14 votes

Anyone using a lightweight browser with Linux?

I've got a crappy Chromebook running GalliumOS (Xubuntu) and Chromium is slow as molasses. I tried a few other browsers like Otter and Falkon. They're alright for most sites -- not Tildes, but this seems consistent with QT5 browsers.

Anyway, outside of text browsers, anybody have any light weight browser suggestions?

33 comments

  1. [5]
    whbboyd
    (edited )
    Link
    Is there a particular reason you haven't tried Firefox? It may not be any lighter than Chrome, but it also may be. I think it's worth a shot, at any rate. Installing an ad blocker will improve...

    Is there a particular reason you haven't tried Firefox? It may not be any lighter than Chrome, but it also may be. I think it's worth a shot, at any rate. Installing an ad blocker will improve performance considerably.

    Regardless, you won't find a browser other than Firefox, Chrome, or one of the many Chrome reskins, that's significantly better (edit: in the sense of "more compatible", not "lighter/faster") than the QtWebEngine browsers you've already tried. The sheer amount of stuff required to support the modern web precludes lightweight implementation or support by a non-gigantic team. (Microsoft, of all excessively-resourced companies, decided it wasn't worth it and now their browser is just another Chrome reskin)

    You could try Dillo, which has its own independent browser engine, but I suspect it'll just be broadly less compatible. Otherwise, I'm afraid you'll have to put up with brokenness, slowness, or an awkward workflow where you switch to Firefox or Chrome on broken sites.

    9 votes
    1. userexec
      Link Parent
      I use Firefox on my Dell Chromebook 3120 with GalliumOS and it's totally acceptable. Even streams video pretty decently. It's a little bit slower than my far more powerful desktop, but really not...

      I use Firefox on my Dell Chromebook 3120 with GalliumOS and it's totally acceptable. Even streams video pretty decently. It's a little bit slower than my far more powerful desktop, but really not bad at all. The 3120 does have 4GB RAM and a Celeron N2840 2.16GHz, though, so it's not the weakest Chromebook out there. Not sure how well it would work if it only had 2GB.

      5 votes
    2. [2]
      Akir
      Link Parent
      It's been a while, so I don't know if Chrome has gone through any major rewrites to improve it, but Firefox was a notable (though not huge) improvement over Chrome on the Chromebook I owned....

      It's been a while, so I don't know if Chrome has gone through any major rewrites to improve it, but Firefox was a notable (though not huge) improvement over Chrome on the Chromebook I owned.

      Generally speaking, when you've got lots of RAM and memory bandwidth, Firefox and Chrome are pretty close in performance, but when you are low on either of them (which is going to be the case on all but the nicest Chromebooks), Firefox tends to run better.

      3 votes
      1. babypuncher
        Link Parent
        I am amused that Firefox runs better on Google's own hardware.

        I am amused that Firefox runs better on Google's own hardware.

        4 votes
    3. tomf
      Link Parent
      yeah, I was doing firefox for a while. FF is fine, but I don't notice a major benefit vs the chromium setup I've got on the cb. Its a Celeron 3215U with 4gb ram -- so nothing crazy, but its still...

      yeah, I was doing firefox for a while. FF is fine, but I don't notice a major benefit vs the chromium setup I've got on the cb.

      Its a Celeron 3215U with 4gb ram -- so nothing crazy, but its still usable with any browser. This was one of those late night 'I am tired but I must solve this' things.

      All in all, I think I'll end up with either Chromium or FF since, like you said, most usable browsers are just reskinned. Qute is nice. Its handy to have vim-like controls.

      I got this CB a few years ago. Its a Toshiba Chromebook 2. The screen is really nice and 1080p is great for a 13". If I force it to performance it works really well. I'm running i3 and all that -- so its pretty much reaching its potential, so far as I know. :)

      1 vote
  2. [4]
    knocklessmonster
    Link
    There are a few out there. If you want to go keyboard-driven, qutebrowser's a good project. It uses the QtWebEngine backend by default, IIRC, and doesn't have a lot of the bloat of other browsers....

    There are a few out there. If you want to go keyboard-driven, qutebrowser's a good project. It uses the QtWebEngine backend by default, IIRC, and doesn't have a lot of the bloat of other browsers.

    Unfortunately, because of how the requirements of the internet and browsers have changed in lock-step, there's been a butt-ton of feature creep that has led to any generally useful browser being significantly bloated, and you can't quite escape it. I had to retire my netbook because the last of its useful stuff (the internet) died with web browser bloat. It's not a major concern for you, because that netbook's now 11 years old.

    6 votes
    1. [3]
      tomf
      Link Parent
      Qute is awesome and has active development -- which is a double win. It'd be nice if there were a full a la carte browser. Which netbook was it?

