If you’ve ever been a little more curious, you may have noticed that the GNOME desktop environment has its own browser. No, it’s not Firefox, which is the replacement of the said browser by the distributions that include it. Instead, you may have heard of the Epiphany browser, a very low-resource program that uses WebKit as its rendering engine.
However, Epiphany is extremely simplistic, even in its user interface, and a technology that takes it back deep to the GNOME 2 days. Therefore, in the works is a new kind of browser (presumably still using WebKit as its rendering engine) that is more modern but still extremely easy to use and relatively simplistic.
Installation is slightly nontraditional. Instead of a package that gets installed, you’ll need to download the necessary files by clicking here to visit the correct page, click on the Downloads tab, and choose either the zip file or tarball. Open it, and extract the folder contained within to a location of your choice.
Next, you’ll need to go into the web folder, right click on the web.py file, choose Properties, and under the Permissions tab, allow executing the file as a program. Then close out that window, and double click on the web.py file. Choose run, and you should now be greeted with the upcoming GNOME browser.
As I noted before, the interface is indeed relatively simplistic. There aren’t a lot of buttons to click, and some are even hidden from immediate view (primarily the big button, top center, which you’ll see when you hover your mouse over it). The homepage is preset to Ubuntu’s main page, but this should be configurable in the future when the program is more fully developed. To navigate between pages, you have the back and forward buttons, along with the big button next to them. Click on that one, and you’ll be presented with the address bar where you can enter in your desired destination. The button all the way to the right that looks like a refresh button doesn’t do anything yet at the time of writing.
The main feature so far about this browser is what’s hidden behind the Pages button, which reminds me a lot of GNOME Shell’s Activities button. Once inside, there are three tabs that await you: Recent, Favorites, and Queue. As of yet, Favorites and Queue don’t do anything.
In the Recent tab, you’ll see a black area at the top and a white area at the bottom. The top black area contains all the current tabs that are open, while the bottom white area will contain recent pages that you visited (as soon as you actually visit them). This system works quite well and is similar to the way GNOME Shell handles applications. Therefore, you can see a working system of tabs in the browser, despite the fact that you can’t create or delete any yet.
Speed is easily noticed if you surf around for a while. All the pages feel snappy and don’t hesitate to load. The browser itself also follows closely to the desktop theme. Even Ubuntu’s scroll bars are used in the browser. I find this to be appropriate, as a browser made for GNOME 3 should follow suit with GNOME 3’s technologies, which includes such fancy scroll bars.
This new browser is turning into an interesting project for the GNOME desktop. While it shows lots of promise, it won’t be recommended for full use in the near future except for those who are daring enough to use it despite its lack of features or who value it’s massive speed. However, you’re welcome to occasionally throw out your copy of the browser and download a newer copy that will contain new features and other improvements. Eventually, before you know it, it’ll be a full-fledged browser ready for wide use on Linux.
How do you like this new browser? Do you like how it’s similar to GNOME Shell? Let us know in the comments!