Browser

Alternative Linux web browsers

30 Nov/09

You know Firefox like the back of your hand. You’ve heard tale of Chrome and you know KDE has tried to pawn Konqueror off as their default browser. In the distance you hear Opera calling your name and IE4Lin tries to woo you to the dark side. Browsers, the lot of them. You can’t go about your daily digital life without one, and sometimes it’s just hard to tell which is the best for the job. But did you know there were even more alternatives to choose from? Many of them are one-trick ponies and some of them will never see the light of day on the average (or even somewhat above-average users’ desktop). But that doesn’t mean that these alternatives shouldn’t get a brief spot in the limelight.

In this article I am going to introduce you to some of those alternative web browsers and show you what they have to offer. I will skip over the installation of these browsers as you will most likely find them in your distributions’ repositories. These browsers will be in no certain order.

Arora

Figure 1

Arora

Arora is a light-weight, cross-platform web browser (so long as the platform will run Qt) that offers many of the features you have come to love on your browser (and then some). Arora uses the QTWebKit port of the WebKit layout engin. The feature list looks like:

  • Fast startup
  • Desktop integration
  • Smart location bar
  • Session management
  • Privacy
  • Search engine management
  • Flash plugin support
  • Download manager
  • Tools for web developers
  • Translations for thirty languages.

Elinks

Elinks

Elinks

I can’t help but add a text-based web browser to this list. Elinks hearkens back to my old Lynx days where browsing the web was not interrupted by images, ads, and flash. Why would you want to use such a browser? Simple: Elinks is fast. Not Chrome fast…even faster. Elinks is so fast you will miss your pages load if you blink – that kind of fast. But remember, you only get text here. You use Elinks from within a terminal window. Open one up and enter the command elinks. Hit the <Esc> key and then enter a url. Simple. Fast. What more do you want from the web? 😉

Epiphany

Epiphany

Epiphany

Epiphany is supposed to be the web browser for the GNOME desktop. It isn’t really, but it does try. Epiphany lives somewhere between Elinks and Arora. It’s not text-only, but it will handle your fancy-shmancy plugins. Epiphany lets you concentrate on the content, not the application displaying the content.

Epiphany does offer a few nice features:

  • Security
  • Customizable interface
  • Smart bookmarks
  • Extensions and plugins

I was pleasantly surprised that Epiphany handled, out of the box, Flash plugins (and handled them well.)

Final thoughts

There you go: Three browsers you most likely have never heard of nor ever tried. I have run the gamut of browsers and I can say that each of the above browsers certainly has their place in the landscape of the internet. Will any of them threaten the monsters of the ball? Absolutely not. Does that mean you shouldn’t give them a try? No, you definitely should…especially if you’ve never experienced the web in its purest, text-only form.

I would highly recommend you give one of these browsers a go. You might find your new favorite app!

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