special proxy to ComosEX sounds interesting aswell.
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Re: What about an embedded web server?

Postby joska » Thu Mar 17, 2016 6:54 pm

Eero Tamminen wrote:Simplest solution would be an optimizing / filtering proxy, for example Ziproxy and Polipo:


Only when used together with software that does the actual rendering on the server as well. And forget about fancy HTML5-stuff like games. But it would work well with stuff like news, forums, blogs etc. Anyone remember AvantGo for the Palm Pilot?
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Re: What about an embedded web server?

Postby galax » Thu Mar 17, 2016 7:46 pm

There used to be a great tool called Google Mobilizer (or Transcoder) that could act as a proxy and strip out unecessary junk from pages for low bandwidth browsing e.g. using an Atari ST. It seems to have disappeared in the last month or so. A few similar services are still around, e.g mlvb.net and gwl.neocities.org

mlvb2.png


I don't think it would be too hard to write something similar tailored to the exact capabilities of an ST web browser. No extra hardware needed (if you have network access from your ST).
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Re: What about an embedded web server?

Postby TheNameOfTheGame » Fri Mar 18, 2016 5:02 am

Yes, that looks good, but like Eero says, the images would have to scaled and downsampled at the least. I know using CAB even the scaled font rendering is very slow on a standard ST. But let's say an embedded proxy or processor would render internally it could even maybe then simply blit a page to a gem window like joska mentioned. I think the Atari host prg would need at least to handle links and forms and have some protocol to communicate to the embedded software. But even something like SSL could be handled on the embedded device if the user could transfer the credentials into its configuration. There are a lot of possibilities. :cheers:

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Re: What about an embedded web server?

Postby joska » Fri Mar 18, 2016 12:10 pm

For this to be usable I'd say that everything has to be done on the server, the GEM program should only have to display the finished bitmap and send mouse clicks and keypresses back to the server. If this is done on a CosmosEx then the bitmaps can be transfered very fast via DMA.
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Re: What about an embedded web server?

Postby highway » Sat Mar 19, 2016 8:18 am

Very interested too !
I guess cosmoex would be the best solution as it provides already internet access

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Re: What about an embedded web server?

Postby Eero Tamminen » Sat Mar 19, 2016 6:54 pm

joska wrote:For this to be usable I'd say that everything has to be done on the server, the GEM program should only have to display the finished bitmap and send mouse clicks and keypresses back to the server. If this is done on a CosmosEx then the bitmaps can be transfered very fast via DMA.


That describes RDP / VNC server & viewer, not HTTP(S) / HTML proxy & viewer. Both RDP & VNC protocols can be used to export either whole desktop or single application window, such as Browser.

However, e.g. this Atari VNC viewer:
http://gfa.atari-users.net/atari/html/atarivnc.htm

Doesn't mention support for ST graphics modes, and VNC in general needs TCP/IP connection. Same with RDP protocol.

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Re: What about an embedded web server?

Postby stimpy » Sun Mar 20, 2016 2:30 pm

About 15 years ago I saw a Mint instalation taking an Xwindow from a linux box to browse the web. Was pretty smart to see but with the Raspberry Pi 3 with Wi-Fi hooked to the DMA port I can imagine it would be much faster. Some kind of simple compression may help too, for plain websites at least, and like previously said for making it easy to display on the hosts colour depth and resolution (window size). A very basic web browser style interface to give you the usual controls, maybe even using the source code of some existing browers, highwire?
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Re: What about an embedded web server?

Postby TheNameOfTheGame » Sun Mar 20, 2016 4:47 pm

Hmmm, didn't think of Xwndows. That already has the code for doing some of this...if there is an embedded version that could fit on the Pi.

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Re: What about an embedded web server?

Postby Eero Tamminen » Sun Mar 20, 2016 7:35 pm

With X Windows, the server would run on the Atari, and clients like Browser would run on PI. Just 500MB of RAM is really tight for running modern browsers and rendering current www-pages (other than mobile pages). X Windows requires MiNT or Linux (TCP/IP etc).

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Re: What about an embedded web server?

