Browsers: Plummeting Off the Brink

This is sort of a successor to Firefox: A Brink of Their Own Making that I published ~6 months ago, followed by me rambling on about different browsers that I’ve used or decided to check out for this post. This follow-up was largely spurred on by two different things: Manifest v2’s phasing out in standard Chromium and Firefox getting worse. Further, after writing a whole lot and then reflecting on it, I’ve gotten a few more thoughts on the topics on hand - but unfortunately like the two external motivations, my thoughts have also led me to think about the ecosystem more negatively.

Browser News & Thoughts

Manifest V3

Well, it’s here, Google has officially started phasing out Manifest v2 plugins, and with that all but one or two Chromium based browsers are about to lose Manifest v2 support Among other things, Manifest v3 is replacing the webRequest API with Declarative Net Requests that serve a similar function - both to allow extensions to modify or block content on a particular page.

The biggest limitation here, however, is Declarative Net Request filter lists are limited to 30k (they were originally much less but were raised to 30k later on) - and for reference, Ublock Origin often uses (or at least used until this point on non-Gecko browsers) ~100k. Many people, including myself, see it as the fairly brazen attempt of an ad company to hamper adblock in the largest web browser engine.

Many adblocking extensions are working around it, and Ublock has released Ublock Origin Lite, but it’s still a mess and not going to work as well as the Manifest v2 versions. A lot of Chromium based browsers have also implemented built-in adblock that gets around Manifest v3 restrictions, but it’s still a mess.

Google will claim that it’s not at all about adblock and instead security and performance, and while I’m not a mind reader or browser developer I doubt that. First is because it’s not hard to raise limits or allow backward compatibility of the older APIs, even if it’s hidden behind a scary warning screen or secret dev mode in the browser. The second, more anecdotally, is just that it’s a hard sell that an ad company who is sabotaging adblock is totally not trying to do so.

Straying even further from the topic, there’s the old quote “Those who give up freedom in exchange for safety deserve none” and I’d like to warp it for software with “Those who give up control of their software for security or performance will get neither.” I’m sure Microsoft could write up a very convincing argument about why preventing people from running any kind of virtualization would be a great performance and security protection, even though in that theoretical example they’d just be trying to curb Google’s Android app emulation and Linux in the Windows space.

Firefox Gets Worse

If you haven’t read my last post on the topic, here’s a quick summary:

  • Firefox has a lot of compatibility issues
  • Firefox lacks important features and APIs (e.g. PWAs)
  • Mozilla has a history of temporarily or permanently disabling features people use
  • Firefox is less secure than Chromium
  • Gecko is harder than Chromium to use as the base of another project
  • Firefox collects a whole lot of data
  • Firefox’s pocket and pending fakespot collect even more data, give that data to third parties, and are forced on you by default
  • Firefox integrates Google Analytics into their software
  • Firefox is chock full of ads
  • Mozilla has made, in my opinion, very poor financial decisions (e.g. laying off their Firefox developers while focusing on other projects)
  • Mozilla is beholden to Google
  • … But it’s still not Chromium

Since then there’s been some new developments. First of all, Mozilla is now collecting your searches, and soon after that announcement they bought an ad company.


Let that sink in.

Mozilla is now collecting your search terms.



I would encourage you to read the blog article above, if nothing else then to laugh at the statement “Innovation and privacy go hand in hand here at Mozilla.” But, in short, they’re collecting all the searches you make by default unless you’re in a private window. The crux of their argument in trying to convince all the techy people that it’s somehow not a horrendous idea is that it’s anonymized, but I generally wouldn’t put much faith in ‘anonymized’ data. Mozilla has had some other controversies and a lawsuit or two since then, but those largely fall outside of what I would like to discuss here (how my computer, running software, interacts with other devices).

Oh, well there was also one funny thing where Mozilla claimed Google was being anticompetitive by not allowing Firefox on Android to import data from Chrome on Android. If you’re unaware, no Android app is supposed to be able to access data on another Android app. This isn’t Google being anticompetitive, it’s a security feature known as sandboxing. It does make funny head cannon, though, to think that Mozilla just employs absolutely incompetent developers who don’t even understand how an OS they’re developing for works at a basic level - instead of, you know, stepping over a myriad of legitimate criticisms of Google to instead make misleading complaints.

However, beyond what’s been in the news I’ve also had some anecdotal experiences since then. As I mentioned in my last post I was having issues with stuff at work, and that only got worse since then. Firefox and Chrome are both installed on our work devices, and around that time the second most service I used at work broke in Firefox. Since then the most used service I use for work started having constant memory leaks and I just gave up using two browsers and I switched entirely to Chrome. To be fair, there is a little jank in those systems, and Chrome does have memory leaks occasionally - but it went from like every 12 min in Firefox to like every 12 hours in Chrome.

