8 of the best web browsers for Linux

But which is the best Linux web browser of all?

Midori

It uses WebKit, borrows ideas from everywhere, and is named after a drink

Calling a browser after a liqueur commonly found in holiday tipples might seem a little oddball, but perhaps the unintentional cocktail reference stands up to scrutiny. Midori is a browser designed primarily to be light on resources, but still have plenty of the modern world's essential features.

Midori

To this end, some of the headline features of other browsers have been thrown into the mix – Opera's Speed Dial feature is here, the obligatory Google search bar and Firefox-like extensions (although nowhere near as many). Can a melange of borrowed ideas produce the ultimate browser experience?

Well, it does deliver on the lightweight aspect, at least. The memory usage may not be quite minimal, but it's no processor or bandwidth hog.

The page rendering is based on WebKit, so it performs as well as other browsers using this engine. There are a selection of add-ons for the browser, to do things like increase customisation options, as well as support for Netscape-style plugins for supporting different media through Totem and Rhythmbox.

One curious thing is that the URL bar has implemented the 'type anything and if it isn't a URL then search for it' behaviour, but there's still a separate web search gadget.

One very handy feature is the trash icon on the main toolbar – this enables you to see tabs you've recently closed and just re-open them by selecting from the list. Many browsers allow you to re-open URLs from the history, but few as easily as this.

While it does perform reasonably well all-round, there is no compelling reason to choose this browser over the default Gnome browser, Epiphany, or indeed any of the bigger boys.

Verdict

Midori
Version: 0.2.2
Website: www.twotoasts.de

A pretty average performer, though it's light on resources.

Rating: 5/10

Epiphany

The almost anonymous Gnome browser shouldn't be overlooked

Those using a Gnome desktop probably have Epiphany and hadn't even noticed. As the default web browser for this desktop, it usually resides in the menu as 'web browser' and even calling up the 'About' box would give you little clue as to its origins.

Epiphany

Epiphany used to make use of the Gecko rendering engine, but one of the benefits of being open source is that you can switch back-ends if you feel like it.

The main reason for the Midori browser popping up as an alternative to Epiphany for Gnome purists was that it implemented WebKit. Epiphany may have taken a while to catch up, but it now sports WebKit too, and there's little to choose between them in terms of speed or compatibility.

Epiphany very much subscribes to the 'less is more' concept of desktop software, and thus there aren't pages and pages of configuration options or user-tweakable parts. This does make it simpler to use, but also a little more frustrating for those who actually would like to, for example, specify pop-up preferences on a site-by-site basis.

The power of WebKit shines through, and although Epiphany has nowhere near the number of people tweaking and refining its performance as some of the other browsers in this Roundup, it performs admirably well in the tests and by no means feels sluggish when viewing pages.

Although Epiphany occasionally seems to score slightly higher than Midori in certain tests, in effect these two browsers are pretty much the same speed-wise (as you might expect since they're close to identical under the hood) and the results are well within the margins of error.

Verdict

Epiphany
Version: 2.28.2
Website: http://projects.gnome.org/epiphany

Just because it's basic doesn't mean it's pointless.

Rating: 5/10