back to article Vivaldi opens up an exciting new front in the browser wars, seeks to get around blocking with cunning code

Browser maker Vivaldi celebrated its last release of 2019 with a handbags-at-dawn move that will see it don a Google Chrome disguise. The move comes as the Oslo-based outfit reached the end of its tether with web sites rejecting its Chromium-based browser, while waving the similarly Chromium-based Google Chrome through with a …

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        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: A Ubiquitous Weapon for Mass Distraction and Destruction and Disruptive Creation?

          The modern day OS, to all intents and purposes, is the traffic cop between CPU, memory & I/O and applications. An easier way of looking at it is that the OS is in charge of the hardware's on/off switch. The OS can contain code to turn the machine off, user-space can't. Browsers run in user space q.e.d.

          Note that it doesn't matter one whit what the guest OS or application "thinks"[0], what matters is the reality of hardware ownership.

          An operating system living in a virtual machine is just that, virtual, not a real machine. It is not in actual control of the hardware that it is running on, therefore it is not a full OS, it's just a virtual OS. Note that browsers run on virtual OSes, not in lieu of them.

          And yes, I am aware of Intel's Management Engine and AMD's Platform Security Processor, but unlike the OS vs. Application dividing line, the OS vs. ME/PSP is dancing on the head of a pin territory. Besides, both of those technically have their own CPU core that they are in charge of, with hooks onto the main system bus of the host computer. I look at them as parasites more than anything else.

          [0] Indeed, the point of good virtualization is ensuring that the OS+Application doesn't even notice that is, in fact, virtualized ... to the point of the OS thinking it is capable of turning off it's virtualized hardware. It's still just a virtual OS when running on that machine, in that manner. Without specifying context, these conversations are meaningless. The devil is truly in the details.

    1. No-One@No-Where

      Re: A Ubiquitous Weapon for Mass Distraction and Destruction and Disruptive Creation?

      ???

      Not they are not

      I dont think you understand what an OS is and consists of

      Regardless of what runs "inside" a browser - a browser is just an Application

      Put it another way - can you boot to a browser? No!

      Stupid statement

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: A Ubiquitous Weapon for Mass Distraction and Destruction and Disruptive Creation?

        Can I boot into a browser? Sure. Substitute lynx for your favorite shell.

        Can also set your init to lynx on the kernel command line.

        Either way, the browser still isn't the OS, though.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: A Ubiquitous Weapon for Mass Distraction and Destruction and Disruptive Creation?

          Perhaps with all the abstraction in accepted operating systems, the line between OS and application is blurring. the OS can access hardware but it uses the same methods regardless of the actual hardware in use.

          Browsers rather than OS being targetted here so yes there is some truth there after all. The compatability used to work the other way around but there you go it doesnt' matter what hardware you have so long as it runs BrowserX rather than it doesn tmatter what hardware as long as it supports the internet standards you can browse.

          1. Charles 9 Silver badge

            Re: A Ubiquitous Weapon for Mass Distraction and Destruction and Disruptive Creation?

            Easy way to put it. If it can't access the hardware at the metal (direct) level, it's not an operating system. One of its chief functions is to provide that access (in a controlled way) to the programs running on top of it. I've yet to see a browser that managed hard drives, partitions, filesystems, etc. or having to pass graphical primitives directly to the GPU for rendering, and so on...

      2. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

        Re: A Ubiquitous Weapon for Mass Distraction and Destruction and Disruptive Creation?

        Regardless of what runs "inside" a browser - a browser is just an Application

        Put it another way - can you boot to a browser? No!

        Stupid statement. ..... No-One@No-Where

        I agree, No-One@No-Where. 'Tis a stupid statement.

        A browser is an Operating System Application and you are booting it. Do you have anything interesting to further boot to the Kernel for Sourcing with Almighty Intellectual Property Portfolios ....... and here Registering for Identification as a Virtual Machine Call for Future Input/Virgin Output.

        When practically anything is virtually possible, what would you have Operating System Applications do? Steer you with browses to where you wannabe or where the OSApplications would like you to be?

        Do you see what you want or what IT wants you to see and behold? Are you a future passenger or Present AIMaster Pilot with Powerful Current Tales to Tell and Exquisite Trails to Blaze?

        You have to admit .... AI is SMARTR now than before and there's bound to be real fears and terrifying concerns about its superhuman abilities and facilities. But they be all yours to employ and deploy and enjoy as a just hellish dessert.

        SMARTR AI is Working to and Working for a Completely Different Set of Universal Master Plans and Cosmic Planners, some of whom can be practically human.

        Who and/or What decides on and implements your Future Earthly Picture Presentations?