The next thing I ran into was giving up on profiles in Librewolf. Using Librewolf if I want to create a profile I need to use the command line, then if I want to open up different profiles without going into the command line in the future I need to either make a custom desktop entry or bash script. I was already using Brave on my tablet (x86_64 Gecko does not support proper touch controls), for PWAs (Gecko doesn’t support them), for sites that break in Gecko, and for APIs that Gecko lacks (e.g. USB support for something like game streaming or GrapheneOS installation). So with that, I added using secondary browser profiles to what I did in Brave too.

Looking for something good to watch or listen to? Try creating a browser profile and then use that profile for YouTube to watch exclusively one thing (from an 8hr Morrowind retrospective to a handful of songs from a specific genre) and watch some great recommendations roll in on that specific topic.

Then, ever since my previous post, I’ve noticed more and more compatibility issues and memory leaks. I’m going to guess that some or a majority of it was just me keeping an eye out for it more after complaining about it and then giving up trying to use it at work, but I wouldn’t be surprised it if was also just going further downhill. A couple of months ago after having repeated issues with my own self-hosted RSS reader I just gave up and imported my bookmarks into Brave. Librewolf is still my default browser, but outside of one dedicated profile for using I2P I honestly don’t know if I’ve opened up Librewolf myself since then (as opposed to another program opening a link, such as Syncthing for its web UI).

Dropdown: A couple of notes

First, a lot of times I see people who use Gecko blame its incompatibilities on external factors. Usually either on ‘Monopolist Google’ who’s trying to kill off their competition or on ’lazy devs’ who can’t be bothered to see if their software works in rendering engines other than Blink/Chromium. True, Google do be doing shady stuff sometimes. And true, with the current market share Gecko is probably being disregarded (2.82% per Statcounter May 2024). But that was on my server, and the cross-section of people making/using self-hosted software is likely the cross-section of the last Firefox/Gecko users. Unfortunately, Gecko is just growing out of date and missing critical features (or like half a decade late to the party for features), probably because they laid off a bunch of their devs four years ago intending to become an AI and ad company as opposed to being browser makers.

Also, I am still using Fennec on mobile, it hasn’t been plagued with issues for me, the only exception is for when using PWAs or when I wish to remain signed into a site. They did add PWAs into the mobile finally, but since I set Fennec to auto clear cookies on close I occasionally use Brave or Vandium for PWAs or for sites I want to stay signed in on - but still ~95% of my mobile browsing is with Fennec/Gecko.

So now what? Well, if you go through my post history you can find me going through the cycle of slowly giving up on using Gecko for the reason that it’s not part of the Chromium monopoly. A year ago I said that you’ll want to heavily configure Firefox, or use a fork if you’ve got the know-how. ~7 months ago I basically said I would not recommend using anything compiled by Mozilla, but I would highly recommend a Firefox fork like Librewolf or Fennec, fingers crossed it’ll get better instead of worse. Now, well, it’s gotten worse. At this point, setting the ideological idea of going against a monopoly, a Chromium fork has better performance, better compatibility, better security, more features, and probably better privacy. Now, Firefox does still have Manifest V2, except so does Brave, and many Chromium forks have built in adblock to sidestep the issue. So at this point I realized exactly how much I was losing for no benefit to me at all minus the feelgoods of using the ‘Libre’ option, and sorta just gave up for now.

Future of (Non-Google Prescribed) Browsing

So yeah, a bit of a downer to end that section on. With the way I ended it I sound like it’s either Gecko with the features of Internet Explorer, and if you’re using Firefox, the privacy of Google Chrome; or Chromium as the attempt of an ad company to monopolize the internet.

But, er, um…



The first potential of having an actually non-Google prescribed web browsing option is just getting Gecko/Firefox tuned up. This could be by Mozilla, who could focus some of their literal billion+ dollars on getting Gecko working again, or because it’s Libre it could be by any other person or group who wishes to get it to a better state. Further, even if Mozilla is intent on bundling so much spyware and junk within Firefox itself, as long as Gecko works there will always be forks of Firefox to cut all that out. While making a truly independent browser based on Gecko (unlike Chromium) is somewhat less feasible, having a fork of Firefox as a whole with custom patches and all the junk stripped out is more doable, and as long as Gecko works there will always be forks like Librewolf.

