Midori is a lightweight GTK web browser which uses the popular WebKit rendering engine. I installed it on my Eee PC netbook to see if it could replace Firefox for light browsing.

Midori browser

Midori seems to be stable. I haven’t had it crash yet, which is a large improvement over last time I tried it out.

Because Midori uses a similar WebKit rendering engine to Apple Safari and Google Chrome, it has few problems with website compatibility. I tried a few web applications, and all of them worked fine with the exception of Google Talk in Gmail, which seems to have a layout issue with Midori.

Not only does Midori score a perfect 100/100 the acid 3 test web standards test, it beats Firefox by a significant margin in the SunSpider Javascript benchmark. Midori scored 2.8 times faster than Firefox 3 and 1.7 times faster than Firefox 3.1 Beta 3 on my system:

Firefox 3.1 Beta 3 1914.6ms +/- 6.2%
Firefox 3 3082.8ms +/- 0.2%
Midori 0.1.4 1111.4ms +/- 1.2%

One feature missing from Midori is customization of the toolbar. If you’re working on a netbook with a small screen, you may want the toolbar to be smaller. However, you can do this by telling GNOME that you only want icons in toolbars and no text. Open System->Preferences->Appearance->Interface, and select Icons only in the Toolbar button labels drop down box. Note that this will effect all GTK applications. Update: Andrew in the comments pointed out that Midori has this setting built in (Edit->Preferences->Interface->Toolbar Style).

Another missing feature that would be nice to have on netbooks is a fullscreen mode which, like Firefox, autohides the toolbar and tabs.

Midori is available from the WebKit Team PPA for Ubuntu 9.04, 8.10, and 8.04. Follow the directions on the PPA page to add the repository, and then install Midori from the package midori (click the link to install), or by running the command below in your terminal:
sudo apt-get install midori

Midori isn’t as polished or have as many features as Firefox, but it is very fast and standards-compliant. I wouldn’t use Midori as my main desktop browser yet, but it is definitely very well suited for use on a netbook.

I’m looking forward to more WebKit-based browsers becoming available and stable on Linux!

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