Postby joska » Mon Mar 21, 2016 8:01 am

Eero Tamminen wrote:That describes RDP / VNC server & viewer, not HTTP(S) / HTML proxy & viewer. Both RDP & VNC protocols can be used to export either whole desktop or single application window, such as Browser.


Not really. In that case you'd display the complete application on a remote computer. I'm talking about offloading the CPU-intensive stuff to another computer, but run the actual application on the local computer. Displaying something like Chrome on an ST using a remote desktop protocol like RDP or VNC is pointless. Modern applications are not designed to be displayed on such low resolution displays. Not to mention that a plain ST is too slow for VNC itself.
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Re: What about an embedded web server?

Postby Eero Tamminen » Tue Mar 22, 2016 11:28 pm

joska wrote:Not really. In that case you'd display the complete application on a remote computer.


What you requested earlier: "display the finished bitmap and send mouse clicks and keypresses back to the server", actually is a high level description of what VNC and RDP protocols do. The RFB (VNC) protocol itself doesn't know anything about applications or windowing systems:
http://www.realvnc.com/docs/rfbproto.pdf

But you're partly right, the existing client/server implementations on top of those protocols display complete applications. :-)

joska wrote:I'm talking about offloading the CPU-intensive stuff to another computer, but run the actual application on the local computer.


Web-browsing is the topic of this thread. Offloading to other computer means doing www-rendering remotely and Browser application locally.

I've followed (from afar) Browser implementations on top of Firefox, WebKit and Chromium/Blink web-engines at work. They're really complex pieces of software, doing a good usable browser on top of the already working web-engine takes more than year full time work from several people. A decade or two ago it might have been something that one does as a hobby, but not anymore.

And that would be just the part that does "CPU intensive rendering on other machine". I think it would be much better to use already existing solutions (applications & protocols) for that part.

joska wrote:Displaying something like Chrome on an ST using a remote desktop protocol like RDP or VNC is pointless. Modern applications are not designed to be displayed on such low resolution displays.


Both Chrome and Firefox render the whole application with the browser engine. If you say that they don't work in that low resolution, it means that modern browser engines cannot do that either, and this whole discussion thread is pointless.

320x200 resolution is indeed completely useless resolution for browsing web. Minimum usable is 640x400 monochrome.

If you want to test how well e.g. Chrome works with that, on Linux you can do:

Code: Select all

sudo apt-get install xserver-xephyr chromium
Xephyr :1 -screen 640x400@1 -dpi 96 -nolisten tcp -render mono &
DISPLAY=:1 chromium


(Xephyr is a X-server-in-an-X-window.)

Looks quite usable, especially if you disable bookmarks bar.

If one modifies a x11 VNC server to convert screen contents to monochrome and modifies the communication with client to be something more efficient, that would be both more generic solution and most likely much less work that doing an Atari Browser application that "just" does CPU intensive rendering on other machine.

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Re: What about an embedded web server?

Postby Eero Tamminen » Wed Mar 23, 2016 9:46 pm

Joska, another problem with running the application on ST instead on Raspy, is data transfer. I think browsers (and e.g. video players) need to cache at least tens of MBs of data for fluent usage.

In Raspy, that data can be kept in RAM as there's so much more of it than on ST, on ST the application would need to:
- get that data from network to the ST (and network connection to ST is mostly like much slower than for Raspy)
- save it to HD as it doesn't fit into ST RAM
- transfer suitable part of that to the Raspy for "CPU intensive" processing, and
- after processing, get results in suitable format back to ST for display.

Running application fully on Raspy VNC style would skip all of those transfers except the last one. How that could be slower than running the application on ST?

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Re: What about an embedded web server?

Postby Rustynutt » Mon May 15, 2017 2:40 pm

Same topic, bit off the path.
A light blub went off a while back.
Kind of a old Nokia enthusiast. Most have an option for video out, comp, svhs, RGBs and HDMI.
Tools are available, at least for early Symbian, to code the phone.
Build a TOS GUI to control the Nokia over USB, and feed the video from the phone back into monitor.
At that point, you're only using a TOS machine as your hands, but who really surfs the web anymore :D
But, even the last of the Symbian phones don't have full web capability, you can cook them, but
haven't seen any interest in Symbian since M/S did to them what she did to me.
Surely other brands.


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