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KDE Web Browser Konqueror Gets Activ(eX)ated: Embraces ActiveX, Plays Shockwave Movies

Jul 10, 2001, 02:03 (75 Talkback[s])

[ Thanks to Andreas Pour for the tip. ]

July 9, 2001 (The INTERNET) -- Nikolas Zimmermann and Malte Starostik today announced the availability of reaktivate for Konqueror, KDE's web browser. Reaktivate enables Konqueror to embed ActiveX controls, such as the popular Shockwave movies, for which no native Linux/Unix solution exists. Reaktivate relies on the WINE libraries to load and run ActiveX controls.

With this addition, Konqueror now enables KDE users to take optimal advantage of sophisticated websites that make use of Microsoft Internet Explorer plugins, Netscape Communicator plugins for Linux and Java applets, as well as KDE plugins designed using KDE's KParts technology.

According to Malte, the reason he and Nikolas implemented reaktivate is rather simple: it broadens the spectrum of web sites accessible to Konqueror, and it was possible.

Successes and Limitations

Theoretically, Reaktivate can eventually be used to embed any ActiveX control into Konqueror. Currently, however, not all ActiveX controls are compatible with reaktivate. In particular, the Microsoft Windows Media Player cannot be installed using reaktivate (though it is not known if a player which is already installed with work with reaktivate). Thus it is likely there exist other ActiveX controls which will not yet work with reaktivate. Work is ongoing to increase compatability with other ActiveX controls, including the Apple QuickTime plugin.

So far, however, reaktivate has been successfully tested with the following ActiveX controls:

Control Status Test-URL Screenshots
Macromedia Shockwave Flash 5 No known problems. Click here [1], [2], [3], [4], and [5]
Macromedia Shockwave Player 8 Some files require the use of a native msvcrt.dll instead of the one provided by winelib. The post-installation dialog is functional but hard to decipher due to drawing problems. Some movies do not display properly (only black stripes and rects are shown) Click here [1]
LivePics Clicking the "info" button in the toolbar has no result, everything else works fine. Click here [1] and [2]
Note on Security

Install ActiveX controls only from sites that you trust. Microsoft's ActiveX technology has often been criticized for weak security. Those controls are dynamic libraries that are executed exactly like any other piece of code installed on the user's system. This means they have full access to the file system, the system registry etc. As a means to establish the users' trust in the controls a web site wishes to install, every ActiveX control is cryptographically signed and carries a certificate issued by an authority known to the web browser (like VeriSign). A control that has no signature or no certificate or if they are invalid will not be installed.

With reaktivate the situation is similar: the installed controls can call every WinAPI function provided by the WINE libraries and therefore have access to WINE's registry and all files visible to the WINE installation. The current implementation of reaktivate will ask the user for confirmation to install a new control, but it will not check the embedded certificate and signature. This is due to technical reasons as well as limited time. Therefore we strongly advise to install controls only from sites that you trust. To save your files from malicious controls, you might also consider using this feature only from a seperate user account that has no access to your main user's files. Reaktivate will not run for the root account.

Installing Reaktivate

Source code for reaktivate is freely available under a Free, Open Source license from the kdenonbeta module in KDE's CVS repository and its mirrors. See the KDE website for information about how to get a module from CVS. You only need the toplevel, admin and reaktivate directories from kdenonbeta. Before compiling, get the latest CVS version of WINE (a snapshot will likely not be new enough). Next, apply all patches from reaktivate/patches-for-wine/ against the WINE sources and build/install WINE. Finally, you can build and install reaktivate.

Disclaimer: reaktivate is not in any manner sponsored or endorsed by, affiliated with, or otherwise related to, Microsoft Corporation.

Thanks to Andreas "Dre" Pour and Navindra Umanee for assisting in drafting this release.

Trademarks Notices. KDE, K Desktop Environment and Konqueror are trademarks of KDE e.V. Linux is a registered trademark of Linus Torvalds. Unix is a registered trademark of The Open Group. Microsoft, ActiveX, Microsoft Internet Explorer and Windows Media Player are registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corporation. Shockwave is a trademark or registered trademark of Macromedia, Inc. in the United States and/or other countries. Netscape and Netscape Communicator are trademarks or registered trademarks of Netscape Communications Corporation in the United States and other countries and JavaScript is a trademark of Netscape Communications Corporation. Apple and Quicktime are trademarks of Apple Computer, Inc., registered in the U.S. and other countries. All other trademarks and copyrights referred to in this announcement are the property of their respective owners.