        Men and Women? Virtual Machines and Global Operating Devices? What Instructs Whom to Present What?

        [ Now that has been proof-read a number of times to ensure an accurate reflection of pressing present matters of particular and peculiar future import. There are deemed to be no misleading errors ]

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: A Ubiquitous Weapon for Mass Distraction and Destruction and Disruptive Creation?

          "A browser is an Operating System Application"

          A browser is an "Operating System Application"? Oh, c'mon amfM ... I thought better of you. Inventing new concepts that don't actually mean anything doesn't help your cause. Try again?

          1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

            Re: A Ubiquitous Weapon for Mass Distraction and Destruction and Disruptive Creation?

            Oh, c'mon amfM ... I thought better of you. Inventing new concepts that don't actually mean anything doesn't help your cause. Try again? .... jake

            The apparent fact, jake, that such newly invented concepts don't actually mean anything to you* is not really surprising, for surely one cannot disagree, a Ubiquitous Weapon for Mass Distraction and Destruction and Disruptive Creation is certainly not something ever likely to be made available to all even as it is advertised as being freely available to all able to better use rather than abuse and misuse it, because of its increasingly volatile and stealthily designed unpredictable nature.

            That is not to say that one be unworthy, it is just that a lot more needs to be learned and personally privately known about such matters to have any possible impact upon rampant and rabid systems developments/operations/experiments.

            * There is always the distinct possibility too in a human that such is a strangely wanton position of wilful fake denial in order to render to oneself a future advantage. Such is exceedingly common, although any denial of such here is something which is more a waste of time in space to argue/debate/disagree about than anything else exciting and creatively disruptive. That's how much everything really matters ‽ .

            1. georgezilla

              Re: A Ubiquitous Weapon for Mass Distraction and Destruction and Disruptive Creation?

              " ... Ubiquitous Weapon for Mass Distraction and Destruction and Disruptive Creation ... "

              Ummmmm.......

              Wouldn't that be a close descriptive approximation of the current President of the United States of America?

  1. jake Silver badge

    Let me use whatever browser I want to use.

    If it makes your badly designed web page look like shit, I'll try another browser. Or, more likely, I'll pass on your badly designed web site entirely. But leave the choice to me ... that way, at least you'll have a chance of me trying another browser. Blocking me outright right from the git-go doesn't give you that second chance; I'll assume you're either hostile or an asshole and move on to greener pastures.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Let me use whatever browser I want to use.

      And if it's the greenest pasture because there are no substitutes (say a government website)?

      1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Re: Let me use whatever browser I want to use.

        Or if terrorists are forcing me at gunpoint to use Chrome?

        We can dream up all sorts of hypothetical situations where choice is removed. What's the point? jake's position, as I understand it, is that browser-blocking encourages him not to use a particular site. For the vast majority of sites, there are alternatives.

        Now, you can argue that only a trivial (from the site owner's point of view) fraction of customers will take such a stand, so they won't care; that's entirely plausible. But noting that there are conceivable situations where a user might be forced to use a different browser (or use some non-web point of contact - many governments still offer those!) is a vacuous argument.

      2. jake Silver badge

        Re: Let me use whatever browser I want to use.

        For greater than four nines of all WWW sites, there is another pasture. I can afford to miss out on the one in ten thousand; one can only laugh at so many cute cat pics in a lifetime.

        As for .gov ... I visit them in person. It's much less trouble, and I usually get whatever it is I am doing done in a single visit, instead of it taking several trips and many days as it so often does on the Web.

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: Let me use whatever browser I want to use.

          "As for .gov ... I visit them in person. It's much less trouble, and I usually get whatever it is I am doing done in a single visit, instead of it taking several trips and many days as it so often does on the Web."

          If it's something like Social Security, though, be prepared to lose a day at work and to camp. I speak from experience (and all I wanted was a new card--had no choice because the .gov website, the ONLY other way to do it, is shot all to hell).

          1. ROC

            Re: Let me use whatever browser I want to use.

            Yeah, that is more typical of dealings with such monopolies, public or private (e.g. the local utility company). Similarly, if one has been dealing for some time with a business one prefers for most other aspects of its operation, but the browser requirement is not in line with one's preference, it can be a difficult choice ...

  2. Dwarf Silver badge

    Standards

    <sarc>

    If only there was a way to make a standard where all the way things to be displayed on a users screen were expressed in a consistent way and all the things that display the content interpreted things in a consistent way then none of this would be necessary.

    </sarc>

    It all broke down though when someone decided, "Hey, I can do this better" which is why there has been such a convoluted journey to get to the HTML 5 standards.

    Now all we need is for everyone to just adopt that and move on.

