alternative Webbrowsers
List | Home
LinuxNetMag #3

Xaudio, xmms, mp3blaster
freeztag, kmp3te
TTY-Quake, Quake3Test
Descent, LDescent, DX1
Wine: Installation and Setup
VCron, Kcrontab
Passwords with Gpasman
Bootlogos: Welcome2L...
[email protected] and tools


Alternative Web-Browser
VNC - Windows X-Server
Fetchmail Part II
Apache the webserver
Windows networks: Samba
Webpublishing: Sitecopy
downloadhelp Wget
recommended links


HD-/Floppy- Access


Complete list of articles


The motto "It does not always need to be Netscape" encouraged us to have a look at other browsers that are available in the Linux market. We were surprised to find a big choice. For all of you who do not need the an all purpose browser, these programs could be interesting.

[ Gzilla | Qtscape | Grail | MMM | Skate | KFM | Statistics ]

Communicator is a real all purpose star: e-mail, news, Collobra, Composer and don't forget Java, JavaScript and parts of CSS are offered. But what if you do not need all these features? There is the Navigator version without any additional programs, but this package is still too big for many users.
Every time you get an HTML link in your e-mail, do you need to load Netscape just to add it to your offline cache? The long time to load the program is very unpleasant.

Many other Linux browsers exist that could be an alternative, but they are not well known. We want to change this circumstance and present a few selected programs. Text-based programs like Lynx and all browsers in a Beta phase of development are not considered.

Our testing field includes the browsers Gzilla, Grail, mmm, KFM, Qtmozilla and Skate.


Gzilla Icon
Gzilla (now called Armadillo) is the smallest program in our testing field and is quickly loaded. It uses GTK and supports themes. The short loading time makes this program interesting to users who want to start a browser from other programs like your e-mail client. Gzilla

Gzilla supports the creation of bookmarks but does not include a tool to edit them. The bookmarks are saved in the HTML format at ~/.gzilla/bookmarks.html the same as Netscape. Both formats are compatible and you can use the Netscape bookmarks with Gzilla, too.
The concept of "Preferences" is completely unknown to Gzilla. Nevertheless it supports proxies because it uses the proxy that is defined in the variable $http_proxy. You can set it with

>> export http_proxy= "http://localhost:8080"

Too bad that the benefit of a fast loading speed is plagued by less functionality in the rest of the program. It displays neither tables, colored fonts, colored backgrounds nor animated gifs. Transparent gifs are supported in a unique way: the transparent color is simply replaced by gray. Gray is the default background color of Gzilla. This only works as long as you do not use themes. If you do, the background color is no longer the window color. In addition, Gzilla has some problems with any CGI scripts. Frames, Java or JavaScript are not supported. But this does not surprise us very much.
Although many functions are missing, Gzilla can be used n real life. Its fast load time and the fast presentation of HTML sites can be used to pre-search the net and have a look at the right sites later with its "big brother" (Communicator). This way to web search is recommended if you have to check many links found by a web crawler.


Grail LogoGrail is a browser completely written in Python and TCl/TK. That is the reason why it runs on many platforms but also slowly. Grail needs a long time to start but this is nothing compared to the time Grail needs to display HTML sites (especially tables). Here the used time can not be accepted any longer. Too bad because this program is quite comfortable. It imports automatically the Netscape bookmarks and offers a comfortable preference dialog.
Developers may be interested in the support of plugins that Grail offers.

Grail Screenshot
In addition, it is possible to program "applets" for Grail that are written in Python instead of Java.
Grail fully supports HTML 2.0 and some features of HTML3.2. We recommend this program only for fast computers because of the overall poor performance.


Another browser is MMM, written with a script language (CamlTK41) and therefore not very fast. It needs TCL7.5/TK4.1p1 or better. Comparing the time used to display HTML sites, MMM follows directly behind Grail. MMM needs a long time to build tables but does support frames which many of the others do not. Sometimes the program hangs if a site includes a link to a picture that does not exist. The program can be configured easily and supports the use of a proxy, gamma-correction of graphics, and the configuration of single HTML tags.

MMM Screenshot

We found annoying the required "http://" that has always to be entered.
The program does not support the tags WIDTH and HEIGHT for pictures so the pictures are always displayed with the original size. Also the program does not support colored tables and colored fonts.


KDE Logo You can surf the web with the K File Manager and it does a better job than one might think. No other browser we reviewed starts faster than KFM. In addition to this advantage, you get the known comfortable "feel" of KDE programs. The bookmarks list can be edited in a file browser (which is the "main" function of KFM). The settings of the program (can also use a proxy) are able to be changed via nice graphical front ends. There is an administration of cookie rules for different servers. Only Java has not been supported by KFM, but this is not too serious in general considering its other benefits. To install the complete KDE package just to use KFM is a little bit too much, but if you have already installed KDE this program can be a nice alternative to Netscape.
KFM is part of the KDE package:


SkateThe web browser Skate is completely written in Java and not specially developed for Linux. But there is a version which is adapted for Linux, including special scripts to start the program on Linux. If you started Skate, the whole Java virtual machine would have to be started, too, and it takes a very long time until Skate appears. The program welcomes us with a simple button bar:

Skate button bar

This program was not constructed to be a big application but a small portable browser. The display of HTML pages is quite fast and usually correct. Of course Skate also supports Java applets (the only one in the whole testing field). The bookmarks have to be saved in one of the following groups: shopping, news, sports, programming, downloads or personal. It is not possible to create a new group. Also, Skate offers a small mail program to send e-mails, but this program is not a full mail program and cannot replace any normal mail client.
The crashes that sometimes occur seem to be based on the errors in the Java VM.


qtscapeA short time after Netscape had published the source code of the Communicator, some developers tried to program a Communicator clone with the Qt libraries. This project, first named QtScape and later renamed to QtMozilla, was very fast. Nevertheless, the unfinished result of this work can be used. QtScape has no mail-, news- and composer program and uses the fast Qt libraries instead of motif. It starts and can be handled much faster than its "big brother".

qtscape Screenshot

You have to get used to the fact that not all buttons are functioning since the development was never finished. Preference and Bookmark administration are working as they should. A disadvantage is that QtScape puts the coordinates of the mouse click behind the pictures that are also links. This feature (not a bug) makes it impossible to use QtScape together with an offline proxy (e.g. wwwoffle) because you have to hit the picture in the offline mode at the exact same position as before.
QtMozilla is not supported any longer but if you are lucky you get old sources at
Recent rumors say that the project might be reactivated.


In the following graphic the time to load the programs is listed and compared.
The blue bar is the time needed for the first start of the program, the red one for the second time and it is here you see why your cache and RAM is so expensive. ;)

<--- better
Time to load the browser

The times are not absolute,and are just for comparison. As a reference, the time of the Netscape Communicator is shown.

<--- better
Time to
display a HTML site

Here you see the time (also relative) the program needs to load a HTML site. We chose a site in our local web to be independent of the Internet load.


Other issues of Linux NetMag
[ #1 | #2 | #3 | Main ]