Rekonq: Konqueror Killer?
When the Maverick Meerkat, better known as Ubuntu 10.10, debuts in October, it will bring with it a new default browser for Kubuntu users in the form of rekonq. If you’re a KDE user dissatisfied with Konqueror and Firefox, here’s what you can look forward to next fall.
rekonq is a relatively new project aimed at creating a native KDE browser that addresses some of the perceived shortcomings in Konqueror, which has served as KDE’s main file browser–and sometime-file browser–for many years.
So how well does rekonq fulfill the ambitions behind it? To get an idea, I installed rekonq version 0.4.95 from a Launchpad PPA and gave it a go.
Like Google’s Chrome and Apple’s Safari, rekonq is based on WebKit, which is itself a derivative of KHTML, the engine behind Konqueror. I’ve always admired WebKit-based browsers for the speed at which they render HTML. To my disappointment, rekonq wasn’t quite able to live up to the performance of Konqueror or even Firefox 3.5 in the speed test at scragz.com, but it was still certainly acceptable.
rekonq’s interface, on the other hand, definitely felt smoother and more responsive than Firefox’s. New tabs opened very quickly, and the page previews available by holding the cursor over a tab appeared almost instantaneously.
As the image above demonstrates, rekonq also sets itself apart from Firefox with its simplified interface. Like Chrome–or too much like Chrome, perhaps–rekonq limits its toolbar to the bare essentials necessary for browsing, and uses a drop-down menu in the upper-right corner for accessing other tools:
Another similarity to Chrome are the web-development tools that ship with rekonq:
rekonq also offers a built-in “speed dial” feature similar to those of many other modern browsers.
The big question, of course, is whether rekonq will prove capable of displacing Konqueror as the KDE browser par-excellence. I like Konqueror well enough, and from my viewpoint, I’m not sure there’s a compelling reason to give it up.
From what I’ve seen, however, rekonq is a solid browser with an impressive range of features, given that it remains under development. It doesn’t function as a file browser, which may be a problem for some users who rely on Konqueror for that feature. Otherwise, however, there’s no good reason not to use rekonq, and I look forward to seeing the project’s final product as development continues.