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10 Oddly Useful Specialty Web Browsers 72

snydeq writes "InfoWorld's Peter Wayner looks beyond Firefox, Chrome, Opera, Safari, and IE to uncover 10 alternative browsers that offer specialized advantages for 3-D searching, social networking, easy scriptability, powerful page manipulation, and the like. Each provides a targeted browsing environment, enabling users to browse Web tables into spreadsheets, browse leaner, browser in text, browse socially, browse musically, or browse smarter on the Mac. 'A purist might object that these hybrids are not much different from a standard browser with extra plug-ins. There's some truth to this, but not always — some of the unique capabilities can only be done deep inside the software. In any case, the job of parsing the terms and creating an exact definition of the Web browser isn't as much fun as embracing the idea that there are dozens of alternatives.'"
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10 Oddly Useful Specialty Web Browsers

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  • They forgot Pivot! (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward []

    • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward


    • Pivot? Microsoft only, and you have to have Vista with Aero. I suppose that I could load it onto a virtual machine, maybe. But, somehow, I'm not motivated to experiment with yet another Microsoft browser. I was kinda thinking about grabbing IE9, but I haven't even found the motivation to do that yet.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    You've always been able to load a URL into a spreadsheet...

  • One page (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 23, 2010 @12:59PM (#33997224)
    All on one page [].
  • by david.emery ( 127135 ) on Saturday October 23, 2010 @01:13PM (#33997312)

    A browser that is specifically set up to completely firewall websites from each other?

    • by ya really ( 1257084 ) on Saturday October 23, 2010 @01:24PM (#33997384)
      Blocking in your hosts file (/etc/hosts or c:\windows\system32\drivers\etc\hosts) will probably take care of any third party meddling related to facebook or if you use Chrome or SRWare Iron (Chrome without the creepy google tracking) this [] will do what you ask as well.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by ya really ( 1257084 )
        add "" (without the quotes) to your host file, just to clarify.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by js3 ( 319268 )

          I put (and for and it's amazing how much my Back browser button gets messed up because almost every link on numerous websites foward to facebook.

      • by pjt33 ( 739471 ) on Saturday October 23, 2010 @01:38PM (#33997472)

        It used to, but it doesn't any more. Now you have to, at minimum, block as well. I've installed AdBlockPro today to take care of it in a more sweeping way.

        But I think David Emery was wanting a generalisation and just used Facebook as an example. I don't know how well common sites would work with external content blocked - whitelisting would be necessary at least for things like jquery.

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward

          The Ghostery [] addon also blocks Facebook and most other tracking. IME, has worked invisibly; it's never stopped a webpage from working normally.

          • If the reviews are to be believed, Ghostery has been sold to an advertising company and may be functioning as spyware


            From the Ghostery/Better Advertising Privacy Policy- "We collect user traffic patterns"; "we track click-through information, including IP addresses"; "We may place a text file called a 'cookie' in the browser files of your computer."; "We may provide personal information to or permit access to personal information by our vendors and service

    • There's the RequestPolicy [] extension for Firefox (and perhaps other Gecko-based browsers). This allows you to browse websites without third-party domains loading scripts, images and other media onto the page.

      The upside to this is that you'll no longer be followed by social networking websites wherever you go. The downside is that you'll have to spend time changing the settings for some websites to work, as even CSS will be blocked when hosted on a different domain - the eternal vigilance problem.

      You can also

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by hairyfeet ( 841228 )
        The funny part is even NoScript has a downside, as I went to one of those sites that told how easy it was to ID you by string (sorry I can't remember the name) and with NS I was something like 1-24,000 thanks to NS+FF version+OS whereas without anything my odds were something like 1-2.5 million thanks to so many not using NS. But the trade off of not dealing with drive by malware or a bunch of FB crap makes it worth being easier to pick out of a crowd for me, though YMMV.
  • CSSEdit (Score:3, Interesting)

    by bckspc ( 172870 ) on Saturday October 23, 2010 @01:19PM (#33997350) Homepage

    I use CSSEdit [] all the time. Its core is a Webkit browser that shows a live preview of CSS changes you make. It's great for AJAX-y, DHTML-y dynamically driven sites that don't always have HTML "pages" to debug.

