Browsers for people who just want a browser

A week or so ago, Mozilla published a blog post entitled “Privacy Preserving Attribution for Advertising”. It says:

For the last few months we have been working with a team from Meta (formerly Facebook) on a new proposal that aims to enable conversion measurement – or attribution – for advertising called Interoperable Private Attribution, or IPA.

I like Firefox. I’ve used it for 20ish years, I reckon.

But I don’t like surveillance capitalism. And I don’t think a browser developer should be working to support online advertising.

What happened to browsers for people who just want a browser, and not a cryptocurrency wallet or advertising framework?

If - if - Firefox gets too bad, what should I pick instead?

I often use links as a text-based browser, as it is a joy to browse the web without all the cruft and clutter of so many sites. But I’m looking here for a GUI browser.

Chrome is out, as I’m not a huge fan of Google.

Brave is also out, as my main browser at least, because of its cryptocurrency support. If there was a version of Brave without this, I might be tempted, but it still seems like an unwanted diversion of resources from core functionality to me. (I use Brave for the limited task of running Microsoft Teams.)

Safari is out because it’s not available natively for Linux. I was reasonably happy with it when I was using macOS, other than its WebRTC support, but that might be fixed now.

I asked on Twitter and mastodon for suggestions for alternatives. I got a good list!

Firefox forks / derivatives

Either of these looks like a potential good fit for me.

GNU IceCat (formerly IceWeasel)

While the Firefox source code from the Mozilla project is free software, they distribute and recommend nonfree software as plug-ins and addons.


This project is an independent fork of Firefox, with the primary goals of privacy, security and user freedom.


I already use TorBrowser, for searches or sites where I’m particularly privacy aware. I should probably use it more.

It’s not a perfect fit since I want to access sites on my internal network, which are not in public DNS, and which are not available as .onion services.

It’s also a pain for sites which insist on captchas, as getting through a captcha using Tor is tedious.

Browsers I had heard of


A Free software WebKit-based browser for GNOME. I could be tempted by this.


Konqueror is KDE’s Webbrowser and swiss-army-knife for any kind of file-management and file previewing.

If I were running KDE, I might be tempted by this.

Microsoft Edge for Linux

A Chromium-based browser. I don’t know why - aged prejudice?! - but I’m not tempted to run a Microsoft browser.


Pale Moon offers you a browsing experience in a browser completely built from its own, independently developed source that has been forked off from Firefox/Mozilla code a number of years ago, with carefully selected features and optimizations to improve the browser’s stability and user experience, while offering full customization and a growing collection of extensions and themes to make the browser truly your own.

Uses the Goanna rendering engine, which is unusual.

Browsers as part of a broader suite

I don’t want an all-in-one application - I just want a browser which excels at being a browser - but, if you do, these might be worth a look.


Web-browser, advanced e-mail, newsgroup and feed client, IRC chat, and HTML editing made simple—all your Internet needs in one application.


As with Seamonkey, Vivaldi seems to be more than just a browser, so not something I’m looking for here.

It’s “open core”, rather than Free software, since the UI is not Free software.

Browsers I had not heard of before


Midori Browser is a light, fast and secure web browser, extremely fast in website loading and file downloading.

Another Free software browser.

The webpage says “Midori Browser is very different from other web browsers and we will show you why”, but none of the features looked that different to me.


Small as a mouse, fast as a cheetah and available for free. NetSurf is a multi-platform web browser for RISC OS, UNIX-like platforms (including Linux), Mac OS X, and more.

A few people recommended NetSurf. It looks interesting, and it’s Free software.


qutebrowser is a keyboard-focused browser with a minimal GUI.

Relatively recently updated (October 2021), Free software, and keyboard-focused.


Striking the perfect balance between privacy and usability.

It’s powered by Gecko, rather than Blink or WebKit, and is monetised through search partnerships.

Browsers which haven’t been updated in a while

I’m including them here, because people mentioned them, but I won’t be considering them.


The current release - 3.0.5 - is from 2015.


The current release is from 2017.


Seemingly not updated since 2011.