Web Browser Roundup

by Andrew Huff (athaki)

In this article, I'll be showcasing the various web browsers that are in the PCLinuxOS repository. All versions reviewed are, as of Feb 5th, the most current version in the repository. These include:

Arora, Chromium, Dillo, Elinks, Epiphany, Firefox, Flock, Galeon, Konqueror, Lynx, Midori, Netscape, Opera and SeaMonkey. The test machine is my Acer Aspire One AOA 150 with 1GB ram and 160GB HDD running KDE 4 on kernel I've also measured their RAM usage against the PCLinuxOS.com homepage, JavaScript handling ability by accessing my Gmail and video playback via this website: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MDhMBxAHGYE (Rick Roll Geek edition). To measure the RAM, I used the system monitor application in KDE 4 and looked at the memory the application used (not the shared memory). Let's get started!



Arora is a lightweight, WebKit based browser and also happens to use the most RAM out of all the browsers tested at a whopping 47.9MB on our test page. It has a common window layout which would make newcomers to the browser feel at home. When accessing JavaScript heavy websites such as Gmail, Arora struggles, leaving a less than to be desired user experience. Arora doesn't seem to have plug-in capabilities, though it does have a private browsing feature. Playing the video from YouTube was flawless.



Chromium is the Google open-source project on which Google Chrome and the future Google Chrome OS is based. It uses WebKit, and in our test used 25.4MB of RAM spread across four processes. Chromium can sync your bookmarks with your Google account, is lightning fast with Gmail and the video also played flawlessly. Chromium has a lot of extensions at: https://chrome.google.com/extensions?hl=en-US.



Dillo is another lightweight web broswer. It uses the Fast Light Toolkit (FLTK) and used 9.2MB of ram. It is a nine year old project, and even though the developers say that it is still a beta, it is very stable. However, it did have difficulty rendering the PCLinuxOS webpage. You cannot select all the text in the address bar at once via the shortcut Ctrl+A (double clicking does select all the text), it can not access Gmail (ssl support is in alpha stage) and it won't play the video on YouTube.



Elinks is one of two text-based web broswers included in the PCLinuxOS repository. Navigation uses the keyboard arrow keys. Since it is text-based, it uses the least amount of RAM of all the web browsers in this roundup, with 1.6MB used. Gmail does work, but it looks awesomely different than what we're usually used to seeing. Of course, the YouTube video would not play.



Epiphany is GNOME's default web browser. It has a familiar layout and uses the WebKit rendering engine. Its predecessor, Galeon, is still based on Gecko. It used 18.3MB while on our test page. Gmail does work well in this browser and YouTube worked as great as the other browsers that would play the video. I could not find any plug-in support.



This browser needs no introduction. It is one of the most popular default browsers for GNU/Linux distributions, and one of the most known open-source projects in the world. It uses the Gecko engine and, in our test, used 22.3MB of ram. Gmail works fine in this browser, the video from YouTube plays quite well and there are scads of plug-ins available.



Flock is a social web browser based on Firefox and, as such, also uses Gecko. Since it is a social browser, it comes with integrated support for numerous social networking sites, such as Twitter and Facebook. The little bar underneath the large toolbar is full of social network integration with such titles as: My world, open blog editor, open photo up-loader, open people sidebar, etc. In our test, it used 30.0MB of RAM. Gmail works great and Flock asked to remember it so that "I'd always know when I had mail." The YouTube video also played very well. Flock has three extensions developed especially for it and it also supports all Firefox addons, as well.



Galeon is a GNOME browser based on Mozilla, and therefore uses Gecko as well. Of the graphical web browsers, Galeon used the least amount of RAM, coming in at 13.7MB on our test site. Gmail loaded and YouTube played the video.



Konqueror is the default web browser for KDE and uses its own rendering engine, KHTML. In our test, it used 24.0MB of RAM. Konqueror does have some extensions that are useful, such as translations, text-to-speech and a plugin that archives webpages. Unfortunately, Gmail doesn't support Konqueror and only renders the basic HTML view. The YouTube video rendered quite well in Konqueror, however.



Lynx is the oldest web browser in the repository. It was first built in 1992. It is a text based browser and used 1.7MB of RAM in our test. What's interesting to note in Lynx is that you must use keyboard shortcuts and the arrow keys to navigate. Gmail is usable in Lynx, though the sidebar is above the inbox area. The YouTube video would not display for obvious reasons.



Midori is the default web browser in the community spun PCLXDE distribution. It uses WebKit as its rendering engine and, in our test, used 17.7MB of RAM. Gmail rendered in its basic HTML view for this browser as well, citing that I should use a supported browser. The YouTube video played flawlessly.

Netscape Navigator


Although official support for this browser ended on March 1st 2008, Netscape Navigator is in the repository as well. Netscape was among the first graphical web browsers, and the company started the Mozilla project in 1998. Although the company no longer exists, it is nice to have this in our repository as a tribute to all the good that came out of the company. Netscape Navigator 9 is based on Mozilla code and acts a lot like Firefox 2. In our test, Netscape used 17.9MB of RAM. Gmail loaded as normal (no HTML view), and the YouTube video played normally.



Opera has been one of the most innovative browsers in recent years, although it is non-free software. Upon loading in KDE, Opera gives the following information:

"Opera has detected KDE is running. Some Opera keyboard shortcuts (like Ctrl+F4) may not work because KDE has reserved them. You can modify KDE shortcuts in the KDE Control Center."

Opera uses the Presto rendering engine. It has widgets, which Opera describes as 'self-contained web applications' that use open web standards. One of my personal favorites is the Aquarium widget. In our test, the browser used 27.3MB of RAM. Gmail loaded up great. The YouTube video started off jerky, but after a few seconds, was fine again.



Seamonkey is an all-in-one software suite by the Mozilla project that aims to emulate the older Netscape Communicator. It has a built in e-mail client, IRC client, website creator and newsgroup reader. In our test, it used 24.0MB of RAM. Gmail loaded fine, and the YouTube video played flawlessly.

Concluding Remarks

I've just given a brief overview of each web browser in the PCLinuxOS repository. In my opinion, all of them have their strengths and weaknesses. However, not all of them could be used as your main web browser if you particularly need JavaScript applications or video playback. My personal favorites out of all of them, in no particular order, are: Firefox, Chromium, Opera and Seamonkey. I'd also recommend Flock to anyone who is into the social networking scene. I enjoyed testing out all of them for this article, and I plan on keeping all of them for future use. Some of them are still in beta, and I excitedly await new releases. At the end of this article is a table of the web browsers, their rendering engines, and the amount of RAM they used on my test machine.

Web Browsers in the PCLinuxOS Repository

Browser Rendering Engine Ram Used
Arora WebKit 47.9mb
Chromium WebKit 16.7, 1.4, 6.0, 1.3mb = 25.4mb
Dillo FLTK 9.2mb
Elinks Text 1.6mb
Epiphany WebKit 18.3mb
Firefox Gecko 22.3mb
Flock Gecko 30.0mb
Galeon Gecko 13.5mb
Konqueror KHTML 24.0mb
Lynx Text 1.7mb
Midori WebKit 17.7mb
Netscape Gecko 17.9mb
Opera Presto 27.3mb
Seamonkey Gecko 24.0mb