If you were on the World Wide Web in the mid- to late-nineties, you may remember NCSA Mosaic and Netscape Navigator. You may also recall the rise of Microsoft's Internet Explorer and the ensuing "Browser Wars." The funny thing is, years after pundits declared Internet Explorer the winner, Mozilla Firefox came on the scene and started gobbling up Microsoft's market share, followed closely by Google Chrome's worldwide explosion. Since then, the web browsing landscape has changed so much -- especially when you consider all the people who now access the web mostly through mobile devices -- that there's probably never been a better time to make an adventurous web-browsing choice.
While the World Wide Web Consortium's stats suggest Google Chrome, Firefox, and Internet Explorer dominate the web browser playing field, that doesn't mean these three software packages are your only choices.
Open source software has always had a major hand in shaping the Internet as a whole and the World Wide Web in general. And, if you're looking for something different -- even if its only to get a taste of what another browsing experience could be like -- the following applications will get you started.
With speed, minimalism, and older hardware in mind, this lightweight web browser delivers an experience that really pops. By ignoring all but text, graphics, and layout (that's HTML, images, and CSS), what Dillo won't deliver in content, it makes up for in speed. If you can do without the animations, rich interfaces, and bells and whistles that make up Web 2.0 and beyond, Dillo's simplicity and snappiness may be a welcome change.
Available for BSD, Linux, and OS X, you can download Dillo from its official website.
Do you ever wonder just how safe you are online? Do you ask yourself who's eavesdropping on your connection, spying on your browsing history, or generally tracking you? With features like session-based encryption, extensive cookie management, third-party content blocking and more, whether you're connecting through a proxy or generally trying to be as anonymous online as possible, Dooble has your discretion in mind.
Dooble runs on BSD, Linux, Microsoft Windows, and OS X and is available from its SourceForge web page.
You care about software freedom and choice, personal liberty, and non-restrictive licenses. You choose free and open source software both for what it represents as well as the functionality it provides. So, why wouldn't you expect the same from your web browser? Based on Mozilla Firefox, IceCat meets GNU's Free Software Definition, while providing security features not available in the standard Mozilla Firefox application.
Able to run on both GNU/Linux and OS X, you can get GNU IceCat on its GNU project web page.
If you're on an unusual system (i.e. AmigaOS, Haiku, etc.), you might need an unusual web browser. Developed for portability -- the ability to run on a wide range of operating systems and devices -- NetSurf provides most of what you get in mainstream web browsers delivered places others can't go. This application is worth a look even if for no other reason than to experience the web from a whole new perspective.
NetSurf works on AmigaOS, Atari OS, BeOS/Haiku, Caanoo, Linux, MorphOS, OS X, RISC OS, and Samsung TVs and can be downloaded from the official NetSurf website.
If its users had to choose just one word to describe QupZilla, that word might be "seamless." Based on WebKit (like Google Chrome and Apple Safari), where this browser shines is how it meshes with the operating system's native look and how it unifies multiple functions into streamlined screens. Try QupZilla to see what happens when the browser blends into your online experience instead of defining it.
Packages are available for BeOS, Linux, Microsoft Windows, OS/2, and OS X, and are available on the QupZilla website.
With so many options available, there's really no good reason not to try out one or more of these lesser-known web browsers. After all, they're free of cost, free of restrictions, and might just change how you think about the web.