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8 Best Free Linux Small Footprint Web Browsers

8 Best Free Linux Small Footprint Web Browsers

Current desktop machines are equipped with multi-core processors, gigabytes of system RAM and the ability to run many programs simultaneously. With the huge range of system resources available it is not surprising the software bloat phenomenon is witnessed. This is a process where successive versions of an application consume more system resources than necessary, or offer an ever-increasing number of features that the majority of users do not use or need.

The field of web browsers is dominated by Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, Internet Explorer, Safari, and Opera. To try to counter software bloat, the developers of these browsers make use of plug-ins, extensions or add-ons. This means that the extra functionality offered by these tools are made available to only those who actually need them. Nevertheless, these web browsers still have one thing in common; they do not have a particularly small footprint. Whilst they run fast on a well specified modern PC, there are many users that are using much more limited hardware. These low spec machines can be extremely popular. 

For example, witness the uproar that has been generated by the Raspberry Pi, a single-board computer that costs a mere $25 or $35. With its ARM1176JZF-S 700 MHz CPU and 256MB of RAM (some of which is allocated to its GPU), this single-board computer simply does not have the resources to run a heavyweight web browser. There is a lot of hardware being regularly used where a web browser with a small footprint has real benefits.

The purpose of this article is to identify the finest open source web browsers that have a small footprint. A few of the web browsers featured here do not fully support web standards, and are unable to make use of JavaScript or Cascading Style Sheets. Some of the web browsers are text mode. But all of the web browsers have one thing in common; they offer a fast, lighter way to surf the web on computers with limited system resources.

Now, let's explore the 8 small footprint web browsers at hand. For each title we have compiled its own portal page, a full description with an in-depth analysis of its features, a screenshot of the software in action, together with links to relevant resources and reviews.

Small Footprint Web Browsers
Uzbl Web interface tools which adhere to the UNIX philosophy
Netsurf Has its own layout and rendering engine entirely written from scratch
Midori Based on WebKit and the GTK+ 2 or GTK+ 3 interface
Dillo Small, stable, developer-friendly, usable, very fast, and extensible
ELinks Feature-rich program for browsing the web in text mode
Lynx Very fast and easy to use text mode browser
Arora Simple webkit based web browser using Qt toolkit
QupZilla Lightweight Webkit browser following the UNIX philosophy

Return to our complete collection of Group Tests, identifying the finest Linux software.

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Last Updated Saturday, May 30 2015 @ 01:24 PM EDT


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