How to emulate a WebSocket client in JavaScript using the Java plugin

This blog post shows a proof of concept implementation which can be extended to emulate a WebSocket client in JavaScript in browsers where WebSocket support is not available, but there is a working Java plugin installed.

The motivation behind this blog post is to design drop-in replacements for WebSocket for older browsers (e.g. Internet Explorer 9 and earlier, Opera 9 and earlier, Safari 4 and earlier, Firefox 3.7 and earlier), where WebSocket client support is not available, but some browser plugin (like Java, Flash or Silverlight) could be used to emulate it. This blog post is a proof-of-concept demonstrating how the Java plugin can be used for such an emulation.

The trick is to use the java symbol exported to JavaScript. Here is the relevant HTML page with JavaScript code, which implements a simple, proof-of-concept HTTP client in JavaScript using Java:

<title>Java WebSocket proof-of-concept test</title>
<script type="text/javascript">
function output(str) {
  var output = document.getElementById("output")
  var text = document.createTextNode(str)
  var br = document.createElement('br')
  output.insertBefore(br, null)  
  output.insertBefore(text, null)
function init() {
  output("find java")
  var hostItems = window.location.host.split(':')
  var hostName = hostItems[0]
  var port = 80
  if (hostItems.length > 1) {
    port = parseInt(hostItems[1], 10)
    if (port == 443 && window.location.protocol == 'https:')
      port = 80
  output("connecting to host " + hostName + ", port " + port)
  var socket = new java.net.Socket(hostName, port)
  var osw = new java.io.OutputStreamWriter(socket.getOutputStream(), "UTF-8")
  var isr = new java.io.InputStreamReader(socket.getInputStream(), "UTF-8")
  var bis = new java.io.BufferedReader(isr)   
  output("sending request (GET /answer.html)")  
  osw.write("GET /answer.html HTTP/1.0\r\n\r\n")
  output("reading response")
  // SUXX: This blocks the whole browser (Firefox) until the response is
  // ready.
  var line
  while (true) {
    line = bis.readLine()    
    if (line == null) break
    if (line == '' || line == '\r') break
    output("got header line: " + line)
  output("done with header")
  if (line != null) {
    while (true) {
      line = bis.readLine()  
      if (line == null) break
      output("got body line: " + line)
  output("done with body")
</head><body onload="init()">
<div id="output" style="border:1px solid black;padding: 2px">Welcome!</div>

The code above could be easily upgraded to use the WebSocket protocol.

Please note that the implementation above has a show-stopper bug: it locks the whole browser UI (all functionality in all tabs, in Firefox 3.6) until the server returns the HTTP response. It might be possible to solve it by using java.nio.SocketChannel, but we haven't investigated that yet.

Please note that it is possible to do WebSocket emulation with Flash instead of Java, see web-socket-js for the client-side code (JavaScript and Flash) and web-socket-ruby for the server-side code.

Please note that we haven't investigated if it is possible to do WebSocket emulation with Silverlight instead of Java.


How to try Stackless Python on Linux without installing it?

This blog post gives instructions on trying Stackless Python without installing it on Linux systems (32-bit and 64-bit).

Use the Stackless version of the StaticPython binary executable, which is a portable version of Stackless Python 2.7 for Linux systems. It is linked statically, with most standard Python modules and C extensions included in the executable binary, so no installation is required. Here is how to try it:

$ wget -O stackless2.7-static \
$ chmod +x stackless2.7-static
$ ./stackless2.7-static
Python 2.7 Stackless 3.1b3 060516 (release27-maint, Aug 11 2010, 13:55:35) 
[GCC 4.1.2] on linux2
Type "help", "copyright", "credits" or "license" for more information.
>>> import stackless

See more information about features, suggested uses and limitations on the StaticPython home page.

StaticPython released

This blog post is an announcement of the StaticPython software distribution and its first release.

What is StaticPython?

StaticPython is a statically linked version of the Python 2.x (currently 2.7) interpreter and its standard modules for 32-bit Linux systems (i686, i386). It is distributed as a single, statically linked 32-bit Linux executable binary, which contains the Python scripting engine, the interactive interpreter with command editing (readline), the Python debugger (pdb), most standard Python modules (including pure Python modules and C extensions), coroutine support using greenlet and multithreading support. The binary contains both the pure Python modules and the C extensions, so no additional .py or .so files are needed to run it. It also works in a chroot environment. The binary uses uClibc, so it supports username lookups and DNS lookups as well (without NSS).

Download and run

Download the lastest StaticPython 2.7 executable binary.

