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Which web browser do you use? If you’re reading this on a desktop or laptop computer, chances are you’re using Google Chrome. Based on the open-source Chromium project, Chrome can also be found on smartphones and tablets. In short, it is the most popular browser in the world.
But you might be using Safari, or Edge, or even Firefox, or Opera. But what about Vivaldi? Never heard of it?
Released for Windows, Linux and macOS, Vivaldi is now available for ARM devices, starting with the Raspberry Pi. Other single-board computers are also being targeted by the developers.
If you use a Raspberry Pi, it’s time to try a different web browser.
Vivaldi? Like the Composer?
First released in 2016, Vivaldi is named after Italian composer Antonio Vivaldi, who composed over forty operas. It should come as no surprise, then, that the CEO of Vivaldi Technologies is one-time Opera Software co-founder Jon von Tetzchner.
When Opera abandoned the My Opera website in 2014, von Tetzchner launched the Vivaldi community in its place, with the long-term aim of continuing the work of making a better browser.
The result was Vivaldi, now at version Final 1.13 after a number of technical previews and betas throughout 2015 and 2016. Like the Opera browser of old, Vivaldi introduces some new ideas about what a web browser should be.
Why Switch to Vivaldi?
Some interesting features are available in Vivaldi, and most of them work on the Raspberry Pi. In many ways, this flexible browser adapts to you, the user, more than any other browser.
- The Side Panel interface delivers easy access to bookmarks, downloads, and “tree-style” access to tabs, notes, and browsing history.
- Advanced tab management gives you the ability to rearrange and pin tabs via the side panel (a sort of enhanced version of what can be found in Opera).
- Vivaldi has a built-in screenshot feature, along with a compact note-taking tool.
- There’s also a powerful History overview, displaying a statistical representation of your browsing patterns (this is stored purely on your own machine).
- Custom themes deliver a customizable look and feel to the browser interface.
- Browser shortcuts and mouse gestures can be used to speed up your interactions.
- Website tracking is disabled by default.
Currently, the Vivaldi Sync feature is unavailable on the Raspberry Pi, although it’s likely to appear at some point. Vivaldi Sync ensures you can access not just your bookmarks on other machines, but also notes and screenshots, and the data is encrypted.
You’ll notice that many of these features cannot be found on other browsers without adding them as extensions. I spoke to Jon von Tetchner about this. “Our thinking is the basic functionality in the browser, you shouldn’t require extensions to do basic stuff, and to us, tab handling is a basic feature.”
It can’t be long before mainstream browsers follow this philosophy.
You can find out more about these features in our in-depth look at the Vivaldi browser.
Vivaldi Performance on the Raspberry Pi
Most experienced Raspberry Pi users who’ve worked on advanced projects, will know that Chromium (introduced with the PIXEL desktop) works reasonably well. But does Vivaldi? Can those features highlighted above really work on the Pi?
Well, yes they can… but your mileage may vary. Although the press release states that Vivaldi will run on the original Raspberry Pi, von Tetchner told me that the best results will be enjoyed on the Raspberry Pi 2, 3, and Pi Zero models.
Running the browser on a Raspberry Pi 2 for the purposes of this article, I found that overall, it works as well as Chromium. I certainly didn’t see any significant performance increases, and the CPU Usage Monitor didn’t appear to max out unnecessarily. Similarly, it didn’t dip surprisingly, remaining at 25% while running three tabs in one window.
That is really the problem with a Raspberry Pi; regardless of what browser you’re using, you’re not going to get the benefit of having dozens of tabs open at once. As tab management is a key aspect of the Vivaldi browser, this may influence your decision to switch.
Install Vivaldi on the Raspberry Pi
While speaking to von Tertchner, I learned that the main reason for Vivaldi’s move to ARM was because he loves cool stuff like the Raspberry Pi. “It’s a geek thing. We are a company that does things that we find fun, and we want to support Linux on the various devices.”
Once downloaded, double-click the DEB file to commence installation.
If you prefer, however, you can use the command line to install Vivaldi. Begin with:
Once downloaded, run the sudo dpkg command, followed by the path to the downloaded file:
sudo dpkg -i /path/to/deb/file
Once unpacked, install the browser with:
sudo apt-get install -f
Whichever option you choose, you’ll need to reboot your Raspberry Pi to complete the installation.
You’ll then be able to enjoy the features outlined above in the installed Vivaldi browser via Menu > Internet.
Is Vivaldi Open Source?
If you’re reading this, you’re probably contemplating running Vivaldi on your Raspberry Pi, using Raspbian or a different distro. You might even plan to install Vivaldi on your main Linux desktop.
As such, you’re probably wondering: is Vivaldi open source?
“Vivaldi is not made available under one unified open source license. It does contain the Chromium source code with changes made to allow the HTML/CSS/JS based UI to run. All changes to the Chromium source code are made available under a BSD license and can be read by anyone on vivaldi.com/source/.”
Those interested in finding out more can do so via the README and LICENSE files within the installation folder.
For openness, the browser’s user interface code is accessible “for those who read HTML, CSS and JS.” As such, the Vivaldi source code can be analyzed, but note that it also features third-party code.
So, is Vivaldi open source? Well, strictly speaking, no: not until it is released under an open-source license. But you would have to be very strict in your application of the term “open source” to avoid this exciting new browser on those grounds. We certainly think it’s worth trying out, at the very least.
The Best Browser Is the One You Enjoy Using
Once you have Vivaldi up and running, you’ll probably find the new features are easy to use. They make browsing quite a different experience, while adding to your expectations for other browsers. No doubt Vivaldi’s more well-known competitors will catch up. But what about now? Should you stick with Vivaldi?
Well, that’s up to you. With Chromium as the base, you’re guaranteed a good experience, especially if you’re running the browser on Raspbian. Chromium has been a default option on the Raspberry Pi’s official distribution for some time, and it works well. Of course, several other browsers are available for the Raspberry Pi.
But as with any browser, the experience is everything. Thanks to good privacy settings and a variety of features, Vivaldi may well become your preferred browser for any Pi-based web activity. Indeed, you may prefer to use it on your desktop in future.
Just remember: it’s totally up to you. The best browser you have is the one that lets you browse the web safely and effortlessly.
Now is the time to try it out. If you’ve already used Vivaldi, tell us how much you enjoyed it!
Image Credit: Robson90/Depositphotos