Dropdown: Geckoview and Palmoon

There are two exceptions to the above, Geckoview and Palmoon/Goanna. Geckoview is an Android exclusive, a library intended to be an alternative to Webview, where you can render an app or data in an app in the Gecko engine instead of with Chromium Webview. To have something like this for desktop would be a great alternative to Chrome’s near if not total monopoly on that sort of thing, but as it stands, you’re not going to see something like Steam rendered in Gecko.

Palmoon, and its rendering engine Goanna, are still not modular like Chromium is to my knowledge. It is, however, still a considerably different fork as opposed to something like Librewolf which is more so vanilla Firefox minus Mozilla. The big difference, though, just comes from the fact that Palemoon was forked from Firefox in 2009 and Goanna from Gecko in 2016 so it’s had a lot of time to diverge - while Librewolf is just a soft fork.

In fact, one thing that I hesitated whether to put here or above in my complaints is the inclusion of a broken site reporter in recent versions of Firefox. A more positive outlook would be that Mozilla intends to find out exactly what is broken and fix it. A more negative outlook would be that they are giving up on making Gecko a functional web rendering engine and instead of making it fully functional they want to band-aid the worst offending broken stuff. I don’t know enough about rendering engine development or Mozilla’s internals to determine which would be the case, so it could be either, or a combo of both as far as I am aware.

But yeah, the best bet of a browser engine not tailored to an ad company’s preferences still lies in Gecko. It’s already built, it works most of the time, and I really hope it gets better.

Chromium Hard Fork

Another thing that might get us a web browser not controlled by an ad company is just a straight-up hard fork of Chromium. Brave already has a sort of soft fork going with their continued support of Manifest v2, and Microsoft considered making their own browser engine before giving up and just going with a Chromium base. All that really would need to be done is strip out the Google stuff of Chrome, and the ad company decisions of Chromium, and we could end up with all the benefits of the currently best web rendering engine without all the problems that do/could come with it.

Of the top six browsers, according to Statcounter in May 2024, we have the following:

Chrome - 65.12%, Safari - 18.17%, Edge - 5.21%, Firefox - 2.82%, Samsung Internet - 2.66%, Opera - 2.54%

(Note: Brave reports it’s Google Chrome for privacy/anti-fingerprinting reasons, I am unsure if it would make the top six or not)

Of the top six, four of them are based on Chromium, and five are not made by ad companies. Throw in Brave, Vivaldi, Opera, Arc, and all the other Chromium-based browsers, and a whole lot of developers have an interest in making a better browser as opposed to an ad delivery tool. Brave already has a soft fork going, Microsoft has the resources to get a full-blown fork going, and Opera used to have its own rendering engine (though now they’re just interested in throwing gamer paint on their Chromium browser it seems). If any one of them or a third party were to create a hard fork of Chromium even the groups without the resources to make a hard/soft fork could easily adopt the forked version of Chromium and wind up with a better browser.


Ladybird is an independent browser engine separate from Chromium/Blink, Webkit, or Gecko; built from scratch and not associated with anybody previously in the browser space. They seem to be speedrunning getting a browser engine built, Servo always seemed to be talked about as the only potential new and independent browser engine for the longest time - then there were some rumblings about Ladybird, and like a day or so before I planned to post this they suddenly announced they got things working iffy-ish and plan to release a fully working near-complete beta in the next 1-2 years.

Currently, they’re not even releasing binaries, just working on the source code for now, but have pretty simple compilation instructions. I compiled it and ran a few tests, and as of June 2024 it:

  • Can run a search on Google and Brave
  • Can browse eBay
  • Can browse Wikipedia
  • Can load a Mastodon instance
  • Works on my site, but fails to turn the darkmode off if you turn it on
  • Can search on DuckDuckGo, but some text gets crammed together
  • Cannot load YouTube, PeerTube, or Soundcloud
  • Cannot load Snort.Social
  • Cannot search with Bing
  • Fails Google’s re-Captcha

All in all, it’s obviously in need of the additional development that is currently in progress, but it does already seem capable of running some semi-complicated sites. It may very well soon become a second/third (depending on where you consider Webkit) browser engine to compete in the browser space.


Servo is also an independent browser engine separate from Chromium/Blink, Webkit, or Gecko. Originally started by Mozilla and Samsung, but was abandoned by both and the Linux foundation took up the mantel of developing it. So far it’s to a point where it can render a basic web page, though it’s still lacking in an ability to render more complex web pages; but with some more development it could probably become a third legit competitor in web engines and the default of the ‘Libre’ web browser options alongside Ladybird.

