Epiphany: An efficient, but different, web browser

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After I set up RGBA support in Ubuntu (see my article “Enable RGBA support in Ubuntu“), I sat about to find applications that could replace non-GTK+ applications currently in use. Replacing the web browser proved to be a challenge. And although it’s not able to stand alone as a full blown replacement for my favorite, Chrome, the Epiphany web browser is a nice, serviceable replacement that supports RGBA.

There are a few things Epiphany handles differently than most browsers. One of those is bookmarks. With Epiphany you will not find a bookmark toolbar, but the way it does bookmarks is rather interesting. In this article I will show you how to work with bookmarks in Epiphany as well as keeping this little browser from crashing on you every few seconds.

The Crashes

When I first started working with Epiphany it crashed on most sites I visited. After doing a little research (and then a little debugging) I realized the issue was with javascript. Epiphany (in its current release), for some strange reason, doesn’t like javascript. The only way around this was to disable javascript. Yes this means a lot of features won’t work on a lot of sites – but this also means those same sites will load faster and won’t be so prone to having issues (like crashing my browser).

To disable javascript all you need to do is click Edit > Preferences and then, in the Privacy tab, un-check Enable Javascript. Click close and you’re good to go. Epiphany will now run like a champ on most sites.


Now it’s time to see how the other side of the tracks deals with bookmarks. Epiphany looks at bookmarks as more of a database than a hierarchical file folder. This minimizes the interface (no bookmarks toolbar) and allows the user to associate a bookmark with one ore more topics quickly. Let’s take a look at how you manage your bookmarks in Epiphany.

Step 1: Navigate to a web site. This is done as you would do with any browser.

Figure 1

Step 2: Click Bookmarks > Add Bookmark (or <Ctrl>d) to bring up the Add Bookmark window (see Figure 1).  When the new window is up you need to do the following:

Change the title of the bookmark (most sites’ titles are far too long for Bookmark titles).

Add topics: These will aid in bookmark searching. Do this by click the check box associated with each topic.

Click Add.

That’s it. But what if you need new topics? By default Epiphany has only a few topics to select. You will need to add your own to make your bookmark life much easier. To do this open up the bookmark manager by clicking Bookmarks > Edit Bookmarks which will open up the Bookmarks Manager (see Figure 2).

Figure 2

To add a new topic all you need to do is click File > New Topic. This will create a new line in the left navigation where you simply have to type the title of your new topic. To keep your searching to a minimum, make sure you add multiple topics to a bookmark. For instance, I can associated the Ghacks bookmark to the following topics:

  • Linux
  • PC
  • Computers
  • Technology
  • Work
  • Writing

With that Ghacks will show up in every one of those topics.  One thing that is nice is that you don’t have to have the bookmark manager open to get to your bookmarks. You can actually show a topic in a toolbar…effectively giving you a bookmark toolbar. To do this right-click a Topic in the bookmark editor and select “Show on toolbar”. This will add a drop-down for that topic on your toolbar.

Final thoughts

Although Epiphany hasn’t fully replaced Chrome and Firefox as my one-stop-shop browser, I now use it much more than I would have previously. Of course part of this is simply because it supports RGBA (and I am a sucker for a well designed desktop), but also because of it’s small footprint, fast startup, and clean interface. Give Epiphany a try and see if you, like me, have an epiphany about your browsing.

© Jack Wallen for gHacks technology news, Software And Internet Tips For The Geek In You, 2010. | Permalink | Add to, digg, facebook, reddit, <a href=" An efficient, but different, web browserstumbleupon, twitter
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