      Qute is awesome and has active development -- which is a double win. It'd be nice if there were a full a la carte browser.

      Which netbook was it?

      3 votes
      1. [2]
        knocklessmonster
        Link Parent
        eee1000HA. It was actually my first laptop, and the first computer I ran linux (Debian, Fedora, Ubuntu, then Arch) on.

        eee1000HA. It was actually my first laptop, and the first computer I ran linux (Debian, Fedora, Ubuntu, then Arch) on.

        3 votes
        1. tomf
          Link Parent
          nice! I wanted the first version of those back then. My plan was to flip the screen and mount it under a cupboard in the kitchen. Pretty good that it was going for eleven years. I wish the...

          nice! I wanted the first version of those back then. My plan was to flip the screen and mount it under a cupboard in the kitchen.

          Pretty good that it was going for eleven years. I wish the Chromebook stuff that the Gallium team has done up would hit the main kernel. It'd be great to run Arch or Manjaro on this chromebook.

          2 votes
  3. [2]
    Seirdy
    Link
    Most "lightweight" browsers use a heavy engine like Blink, Webkit, or Gecko. Of these three. Webkit is the lightest. Lightweight browsers that use an actual lightweight engine: Netsurf: limited...

    Most "lightweight" browsers use a heavy engine like Blink, Webkit, or Gecko. Of these three. Webkit is the lightest.

    Lightweight browsers that use an actual lightweight engine:

    • Netsurf: limited and experimental support for JavaScript, but otherwise renders quite well.

    • Dillo: very limited support for CSS, passable support for HTML5. No JavaScript.

    • Konqueror with KHTML: KHTML isn't packaged for as many distros anymore, and is the ancestor to Webkit. Very poor JS support, but decent support for HTML/CSS. Can switch to QtWebengine (based on Blink) for sites that break in KHTML.

    • Links: has a graphical mode with -g. No support for CSS, poor text rendering.

    • hv3: uses tkhtml. I haven't used this one, but it seems slightly better than KHTML.

    Edit: also, obligatory "f1rst p0st!!1"

    5 votes
    1. tomf
      Link Parent
      It seems like there’s always a compromise. I ended up settling in surf (suckles) — which seems to just work for whatever reason. With many of these other lw browsers that don’t really perform as...

      It seems like there’s always a compromise. I ended up settling in surf (suckles) — which seems to just work for whatever reason. With many of these other lw browsers that don’t really perform as expected, I’m surprised that anybody uses them full time.

      1 vote
  4. [2]
    dredmorbius
    Link
    I understand that you're excluding text browsers, but the truth is that these remain surprisingly useful and effective, and enable numerous quite useful shell utilities, aliases, and scripts ---...

    I understand that you're excluding text browsers, but the truth is that these remain surprisingly useful and effective, and enable numerous quite useful shell utilities, aliases, and scripts --- commandline access to DDG, Wikipedia, dictionaries (well, in addition to dict / dictd), etymologies, and related services is not to be sneezed at.

    These fail on high-concept websites and SPAs, but are often preferable to graphical/JS-enabled browsers on many sites. There's the option as well of stripping elements from Web content through tools such as html-xml-utils through which individual DOM elements may be included or excluded. Overkill, possibly, but exceedingly powerful.

    I prefer w3m, though links, elinks / elinks2, and the venerable lynx, as well as curl and wget, are all options. Several even support images.

    For GUI use, the suckless surf browser, based on WebKit2/GTK+, is lightweight and bare-bones, but featureful enough for most modern websites. You'll want to employ a DNS-based adblock tool such as PiHoleor an OpenWRT option on your router/modem.

    Other options I've evaluated:

    • dillo is exceptionally light and fast but too underfeatured for general use. It supports enough modern Web elements to utterly mangle page rendering, but not enough to un-mangle or remove annoyances.
    • Konqueror (KDE) may be suitable.
    • Epiphany (GNOME) likewise.
    • Firefox in my experience is simple far too bloated on older kit.
    • Chrome/Chromium likewise, with the added defect of being Google.
    4 votes
    1. tomf
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      I definitely agree with your list. I should just use surf and suck it up. I'm already blocking ads and such through Diversion on my router, too. I've got an ASUS router running Merlin and a bunch...

      I definitely agree with your list. I should just use surf and suck it up. I'm already blocking ads and such through Diversion on my router, too. I've got an ASUS router running Merlin and a bunch of other shit.

      I wish more of the web were text-only friendly. Really, it should be an accessibility layer.

      quick edit: I forgot how responsive surf is. I love it

      3 votes
  5. [5]
    Thra11
    Link
    If none of the 'lightweight' browsers are suitable, it might be worth experimenting with addons like ublock-origin or noscript (is noscript still a thing?) in either chrome or firefox. By blocking...

