Best Linux Browsers

Pros and cons of the best browsers for the Linux desktop, including Firefox, Chrome and other browsers.
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Choosing the best Linux browser for your needs requires just a bit of homework: Web browsers for the Linux desktop have evolved over the years, just as they have for other popular desktop platforms. With this evolution, both good and bad revelations have been discovered. Revelations from new functionality, to broken extensions, and so forth. In this article, I'll serve as your guide through these murky waters to help you discover the best in Linux browsers.

FirefoxFirefox has long been a friendly browser for Linux users. Accessible on both 32bit and 64bit Linux installs, Firefox also offers extensive extensions to choose from. It's a fast loading, easy to navigate Web browser that has found itself in a popular place with Linux users.

The good: It's easily installed from most common Linux software repositories, if not already installed on the distro by default. Thousands of extensions to choose from to make your Firefox browser more fully featured. Nearly every website on the Web (including government and banking sites) render properly.

Also important: Firefox respects your privacy. In addition to a straight forward privacy policy, they're not in the "same business" as Google. Therefore, most users feel more comfortable allowing Firefox to see their daily browsing activities whereas other browsers, might have more profit-driven interests. Firefox is also great for web developers, thanks to its element inspection tool, built right into the browser.

The bad: Not too long ago, I was finding that Firefox's frequent updates were breaking my extensions. This meant I needed to verify that my favorite extensions were compatible with new Firefox updates BEFORE I updated my browser.

To be blunt, this caused me to rethink which browser would be my default tool to browse the Internet. In fairness, Mozilla does post a blog post with each browser update for extension developers. In these posts, developers are told what has changed and what needs to be done to keep things working smoothly.

Chrome/Chromium – Google promotes its browser named Chrome, however I tend to put Chromium into the same group as Chrome since Chromium is used as its base for development. Unlike Firefox, Chrome/Chromium was late to the game for Linux. Linux users only considered it worth trying at the time due to the fact that Chrome/Chromium was perceived by many as being the fastest browser.

The good: Even today, Chrome/Chromium is considered pretty fast. Even with the recent updates made to other competing browsers, Chrome/Chromium hasn't lost its speed. Extensions for Chrome/Chromium are plentiful and even better, updates to the browser have no affect on said extensions. This means that, unlike Firefox, I haven't dealt with extension incompatibilities. Like Firefox, Chrome/Chromium also has an element inspection tool, built right into the browser. After trying syncing options with other browsers, only Chrome/Chromium has proven itself to be truly idiot-proof. Without question, Chrome/Chromium syncing is the best in the browser space, from my perspective.

The bad: Chrome/Chromium doesn't always render pages correctly. Be it rare, some sites like Ebay don't always render correctly. Case in point, if I create a new Ebay submission, I find there are buttons missing in some cases. I've also found that sometimes Chrome/Chromium can lockup completely if an open tab is rendering heavy script. Sites like Google Plus and Facebook are the most common offenders.

Qupzilla – When it comes to lightweight browsers, I've found Qupzilla to be among the most awesome. Based on Webkit, it provides decent rendering support while maintaining a very small resource footprint.

The good: Qupzilla is ideal for lightweight desktop environments where you need a modern browser capable of rendering pages correctly and generally providing a solid web browser experience. It's extremely lightweight and will run on older PCs without missing a beat. Access Keys and GreaseMonkey extensions are installed (but disabled) by default.

Like Firefox and Chrome/Chromium, Qupzilla provides access to an element inspection tool as well. And finally, having Adblock installed by default makes this a clear lightweight winner for me.

The bad: HTML5 video doesn't seem to work reliably. Also, in order to watch Flash videos, you must visit the preferences and uncheck Click to Flash in the Extensions, Webkit plugins area. This is a poorly thought out decision to essentially disable Flash out of the box, while HTML5 video remains completely broken.


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Tags: open source, Linux, Firefox, browser, Chrome, browser add-on


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