Alternatives to the big name browsers

It's not all about IE and Firefox - there are many other, alternative web browsers that are worth a look.

Camino is a free open source browser based on Mozilla's Gecko engine, now on version 1.6.6 after its last release in December. It features the now-standard scrolling tabs, built-in search tools and spellcheck, as well as a rather hardcore ad blocking system.

While it has its similarities to Firefox, it has some Safari connections; it's former tech lead Dave Hyatt moved to Safari in 2002. The current technical lead Mike Pinkerton works at Google, devoting his 20 per cent free time to Camino.

Shiira doesn't see itself as an alternative to IE, but has one very simple aim: "to create a browser that is better and more useful than Safari". Right then. On version 2.2, Shiira is another WebKit based browser, so it will render pages the same way as Safari. For features, its Japanese developers have included some slick tabbing, as well as a Cocoa-developed drawer for storing RSS feeds, downloads and bookmarks, keeping the main page clean.

OmniWeb was updated last month, bringing it to version 5.9 and perhaps more importantly for its market share potential, its creators made it a free download for the first time. Like Shiira, it uses WebKit and the Cocoa API, keeping it relatively familiar to Safari users.

Unlike other browsers, it shows tabs vertically so if you've ever hated the horizontal row of tabs in other programs, OminWeb is worth a look. It also features ad blocking, as well as site preferences; set a font size on one page, and it will carry across that entire site.

Linux

Linux users, of course, need not look far for alternatives. Galeon, with its mission to deliver "the web and only the web," is a web browser for GNOME based on Mozilla's Gecko layout engine. When Galeon was created it was competing with large multifunctional programs like Netscape, Mozilla, and Internet Explorer and it slowed its takeoff due to its impracticality of high memory usage and processor requirements.

However, Galeon was the first mainstream graphical web browser which specifically focused on the reduction of peripheral functionality. Its most notable achievement was the introduction of "Smart Bookmarks." These bookmarks take an argument and can be used as toolbar buttons with a text field used to enter the value for the argument. But if that excites you, sorry. In 2005, the Galeon developers announced plans to stop development in its current form and said "the current approach is unsustainable" with the resources required for maintenance.

If you favoured Galeon, perhaps you should try Epiphany on for size. This web browser was developed by the initiator of Galeon, Marco Pesenti Gritti, following a development team split in 2002 over disagreements about the target audience. After Galeon stopped development in 2005, it also stated that it hoped to develop a set of extensions for Epiphany to provide similar functionality.

Epiphany itself doesn't have its own theme settings as it was made under the premise of being simple for the user and a fully GNOME human interface guidelines compliant web browser. It uses GNOME's settings that are specified in the GNOME Control Centre and another one of a group of web browsers that use the Gecko layout engine from the Mozilla project. However, the Epiphany developers provide an experimental build of Epiphany 2.21.4 using the WebKit engine instead of Gecko. It supports tabbed browsing, cookie management, popup blocking and an extensions system as well as the ability to be extended with the Epiphany-extensions package.

An alternative to these Galeon-developed browsers is Konqueror. This web browser was developed by volunteers along with a file manager and file viewer designed as a core part of the K Desktop Environment. It can run on most Unix-like operating systems and is licensed and distributed under the GNU General Public License.

It came with version two of KDE replacing its predecessor, KFM. The user interface is customisable working extensively with panels that can be rearranged or added. Konqueror has been developed as an autonomous web browser project that uses KHTML as its layout engine - compatible with HTML. It also supports JavaScript, Java applets, CSS, SSL, and other relevant open standards. Although traditionally developed for Linux, Konqueror can support all platforms that KDE supports.

The name Konqueror refers to the two primary competitors at the time of the browser's first release in October 2000 - "first comes the Navigator, then Explorer, and then the Konqueror".

It's hard to say what will indeed come next, but it clearly doesn't have to be Internet Explorer.

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