Javascript Emulator runs Linux in a browser

Programmer Fabrice Bellard has unveiled a JavaScript program that emulates an x86 processor fast enough to run Linux in a web browser.

Programmer Fabrice Bellard has unveiled a JavaScript program that emulates an x86 processor fast enough to run Linux in a web browser.

The JavaScript PC Emulator can do the work of an Intel 486 chip from the 1990s, but does not have a built-in floating point unit for numeric processing, Bellard said. Happily, Linux itself can emulate that, and a version of the operating system's core — 2.6.20 — runs on the foundation.

Bellard published a technical description of the JavaScript PC Emulator on Saturday. On Tuesday the project caught the notice of prominent experts, including Brendan Eich, a Mozilla programmer and the creator of JavaScript. "I did it for fun, just because newer JavaScript engines are fast enough to do complicated things," Bellard said of the project.

For more on this story, read JavaScript: Now powerful enough to run Linux on CNET News.

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