Browser 2014 reviews – rekonq

In my introduction to this series of posts, I said that I would try out each reviewed browser for a day.  I have been testing “rekonq” for more than a week now.

It is almost a year since my previous review of “rekonq”.  And much has improved since that time.  In particular, there are improvements in private browsing, in tabbed browsing, in the use of bookmarks and in spell checking.  Oh, and it is more stable (crashes less often).

“Rekonq” is a kind of re-invention of “konqueror”, hence its name.  It is less configurable than “konqueror”, but perhaps more congenial.  I rather like it as a browser, and will probably continue to use it for some of my browsing (mostly for reading blogs, in association with “akregator”) after I have finished this series of reviews.  “Rekonq” shares the same cookies as “konqueror”, the same bookmarks, the same browser cache, and the same saved passwords (saved in “kwallet”).

Now some details.

Tabbed browsing

The support for tabbed browsing is pretty good.  You can open a new tab with a button on the tab line of the browser, or by typing “CTRL T” at the keyboard, or by middle-click on a url, or as a menu option after right-click on a url.  I mostly use middle-click.  When opening an akregator news item in my browser, I have it open in a new tab.  And an external call to open a url will cause it to be opened in a tab.

Some of those options are configurable.  For example, “rekonq” can be configured so that an external call will open the url in a new window.

There is now a configuration option “Open new tabs in the foreground”.  I have that selected.  The effect is that when a new tab is opened, that immediately becomes the current tab.  This option was not available when I last reviewed rekonq.  For the way that I use tabbed browsing, this is a significant improvement.

There is a button on each tab, to close that tab.  Or middle-click on a tab will also close it.  Right-click on a tab gives options, such as cloning the tab.  When the last tab is closed, some browsers exit (close the entire browser).  That’s an option in “rekonq”, but I have that turned off.  So, if I close the last tab, it just opens a new tab to replace it.

Bookmarks

One choice for bookmarks, is to open a bookmarks page.  That opens a page showing all bookmarks.  The page shows in a new tab, though perhaps that depends on the tabbed browsing settings.  When I last reviewed “rekonq”, that was the only way of accessing tabs.  But now, there is an alternative.  I can simply look at the bookmarks in a multi-level menu (similar to “konqueror” or “firefox”, and select a bookmark from there.  That’s my preferred way of using bookmarks, so I am liking this change to “rekonq”.  If I select the bookmark menu entry with middle-click, that opens the bookmark in a new tab.

Private browsing

There is no option to just open a window for private browsing.  However, if I right-click on a url, there’s a menu option to open that url in a private browsing window.  This seems to work pretty well.  And if I have a bookmarks page in one tab, then opening a bookmark in a private window is close enough to opening a private window.

While I have not extensively tested private browsing, it does seem to do what I expect.  In particular, in a private browsing window, cookies used in the main browser are not sent to sites.  And cookies from the sites appear to be deleted once the private browsing window is closed.

Plugins

The main plugins that I use are flash and (occasionally) java.  There is an option to load plugins automatically, manually, or never.  I currently have it set to load automatically, which works well.  I tried setting to load manually.  That works after a fashion, but it does not work very well.  When there is a flash applet, a button appears that I can click to load the plugin.  My preference would be to use this option, so as to reduce the amount of annoying flash on some sites.  Unfortunately, this can sometimes crash “rekonq”.  If I click the first youtube view on a page, that plays nicely.  If I then click “load plugin” for the second video, “rekonq” crashes.

I tested the java plugin with the New York Times “sudoku” puzzle.  Unfortunately, the plugin does not seem to read the keyboard.  So typing numbers on the keyboard does nothing.  It is still possible to play that puzzle by selecting a number with the mouse.  But I prefer to use the keyboard.

Crashing

When I started testing “rekonq”, it was crashing twice per day.  Switching to auto-load plugins did not help much.  So I decided to try out “Ad Block”.  Clicking the tool icon near the top right, I selected “Tools”, and then selected “Ad Block”.  I enabled “Ad Block” with the “easy list”.  And now “rekonq” can go several days without crashing.  Presumably it was crashing on javascript, mostly in ads which are now being blocked.  Personally, I would prefer not to block ads, as they pay for some of the web content.  But I would also prefer that ads do not use “javascript”.  For the present, using “Ad Block” seems to be a good way of avoiding the crashes.

Spell checking

With spell checking turned on, suspect words are underlined in red (only in edit windows), and a right-click on the word brings up some suggested spellings.  This seems to work quite well.

Configuration

“Rekonq” is less configurable than “konqueror” or “firefox”, but it still has a sufficient number of useful options to provide reasonable flexibility.

The primary choice is made by using the tool icon (looks like a wrench) near the top right.  One of the options is “Tools” which gives access to “Ad Block”, “Browser identification”, “Page source”, and several others.  Another option is “Configure Rekonq” which presents preference options for setting the home page, for tabbed browsing, for privacy issues (cookie policy, for example), plugin loading, and several others.

Summary

Rekonq still has a few flaws.  However, it is much improved since my last review, and I find it a very congenial browser to use.

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About Neil Rickert

Mathematician and computer scientist who dabbles in cognitive science.

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  1. Browser reviews — 2014 | Thoughts on computing - 2014/01/29

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