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5 lesser-known browsers: Free, lightweight and low-maintenance

Himanshu Arora | Nov. 7, 2013
Are Internet Explorer, Firefox or Chrome slowing your machine -- or are they simply more than you need? We look at some alternatives.

I also wish that Dillo had better keyboard controls. Some standard keyboard shortcuts do not work — for example, Ctrl+D does not open a bookmarking mechanism and Ctrl+K does not activate the search bar. I'd have also liked an option to store browsing history. Also, scarcity of available browser plug-ins is something that needs to be improved.

Bottom line
Dillo cannot replace mainstream browsers like Firefox, Chrome or IE, but it is an excellent solution if you want to browse the Web using old hardware. It can also be your go-to browser if you want to quickly access information from a heavy website that takes time to load on mainstream browsers.

Epiphany
Developer: Gnome (original author: Marco Pesenti Gritti)
Reviewed version: 3.8.2
OS support Gnome-based Linux and BSD
License: GPLv2+

Epiphany — also known as the Gnome Web browser — is a free and open-source Web browser that was primarily developed for the Gnome desktop environment in 2003, after the developers of the Web browser Gaelon parted ways over disagreements on Gaelon's design complexity. Epiphany is GTK-based, is completely written in the C programming language and uses the WebKit engine for rendering Web pages.

Epiphany is useful for users who want a standard browser that has good integration with the Gnome desktop environment.

What's new
Release 3.8.2 contains some updates in Epiphany's ability to be translated to other languages (Epiphany has now been translated into more than 60 languages). There are also a few minor changes, including the removal of some non-required features. For example, page thumbnails are no longer created for error pages, titles for error pages are no longer stored in history and crash pages are not loaded for un-restored pages. These changes could reduce the memory footprint.

What's good about it
Epiphany is HIG-complaint and gets along well with the Gnome desktop environment. It provides private browsing functionality, which can be accessed through the incognito window option in the main menu.

Besides, that, Epiphany provides all the standard features like a pop-up blocker, spelling checker and extension support. One particular feature that I really like is that the bookmarks can be categorized under various user-defined categories.

A new-tab button toward the top right corner makes opening a tab really easy for those who are not used to Ctrl+T.

Other considerations
While the major browsers pack in more features than most people need, they do offer a number of useful features that Epiphany lacks. For example, Epiphany always opens up with a blank screen — there is no way to specify a home page. A right-click on a link still has the "open link" command above the "open in new tab" command, which is kind of old-school now, as tabbed browsing is the preferred way of browsing these days.

 

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