It’s also got a leg up on Gecko being a more modular browser engine. What you may not know is that a lot of your software is probably rendered in Chromium, and as I complained about above Gecko isn’t modular like that. You can have a Firefox fork, but from what I understand from my very (very!) limited development experience is good luck doing anything with Gecko minus maybe re-compiling Firefox with slightly different patches and features. Servo, however, is (from what I understand) very modular and could be the only rival to Blink/Chromium as a means of rendering the ‘universal language’ of the internet within software.

Yes, even some games now have parts of them rendered in Chromium, a version of which is bundled with the game itself. The web’s framework is definitely the future of large swaths of software, and currently Blink/Chromium has a near 100% monopoly on any non-Apple device - even for fairly ‘Anti-Google’ apps like FreeTube. Servo may change that.

They do release binaries for multiple platforms, and have not used it since last talking about it in Dec 2023 I gave it another go with the same tests as Ladybird and it:

  • Works on my site
  • Can search on DuckDuckGo, though some text is invisible
  • Can browse Wikipedia, but some of the widgets are mashed together
  • Loads eBay, but doesn’t seem to let you go anywhere but the main page
  • Cannot search on Google, Bing, or Brave
  • Fails to load YouTube and Peertube
  • Fails to laod Mastodon or Snort.Social
  • Fails Google’s re-Captcha
  • Crashed when I tried to load Soundcloud

Servo does seem to fail to run most semi-complicated & complicated sites, but with some additional development it may very well be another competitor to the current browser scene.

Soft Chromium Fixes

Last, as a band-aid, there are always soft fixes to Chromium based browsers. It’s not exactly the ideal solution from the ideological side of avoiding a monopoly, but it’s still a band-aid approach that gives the same result in the meantime. Things like Vivaldi patching back Manifest v2 APIs for their internal ad blocking tool, or Brave continuting to support Manifest v2 for now in addition to a similar internal ad blocking tool are still ways keep features for now that Google is trying to strip out of Chrome.

Combine that with the plans of most all Chromium forks to avoid supporting Web Environment Integrity before it was canceled, or avoiding the very Orwellian named ‘Privacy Sandbox’ that Google implemented, and at least for now it’s still possible to have a Chromium browser that isn’t a Google prescribed ad delivery tool.

Different Browsers

Now that I’m done with the more meaty portion of this post I thought I would give some random thoughts on different browsers. To clarify though, while I have used all of these browsers, some were only to give them a try to check them out while others have had a ton of use. This was largely just an excuse to try them all out again and then ramble about them because I’m interested in these sorts of topics. Take this from a “this might be worth looking into” standpoint as opposed to a “you need to use this” kind of recommendation.


Arc is a relatively new browser that’s gained a lot of hype, so I fired up a VM and gave it a try. It’s based on Chromium and accepts Chrome store extensions like most other Chromium based browsers, but it’s got a very unique skin to it. By default, it’s got spaces and vertical tabs, can have multiple tabs side by side in one application window, and allows you to do a heck of a lot of customization even down to changing the colors of specific websites. It seems pretty straightforward even though it’s not the standard browser design, and fairly sleek with no ads or sponsorships by default.

Further, as both a good and a bad it comes with Ublock Origin by default. Adblock by default is good, although being Chromium it’s also going to be hampered by Manifest v3 as opposed to adblock built into the browser directly.

It does, however, require that you create an account before even opening your first tab, which is a bit of a turn-off for me. It’s also pretty new with no monetization strategy, so while it’s great that it’s got no ads and isn’t selling data to marketers I’m also not fully certain that it’ll stay that way forever. It’s certainly worth checking out, although personally if you’re just intrigued by vertical tabs in a Chromium browser I would recommend checking out something like Brave or Vivaldi.


Brave is pretty good, it’s been my go to “this site doesn’t work in Gecko” browser for a while and my go to browser in general as of more recently. It’s got decent default settings, the only annoying thing is probably the sponsored wallpaper, but otherwise no ads, and asks you during setup to turn telemetry on or off. It’s got great performance, decent built-in adblock, and is the closest thing to a fork of Chromium that I’m aware of.

It’s not quite my idea of a perfect browser though. Something I would consider a detriment (though others may disagree) is that it seems to consider itself an internet suite instead of just a web browser. Some things like IPFS resolution are alright, I like IPFS and it’s little more than a re-direct to an IPFS web gateway or your local node if you’re running it, but once you throw in things like a torrent client and an RSS reader it starts to feel bloated. Brave rewards is also certainly not my cup of tea, although at least you have to intentionally turn it on and if you don’t it won’t bother you.

