The new kits on the block – Linux webkit based browsers review.

Since the original fork from KHTML, a lot of water as passed under the bridge of webkit development, to the point that as of today, webkit based browsers thrive all over linux land.

The padoca team decided to do some light testing and benchmark, and to check out what exactly is going on with webkit in the land of the penguin. So, without further ado…

Lets start by learning what exactly is webkit, courtesy of wikipedia 🙂

WebKit is an application framework that provides a foundation upon which to build a web browser. WebKit was originally derived by Apple Inc. from the Konqueror browser’s KHTML software library for use as the engine of Mac OS X’s Safari web browser and has now been further developed by individuals from the KDE project, Apple, Nokia, Google, Torch Mobile and others.[1] It has been ported to a number of different platforms and is now used as the rendering engine within a number of different pieces of software. WebKit is open source; its WebCore and JavascriptCore components are available under the GNU Lesser General Public License, and WebKit as a whole is available with a BSD-style license.[2]

So, that is that 😀 Webkit is a browser engine, like gecko is the browser engine for mozilla/firefox and friends.

Now, for something completely similar, who are there guys (browsers) anyway?

First and foremost, the grandfather of the webkit itself, the great, lean, mean and kde machine, Konqueror and is KHTML engine!!!

But wait a minute, isn’t KHTML somewhat diferent from webkit? Well.. yes and no, webkit WAS based in KHTML, so for testing purposes (not to mention merit) we included KHTML in our review, but there’s a somewhat more hidden reason also. You see, Konqueror has a webkit kpart so you can switch between khtml and webkit on-the-fly, and THATS the primary reason we added good old konki to the review 🙂

Lets see how every browser likes to be called. We used w3schools to ask them nicely, and this is what konki told us:

Mozilla/5.0 (compatible; Konqueror/4.2; Linux) KHTML/4.2.2 (like Gecko)

Now lets torture.. i mean ask nicely the webkit part:

Mozilla/5.0 (Konqueror/4.2; Linux) AppleWebKit/527+ (KHTML, like Gecko, Safari/419.3)

Ok, so how this two compare in real tests? We put them to the test with acid3, flash 10 and a javascript benchmark, and from where we are standing, old konki is in pretty good shape. As you can all see from the screenshot below, the more acid konki drinks the better it gets 😀 It now almost passes the test.

Acording to the dealer, konki fails with the acid because of this:

Failed 13 tests.

Test 13 failed: collapsed is wrong after deletion

Test 26 failed: e1 – parent element doesn’t exist after looping

Test 27 failed: e1 – parent element doesn’t exist after waiting

Test 29 failed: expected ‘2’ but got ‘1’ – cloned table had wrong number of children

Test 31 passed, but took 35ms (less than 30fps)

Test 40 passed, but took 34ms (less than 30fps)

Test 51 failed: expected ‘6’ but got ‘5’ – wrong number of rows

Test 53 failed: expected ‘1’ but got ‘0’ – form’s elements array has wrong size

Test 54 passed, but took 34ms (less than 30fps)

Test 69 passed, but took 70 attempts (less than perfect).

Test 70 failed: UTF-8 encoded XML document with invalid character did not have a well-formedness error

Test 74 failed: getSVGDocument missing on <iframe> element.

Test 75 failed: SVG DOM interface SVGRectElement not supported.

Test 76 failed: Undefined value

Test 77 failed: SVGTextContentElement.getNumberOfChars() not supported.

Test 78 failed: Attempt to use a non-function object or a value as a function.

Test 79 failed: Attempt to use a non-function object or a value as a function.

Total elapsed time: 11.28s

The webkit kpart performs a little better, but still isn’t perfect (keep reading and you’ll be shocked on how many browsers pass the test flawlessly).

Here are the scores:

Failed 2 tests.

Test 00 passed, but took 156ms (less than 30fps)

Test 01 passed, but took 42ms (less than 30fps)

Test 26 passed, but took 112ms (less than 30fps)

Test 65 passed, but took 94ms (less than 30fps)

Test 69 failed: timeout — could be a networking issue

Test 74 failed: getSVGDocument failed for <object> referencing an svg document.

Test 75 passed, but took 73ms (less than 30fps)

Total elapsed time: 9.48s

But in real life, both browsers perform very well and konki as a feature none of the other webkit browser have, the versatility. Since one image speaks for a thousand words and we are lazy, here it is what we mean:

At the upper left we have the khtml kpart running a acid3 test, and below we have a filemanager kpart, to the left we have the webkit kpart running the same acid3 and to top it all, on the bottom we have a console kpart. Try that with any other browser/filemanager 😀 Finally, when it come to javascript, KJS used by KHTML is starting to show is age, being the slowest of them all, but the kpart webkit really shines and is the fastest of the bunch, losing only to one browser (guess who?) 😉

Next kid is a peach 😀 Is name is arora, is qt/kde based and it works very well indeed. It’s our favorite of all the webkit browsers till now.

