Webian Shell: Prototype Web-Based Shell

Webian Shell is a web-based shell that is designed to run full-screen and function as the primary user interface for your computer. At the moment, it's still at the proof of concept stage, but 0.1 is runnable without making any modifications to your system. As it features some interesting ideas, it's worth having a play around with.

The Linux version of Webian is, for the moment, supplied as a tar.gz archive containing the executable and the supporting files. Builds are available for Windows and Mac.

Under the hood, this project makes use of Mozilla Chromeless, a project that eschews the standard web browser user interface. By the way, the “chrome” in the name refers not to Google Chrome but rather the user interface portion of Mozilla web browsers. As it consists of only a rendering engine, the idea is that the navigation interface can be implemented using web standards within the browser itself. Indeed, the Chromeless website lists Webian as one of the first projects to run with the idea.

The task switcher.

When run, Webian takes over the entire screen. The idea is that a stripped down web browser becomes the interface to the computer on a setup that relies entirely on cloud-based rather than locally installed applications. The tabs themselves are iconified and run along the bottom of the screen, aping the user interface style of other popular desktops.


The Webian start page. It doesn't do much yet.

For the moment, Webian is incomplete. For example, some sites don't render properly and apparently Google's cloud applications don't work due to a bug. Web navigation doesn't seem to be very usable as there are no forward and back controls and there was no bookmarking that I could find. The start page that exists does not yet really do anything.

Using Webian to browse some web content.

Shortcomings due to the incomplete nature of the project aside, it is possible to get an idea of how how setup like this could work. Once things are a little bit further along, one thing I'd like to see is a bootable ISO image that makes use of Webian. This would be particularly good if it were partnered with some sort of remote storage for configuration and customization. So far this project looks intriguing and it's fairly close to being a usable product already. If you have some ideas about how it should work, there's a forum for such discussions on the website.

The Webian Website

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UK based freelance writer Michael Reed writes about technology, retro computing, geek culture and gender politics.

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Looks like a really cool

farid's picture

Looks like a really cool project

Looks like a really cool

Sannomo's picture

Looks like a really cool project, can't wait to try it out.

Debian based distro with Webian

Marc's picture

The 'Debian testing' based distro featuring Webian Shell is PureWebOS, it's here:
http://pureos.org/

Debian distro with Webian Shell

Marc's picture

The 'Debian testing' based distro featuring Webian Shell is PureWebOS, it's here:
http://pureos.org/

Very good news!

ZafX's picture

That's a very good thing, hope this project will become ready to use quickly. We really need that!

I do not get the whole

doox's picture

I do not get the whole point???
This is the same as chromeOS. This is not even creative work.

Google mostly plays with open

Anonymous's picture

Google mostly plays with open cards. Which means others can use their ideas and codes for own purposes. Comparing to MS's closed dictatorship, Googles way is good for technical evolution. Monoculture like Windows stops evolution. It's just like Soviet Union where some board makes plans for what we need for next 5 years.

I do not get the whole

doox's picture

I do not get the whole point???
This is the same as chromeOS. This is not even creative work.

Similar to Chromium OS

Sunil Thakare's picture

It seems that this project resembles Chromium OS. But seems good project. After all its open-source! cheers.

Similar to Chromium OS

Sunil Thakare's picture

It seems that this project resembles Chromium OS. But seems good project. After all its open-source! cheers.

Chromeless OS

Johann's picture

The Linux distro containing Webian Shell is called Chromeless OS and you can download it from: http://xr.com/chromelessos

already starting in use

Anonymous's picture

I forgot the name of the distro, i think its parsix, but i remember one debian based distro released an alpha version with this shell

Slackware FTW.

Anonymous's picture

Slackware FTW.

It looks great!

Anonymous's picture

its a great project. i'll be checking out the upcoming releases.

Excellent project! I very

Anonymous's picture

Excellent project! I very much look forward to seeing this project grow. A lot of potential uses including KIOSK type environments.

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