Jump to Navigation

Web Browsers

Popular Browsers



Mozilla Firefox:  This popular web-browser is taking the world by storm, and it represents a serious competition to MS Internet Explorer. This free web-browser, released under three free licenses (GNU General Public License, GNU Lesser General Public License, and Mozilla Public License) forms part of the Mozilla Project. This project was created by Netscape initially as a way of perfecting Netscape's web suite through a Mozilla Application Suite. Later, it created an independent standalone web browser, first named "Firebird", and now called "Firefox". Now the Mozilla Project is supervised by the Mozilla Foundation. It is more advanced than MS Internet Explorer in security and display. As every free software project it is developed by a community of programmers.  It has many features which make it practically one of the best browsers in the market: spell checking, search suggestions, session restore (God bless the people of Firefox for this AMAZING feature!), web feeds, live titles, integrated search (you can search with Google, Yahoo, Amazon.com, Answers.com, Creative Commons, and eBay), Live Bookmarks, Pop-Up Blocker, among others. It has other useful features, for example: private browsing, phishing protection (additional protection of identity theft), automated update, protection from Spyware, clearing private data, and other very useful features. It is available for MS Windows, GNU/Linux, FreeBSD, Illumos, Mac, among other operating systems.

There are other concerns regarding Firefox, though.  The Gecko engine is no longer as advanced as it should be.  It is said that eventually the Mozilla Project will drop Gecko in favor of a simpler layout engine.  Most of the other reliable software seem to be adopting WebKit.  It is free and open source, and like Mozilla, it is much more reliable and superior to Gecko.  Webkit is now being used in Safari, and Google's Chromium and Chrome, Android Web Browser, Epiphany, Midori, and others.  Another worry has to do with the fact that Mozilla has minor components of proprietary software, and that its page promotes proprietary extensions.

I have to say as a positive note that Firefox 4 is an amazing web browser, and I use it extensively in my activities on the web.  I love Firefox's skins, its design (more like Google's Chrome), it is faster (which means they made a good cleaner code), and I absolutely love the Tab Groups feature.  Still, there is a feature I expected it to have and it still does not have.  If you use Internet Explorer or Google's Chromium or Chrome, each opened tab is a different session.  This is good because if one session crashes, the other ones will not.  Yet, still at this stage, all tabs opened in Firefox are part of one sole session.  In this case, the whole browser crashes, and that can make some users (including myself), very unhappy.


 Google Chromium


Google Chromium: This browser is the code basis of the famous Google Chrome. Unlike Chrome, though, it is completely free software whose components are under free licenses. It is also the basis for Chromium OS, the code basis for Google Chrome OS, an operating system that runs on top of the Linux kernel and designed for the so-called "cloud". It is a fast browser, very easy to use, very light, but high quality rendering software. This is due mostly because of the use of WebKit. It has passed the Acid2 and Acid3 tests, and abides by W3C standards. Unlike Firefox and Firefox-based browsers, it is easier to open a new tab or detach it from the main window, and its universal address bar is a gem.  Chromium is also "cloud" oriented, which can be good for all of the fans of the "cloud" (I do not include myself in that group).

Why do I use Chromium instead of Chrome?  There are subtle, but important, differences between both browsers.  Unlike Chrome, Chromium is completely free software, released under a whole series of free software licenses.  This cannot be said of Chrome, which includes some components under a proprietary license.  I think that the most important difference consists of the fact that Chromium does not contain any spying component (the (in)famous RLZ tracking token), Chrome does.



Other Web Browsers I Recommend

GNU Icecat


GNU IceCat:  The GNU Project created an alternative to Mozilla Application Suite called "Gnuzilla", and an alternative to Mozilla Firefox that is called GNU Icecat, which are now being developed. The GNU Project created this for ethical reasons: while Firefox and Mozilla is free software, the binaries include non-free add-ons. To guarantee the binaries are completely free, the GNU Project created Gnuzilla. GNU Icecat is the Firefox based free browser and operates just the same, but without the proprietary components.

As part of the free software movement, I'm glad that the GNU Project is working on a 100% free web browser.  Yet, it still bothers me why does it have to be from Firefox's code?  I want to be fair, at the time the GNU Project proposed this browser, Google Chrome was not as famous.  Still Chromium is a lot more stable and reliable than Firefox in this very important aspect.  It is not as if everyone is going to download it, because, still IceCat does not include a version for Windows or Mac, so it will never substitute Firefox in a million years.

On the other hand, the virtue of IceCat is that it can assure you that its code and the add-ons it proposes are 100% free software.  Still, it does not include all the free add-ons available out there available for Firefox, and also for IceCat.




Konqueror:   This is an amazing free web browser that is available for GNU/Linux, FreeBSD, Illumos, and other Unix-like operatingg systems. It is a browser that is embedded in the K Desktop Environment (KDE) available for these platforms. Konqueror is simply an extraordinary browser that serves also as a File Manager and Document viewer (for example, in the case, of TXT, RTF or PDF formats). Its display is amazing, and was the first of free browsers to comply with the Acid2 test. It also has many features such as Pop-Up Blocking, Tabbed Browsing, Search feature, integrated search (specifically with Google), password security (with kwallet), among others. It uses the KHTML browser engine, but in the future it will move to WebKit, which is a KHTML fork.




Arora:  This is perhaps one of the prettiest, fastest and reliable web browsers you can ever find.  It is based on Qt toolkit, and uses QtWebKit as layout engine, which is based in both Qt and WebKit.  It fully complies with the Acid2 and Acid3 tests, and tries to comply with web standards.  It does not have all the capabilities of the web browsers that you see above, but it is a nice browser.


 Epiphany Epiphany:  This browser is only available for those using GNU/Linux, or other Unix-like operating systems that can run GNOME Desktop Environment.  It deserves a mention, because I am impressed by it.  For years, Epiphany ran using Mozilla's Gecko as layout engine, but now that it has moved to WebKit, and it is better than ever.  It uses a universal bar instead of Firefox's usual separate search engine and URL bars.  It is very fast.  It has some free extensions that, when added it guarantees more security and performance for users.  The only thing I would ask them is detachable tabs and private browsing.  Add those two, and it will be my favorite browser for life!

Main menu 2

Page | by Dr. Radut