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The thing I'm most excited about right now is WASI. It provides abstractions for system calls like fs, sockets, graphics, etc. But the best part is that the entire API is being designed with security and capabilities in mind. WASM binaries have to explicitly declare resources they want access to, or risk not being allowed to access them. (The application could also choose to further prompt the user, but i think in most cases they will just be denied). Once resources are acquired, we use unforgable handles to refer to them. It is a super cool and declarative way to make sure people know exactly what a wasm bin will try to access before it's even run.



(I'm one of the authors of Not So Fast)

In the paper we build on previous work from our group, Browsix ( https://browsix.org ) to provide a similar level of abstractions to WASI (the syscall layer). We've talked about having Browsix support running programs targeting WASI in the browser.

One of the great things about supporting "Unix" in the browser is that it makes bringing a whole class of already written applications and library into the browser. I'm excited to see what people do with WASI, but its not clear to me what a program designed from the ground up around capabilities would look like!


Just so I understand, is Browsix running on top of WASI... or are you saying that Browsix will have an option to target WASI? Browsix looks pretty cool, although it's hard to wrap my mind around use-cases outside porting common C libs (like pdf editing).

I'm thinking that decentralized apps would be an interesting Browsix use-case where users can run the full app platform stack in their browser... or connect to dedicated self-hosting servers that are running the same exact code but as native Go/C/Node services.


WASI provides a cross platform definition of "system calls" ( https://github.com/WebAssembly/WASI/blob/master/design/WASI-... ), so that you could write a program, compile it for wasm+wasi, and run the program on any implementation that provides those system calls, like cranelift on Linux, something on Windows, Browsix in the browser.

Browsix and Browsix-Wasm were developed before Wasm and WASI respectively were available, so they have their own definition of syscalls that are conceptually similar but not exactly binary compatible. We hope to modify Browsix to support running programs targeting WASI in the browser, which would free us from having to maintain our own fork of Emscripten.

Do you have specific decentalized apps or usecases in mind? We would love to hear more about the use cases of running things like that in the browser (and have done some work to make socket connections between programs in different browser tabs work over WebRTC)




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