It insists after questioned that is name is:

Mozilla/5.0 (X11; U; Linux; en-US) AppleWebKit/527+ (KHTML, like Gecko, Safari/419.3) Arora/0.6

Arora passes the acid3 test but has a few caveats with some rendering taking more then 50ms (less then 30fps), hence the linktest failed, it has flash and is very fast and stable, and it opens in a snap. In the javascript speed test it isn’t the slowest nor the fastest.

Next in the bunch comes our gtk based favorite, midori.

Identified by this name, is the only that passed the acid3 test flawlessly, probably because its the one with the newest webkit engine as you can see:

Mozilla/5.0 (X11; U; Linux i686; en-us) AppleWebKit/528.5+ (KHTML, like Gecko, Safari/528.5+) midori

The dealer says:

Failed 0 tests.

Test 26 passed, but took 87ms (less than 30fps)

Test 69 passed, but took 89 attempts (less than perfect).

Test 79 passed, but took 54ms (less than 30fps)

Total elapsed time: 9.47s

Picky, Picky… no one seems to please the acid dude. Midori also has a plugin system similar to firefox addons and it is a fairly complete and stable browser. When it comes to javascript its also one the fastest.

Next we have a midori cousin from the east, kazehakase, which besides the unpronounceable name has the differential of being the only hybrid browser of the bunch (he can use both gecko and webkit engines, a feat on its own), but is still a little slow and rough around the edges. A nice browser nonetheless.

Passport card shows him as a:

Mozilla/5.0 (X11; U; Linux i686; en-us) AppleWebKit/525.1+ (KHTML, like Gecko, Safari/525.1+) kazehakase

He also has acid3 on its veins:

Failed 0 tests.

Test 26 passed, but took 98ms (less than 30fps)

Test 69 passed, but took 73 attempts (less than perfect).

Total elapsed time: 3.34s

We are now down to two browsers, the youngest of the bunch, the babies of the pack, ladies and gentlemen, please welcome…

reKonq is a baby browser with a lot of promise. based on QTWebDemo just like arora, is aim is to be a full feature KDE browser, and already has a few interesting tricks, like being a singleton app (if a tab crash it doesn’t bring the browser down with it, just like google chrome). It is also very fast and just like arora and the bunch, supports flash and performs very well in day to day usage). We are going to keep a very close eye on this kid as he matures.

After asking if he likes mommy or daddy more, he answered:

Mozilla/5.0 (X11; U; Linux; en-US) AppleWebKit/527+ (KHTML, like Gecko, Safari/419.3) rekonq

The kid also isn’t old enough for acid3, but he’s getting there:

Puff daddy would be proud:

Since it doesn’t know how to run yet, he’s not the fastest in the javascript test, but being young gives him some edge, so he isn’t the slowest either. Overall, reKonq poses itself as one of the best browsers in potencial, so keep watching for this little guy, it might even surprise you.

Finally, we have the youngest browser, the javascript test champion, and most hyped browser on earth. A great salve of applause to:

CHROMIUM!!! The google chrome open source cousin already is developing nicely…

The ultrascan shows he is a:

Mozilla/5.0 (X11; U; Linux i686; en-US) AppleWebKit/530.7 (KHTML, like Gecko) Chrome/ Safari/530.7

Unfortunately to the youth organizations he’s already on acid:

And this medical records show there is no hope for the little fella, he’s addicted already:

Failed 0 tests.

Test 26 passed, but took 106ms (less than 30fps)

Total elapsed time: 1.34s

Chromium doesn’t support flash yet, or any plugin for that matter, it doesn’t have proxy support yet, or a options menu, or a bookmarks manager, or almost anything you would encounter in a modern browser. But it will eventually, it already has working tabs, download bar and history with search.

And it’s faaaaaaaaast, we mean, REAL faaaaaaaaaaaast. It’s the javascript fastest of the bunch, and very slick with gmail and other heavy javascript homepages. Definitely a winner when its ready.


From this score and graphics, you can see that the javascript speed is very diferent from similar engines and browsers, and a lot of testing and tweaking is yet to be achieved.

This is the score for the SunSpider Javascript Benchmark









Konqueror (webkit)








Complete with bar chart 🙂

Lower is better

The webkit linux browser ecosystem is very much alive and well, with a lot of interesting features and innovation coming along.

We look forward to review this bunch again in about 6 months and see how they grew and how successful they have become.

Thanks for reading.

4 thoughts on “The new kits on the block – Linux webkit based browsers review.

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