Making Flow available on all Raspberry Pi computers

In the last month we’ve made many improvements to Flow, some of which were prompted by feedback from the previous Pi release. The most obvious useability feature is paste support for the welcome page URL bar. We’ve also made it possible to run Flow on all Raspberry Pi computers.

Earlier Raspberry Pis have a different GPU to the one used on the Pi 4 and Pi 400. They are similar except the earlier GPU only supports OpenGL ES 2.0 rather than OpenGL ES 3.0 which the Pi 4 and Pi 400 support. It therefore made sense for us to target these earlier Pis as a way to exercise Flow’s wider OpenGL ES API support. A lot of STBs and other embedded hardware only offer OpenGL ES 2.0, so Flow’s support for them makes sure we aren’t excluding a chunk of that market.

When we recently added WebGL, Flow’s minimum OpenGL ES API level was increased from 2.0 to ES 3.0. We use Google’s ANGLE library as part of our WebGL implementation, as does Chromium, although the way we used it had OpenGL ES 3.0 dependencies in a couple of places. We could have made Flow available without WebGL for OpenGL ES 2.0 platforms, but we didn’t really want to restrict the functionality, so we worked around this.

Flow also requires hardware acceleration which isn’t enabled by default on X11 for earlier Pis. The ‘Fake KMS’ GL Desktop driver is needed for this.

The updated Flow preview is now available on our download site. We’ve run it on the Pi Zero, Pi 1 and Pi 3. The Pi 1 with 256MB is unusably slow because it doesn’t have enough memory so is swapping all the time. None of these are really fast enough for open internet browsing, but for bespoke content they are fine.


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