Internet Security

The 7 Best Open-Source Web Browsers

Dan Price Updated 02-07-2019

We all know about the best mainstream web browsers. The usual suspects—Chrome, Opera, Safari, etc.—will always be in the conversation.


But what about open source browsers? If you enjoy using open source software, you have lots of options available to you.

In this article, we’re going to look at seven of the best open source web browsers.

1. Chromium

Available on: Windows, Mac, Linux

Chromium is Google’s open source web browser project. It shares a lot of the same code with Chrome and the two both look visually similar, though Chrome remains closed source.

Many developers use Chromium as the basis for their own browsers. Other browsers based on Chromium include Amazon Silk (available on Fire TV devices), Avast Secure Browser, Vivaldi, Opera, and most recently, Microsoft Edge.


Even though you can install Chrome extensions on Chromium, if you’re an existing Chrome user who’s thinking about making the jump, be aware that some Chrome features are not ported over. Missing features include automatic updates, Adobe Flash, some codecs, and some Google services.

Download: Chromium (Free)

2. Waterfox

waterfox browser

Available on: Windows, Mac, Linux


Waterfox is an open source 64-bit browser based on Mozilla Firefox. It has been around since 2011.

Initially, Waterfox solely focused on providing the fastest browsing experience possible, but now its scope has expanded.

Aside from the obvious open source benefits, Waterfox has two critical features that’ll appeal to anyone who wants a private browsing experience. Firstly, Waterfox does not collect any telemetry data; no one is tracking what you do inside your browser. Secondly, the only data collection is your operating system and version number so that updates can be applied correctly.

Other noteworthy features include bootstrapped add-ons, no plug-in whitelist (so you can run Java Applets and Silverlight apps), and support for any 64-Bit NPAPI plug-ins.


Download: Waterfox (Free)

3. Basilisk

basilisk browser homepage

Available on: Windows, Linux

Another of the best open source browsers is Basilisk. Basilisk is a XUL-based Firefox fork that first went live in November 2017. Unlike Firefox, the browser does not have Servo or Rust. It uses Goanna as a rendering engine.


Officially, Basilisk is only available on Windows and Linux, though there is an unofficial macOS build that appears to work well.

The main features on Basilisk include support for all NPAPI plug-ins, support for WebAssembly (WASM), and support for modern web cryptography standards.

Finally, the developer admits that Basilisk is in a permanent development state and thus is a perpetual beta release; you might find bugs.

Download: Basilisk (Free)

4. Pale Moon

pale moon browser

Available on: Windows, Linux

Pale Moon is made by the same team that’s responsible for Basilisk. It is also a fork of Firefox, though there are some important differences between the two cousins.

Most notably, Basilisk is based on the user interface of Firefox version 29 onwards. Pale Moon uses the older Firefox 4 to 28 interface in order to aid customization.

Indeed, Pale Moon’s biggest selling point is customization. The browser still lets users apply Complete Themes; they change the entire browser interface and are no longer a feature in Firefox. You can also reorganize the interface, create your own skin, and much more.

Pale Moon differs from Firefox through its decision to run in a single-process mode, support for XUL, XPCOM, and NPAPI plug-ins, and its use of the Goanna browser engine. All Firefox extensions work on Pale Moon.

Lastly, like Basilisk, there are only official releases for Windows and Linux, along with an unofficial macOS build.

Download: Pale Moon (Free)

5. Brave Browser

Available on: Windows, Mac, Android, iOS

Brave Browser is a curious open source browser. Although it’s a Chromium fork, it has a few unique twists that set it apart from the other browsers on this list.

The differences all relate to advertising. Brave Browser blocks all third-party ads by default and has instead created its own decentralized ad platform. The platform is powered by the Basic Attention Token ($BAT). Users can use BAT to support their favorite sites with micropayments, advertisers can use it for better targeting, and users can earn BAT by viewing ads.

Away from the unique ad model, Brave claims to be up to eight times faster than Google Chrome and more private due to a lack of trackers.

If you would like to learn more, check out our complete guide to the Brave Browser on our sister site, Blocks Decoded.

Download: Brave Browser (Free)

6. Dooble

dooble browser

Available on: Windows, Mac, Linux

If you want an open source browser that values your privacy, you should check out Dooble

The browser can block iFrames from third-party content providers, it automatically removes cookies, it uses the decentralized search engine YaCy, and any data it retains is saved using authenticated encryption.

