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 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,
>> 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
Grail 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.
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.
We found annoying
the required "http://" that has always to be entered.
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.
The 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:
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
A 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".
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.
In the following
graphic the time to load the programs is listed and compared.
The times are not absolute,and are just for comparison. As a reference, the time of the Netscape Communicator is shown.
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.