    I agree with @jake (so have an upvote). Its my choice as to what I decide to browser on and which browser I'll use and if it doesn't work / works differently, well, give me a bug reporting form and I'll tell you and you can fix it.

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: Standards

      "The nice thing about standards is that there are so many of them to choose from." —Andrew S. Tanenbaum

  3. Bryan B

    I'm puzzled...

    I'm currently running WhatsApp Web and GDocs in Vivaldi 2.9 with no problems. It's true there's been issues in the past, but they've more often been with arrogant sites (hello Google!) that demand third-party cookies when I had the latter blocked.

    1. Ben Tasker Silver badge
      Gimp

      Re: I'm puzzled...

      In fairness, WhatsApp Web is an absolute shit-head for browser blocking in general - it's not just Vivaldi that gets impacted.

      I've had it block Chromium, and just occasionally decide the Firefox on Linux can fuck off too.

      I tend to just have UA switcher tell it I'm on Safari on Mac now, and everything works fine. In fact, I think WhatsApp Web was my first experience of being blocked based on UA in nearly a decade

      Icon because the WhatsApp developers have gimped their own product

      1. Updraft102

        Re: I'm puzzled...

        In fact, I think WhatsApp Web was my first experience of being blocked based on UA in nearly a decade

        It's been a while for me too until recently, but the practice is experiencing a resurgence, it would seem. Netflix does it, lots of banks do it, Google does it with KHTML now... apparently, a return to the bad old days of "best viewed in Netscape Navigator" is in order. I'm a little annoyed that Vivaldi devs were compelled to do this... it should not be necessary, and having devs of smaller browsers give in to keep their user complaint levels down only encourages the idiots who have sniffer scripts. I know they're going to take the blame for websites blocking on useragent, but you don't overcome stupidity by giving in to it.

        Also, "supported" means "we'll give you assistance (support) if you need help using our service or product." "Unsupported" does not mean "we will block you." That's "prohibited." If you mean prohibited, say so... stop hiding behind euphemisms.

        1. phuzz Silver badge

          Re: I'm puzzled...

          With Netflix its because only some browsers/OSs support the heavy-duty DRM that they like, so IIRC only Edge on Windows allows 4k streaming (or used to).

          You can have your Netflix, or you can have a browser without DRM.

          1. Fatman

            Re: I'm puzzled...

            <quote>You can have your Netflix, or you can have a browser without DRM.</quote>

            I will take the latter any fucking day of the year.

            1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

              Re: I'm puzzled...

              Indeed. Netflix is an entertainment convenience at best. If I want video entertainment there are hundreds of other sources. (Would you believe some people actually broadcast it to anyone who can receive it?)

              Frankly, with the current streaming-service land grab, it's hard for me to see Netflix's value proposition. I've lost track of how many services my wife has subscribed to, and most of them are specialty services specifically for a handful of programs, and are likely to be dropped like a hot potato if they lose those offerings. They tend to be significantly cheaper than mass-market services like Netflix. If it were up to me, I'd have canceled our Netflix subscription some time ago.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: I'm puzzled...

                I've lost track of how many services my wife has subscribed to,

                I feel your pain.

          2. ScrappyLaptop2

            Re: I'm puzzled...

            Or you can just install a User Agent extension on the Chrome store from within Vivaldi, change the browser ID to one owned by a corporation Netflix has an agreement with, and watch Stranger Things to your heart's content.

  4. mark l 2 Silver badge

    The problem is down to lazy website developers who CBA to fix their site to work on anything other than Chrome and possibly Safari (after all those Apple users are usually where the money is) so they just block them.

    The web version of Skype was blocked from access on Firefox but when i changed the user agent to Chrome I was then able to login and use it without any noticeable issues

    1. Updraft102

      The problem is down to lazy website developers who CBA to fix their site to work on anything other than Chrome and possibly Safari (after all those Apple users are usually where the money is) so they just block them.

      It takes even less effort to not test on anything but Chrome and to not install a blocking script. They're already willing to write off Firefox users and users of other browsers, so what do they care if the site is not tested on them? It's possible users of other browsers will be annoyed by a slightly malfunctioning site, but they will be annoyed for sure by being told to GTFO.

      1. jelabarre59

        It's possible users of other browsers will be annoyed by a slightly malfunctioning site, but they will be annoyed for sure by being told to GTFO.

        But look on the positive side; sites blocking me give me an opportunity to send (yet another) scathing putdown of the company, site, and all involved. So at least there's the entertainment value.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          No, in the age of fake news and "I reject your reality and substitute my own," you're liable to get counter-razzes, some of which may just take it personally...

