Cooking with Linux - Browsers with the Speed of Lightning

When was the last time you heard someone mention the browser wars? Most pundits love to point out that Internet Explorer's only real competition is Mozilla Firefox. One or two will give Opera a nod. But, what about the underdogs of the browser world?

Changes to Midori's interface and behavior are largely controlled via the Preferences dialog (Figure 5). Click Edit on the menu bar, and select Preferences. From there, you can set a default home page, change the look and feel (including default fonts), and more. You'll also find evidence of Midori's young age when you run into pages that don't yet allow edits.

Figure 5. The Preferences menu gives you access to much of Midori's configuration.

Midori is, as I mentioned, a young browser. It's also a fascinating and promising project, and it's fast. Really fast. And, it's the only browser on my system to pass the Acid3 test (

The final item on our menu is Hidetaka Iwai's Kazehakase, a graphical browser that uses the Mozilla Gecko rendering engine to display Web pages. As such, it doesn't lack for much when it comes to showing off Web sites as you expect to see them. Kazehakase, which means “Wind Doctor” is named after a short story by the Japanese author Sakaguchi Ango. This is a great little program that features tabbed browsing, customizable mouse gestures and keyboard shortcuts, RSS bookmarks and more (Figure 6).

Figure 6. Kazehakase is an excellent browser based on the Mozilla Gecko engine.

Possibly the coolest thing about Kazehakase is its graded user interface. It's a great concept. By default, the user interface is kept as simple as possible, providing users with only the basics both in terms of menu options and configuration of system preferences. The user interface level (UI levels) can be set to beginner, medium or expert. At each level, you find additional hidden gems under the surface that let you fine-tune the browser. There are two ways to change the UI level. The first is by changing the preferences. To get to the system preferences, click Edit on the menu bar, then select Preference. The beginner UI preferences window appears with the main options to the right and a sidebar menu on the left (Figure 7).

Figure 7. On the left, you can see Kazehakase's basic (or beginner) preferences. To the right is the same dialog but in expert mode.

There are only four categories of simple changes here. If you change the UI level to expert, a much more complex and complete preferences menu appears, as shown on the right-hand side of Figure 7. If you choose, you also can toggle the UI level directly from the menu bar by clicking View and selecting your level of expertise from the UI level submenu (Figure 8).

Figure 8. Becoming an expert in Kazahakase is just one little menu option away.

Kazehakase isn't widely available in distribution repositories, so you may have to resort to the old extract-and-build five-step for that one. This is a great little browser and well worth checking out.

There you have it, mes amis, the underdogs of the browser world—some of them anyhow, as I am sure there are plenty more. Can any of them compete against the big guys? That depends on your needs and constraints. If fast as lightning trumps a bulked-up feature set, the underdogs win. The same is true on a small, underpowered machine. Researchers who are more interested in text may opt out of the graphical browsers entirely. Each underdog, you might say, can have its day.

Speaking of day, this one is nearly done, and the only browsing I intend to do after closing is in the wine cellar. Speaking of which, keep your glasses handy as François will happily refill them a final time. Raise your glasses, mes amis, and let us all drink to one another's health. A votre santé! Bon appétit!



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Jaqui's picture

Sorry, but when Google Chrome first hit the scene, based on webkit, I looked at the KHTL origined webkit.
The quality must be suspect, after all a GNU/Linux based library to start with and the webkit developers made it so IT WON'T BUILD ON GNU/Linux?

poor code quality there.

They may have since fixed it, but their original screwup remains as proof they have low competency when it comes to development.

3 paragraphs

Stephen's picture

3 paragraphs of cheesy intro? 2 of them should have gotten the editorial ax.

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