The Best And Worst Linux Web Browsers

Best Linux Web Browsers
Best Linux Web Browsers.

This is the second in a series of articles looking into the best and worst that Linux has to offer.

A lot of people write reviews about the best Linux distributions but of course Linux is an operating system and there is more to an operating system than just the distribution. 

Without quality applications Linux would be going nowhere and indeed there is a really big misconception that Linux doesn't have any really good applications. 

I aim to dispel this big myth week by week, application by application.

In the first part I highlighted the best Linux email clients and it is clear that in this department Linux has more than enough on offer to compete with other operating systems and to fulfil the needs of most computer users.

This time I am going to highlight 4 of the best web browsers available on the Linux platform and 1 that didn't work so well.

The Best Linux Web Browsers

1. Chrome

Chrome is head and shoulders the best web browser on any platform. I was a FireFox user prior to Chrome's release but as soon as it was released it was clearly so much better than anything that proceeded it.

The web pages render 100% correctly and the tabbed interface is so uncluttered and clean. Add to that the way it blends and works brilliantly with all of Google's tools such as Docs and GMail and there is only one winner.

Other features that make this the must have browser include the Flash plugin and the proprietary codecs. It is also the only browser that will allow you to watch Netflix. 

Finally the Chrome web store turns the browser into a desktop interface. Who even needs the underlying desktop environment anymore?

It is no surprise that the Chromebook has sold so well.

2. FireFox

FireFox is destined to always be the bridesmaid and never the bride. Previously it was battling it out with Internet Explorer for market share and just as it looked like it was beginning to win the battle a new player came onto the scene and it isn't now even the best browser within Linux.

There are so many great things to like about FireFox. First of all and this is probably the most important thing is that FireFox has always adhered to the W3C standards and this means that every website always renders 100% correctly. (If it doesn't then blame the web developer).

The other major feature that sets FireFox apart from most other browsers is the large library of add-ons that are available and if you are a web developer many of these add-ons are invaluable.

Fed up with Flash? Use the add-on which forces Youtube to run all its videos as HTML5. Fed up with adverts? Use one of the many advert blocking apps.

3. Chromium

Chromium is the open source project that forms the basis for Google's Chrome browser. You will find that there is a split between a host of distributions as to whether they ship with FireFox as the default web browser or Chromium.

The How To Geek has a good article listing the differences between Chromium and Chrome

Google have bundled various proprietary add-ons that just can't be included with Chromium such as HTML5 video codecs, MP3 support and of course a Flash plugin.

Chromium renders every web page as well as Google's Chrome browser and you can access the Chrome app store and use most of the features of Chrome.

If you wish to use Flash then visit this page on the Ubuntu wiki which gives instructions showing how to install a Flash plugin which works for Chromium and FireFox on Linux.

4. Iceweasel

Iceweasel is an unbranded version of the FireFox web browser. Why bother using Iceweasel over Firefox? Why does it even exist?

Iceweasel is basically a recompiled version of the Extended Support Release of Firefox and whilst it receives security updates it doesn't get other feature updates until they have been well tested. This provides a more stable overall browser. (and ultimately it allowed Debian to compile FireFox and make it their own without getting into trademark issues with Mozilla).

If you have installed a distribution and it came with Iceweasel pre-installed then there isn't a huge amount of benefit in installing FireFox unless you require a newer feature that hasn't been released for Iceweasel yet.

One To Replace

Konqueror

If you are using the KDE distribution then you will have a web browser installed by default and you may be wondering whether you need to bother installing another one.

In my opinion yes there is and for reasons that will become clear 

Konqueror has some nice unique features such as split windows and of course features that you would expect such as tabbed windows and bookmarks.

The real test of a browser though is how well it render pages. That is where it falls down a bit. I tried 10 different sites including bbc.co.uk,lxer. com, yahoo.co.uk, about.com, sky.com/news, thetrainline.com, www.netweather.tv, digitalspy.com, marksandspencer.com, argos.co.uk.

9 out of the 10 websites failed to load properly and it is questionable as to whether the 10th really did. 

Konqueror developers will probably say that I needed to tweak settings but why bother when there are browsers that just work and have better interfaces and better features.

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