Linux browser smackdown!

The large community that the Firefox project has assembled around it also has benefits in other ways. For example, Konqueror has a rather neat parent button and although Firefox doesn't have this natively, Joseph Becher has created one which can be installed with a single click.

Put all this together and it means that Firefox is still the best browser out there for any OS. It's not perfect by any means and the cosmetic changes in version 3 are hardly revolutionary, but even casual users are likely to see the benefit of upgrading.

Usability enhancements – such as drag and drop tab management, multiple tab bookmarks and the recently closed tabs feature – improve the software enormously, while speed boosts and memory optimisation make this extra power boost accessible even on older systems.

There's also a big benefit for those working across multiple platforms, in that there's a consistent user experience (now featuring more native-looking widgets) regardless of the underlying OS.

Verdict: Firefox 3 is an essential download for any computer system, especially those short on resources. 9/10


Freed from the shackles of being the file browser and web browser in KDE, Konqueror is the beast that spawned Apple's Safari and Google's Chrome.

Konqueror has been an integral part of the KDE experience since the beginning. It used to be responsible for both file management and web browsing, but the developers behind the fourth generation of the KDE desktop have changed tack, giving the files to Dolphin and honing Konqueror's web skills.

It's obvious that the new focus on web browsing has had an impact on the interface, which has swapped all the buttons dedicated to files and folders for a more typical back, forward, refresh, stop and home setup. This is augmented by a useful parent button which can be used to go up the structure of a website.

Even though it's a vast improvement over version 3.5 (included in the latest Ubuntu), 4.1.1 still has its problems.

What's worse is that many of the problems we encountered can be put down to thoughtless configuration. For example, the apostrophe key has been assigned as a shortcut in our installation, making it impossible to use Konqueror for online word processing.

Every time we want to do a contraction or single quote, the browser launches the Find Link service and subsequent letters are entered into a search string. It isn't difficult to change, but it is emblematic of some unusual design choices.

Many users have also come to rely on a Firefox-style integrated search bar to find sites and the ability to type a few words into the address bar and have the 'http://www' and '.com' added automatically – both are absent in Konqueror, which can make the experience seem archaic.

Finally, our tester complained of very slow Flash performance, especially on sites like YouTube, and inconsistent behaviour on sites such as Facebook and YahooMail, which rely heavily on JavaScript.

These usability niggles aside, we did note some issues in the rendering of CSS content and a slight performance gap between this and Firefox in the rendering of simple pages. We also experienced a few problems with the cursor being slightly misaligned on a couple of sites.

Fortunately, with Apple and Google taking an interest in the beating heart of this browser, issues such as speed, JavaScript performance and Flash integration are likely to get much better. With the imminent release of KDE for Windows and OS X, there's a chance for Konqueror to take big strides in the market, but only if the product can become more intuitive than Firefox or Google's Chrome.

Verdict: Needs to focus more on usability and intuitive use. It's good, but not great, and it's not (yet) a Firefox beater. 6/10