Mobile is alright. They compile it for x86_64 so it works on Waydroid, it has an optional desktop-style layout for larger screens, and it’s the only browser so far that I’ve gotten to set up a Google Chat PWA successfully on my phone (all other browsers just have Google telling me to download the G Chat app once I create a PWA). It’s also got some custom tweaks for specific functions (e.g. it can replace YouTube as the default app to open YouTube links), and from what I’ve heard it’s one of the few-if-not-only good ad blocking browsers for IOS. It’s still got some of the perils of mobile browsers, however, namely lack of support for things like extensions or profiles.

Dropdown: Recommended Brave Configurations

Brave has fairly decent defaults, but there are a few annoyances. First, from your home page I highly recommend clicking the homepage customization icon, wallpaper, and then scrolling down to uncheck sponsored backgrounds. That’ll get rid of the one ad that you’ll get by default from Brave, and really clean things up.

I would also recommend right clicking the Brave rewards icon on the search bar and hitting hide. Brave rewards is thankfully off by default, but no need to have the icon cluttering up the browser window.

Otherwise you’re pretty much set. You can do things like auto clear cookies and history from some or all websites on close, set up vertical tabs, change themes, or set tracking protections to strict (which may break sites) - but those are all more personal preferences than things I would highly recommend.


Use what works best for your use case, but I would recommend at least checking out other options if you use Chrome.

First is the more ideological stance of avoiding contributing to Google’s near monopoly on how the web is accessed. Using a non-Chromium browser would be the ideal counter to that, but even a Chromium browser that cuts out all the stuff Google is pushing still veers partially away from that monopoly without potential compatibility issues. Secondly, there’s privacy. Google spies a lot on what’s done in Chrome, and most other browsers either collect way less data, or do by default but can be better configured to not do so.

Last, even if you don’t care about Google’s monopoly or privacy, it’s honestly a little bland. If you want a clean web experience without ads and with better performance give Brave a try. If you want a more customizable web experience built for web browser power users give Vivaldi a try. This is doubly so on mobile, as Chrome on mobile doesn’t support extensions, with Brave & Vivaldi having built-in adblock and Firefox (plus its fork Fennec) or Kiwi browser supporting desktop extensions.


Chromium, often referred to as de-Googled Chromium, is just Chrome with all the Google tracking taken out. It does solve the privacy concerns of Chrome, but it is still web rendering as prescribed by Google and lacking the additional features or better adblock that other Chromium based browsers and non Chromium browsers have.

DuckDuckGo Browser

DuckDuckGo released two very similar browsers for desktop and mobile, and while both are based on Chromium they offer a somewhat unique experience from the other browsers here. On both platforms you open the browser, have one or more tabs open to do your browsing, then at any point you hit the fire button and it clears all data from the browser. You can add exceptions to not clear cookies from specific sites, but otherwise it’s more focused on doing your normal browsing then clearing all the data once you’re done.

Outside of an optional “Duck Player” that lets you play YouTube in a more media player fashion, the browser is a lot more minimalist than most other browsers. It has a very streamlined feel, like a minimalistic web document viewer as opposed to a complicated client for an entire ecosystem. It’s also got built in ad and tracker blocking, and seems to run pretty fast. It does, however, have some limitations and does not support things like extensions or PWAs, so its minimalism is a double edged sword. The only exception to that minimalism is an optional “Privacy Pro” subscription that offers a bundled premium email forwarding, VPN subscription, and identity monitoring.

Also, as a minor point of annoyance, they put their browser in the search results when you search for other browsers, but I guess in a sense I can’t fault them too much for promoting their own product.


Edge is kinda a meme, but - and this may completely void all my recommendations in many people’s eyes - it’s not horrible. At least it might be better than Chrome anyway.

There is a lot of junk in Edge, such as all the ads and news links on your homepage in a default install, but if you configure all of that out it does seem to offer a pretty streamlined experience. I wanna say around when Debian Bookworm came out I had a fresh OS install, only having Librewolf without a backup Chromium based browser, then signed up to Gamepass to do some game streaming for a month or so. Since Gecko lacked the APIs for things like USB controller input I needed a Chromium based browser, and figured an MS browser would work best with an MS product.

It seemed to run smooth and had great PWA support, so I used it for a while for Gamepass, my PWAs, and anything that broke in Gecko. To my knowledge it still cuts out some of the Google stuff (e.g. Privacy Sandbox), and post configuration did offer a pretty sleek browsing experience. It also seems good with compatibility, and I’ve even recently recommended it in a professional capacity to work with janky services that kept breaking in every other browser (including Chrome).

However, just like Chrome & Chromium, it still lacks some further anti-Google tweaks and bonus features that you can find elsewhere.

