I've been doing some research on browsers for an article about Firefox and have uncovered some pleasant surprises.

One of them is that the Maxthon Internet browser may soon be ported natively to Linux. This is extremely interesting, given that Glyn Moody wrote that "the Maxthon browser is actually better than Firefox." (See Glyn's article The Real Firefox Killer at http://www.linuxjournal.com/node/1000159.)

Lots of people are very excited about Maxthon, which has gained notoriety as its China-based producer, Maxthon International, has grown from obscurity (outside of China) to recipient of VC money to over 151 million downloads.

Today Maxthon only runs on Windows. However, I chatted with Maxthon's CEO, Jeff Chen, who told me the following:

We have plans to move Maxthon to Linux. We know Linux is an open and powerful platform and we will not miss it. We have made it run on the Ubuntu system, via the help of Wine and ies4linux. We will continue to research until we can move Maxthon to Linux completely.

When asked whether Maxthon would be open source, Chen replied:

We are not sure about open source now since we’re just starting with Linux. But one thing for sure that we are very open to developers and end users. As we always do with Maxthon, contributions, ideas, and suggestions could go directly to our desktop.

Chen also noted how many of Maxthon's standard features originated as plug-ins developed by the browser’s fans. Also, plug-ins continue to be created largely by non-staffers, as do skins and filters. During the early development of Maxthon, when Jeff essentially was working alone on his 'labor of love', other browser users noticed Maxthon and began donating their time and expertise to expand the program.

All of those words are sweet news to Linuxers' ears. If Maxthon decides to go open source, then Firefox may have quite the challenge on its hands.

Stay tuned!