If you're using the Linux operating system, you can choose from among numerous browsers that range in scope and feature. But despite all the choices, most Linux users are familiar with only one or two. (Firefox and Chrome top the list.) So I thought it would be interesting to highlight 10 browsers for the Linux operating system. Although some might be similar, they are not the same beast. Let's start by looking at each one. Then, I'll rank them and you can vote for your top pick.
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Chrome is, without question, the fastest browser on the playground. None of the competition even comes close to its speed. On the Linux operating system, you will find two versions: Chrome and Chromium Browser. By default, most Debian-based distributions can install Chromium Browser when you search for it in the Add/Remove Software tool. Chromium is the open source version of the Chrome browser and works as well. It stands up, feature-for-feature, against its proprietary brethren.
Firefox has been the go-to browser for the Linux operating system for a long time. Most users don't realize that Firefox is the basis for many other browsers (such as Iceweasel). These "other" versions of Firefox are nothing more than rebrands. Most Linux distributions come with Firefox installed and set as the default browser.
For some time now, Opera has attempted to dethrone all other browsers for the top browser spot. Although this has not happened, Opera is still an outstanding choice. You won't find Opera in the Add/Remove Software tool, but the Opera download page will auto-detect the flavor of Linux you are using and offer the appropriate download. In most cases (the exception being Chrome), when you open the download, your package manager will automatically open and ask if you want to install the package.
Konqueror used to be the default "everything" tool for the KDE desktop. Both file manager and Web browser, Konqueror looked to be the king of the Linux desktop. But then the KDE team decided to introduce Dolphin as the default file manager, and Konqueror no longer stood as the one-stop-shop on the KDE desktop. But Konqueror was (and is) a fine browser, and it offers something no other Web browser offers: multiple rendering engines. You can have Konqueror with the default KHTML or with Webkit. By default, Konqueror will install using KHTML. To get the WebKit version, install rekonq.
For the longest time, Lynx was the best Web browser available. That was back when browsing the Web was done to read and read only. Lynx is a text-based Web browser that is viewed from within a terminal window. If you're using a GUI-less server and you need to look up something on the Internet, a tool like Lynx is indispensable. Just don't expect it to behave like your standard browser. You can't "click" links, you won't see images, and you certainly can't view Flash or Java applets.
Midori aims to be fast and lightweight — a goal many browsers strive for. But where many others fail, Midori succeeds with flying colors. This browser is light and fast and doesn't suffer from the same crash-prone nature as does Epiphany. The only downfall many users might find is that it's not festooned with extensions, plug-ins, and themes. But Midori is a simple-to-use, incredibly fast WebKit-based browser that will have you browsing with speed many other browsers only dream of.
Arora is a QtWebKit-enabled browser, and it's not limited to Linux. On top of being lightweight, fast, and easy to use, Arora is cross platform (Linux, Mac, and Windows). I've tried Arora on all three platforms and I have to say it's impressive. For a browser that gets very little publicity, Arora is one of the finest. After experiencing this browser (on all platforms, especially), you would think it's coming from one of the larger, better-known development teams. And considering Arora is still very much in beta (as of this writing, it's in release 0.2.2 on the Linux platform and 0.10.0 on the Windows platform), you would expect much more erratic crash-prone behavior. Not the case with Arora.
Dooble is another WebKit browser written in Qt4. Dooble's primary claim is that it's designed to safeguard the privacy of its users. If you look carefully, you won't find many differences in what other browsers are doing for security. But you will find a few other features that are unique to Dooble, such as the included Desktop. The Dooble Desktop is a unique tab that allows you to add application launchers as well as a desktop background. Although you can install Dooble from within your package manager, you more than likely will be installing a very out of date release (Ubuntu 10.10 installed version 0.07, whereas the source file on the Dooble Web site is at version 1.14.) NOTE: If you do install Dooble from source, you will also need to have Qt compiler tools installed (such as qt4-qmake).
NetSurf claims to be "small as a mouse, fast as a cheetah, and available for free." From my experience, NetSurf is quite a fast browser. In fact, it might be one of the faster browsers you will find. However, that speed comes at a price. Since NetSurf is in early development, you will find much that's not supported. A lot of the Web Standards compliance has yet to be complete, so features such as plug-in support are nonexistent. But if you are looking for a bare-bones browser to do what the Web was originally designed for (get information), NetSurf is a good choice. Even in its infancy, NetSurf offers ad blocking, buffered rendering, browser history, memory cache, printing, scale view, themes, and much more.
How I rank 'em
From best to worst, this is how I rank the above browsers:
- Google Chrome (actually Chromium)
What about you? How would you rank the listed browsers for general usage? Is there a browser left out that you feel deserves inclusion? Take our poll to cast your vote for the top browser, and then jump into the discussion to share your opinions with other members.
Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.