    If none of the 'lightweight' browsers are suitable, it might be worth experimenting with addons like ublock-origin or noscript (is noscript still a thing?) in either chrome or firefox. By blocking a lot of unnecessary elements, they can significantly improve performance on many websites.

    I don't know what kind of hardware your chromebook has, but firefox with ublock-origin on my aarch64 pinebook pro runs pretty well.

    3 votes
    1. [3]
      Whom
      Link Parent
      Yes, but uMatrix is usually recommended above it these days. It's a lot easier to manage temp exceptions and such. I've also heard it's more efficient, but I have no idea if that's true.

      noscript (is noscript still a thing?)

      Yes, but uMatrix is usually recommended above it these days. It's a lot easier to manage temp exceptions and such. I've also heard it's more efficient, but I have no idea if that's true.

      7 votes
      1. [2]
        hungariantoast
        Link Parent
        It's worth mentioning that uMatrix is no longer being developed, though it will probably continue to work fine for quite a while. There is a semi-maintained fork called nuTensor, but it is not...

        It's worth mentioning that uMatrix is no longer being developed, though it will probably continue to work fine for quite a while.

        There is a semi-maintained fork called nuTensor, but it is not available on Firefox's addon store and would need to be built and installed manually (which isn't too difficult, to be fair).

        Unfortunately, there does not yet seem to be a clear successor or continuation of uMatrix.

        7 votes
        1. Whom
          Link Parent
          Oh no, I didn't know that! Thanks for mentioning it.

          Oh no, I didn't know that! Thanks for mentioning it.

          3 votes
    2. tomf
      Link Parent
      this is a toshiba chromebook 2 -- an N2840 @ 2.16GHz w/ 4gb ram. Not a bad system, but nothing amazing. I've got all of the privacy standards, I'm about halfway into the noscript life with all of...

      this is a toshiba chromebook 2 -- an N2840 @ 2.16GHz w/ 4gb ram. Not a bad system, but nothing amazing.

      I've got all of the privacy standards, I'm about halfway into the noscript life with all of my systems as is. Its kind of annoying, but like you said, there is a good performance benefit.

      2 votes
  6. [2]
    Diff
    Link
    Have you given Epiphany/GNOME Web a try? It's pretty lightweight for me and my laptop.

    Have you given Epiphany/GNOME Web a try? It's pretty lightweight for me and my laptop.

    3 votes
    1. plain
      Link Parent
      Also Eolie is a nice WebKit2GTK-Browser not occupying too much screen estate and integrated ad-blocking.

      Also Eolie is a nice WebKit2GTK-Browser not occupying too much screen estate and integrated ad-blocking.

      1 vote
  7. [6]
    under
    Link
    These two are your only alternatives (qt based browsers or text browsers), I'm afraid. I also was in the same situation and ended up going back to ChromeOS, since my model is not really...

    These two are your only alternatives (qt based browsers or text browsers), I'm afraid. I also was in the same situation and ended up going back to ChromeOS, since my model is not really appropriate to run linux.

    2 votes
    1. [4]
      admicos
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      I'd say there are three alternatives: WebKit, Chromium (as in QtWebEngine, Electron, or whatever GTK has that isn't WebKitGTK), and small browsers (as in, text browsers and small engines like...

      I'd say there are three alternatives: WebKit, Chromium (as in QtWebEngine, Electron, or whatever GTK has that isn't WebKitGTK), and small browsers (as in, text browsers and small engines like NetSurf)

      replying to @tomf: The most "light weight" you can get (while keeping the "modern web" working) is probably something WebKit-based. So, browsers like GNOME's Epiphany, suckless surf, and I think Qutebrowser had a WebKit option too, though I recall that being unmaintained.

      If you don't care about page layouts and cool with no Javascript, NetSurf is probably the best you can get in terms of light-ness, but you'll lose pretty much everything after HTML 3-4 because of it's custom engine that isn't backed by any huge corporation.

      Overall, real choices on "browsers" are REALLY limited, not just under Linux. You're mostly just picking for a skin over the "big three" (WebKit, Chromium, Gecko).

      9 votes
      1. clone1
        Link Parent
        +1 for webkit. I'm using suckless surf on my pinebook pro and it works pretty well. I had to add -fsigned-char to the compile flags to get scroll up keybinds to work right on it, so OP might have...

        +1 for webkit. I'm using suckless surf on my pinebook pro and it works pretty well. I had to add -fsigned-char to the compile flags to get scroll up keybinds to work right on it, so OP might have to do that on their chrombook.

