I have tried to like konqueror, but …

Over the last two weeks, I have spent some time using konqueror (the default web browser for KDE).  I have tried to like it.  I really have.  But it has too many problems for my liking.

I am still using it in conjunction with akregator.  So I still have konqueror set as my default browser, so that akregator will use it.  Is indicated in an earlier post, akregator is particularly well integrated with konqueror.

Browsers that I have used

For context, I am mainly a firefox user.  I also have opera, chromium and konqueror installed on this linux (opensuse 12.2) system.  On my dual boot systems, I have IE (Internet Explorer) and firefox installed under Windows.  That’s IE9 on Windows 7 and Vista, and (if I recall) IE8 on XP (that dual boot system is actually triple boot – linux, Vista, XP).  I have tried a number of other browsers in the past, but for recent use it has only been those just listed.

For routine browsing, most of what I do would work on any of those browsers, though my first preference is for firefox, with chromium a close second.  Of the browsers that I have listed, I would have to consider konqueror the worst.  I will detail the reasons below.

Stability

My biggest gripe with konqueror, is that it crashes too often.  I rarely have crashes with the other browsers that I listed.  I am not sure what causes the crashes.  On several occasions, I watched a youtube video.  And then, when I closed the tab that had the video, konqueror crashed.  This has never happened with the other browsers.

The strangest of all, is that konqueror has crashed three times when it was not even running.  I could tell that it crashed, because the KDE bug reporter showed up on my screen reporting a konqueror crash.  Presumably akregator had spawned of a konqueror process to do some action for akregator, and that spawned process was what crashed.  At least one of those three crashes occured when my system was configured with firefox as default browser, so that asking akregator to show a message on my browser would have caused it to start firefox (or, actually, add a tab to the existing firefox).  Nevertheless, I had a konqueror crash in those circumstances.

Page reload

I have had problems with reloading a page in konqueror.  I noticed this while reading a blog post.  That blog post was mainly a link to a second blog post.  So I then looked at the second blog post.  And that second blog post had a wrong title.  Specifically, the title mentioned “Realism”, while the content was about “Anti Realism”.  Since the title was correct on the first post – the one that linked to the post with a bad title, I concluded that this was a temporary mistake.  So I reloaded the page in konqueror, to see if the wrong title had been fixed.  It hadn’t.  As a cross check, I loaded the same page in firefox, and there I could see that the title had been fixed.

I tried SHIFT-reload, CTRL-reload and CTRL-SHIFT-reload in konqueror.  I could not get the browser to load the newer version of that page.

I then tried reading that blog message with the browser built into akregator.  That gave me the correct updated page.  I next closed the tab in konqueror, and tried again to reload the page.  Again, I got the old page.  This is particularly surprising, since akregator is configured to use the konqueror cache.

I consider this a serious problem with konqueror.

Using konqueror with opensuse forums

As part of my experimenting with konqueror, I decided to use it on opensuse forums.  That started well.  However, several hours later, when I next accessed the forums, it showed me as logged out.  That also happens with firefox, and has been reported as a bug with opensuse forums.  However, with firefox I can usually login again.  With konqueror, the attempt to login again did not work.  It seemed to hang just after entering my login credentials.  When I do that repeat login with firefox, after entering credentials I see what appears to be a couple of redirections which get me to the forum page.  That did not happen with konqueror.  My best guess is that it was hit with the problem of not reloading a page, so the redirect took me to a stale page.  But I am just guessing.

Private browsing

I find the private browsing option useful in firefox and in chromium.  There does not appear to be a corresponding option in konqueror.  This is, admittedly, a minor problem compare with the others mentioned above.

Spell checking

When writing a blog post or a forum comment in firefox, the built in spell checker conveniently underlines any word that it suspects might be misspelled.  I’m a pretty good speller, so this is not an essential requirement.  But it is useful, if mainly for catching accidental typos.  A google search found directions for setting up spell checking in konqueror.  However, it looked too complex and not worth the trouble for my limited needs.

Again, this is a relatively minor point.

What I liked

There were some good points about konqueror.

Most obvious of these, is how well akregator is integrated with konqueror.  Both use the same cookies, and akregator seems to use some of the other konqueror settings, even the choice between KHTML and Webkit as the underlying html engine.

The use of tabs, once configured to my liking, worked quite will.  I perhaps slightly prefer it to firefox for tab handling.  There are two things that I like.  In firefox, I cannot close the last tab.  In konqueror, I can close the last tab and it is replaced by a tab to a blank page.  An earlier version of firefox also did this, but the mozilla folk have since removed that ability.  The worst for closing the last tab is IE9, which just closes the browser when I close the last tab.  So I see konqueror as getting this right.

A second aspect of tab handling, is that the width of the tabs adjusts to the title of the page.  In firefox, all tabs are the same width.  In konqueror, a tab for “about:blank” is noticeably shorter

KHTML and Webkit

Finally, a note on the choice of KHTML or Webkit.  I first noticed this when I tried konqueror back in the days of opensuse 11.4.  I seem to recall that KDE was at version 4.6 there.  I started konqueror to give it a try.  And I started by visiting a sudoku game (the one from the Chicago Sun Times).  And konqueror promptly crashed.

When I asked about this on opensuse forums, somebody suggested that I switch to using Webkit instead of KHTML, and they explained how.  That solved the problem with the sudoku page, though I did not use konqueror extensively at that time.

Now, with opensuse 12.2 and KDE 4.8.5, konqueror defaults to using Webkit.

As an experiment, I switched to using KHTML.  Then I went back to that sudoku game.  And it was fine with KHTML.  So whatever was causing that particular crash seems to have been fixed.

While looking at a blog post in the akregator browser, I saw a message saying that my browser was not supported.  The message was from disqus, which manages the comments on some blogs.  I thought that curious, since I had successfully posted comments the previous day.  So I switch konqeror back to Webkit, then closed and restarted both konqueror and akregator, and the disqus was happy once again.  This is how I know that akregator follows that particular konqueror setting.

Last words

I’ll be staying with firefox for most of my browsing.  However, at least for the present, I will continue to use konqueror in association with akregator.

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About Neil Rickert

Mathematician and computer scientist who dabbles in cognitive science.

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