Dropdown: Recommended Edge Configuration

On the home page, click the gear icon and disable sponsored shortcuts - no point in seeing more ads. You can also turn off “content” at the very bottom of the menu to not be bombarded with articles and recommended content.

After that, moving on to settings there are a few things that I would highly recommend changing:

  • Settings/Accounts: You can sign out of your account if you do not want to sync, or sign into an account if you’re on Windows and created a local Windows account but want to sync your data.
  • Settings/Privacy, Search, and Services:
    • Set tracking protection to strict - rarely do things break, but if you notice a lot of broken sites you can always set it back to balanced.
    • Optionally, set some or all browsing data to clear on exit. I prefer to have my browsers clear everything on exit, but you may or may not want that. Luckily, you can fine-tune it to clear or not clear whatever you choose.
    • Turn on do not track, it never hurts to ask and won’t do any harm.
    • Turn off the option to allow sites to check if you have payment information stored if you don’t intend to store payment info in your browser.
    • Turn off optional diagnostic data, search and service improvement, and personalization & advertising. There is no value in having these on.
    • Turn off “Shopping in Microsoft Edge” unless you use the feature.
    • Turn off “Notifications of related things” unless you’re a fan of the feature.
  • Settings/Privacy, Search, and Serves/Address bar and search:
    • Turn off search suggestions using typed characters - no point in leaking things you typed elsewhere into search engines.
    • Turn off the option to show search suggestions with your favorites, history, and other data unless you find it useful. Again, less random data that you expect to be private suddenly being leaked into search engines.
    • Change the search engine. I mean seriously, who wants to use Bing? Brave or DuckDuckGo are great and can be manually added in, instructions here if you do not get a prompt to add them to your browser when visiting. A more private search engine can be great for privacy, but if you have issues with inaccurate results you can always change it back to Google or cough Bing.
  • Settings/Sidebar: You may want to turn off the personalize my sidebar option and turn off the option to have apps notify you on the sidebar. Keep your sanity and stop Microsoft from sending you notifications about using their services instead of what you’re using.
  • Settings/System and Performance: Turn off startup boost and the option to have edge always run in the background. No point in wasting resources.

Last, consider installing Ublock Origin. It’s hampered under Manifest v3, but still alright and WAY better than nothing.


Fennec is everything a mobile browser should be. It’s got a great deal of customizability, support for extensions, and so far I haven’t experienced any compatibility issues that I can recall. It’s also got all the unwanted stuff from Firefox mobile cut out, namely the ads, Mozilla tracking, and Google analytics. It’s my go to browser on mobile and I have very few complaints about it. The only negative I can think of is that it’s not compiled for x86_64 (useful under Waydroid).


Floorp is the other trendy browser I’ve been hearing about, and figured this post would be a great time to check it out. Unlike most of the other browsers here it’s a fork of Firefox, but unlike Librewolf it has a few additional features instead of being focused on just cutting out Mozilla junk. One thing you’ll notice is that it’s got a lot of the more power user stuff turned on by default, including vertical tabs, a sidebar, workspaces, and similar other tools. It’s also got a built in notes feature, and in the settings lets you install Ublock Origin in one click (being Gecko it will NOT be hampered by Manifest v3).

Another thing that caught my eye with Floorp is PWA support, something that’s been sorely lacking in Firefox ever since they gave up trying to implement it a while back. Further, it’s got some bonus features like a built in user agent spoofer and a setting to limit the resources the browser uses, which seem like nice touches to a fork of Firefox with a bit of a different take.

One caveat, however, is that while it does take out some of the Mozilla telemetry the first thing you’ll likely see is ads by pocket. Not the worst thing in the world since that and pocket can be disabled, but not cutting out things like that is the only complaint I’ve found from toying around with it.

Gnome Web

Gnome Web, also known as Epiphany, is Gnome’s take on a browser. Unlike most other browsers here it’s based on Webkit. It’s pretty minimalistic, offering tabs and optional built in adblock, but that’s about it - no extensions or PWAs. I considered using on my tablet since it works very well with touch controls and Gnome’s on screen keyboard, but I found it a bit too minimalistic for my taste and wound up going with Brave for that.

Kiwi Browser

Kiwi browser is an Android browser based on Chromium, but that supports desktop extensions. While I use Fennec because it’s Gecko based, if you were to have compatibility issues with something like Fennec but wanted desktop extensions then Kiwi would probably be your best bet.


Konqueror, built by KDE, was actually kinda the basis for most modern browsers. Their now defunct KHTML rendering engine was later forked by Apple to become WebKit, which was in turn forked by Google to become Blink/Chromium. At this point, however, KHTML is no longer in development and Konqueror can be used with a version of the Webkit engine or optionally changed to use a version of Blink. It also tries to be a very large toolkit, being a web browser, file browser, ISO viewer, media player, and more.

