Comrade stoutner about webview

Dear @sorenstoutner
Thank you very much for your answer, I’ve installed privacy browser and tried to open it but the result was a pop up message saying ‘’ unfortunately the application has stopped’’ same as all my apps that rely on a system webview.
I’ll explain you more about the case : My alcatel 4.4.2 runs an absolutely goggle-free stock rom, you’ll find not a single goggle file, not even a gsf, gms, phonesky or finsky file. In that condition the phone ( unthinkable for many) worked marvelously fine at every detail and with its 225 apps, previously unchecking them from every goggle link in my toolbox.
The problem surged when I accidentally erased the chromium files…before checking for an alternative !
I thought it would be easy to find an open source webview rendering engine but all attempts have been vane, mostly by my ignorance, that’s why I’m looking for support
-Open source webview rendering engine- that’s the solving key…Could you please recommend me one or an open source webview app that deploys itself when opened and provides a system webview engine? I
If so I acknowledge you in advance.
Cheers

@cafisho

I concur with your desire to run a completely open source version of Android. Let me give you some information about WebView.

  1. Android’s WebView is open source, unlike many of the other components produced by Google, like Google Play Services, Google Docs, Play Store, etc. Since Android 4.4, it has been built from the same source code as Chromium. See https://www.chromium.org/developers/how-tos/build-instructions-android-webview.

  2. Android has a number of core views that are used by programs to display information on the screen. These include TextView, ImageView, Spinner, EditText, and WebView. WebView is used by many programs that are not browsers to display formatted HTML. For example, many programs use WebView to display the About section of the app, or to render documentation or instructions.

  3. Some ROMs deliver a forked WebView. For example, LineageOS started shipping a forked WebView in January 2017: https://github.com/LineageOS/android/commit/b2ae11567cc48ea4569d10703317d0dcfec7845d. However, forking WebView can be a complicated process, and in doing so they somehow broke the ability of their WebView to clear the cache: https://redmine.stoutner.com/issues/114.

  4. Because WebView is one of the parts of Android that is most susceptible to security problems, and because most OEM’s take forever to release new versions of Android, beginning with Android 5.0 Google started shipping updates to WebView in APK form on Google Play. Basically every six weeks or so they update the Android Open Source Code, build a new APK for WebView, and distribute it to get the latest security updates out to end user devices. Because WebView is built on the same code base as Chromium, the release of these updates corresponds with the releases of Chrome.

  5. I have written more about the history of WebView on this forum. WebKit, AOSP/Google Webview, Gecko

  6. I am planning to fork WebView myself, which will be called Privacy WebView. https://www.stoutner.com/february-2017-roadmap/ But it will probably be several years before I am in a position to do so. The end result will be published as a separate APK that other apps can use instead of the system WebView if they desire to do so (or for ROMs to distribute as their system WebView).

  7. To restore the Android WebView files to your system, you could build them from source following the instructions in the link above, but it is probably easier to just install a pre-built APK. You can use Yalp Store (https://f-droid.org/repository/browse/?fdid=com.github.yeriomin.yalpstore) to download the Android System WebView that Google provides.

Thanks a lot for your guidance, the language’s still too technical for my poor knowledge but it cleared many aspects of the problem.
So webviews are open source, sure since the original chromium still worked being no google at all in my phone. Would be worth then to try the android webview app? but when I try to download it appears a warning saying that the app is not compatible with my OS…I can download it anyhow by other ways BUT… please tell me what issues I could find from that incompatibility… Any big risk?
And what about flashing the chromium 30 files? could you tell me where’s to download the zip from and how to place it?
Again thanks
PD-I’ve just downloaded the system webview APK and when I try to open it a window pops up saying ‘‘problem when parsing the package’’…¿?

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BTW, @sorenstoutner, what do you think about packing your fork of WebView
separately as Google do?

  1. That would allow other 3rd party apps use it instead of buggy stock WV
  2. Maybe it would allow to replace Google WV for those users who strongly
    avoid Google staff (there are some gapps replacements already). Not sure
    about this one technically
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@cafisho, I’m afraid your specific circumstances are a little beyond my expertise. You might try contacting the makers of your ROM to get advice on restoring the WebView files. Or you might have to reflash the base ROM and do your customizations on top of it except for the removal of those files.

@Ildar, that is the plan. Privacy WebView will be released as a separate APK that any program can choose to use instead of the Android System WebView. It will also be done in a way that will be easy for ROM distributors to package as their system WebView so that all apps automatically use it. It will be a fair amount of work to put this together, and I have a list of things I intend to implement in Privacy Browser before I start on this, so I don’t expect to have Privacy WebView ready to ship for a couple of years.

https://www.stoutner.com/category/roadmap/

Thanks Mr stoutner, and since the webview issue is so wrapped in dodgy mists (as I may witness after a bit hard research) I deem it would be rather practical to reflash a ROM, disinfect the phone again and leave the chromium files at place.
Could you tell me if the 35 MB file called libchrome is a part of the webview or has an important link with it ?
One more question : I’ve just downloaded a webview APK called snapdragon and in the attempt of open it pops up the known message ‘‘problem when parsing the package’’ Is there any tweak to force the opening…?
Last thing please…a link to download the chromium 30 package from if you or somebody else know it thus keeping my present ROM.
Again thanks.

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@cafisho, I apologize for the delayed response. Somehow I didn’t see your reply before.

Yes, libchrome is an important part of Android’s WebView.

The problem with the parsing of the snapdragon APK likely relates to the package APK being corrupted, but it could also be a poorly worded error message caused because the package is not compatible with your hardware/ROM.

Regarding updated versions of Android’s WebView, I would recommend that you use what is provided by your ROM. If it is not updated frequently, you can look into downloading the current version of Android’s WebView using Yalp. You’ll have to enable the setting to show system apps. It is listed as Android System WebView.

It’s fine to hear from you after such a long time. The webview issue was finally solved by reflashing the stock ROM as adviced, since then my alcatel kit Kat runs swift and fine with its little memory, a bulky 230 applications and as you remember not a single goggle file.
However (and I profit the occasion to put one more query) swiftness is daily altered by the appearance of goggle files such as analytics, ads and tracking after net sessions though those items are unchecked in all my applications through 3C toolbox. Once carried out the due cleaning the device regain its full health but the question is: how can I put an end to this nuisance. should I modify the APKs ? Is there some application to prevent it ?
Those files are generated only in connection with some key apps that currently depend on GSF such as floating controls and unhappily I cannot find an open source replacement not even in Fdroid.
Any suggestion ? I thank you in advance

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I think at this stage you likely know more about the internals of Google’s services than I do, so there probably isn’t anything I can tell you about them that you already don’t know.

If you aren’t already aware of of it, you should check out Replicant, which is a fully free Android distribution that does exactly what you are trying to accomplish. They have limited hardware support, but it is growing with every release and some of the devices can be acquired used at little cost.