Here is how to use it:

$ wget -O python2.7-static \
$ chmod +x python2.7-static
$ ./python2.7-static
Python 2.7 (r27:82500, Aug 11 2010, 10:51:33) 
[GCC 4.1.2] on linux2
Type "help", "copyright", "credits" or "license" for more information.

For what purpose is StaticPython useful?

  • for running Python scripts in chroot and other restricted environments (e.g. for running untrusted standard Python code)
  • for running CGI scripts on some web hosting providers where Python is not preinstalled (this is slow)
  • for trying the newest Python and running scripts on a very old Linux system or on a system where package installation is not possible or cumbersome
  • for deploying and running Tornado, Eventlet or Twisted-based networking applications on a machine without a working Python installation (please note that the framework itself has also to be deployed)

When isn't StaticPython recommended?

  • if dependencies need Python package installation (e.g. distutils, setuptools, setup.py, Pyrex, Cython) -- distutils is not included, there is no site-packages directory, loading .so files is not supported
  • if dependencies are or need shared libraries (.so files) -- StaticPython doesn't support loading .so files, not even with the dl or ctypes modules
  • if startup and module import has to be fast -- since StaticPython stores .py files (no .pyc) in a ZIP file at the end of the binary
  • for GUI programming -- no GUI or graphics library is included, loading .so files is not supported

How to extend, customize or recompile StaticPython?

Compiling python2.7-static was a one-off manual process. Automating this process has not been implemented yet. Please contact the author if you need this.

Feature details

Features provided

  • command-line editing with the built-in readline module
  • almost all standard Python 2.7 modules built-in
  • almost all standard C extensions built-in: _bisect, _codecs, _codecs_cn, _codecs_hk, _codecs_iso2022, _codecs_jp, _codecs_kr, _codecs_tw, _collections, _csv, _curses, _elementtree, _functools, _heapq, _hotshot, _io, _json, _locale, _lsprof, _md5, _multibytecodec, _multiprocessing, _random, _sha, _sha256, _sha512, _socket, _sockobject, _sqlite3 (added 1004307 bytes to the executable binary size), _sre, _struct, _symtable, _weakref, array, audioop, binascii, bz2, cPickle, cStringIO, cmath, crypt, datetime, errno, fcntl, fpectl, future_builtins, gc, grp, imageop, itertools, math, mmap, operator, parser, posix, pwd, pyexpat, readline, resource, select, signal, spwd, strop, syslog, termios, thread, time, timing, zipimport, zlib
  • greenlet integrated for coroutine support
  • multithreading (using thread and threading as usual)
  • line editing even without a terminfo definition or inputrc file (useful in chroot, provided by libreadline/libncurses by default)
  • the usual help, license used in interactive mode

Executable binary layout

  • Python 2.7 (r27:82500) on Linux i386, statically linked compiled and linked with uClibc, so it supports username lookups and DNS lookups as well (without NSS).
  • pure Python and C extensions integrated to a single, statically linked, i386 (i686) Linux executable
  • compiled with uClibc so it can do DNS lookups without /lib/libss_*so*
  • can run from any directory, even in chroot containing only the binary, even in interactive mode, even without /proc mounted

Features missing

  • missing: loading .so files (C shared libraries, Python C extensions)
  • missing: the ctypes module and the dl module (since no .so file loading support)
  • missing: the distutils module, custom extension installation
  • missing: !OpenSSL, SSL sockets
  • missing: IPv6 support
  • missing: GUI bindings (tkinter, GTK, Qt etc.)
  • missing: Stackless Python


How to try the latest MariaDB on Linux

This blog post explains how to download and start the bleeding edge MariaDB on a fairly recent 32-bit or 64-bit Linux system, for trial and development, the most straightforward way, without overwriting an existing MySQL installation or its data.

MariaDB is an improved, backward compatible, drop-in replacement of the MySQL Database Server, by Michael "Monty" Widenius, the original author of MySQL.

Please note that parts of this blog post are obsolete. See also the new blog post.

The simplest download and startup instructions for MariaDB 5.2.1 for 32-bit (i386, i686) Linux systems is the following:

# Stop any MySQL server currently running.
$ wget -O /tmp/mariadb-compact.tbz2 \
$ cd /tmp
$ tar xjvf mariadb-compact.tbz2
$ cd mariadb-compact
$ ./bin/mysqld --datadir=$PWD/data --pid-file=$PWD/mysqld.pid \
  --socket=$PWD/mysqld.sock --language=$PWD/share/mysql/english \

To stop the server, press Ctrl-Backslash, Enter in the window mysqld_safe is running, and wait 15 seconds for the process to exit.