    It's a bit like the Web Developer toolbar for Firefox, but a standalone browser / app for OS X focused solely on CSS and, IMHO, a bit easier to use.

    No connection to the company. Just a very satisfied user.

  • Dillo (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jones_supa ( 887896 ) on Saturday October 23, 2010 @01:26PM (#33997394)
    Even though it lacks crucial features like JavaScript and plugins, one should try Dillo just to experience how extremely fast a graphical browser can be.
    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Can't you just get the same effect by disabling JavaScript and plugins in your preferred browser?
      • Re:Dillo (Score:5, Informative)

        by Jorl17 ( 1716772 ) on Saturday October 23, 2010 @01:48PM (#33997534)
        No, you can't. I've programmed some features of Dillo myself and I look at the amazing work that the regular developers do. It is fast, memory-efficient and efficiency-centric. You can't compare a fully crazy assed GUIed application like Firefox, Chrome and IE (though Chrome is the least expensive of these three) with Dillo and FLTK. The Fast Light ToolKit makes it *really* fast and responsive -- similar to Chrome before all the fucktards started adopting it. Its CSS is increasing and there are *some* plans for basic Javascript. It is something else and I use it whenever I need real speed.

        Of course you can just wget something and even make scripts to only get the text out of it, but then you'd just be "reading" the internet, which isn't enough for some things. Dillo is a much more advanced Links.
    • Does Dillo work on Windows NT 5 or 6? (XP or Vista or Seven) I'd like to try it, but it appears it does not work.


      It abandoned Mozilla and went to Chromium. Is there still a facebook-friendly browser that uses Mozilla?

  • A browser that will detect repeating structures in the DOM and parse them into segments. Then be able to select on elements with the possibility of export. Often people have to look through long lists of things where only a few are of interest. For example (a) detect the 'comment' structure in a slashdot page (without being told the template) (b) parse into title, who, text (c) offer (in this case) three search fields to select on and then (d) copy a selected one into the clipboard in XLM or append to a
    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      slashdot (and others) should be returning xml and using xslt to convert it into html.
  • Shameless plug (Score:4, Interesting)

    by commodore64_love ( 1445365 ) on Saturday October 23, 2010 @01:34PM (#33997436) Journal

    I recommend Mozilla seaMonkey. It has the same core engine as Firefox 4, but with the functionality/appearance of classic Mozilla Netscape, and only half the memory usage of FF (~150,000 vs ~300,000 kilobytes).

    Another browser Ive tried is Mozilla Songbird, which is really more of a music player than a browser but it's good for those of us who like noise in our ears all day long.

    • P.S.

      Forgot about the Mac & Linux. I like Opera which stores its bookmarks online (can access them anywhere, even work). Mozilla Camino is also nice since it uses Mac's built-in tools/appearance.

      Lightweight Ubuntu & Puppy Linux use Chromium, which is okay, but I still prefer seaMonkey.

      • From the Puppy Linux FAQ:

        Q: Why not use Firefox instead of Seamonkey?

        A: "Yes, Firefox web browser, Thunderbird email and news client, Sunbird Calendar, and NVU HTML editor are useful programs. The Mozilla/SeaMonkey suite, with all of this functionality, is about 11M compressed, whereas the separate applications are each about 35M compressed. So, the live-CD, instead of being 60M would be 85M and would be too big to run in RAM in a PC with 128M RAM.

        "Why are the separate applications so big compared

      • by jc42 ( 318812 )

        I like Opera which stores its bookmarks online (can access them anywhere, even work).

        Zat so? I've been using opera for several years, and I've never even suspected that it could do that. Is it documented somewhere? A quick check in in its Preferences stuff on my Mac and linux systems didn't turn up anything that looked relevant. Of course, it could be there, but I just don't recognize whatever words they use.