Dooble also offers automated cookie removal, a non-JavaScript file manager and FTP browser, and the ability to protect your browser with a password.

More recently, Dooble has added plug-in support. There are social media add-ons, email client add-on, instant messenger add-ons, and more.

In early 2019, the developers gave the entire user interface an overhaul. It now looks much more modern and is consequently more enjoyable to use.

Download: Dooble (Free)

7. Firefox

Available on: Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, iOS

No list of the best open source web browsers would be complete without a mention of Firefox. It is the second most popular browser in the world behind Google Chrome.

It also the only browser on this list that’s available on the three main desktop platforms and the two leading mobile operating systems. If you want a consistent user experience with all your bookmarks and settings synced across all your devices, it is the best browser open source browser for you.

Despite its benefits, Firefox isn’t perfect. There’s no automated webpage translation, some users complain that it hogs RAM (despite Mozilla’s claims to the contrary), and updates have been known to install add-ons without the user’s permission.

Download: Firefox (Free)

We consider Firefox the best browser for Linux The 9 Best Browsers for Linux Looking for a new Linux web browser? We've listed what we think are the best Linux web browsers---with a few surprises thrown in. Read More .

Which Is the Best Open Source Web Browser?

So, which is the best open source web browser available today? It’s not an easy question to answer—much depends on the features that are most important to you.

If you value cross-platform consistency, go with Firefox. Anyone who wants privacy should check out Dooble, Brave, or Waterfox. Customization fanatics need to check out Pale Moon, and if you’re a Chrome user who wants to change to open source while retaining some UI familiarity, you should use Chromium.

If you’d like to learn more about which browser to choose, we’ve also written about the best browsers with dark modes The Best Dark Web Browser for Your Device Want to access the dark web? You need to use a dark web browser that can take you there and protect your privacy too. Read More and the best browsers for iPhones What's the Best Browser for iPhone? 7 Apps Compared Safari is a fine browser for iPhones, but it's not the only option. Check out the best iOS browsers for something better. Read More .

Related topics: Browsing Tips, Online Privacy, Open Source.

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  1. Postmaster
    May 2, 2019 at 12:42 pm

    I think you're overlooking that SeaMonkey is Firefox's brother (or cousin); both Mozilla products. If you trace the history of Netscape and Netscape Suite, you'll see that one morphed into Firefox while the other turned in SeaMonkey. Despite the lack of recent updates with SeaMonkey, I still prefer it over Firefox.
    Another browser with built-in speed-dial features: Vivaldi.

  2. Giuseppe C.
    May 5, 2018 at 4:42 pm

    Here the point is: if you run them on Windows 10 what is the tne one that takes the least CPU resource % then lest temperature.
    From that view, Chrome is by far the best choice if compared t Firefox.
    For example browsing, this web page takes 12.5% of my CPU and rises my SSD till 66 "C!

    • mRfOX
      November 15, 2019 at 10:41 pm


  3. DrShowMe
    May 4, 2018 at 7:05 pm

    I would think that what operating system(s) each browser runs on would be a minimum informational content for this kind of article.

  4. rodndtube
    May 4, 2018 at 4:33 pm

    Basilisk is my go-to browser now that Firefox 57 and beyond has for all intents and purpose eliminated the ability to easily customize the user-interface. Like Pale Moon it is a fork of Firefox.

  5. halfey
    April 28, 2018 at 9:29 am

    Some of these browsers haven't seen any update in ages (Midori) or has been discontinued (Qtweb). I don't see any point in recommending them to average users.

  6. zpangwin
    April 24, 2018 at 2:49 am

    Waterfox. Hands down. All the latest firefox features, plus security patches, AND I can still use legacy add-ons. Long live DownThemAll.

    • Warren
      April 24, 2018 at 7:59 am

      Agreed as to water fox. I 've tried a couple of the others but really leave me wanting. Midori was very buggy. Pale moon was okay but none of the others , with the exception of firefox seem very stable. I've grown to love vivaldi over most anything else. Still use waterfox occasionally. Lookin g at some of these some weren't updated since 2013 and that gives me pause as far as how security has kept up with the ever evolving threat landscape.

    • Perry F. Bruns
      May 8, 2018 at 5:41 pm

      I found out about Waterfox from the comments on a previous article on browsers, and I'm using it right now on just about all my devices.