To connect to the server, install the MySQL client. (e.g. with $ sudo apt-get install mysql-client on an Ubuntu system), and then run

$ mysql --socket=/tmp/mariadb-compact/mysqld.sock --user=root --database=test


$ mysql --host= --user=root --database=test

to connect. Please note that mariadb-compact comes with insecure default settings: it lets anyone connect as user root (on TCP (but not on other IP addresses) and on the Unix socket as well) without a password. Please use the appropriate mysqladmin commands (or modify the tables mysql.user, mysql.host and mysql.db directly) to set up access restrictions. use the --skip-networking flag of mysqld to prevent it from listening on TCP ports (not even

FYI Here is how mariadb-compact.tbz2 was created from the official MariaDB Linux binaries. The official download was located on http://askmonty.org/wiki/MariaDB:Download http://askmonty.org/wiki/MariaDB:Download:MariaDB_5.2.1-beta, and then the following commands were executed:

$ wget -O /tmp/mariadb-5.2.1-beta-Linux-i686.tar.gz \
$ mkdir -p /tmp/mariadb-preinst
$ cd /tmp/mariadb-preinst
$ tar xzvf /tmp/mariadb-5.2.1-beta-Linux-i686.tar.gz mariadb-5.2.1-beta-Linux-i686/\
$ cd mariadb-5.2.1-beta-Linux-i686
$ strip -s bin/mysqld
$ ./scripts/mysql_install_db --basedir="$PWD" --force --datadir="$PWD"/data
$ rm -rf scripts
$ rm -f share/*.sql
$ cd ..
$ mv mariadb-5.2.1-beta-Linux-i686 mariadb-compact
$ tar cjvf /tmp/mariadb-compact.tbz2 mariadb-compact
$ rm -rf /tmp/mariadb-5.2.1-beta-Linux-i686.tar.gz
$ rm -rf /tmp/mariadb-preinst
$ ls -l /tmp/mariadb-compact.tbz2 
-rw-r--r-- 1 pts pts 4194393 Aug  8 18:10 /tmp/mariadb-compact.tbz2

The script mysql_install_db creates the initial databases and tables (e.g. the mysql.user table used for authentication) in the data directory.

All the other commands above just extract the absolute minimum necessary files from the official binary distribution, strip the binaries, and create a small .tbz2 archive.

Please note that the binaries in the official binary distributions are dynamically linked:

$ ldd bin/mysqld
        linux-gate.so.1 =>  (0xb7727000)
        libnsl.so.1 => /lib/tls/i686/cmov/libnsl.so.1 (0xb76f9000)
        librt.so.1 => /lib/tls/i686/cmov/librt.so.1 (0xb76f0000)
        libpthread.so.0 => /lib/tls/i686/cmov/libpthread.so.0 (0xb76d6000)
        libwrap.so.0 => /lib/libwrap.so.0 (0xb76cd000)
        libdl.so.2 => /lib/tls/i686/cmov/libdl.so.2 (0xb76c9000)
        libresolv.so.2 => /lib/tls/i686/cmov/libresolv.so.2 (0xb76b5000)
        libcrypt.so.1 => /lib/tls/i686/cmov/libcrypt.so.1 (0xb7683000)
        libstdc++.so.6 => /usr/lib/libstdc++.so.6 (0xb7590000)
        libm.so.6 => /lib/tls/i686/cmov/libm.so.6 (0xb756a000)
        libc.so.6 => /lib/tls/i686/cmov/libc.so.6 (0xb7425000)
        /lib/ld-linux.so.2 (0xb7728000)
        libgcc_s.so.1 => /lib/libgcc_s.so.1 (0xb7407000)

It would be straightforward to create the 64-bit version of mariadb-compact.tbz2, by starting from a different official binary distribution (http://ftp.rediris.es/mirror/MariaDB/mariadb-5.2.1-beta/kvm-bintar-hardy-amd64/mariadb-5.2.1-beta-Linux-x86_64.tar.gz), and modifying the the commands above appropriately.

A newer version (5.2.9) of this precompiled 32-bit Linux MariaDB is new available: http://pts-mini-gpl.googlecode.com/svn/trunk/portable-mariadb.release/portable-mariadb.tbz2. Here is the shell script which generated it from the official MariaDB 5.2.9 sources: http://code.google.com/p/pts-mini-gpl/source/browse/trunk/portable-mariadb/build-mariadb.sh. Here is the newer blog post: http://ptspts.blogspot.com/2011/11/announcing-portable-mariadb-small.html.