Epiphany is a web browser written for the Gnome desktop environment for Linux. It fits in very well, has many nice things to offer to people wanting a different web browser, but in the end, in my book, has one serious shortcoming that keeps me from recommending it for use as your everyday browser.
First, the good.
Epiphany is a fast web browser. On my system, it starts up faster than Firefox, and grabs less memory. Having a web browser that isn’t a memory hog is always nice! In addition, Epiphany has a few features built-in (well, not built-in exactly but easily installed by adding the epiphany-extensions package), that need to be individually installed as extensions in Firefox. Included among those is the built-in ad blocker, which seems to work identically (at least in results), to the Adblock Plus Firefox extension.
Another nice feature Epiphany boasts is Greasemonkey. Greasemonkey is a scripting extension that allows a user to override a website’s default layout options. The equivalent extension for Firefox users is Stylish (you can read a review of Stylish in this article). Along with a good ad-blocking extension, Greasemonkey (or Stylish) is a great way to view the web pages you want to view, the way you want to view them.
Epiphany also has a couple of extensions that allow the Epiphany user to integrate their Epiphany use with other desktop programs or online services. For instance, Epiphany can automatically synchronize the user’s Epiphany favorites/bookmarks with your del.icio.us bookmarks, for those that use the online service. Also, Epiphany – when visiting a page that includes an Atom or RSS feed, can add that feed to your default blog reading tool. This truly is a simple and handy feature to have available!
As I said, there is a lot to like about Epiphany. It’s a fast browser, relatively lightweight, and is tightly integrated with the Gnome environment. In addition (and probably most importantly), Epiphany displays pages that look nice. Unfortunately, part of the reason the pages look nice is the reason I have a hard time telling people they should install Epiphany.
Epiphany uses the Gecko rendering engine to display HTML. Gecko is the HTML rendering engine used by such projects as Firefox and Mozilla. Unfortunately, Epiphany typically demands that Firefox or Mozilla already be installed on a person’s hard drive before Epiphany can be installed. In my mind, this is kind of a waste – having two web browsers installed – and defeats the purpose a bit!
Still, Epiphany is nice, and if it ever gets to the point when Epiphany can be installed along with ONLY the Gecko rendering engine, then Epiphany would become a strong competitor to Firefox. Until then, however, as good as it might be, it feels redundant, and as such, I can’t recommend it.