With netbooks being slim and mostly utilitarian, it seems a bit contradictory to use a standard and somewhat bulky web browser with them. After all, we’re trimming down the operating system to perform faster on these little devices, so why not thin out the focal point of the netbook: the browser. Firefox, Chrome, or Safari may be well and great for a full powered desktop or laptop, so how about something a bit more trimmed? Enter the lightweight Webkit based browsers: Arora and Midori.
Arora and Midori are relative newcomers to the browser wars, but each offers a great alternative to Firefox, especially for netbooks. They’re both based on the opensource Webkit project, which is the same engine used by Chrome and Safari, so pages load quickly. Flash is supported and fully enabled in both with video playback working just as well as other browsers. The main advantage is the loading speed of the browser itself. On an ASUS Eee PC with Ubuntu, Firefox takes a few seconds to load, where Arora and Midori load in under a second.
These projects are maturing pretty quickly, and some great features come out with each version. For our money though, Arora takes the cake, and has replaced Firefox as my browser of choice for my netbook. It’s quicker, offers a somewhat similar feature to Firefox’s “awesome bar”, has a privacy mode, and is generally a little bit faster than Midori.