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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.

Lynx can also act as a text-to-speech application for visually impaired people and can power Refreshable Braille Displays. It is a blessing in disguise for those system administrators who work either on machines with very old hardware that does not support GUI-based Web browsers.

Lynx can also be used to view files and directories on your local system. To view the contents of a file or a directory within the browser, provide its name as an argument to the Lynx command line. For example, to open a text file you can type lynx helloworld.txt.

Last but not the least, Lynx is highly configurable browser. Just type lynx -help and it produces a list of more than 200 configurable options.

Other considerations
All that being said, you can't get past the fact that Lynx cannot display images, videos, Flash or JavaScript objects — and hence is not suitable to surf e-commerce or social media websites. Though it can be configured to open an external program to handle images and videos, this configuration is not enabled by default.

Lynx does not support multiple downloads — only one file can be downloaded at a time. Also, the download process runs in the foreground, which blocks the user from doing any other activities on the browser until the download completes.

Bottom line
While it isn't likely to replace your everyday browser, if you're a website administrator or other IT professional, Lynx is a great tool to have in your kit. There is some indication that people are still using this 20-year-old browser to surf modern-day websites. Just try it out and see.

Developer: Christian Dywan
Reviewed version: 0.5.4
OS support Windows, Elementary OS and *Nix systems
License: LGPL v2.1

Midori — which means "green" in Japanese — is an open-source Web browser that has a simple user interface. It is a GTK-based browser that is written in the C and Vala programming languages and uses the WebKit rendering engine.

It comes as a part of the Xfce desktop environment and comes pre-installed with some Linux-based operating systems like Elementary OS and Bodhi Linux. It also has a nice range of features, such as HTML5 support, anonymous browsing, etc.

What's new
Release 0.5.4 includes improvements in error page display, information on network errors and thumbnail generation. Developers will also be happy to hear that this version comes with glib 2.32.2, allowing users to build their own versions of Midori under Ubuntu 12.04. In addition, new features like default zoom level preference were also added, while there are also fixes for crashes and segfaults.

What's good about it
I like Web browsers with simple user interfaces, and the first thing that impressed me about Midori was the easy and uncluttered interface; in fact, it looks quite similar to Firefox's. All it consists of is a single-click menu icon, an address bar, a search bar and a few important buttons such as add a new tab, add a bookmark, refresh and back/forward navigation. This means that the Web page occupies the maximum amount of display area.


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