A Guide to the Best (and Worst) Linux Web Browsers

Picture of the Firefox logo and Chrome logo against a fire background

 Lifewire

The number of viable web browsers in the Linux ecosystem has declined in recent years, but it still boasts more than a dozen viable options. However, given the centrality of a browser to the modern computing experience, your mileage with the most common browsers depends on your Linux distribution and your preferred use cases. We highlight nine of the best and worst of the most common browsers, in alphabetical order by product name.

Some browsers are tied to specific window managers. Your particular Linux distribution's performance may vary for these browsers.

Brave

Brave browser.

What We Like

  • Excellent design aesthetic.

  • Focus on end-user privacy and security.

What We Don't Like

  • The company's roadmap for ads feels like it's already capitulated to the ad industry.

  • Unclear that browser-based micropayments will really substitute for site ad revenue.

A relatively new browser boasting open-source credentials and a slick design, Brave boasts its ad-free, tracker-free browser experience. Highly compliant with standards, the most interesting aspect of Brave is its focus (with its Browser Attention Token and funding model) on paying sites for content.

With Brave Wallet, you fund a digital wallet to anonymously tip publishers that have signed up with Brave. You can also offer monthly contributions out of your wallet. Brave intends for this kind of behavior to substitute for display-ad revenue for sites genuinely popular with readers.

Chrome

Google Chrome download screen for Linux.

What We Like

  • Officially supported by Google.

  • Well-integrated with Google's application ecosystem.

What We Don't Like

  • Offered through RPM and DEB packages only, and in 64-bit versions only.

  • Installation can be tricky, as the proliferating online articles about installing Chrome on Linux attests.

  • License agreement isn't aligned with FOSS principles.

Google's browser works just as well on Linux as it does on any other platform. If you're all-in with the Google ecosystem, installing Chrome is a no-brainer. If you like the underlying engine but not the business model, the Chromium open-source project may be an appealing alternative.

However, Chrome is only half-heartedly developed for Linux. Google officially releases just two 64-bit binaries in RPM and DEB packages.

Chromium

What We Like

  • Open-source root for browsers like Chrome.

  • Continuously updated.

What We Don't Like

  • More complicated installation procedure.

  • Not as fully featured as Chrome.

Chromium is the open-source browser engine at the heart of browsers like Google Chrome and, soon, Microsoft Edge. However, it's less often used as a "daily driver" browser (except by tech-savvy developers) and instead as a platform for future development.

Nothing precludes you from installing Chromium; in fact, some Linux distributions include versions of Chromium in their app repositories. However, Chrome and Chromium do not enjoy feature parity: Google adds extra capabilities into Chrome that it doesn't add to Chromium, including some video-rendering tools.

Firefox

Firefox main window.

What We Like

  • Fast and full-featured.

  • Optimized for Linux.

What We Don't Like

  • Occasionally delays start-up with update checks.

  • User interface design clunky, but improving over time.

For most Linux power users, Firefox is the browser of choice. It's fast and full-featured, standards compliant, and welcomes a rich ecosystem of browser extensions and themes. Plus, the browser's sync utility keeps different Firefox installations synchronized, including mobile versions.

If you need a regular daily driver browser, Firefox is an excellent choice.

Konqueror

Konquerer web browser.
Konquerer.org

What We Like

  • Built-in to KDE.

  • File-system browsing.

What We Don't Like

  • Barely maintained.

  • Increasingly not capable of working with emerging web technologies.

Once upon a time, Konqueror was the go-to browser on Linux. In recent years, however, the browser hasn't received much love, and although it's still "out there" and available on KDE-based distributions, the browser can't quite keep up.

Nevertheless, it's a decent go-to if you need to check a simple site in an alternative browser or to explore the contents of your filesystem.

Lynx

Lynx browser.

What We Like

  • Text only, so no ads or trackers.

  • Fast and efficient for keyboard-based browsing.

What We Don't Like

  • Only one active browsing window at a time.

  • Modern sites don't render well in text-based browsers.

In the earliest days of the World Wide Web, the default method of "browsing the web" involved a text-based browser. Most people don't use tools like Lynx anymore, but the browser is still actively developed. It's a great resource for people accustomed to working in plain text.

The only caveat is that modern sites tend to render in a goofy fashion. For example, a WordPress site with a sidebar might show all the sidebar content and then show the page or post content. The problem isn't so much with Lynx or its siblings as with evolving site-design standards that promote aesthetics over semantic rigor.

Opera

Opera main screen.

What We Like

  • Innovative approach with its VPN.

  • Neither looks nor acts like a Chrome or Firefox clone.

What We Don't Like

  • Less-developed extension ecosystem.

  • Ships as 64-bit RPM and DEB packages only.

Among the up-and-comer browsers, Opera has found a soft spot in the hearts of a lot of power users. It's full-featured, with an emphasis on connectivity.

The default left sidebar opens features like personalized news, Facebook Messenger, bookmarks, the Speed Dial, and similar tools. The Flow feature syncs with mobile Opera to promote seamless hand-offs of data between devices.

Opera is a good, stable browser that hasn't yet found the market share it deserves.

Vivaldi

Vivaldi window.

What We Like

  • Insane amount of customization.

  • Extra tools like a Notes feature add to the browser's overall utility.

What We Don't Like

  • Imperfect standards implementation; some sites freeze in Vivaldi that don't freeze in other browsers.

  • Powerful customization tools don't come with bumper guards. Experienced users will thrive but inexperienced users will likely be frustrated with the proliferating options.

Vivaldi is like Opera: A great browser that doesn't yet have a large market share, although both enjoy a devoted following of power users.

Vivaldi's claim to fame is its insanely high degree of customization. Things like the toolbar can move around the browser window. Vivaldi supports Chrome extensions, which is a plus, but its major drawback is that it tends to choke on some sites more readily than other browsers.

However, if you fancy a powerful browser with a lot of configuration options, the minor rough edges of Vivaldi are a cheap price to pay for what you get.

Web (formerly Epiphany)

Web browser for Gnome 3.
 Gnome

What We Like

  • Clean design.

  • Optimized for Gnome-based environments.

What We Don't Like

  • Spartan feature set.

  • Low degree of customization.

Originally known as Epiphany, the browser now known simply as Web serves as the default for the Gnome and Pantheon desktop environments. It's based on WebKit, so it's reasonably standards compliant, but follows the recent logic of Gnome and Pantheon of offering a bare-bones UI that's hard to customize.

Web may work well as a backup browser, but most power users will likely pick a more extensible alternative.