Lately I've been trying Rekonq to see what all the fuzz's about. In short it's an alternative web browser for KDE, which uses WebKit1 and aims to be lightweight.

I don't intend to judge it by how it renders web pages, since many web pages still don't follow the W3C standards, so I usually have several browsers installed, so I have KHTML, WebKit, Gecko and for emergencies text-only. Also Konqueror in the newest release already supports both KHTML and WebKit, so that's not a relevant question.

Here's in short what I found out when using Rekonq 0.5.0 for a few days/weeks as the default browser (compared to Konqueror 4.4.4):

pro:

  • no menu bar
  • no status bar, but the URL show in the bottom of the window the webpage when hovered – I love that! In fact, I'd like to see that everywhere in KDE – Konqueror, Akregator, KMail, etc. etc.
  • adblock subscription
  • rearranging tabs with mouse works
  • page previews are nice
  • location bar filling up when loading is a nice touch
  • the hack with the forced bright background makes badly written web sites work also under dark themes
  • searching only parts of the URL from the location bar works (although it's not as good as Firefox' yet)

con:

  • scrolling not smooth, sometimes autoscroll doesn't work
  • middle-click in window does not (always?) open the pasted URL
  • missing keyboard shortcut to move tabs
  • i don't like the close buttons integrated into tabs – I prefer Konqi's close button on the far right of the opened tabs and the new tab button on the far left
  • missing bookmarks: KIO slave (and others, but those are not so much browser-related)
  • favicons don't work always
  • a lot of missing features. Amongst others a quick way to add AdBlock rules from browser (like via right-clicking an ad)
  • sessions would be nice …maybe TabCandy is not the best way to tackle it, but it's not a bad idea
  • I actually like that Ctrl pops up shortcuts in Konqueror
  • the hack with the forced bright background does look quite ugly and still is just an ugly hack (works though)

Bottom line: for now I switched back to Konqi, but will continue to follow Rekonq's develpment closely. I feel comparing the two is quite similar to comparing the whole Mozilla Suite and Phoenix (= how Firefox was named initially) in the early 2000's – it's a clean, no bloat underdog, but as of now, feels underpowered and a bit clumsy compared to the beast it's trying to replace. I won't be as bold to predict their future to be the same as Mozilla Suite vs. Firefox, but I'll say I wouldn't be surprised if that happens.

Side note: both share the annoyance with how KDE handles cookies – the rules get wiped out every few days.

Also, it'd be a nice idea in general to have Stop and Reload in one single button. If the page (or anything else for that matter) is loading, reloading doesn't make sense; while if the page (etc.) is loaded, stopping it doesn't make sense. Therefore in turn one of these two buttons is always obsolete.

hook out → sipping my bloody well deserved tea and deciding to apply for the Gentoo License team…


  1. WebKit started as Apple's fork of KDE's KHTML (both are HTML layout engines) and is now used by Safari, Chrome and several other web browsers. 

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