Pyro – Desktop Inside Web

Pyro Desktop is an interesting project I was fiddling with for some time. It is a novel approach in the whole desktop v/s web tussle. Pyro uses Mozilla Firefox as a platform to build your desktop. This enables it to run web content alongside the desktop applications.

Inside it is a compositing window manager. Or as Chris Toshok explains, it is a psuedo-compositing windows manager:

Pyro is a pseudo-compositing window manager/desktop environment. I say “pseudo-” because unlike compiz/beryl/metacity/xfce/etc, it doesn’t do the compositing itself. Instead, it reflects window contents into the firefox DOM as canvas elements, and firefox composites them as it does an HTML page. Simply put, pyro uses the X damage and composite extensions to turn firefox into your desktop. From there everything you can do to a dom element can be done to native window contents.

Pyro heavily uses JavaScript and can be installed as a Firefox addon. I have been running into some problems, but it has been stable enough to experience it.

It is still at infancy stage and there will be more questions to solve, but the direction in which it is growing can very well give us the closest integration of Web and desktop by bringing Web to the desktop. When I read about it, I found it similar in goals to Parakey, which was recently acquired by Facebook.

What does this mean for the common man. If Pyro goes through it will erase the line between desktop and the Web. The RIAs will be able to run as natively as the desktop applications. This can simplify and increase productivity for the user.

You can try it out if you are on Linux, participate in the discussions or follow Pyro development with developer Alex Gravely’s blog.

The Mozilla Desktop Environment idea has appeared before, and I was scared of living out of the browser. However, I think Pyro takes it a level beyond that, it actually integrates the desktop and the web, by using a common window manager. What do you think?

Discussion [Participate or Link]

  1. Benjamin said:

    I have not been able to try it, yet, but the only thing that I might be concerned about is ease with which one might accidentally allow an untrusted site to have access to their computer. There still must be some kind of barrier between the internet and the computer, but hopefully, Pyro will be able to do so gracefully.

  2. Ubuntu and the price of Unity | said:

    […] Neary recalls that the GNOME Shell “grew from the ideas of the Pyro Desktop and the Online Desktop & BigBoard, both show-cased at GUADEC back in 2007 in Birmingham. The […]

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Abhijit Nadgouda
iface Consulting
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