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Webkit browsers on their way to Linux but not there yet

Firefox really shocked up the browser wars when it released version 3.0. The more I use it the more I realize what a great browser it is. When Firefox first released 3.0 it was full-steam ahead. Soon we heard about a new javascript engine and it seemed like 3.1 would be just on the horizon. Then something happened and the Firefox locomotive haltingly put it’s breaks on. 3.1 was delayed indefinitely and a horrible exploit bug was discovered. Firefox also stopped working the my hotmail account (probably more a problem with hotmail). While Firefox gets things back on track, I decided it was a good time to try the new web browser rendering engine Webkit.

Webkit in General

Webkit is a rendering engine based on KHTML (KHTML is KDE’s Konquerer’s rendering engine) that has been radically modified by Apple for their web browser Safari. Because Webkit has received a good amount of development it will probably replace KHTML in KDE soon.

Rekonq

Rekonq is an effort to replace KHTML with Webkit in Konquerer. One of the first things you’ll notice about Webkit is that it renders pages really fast. This could be because that it’s new but from my tests Webkit seems to be able to render anything that Firefox can. Not only that but Webkit renders web pages beautifully.

Still in it’s early stages, Rekonq doesn’t add many configurations yet: saved passwords, minimum font size, saved tabs… And with qt’s version of Webkit redirects dont’ work yet.

Arora

Arora has been in development longer than Rekonq and has a few more configurations. It includes privacy settings, tab session savings, proxy…

Arora’s a good browser that’s coming along nicely. If I were to gripe about anything of Arora is that it does a big no by forcing a default font so that web pages just don’t look the way they should.

Chromium

Googles’ new browser Chrome also uses Webkit but was originally designed for Windows. Thankfully though Google had the good graces to open-source the project and very early Linux builds are being made. I didn’t get a chance to try Chromium yet. As development has centered on developing Chrome 32 bit no version is available for my 64 bit machine. And it looks like I may not being trying Chromium soon either as developing a 64 bit version will require mounting some pretty big bumps. I did try cxchromium though (an altered version of Chrome design to run under wine) and I did get an idea what they are trying to do. I like the modular tabs that seperate different webpages and http boxes nicely. Also I like all-in-one http box that can be used for searchs, previously visited sites, and bookmarks.

Update: thinkMoult Has a good guide on Chromium and has found a way to run Chromium on 64 bit systems.

Midori

Midori I’m going to label as the current champ of Linux Webkit browsers. It’s able to save tabs, has a minimum font size setting, works with flash nicely, and has the ability to page zoom. Midori uses GTK and appears to be progressing nicely:

Midori may be the first real Firefox alternative in Linux. Hopefully they’ll fix the same error that Arora makes by forcing a default font.

Epiphany

Awhile back Epiphany made the committment to switch from Gecko (Firefox’s default rendering engine) to Webkit. Unfortunately development has been slow and didn’t make it into Gnome 2.26. Looking at the newest version though it looks about ready.

Epiphany updated it’s http box too to behave more like Firefox’s awesome bar does and it’s a nice touch. Again this browser forces a default font and configurability is limited. Epiphany though for the most part runs great on lower-end machines.

Leader of the Pack

I thought about switching to another web browser because i use KDE and would just prefer it that way. I can say that I was pretty close. From my tests Webkit could render anything Firefox did as good or better. And flash worked good with all of them for the most part. None of these browsers though recognized the java plugin. While I’m sure there’s a hack out there, I didn’t really want make a hack and try to remember how to erase it later. Mostly why I didn’t leave Firefox is that there are some great things about Firefox that are hard to leave behind. First, the awesome bar is well…awesome. Not only can I find previously viewed webpages easily, but also I can find webpages that I visited long ago plus the awesome bar does it quickly. I also find that I use web page zooming in Firefox quite a bit. Just because how some web pages choose their font sizes, reading a long article with small fonts can be a strain on the eye. Firefox not only zooms the entire page but it also remembers the settings so that next time I go back there I don’t have to do it again.

No I don’t think I’ll be migrating away from Firefox anytime soon but I don’t think a good Webkit browser is too far off on the horizon.</p

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About Gen2ly

<3's linux

7 comments on “Webkit browsers on their way to Linux but not there yet

  1. Dont forget on webkit-kpart, where you can integrate webkit renderer directly to the konqueror. (actualy mine favorite :P)

  2. Huh, first time I’ve heard of that. Maybe that’s the direction KDE is going. From what I’ve read on rekonq it’s only one developer sowhether it’s a serious effort I’m not sure.

  3. You forgot Midori. :)

    I’m mostly using Arora and Midori but have to say that the former is still a bit unstable. It crashes when drag-and-dropping which is quite annoying when you accidently try to “move” an image.

    Midori is GTK-based but a bit bloated.

    Both are fast in rendering and support Flash. :)

  4. Actually I didn’t, lol. But that’s alright. Yeah, I like midori too. I use it on my rescue cd with Xfce. Arora is being developed slowly but I like the quality of the builds I’ve tried.

  5. I just Epiphany for everyday browsing.. firefox when I need the extra edge like java plugins

  6. Epiphany is still my default browser. Haven’t yet figured out how to get java running on it :) (though I like having java enabled), but it runs great on my old computer, a good deal better than firefox that’s I’ve tried to trim down as much as it’s able to.

  7. i made a simple web browser in pyqt4 in anybody wants to check it out…

    site: http://patx.me/fastpatx

    it renders pages pretty good, and the gui i am trying to keep clean and unique… it has tabbed browsing and is very fast…

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