11 Best Open Source Web Browsers I Discovered for Linux in 2016
Web Browser is a software which provides an interface to surf the web. With introduction in around 1991, there development and advancement has advanced many folds till the current stage which we see today. Earlier there used to be mostly text based sites with few having images and graphical content, hence only text based browsers sufficed with some of early browsers being: Lynx, Netscape and Opera.
But, with advancement of technology to support of audio, video, images and even flash content, browsers also need to be that advanced to support such content. This has pushed the advancement of browsers to what we see today.
A modern browser requires support of many softwares which include: web browser engine like: Geeko, Trident, WebKit, KHTML etc, Rendering engine to render the web site content and display in proper format.
Linux being open source community gives freedom to developers across the globe to experiment with features they expect from an ideal browser.
Some Open Source Browsers in Linux
Below are listed some Open Source web browsers which are just perfect to be listed here. Usually the features which distinguish a normal to a good browser are: Ability to support all types of data including: audio, video, flash and HTML and HTML5, fast performance, memory friendly to adjust to old and new systems completely, ability to support maximum architectures like: Intel, AMD and operating systems like: Windows, Mac, Unix-like, BSD to name a few.
1. Google Chrome
Accounted as the most popular web browser in smartphones and PC’s with more than half usage share of web browsers, Google Chrome is a freeware developed by Google. It forked from Chromium whose code is modified with certain add-ons to structure it. It uses WebKit layout engine till version 27 and Blink thereafter. Written mostly in C++, it is available for many Operating Systems including Android, iOS, OS X, Windows and Linux.
Features provided by Chrome include: bookmarking and synchronization, enhanced security, malware blocking, and addition of external plugins like: AddBlock etc available in Google Web Store which is provided as a default extension in Chrome. Also, it supports user tracking feature which can be enabled if required.
It is fast because of inbuilt mechanism it uses, also is very stable with tabbed browsing, speed dials and incognito (private browsing ) mode, provides custom themes which can be installed as an extension from web store. It is widely accepted as one of default browser which can be found in almost all systems, with mostly positive reviews.
Since its introduction, it has been praised for its speed and security add ons and even is often termed as spiritual successor of Netscape Navigator. It uses Geecko web engine in all the supported platforms leaving the latest one on iOS which doesn’t use Geecko.
Features supported by Firefox include: tabbed browsing, spell checking, incremental find, live bookmarking, private browsing, add-on support which allows easy integration of many features. Apart from these, it supports many standards including: HTML4, XML, XHTML, SVG and APNG etc. It has been one of the popular web browsers in many Asian and African countries with more than a billion users around the world.
Another popular web browser, Opera is one of the earliest one we have till date, with initial version released in 1995, 20 years ago. It is written in C++ with availability marked for all Operating Systems including: Windows, OS, Linux, OS X, Symbian and Mobile phones including: Android, iOS. It uses Blink web engine, whereas earlier versions used Presto.
Features of this browser include: speed-dial for quick search, tabbed browsing, downloads manager, Page Zooming which allows Flash, Java and SVG to be increased or decreased as per user requirements, deletion of HTTP cookies, browsing history and other data on click of a button. Despite of its criticism for compatibility, and other UI related issues, it has been one of the favourite browsers with total of around 291 million users in mid of 2015.
Widely known web browser, which forms the base from where Google Chrome takes its source code, Chromium is another Open Source web browser available for Linux, Windows, OS X and Android Operating Systems. It is mainly written in C++ with latest release being in December 2016. It is designed with minimalistic user interface so as to make it lightweight and fast.
Features of Chromium include: a tabbed window manager, support for Vorbis, Theora, WebM codecs for HTML5 Audio and Video, Bookmark and History and Session management. Apart from Google Chrome, Chromium also forms base for large number of other Web Browsers some of which are still active while others have been discontinued. Some of them are: Opera, Dartum, Epic Browser, Vivaldi, Yandex Browser, Flock (discontinued), Rockmelt (discontinued) and many more.
Midori is an open source web browser developed In Vala and C with WebKit engine and GTK+ 2 and GTK+ 3 interface. With initial stable release in 2007 and latest stable release being in August 2015, Midori is currently the default browser in many Linux distros including: Manjaro Linux, elementary OS, SliTaz Linux, Bodhi Linux, Trisqel Mini, SystemRescue CD, old versions of Raspbian.
