Top Web Browsers for Linux

Sure, Chrome and Firefox are natural choices, but a few other contenders offer some notable browsing experiences.
Posted September 26, 2016

Matt Hartley

No matter which Linux distro you prefer, I believe the web browser remains the most commonly used software application. In this article, I'll share the best browsers available to Linux users.

Chrome – No matter how you feel about the Chrome browser, one only need to realize the following: Local news still streams in Flash and Chrome supports this. Netflix is supported using Chrome. And of course, Chrome is faster than any other browser out there. Did I mention the oodles of Chrome extensions available including various remote desktop solutions? No matter how you slice it, Chrome is king of the jungle.

Chromium – If you would rather use the open source core for Chrome called Chromium. This is basically the Chrome browser without Flash pre-installed and other tidbits found in Chrome proper. It's a solid option for anyone looking for Chrome's speed without dealing with PepperFlash or support for proprietary media goodies like AAC, H.264 and MP3. Both Chrome and Chromium support Opus, Theora, Vorbis, VP8, VP9, and WAV playback.

Firefox – Despite it's lack of speed, I still use Firefox as my daily driver. Maybe I'm just too lazy to make the switch to something else. But for me, it's been my preferred browser for so long I have a lot of love for it. What Firefox lacks in speed, it makes up for with its pledge to protecting your privacy. The powers that be behind Firefox are big on protecting our right to encryption, privacy and safety. Like Chrome/Chromium, you'll find that Firefox also offers lots of great extensions. Unlike Chrome, Firefox doesn't shove Flash down your throat – installing it is up to you. Besides that, Flash is no longer supported on the Linux desktop. Chrome's PepperFlash is a Google supported product.

Midori – Despite the common belief that Midori is a light-weight browser, I have found this to be untrue in terms of RAM usage. When comparing Firefox and Midori running instances of script heavy pages like Gmail or Facebook, the memory usage was nearly identical. Midori's real advantage is that it's more attractive to look at than other browsers. I also like that it has an adblocker and a decent RSS reader built in by default. And while some have complained of stability issues, I haven't experienced any problems in this area. That said, the page load speed is about on par with Firefox.

QupZilla – The number one thing that QupZilla has going for it is how lightweight it is. The second thing is that it offers a reliable means of restoring previous browser sessions by default. And of course, the fact that I can choose if my passwords are managed as plaintext or encrypted is a great option as well. The only issue I had with QupZilla is that some pages don't render correctly.

Opera – I'm actually a bit surprised to see Operais still around. Don't get me wrong, they have a great browser offering. But I haven't used their browser in years. What I found when I revisited the browser were some neat features. Besides lightning fast page rendering, Opera also offers a battery saving mode and "Turbo Mode" for slow network connections.

Turbo Mode basically routes browser data through their servers and compresses web items that will help a web page to load faster. The last thing that really stands out to me about Opera is the option for tab previewing. On the surface, this might sound silly. But I assure you when you have a lot of tabs open, rolling your cursor over each tab and being presented with a full display of the tab's content is fantastic.

Pale Moon – If you've tried Puppy Linux, chances are you've used the Pale Moon browser. This light, easy to navigate browser is a fairly solid Firefox based browser solution I recommend for older PCs. At its core, it provides everything you might want from Firefox, without the substantial browser overhead weighing things down. If you need a light weight browser and prefer that it render pages correctly, Pale Moon is my goto recommendation.

Konqueror – The key feature with Konqueror that I've come to appreciate is how easily it can load a webpage in one tab while providing a logical local directory in another tab. This means if you're browsing an FTP server and needing to compare contents without using KDE's Dolphin file manager, Konqueror is well suited to the task. Konqueror provides its users with a split view option in the same window and fast page loading speed.

Slimjet – Slimjet is a browser I stumbled upon here recently. It's based on Chrome, but it has "features" built into the browser that Chrome users would normally need to install. Core features worth noting include a form auto-filler, ad-blocking by default and ScreenFly video capturing with webcam support built in.

Vivaldi – Without question, the most compelling browser of the bunch – Vivaldi is the most exciting browser since Opera. Also based on Chrome, Vivaldi offers its users unique functions not found elsewhere. Mouse gestures, quick commands, total tab placement control, scheduled theme changes, even obscure page actions for web page troubleshooting are provided. The customizable theme scheduling and total control over the tab locations won me over. To take things even further, you can have the tab bar open, with multiple tabs activated. Then within those tabs, you can have toggle friendly tabs open as well. This is useful for combining tabs into projects, work/play, etc.

Picking Just One Web Browsers

Despite my seemingly insane desire to stick with Firefox, I find myself drawn to Vivaldi. Perhaps it's their story of how the idea started with the Opera browser and evolved into something else. Maybe instead, I just like the total control Vivaldi affords me each time I start up the application. I also like how the CEO of Vivaldi exited Opera like a rock star. It's clear to me that Vivaldi is community focused and that appeals to me.

What say you? Perhaps you are using a browser I didn't mention in this article? No problem, hit the Comments and share your favorite browser and explain why it's your first choice.

Tags: open source, Linux, Firefox, Chrome, web browser

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