Web Browsers

9 Best Free and Open Source Lightweight Graphical 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 Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, and Safari. 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 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.

The purpose of this article is to identify the finest open source graphical web browsers that have a small footprint. Here’s our recommendations. We only feature free and open source software here.

Best Free and Open Source Lightweight Graphical Web Browsers

Let’s explore the 8 lightweight graphical web browsers. For each program 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.

Lightweight Graphical Web Browsers
LuakitFast, extensible, and customizable WebKit-based web browser
VimbVim-like browser based on the WebKit web browser engine
MidoriBased on WebKit and the GTK+ 2 or GTK+ 3 interface
surfSimple web browser based on WebKit2/GTK+
NyxtKeyboard-oriented extensible web browser
NetsurfHas its own layout and rendering engine entirely written from scratch
qutebrowserKeyboard-focused browser with a minimal GUI
DilloSmall, stable, developer-friendly, usable, very fast, and extensible
FalkonLightweight Webkit browser following the UNIX philosophy

Read our complete collection of recommended free and open source software. The collection covers all categories of software.

The software collection forms part of our series of informative articles for Linux enthusiasts. There are hundreds of in-depth reviews, open source alternatives to proprietary software from large corporations like Google, Microsoft, Apple, Adobe, IBM, Cisco, Oracle, and Autodesk. There are also fun things to try, hardware, free programming books and tutorials, and much more.
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