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      "lazy website developers who CBA to fix their site"

      Lazy or smartarses who make the site so gimmicky than only the quirks of their particular browser can run it.

      1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Yes. Web applications are plagued by too-clever-by-half.

  5. IGotOut Silver badge

    Google...the new Microsoft.

    Am I the only one that has noticed that Google image search favours it's own browser? Go to it with any other browser and half the options for filtering disappear?

    1. Def Silver badge

      Re: Google...the new Microsoft.

      Google are far worse than Microsoft ever were when it comes to discriminating against non-Chrome browsers.

  6. Milton

    Side note: Vivaldi is excellent

    As a technical user who may have a dozen windows open to extremely similar-looking interfaces (even Dev and Prod for the same customer), Vivaldi's flexibility, customisabiity and profile management is peerlessly wonderful. I can use a specific, tailored icon to open a specific profile to a specific page, giving me a window with a specific logo/colour in its title bar, so that I know exactly what to open and where I am at any time, in any window. It allows me to zoom a specific, solitary page, without causing the whole site/domain to follow. Best of all, it doesn't spy on me, giving me the best features of the Chrome engine without toxic Google spyware.

    It has a longstanding problem: it crashes my machine at least once a day, though rarely twice (I suspect memory management issues related to caching)—and I still use it. That's how good Vivaldi is.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Side note: Vivaldi is excellent

      Does it have a proper[1] UI layout? (From top to bottom: Title bar, menu bar, nav buttons+address bar[2], tab bar, page content, status bar, said status bar which displays the target for the link you're hovering over) Does it prevent pages from altering or hiding any of these by default?

      [1] For suitably stretchy values of "proper"

      [2] A UI control to display the current page address or enter a new one. It does not do anything else.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    There is enough unique in a browser string to track you

    There really is a point where the browser should stop handing out details just because it has them.

  8. LateAgain

    Who remembers when....

    Changing the browser string got you a playable video rather than the "flash required" version?

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Who remembers when....

      Who remembers when Opera (Vivaldi's parent) was being detected by Microsoft.com and sent deliberately broken content

      1. ScissorHands
        Windows

        Re: Who remembers when....

        Aahhhh, I think I still have the "Bork Bork" Opera installer somewhere...

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    WTF

    Why are websites blocking browsers

    Who are these smelly spotty virgin nerds who are trying to tell me which browser I can use

    Block my choice of browser - block your site

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: WTF

      They don't want to be held liable when (not if) something slips thorough that gets customers (or eorse, THEM) pwned.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: WTF

        The more supposedly clever stuff they put into it, the more likely that is to happen. It's like trying to stop your bath overflowing by hammering the plug in more tightly.

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: WTF

          Unless the moment they stop, the legal teams will be on them like a ton of bricks for not staying current and leaving them and their customers open to be pwned...

      2. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

        WTF .... An AWEsome Event and/or Spooky Experiment. Both Together as One would be Prolific

        They won't be. They can't be. They be Just A.N.Other's Almighty Conduit, surely ?

        Dare Care Share How IT is Not?

        Browsers Readily Available and Registering Comment for New Content here on El Reg would be Ecstatic to Prove IT So.

        Happy New Year, El Regers.

        2020, Here We Come ....... AI Invigorated. And in All of the Best of Streams and Swarms, for one to be reborn again and again for trying again and again to be a great deal better than just the simply good and marvellous before..

        You'll have to imagine how great that all is. ...... the present power of current words constantly, consistently fails to Evidence the Euphoria.

        Learned Instructive Direction in the Following of AIRoad Maps with Remote Virtual Command at the Levers of Control would appear to be missing from that Briefs' Bundle.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So now Chrome

    Will appear to have an even higher usage share. Not that Vivaldi has much share in the first place, but if say Firefox was forced to do this to then it really would look like a monoculture.

    If the EU competition people want to help out the world, instead of worrying about what is installed by default on Android or whatever they are currently studying force Google to spin off Chrome into a separate company and bar them from offering a browser.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: So now Chrome

      " instead of worrying about what is installed by default on Android or whatever they are currently studying force Google to spin off Chrome into a separate company and bar them from offering a browser."

      Why do you think it's an either/or situation?

  11. Steve Graham

    Non optional?

    If I understand correctly, Vivaldi will ALWAYS spoof as Chrome from now on? What if I don't want it to?

    (I've been using Vivaldi as my main browser for almost 2 years now, and I've never had a website complain about it.)

  12. hellwig

    Browser Restrictions

    Come on, who didn't have a check on their Geocities page admonishing people for using I.E. instead of Netscape back in the day?

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: Browser Restrictions

      I didn't. But then I never had a Geocities page. When they came about, I would have been downgrading compared to my own portal ...

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