        2 votes
      2. [2]
        Akir
        Link Parent
        I really love NetSurf's rendering engine; it just feels like it's prettier than anything else. It's just kind of sad that it's not going to ever be popular since they aren't really going crazy to...

        I really love NetSurf's rendering engine; it just feels like it's prettier than anything else. It's just kind of sad that it's not going to ever be popular since they aren't really going crazy to implement Javascript or other modern features.

        1. lionirdeadman
          Link Parent
          I just tried my website on NetSurf... it doesn't work. I don't even use any JS for rendering.. I wonder what breaks it. If you can figure it out, feel free to send a PR, I mean, as long as it...

          I just tried my website on NetSurf... it doesn't work. I don't even use any JS for rendering.. I wonder what breaks it. If you can figure it out, feel free to send a PR, I mean, as long as it doesn't require mind bending tricks, haha. Although tbf, it also doesn't work on IE either.

          Surprisingly google does work. Wikipedia too, Youtube is definitely completely broken as I imagine most everything is..

          1 vote
    2. tomf
      Link Parent
      Ok cool. That's what I figured. I got a newer version of qute running nicely. It's such a goofy error with the others. Digging through the issues, it looks to be related to grid. Other than this...

      Ok cool. That's what I figured.

      I got a newer version of qute running nicely. It's such a goofy error with the others. Digging through the issues, it looks to be related to grid.

      Other than this somewhat minor issue, everything runs great on the thing. Thanks!

      1 vote
  8. [3]
    crdpa
    Link
    Why is there a lot of different browsers using blink, thus keeping Google monopoly, but not using gecko? Is gecko more difficult to work with? Why there is no qutebrowser using firefox engine?

    Why is there a lot of different browsers using blink, thus keeping Google monopoly, but not using gecko?

    Is gecko more difficult to work with?

    Why there is no qutebrowser using firefox engine?

    2 votes
    1. wervenyt
      Link Parent
      My impression is that Gecko is much more tightly integrated into the rest of the application that is Firefox. Blink grew out of Webkit, which was originally a derivation on KHTML, a rendering...

      My impression is that Gecko is much more tightly integrated into the rest of the application that is Firefox. Blink grew out of Webkit, which was originally a derivation on KHTML, a rendering engine meant to be at least somewhat reusable, so it inherited that modularity from its predecessors.

      5 votes
    2. admicos
      Link Parent
      Yes, Gecko is specifically designed for Firefox, and there is no way to use it outside it, with the exception of GeckoView (and whatever SailfishOS folks are doing) so far. The explanation I heard...

      Yes, Gecko is specifically designed for Firefox, and there is no way to use it outside it, with the exception of GeckoView (and whatever SailfishOS folks are doing) so far.

      The explanation I heard is that Gecko is designed as the toolkit itself, rather than a single component of a larger project. So, Gecko runs Firefox, instead of Firefox running Gecko, if that makes any sense. (And I recall a Mozilla engineer working on GeckoView is on Tildes. So they might be able to explain it better than I can.)

      For other engines, there are ready-made pieces, like QtWebEngine and WebKitGTK you can slot into an already existing code base to use, which are probably easier to develop and maintain because of reasons @wervenyt already mentioned, whereas GeckoView and any other embeddable Gecko project must wrestle with the legacy of Gecko expecting to run the entire show by itself, instead of being able to work within its own confines.

      4 votes
  9. [3]
    pArSeC
    (edited )
    Link
    I'm a big fan of Midori, myself. It hits the intersection of featureful and lightweight for me perfectly. I don't use it as my "full time" main browser, but I do use it every day. I tried tildes...

    I'm a big fan of Midori, myself. It hits the intersection of featureful and lightweight for me perfectly. I don't use it as my "full time" main browser, but I do use it every day. I tried tildes in it and it looks fine to me! Midori is probably already in your distro's repos. More info at Wikipedia

    2 votes
    1. Marijn
      Link Parent
      Hmm — i tried it once, and from what i can tell, it seems like it got bought out and turned into a Chromium clone at some point? The Wikipedia article seems a bit outdated.

      Hmm — i tried it once, and from what i can tell, it seems like it got bought out and turned into a Chromium clone at some point? The Wikipedia article seems a bit outdated.

      3 votes
    2. tomf
      Link Parent
      its been a while since I used that. I'll give it a swing. Its amazing how many options there are for browsers.

      its been a while since I used that. I'll give it a swing. Its amazing how many options there are for browsers.

      1 vote
  10. thismachine
    Link
    I've got Firefox running on a 32-bit Intel Mac with 2GB RAM from 2006, and it works very well.

    I've got Firefox running on a 32-bit Intel Mac with 2GB RAM from 2006, and it works very well.

    1 vote