Browser

10 Web browsers for the Linux operating system

The browser field is far more crowded than many users realize -- and Linux offers a variety of good choices. Check out Jack Wallen's list of 10 solid browsers for Linux and then vote for your favorite.

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.

Note: This article is also available as a PDF download.

1: Chrome

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.

2: Firefox

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.

3: Opera

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.

4: Konqueror

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.

5: Lynx

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.

6: Epiphany

Believe it or not, Epiphany is the default browser for the GNOME desktop. Its goal is to allow the user to concentrate on content and not the Web browser application. When you install Epiphany, you will be pleasantly surprised at how well it works. To get the full experience, make sure you install the epiphany-extension package as well. This package will allow you to use various plug-ins and tools you wouldn't have otherwise. Epiphany does suffer from serious crashes when trying to view Flash or Javascript-heavy sites. This serious flaw may disappear as Epiphany evolves and ages.

7: Midori

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.

8: Arora

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.

9: Dooble

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).

10: NetSurf

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:

  1. Google Chrome (actually Chromium)
  2. Konqueror
  3. Firefox
  4. Arora
  5. Opera
  6. Lynx
  7. Midori
  8. NetSurf
  9. Dooble
  10. Epiphany

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.

Poll

About

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.

15 comments
cru0
cru0

chromium-browser by far is the fastest I have experienced right now.

Jaqui
Jaqui

Lynx is far faster than that bloated, bad ui designed chromium browser.

greg-50
greg-50

swiftfox rocks even faster than chrome in lubuntu

darrelly62
darrelly62

Excellent article. I have used Firefox for about 8 yrs. and Linux Mint 9 for about 6 mos. Since I read this article, I launched the Chrome browser(already installed in Linux Mint) and was I impressed. For me, Chrome loaded in about 2 secs, faster than Firefox. Page loads(non-cached) are done in 1-2 secs. Extensions(like Ad Block, Add This, etc.)are easily available. Preferences are easy to configure. My computer is an Acer Aspire One Netbook, 1 gig RAM, and using a Westell DSL C90-6100 modem. I use the cheapest AT&T DSL service. Love this Chrome browser under Linux Mint 9. Many Thanks !!!!

23455345325
23455345325

chrome IS NOT chromium! that is huge difference PS rekonq is very interesting and under havy development, based on qt4 and webkit

Slayer_
Slayer_

I still hate firefox and Chrome, and Opera just doesn't do it for me.

zeke123
zeke123

FF, Chrome, Konqueror and Opera are on all our computers (and its also my order of faves). While Im a distro slut and use the browsers above, I have to admit I dont venture out much and try out the other stuff in this field. So im gonna go and DL the last 4 you mentioned here. I admit it, it piqued my curiousity. Ah, hell, I just might install Lynx too for old times sake!

popova71
popova71

At least, give it honorable mention

Benny7440
Benny7440

First, I'm very much in accordance with popova71, Seamonkey is a very powerful & complete tool. Next, I do believe that the fact that Midori can't access 'https' sites is a big drawback that was left out of the original post. I'm using Lucid Puppy 5.1 (or Lupu) & its default browser is Midori 0.2.2.. It's fast but comes without plugins. Have to add that I'm running this VAIO notebook from a home-burned live cd because it has no HDD. My memory inventory=512MB of RAM & 128MB from CFCard (where my 2 versions of FF await me every time I turn on the machine; in fact, it takes me about the same time as the modem gets connected to the net to install my PET or start the unpacked FF latest version.

FXEF
FXEF

A combination of Firefox and Thunderbird in one package.

jeb.hoge
jeb.hoge

For a long time, I'd been using the default Firefox install in Ubuntu, but I started experimenting with Jolicloud on another box and also was getting frustrated with FF's slowdowns. I loaded Chrome in Ubuntu, and after a few minutes (OK, more like an hour) of annoyance over just how minimalist it seemed out of the box and figuring out how to load extensions, pull bookmarks, and get the damn Home button to show, I realized that it was fast, smooth, and didn't choke on sites like Twitter.com (Firefox couldn't even keep up with me typing a tweet on there). We still use Firefox as the default on our WinXP netbook, but I'm sold on Chrome/Chromium and Jolicloud now.

Frostyone
Frostyone

I use dillo when I want to get something quick. I don't think it supports Java or Flash but for quick lookup it does a great job. It was out of developement for a little while but I think they are back to working on it.

kashyap.bikram
kashyap.bikram

is a browser which I like. It has descent speed and have a lot of inbuilt functionality without plugins. Also it gives almost the same screen space as chrome. Main complaint from me about FF is its startup time. Also the many toolbars reduce the viewing area a lot. Chrome is also good and fast.

marcdw
marcdw

Practically speaking and for the uninitiated, maybe. Netscape Communicator --> Mozilla Suite --> SeaMonkey. SeaMonkey has a different lineage though v2 does incorporate some stuff from Firefox and whatnot.

Jaqui
Jaqui

is only ui different from Firesucks and Thunderbird. in that is combines them into the suite. everything I detest about FireSucks is in Seamonkey2 and their ui for 2 they killed cleanup code in the 'x' in the top right corner, causing it to Terminate and stay resident if you used the mail/news component.

Editor's Picks