Major Features provided by it include: HTML5 Support, Bookmark Management, Private Browsing, Windows, Tabs and Sessions management, Speed Dial, Easy integration of extensions which can be written in C and Vala, Unity Support. Midori has been mentioned as one of the alternative web browsers for Linux by LifeHacker and many other sites including: TechRadar, ComputerWorld and Gigaom.
QupZilla is another known web browser which started merely as a Research Project with first release in December 2010 written in Python, and later releases being in C++ with goal to develop a portable web browser. It is licensed under GPLv3 and available for Linux, Windows, OS X, FreeBSD.
QupZilla uses WebKit engine with QtWebKit to be in sync with mordern web standards. It provides all the functions of a mordern web browser including: Speed Dial, built-in Add Block feature, bookmark management, etc. Additional features which would make you opt this browser include: Performance Optimization with memory consumption lower than most famous web browsers including Firefox and Google Chrome.
Another multi-purpose Web Browser and File Manager, Konqueror is another one in the list. Developed in C++(Qt) and available for Operating Systems including: Linux and Windows and licensed under GPLv2. As the name shows, Konqueror (starting with ‘K’) is the default browser for KDE Desktop environment, replacing the then known KFM.
Other features include: Customizable search services (even custom search shortcut is also included which can be added), ability to show multimedia content within web pages due to integrated Kpart, Ability to open PDF, Open Document and other specific file types, integrates I/O plugin system which allows several protocols including: HTTP, FTP, WebDaV, SMB etc, ability to browse through local file system of user. Konqueror Embedded is another embedded version of Knoqueror which is also available.
8. Web (Epiphany)
Originally named as Epiphany is another we browser which deserves a mention in the list. Written in C (GTK+) it was originally a fork of Galeon and since then has been part of GNOME project and complies to GNOME’s guidelines at each stage of its development.
Initially, it used Geeko engine but with version 2.20, it started using WebKitGTK+ engine. Web provides support for Linux and BSD Operating Systems with source code available under GPLv2.
Features include: HTML4, CSS1 and XHTML support including support for HTML5 and CSS3, inbuilt plugins of Adobe Flash and IcedTea, bookmark and “smart bookmark” feature which allows easy search in find-in-as-you-type manner, full integration with GNOME features including GNOME Network Manager, GNOME printer etc, and other features supported by most browsers. While it has received mixed reviews, one capability for which it is praised by many is its fast launching and page-load capability.
A browser based on Mozilla Firefox, SwiftFox is the next one in list. It is build exclusively for Linux with code bring completely Open Source under MPL 1.1 and binaries proprietary.
SwiftFox is optimized version of Firefox for Linux platform. It employs Binary Code Optimization technique with -O3 level compilation, optimization specific to architectures including: AMD, AMD64, Intel.
Other features which make it more advanced from Firefox are: increased security, Pango disabled for reduced package size and rendering. Its version 188.8.131.52 has been reported to have increased speed by about 1.7%.
10. Pale Moon
Another browser based on Mozilla Firefox, Pale Moon is a replacement for Firefox on Linux, Windows and Android. It is developed in C/C++ with Source Code available under MPL2.0 License. It retains the user interface seen in previous versions of Firefox, focusing only on web browsing abilities. Its latest version will use Gonna, which is fork of Geeko, a web browser engine of Firefox.
Pale Moon focuses on speed optimization features and utilizes Microsoft C Compiler’s speed optimization, auto-parallelization features. Also, it removes unnecessary add on features which are not required i.e. crash reporter, accessibility hardware features, and targets Windows Vista and later OS due to which it may fail on older hardwares. Other features include: DuckDuckGo default search engine, IP-API geolocation service, functional status bar and enhanced customization.
Links is an Open source text and graphical web browser which is written in C and available for Windows, Linux, OS X and OS/2, Open VMS and DOS systems. It is released under GPLv2+ License. It is one of those browsers which has many forks based upon it including: Elinks (Experimental/Enhanced Links), Hacked Links etc.
Main highlight feature of Links is that it can run in graphics mode even for those systems which do not have X Server because of its support for Graphic drivers for X Server, Linux Framebuffer, svgalib, OS/2 PMShell and Atheos GUI.
These were some of the Open Source Browsers available on Linux. If you have some personal favorites, do mention them in your comments and we would include them in our list too.