KDE Browsers Part 1: The Arguments

I’ve been using web browsers since Internet Explorer 1 and Netscape Navigator 3. I’ve blogged about my browser history quite a bit. I’ve ended up using Chrome on all my platforms. It works on Linux and Windows and I can have my bookmarks synced up across all those platforms. Now, I’m not a huge user of bookmarks. From my earliest days back in the 1990s when I used to perfectly curate my bookmarks into folders and subfolders to the mid-2000s when Epiphany and Firefox implemented tags on bookmarks, pretty much anything I’ve ever bookmarked has gone into a status of “out of sight== out of mind”. In fact, the only way I’ve been able to effectively use bookmarks is to use the space under the address bar to store them so I can see them. This is what Chrome looks like on my machines:

My Chrome and its bookmarks
My Chrome and its bookmarks

However, the following facts remain: I still rarely use those bookmarks. Even smaller is the set that includes bookmarks I’ve needed across my different machines running Chrome. Also, I can export/import the current set of bookmarks – which haven’t changed in months. So while I’d miss the ability to sync across computers if I abandoned Chrome, it wouldn’t affect me in the real world.

But Chrome’s working perfectly for me. It’s fast, it’s sleak. I’ve replaced Firefox with it on all my computers. Why abandon it? Well, as I mentioned a couple days ago, I’m really into KDE now and it doesn’t quite integrate correctly with KDE. I’m not talking about the theming, that was easy to fix. It’s more to do with all the neat bits of KDE that it doesn’t work well with. First of all, and this one is hearsay, it doesn’t work correctly with KDE’s activities. Second, it doesn’t work well with the KGet download manager. Third, it doesn’t work as cleanly with the other KDE tech – although a recent update made it finally work nicely with KWallet.

So which KDE browser to use? There’s the official browswer, Konqueror, and there’s the new semi-official browser, Rekonq. I haven’t had a good experience with Konqueror since the old KDE 3.x days, but nowadays webkit can be swapped in as the rendering backend. With Rekonq and Chrome also based on webkit, the real differentiator will be Javascript performance. This is the component into which all browser research is being poured into nowadays. Have the Konqueror and Rekonq teams kept up with the big boys? With so much based on Javascript, this could outweigh all the KDE benefits and throw me right back to Chrome. So this’ll be key.

I’ll probably start off with Rekonq. Since it and Konqueror are both so tightly integrated into KDE, they share bookmarks and KWallet for passwords so I shouldn’t lose any functionality going to Konqueror if Rekonq isn’t up to speed. The fact that it will allow me to directly send RSS feeds to Akgregator is great! The usage of embedded apps is also a great leverage of KDE tech instead of possibly unstable plugins. Also, the way the new tab page is implemented looks pretty awesome – similar to Chrome, but more accessible. The visual suggestions on the URL bar also look to be pretty awesome. So I’m going to set Rekonq as my default browser in KDE and use it for a week and see how it goes. If it proves unable to handle my needs, I’ll write about it and switch to Konqueror. If both fail before a week is up, I’ll definitely blog about that and go back to Chrome. Here’s to experimentation!

Rekonq new tab page
Rekonq new tab page

Initial impression – it’s a bit slower on all sites – maybe it needs time to build up its cache. Strangely, using the flash uploader in WordPress causes it to use the Gnome file dialog instead of the KDE dialog. I thought that was quite odd. I like the tab previews although it’s something I rarely use:

Rekonq tab preview
Rekonq tab preview

I am getting this weird error in Google docs. Wonder if this has anything to do with the slowness?

Rekonq Google Docs Error
Rekonq Google Docs Error

Author: Eric Mesa

To find out a little more about me, see About Me

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