Firefox is easily the most popular Linux web browser. In the recent LinuxQuestions survey, Firefox took first place with 51.7 percent of the vote. Chrome came in second with a mere 15.67 percent. The other browsers all had, at most, scores in single percentages. But is Firefox really the fastest browser? I put them them to the test, and here’s what I found.
To put Linux’s web browsers to the test, I put them through their paces on Ubuntu 16.04, the current long-term support of the popular Linux desktop distribution. This ran on my older Asus CM6730 desktop PC. This has a third-generation 3.4GHz Intel Core i7-3770 processor, an NVIDIA GeForce GT 620 graphics card, 8GB of RAM, and a 1TB hard drive. This four-year-old PC has horsepower, but it’s no powerhouse.
Linux used to have numerous web browsers. That’s no longer the case. True, the code is still out there, but the browsers themselves are no longer maintained. For example, KDE’s Konqueror is no longer supported. Even Kubuntu, the popular Ubuntu-based desktop that uses KDE for its desktop environment, now has Firefox as its default browser.
So, after looking at the most popular, still-supported Linux web browsers, I tested the following ones: Firefox 51, GNOME Web 3.22, formerly Epiphany; Google Chrome 56; Google Chromium 56, Chrome’s open-source prototype; Opera 43, which is also built on Chromium; Vivaldi 1.7.7, an open-source fork of the old Opera code for power-users.
For each round of testings, I ran freshly installed vanilla web browsers after rebooting the system. Then, I ran the following benchmarks.
Here, the fresh-from-the-developers Chromium took first place with a score of 180.89. Close on its heels came Chrome with 179.77 and Opera with 178.84. Vivaldi was right behind the top three with 176.84. Web came in next at 172.94. In last place, by a considerable distance, was Firefox with 163.38.
In this run, Opera took first with a score of 988.84 milliseconds (ms). A hair-breadth’s behind came Chromium at 989.5ms. Chrome took third place with 993.0ms. Right behind Chrome was Vivaldi with 988.4ms. Then, there was a big performance drop off. Firefox avoided last place with a score of 1,088.3ms, while Web landed at the bottom at 1,121ms.
Chrome emerged on top of this benchmark with 31,737. Chromium, to no surprise, took second with a score of 31,453. Opera came in third with 30,979. Fourth place went to Vivaldi at 30,772. It was followed by Firefox at 30628, and in a distant last place, Web at 27,949.
Once more Chrome took the top spot with a score of 113.2. Vivaldi was close behind it with 112.3. Opera took third with 108.5. Web was right behind Opera with a result of 107.2. Then, a ways back, came Chromium with 97.23. I would have said that was a surprisingly poor showing, but Firefox turned in a disastrous score of 44.6.
Firefox finally emerges on top in this benchmark with a result of 353. This is far above Web with 294. Chrome and Opera both tied for third with scores of 282. Vivaldi came next at 244, and Chromium took last place with 231.
HTML5 Test: Last, but never least, I checked to see how well each browser complies with the HTML 5 web standard. This “test” isn’t a benchmark. It just shows how close each browser comes to being in sync with the HTML 5 standard. A perfect score, which none received, is 550. If your web browser has trouble with today’s web standard, it doesn’t matter how fast it is.
By this yardstick, Chrome is the best at 519. It’s followed closely by Vivaldi with 517 and Opera with 512. Chromium occupies the next step down with 505. After that, Firefox falls far behind with a result of 471. Web, however, is the worst of the lot with a mere 386.
Taken all-in-all, I think Linux users should look to Chrome for their web browser use. When it’s not the fastest, it’s close to being the speediest. Firefox, more often than not, really isn’t that fast.
Of the rest, Opera does reasonably well. Then, Chromium and Vivaldi are still worth looking at. Web, however, especially with its dreadful HTML 5 compatibility, doesn’t merit much attention.
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