        I've occasionally wondered if there might be some systematic way to learn about software featur

        • It was added with Opera 10.5 and is called Opera Link. Other useful features they added recently are Opera Turbo (speeds-up dialup/cellular connections) and Opera Unite (photo and file sharing). I use the Turbo feature a lot, since many hotels only come with slow connections.


          Supposedly Firefox 4 will have the same "store bookmarks online" feature, but I've not tried it.

          • by jc42 ( 318812 )

            Thanks for the pointer (and the keyword); it looks like something worth experimenting with.

            (And you didn't even call me an idiot for not knowing it. ;-)

            So far, I've put off playing with FF4 due to a shortage of time and a surplus of other things to play with, but I'll probably try it sometime soon.

  • Lynx? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gmuslera ( 3436 ) on Saturday October 23, 2010 @01:54PM (#33997584) Homepage Journal
    For text mode browsing i would go use elinks, with good (text mode) rendering of pages, ssl support and a lot of other features, but not sure in which state are the latest version of lynx, links or w3m by now. There are plenty of text mode browsers, and speed is just one of the advantages.
    • FYI: Ubuntu has a dark background, light text Lynx setup by default.

      If you prefer black text on white background (as do I), do this:

      Copy the lynx.lss file somewhere (like a ~/.lynx dir)
      cp /etc/lynx-cur/* .lynx/

      Edit the lynx.lss file to comment out the 8th and 9th lines:
      normal: normal: lightgray:black
      default: normal: white:black

      Then run lynx with "lynx -lss lynx.lss" or set LYNX_LSS to your personal lynx.lss file.

    • I've had occasion to need a text mode browser, and I think I used lynx, but I saw that there are a number of them. I recall looking for a good comparison of the different options, but I couldn't find one. What are they, and what are their strengths and weaknesses?

  • HTMLayout ( is not strictly a browser, but rather a toolkit to create UI in HTML+CSS.

  • by FudRucker ( 866063 ) on Saturday October 23, 2010 @02:28PM (#33997824)
    K-Meleon []

    it uses mozilla's gecko engine, even more bare bones than firefox, a little rough around the edges but overall an ok browser. (windows only)
    • I had a lot of problems with website rendering when I tried K-meleon last year.

      Also had a tendency to crash, and even though it claims to "use windows standard" components for efficiency, I didn't see it using any less memory than Firefox.

  • What could be more odd or special than a text browser?
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Tacvek ( 948259 )

      No mention of links, but they do mention its predecessor lynx in the article.

  • Notepad (Score:3, Funny)

    by T Murphy ( 1054674 ) on Saturday October 23, 2010 @03:39PM (#33998388) Journal
    Notepad is my favorite specialty browser. You name the file (url).txt, and it instantly renders the website as a blank page- think of all the clutter you don't have to deal with! Plus, you can add in whatever text you want- ever wanted to make say "Linux rules!"? Well now you can! I can't imagine how anyone could want anything else.
    • Notepad is my favorite specialty browser. You name the file (url).txt, and it instantly renders the website as a blank page- think of all the clutter you don't have to deal with! Plus, you can add in whatever text you want- ever wanted to make say "Linux rules!"? Well now you can! I can't imagine how anyone could want anything else.

      The first thing people coming from FireFox will notice is the print feature really works!

  • No mention of Uzbl [], the command line operated browser?
  • I don't know why elinks doesn't get more recognition. It's an ncurses-based (console) web browser with tabs and support for basic javascript. It's easy to compile, even on windows, and even has support for the mouse. As soon as I found out about it, I stopped using lynx and links.
  • Conkeror (Score:2, Interesting)

    by djupdal ( 629381 )

    I rarely see anyone mention conkeror, my favourite browser: []

    It is the only browser I have tried I can comfortably use without a mouse. Once you learn the emacs-like keybindings, browsing with keyboard is really fast.

You will never amount to much. -- Munich Schoolmaster, to Albert Einstein, age 10