Today’s Linux Experience – Choosing a Web Browser [1]

When it comes to web browsing, there is surprisingly good support from the big players. My favourite browsers, which are all installed and used simultaneously on Windows, Mint and Lubuntu, are Chrome/Chromium, Firefox and Opera, and all of them work well subject to certain considerations. 
With Chrome you can install the proprietary Google package of that name, or the open-source equivalent, Chromium (just as you can in Windows, except I never installed Chromium onto it). The important difference on Linux is that Chrome’s built in Pepper Flash player, which is not available in Chromium, is a must-have because Adobe stopped updating their stand-alone Flash installers for Linux some time ago. Chrome is easy to install directly from Google’s site, while Chromium is included in some distros (including Mint).
Opera is my choice of a WebKit compatible browser since Safari stopped being produced for Windows. It is easy to install directly from Opera’s site. It is a very good browser with the main limitation being the lack of Flash updates mentioned above. I haven’t got much more to say about it because it hasn’t had the same amount of issues as some of the other browsers.
Firefox, which used to be my browser of first preference until Mozilla stumbled over multi-process tab support, has started to regain my confidence since they mastered the development of the Electrolysis extension, which is now part of the core package. This brings the much needed multi-process design to Firefox. One of the issues I had noted with the older design of Firefox was when browsing Tumblr image blog sites, a lot of images would not be displayed by FF because it struggled with large numbers of images on a page. Electrolysis fixed this problem and now that it has made it into the base Firefox product, not just the Developer edition, it has become a much better product. On most of my computers I have both the base and Developer editions installed. The base is incorporated into many Linux distributions, including Debian where it has been renamed Iceweasel, while the developer edition can be easily installed from the Mozilla website. Note that with Developer, the installer only extracts the image to a file path; you must still move the folder to a location on your PC and create the start menu shortcut (or x.desktop file for Ubuntu-based distros) to make it go.
Although the Flash issue will keep me from switching back to FF as my primary browser of choice, it is possible it might regain that status in the future. One reason for this is that both Opera and Chrome are massive resource hogs when multiple tabs are opened. Another annoyance is that the latest version of Opera will only run a single instance, which is hard when you have multiple desktops. Even on the computer which I am writing on, which has 12 GB of RAM, I have quite a few tabs open in Opera and almost all of them have a memory footprint of around 800 MB. That’s one of the reasons I don’t use either it or Chrome much on a Lubuntu system; on something with only 4 GB of RAM there wouldn’t be much left for other applications and the CPU would bog down with all the disk swapping. It is possible for Firefox to have an extension installed that can leverage the Flash player in Chrome to get around the lack of Adobe support. As Mozilla says, FF e10s uses way less memory than Chrome, so it is really going to be just a matter of time before I switch to using it instead of Opera for a lot of my stuff. Right now e10s isn’t truly process-per-tab, but Mozilla is working on this goal. The bottom line for me has always been the superior extension support in Firefox and with this and the improvements in stability, it looks like a good time to switch back to it big time, perhaps without even worrying about Flash.