It’s still default on a lot of versions of Linux with the KDE desktop, but it’s a bit outdated and really only got included here because of its history. I wouldn’t personally recommend anybody daily drive it at this point.


Librewolf is a desktop only Firefox fork which is exactly what Firefox should be. It cuts out all sorts of tracking, ads, and other junk while still being kept up to date (an issue for some forks). It’s available for install in a variety of ways, including on the Microsoft store for Windows users who want a one click installation, and works as well as anything else Gecko based. It’s still set as my default browser on my computer, and while I’ve been getting annoyed at failures within Gecko it’s still worth giving a try.

Dropdown: Librewolf Recommended Configurations As a quick note for those used to default Chrome settings, there are three settings you may want to change to avoid potentail headaches. First, if you want to stay signed into places, turn off the setting to auto clear cookies on exit. Secondly, if you want to stream video or music from paid streaming services enable Widevine DRM. Last, I’ve had sites break with custom fonts turned off, so I would reccomend turning custom fonts on as well.


The Mulvad browser is a browser from the Mulvad VPN company which aims to be Tor without routing your traffic through the Tor network. It’s Gecko based, and has all the anti tracking and auto data clearing features that come with Tor, and it’s close to as up-to-date as Librewolf, but it’s got a more unique use case as opposed to being more of an every day browser.


Palemoon, as I mentioned above, is a really old hard fork of Firefox. It’s got its own fork of Gecko called Goanna, which does work alright, but its compatibility with modern sites is considerably worse than Gecko. You could probably get away with using it if you only browsed simple sites, but in most cases it’s just a cool thing to remember browsers of old, a tool for compatibility with older sites that don’t work well in modern browsers, or a tool if you were against all recommendations still using an out of date system like Windows 7 and wanted to have a browser engine that released updates that worked on that system.


Dropdown: Tangent on Opera in the past

I used to use Opera a lot, and in writing this it’s bringing back memories of back in the day when they had their own custom browser engine and an entire ecosystem. You could browse a blog on the Opera browser, hosted by Opera, the browser of which was installed through the Opera app store. I even have vague memories back from when I was a teenager making simply hacky Android apps either chatting with or being cold emailed about uploading an app to the Opera Android appstore. If I recall correctly, and it’s been a bit, I only ended up not doing so because I was under 18 and they required me to be 18 to create a developer account or something like that.

And Opera Mini was a superb mobile web browser. It worked well, supported desktop extensions, and could download a webpage for offline viewing - meaning I could go to the library, download a bunch of web pages, and then read them offline whenever I wanted without affecting my family’s internet data cap. I get that’s probably a chaotic bunch of pies for a browser company to have their hands in, but we need more ecosystems like that which are independent of the handful of all-encompassing ones we have now.

There are two versions of Opera, regular Opera, and Opera GX. Both are very similar, but I’ll start with regular Opera. Like a lot of other browsers, it starts with a Chromium base and then builds up from there. It’s got its signature speed dial, sidebar, multiple workspaces, and more advanced tab management, which is a real draw for browser power users and people who keep a lot of tabs open. I don’t personally keep many tabs open, and when I boot up my browser I want a pretty clean start with no tabs, but that’s just my personal preference and it can always be used that way if you would prefer - though it would kinda cut out some of the benefits that Opera is built around. Being Chromium it does allow you to install extensions from the Chrome Web Store, however, notably, you can also install extensions from Opera’s extension store as well.

Opera does have a fair amount of ads and tracking built in, but some of that is negated in my mind since you can disable them during the installation with a checkbox. It’s got built in adblock, which is very good since most Chromium browsers are losing Manifest V2 support, and some additional features like IPFS resolution. They also bundle things like a freemium VPN service and a crypto wallet, which is not quite as ideal in my opinion. The VPN might be handy since being built into the browser you can do some more domain specific configurations, but I’m not sure how much I would trust a freemium VPN. Further, sorry to Opera devs and users, but what kind of bonehead would put their crypto keys into a propratary browser? Like Brave rewards, at least it’s disabled by default and you have to intentionally turn it on.

Opera GX is just Opera with a coat of gamer paint. It’s got the same layout and features with a more ‘gamer’ looking theme by default, but seems to have two main features that might be a draw to gamers: even more extensive customization and resource limiters. The extensive customization seems like a bit of a novelty, but you can have your own extensively customized theme or a meme sound effect when you click, and while a bit gimmicky I guess if it brings you entertainment it doesn’t hurt. The resource limiter allows the browser to place caps on the recourses the browser is using, such as CPU or RAM, and while I’m unsure exactly how much of an effect it would have on game performance it might be handy.

