May 24, 2010

Kubuntu 10.04 To Ditch Konqueror as Default Browser in Favor of rekonq. Will Linux Mint 10 Follow Suite?

In the past, there was a little beloved and cherished browser and file manager in KDE3 land known as Konqueror. And all was well in the world. There seemed to be no end to what you could do with it, especially if you took the time to learn about all of it's wonderful, hidden power under the hood. In all practicality, it made perfect sense: have a browser and file manager in one application providing one unified view of content without respect to where it happened to originate from. Genius! However, times change and or course the web is no exception. Today sites demand more power, flexibility, and speed than ever before. And as KDE4 came into it's own, Konqueror found itself lagging in terms of handling new things those pesky web developers were throwing its way.

In KDE-Land, the hard decision of what to do with Konqueror raged on. Quietly, in the background, a new dedicated KDE web browser was being born and nurtured. One based on the powerful Webkit that KDE itself helped develop. That browser is, as the title indicates, rekonq. What? You've never heard of it? Shame, shame on you for 6 weeks! In all actually, I suspect many people haven't. those of us who use the KDE Software Compilation on any Debian based distro have typically chosen between Konqueror, the long standing stalwart of KDE's legacy and still the default web browser of many distributions today, (including the just-recently-released shiny new Kubuntu 10.04), and perennial favorite Firefox. In addition, Google Chrome and it's parent, Chromium, are viable choices as well. However, there is, and always has been, one big issue: Native KDE support and integration. Of course, readers will note that great strides have been made in attempt to integrate Mozilla's Firefox browser into a KDE environment. This work is commendable, and no doubt many, if not most, of us will continue to use Firefox in our Kubuntu and Linux Mint KDE deployments. And there are many valid reasons to do so, such as familiarity and of course Mozilla's impressively long and extensive Add-On selection. Hello Xmarks! But for those users of Kubuntu 10.10 (And presumably perhaps Linux Mint KDE 10), things appear to be changing again.

The folks over at Kubuntu have apparently decided that a better browser is needed as the default in the upcoming 10.10 release, codenamed Maverick Meerkat. Basically, they want a native KDE (QT/Webkit) browser for a better and more integrated experience. To that end I applaud their decision; however I suspect there will be a lot of commentary and some dissension about this decision as well. For a good review, and a little more background on the situation, check out the article on the matter posted over at there you'll find a decent review of rekonq and the benefits and further reasoning for why it looks to be the default HTML renderer of choice.

I downloaded rekonq and took it for a spin. On the plus side - SPEED. And lots of it. It also looked good and right at home on my Kubuntu 10.04 install. I also liked the KWallet integration and the web shortcuts feature. You can install it for yourself, or simply download it from the Kubuntu repos via "APT-GET INSTALL rekonq" in a terminal, or via KPackagekit if you so choose.

Here is a slideshow of of rekonq in action on my test PC:

So what do you think? Is this a welcome change? And, for Linux Mint KDE fans, should Mint follow suite and include rekonq by default?

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