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.
12 thoughts on “Lightweight Webkit Based Browsers”
interesting! and timely!
i was just today following some guides for optimizing firefox on a netbook.
http://www.uzbl.org/ is another interesting lightweight-browser:
> uzbl follows the unix philosophy – “write programs that do one thing and do it well. write programs to work together. write programs to handle text streams, because that is a universal interface.”
Arora looks somewhat prettier, but only Midori runs Facebook correctly atm. Both have problems with “view larger/smaller” using the keyboard, but control-scrollwheel works on both… which enlarges text *only*, not text and images. Very useful for reducing Firefox’s sluggishness.
I’ve been using Midori for a while now on all my computers.
I hate heavy software with a passion.
It only recently stopped sucking, mind you. Just a couple months ago everyone was having trouble with cookies and https.
Also, under some circumstances it actually seems to use much more CPU than Gecko browsers, even if using less RAM.. I still don’t know exactly what triggers that
Note that the default Midori with Ubuntu, version 0.1.2, crashes a LOT and doesn’t restore your tabs. Consider getting the hot git version, or binary 0.1.9 from the home page: http://www.twotoasts.de/index.php?/pages/midori_summary.html
Chromium is starting to shape up on Linux. It works well enough that I’ve dumped Firefox for the most part. It’s too bad Firefox has turned into a bloated wreck.
I’m going to check out uzbl though.
Dillo is very good when you only want to search for some data and don’t want to wait at all for anything (even if the computer is doing something heavy at the moment)
Other than that, there’s not much you can do on it.. The internet looks very ugly and the “Web 2.0” doesn’t work at all
NOw we just need to get an adblock like extension for something other than FF (I hear opera has one built in), that uses easylist, etc. and i will switch right then. until then I keep FF because it being big and slow(still faster than mozilla, the full browser/mail client/toaster/kitchen sink). If anyone knows of one for either Midori or Arora please let us know.
arora is great :) thanks for the hint.
The startup time is quite impressive compared to FF, although the rendering/page loading seems to be (much) slower than with ff (slow connection, firefox manages to steal bandwidth from other apps somehow and always get prioritized in my network somehow)
Apart from that little drawback, the only thing I’m missing in arora is an adblocker and maybe something like noscript and cookie culler.
Some hints to other lightweight (netbook) apps would be nice – :)
(especially mail, chat – but please with gui ;)
You call those lightweight? Take a look at surf  and vimpression . *That’s* lightweight. :P
I recently started using Opera on my Ubuntu netbook, and it’s great. I also installed Opera Mini on my Blackberry, and it is much, MUCH better than the native browser.
My problem is that I keep running into some sites that only support Chrome, IE and FF (like banks, utilities, etc). Very annoying.
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