Google has a firm grip with their products and services ubiquitous on the desktop. Don’t get us wrong, we’re long-standing admirers of many of Google’s products and services. They are often high quality, easy to use, and ‘free’, but there can be downsides of over-reliance on a specific company. For example, there are questions about their privacy policies, business practices, and an almost insatiable desire to control all of our data, all of the time.
What if you are looking to move away from Google and embark on a new world of online freedom, where you are not constantly tracked, monetized and attached to Google’s ecosystem.
In this series we explore how you can migrate from Google without missing out on anything. We recommend open source solutions.
Google Chrome is the most popular web browser. It provides an easy to use and clean interface, solid connectivity across devices and a huge library of extensions. However, it’s resource-hungry, has a chequered track record when it comes to privacy, and it’s released under a proprietary license.
Of course, Google sponsor Chromium, a free and open source software project. While Chromium is a solid browser there’s still significant privacy concerns. And if you’re in the market for an alternative to Google Chrome it makes little sense to recommend any of the myriad of browsers based on Chromium.
Fortunately, there are tons of open source web browsers available for Linux that aren’t based on Chromium.
While there’s lots to like about many of them, we recommend that you install Tor Browser. This web browser lets you avoid surveillance, tracking, and censorship.
Tor Browser really does offer an extremely private browsing experience preventing websites from “fingerprinting” you. The software doesn’t keep any browsing history, and cookies are only valid for a single session. There’s multi-layer encryption to boot.
None of this would mean anything if the web browser itself didn’t offer all the essential features. It does!
If you want a more mainstream alternative, we’re strong admirers of Firefox, software developed by the Mozilla Foundation.
Firefox offers a good set of functionality including essentials like tabbed browsing, spell checking, incremental search, live bookmarking, Smart Bookmarks, private browsing, and an integrated search system. Private Browsing deletes cookie data when you close the browser window and doesn’t track your browsing data.
As an open source project, transparency and openness are an essential part of their founding principles.
Firefox is at the core of most privacy-focused browsers.
Pale Moon is originally a fork of Firefox with substantial divergence particularly in its user interface, add-on support, and always runs in single-process mode.
Pale Moon is based on a different layout engine to Gecko-based browsers like Firefox. It uses Goanna, an optimized layout and rendering browser engine.
This privacy-aware web browser offers additional security features.
And it offers its own add-on ecosystem built on time-tested technologies such as XUL (plus JS and CSS) and XPCOM.
We also recommend Waterfox. One of its central planks is its ethical nature. It’s based on Firefox and uses Firefox’s browser engine.
Waterfox does not collect any telemetry, meaning you do not have to worry about any tracking or usage information about what you do inside your browser.
The only thing that Waterfox sends back is your OS and browser version to check for updates to various components.
The browser is focused on power users, which lets you make the important decisions. System1, an advertising company, acquired Waterfox in 2019.
All articles in this series:
|Alternatives to Google's Products and Services|
|Gmail||Email is an essential activity and starts the ball rolling in this series|
|Maps||Web mapping service offering satellite imagery, aerial photography, street maps +|
|Photos||Store your images in the cloud for convenient access from anywhere|
|Translate||Multilingual neural machine translation service|
|Calendar||Manage your busy life with a digital calendar|
|Chrome||Application software for accessing the World Wide Web|
|Search||Privacy-focused alternatives to Google Search|
|Drive||File storage and synchronization service|
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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's tons of in-depth reviews, alternatives to Google, fun things to try, hardware, free programming books and tutorials, and much more.