Let’s face it. Browsers suck. In my ongoing search for a browser that meets all my needs, I’ve frequently found myself compromising in one way or another, and while I have good things to say about almost any browser, I can’t say that I “love” any of them.
So this is less of a list of “my favorite browsers”… I don’t have one of those. Instead, I present you with my list of The 5 Browsers That Annoy Me The Least.
They all suck, but some less than others
I know, I know. There are plenty of people out there that will say “What do you mean? I LOVE $browser_of_choice! IT’S EVERYTHING I COULD EVER WANT IN A BROWSER AND MORE!”
And that’s fine. Everybody’s different, everybody has things that they like and dislike, and those aren’t the same for everyone. I get it.
But I’m pickier than most people when it comes to this stuff (which is why this blog is called “The Linux Critic”, and not “The Guy Who Loves Everything About Everything”). So I manage to find nitpicky things about just about every application I use. And since I use browsers probably more than any other application, don’t think for even a minute that I can’t find something nitpicky about any browser you set in front of me.
And in my opinion, while there’s a lot going on in the browser world right now — which is distinctly a good thing — there isn’t currently any browser out there with which I am 100% satisfied.
So without further ado, here’s my list of the ones that annoy me the least, in order of preference.
This is possibly going to change once Firefox 4 comes out of beta, because from what I’m seeing, it’s got a pile of stuff that needs to be fixed and tweaked right out of the box before it’s even close to usable in my opinion. Way more than the current version of Firefox has anyway.
But for now, Firefox (3.6.13) is the top of my list. Sure, it’s probably the slowest, performance-wise, which is annoying, and I have to install no fewer than five add-ons in order to make up for its lack of basic, native functionality, and it also has the largest memory footprint out of any on my list as well.
That said, all things considered, it’s (relatively) stable, it’s (relatively) reliable when it comes to being able to render pages, execute code, and view web content on the widest array of pages on the Internet, and it’s by far the most flexible with regard to add-ons and available options for configuration.
I dislike that to fix some of its stupid native behavior I have to go into about:config… some of that stuff really just belongs in the Preferences. Generally speaking, in order to configure some of Firefox’s basic behavior, if I have to go into “about:config” to do it, it’s a fail.
But at least it’s possible to configure that behavior. Which gives Firefox a HUGE leg up on almost every other browser on my list. So here’s to you, Firefox 3.6.13. You annoy me the least!
Oh Opera. Where did you go wrong?
In a previous writeup on the subject, I went into the main reasons why I preferred Opera over Firefox.
Let me be clear here… I still think of those reasons as valid. Opera does many things better than Firefox, and is far faster on the same machines by comparison, and has far more native functionality, and has a better interface.
But in recent years, Opera has developed what I consider to be a horrific stability problem. It used to be rock solid, and now the constant random crashing — no matter what machine on which I am using it, no matter what OS — knocks it down to #2 on my list.
Couple that with a number of bugs that they simply refuse to address, and a lack of equivalent add-ons for certain things to which I have grown accustomed in the Firefox world, and well, you can see why it is no longer #1 for me.
I’d love to see Opera really give Firefox a run for its money, but so far it’s impressing me less and less with each major release. Opera 11 has added better add-on API which is a big step in the right direction, but much of what annoys me that caused me to drop it in favor of Firefox as my primary browser is still present. Too bad.
Add to this the fact that Opera has made a habit of not releasing their new versions for Linux until the Windows version has been out for weeks and sometimes months, and I’ve pretty much given up on trying to fight with this as my browser of choice. It’s still my secondary/backup browser, but it has lost favor with me to the point where I only use it if I have to (like if Firefox is giving me problems with a particular site or something).
A while back I wrote up a review of Midori 0.2.6 where I praised its speed, flexibility, and standards compliance.
Since then there has been at least one more release, and Midori is still a good enough browser to be my #3 on this list.
While Midori still has some issues with a few sites (unfortunately one of them being WordPress, which limits its usefulness to me) and some stability problems, I still have my eye on this browser because I think that it could give others a run for their money if it keeps improving.
Like Midori, Arora is a lightweight, simple browser that seems to be aiming for performance and ease of use over configurability. Unlike Midori (which is gtk+ based), Arora is built on QtWebKit, but like Midori it’s still cross platform, which is nice.
I like Arora’s speed and clean looks, but I wish it was as extensible as Firefox or at least had more built-in functionality to make up for that lack. In my testing of Arora I also found that it crashed pretty frequently too (even more than Midori tended to, which was often), which makes it difficult to use as my main browser for any length of time.
Still, I see some potential with Arora, and I keep checking back on it to see where the project has been going, because I hope that this browser will continue to improve. It’s definitely one to watch.
Finally, last on my list, is the Chromium browser.
The interface is painfully inflexible, there are options in the preferences that simply don’t work correctly (STILL!), there’s still a lack of add-ons that in my opinion adequately address these severe lacks of functionality and issues, and there’s still the somewhat underhanded way it updates itself with which I take issue.
That said, Chromium (like Chrome) is really fast and responsive, even on slow machines, it’s probably one of the most stable browsers I’ve ever tried, and it’s come a long way in terms of being able to render most sites correctly. But for me, Chromium is my last resort browser because the other issues are such a trainwreck for me that I can’t stand using it for very long.
So there you have it. I know, there are other browsers, but this was only a “top 5” list. All the other browsers out there annoy me more than these five do, so they didn’t make the cut.
If I had my way, I’d make a Frankenstein browser. It would have:
Opera’s flexible interface and massive amount of native functionality
Firefox’s catalog of add-ons and some configurability (like the search box/tab behavior) that Opera doesn’t have
Chromium’s speed, stability, and small footprint
So, if one of you guys would get right on that, I’d be very thankful!
In the mean time, I’ll keep using Firefox, and hope for the best.