Advertisement

How to Install Alternative Web Browsers on the Raspberry Pi

by

If you are running the Raspian distro on your Raspberry Pi–and many people are–then the default web browser is probably your primary method for accessing webpages.

In this tutorial, I’ll show you how you can optimise Midori and I’ll show you how to install some alternative web browsers and explain why you might want to use them.


The Default Web Browser, Midori

Midori web browser
Midori web browser

Midori is a lightweight, fast and free web browser that has been selected as the default web browser for the Raspian Linux distro that you may well have running on your Raspberry Pi.

Tip: Pronounced Mee-Doh-Ree in English, the name comes from the Japanese word 緑 (みどり) for the colour green.

If you have installed Raspian (most likely from installing NOOBS) you will be using Midori, but you will notice it can be slow.

In order to gain some speed, with Midori, you can do the following:

Avoid Slow Startup

Changing startup settings
Changing startup settings

The default behaviour of Midori is to open all of the previously open tabs. For a computer of relatively limited processing power, this can cause the startup time to become unacceptably lengthy.

To reduce Midori startup times, on the Raspberry Pi, do the following:

  • In Midori, go to Settings icon > Preferences
  • Select the Startup tab
  • Select Show Speed Dial or Show last tabs without loading

Speed Up Browsing

Changing the Midori browser behaviour
Changing the Midori browser behaviour

It is further possible to speed up the Midori browser, though this is at the cost of functionality, consequently some websites may not work as expected. Or at all. By default, Midori does support JavaScript.

  • In Midori, go to Settings > Preferences
  • Select the Behaviour tab
  • Change the Load images automatically option
  • Change the Enable scripts option
  • Change the Enable Netscape plugins option

Tip: Whilst this may improve browsing speeds, it does come at the cost of browsing experience.


NetSurf

Netsurf
Netsurf may not render some modern webpages correctly

Netsurf is another lightweight browser that started life with RISC OS some twelve years ago. It’s now available for a number of operating systems–including OS X and Windows–as well as Raspberry Pi Raspian.

Many websites will appear quite similar to how they look on a Mac (or PC), but it should be noted that Netsurf lacks support for JavaScript. This means that it is faster though this is as the expense of the functionality of some websites.

To use Netsurf, open the Programs menu and click Netsurf


Dillo

Dillo
Dillo is not particularly suited to many modern webpages

Dillo is designed for older and slower computers (Raspberry Pi fits that latter criterion).

Dillo does not support JavaScript and, as such, is unable to render many websites that use complex or sophisticated JavaScript in order to function.

To use Dillo, open the Programs menu and click Dillo


Lynx

Lynx
Lynx is a terminal-based browser that can only display text

Lynx is a text-based web browser which allows you to browse the web from the CLI (Command Line Interface) of LXTerminal

To download and install, open LXTerminal and enter the following command:

sudo apt-get install lynx

To use it enter lynx followed by the URL that you wish to view. For example:

lynx http://google.com

or

lynx http://computers.tutsplus.com

To navigate, use the arrows up and down arrows to move through the hyperlinks. Pressing the Spacebar allows you to move down a page at a time. Pressing the Right Arrow or Return has the action of selecting a link.

Being text-based, your browsing experience will be somewhat retro-classic.


Luakit

Luakit
Luakit is really intended for developers or power-users

Luakit is an extremely lightweight browser, based on webkit and GTK+ and, as it says on the Luakit website, Luakit is “… primarily targeted at power users, developers and any people with too much time on their hands who want to have fine-grained control over their web browsers behaviour and interface.”

That might determine as to whether it is the browser for you, or not.

To download and install, open LXTerminal and enter the following command:

sudo apt-get install luakit

To launch Luakit navigate to LXTerminal and type a command such as:

luakit http://google.co.uk/

Chromium

Chromium
Chromium is probably one of the better known alternatives

You’ve probably heard of this one already. Chromium is Google’s open source web browser that shares much of its code with Google’s own browser, Chrome.

Chromium offers tabbed browsing and support for JavaScript, though the latter can be disabled to improve performance.

To download and install, open LXTerminal and enter the following commands:

sudo apt-get install chromium

To disable JavaScript, enter the following command from a LXTerminal prompt:

chromium --disable-javascript

Web (Beta)

Configuring sources.list
Configuring sources.list to install Web (formerly Epiphany)

Web (formerly Epiphany), is the rather awkwardly-named and latest web browser available for Raspian. It has been designed to provide a good multi-tabbed experience, accelerated image and HTML5 video decoding and ARMv6 optimised rendering.

According to The Raspberry Pi Foundation, Web will be included in future Raspbian releases.

In the meantime, the beta version can be installed manually by completing the following steps:

Open LXTerminal and navigate to /etc/apt/sources.list

sudo pico /etc/apt/sources.list

Edit the file and add the following line:

deb http://raspberrypi.collabora.com wheezy web

then save sources.list

At the command line prompt, enter the following command:

sudo apt-get update; sudo apt-get upgrade

and then

sudo apt-get install epiphany-browser cgroup-bin libraspberrypi0 libwayland-client0 libwayland-cursor0 libwayland-server0a

Once completed, launch the browser by navigating to the Applications Menu > Internet > Web in the GUI (Graphical User Interface).

If you would like to receive notifications of imminent out of memory (OOM) events, enter the following command in the command line:

cgroup_enable=memory

Conclusion

In this tutorial I have shown you how you can speed up your browsing, on the Raspberry Pi, either by changing some settings in Midori or by switching to one of a number of other available web broswers.

If you are interested in taking your experimentation–with Raspberry Pi web browsers–further, then have a look at the following alternatives:

Advertisement