All in all, Opera still seems to be a decent browser, especially if you’re looking for more power user style tab management and better adblock than Chrome can provide. However, if you’re looking for something like this I would also reccomend checking out Vivaldi which I will touch on below.


Safari is the one browser in this list that I’ve never used, but figured I would touch on it anyway. Safari uses Webkit, what Blink/Chromium was originally based on, which is why a lot of people mostly consider there to be only two main web engines instead of three. The other reason why Webkit is not often in the mental equation is just that Safari is mostly only there on Apple, being default on Mac and forced on IOS (even other browsers are being forced to use Webkit as their rendering engine on IOS).

From what I’ve heard, Webkit is basically Blink/Chomium with a lot of the compatibility, performance, and shiny new APIs missing.


Vanadium is Graphene OS’s custom Chromium fork that’s a hardened version of Chromium and the Android Chromium WebView component. It works well, it’s got built in adblock, and for the longest time I used it alongside Fennec (Vandium for WebView, PWAs, and a few sites I wanted to stay signed in on - with Fennec for everything else that auto clears cookies). The only reason I’ve switched to Brave as my secondary mobile browser is just that it’s the only mobile browser that seems to allow me to create a Google Chat PWA without Google redirecting me to install the Chat app instead.

I don’t think you can install it on non-Graphene OS devices at the moment, which is a bit of a shame since it’s an upgrade to Chrome, but still worth a shoutout.


Vivaldi is being worked on by some of the same developers who used to work on Opera, and you can see the same layout with things like a sidebar, tab groups & optional vertical tabs, a speed dial, and other similar features. It’s probably got one of the most extensive configuration options of all the browsers listed here, which can be great for power users; albeit a little overwhelming for people who are just trying to configure one particular thing or who have less experience configuring browsers. It’s also based on Chromium and has a built in ad blocker which seems to do pretty well. Outside of just the customization options, it’s also definitely the browser that most tries to be a suite of tools, offering things like an RSS reader, calendar, email client, and more. As I mentioned above, so much bundling of features isn’t exactly my cup of tea, but it’s only my preference and not an inherent negative. It’s also free of advertisemnts or aggressive tracking right out of the box.

Vivaldi is also proprietary, and the only proprietary browser I’m aware of that’s well liked and heavily recommended in the more techy spaces. I’m not the kind of person who refuses to install software for being proprietary, but it does feel a tad icky for a project to be almost all based on an open source project (Chromium) with the last bit being a proprietary coat of paint applied to it. The project is also a tad bit newer, and while rare, does seem to have the occasional kink to work out. For example, a while back I was considering using it as my primary Chromium browser for PWAs and compatibility, and while I don’t usually sync browser data (I always have/had Librewolf auto clear all data on close anyway), I thought I would set up sync for a few bookmarks between desktop and mobile since it’s end to end encrypted. For whatever reason I was banned for “Abuse” within seconds of opening an account, and it appears that it’s not an uncommon thing, or at least was at the time.

Still, however, for those who like to manage a lot of tabs and/or do most of their computer stuff from within a browser, Vivaldi would likely be an optimal choice.

Shout Outs

Say you got through all that and were interested in changing up your browser and were looking for a short list of recommendations. Here are my thoughts for desktop:

  • Librewolf if you want a fairly vanilla browsing experience and either don’t experience any Gecko issues or wish to use it in spite of issues.
  • Brave if you want a vanilla or semi customizable browsing experience in Chromium, want maximal adblock on Chromium, or are on an unconventional setup (like a 2 in 1 or x86_64 tablet).
  • While I haven’t used it much, potentially Floorp if you want a more highly customizable browsing experience and either don’t experience any Gecko issues or wish to use it in spite of issues.
  • Vivaldi if you want a more highly customizable browsing experience in Chromium.
  • DuckDuckGo browser if you want a very minimalistic browsing experience in Chromium.
  • Honorable mentions to Arc and Opera for fairly unique and customizable Chromium browsing experiences.

As for mobile, first off, if you choose to sync your data your best bet is whatever browser that syncs with your desktop browser. Otherwise, some recommendations include:

  • Fennec, for the most flexible Android browser, gives you desktop extensions under the Gecko engine. Requires F-Droid.
  • Kiwi browser if you want desktop extensions but are having Gecko compatibility issues or cannot/don’t want to install F-Droid
  • Brave if you want it to replace the YouTube app with your browser, want a generic Chromium + adblock experience, or from what I’ve heard want decent adblock at all on IOS.